Tiruppavai Pasuram 16

ENGLISH TEXT

nāyakanāy ninna nanda gopan uḍaiya
 kōyil kāppānē |  koḍi tōnnum tōraṇa
vāyil kāppānē |  maṇi kadavam tāḷ tiṛavāy |
 āyar ciṛu miyarō mukku |  aṛai paṛai
māyan maṇivaṇṇan nennālē vāy nērndān |
 tūyōmāy vandōm tuyilezha pāḍuvān |
vāyāl munna munnam māttādē ammā! nī
 nēya nilaik kadavam nīkku ēlōr empāvāy |

WORD BY WORD MEANING

nāyakanāy nindra– (Our) Leader or Master;

nanda gopan uḍaiya-nandagopa’s;

kōyil– respective residence;

kāppānē– security guard;

koḍi tōndrum– with raised flags;

tōraṇa vāyil(vāsal) – the prime entrance’s;

kāppānē- security guard;

maṇi– gem studded;

kadavam– door;

tāḷ tiṛavāy –open the latch;

āyar ciṛu miyarō mukku– we the cowherd small girls;

māyan– one with surprising acts;

maṇivaṇṇan– Kṛṣṇa with a complexion similar to a blue-hued gem;

nennālē– yesterday itself;

aṛai paṛai vāy nērndān– promised to give us the drum (parai) that makes sound;

pāḍuvān– to sing;

tūyōmāy vandōm– we have come pure;

ammā! – swamy! (Master!)

munna munnam– first of all;

māttrādē– don’t refuse;

nēya (nēsa) nilaik kadavam– the doors that have great love (for Kṛṣṇa);

nī – yourself;

nīkku- please open;

INTRODUCTION

 Now, we reach the third division of this divine work. The next seven verses from 16 to 22, deal with the Gopis arousing the intimate associates of Kṛṣṇa, like the gatekeeper in the main entrance of Nandagopa’s residence followed by the one inside, then Nandagopa, Yaśoda, Baladeva, and Nappinnai and then Kṛṣṇa Himself.

 In the last ten verses Andal awakened all the gopis of thiruvayppadi and now that all of them have joined the group they proceed towards the residence of Nandagopa to awaken Kṛṣṇa;

 In the second verse Andal vowed not to do anything that hasn’t been done by elders earlier (ceyyādana ceyyōm) that is not getting involved in contemplating on the Lord without the aid/support of devotees.  They proceed to abide by that rule in this verse also.

 Swamy Nammazhvar beautifully instructs the way a devotee need to approach the Lord “vedam vallargalai kondu vinnor peruman thiruppadham panindhu” (surrendering to the divine Feet of the Lord of nityasuris through those who are well versed in scriptures).  The pancharartra sastra also reiterates the same instructing one to get permission from the guards outside a temple before entering the same;  Though these small girls were illiterate and were not aware of that mentioned in the authentic texts since they have come in the clan of Srivaishnavas these practices have been imbibed directly from their ancestors;

COMMENTARY

 (nāyakanāy nindra nanda gopan uaiya kōyil kāppānēThe gatekeepers of the divine residence of Nandagopa, you our masters; Here the gatekeepers can be considered as masters or nandagopa himself is the master;

 But is it fair to call the gatekeeper as masters? Here the gatekeepers are in the position of preceptors (ācārya); only the intercession of an ācārya can lead us to the divine Feet of the supreme Lord and hence it is not wrong to call them as our masters;

 If one gifts us a valuable gem, we show more respect and love towards the person who gifted it and do not praise the gem.  Similarly here Bhagavan is the rarest of the rarest gem but that is given to us only by our ācārya and hence they deserve all our respect and gratefulness and hence surely are our masters;

 (nāyakanāy nindra nanda gopanThe Lord who is the birthless and eternal aspired to become the son of nandagopa and enjoys living under his protection;  When the Lord Himself followed the instructions of nandagopa, His revered father what is wrong in calling him as ‘nāyakan’ (the master);

 (nanda gopan uaiya kōyilKṛṣṇa might be the incarnation of the Lord of the divine abode but he cherishes to live in the residence of nandagopa enjoying the pleasure of a prince; A king has many responsibilities whereas the prince enjoys only pleasure similarly even in the divine abode the Lord remains as ‘van-elavarasu’ (prince of divine abode) always enjoying ecstasy with the devotees and allowing vishvaksena and others to take care of the required responsibilities;

 (kōyil kāppānēDon’t the gatekeepers have specific names? Yes but since these are young girls and moreover the Lord enjoys hearing the same, Andal calls them with reference to their job/service; it is always respectful to address one by referring to one’s occupation especially in doing service to the Lord.  While all other sleep peacefully resting the responsibility of guarding the residence to the gate keeper he alone keeps awake and does great service to the Lord;  In the divine abode the same job is done by number of celestial beings here you alone do this wonderful service.  What a blessing! 

 But you are here to prevent the enemies from entering inside and allowing devotees to enter.  So we are begging you to allow us inside, requested Andal.  Listening to Andal’s request the gatekeeper signals the girls to enter inside and so they proceed to the entrance.

 (koi tōndrum tōraa vāyil kāppānēkōyil kāppān refers to the ketrādhipati (the security for the whole palace) and vāyil kāppān refers to the Dvārapālakas (at the main entrance).  Andal is ready to fall to the feet of anyone who would allow them to enter for divine experience; In Thiruayppadi almost all the houses are affluent like nandagopa’s palace and hence to avoid confusion for the little girls who are coming very early in the morning a flag has been hoisted on the top. 

 Bharata who proceeded to Chitrakoota with a great thirst to meet Sri Rama felt comfortable on seeing the smoke and saffron robes indicating the presence of Sri Rama.  Similarly in those days people used to keep indications visible from a distance in places where drinking water were placed for travelers.  This was considered as a great charitable work as people didn’t have the habit of carrying water bottles.  Here Kṛṣṇa is the pond of water for those who suffer in the hot sun of samsara.  It has been said that even Ayodhya and paramapada were decorated with flags and buntings.

 (vāyil kāppānēThe flags and buntings are insentient and hence cannot welcome us but you can realize our deep thirst and hence shouldn’t you welcome us?

 Like those who helped Arjuna to take Subadra with him with the permission of Kṛṣṇa, please help us.

 (mai kadavamAndal earlier said “māmān magaḷe maṇi kadavam” while referring to the doors of a devotee studded with gems;  Here again she says mai kadavam, indicating that the Lord doesn’t reserve anything special for Him but graces the devotees also with all the wealth and riches He possesses.  The Lord mesmerizes the onlookers but the very door in His temple also has the same property.

 (mai kadavam tā tiavāyPlease open the latch and leave us in without we being engrossed in the divine beauty of the door and even forgetting the Lord;

 The gatekeeper: “who are you all who have come in this dark time in a place filled with fear”;

 Andal: Can there be fear in the residence of one who overcomes everyone’s fear (bayanAm apahAri).

 Gatekeeper: But this is not tretha yuga when the time was good; father was samparanthaka (whose fame spread in all directions), the sons were like male lions, very obedient, the place was Thiruayodhya one can enjoy pleasure without fear, this is dvarpara yuga very close to kali yuga, father is innocent nandagopa, sons were young boys, that too naughty, place is village of cowherds, that too close to the kingdom of kamsa, under the rule of kamsa and disliked by him and hence any grass or tree turns to be a demonic in nature how can one be without fear?

 Andal: But we are girls so no fear;

 Gatekeeper: wasn’t Surpanaka a female?

 Andal: We are not rakshasees but cowherd girls.

 Gatekeeper: But putana took only the form of a cowherd lady;

 (āyar ciu miyarō mukkuBut don’t you see we are young girls and innocent?  Moreover we haven’t come alone like putana we are 5 lakh in number; don’t you see from our very appearance that we belong to the clan of devotees who seek the well being of our favorite Kṛṣṇa;

 Gatekeeper: I cannot believe just because you are young since even vatsAsura came as a young calf to harm Kṛṣṇa; so tell me the purpose of your visit;

 (aai paaiwe have come to get a musical drum for our vratha;

 Gatekeeper: why don’t you request the same once the Lord wakes up?

 (nennālē vāy nērndānYesterday He promised to give us the same in this time;

 (MāyanHe might be the supreme Lord but in our case He makes Himself easily accessible and cherishes doing our errands; when your master behaves obediently to us shouldn’t you also do as per our request?

 (maivaṇṇanEven if He troubles us, His beauty is such that we can never leave Him; please allow us to enjoy that divine beauty that doesn’t allow us to keep quiet doing our daily chores;

 (nennālēyesterday, unlike today, the day we cherished with Kṛṣṇa without any encumbrance.  He touched our feet yesterday and today we are begging you;

 (vāy nērndānThose are the words of the Lord whose words never get wasted, the Lord who never gets back in His promise, the Lord who doesn’t lie;

 (Māyan vāy nērndānHis words were incredible indeed!

 (maivaṇṇan vāy nērndānCan anyone talk beautifully? Didn’t Valmiki celebrate the beauty of Sri Rama while talking so did Nammazhvar;

 (nennālē vāy nērndānUnlike you who refuses to open your mouth today He promised us yesterday itself;

 Gatekeeper: So it be that He promised you yesterday still I am suspicious as you have come here to get the musical drum from Him (prayojanantharaparar-who come for fulfilling their aspiration);

 Andal:

 (tūyōmāy vandōmOh we don’t fall under that category we haven’t come here for some purpose;  under the pretext of receiving the drum we have come here to sing mangalasasanam (prayers for His well being) to Him;

 We have come with purity in both the means and goal.  Purity in means is not trying to reach Him with self effort but by His divine grace; Purity in goal is not aspiring for anything else other than the Lord and also not considering the experience of the divine as self pleasure. 

Here the purity of thought is important, not the purity of body;

 To attain the Lord purity in mind is more essential than the clean body; Vibheeshana did not even take a dip before surrendering to Sri Rama; Arjuna received the charama sloka in the battlefield and Draupadi called for help only during the monthly days of impurity. So it is not essential to clean our body; at the same time if we are clean we need not make ourselves unclean to surrender;

 Slowly due to their pitiable tone due to the difficulty experienced due to separation Andal and others convinced the gatekeeper;

 (VandōmActually He should have come to us but on the contrary we have taken the pains to come here and still you are not allowing us inside;

 Gatekeeper: How do I believe that you are ananyaprayojanas (devotees without any other purpose)?

 Andal:

 (tuyilezha pāuvānDon’t you see the time of our visit and our very purpose is to wake Him up.  If we have come to request something from Him then we would have come only during the time He sits in His court granting the wishes of the citizens;

 Sita Devi enjoyed the sleeping Sri Rama whereas Andal wants to enjoy the awakening Kṛṣṇa;

 Similar to the Vedas, Vishvamitra maharishi and Thondaradipodi azhvar Andal also wants to sing suprabhatha to Kṛṣṇa;

 Now that the gatekeeper has got full confidence in them, enjoying their talk wanted to hold them for some more time; but realizing the same from his expression Andal says,

 (vāyāl munna munnam māttrādēthough you have pleasant thoughts please don’t keep showering obstructing words;

 (ammā!You are our master! One who shows Him to us?

 The gatekeeper realized that stopping them any further will be a risk to their lives(due to seperation from Him) and so he asked them to open the door and enter inside;

 (nī nēya nilaik kadavam nīkkuYou asked us so many questions because of your love to protect Kṛṣṇa; this door has even more care for Him so please help us in opening the same;  Like all associates of kamsa thinking harm for Kṛṣṇa, in thiruayppadi irrespective of sentient or insentient beings have a deep love and care for their Lord;

 The door is so perfectly fitted that it is difficult for us to open the same so please open the door and allow us inside;

LESSON FOR THE DAY

 From the 16th verse, we all need to understand that while visiting a temple we need to follow protocols;  We have to be pure in body and mind while entering a temple and also be dressed as per the general regulations;  The way we dress or conduct ourselves should in no way hinder the divine thoughts of the fellow devotees.  We should feel like a united family and enjoy under the leadership of the supreme Lord and enjoy the divine experience sharing and caring with one and all;

 We should do complete prostration only near the Dwajasthamba (the main pillar in the entrance atop of which the divine flag, Garuda kodi is hoisted).  Then we should prostrate Garuda (all Vishnu temples have Garuda sannadhi opposite to the main sanctum santorum) followed by paying our respects to the alwars, acharyas, the divine consort (Piratti) and then enjoy the divine darshan of the Lord almighty.  This is the practical way to reach the Lord in temples; In case of mentally surrendering to the supreme we need to keep in mind the following:

 The ācārya is mediator, the manifest representation of God on earth, firm in faith and full of wisdom. He knows our temptations, our imperfections, and our frailties, by personal contact. The ācāryas do not care for our virtue or sin, if we surrender ourselves completely to them, they will by their precious and unceasing efforts to procure salvation for us, more easily and with greater certainty and less risk, than would otherwise be possible.

 Thus it is clear, that one attains the Lord through the help of the ācārya and obtaining a good (Sat) ācārya is due to the grace of the Lord. According to Vaiṣṇava Tradition, Puruṣākāram or intercession and grace of the ācārya are the two essentials for the attainment of Salvation.

 Even a great prodigy like Alavandār surrendered himself to Lord Raṅganātha through the grace of his ācārya Natha-munigaḷ.

 In this 16th verse in Tiruppavai, the gate-keepers are now in the position of ācāryas, and their permission and intercession is needed for the Gopis to attain the precious jewel — Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The term guru indicates “a dispeller of the darkness of ignorance“. The term ācārya refers to one who understands and practices the injunctions of the Scriptures; and teaches them to others through example. The opening of the door symbolizes the opening of the hearts and the minds to receive God. The latch is the feeling of independence from God.