Tiruppavai Pasuram 24

ENGLISH TEXT

anniv-ullagam  aḷandāy aḍi pōṭri |
 cenṛaṅgut  tennilaṅgai ceṛṛāy tiṛal pōṭri!
ponna śakaṭam udaittāy pugazh pōṭri!
 kannu kuṇilāverindāy kazhal pōṭri!
kunnu kuḍaiyāy eḍuttāy! guṇam pōtri!
 vennu pagai keḍukkum nin kaiyil vēl pōṭri!
ennennun śēvakamēyēttip paṛai koḷvān |
 innu yām vandōm iraṅgēlōr empāvāy ||

WORD BY WORD MEANING

aḷandāy – You measured (with Your two Feet);

aḍi – (your those) divine Feet;

pōṭri – May it live for long;

aṅgu – there (where ravana lived);

cenṛu – You went;

tennilaṅgai – (his kingdom) glorious Lanka;

ceṛṛāy – one who destroyed;

tiṛal – (your) prowess;

pōṭri! – May it live long!

śakaṭam – cart-demon (sakatasura);

udaittāy – you kicked;

pōṭri! – May it remain forever;

kuṇilā – considered as a sling;

verindāy – You flung it (on the tree-demon who appeared as the wood apple tree);

pōṭri! – May it live for long;

kuḍaiyāy – like a umbrella;

eḍuttāy! – One who lifted;

guṇam – Your divine qualities (of sowseelya etc)

pōtri! – May it remain forever;

pagai keḍukkum – kill the foes;

nin kaiyil – in your divine Hands;

vēl – spear;

pōṭri! – May it live for long;

un śēvakamē – only your heroic exploits;

yēttip – we praise;

paṛai koḷvān – to receive the parai (holy drum);

yām vandōm – we have come;

iraṅgu– please be compassionate towards us;

INTRODUCTION

The gopis are now so overcome by the beauty of Lord Kṛṣṇa that they not only praise Him but also pronounce benedictions on Him out of profound love, just as the Rishis of Daṇḍakāraṇya forgot the humiliations they had suffered at the hands of the Rākṣasas when they saw the gorgeous form of Sri Rāma standing before them, and began to bless Him. Thus, so great indeed, has been the love roused in some of the eminent saints by the charming personality of God, that they have even forgotten the relationship of superior and inferior, of protector and protected, and blessed Him, the Omnipotent Lord. The most notable instance of such a saint, being Periyāḷvar, (the father of our Poetess) who sang theTiruppallāṇḍu.

Lord Kṛṣṇa may be contemplated in two aspects:—

(1) His Being and (2) His exquisite beauty.

When one contemplates upon His Being (svarūpa) one regards oneself as the protected and the Lord as the Protector. When one contemplates Kṛṣṇa’s saukumārya (exquisite beauty), the position is entirely reversed. The former is the stage of knowledge, the latter that of extreme love which transcends the highest knowledge and blesses even the most-high and all-pervading Lord and fears for His safety.

Here one may ask “is it not a paradox or perversion of knowledge (viparita jñāna) to bless the Lord instead of importuning Him for the attainment of desires?” The answer is that because of profound devotion His Omnipotence(sarva-vallamai), all-protecting ability (sarvarakagatvata) and other qualities are completely forgotten when one comes face to face with Kṛṣṇa. Attracted like a magnet by His exquisite beauty (saukumārya), the devotee begins to bless Him and pray for His safety. Moreover, it is the duty of a servant to pray for his master’s welfare. Even ādiśeṣa becomes anxious for the safety of the Lord, and emits fire from his thousand mouths in the Lord’s divine abode; so what is wrong in these poor girls, pouring forth their blessings on Kṛṣṇa, being afraid for the safety of their Lord, in Gokula?

Now, another question may be asked— “Instead of blessing Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, why should they bless His Feet etc?” The answer is that these bodily parts are instrumental in the fulfillment of His glorious exploits. The Feet are a focus for much devotion and ritual worship because they are the lowest part of the body. In an attitude of utter humility and self surrender one takes the lowest part of the body of the Lord and places it upon the highest or cleanest part of the body of the devotee – the head. This is the symbology behind the wearing of the tirunāmam or white and red lines upon the forehead. The two white lines represent the Feet of the Lord and the red center line represents Sri MahaLakṣmi.

COMMENTARY

 (andriv-ullagam aḷandāy indru yām vandōm) Your divine Feet are so gentle that it becomes red with the soft touch of your consorts.  With that divine Feet, You measured the worlds covering the rocky mountains and thorny forests;  We were not present in that time to pray for Your welfare but today we come to sing mangalasasanam (benediction) to that divine Feet;

 (andru-indru) That day the world was suffering due to the reign of mahabali and today we are suffering because of Your separation;

 That day You relieved the worlds from the clutches of mahabalai and today You have relieved us from the clutches of ego and pride;

 That day You blessed Your divine Feet on everyone’s head and today You have blessed us with Your divine beauty and divine quality of goodness;

 No one requested you to place Your divine feet on their head that day, but today we are waiting for the same won’t You give us that pleasure?

 (ivullagam aḷandāy) You measured this hard rocky earth with Your divine soft Feet; How can we stop us from praying for the welfare of those divine Feet?

  Without anyone requesting for the same, You did it just considering Your relationship with the objects created by You.  What a divine quality!

 (aḍi pōṭri) During that episode Sukra lost his eyes for his bad deed; Namuchi questioned You and was thrown high; the devas returned happily with what they wanted; Jambhavan and other devotees did parikrama (circumabulation) of Trivikrama and rejoiced the divine darshan; but no one was worried about the soft divine Feet getting hurt; we were not present in those days but today we feel for the same and bless those divine Feet to live long! (pallandu! Pallandu!)

 Moreover for measuring these three worlds, You have to place only two steps, whereas, we sinners, make You place at least ten steps for our sake thereby causing pain to Your tender lotus Feet.

 Just like an infant is attracted more towards the mother’s breast than other parts, for the servants the divine Feet is most fascinating and hence Andal sings mangalasasanam to the lotus Feet first.

 During the TrivikramAvatara, the Lord ultimately established His supremacy and hence we can console ourselves. But what to say about the time when He descended as Sri Rama, as the son of a great king Dasaratha but still had to undergo so many hardships for the sake of humanity but there was none to sing for His welfare? So, Andal proceeds to sing mangalasasanams to Sri Rama;

 (cenṛaṅgu) At least during the TrivikramAvatara, He measured the worlds standing in one place but during His incarnation as Sri Rama He walked from North to South in deep forests;  He crossed the ocean, after killing asuras like kara dhooshana and finally reached the enthralling city of Lanka;

 (tennilaṅgai ceṛṛāy) You smashed that city of Lanka which was considered to be well protected from all directions;

 Didn’t you do all these for another woman?

 (tiṛal pōṭri!) May that prowess (shown to the world for the sake of Sita devi) live long forever!

 Next Andal gets involved in an episode that frightens Her more; our preceptors opine, it is absolutely more essential to bless the Lord in Kṛṣṇāvatara than to bless Him in Rāmāvatara. In the Rāmāvatara, the father of Rāma is the renowned warrior Daśaratha who killed Sambara in battle and the place is Ayodhya where no enemy can enter. The purohits are Vasiṣṭha and the other rishis, who are great sages and seers.

 The brothers are all paragons of valour who had vanquished many demonic kings. So there is no necessity to bless Rāma for He can defend Himself and also has many capable associates. In the Kṛṣṇāvatara the parents are innocent grazers; the place is a remote village, the adversaries are fierce monsters like kamsa, and even women posing as nurses (Pūtana) pose mortal danger! What else can we do but bless the Lord in Kṛṣṇāvatāra!

 So Andal dedicates the next four lines to sing mangalasasanams to little Kṛṣṇā;

 (pondra śakaṭam) Infant Kṛṣṇā destroyed the demon that came in the form of a cart; 

 Atleast Ravana was a known enemy who came in front to fight Sri  Rama but here the demon came in disguise and that too to kill an infant;  But Kṛṣṇā did not make a mistake like Sri Rama who allowed mareecha and surpanaka to return alive, hurt. Instead any demon who entered Gokula with wrong thoughts never returned back to give any message to kamsa;

 (udaittāy) He kicked the demon to death; Infants generally kick their feet while crying; it was as if, infant Kṛṣṇā cried due to hunger, kicking His feet and the demon was killed accidentally;

 Sri Rama’s shoulders have the mark of the bow placed always over it but in the case of Kṛṣṇā, the mark of the sakatasura episode is seen in His divine Feet;

 (Pugazh pōṭri!) The glory attained by killing the cart demon even without the aid of the mother; May this glory remain forever!

 The last episode happened when He was an infant but His dangerous exploits didn’t stop but continued;

 (kandru kuṇilāverindāy) In front of the cowherd boys, Kṛṣṇāheld the leg of a calf (calf-demon) and threw it over the wood apple tree (tree demon) and killed two asuras at a time; But what if both of them fell on Kṛṣṇā? Worries Andal and sings mangalasasanams;

 (kazhal pōṭri!) Earlier she blessed the divine Feet that was stretched and now she blesses the lotus Feet that is bent in a suitable manner to throw the calf demon over the tree demon;

 Otherwise the ornament worn in the Feet is also called as kazhal; so we can also consider that Andal sings mangalasasanams to that ornament;

 (kundru kuḍaiyāy eḍuttāy!) To kill the enemies He playfully lifted the calf and similarly to protect the cows He lifted the govardhana hill; earlier they did mangalasasanams to the great acts of Kṛṣṇā for the sake of Indra and now the same Indra who is supposed to be a devotee of the Lord acts in a contradicting manner;

 (guṇam pōtri!) Andal praises and sings for safety of the graciousness of the Lord; the Lord’s graciousness lies in sparing the life of Indra, enduring his attack and at the same time protecting the cows and grazers from their miserable plight, by lifting up the Govardhana Hill.

 Andal celebrated Nandagopa as ‘kūrvēl koun tozhilaṇ’ in the first verse. As is the father, so is the son. Further, it is usual for cowherds to carry spears. So Andal next blesses the spear that has given Kṛṣṇā all victories; our preceptors opine that this is Andal’s tactic act of avoiding evil eyes falling on dear Kṛṣṇā she gives all credits to the spear in His hands;

 (vendru pagai keḍukkum nin kaiyil vēl pōṭri!) The spear in Your hand is capable of eradicating all Your foes; Like the kings who have Bow as their weapon the cowherds have spear as their weapon always in their hand; This spear in your hand adds more to Your beauty and hence makes it more important to sing mangalasasanam; It is not required for Kṛṣṇāto use the spear but just the very pose holding the spear frightens the enemies to death. 

 Periazhvar sings pallandu to the divine discus but Andal who assumed Herself as a gopi sings pallandu to the spear. 

 (endrendru) Thus our sole pastime is blessing/singing mangalasasanam to that divine Lord;  If it is a means then it will stop once we achieve our goal but for Srivaishnavas, singing pallandu is not the means to reach His divine Feet but the goal by itself;

 Just as six kinds of tastes— sweet, sour, astringent, pungent, saltish and bitter — are essential for perfect gustatory satisfaction; so also six kinds of blessings to the lord— ai pōṛṛi, tial pōṛṛi,, pugazh pōṛṛi,, kazhal pōṛṛi, guam pōṛṛi, vēl pōṛṛi, — are thought necessary by these Gopis to have perfect spiritual satisfaction for themselves.

 (un śēvakamē yētti) only Your heroic exploits; There is no one equal to You and hence we praise Your bravery capable of removing all our miseries;

 (Yētti paṛai koḷvān) praising is what we want and for the sake of the villagers bless us with the drum;

 (Indru) Today while everyone has accepted. Yesterday we were not able to come and tomorrow we don’t know if we can come.

 Today while you sleep and we are awake.  For many many births we have not realized our nature and Your supremacy;

 (yām) We, who suffered due to relatives and now due to the cold and pangs of separation;

 (vandōm) We, who should have waited for your arrival due to the extreme grief couldn’t wait and hence have come to your doorsteps.

 (Vandōm iraṅgu) we acted against our nature but still shower Your grace on us;

 Andal thereby establishes the fact that the praises or blessings are of no avail to compel the Lord to grant ones desires, the Lord must grant the desires out of His own Grace.

LESSON FOR THE DAY 

Srivaishnavas (prapannas) who aspire to reach the divine abode of the Lord and do permanent service to His Lordship by surrendering through an Acharya consider the Lord Himself to be the means and goal.  If that is the case how do they spend their time while in this world? 

 Thirumazhisai azhvar says 

  1. Cognize, lecture, write about the greatness/names of the Lord;
  2. Read about His divine pastimes;
  3. Listen to His glories;
  4. Prostrate unto His divine feet;
  5. Follow the paths of the preceptors (under the guru parampara chain with Swamy Ramanuja as the chief) who lift us from this ocean of samsara and lead us to the divine abode of the Lord and Extend all sorts of services to the divine Feet of the Lord and sing mangalasasanams (pallandu Pallandu);

 In Srivaishnavam, the jiva who is the servant blesses the master out of immense love/Bhakti and  the Lord enjoys the same;  We have to respect all those involved in service to the Lord without differentiating them by their caste, wealth, gender or age.

 Andal thus in the 24th verse follows the paths of Her father Periazhvar and sings pallandu to the Lord singing all His glories and divine exploits;