Tiruppavai Pasuram 27

ENGLISH TEXT

kūḍārai vellum cīr govindā | undannai
 pāḍi paṛai koṇḍu yām peṛu śammānam |
nāḍu pugazhum paricināl nannāga |
 cūḍakamē tōḷvaḷaiyē tōḍē cevippuvē |
pāḍagamē ēnnanaiya pal kalanum yām aṇivōm |
 āḍaiy uḍuppōm adan pinnē pāṛ śōṛu |
mūḍa ney peydu muzhangai vazhi vāra |
 kūḍiyirundu kuḷirndēlōr empāvāy ||

WORD BY WORD MEANING

kūḍārai – those who oppose you;

vellum cīr govindā! – Govinda! You who has the divine ability to win over;

pāḍi – sing (Your) praises;

paṛai koṇḍu – receive the drum (parai);

yām peṛu śammānam – (further) the rewards we would receive;

nāḍu pugazhum paricināl – will be universal acclaim;

cūḍakamē – type of ornament worn in the hands (bracelets);

tōḷvaḷaiyē- ornament worn around the shoulders (armlets) ;

tōḍē – studs for the lower ears;

cevippuvē – flower-like ornaments for the ear lobes;

pāḍagamē – (ornament for the legs) anklets;

ēndranaiya pal kalanum yām nandrāga aṇivōm – we will perfectly wear (decorated by you and Nappinnai – many such ornaments;)

āḍaiy – Lovely robes (enhanced by you);

uḍuppōm-  we will adorn;

adan pinnē – after that;

pāṛ śōṛu – Rice boiled in milk;

mūḍa – totally covered;

ney peydu – pour ghee;

muzhangai vazhi vāra – drips down our elbows;

kūḍiyirundu – united with You(let’s partake);

kuḷirndu –  enjoy bliss and coolness;

INTRODUCTION 

It is tradition to cook and serve sweet rice(Sweet pongal) with lots of ghee on the day that this verse is chanted in the temples. The gopis now tell the Lord how they will celebrate this great event. It is in contrast with the austerities mentioned at the beginning of the poem. In the previous verse, the gopis enumerated all they need for the Vratam and in this verse, they deal with the fruits of the Vratam — they would all mingle and sit together with the Lord and partake of the Ambrosial food, the ghee thereof flowing down the elbow after decorating self with the lovely clothes and ornaments gifted by the divine couples.

COMMENTARY

Oh! Maiden girls you got Me into your trap and requested everything you wanted (Me and all my wealth) and received the same.  Earlier you said you have come here requesting Me, not able to withstand the grief of separation and now have totally won over Me. What to say about this? 

(kūḍārai vellum cīr govindā) Oh! Govinda it is Your very nature to win over those who oppose You and lose to Your devotees; so what is there to wonder if You lose to us and give everything You have? Your greatness and sweetness subdues even your enemies. Lord Kṛṣṇa can easily defeat His greatest enemies but stands humbled before his devotees! The Gopis are hinting “You seem to think that You have defeated us by Your exquisite beauty, but in actuality You are defeated by our jñāna, bhakti and vairāgya. The Lord will destroy all those who offend Him by the three kāraṇas, viz., thought, word and deed; but He is subdued before one who has surrendered even if not sincerely but in token only! Rāma told Rāvana at the end of the first day’s battle that he could go that day and come the next day for battle, even then rāvana never realised his adversary’s prowess because he was “an arrogant demon”. (vaṇaṅgalil arakkam) He failed to surrender to the Lord and was therefore destroyed on the battlefield.

 Vibhīṣana on the other hand surrendered to the Lord, and obtained all prosperity. Though Lord Rāma had expressed the hope— “yatīva rāvana svayam” (Let it be even rāvana), the demon never approached him. Further, in Kṛṣṇāvatāra, He punished duryodhana, for he stood aloof from Him: but He was subdued before the Pāṇḍavas and not only acted as a messenger for them, He also served as charioteer to Arjuna.  “Kṛṣṇa Your glory increased considerably, for You act according to the wishes of Your bhaktas, stooping to do such menial services as a messenger and a charioteer.”- thus admire our preceptors.  His kalyāṇa (auspicious) guṇās make the most ignorant person enlightened. He wins His devotees by His perfection, and enemies by arrows. Kṛṣṇa has won over the gopis who as per their feministic nature would have stayed indoors but have left all their ego and come to His doorsteps. Lord Rama wins over the world with His truthfulness, underprivileged people with His charity, preceptors with His service and enemies with His might;

 (govindā) This word signifies that it is not even incumbent that one should be in communion with the Lord to gain His protection and Grace. If one has not entertained any idea of separating oneself from the Lord by denying His protection — that in itself is sufficient to gain His protection and Grace. The commentators point out that the Lord is addressed as Govinda for the first time in the poem. Govinda is a very popular name for Kṛṣṇa and has several meanings; ’Lord-of-the-Earth’, ’Lord-of-speech’, ’Lord-of-cows’ all of these being appropriate in the context. By calling Kṛṣṇa Govinda the gopis are referring to Him as belonging to the same community of cow-hearders as them as well as being the Lord of the entire universe. He is brought emotionally closer through the use of this more informal name. Kṛṣṇa protects the cows that neither oppose Him nor surrender to Him or in any way be grateful to Him. His love flows towards those who are incapable and depend on Him for protection; even more than the cows that atleast have a little independence, Kṛṣṇa specially liked to go at the back of the calves; 

 (Undannai pāḍi) sing Your praise forgetting the days that have passed without being able to sing about You. Now our mouth/tongue will be blessed with the purposof existence. Instead of saying “singing about You”, the gopis say “singing about Your divine self” indicating that You should have sung about us but now we are here to sing Your praise;

 (paṛai koṇḍu) after receiving the drum for the sake of the elders; parai and all others requested in the previous verse;

 (yām peṛu śammānam) The rewards are the garlands, the ornaments and the clothes worn by the Lord Himself.

 (yam) we who have great confidence that the devotees will be surely granted their wish by the master. Once Sri Parasara bhattar was lecturing on this particular line when some devotees entered with the prasadams (divine things) adorned and gifted by Lord Ranganatha.  Immediately Sri Bhattar remarked “This is my reward- yām peṛu śammānam”. Sri Valmiki says in Srimad Ramayana that Lord Rama blessed Sita Devi with a reward when She followed Him to the doorsteps uttering benedictions.  What was that reward? He blessed Sita devi with the garland He wore around His shoulders explains swamy koorathAzhvan. The gopis wished to be praised by the Lord thereby all the insult they have faced over the years would vanish.

 (nāḍu pugazhum paricināl) the world is surprised seeing our rewards. Not just to feel proud or for fame but while others talk about the rewards blessed on the gopis by Kṛṣṇaothers also get to talk the right thing and hence their tongue also gets blessed;

 (Nandrāga) This is added as an adjective to ‘yām aṇivōm’; we will adorn with pleasure because You and Nappinnai together have blessed us with the rewards;  While entering the divine abode, those already in the eternal service of the Lord come to emboss this released soul (mukthAtma – released from samsara) with divine clothes and ornaments.  Here instead of sending others, the Lord and His consort themselves embellish the gopis and so the adjective ‘nandrāga’ is added.

 cūḍakamē – first the ornament to the hands that holds ;

 tōḷvaḷaiyē –  Next the ornament to the shoulders that hug;

 tōḍē cevippuvē –Once they embrace each other, the ornament in their ears becomes the ornament to His shoulders and the karna pushpam (flower in the ear lobes) spreads fragrance;

 pāḍagamē – ornament for the legs (final stages of love holding on to the feet); We shall wear dresses hallowed by your contact — we are going to dress ourselves beautifully and feast ourselves sumptuously. The impending union with the Lord is like a marriage and this is a concept which is widely used in many religions. It is proper that the gopis will wear their best attire and ornaments. The bangles are indicative of the palms joined (anjali) in salutation to Kṛṣṇa. The armlets represent the conch and discus which are branded on the shoulders at the sacrament of initiation (pañcasamskāra). The earrings represent the three sacred mantras. The lower earring the aṣṭhākṣari , the upper earring the dvaya mantra. And the anklets represent the carama śloka. The robe represents humility and the total resignation to the Lord. 

 (ēndranaiya pal kalanum yām aṇivōm) not just the above but many more ornaments that Kṛṣṇa beautifies us with pleasure we are ready to wear not for just decorating us but for His happiness;

 (āḍaiy uḍuppōm) we will wear the ornaments and then the robes blessed  by You thereby receiving the admiration of one and all; Kṛṣṇa from Dwaraka blessed Droupadi with endless saree while she called for Him “Govinda! PundareekAksha” we also call you ‘Govinda’ please bless us with lovely robes to wear and enjoy in union;

 (adan pinnē pāṛ śōṛu mūḍa ney peydu muzhangai vazhi vāra ) food cooked in milk and saturated with ghee to such an extent, that when a morsel is taken in the hand, the ghee flows down the elbow — The sweet rice cooked in ghee symbolizes sweetness & delight of the union with God.  After dressing well it is time to enjoy delicious food.  Earlier they vowed not to eat ghee, milk etc.  So Kṛṣṇa also didn’t enjoy the same due to His love on the gopis and so there was lot of milk and ghee overflowing in gokula. So now they have decided to enjoy the same together.  If we approach an ordinary person then receiving an ordinary thing happens after hardships but in the case of the most charitable Lord everything we receive is abundant with ease.

 (kūḍiyirundu kuḷirndu) The main objective of the gopis is not just enjoying the food but being along with Kṛṣṇa remaining in a single place enjoy the coolness of unity instead of going from one door to another; The essence of two vedic verses has been elegantly given by Andal in the 26th and 27th verse. The first vedic verse “niranjana: paramam samyamuapithi” talks about receiving the flawless divine Form as she gets the divine conch, etc from the Lord and the second verse “sOshnutE sarvAn kAmAn saha brahmanO vipaschitA” [that mukthatma along with the supreme Lord enjoys all the divine qualities] ‘kūḍiyirundu kuḷirndu’.

LESSON FOR THE DAY

 Andal through Her divine Tiruppavai have given us so many lessons to practice and prosper in our spiritual career.   This 27th verse gives us the most important lesson of accepting everything as the Lord’s prasadam (gift); Her father Periyazhvar also highlights this point in his wonderful work Thirupallandu “vuduththu kalaindha nin peedhaga vadai vuduthu…..” [As Srivaishnavas we will wear only the robes that was adorned by the Lord and gifted to us, we will enjoy only the garland he earlier enjoyed].  For anyone to proceed smoothly towards spiritual enlightenment eating sattvic food (that which has been prescribed by the sastras as acceptable to srivaishnavas and that which has been offered to the Lord and hence made pure) is the foremost requirement; The food we partake determines our characteristic and hence our thoughts and actions are governed by the proper intake of food.  If we take the wrong food at the wrong time our mind acts in a wrong way inducing us to take part in wrong ctivities; That is why our preceptors have insisted greatly on the proper choice of food and also that it should be prasadam that is capable of purifying our body and mind; Our scriptures caution that if we cook food for ourselves we eat our sins; Food that is prepared need to be offered to the Lord, then humbly served to guests and finally we need to relish the prasadam.  One should not live to eat but eat to live; Whatever fast foods and readymade foods we get in hotels and other places might be very tasty but are not pure as they are not offered to the Lord (and are not offerable either); Our younger generations have to be taught the greatness of Bhagavat prasadam and how healthy it is for the body and the mind, than the so-called tasty food they crave for;