Tiruppavai Pasuram 23

ENGLISH TEXT

māri malai muzhaiñjil manni kiḍanduṛangum |
 cīriya śingam aṛivuṛṛut tī-vizhittu |
vēri mayir ponga eppāḍum pērndudari |
 mūri nimirndu muzhangi puṛappaṭṭu |
pōdarumā pōlē ni pūvaippu-vāṇṇa! |  un
 kōyil ninniṅganē pōndaruḷi | kōppuḍaiya
cīriya śingāsanattirundu | yām vanda
 kāriyam ārāynd-aruḷēlōr empāvāy ||

WORD BY WORD MEANING

Māri – during the rainy season;

malai muzhaiñjil – in a mountain cave;

manni kiḍandu – (along with its mate) settled down;

uṛangum – asleep;

cīriya śingam – majestic lion;

aṛivuṛṛu – arouse;

tī-vizhittu – open its fiery eyes;

vēri mayir – fragrant mane;

eppāḍum – in all directions;

pērndu – move;

mūri nimirndu – straighten up;

puṛappaṭṭu – start to come out;

pōdarumā pōlē – similar to that majestic lion;

pūvaippu-vāṇṇa! – One with a beautiful complexion like the kayampoo (the flower celebrated as violets by English poets);

un kōyil nindru – from your temple;

iṅganē pōndaruḷi – come to this place;

kōppuḍaiya –lofty;

cīriya śingāsanattirundu – ascend on the illustrious throne;

yām vanda kāriyam – the purpose of our visit;

ārāynd-aruḷ – enquire and do the needy. 

INTRODUCTION

Listening to Andal’s request in the previous paasuram Kṛṣṇa was a little upset with Himself for making the gopis close to Nappinnai piratti wait for such a long time and hence started to console them from His bed. Wanting to enjoy the beauty of His walk, Andal in this verse says, please get up from there and make a dignified move to your Hall of audience and decorate the majestic throne and then enquire about the purpose of our visit;

The Lord is an embodiment of compassion and moreover the gopis also to their credit have the greatest support from the divine Mother (Nappinnai).  Can the Lord then digest any delay in accepting these devotees?

COMMENTARY

 (māri) During the winter(rainy) season certain animals/birds hibernate, settle inside a cave/burrow/hole along with their mates as the climate is not conducive to roam about;  the kings prefer to stay inside their winter palace during that time; and the king of the forest  also remains inside a mountain den;

 In Ramayana, we see that during this time Sri Rama settled in Malyavan (a mountain) and sugreeva and others returned to kishkinda to spend time happily even forgetting about the promise to Sri Rama to help to get  back Sita devi;

 Andal now says when such is the case, only we are standing in your doorsteps and experiencing misery during this season;

 (malai muzhaiñjil manni kiḍandu) The lion chooses its cave to settle and gets fixed inside like a rock in the cave or otherwise tightly clasped to its mate;

 The lion, when hibernating with its lioness during winter, would be totally immersed in bliss forgetting even its own needs. In the same way Lord Kṛṣṇa forgetting His own duty and also His devotees’ lies clasped within the bosom of His consort Nappinnai. The mountainous breasts of Nappinnai are compared to a mountain den prepared by the lions for winter hibernation. The rainy season is the period (catur-māsyam) in which monks remain in one place for practicing religious austerities and meditation. For the farmers it is a period of joy and expectation because it brings the promise of abundant harvests.

 (kiḍanduṛangum cīriya śingam) the lion enjoys peaceful sleep but still it is so majestic even while sleeping that no one can approach it.

 In the first stanza Godā called Kṛṣṇa Yaśoda’s lion cub and now She compares Him to a full grown adult lion. The majesty of the lion consists in the fact that no one needs to crown the lion as the “the King of the beasts”. It possesses regality by its very birth.

 (aṛivuṛṛu) Without the need to wake up, it has got up by itself sensing the seasonal change; the Lord is awakened by hearing the grief calls from devotees;

 Kṛṣṇa’s ‘sleep’ is not a mundane result of strenuous effort but it is a Yoga nidra, a yogic trance-like state which He assumes at the time of involution when the entire universe is reabsorbed into his body. In this state He contemplates upon what should be done after the great cosmic dissolution when He initiates a new cycle of creation.

 (tī-vizhittu) The fierce gaze of the lion seeking those who trespass in its territory is a metaphor used here to describe the angry look of Lord Kṛṣṇa whenever He sees any one of His devotee’s adversaries. His angry gaze even frightens Piratti (divine consort) and the devas;

 But why would Andal want to see His angry look?  His anger results in the welfare of the devotees and since Andal has no other desire other than enjoying the Lord, whatever He does attracts Her;

 (vēri mayir ponga) shake the mane, typical to a lion that has a special smell;

 Kṛṣṇa is otherwise called kesavan and the Vedas declare Him to be “sarvagandha:” (One who has all smells inside Him);

 (eppāḍum pērndu) move in all directions as it is partially awake and still sleepy;

 (Udari) shake each part separately in order to get them to action after a long time of inactivity due to sleeping;

 (mūri nimirndu) then stretch the whole body together;

 (muzhangi) roar loudly, the sound is capable of killing enemies at their own place;

 Kṛṣṇa’s strong voice makes the enemies run away and give joy to the gopis;

 (aṛivuṛṛu muzhangi) Give treat to our eyes and ears; wake up and welcome us;

 (puṛappaṭṭu pōdarumā pōlē) please proceed like a lion coming out of a mountain den;

 ‘Am I just like a lion?’ retorted Kṛṣṇa and hence Andal continues to say,

 (ni pūvaippu-vāṇṇa!) Andal talked about the lion only to show the similarity of majesty, valor and strong voice (roar) but a lion does not possess His beauty, colour, softness and coolness. So now She compares His complexion with the kayampoo.  But actually neither the lion nor the violet flower can match His divinity;

 ‘If so come inside’ instructed Kṛṣṇa; ‘But we aspire to enjoy Your style of walking and hence please come outside’ requested Andal.

 (un kōyil nindriṅganē pōndaruḷi) We have enjoyed Your beauty while lying down; further we would like to rejoice Your walking beauty and the way You seat yourself on the throne;  Don’t conceal Your splendor to Your temple premises instead please get it out;

 Earlier they said ‘nandagopanudaiya koil’ and now they say ‘un koil’ indicating that both Kṛṣṇa and Nandagopa have a common palace;  Similar to pranava (omkara) where both the jeevatma and paramatma reside in a common place;

 (iṅganē pōndaruḷi) come in front of us and show Your gait (nadai azhaghu);

 Kṛṣṇa’s gait conforms to the four classical gaits of a bull, male elephant, tiger and lion, as described by the treatises of aesthetics. Sri Vishnu Sahasranama celebrates the Lord as ‘chaturgathi:’

 Then Andal proceeds to say that just this is not enough, You need to seat Yourself on the throne and we need to enjoy Your beauty while sitting;

 kōppuḍaiya cīriya śingāsanattirundu) classical throne should be adorned with all the ‘cara’ and ‘acara’— mobile and immobile things — existing in both the worlds (nitya vibhūti and līlā vibhūti). The throne known as dharmādi-pīham — borne by ādiśeṣa in Śrī Vaikuṇṭha, descended to this world (līlā vibhūti) when the Lord incarnated as Kṛṣṇa, in order to serve as a seat for Him here also. This divine throne as per the Pancharartha sastra has eight legs, viz., dharma (righteousness), adharma (unrighteousness); jñāna (wisdom) andajñāna (nescience); vairāgya (dispassion) and avairāgya (attachment); aiśvarya (prosperity) and anaiśvarya (penury).

 The gopis request Him to take His seat on the throne and then to hear their prayer because it will then be formal and binding — like the teaching given on the battle-field sitting on the chariot (by Śrī Kṛṣṇa).  He cannot go back on His words if it is given from the throne.

 (yām vanda kāriyam ārāynd-aruḷ) You should have come but instead we have come to your doorsteps due to the distress of separation;

 “Ask us about the business and purpose that have brought us here” — the real purpose is stated in the 29th verse;

 Consider deeply within yourself why all of us have come to You, and then grant us our wishes.

 The gopis speak like this, for if they state before hand the purpose for which they have come, He may even refuse to grant their prayer and then there is none to coax him for He is a‘svatantra’ (Completely independent of others) 

LESSON FOR THE DAY

Once we read about the greatness of mediation between the Jiva and the almighty attributed mainly to the divine consort, all our wishes would be to get such a support so that all our past bad deeds may be quickly pardoned and we be blessed with eternal happiness/service in the divine abode of the Lord.  But how does that happen?

A jiva who aspires to get salvation first gets in touch with devotees who teach him/her renunciation of material pleasures and concentrating on the supreme; The second step is approaching an Acharya who acts as a platform between the jeevatma and the Paramatma; In Srivaishnava sampradayam, Swamy Ramanuja is considered as the prime acharya (the gem-studded dollar connected by the chain of acharyas);  Our present acharya actually aids us in getting the sambhandham (relation) of swamy Ramanuja who acts as the “Vishnu loka mani mandapa marga dhAyee”(One who shows us the path to the divine abode of the Lord);  Lord Ranganatha has promised Swamy Ramanuja that everyone connected to him in some manner (may be his acharyas or disciples) will surely receive His grace and reach the divine abode of the Lord (moksha).

In the introduction to the commentary of the 23rd verse, our preceptors rightly quote one incident in the life of kidambiAchan, a disciple of Swamy Ramanuja;

Once Kidambi Achan went to do mangalasasanams to Thirumaliruncholai Azhagar and recited the stotra from Sri Alavandaar’s stotra ratna, “aparAdha sahasra bhAjanam…….agathim” [Me who is a embodiment of thousands of sins and who has fallen into the terrible ocean of samsara without any refuge..]; Listening to this Azhagar was greatly disturbed and said “Please don’t say you have no refuge being the disciple of Ramanuja” The divine Feet of swamy Ramanuja ( renowned as ‘udayavar’ possessor of the wealth of two worlds of the Lord) is the sole refuge for all Srivaishnavas who have taken pancha samskara under the chain of acharyas who follow the Srivaishnavic tradition (Ramanuja sampradaya);  Once we receive the Ramanuja sambhandham, one is sure to follow the steps of the divine preceptor and hence be blessed with the divine grace of the supreme Lord. Thereby the divine gates of the divine abode widely open to receive us with cheers and grant us the eternal service to the almighty;