Tiruppavai Pasuram 18

ENGLISH TEXT

undu  madha kalittan ōḍāda tōḷ valiyan |
 nanda gopālan marumahaḷē! nappinnāy!
gandham kamazhum kuzhalī! kaḍai tiravāy |
 vandengum kōzhiyazhaittāna kāṇ | mādhavi
pandal mēl palkāl kuyil inangaḷ kūvina kāṇ |
 pandār virali! un maittunan pēr pāḍa |
centāmarai kaiyāl cīrār vaḷai olippa |
 vandu tiṛavāy makizhndēlōr empāvāy ||

WORD BY WORD MEANING

 Madha undu kalittran – One who is strong and mighty like an elephant with flowing musth fluid (indication of aggression);

ōḍāda tōḷ valiyan– One who is powerful enough to face any enemy in a war and doesn’t need to run away;

nanda gopālan– Sri Nandagopa’s;

marumagaḷē!– daughter-in-law;

nappinnāy! – called as nappinnay;

gandham kamazhum kuzhalī! – One who has fragrant tresses!

kaḍai tiravāy-Please open the door;

kōzhi – rooster;

engum vandu – in all the four directions;

azhaittāna kāṇ – are crowing;

(Moreover) mādhavi pandal mēl – from the bowers of madhavi flowers (gaertnera flower);

kuyil inangaḷ – Flocks of cuckoos;

palkāl kūvina kāṇ –  coo  incessantly;

pandār virali! – (that which aided to win over Kṛṣṇa) the fingers that are holding the ball;

un maittunan pēr pāḍa – inorder  (for us) to sing the names of your beloved Kṛṣṇa;

cīrār vaḷai olippa – with jingling bangles;

vandu – come;

centāmarai kaiyāl – with your lotus-red hands;

makizhndu tiṛavāy – open with joy;

INTRODUCTION

 In the last verse Andal tried to wake up Kṛṣṇa through the proper channel of first waking Nandagopa, followed by Yasoda, then Balarama and Kṛṣṇa but still failed in Her attempt; Then She remembered the necessity and efficacy of approaching the Lord through the mediation of His consort, Nappinnai and hence wakes up Nappinnai in this 18th verse. Fire can be extinguished with water, but to cool water when it becomes hot, water itself will serve the purpose.  Similarly we need the divine Mother to mediate between the Lord and the Jiva but no mediation is required for us to approach our divine Mother.  She is always filled with endless causeless grace on all of us. The need for mediation by the divine consort to get the grace of the Lord has been insisted in many places in Srimad Ramanyana and other scriptures;

 Nappinai, is the incarnation of Nila Devi, one among the three consorts of the Lord in Srivaikunta; The foremost among the three is Sri Mahalakshmi; Bhoo Devi and Nila Devi aid in the pleasure of the Lord and the divine Mother (Sri Devi); When Sri Devi is considered to be a Vaishnavi (who surrenders to the Lord alone) Bhoo and Nila Devi’s are the foremost Srivaishnavas (as they surrender to both perumal and piratti).  So, as falling in the Feet of Srivaishnavas are considered more sacred, Andal now proceeds to wake up Nappinnai piratti.

 While in Paramapadam, we need to surrender to all the three consorts before reaching the Lord;

 In Ksheerabhdhi (milky ocean), one needs to fall to the divine Feet of Sri and Bhoo Devi’s before surrendering to the Lord;

 During the Ramavatara, one needs to approach Sri Rama through the divine mother Sita Devi (incaranation of Sri Devi);

 During the Varahavatara, one can reach Varaha moorthi with the mediation of Bhoo devi

 During the Krishnavatara, while in gokula, the only consort was Nappinai piratti and hence Andal wakes her now;

 Earlier Andal and others rushed to enjoy Kṛṣṇa and hence went to wake Him up first. Then they realized that they need to go as per procedure and hence approaches Nappinai for mediation;

COMMENTARY

 Once during his visit to Thirukottiyur, It is said that one day, when Śrī Rāmānuja was going on his daily round for alms reciting this verse (18th), to which he was specially attached, he found himself in front of the house of his ācārya, Sri Thirukkotiyur Nambi. When chanting this stanza, the outer-door of the house which was bolted, was abruptly opened by Devaki piratti, the daughter of Thirukkotiyur Nambi, as the last words of the stanza — “With thy hand of red lotus and with the jingling of beautiful bangles, come and gladly open the door” — were being sung. Śrī Rāmānuja, who was deeply immersed in the sentiment (bhāva) of the stanza, at once imagined her to be Nappinnai herself and fell into a rapturous trance. The incident was, of course, reported to Thirukkotiyur Nambi, who recognized the stanza that his disciple must have been reciting at once, even before it was mentioned to him.

 Thus, it is quite clear that Śrī Āṇḍāḷ had an amazing effect upon Śrī Rāmānuja who liked to be called ‘Tiruppāvai Jiyar’ or the ‘Tiruppāvai Saint’ when he had numerous other titles and appellations of honour and distinction.

 (undu mada kalittran)  Since Nandagopa was so powerful he was capable of pushing elephants alone; Kṛṣṇa later killed kuvalayapita not because of His supremacy but because He was the mighty son of Nandagopa; 

 But as Nandagopa belonged to the clan of cowherds, did he have elephants? The Prince Vāsudeva and Nandagopa are such close friends that the property of one is as good as that of the other and Vāsudeva had many elephants. Moreover a foster son (Kṛṣṇa) has rights in both, the house he was born and where he has been sent;

 (ōāda tō valiyanNandagopa was a powerful warrior who never turned back on the foe; that is the main reason why kamsa didn’t come directly to gokula and instead sent putana and others to kill Kṛṣṇa; hence the girls also lived without fear;

 (nanda gopālanHe might be mighty and powerful but for us he is our nandagopan, so easily accessible and down to earth that Andal calls him by name and not with respect. 

 (nanda gopālan marumagaē!The Gopis address Nappinnai as the daughter-in-law of Nandagopa, though she was the daughter of the King Kumbha, the reason being that traditional women are more proud of the family to which they belong by marriage than that of their birth. In the Rāmāyana Sītā Devi began a description of Herself to Hanumān by saying “I am the daughter-in-law of Daśaratha, the fire of enemy-armies.”

 (nappinnāy! The Gopis address Nappinnai in a familiar manner, for after the birth of the Lord Kṛṣṇa, every young girl in the Gokula claimed relationship of daughter-in-law to Nandagopa; and as such Nappinnai remained silent when they addressed her as ‘daughter-in-law of Nandagopa’. So they had to address her again by calling her name.

 Nappinnai kept quiet thinking the girls will leave after calling for sometime assuming that she is not there.  Envisaging her thought Andal says,

 (gandham kamazhum kuzhalī!)  “The overwhelming fragrance of your hair betrays your presence, even though you remain silent and pretend that you are not home!”

 Nappinai felt that they were complaining because they have all vowed not to decorate their hair with fragrant flowers by themselves but here she is enjoying the same and so she kept quiet;

 (kaai tiravāyOpen the door so that we can also enjoy along with you;  Experiencing Kṛṣṇa in solitude is not fair; allow us in so that we can aid you in getting more divine experience;  Experiencing the divine Lord should always be done only along with devotees;

 Nappinnai: But why do you all come and wake me in the middle of the night come once it is dawn;

 (vandengum kōzhiyazhaittāna kāRoosters are crowing in all the directions; isn’t that an indication of dawn?

 (mādhavi pandal mēl palkāl kuyil inanga kūvina kāwon’t you accept the cooing of the cuckoos as an indication? It is not just one but a flock of cuckoos, not one time but incessantly they are cooing. 

 Nappinnai:  But probably they are cooing not able to sleep. 

 They are lying on the bower of madhavi flowers can they be without sleeping? If they have woken up and cooing is it not clear that it is already dawn?

 Once the mukthAtmas reach the divine abode of the Lord, they never think about this samsara; similarly once the cuckoos rest on the bower of madhavi flowers, they seldom think of anything else;

 Wanting to hear you and see you they are cooing many times; At least for their sake wake up and come;

 Due to the grief of separation the sound of the cuckoos are hurting us but you are sleeping as if it was lullaby;

 Nappinnai: Probably you frightened the cuckoos and made them coo;

 (pandār viraliKṛṣṇa is the partner to be enjoyed by Nappinnai, the ball is her toy. She has in one hand ‘the contained’ (nāram ) and on the other hand ‘the container’ (nārayanan): she has in one hand ‘substance’ (vibhūti ) and on the other hand the possessor of all substances’ (vibhūtimān).

 This dichotomy establishes the puruākara-bhāva (mediatrix). The ball that she holds in her hand represents the Universe which is an object of Līlā – sport for the Lord. In the ball game with the Lord, she is the winner and this augurs well for the welfare of all beings.

 What a blessing that ball has to be in your hand? We were not blessed to be that ball.

 Nappinnai: Ok what is the purpose of your visit?

 (un maittunan pēr pāḍa) We came here to celebrate your victory and sing about the loser, your beloved; We are here to chant thousand Names indicative of His defeat;

 Nappinai: Then open the door and come.

 We are dependents and hence cannot come in without your help;

 (centāmarai kaiyāl) The Lord shows his abhaya hasta and says don’t worry I will wash out all your sins; But we depend on your Red Lotus-hands that assures that you will protect us from the svathantriya (ultimate independence) of Kṛṣṇa. The Lord has to be impartial and hence might get angry seeing our sins at times but the divine mother ever filled with grace mediates and makes Him to forgive and accept the surrendering Jiva. 

(cīrār vaai olippa)  Bangles go away only during separation from the beloved, so they want to hear the jingling of bangles indicating the joy of union;

 (vandu tiavāy makizhnduFor our sake please walk a few steps and open the door with joy;

 In this verse the five senses are mentioned as being sublimated and directed to the goal of life which is the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

 Makizhndu – in this way, seeing all the senses getting satisfied your mind rests in peace and so even ours;

LESSON FOR THE DAY

The very important lesson from this verse is we need to approach the Lord always through the divine Mother.  Even in a family we see the kids approach the mother more easily and would like the mother to talk in favor of them to the father.  Fathers by nature always think about the welfare of the children and hence need to be strict at times.  But the mother is always filled with love and hence forgets and forgives any mistake a child does.  Similarly while we visit a temple, Srivaishnavas have a practice of first visiting the sannadhi of Thayar (the divine mother Laksmi) falling to Her feet and once She mediates, without any fear we can approach the Lord;

In Srivaishnava temples, there are separate shrines for the divine Mother and also Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi accompany the Lord in the main shrine; The divine consort also reserves Her place in the divine chest of the Lord (thirumarbu nachiyar or AlarmEl mangai); Why does the divine Mother take so many forms?  Very interestingly our preceptors explain:-

We, the Jiva, the embodiment of sins enter the temple and first we go the separate shrine of the mother;  Our face reflects the fear of punishment from the Lord and hence the mother says ‘don’t worry I will take care with my abhaya hastham’. Relieved a little bit we come around the temple and reach the main shrine;  By this time the divine Mother talks in favour of us to the Lord;

We now stand in front of the Lord who is not convinced because of the amount of sin we have committed; He turns towards Sri devi and She says ‘who has not committed sins? Don’t forget your divine quality of forgiveness (kshama)’;  Not satisfied He turns to Bhoo devi who goes a step higher and says, ”Oh! My Lord there are no sinners at all in this world; so just shower your grace on this jiva; Why should we see the sins and then forgive instead ignore them totally’. 

After a deep thought the Lord says, ‘Then what will happen to the divine texts (sastras) that advocate punishments for every sin’  The divine Mother in the chest says, ‘Let that be for those who are away from You and for those who surrender to You shower only your grace’  What a wonderful idea!

So thus the divine Mother convinces the Lord to shower His ultimate grace on all of us.  So let us all surrender to the Mother and with her intercession be blessed with the divine grace of the supreme Lord.

It is not right to leave the Mother and hold on to the Father alone nor is it right to just hold on to the mother.  Surpanaka ignored the mother and got attracted towards the beauty of Sri Rama.  She got her ear and nose chopped off.  While Ravana tried to separate the divine mother from the Lord and hence had to sacrifice His life.  But Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana, surrendered to Sri Rama with the support of Sita Devi and hence was crowned as the king of Lanka.

Even in our lives every child has to get such love and care from both the parents.  Parents need to sacrifice their selfishness for the welfare of their children.