Tiruppavai Pasuram 12


kannaittilaṅg katterumai kannuk kiṛaṅgi |
 ninaittu mulai vazhiyē ninnu pāl cōra |
nanaittillam cērākkum naṛ celvan tangāy |
 pani talay vīzhanin vāśal kaḍai patti |
cinattināl ten ilangai kōmānai cetta |
 manattukkiniyānai pāḍavum nī vāy tiṛavāy |
inittān  ezhundirāy itenna pēr uṛakkam |
 anait-illat tārum aṛindēlōr empāvāy ||


ilaṅg katterumai– Buffaloes with young calves;

kandruk kiṛaṅgi – feeling pity for the calves;

mulai vazhiyē nindru pāl cōra -(due to immersed thinking) milk starts flowing constantly from the cow’s udder;

ellamnanaittu– make the whole place wet;

cērākkum – making the surroundings soggy (due to stamping);

naṛ celvan – one who is blessed with the greatest wealth of service to Krishna;

tangāy – Oh! His sister;

talay panivīzha– with dew drops falling on our head;

nin vāśal kaḍai pattri – we stand in your courtyard;

ten ilangai kōmānai –the king of the gorgeous kingdom of lanka;

cinattināl cettra – killed due to anger (for abducting Sita Devi);

manattukkiniyānai – Sri Rama who gives pleasure to our minds;

pāḍavum – even after (we) sing;

nī vāy tiṛavāy vai – you are speechless;

inittān – at least now;

ezhundirāy – please wake up;

itenna pēr uṛakkam – what a great slumber?

anait-illat tārum – (in tiruayppadi) all households;

aṛindu – have come to know;


In this 12th verse Andal awakens the sister of one cowherd boy who is ever engaged in the service to Kṛṣṇa similar to Lakshmana to Sri Rama.  In the earlier verse Andal talked about a gopala who strictly followed his svadharma (daily duties) and performed them actively; In this verse she talks about another gopala who never milked the cows thereby foregoing his duty since he was ever engaged in service to Kṛṣṇa;


(ilag katterumai) buffaloes with young calves or buffaloes  like young calves;

 (kandruk kiagi) though the mother buffalo overcomes the pain in the udder due to excessive milk, the love for the calf that is starving without drinking milk overflows;

 Similar to the supreme Lord showering His divine grace on all of us the buffaloes suffer the pain of separation from the calves;

 Even the buffaloes express their sorrow of not feeding its calves but why don’t you understand our agony?

 (ninaittu pāl cōra) thinking of the calf that is not fed, milk starts flowing not through the hands of the milkman or through the mouth of the calf but all by itself from the udder of the cow;

 (nindru pāl cōra ) the clouds take in the water from the ocean and pours as rain in intervals but since the mother buffalo is immersed in the thoughts of the calf the milk pours indefinitely as a matter of love.

 The milk overflowing from the cow’s udder is equated to our preceptors (filled with grace) who shower the divine meanings about the supreme Lord to all the disciples who never asked about the same.  Arjuna never requested Kṛṣṇa to shower the upanishadic meanings but Geethacharya graciously poured the divine upanishadic meanings in His divine work Srimad Bhagavat geetha.  One wonderful introductory sloka to Srimadbhagavatgeetha says “sarvOpanishado gAvO dhokthA gopalanandana: parthOvatsa: sudhirbhOkthA duktham geethAmrutham mahat” [All the Upanishads are like cows and the milkman is Kṛṣṇa, for the sake of the calf arjuna, the milk produced (geetha) was given to all the devotees]

 When even the buffaloes in your house are graceful why don’t you bless us with your company?

 (nanaittillam cērākkum) due to the overflowing milk the whole place has got wet and due to movement it has become soggy not allowing us to step in;

 But why was the milkman of this house unable to perform his duty?  Similar to lakshmana who was unable to continue his sacrifice to agni (fire rituals prescribed for his varna and ashrama) since he went to exile to do all sort of service to Sri Rama and Sitadevi this gopala was also immersed in  devotion and service to Kṛṣṇa and hence unable to  milk the cows.  It is not wrong to leave the duties while involved in service to Lord but one should not sacrifice his duties due to laziness or lack of faith in sastras.

 (na celvan)  What is good wealth?  That wealth that is eternal is narcelvam and the one who possesses the same is narcelvan.  That is Kṛṣṇa kainkaryam (service to Kṛṣṇa); 

 The adjective sriman/Lakshmi sampanna: (possessor of eternal wealth) was added to Lakshmana only when he left to exile for Rama kainkarya; Gajendra received the same praise when he called out to the supreme lord to submit the lotus in his trunk and vibheeshana was called sriman when he abandoned all his relatives and lanka and stood waiting to surrender to Sri Rama;

 Alternatively, the word ‘celvam’ can mean the relation with the lord; what is the goodness of this wealth? Not stopping with being a devotee himself, his service is contagious and it makes others also devotees;

 (tangāy) your brother has abandoned the cows under him and you are ignoring us eagerly waiting for you; probably it is genetic in your family to ignore dependents;

 (na celvan tangāy) – Vibheeshana quoted his brother to show his lowliness whereas here they refer to this special gopi’s brother to highlight her greatness;

 While vibheeshana fled for doing service to Sri Rama, his daughter trichada was involved in service to Sitadevi; While your brother is immersed in Kṛṣṇa kainkarya shouldn’t you join us to undertake the vratha?

 (pani talay vīzhanin vāśal kaai pattriAs per our instructions in the fourth verse “aazhi mazhai kanna” varunadeva is showering from the sky, in between we are engrossed in the flood of love and under our feet river of milk is flowing; we are standing in your doorsteps amidst all these;

 In spite of hearing about the sufferings of those outside still wanting to see more the gopi inside kept quiet; Due to her close relation with Kṛṣṇa this gopi has the same characteristic to trouble we young girls; so let us sing the praise of Sri Rama who took so much efforts to save Sita Devi, decides Andal;

 Or otherwise singing the praise of Sri Rama would be soothing to even the hearts of the ‘nar celvan tangay’ who was also, pained by the separation from Kṛṣṇa;

 (CinattinālWhy will Sri Rama who is celebrated as being similar to bhoo devi in patience get angry? The Lord doesn’t get angry even while being hurt badly but when an arrow hit his dear devotee, Hanuman, He was enraged;  Ravana has harmed many devotees including the rishis of dandakaranya, Sita devi (piratti), Jatayu (periya vudaiyar), vibheeshana and Hanuman;

 (ten ilangai kōmānaiEven the renowned bachelor and dispassionate Hanuman awed the beauty and wealth of lanka;  

 (kōmānai cettraThough Sri Rama could have killed ravana with just a single arrow purposely Sri Rama first killed all his warriors, followed by his sons and grandsons, damaged his chariot, weapons and after shattering all his ego finally killed him;

 (ManattukkiniyānaiKṛṣṇa was always engaged in some pranks and always troubled the ladies of gokula; But Sri Rama greatly respected ladies and for the sake of His consort took such pains; So the very thought of Sri Rama gives pleasure, coolness to the heart of the ladies;

 (manattukkiniyānai pāavumwe are not singing about Kṛṣṇa who troubles us but instead we are singing the names of Sri Rama whose divine Name is capable of giving life even to a dead body; We are not singing about One who does His work like doing something for us but we are singing the praise of One who does our work for His sake. Are you still sleeping?

 Not for our sake but at least for overcoming your grief why don’t you sing along with us? Thereby they can also sustain hearing her song;

 (inittān ezhundirāy itenna pēr uakkamEven if you don’t wake up for our sake why don’t you wake up at least for attaining your goal?  Even after so much of begging how can you sleep?

 The Lord wakes up for the sake of others; samsaris wake up to get engaged in their material pursuits but you don’t fall into both the categories.  Immediately after hearing the call from the great devotee Gajendra, the Lord rushed to the spot in such a hurry which makes our preceptors salute the speed.  But you who have a close association with Him haven’t imbibed that quality what a great slumber you have!

 (anait-illat tārum ainduIf you want every household in this place to know that all of us are at your doorsteps trying to wake you, even that is done; everyone is aware of your greatness and our plight;


 From the verses 11 and 12 we observe that there are two types of personalities.  Though following the varnashrama dharmas (daily duties prescribed by the sastras) is a common rule there are certain exceptions.  If one is engaged in service to the Lord, then not performing his duties is not a sin.  These are classified as samanya dharma (regular rules) and visesha dharma (exceptions).  The samanya dharma (always talking the truth, charity, not harming anyone etc) has to be followed by everyone but in case of exceptions like when we lie to protect a cow (from butcher/thief) by saying we haven’t seen it at all, it is not a sin or if a doctor operators on a patient and induces pain for a short period it is not himsa (harm).  Similarly if one is involved in service to Bhagavan (paramapurusha/almighty) and hence unable to perform his duties in time or not able to do it at all then it is not a sin. Because performing the duty or not performing the duty – both are not means to moksha(salvation).  The pleasure of the Lord who grants us salvation is the only means and hence Andal highlights both the performance of daily duties (which is very important in normal cases) and the non-performance (in special cases) in Her wonderful thiruppavai.

 All of us have to be cautious while leaving our duties.  It shouldn’t be because of lethargy or laziness if we are really immersed in the divine service at the time of performance of our duties then we surely will be pardoned by the Lord for leaving or postponing the same;