Tiruppavai Pasuram 21

ENGLISH TEXT

etta kalangaḷ edir pōngi mīdaḷippa |
 māttrādē pāl coriyum vaḷḷal perum pasukkaḷ |
āttra paḍaittān mahanē! aṛivurāy |
 uttram uḍaiyāy! periyāy! ulaginil
tōttramāy  ninra śuḍarē! tuyil ezhāy!
 māttrār unakku vali tolaindun vāśaṛkaṇ |
āttrādu vandun aḍipaṇiyumā pōlē |
 pōttri yām vandōm pugazhndēlōr empāvāy ||

WORD BY WORD MEANING

ettra kalangaḷ – the vessels placed to collect milk (that flows on its own);

edir pōngi – right in front reach the brim;

mīdaḷippa – overflow;

māttrādē – incessantly;

pāl coriyum –  milk showering;

vaḷḷal – generous;

perum pasukkaḷ – gigantic cows;

āttrā paḍaittān maganē! – Son of Nandagopala who is blessed with many such cow!

aṛivurāy – wake up;

uttram uḍaiyāy! – (as You have been talked about in the highest source of knowledge, the Vedas) You are stable!

periyāy! – One who is the most superior (not completely cognized even by the Vedas)

tōttramāy nindra – Appeared and stood (visible to all the beings);

śuḍarē! – Effulgent light!

tuyil ezhāy! – wake up!

Māttār – Your enemies;

unakku vali tolaindu – lose (their) power and pride in front of you;

un vāśaṛkaṇ – at your doorsteps;

āttrādu vandu – come without any other refuge;

un aḍipaṇiyumā pōlē – and like they surrender to your divine Feet;

yām – we;

pōttri – pray (for Your) welfare, do mangalasasanam;

vandōm– we have reached (Your doorsteps);

INTRODUCTION

The gopis have now secured the assistance of Nappinnai who joins them in arousing the Lord. In this verse, Andal eulogizes the Lord of His greatness and how they have lost themselves to Him;

COMMENTARY

 (ettra kalangaḷ edir pōngi mīdaḷippa) The vessels kept under the udder of the cow to collect the milk that flowed on its own, reached the brim and overflowed due to the continuous and copious shower of milk; The number of vessels placed underneath was countless;  Innumerable vessels were placed but still they kept overflowing;  Even if a vessel that could hold the ocean is placed underneath, the cows were capable of filling the same as they were growing enjoying the divine touch of the supreme Lord and hence possessed His nature.

 The Lord waits for the opportunity to shower His grace and even considers those who come to Him with some obligation and leave after receiving as generous people.  Even after granting everything the Lord still feels that He hasn’t done enough.  Similar are the cows that enjoy His divine touch;

 (māttrādē pāl coriyum) Even if there is no one to change the vessels, due to the trouble in its udder due to excessive milk, the milk keeps flowing constantly;

 This is similar to Kṛṣṇa showering all the divine meanings given in nook and corner of the Upanishads in His Srimad Bhagavat Gita, even when Arjuna did not request for the same.

 (vaḷḷal) Not doing it as a favour to others but instead considering it to be its own job;

 Similar to Sri Rama experiencing relief and satisfaction of completing His task successfully after crowning Vibheeshana in Lanka;

 Or otherwise making it so easily accessible by even innocent gopis, similar to Kṛṣṇa;

 (perum pasukkaḷ) due to His divine touch, the cows have grown big and gigantic;

 (āttrā paḍaittān maganē!) A boy born to a rich man enjoys the pleasure of the wealth more than the father who earned the wealth with difficulty; similarly Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nandagopa, enjoys all that which has been earned by His father.  Though the Lord is the possessor of all wealth, still He enjoys more being the Son of Nandagopa and enjoying His father’s wealth;

 The wealth of Nandagopa(cows) is limitless similar to the divine qualities of the Lord and the naughty pranks of Kṛṣṇa;

 (maganē! aṛivurāy) “You are born in Gokula, leaving Paramapada(Srivaikuntha) and the Milky Ocean, only for the purpose of redeeming the fallen ones who approach You. So You should be fulfilling the object of Your birth, please don’t sleep away Your time.” Wake up. 

 Even if Your wealth is making You lazy please remember the purpose of Your birth and wake up.  You are omniscient but still are sleeping inside thinking deeply on how to get hold of those who are not yet under your control and hence we are here trying to wake you up;

 Even after the gopis called for Kṛṣṇa, since the word – maganē in general can be applied to many in Gokula, He kept quiet. So now Andal eulogizes Him with words that can apply only to Him;

 (uttram uḍaiyāy!) He whose foundation is unshakeable and lies deep in the highest source of knowledge, the Vedas (which is not authored by anyone, not even by the Lord);

 (periyāy!) And Whose greatness is inconceivable (beyond word and thought) even by the Vedas, that declare Him as Supreme; 

 If He is so great then how can we reach Him from this materialistic world?

 (Ulaginil tōttramāy nindra śuḍarē!) This inconceivable greatness of the Lord has been attested by Him manifesting Himself to the whole world.

 He has descended with great pleasure to this world which is disliked even by the lowest of the lowest person.  Instead of saying “born here” it has been said “manifested here” indicating that the impurity of remaining in the mother’s womb doesn’t affect Him;

 (śuḍarē!) If born due to karma (result of past actions), a jiva loses it’s glow each time it takes a new birth; But the Lord who incarnates due to His limitless grace on the jivas (and not by karma), becomes more and more effulgent each time’. For You Lord – every Avatāra or rebirth makes Your effulgence shine hundred-thousand fold more than what it was previously, unlike in the case of ordinary mortals 

Three meanings are obtained by reading the E-kAram (ē  in the word) by combining it with different words as follows (but the last one is the most suitable)

  • He in every birth gains more greatness;
  • He alone gains greatness in each birth;
  • He gains greatness only after birth;

Andal purposely says You “were” effulgent in past tense indicating that since You have not come to our call and has made us suffer, You have lost Your glow;

 Another version:

 (uttram uḍaiyāy!) One who has a strong conviction in protecting His devotees;  \

 While Sugreeva and others strongly objected to accept Vibheeshana into their troopSri Rama stubbornly accepted him; Even while Sita Piratti talked against fighting the demons for the sake of rishis of dandakaranya, Sri Rama was determined to keep up His promise.  If Sridevi nachiyar for sake of testing talks against a jeevatma the Lord never gives up His devotees;

 (periyāy!) Even after granting everything, He is still not satisfied. Also, He showers grace for the satisfaction of His mind only and doesn’t consider that to be for the sake of His devotees. He always showers grace by granting things that is suited to His greatness;

 (Ulaginil tōttramāy nindra śuḍarē!) while He has a soft corner for His devotees, He never hides the same but explicitly shows it to the world;  Not only the devotees but even His foes (like duriyodhana and sisupala) realize that He is partial to His devotees.

 (śuḍarē!) The special spark due to the motherly affection towards His devotees;

 (tuyil ezhāy!) Don’t lose all the above by not waking up;

 ‘I am just getting up let me know the purpose of your visit’ enquired Kṛṣṇa;

 (māttār unakku vali tolaindun vāśaṛkaṇ) Like Your enemies shedding their ego and pride and without any strength to stand against You stand in your doorsteps to surrender to You, we are also waiting in your doorsteps;

 But is it right to compare the gopis with the Lord’s foes?  Since all Jeevatmas have for many many births only stood fighting against Him (by not admitting His masterhood) it is not wrong;

 But He is the Father of the whole universe, can He have enemies?  Those who do not follow His orders, and show enemity towards Him and His devotees are considered as the Lord’s enemies;

 Just as Kākasura and other enemies prostrated at Your feet, unable to withstand Your mighty valour, so also we, poor girls, came out of our privacy, stung by the pangs of separation, unable to withstand Your irresistible attraction.”

 (āttrādu vandun aḍipaṇiyumā pōlē ) The enemies come to Your Feet due to your might, but we fall to your feet mesmerized by Your divine qualities. An arrow kills immediately but Your divine qualities are a slow poison slowly killing us;

 (yām vandōm) You were supposed to come to us, but we have come to You;

 Desire doesn’t leave us to die; knowledge of the self doesn’t allow us to come; our deep thirst doesn’t leave us to stay in our place;

 (pōttri ) we sang pallandu like periazhvar;

 (Pugazhndu) we also praised You like Your enemies do;

 We have done what we have to do and rest is left to You. 

LESSON FOR THE DAY

 Godā devi(Andal) makes an interesting comparison between the gopis and the vanquished enemies of the Lord in this verse. This is said to reflect the total and utter humility of the devotees and the spirit of surrender when one finally gives up the struggle even to liberate oneself from the bonds of materialism and surrenders totally to the Lord saying “I am thine”! It also implies that they recognize themselves as fallen sinners and request the Lord’s forgiveness and compassion.

 Two qualifications are necessary for the acceptance of a prapanna (one who desires to surrender) by the Lord.

 (1) The prapanna should be free from egoism and

 (2) Should bear no allegiance to anyone other than the Lord(Sriman Narayana).

 The gopis declare that they have both these qualifications. Their egoism had been wiped out by contemplating the super-human pastimes of the Lord, and His inestimable qualities.

 The richness of Srivaishnava sampradaya lies in its unbroken chain of acharyas (Guru parampara).  Surrendering to the Lord is always done with the help of the Acharya who like a father (jnana pitha-father who grants knowledge) gets the Jiva wedded to the supreme Sriman Narayana united through the sacred rope of Thirumanthra.  The Acharya is the one who remains as a platform between us and the Lord, living along with us and showing us the right path to uplift us from this samsaric world to the divine abode of the almighty.