Tiruppavai Pasuram 17


ambaramē tannīrē cōrēyarañ ceyyum |
 emperumān nanda gopālā! ezhundirāy |
kombanark-kellām kozhundē! kula viḷakkē!
 emperumāṭṭi! yaśoday! aṛivurāy |
ambaram ūḍaṛuttōngiyulahaḷandu |
 umbar  kōmānē! uṛangād ezhundirāy!
cembor kazhalaḍi celvā! baladevā!
 umbiyum nīyum uṛangēlōr empāvāy ||


Ambaramē – clothes;

tannīrē– water;

cōrēy – food;

aram ceyyum – provide (charity) generously;

emperumān nanda gopālā! – Oh! Our master nandagopala!

Ezhundirāy– please get up;

kombanark-kellām kozhundē! – The tendril of womankind;

kula viḷakkē!– beacon light of our community of cow-herders;

emperumāṭṭi! – The foremost among us;

yaśoday! – yesodha piratti;

aṛivurāy– wake up;

ambaram ūḍaṛuttu – piercing the sky;

ōngi – grew taller;

ulagaḷanda – measured the three worlds;

umbar kōmānē!– Lord of the gods;

uṛangādu – shed your sleep;

ezhundirāy!– wake up;

cempor kazhalaḍi– one who is opulent with red-gold anklets;

celvā! – Sriman; ever with wealth;

baladevā! – Balarāma!

umbiyum nīyum uṛangēl – you along with your younger brother (Kṛṣṇa) don’t sleep; 


 As per the request, the gatekeepers allow Andal and others to enter inside; all of them step inside to awaken Sri Nandagopa and others; in the first quarter portion of the bed-chamber, Nandagopa is sleeping, in the second quarter Yaśoda, in the third Kṛṣṇa and in the fourth Baladeva.  Nandagopa is sleeping in the front portion to prevent the girls from stealing Kṛṣṇa. Earlier Andal woke up 10 gopis and now all of them join together to wake up Nandagopa, Yaśoda, Kṛṣṇa, and Baladeva in the same order. But will the girls steal Kṛṣṇa? Sri Periya vachan pillai, the king of commentators, wonderfully gets to our memory the episode of Aniruddha, the grandson of Kṛṣṇa who was considered to be exquisitely beautiful and was abducted by the friend of Usha, the daughter of Banasura, while he was sleeping in his palace. If that was the case with His grandson what to say about Kṛṣṇa, the paragon of beauty and the beloved of all the 5 lakh gopis in Thiruayppadi;


 (ambaramē) Is it not customary to wake up Yaśoda first (generally the ladies of the household wake up before everyone else) instead why do the gopis awaken Nandagopa? That is because Nandagopa is the first to be seen.  Yaśoda, sleeps in between her husband and child.

 (ambaramē tannīrē cōrēyaram ceyyum)  We are not standing in the doorsteps of a miser but in front of the most generous person’s palace; One who grants that required for existence (water), for growth (food) and for pleasure (clothes) abundantly. Those begging cannot live without accepting alms similarly Nandagopa cannot exist without doing charity. We have come to accept from you and give you happiness shouldn’t you get up and come; Kṛṣṇa calls those who receive grants from Him also as “udArA:” (most generous people);

 The Sanskrit word ‘ambaram’ has two meanings: clothes and sky; the first meaning is used in the first line and the second in the 5th line;

 Here the reference of gifting clothes symbolizes all that required for pleasure;

 ‘tannīrē’ giving water symbolizes all that required for the mere existence of life;

 ‘Cōrēy’ giving food symbolizes all that required for overall development and growth;

 Andal’s intent in talking about the charity of Nandagopa is ‘you who is renowned in providing abundantly the objects of existence (dharaka), development (poshaka) and pleasure (bhogya) for everyone, why are you hiding our dhAraka, pOshaka and bhOgya vastu (Kṛṣṇa)?

 ambaramē the ‘mē’ added after all the three is indicative of the abundance in providing.  It makes the receiver wonder, “Does he know only to give clothes?”

 aram ceyyum –charity done not for fame but for the pleasure of giving;

 We are not interested in separate objects for various purposes we need only one for all three and that’s Kṛṣṇa;

 (emperumānNandagopa, you are our master because you have given Kṛṣṇa to this world. Others will not grant alms to girls/ladies but you are the only one who can grant us Kṛṣṇa; We all cherish to call him as “Nandagopan kumaran” (the son of nandagopa);

 (ezhundirāyPlease get up; how can a kind person like you ignore us and keep sleeping;

 Will a master wait till the property comes begging him? We are at your doorsteps but you, our master, are still sleeping!

 Hearing this Nandagopa gets up and allows the girls inside; So Andal proceeds to wake up yasodha;

 (kombanark-kellām kozhundē!Yaśoda! (’the tendril of womankind’);  They addressed Yaśoda in this way because, if there is any disease in a plant, it is the tendril that withers at first, thus symbolizing the impending danger to the plant; similarly, if any impending danger were to threaten the womenfolk of Gokula, then Yaśoda’s face will be the first to fade.

 When the head of the family Nandagopa has got up, you the foremost of womanfolk can you still keep sleeping not realizing our hunger?

 (kula viakkē!Becon light of Gokula and the cowherds; you are kula vilakku (lamp of the clan) and Kṛṣṇa ‘ani vilakku’ (radiant lamp) but unfortunately we are still in darkness; why don’t you give us Kṛṣṇa and light out lives?

 (emperumāṭṭi! yaśoday!Oh! Our chief Yaśoda; one who gave birth to Kṛṣṇa;

 We see a great difference in the attitude of the gopis.  They consider Nandagopa as emperuman (the divine Lord) and Yasoda as emperumatti (the divine consort) because they are the ones who have given Kṛṣṇa to them; this reflects the core principle of pArathantriyam (servitude to the Lord);

 Oh! Yasoda you are a special mother. Tendency of a mother is to shower love and that of a father is to concentrate on the welfare of the child. You very well will understand our sorrow of separation and when the father himself as woken up, can you still keep sleeping?

 These are innocent girls and Nandagopa and Yasodha are so close to them that they call them by names rather than calling with respect;

 (aṛivurāy) You don’t even have to get up like Nandagopa it is enough if you just open your eyes things will go on automatically;

 Hearing this Yasoda opens her eyes and they proceed to wake Kṛṣṇa;

 (ambaram ūauttōngiyulagaandaImmediately on receiving the alms from mahabali, Vamana moorthi grew in size and measured the three worlds; As a result placed His divine lotus Feet on the heads of all without any discrimination whatsoever, even when none of them had requested Him to do so. 

 Why did He grow suddenly? Being the universal protector, once he received the worlds as alms, He grew due to extreme happiness; like a mother hugging a sleeping child and enjoying the same, Trivikrama placed His feet on one and all;

 (umbar kōmānē!You granted the place of living for the Devas and remain their master;

 Umbar can also be considered to be referring to the nithyasuris; you even left them and came down for our sake but still sleeping?

 For helping us you don’t have to measure the worlds or place Feet on those who don’t care for you. We are your intimate gopis and are begging you to take us in servitude.  When you have placed your lotus Feet on top of all objects in this world are we not part of the same?

 Or have you vowed to protect only the devas who come to you for material pursuits and not us who come for the sake of service to You?

 The very episode of measuring the worlds proves that You are the supreme.  One raised His divine Feet, the other washed that with pleasure and another happily accepted that water on his head.  Is there any doubt in realizing the almighty?

 (uangād ezhundirāy!) How can the universal protector sleep?  You went as a beggar to protect your dependents but now while we beg at your doorsteps you still keep sleeping! Please shed your sleep and get up;

 Probably He is sleeping due to the tiredness of measuring the worlds and placing His lotus feet on hard substances (mountains, rocks and even heads of those who do not realize His greatness). So Andal sings suprabhatham to Kṛṣṇa.

 Even after hearing all these, the Lord kept quiet because He felt that they have missed to wake up His elder brother which was the procedure; Understanding their mistake Andal in the last two lines tries to wake up Balarama;

 (cempor kazhalai celvā!Devaki and Vasudeva gave birth to six children that were killed by kamsa; only after Balarama placed His divine Feet in this, world Kṛṣṇa took birth.  So Andal celebrates the divine Feet of Balarama.  Adisesha incarnated as Lakshmana, the younger brother of Sri Rama and did all sort of services to the Lord. But now Balarama, was born as the elder brother but never did he stop doing the same services.  So now Andal says, “shouldn’t you keep awake like Lakshmana who was standing with the bow and arrow and attentively taking care of Sri Rama and Sita Devi while they slept peacefully?” The wealth of Baladeva is kainkaryam (service to the Lord);

 (baladevā!The repository of strength (indicating he is none other than Adisesha incarnated);

 We have seen people sleeping on the bed but never seen a bed (Adisesha) sleeping, wonders Andal.

 (umbiyum nīyum uangēlYou and your brother (your junior) don’t sleep! Wake up!

 Kṛṣṇa asked us to wake you first because you were born as His elder brother. But you please don’t keep quiet because of your natural quality of servitude to the Lord;  You get up and also wake your brother up;

 He is enjoying your touch and you are enjoying contact with the supreme Lord; both of you please wake up.

 Can one sleep without the bed? Even when Sri Rama was away from Sita Devi for 10 months and also later for more years, He never was without Lakshmana. 

 This is a good opportunity for the Lord to take us into His service, else He will have to take all the pains to regain us.  So it is wise to catch us while we are begging at His doorsteps;


From this pasuram, we see the greatness of Nandagopa in doing charity of food, water and clothes in abundance. The noble act of helping the needy is very much a part of spirituality. Our Shastras direct us to distribute a part of our wealth earned by honest means for this purpose. In the 18th chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krsna gives His final verdict that acts such as dhAnam or charity should be continued without expecting any rewards like swarga(heaven), money or praise in return. Such acts done in such a way is hailed as beingsAttvika(in goodness), leads to purification and is liked by Krsna Himself.
While any kind of charity is good, the best kind of charity is done in our temples. It is a fact that mere food, comforts or money alone doesn’t satisfy a person. Otherwise we will find that all the wealthy people of the world are satisfied but what we observe is quite the contrary. The soul, indulging in transient material pleasures, never finds lasting satisfaction and peace.

But food offered to Sriman Narayana in Divya desams and temples satisfy the hunger of both the body and the soul and has been distributed to the needy since thousands of years. Here, with the stomach and tongue thus satisfied, the eyes are engaged in seeing His divine Forms (Archa vigraha), nose in smelling the incense, Tulasi and flowers offered to Him and the ears in hearing His divine Names, auspicious Vedic hymns and Divya Prabhandams like Thiruppavai. With senses engaged in objects offered to Him sattva guNa (quality of goodness) increases and the soul realizes that its true happiness and nature lies in serving Him. Supporting such temples is therefore the best act of charity. Even helping in spreading the divine works of the great Alwars and Acharyas which facilitates these and pleases the Lord, is the best service to society.