Tiruppavai Pasuram 29

ENGLISH TEXT

cittañ ciṛu kālē vandunnai cēvittu | un
 pottā-maṛai aḍiyē pōttum porul kēḷāy |
pettam mēyttuṇṇum kulattil pirandu | nī
 kuttēval engaḷai koḷḷāmal pōgādu |
ittai paṛai kolvān annu kāṇ govindā!
 ettaikkum ēzhēzh piṛavikkum |  undannōḍu
uttōmē yāvōm  unakkē nām āt ceyvōm |
 mattai naṅ kāmaṅgaḷ māttēlōr empāvāy ||

WORD BY WORD MEANING

govindā! – Beloved Kṛṣṇa;

cittrañ ciṛu kālē – In the early morning hours (ushad kalam);

unnai cēvittu – worship You;

un pottrā-maṛai aḍiyē pōttrum porul – reason behind praising your golden lotus like feet;

kēḷāy – Please listen!

pettram mēyttuṇṇum kulattil pirandu nī – You born in the clan of cowherds who live on tending the cows;

engaḷai – from us;

kuttrēval – personal service;

koḷḷāmal pōgādu– you should not decline;

ittrai paṛai kolvān andru kāṇ – we haven’t come seeking for the drum just for today;

ēzhēzh piṛavikkum – how much ever times we are born;

undannōḍu – with you;

uttrōmē yāvōm – be always related;

unakkē – and only for You;

nām –we;

āt ceyvōm – serve;

naṅ – our;

mattrai kāmaṅgaḷ – all other desires;

māttru – please change;

INTRODUCTION

 The commentators consider this, the penultimate verse to be the most important one. In it Godā declares emphatically that the purpose of all this observance is not the mere drum but disinterested eternal love and service to Kṛṣṇa alone. The jīva is dependent upon Kṛṣṇa for its existence and its goal is to serve and live for His pleasure alone. The elders of Vrindāvan wanted the maidens to perform the vow for rains and for their getting good husbands, but the maidens have lost themselves totally in God-love to the exclusion of all else. The material goal has been transformed into a transcendental desire to love and to serve Kṛṣṇa. They have even rejected the concept of heaven and actually desire to take more births in order to serve and love Him. We find that the highest purpose of life was outlined in the opening stanza (No. I) in somewhat veiled language. That veil is now unceremoniously brushed aside, and the highest Puruārtha or object of human ambition is clearly declared by Godā. This is the crowning stanza of the entire prabandham and contains the quintessence of Visiṣṭhādvaita Philosophy.

 In the 6-15 verses Andal talked about serving the devotees (bhagavatas) and now in this verse She highlights the importance of serving Bhagavan that too not for our pleasure but for His; For those who take the Lord as the sole refuge two things that have to be avoided with respect to the means is considering karma,Jnana, bhakthi yogas as the means and also considering our act of surrendering to be the means; with respect to the purushartha or the goal nothing other than serving Him should be our goal and that also should be only for His pleasure.

COMMENTARY

 (cittrañ ciṛu kālē) The early morning hours when small children do not wake up but we small girls have come to your doorsteps pushed by our thirst to serve you. 

 Early morning hours is the right time to serve the Lord called as Brahma muhurtha.

 This conveys the meaning that, as we are very young girls, it is not convenient for us to rise from our beds in this chilly weather, even after the day has dawned. We have come to you even though you should have come to us! It is said that in the very early morning — brahma-muhūrta, ignorance or ajñāna will vanish and spiritual wisdom will develop.

 The gopis admire their fortune – In the special month of marghazhi (considered as early morning period for the Devas), on a full moon and auspicious day that too in the early morning hours we are blessed to stand in front of you my Lord!

 Morning (kalai) is the time when the people with tamasa guna wake up (normal people forced to get up for the purpose of doing the regular chores like going to office, schools etc), ciru kalai is before that when the cowherd women get up to churn the curd (the mothers/woman in the house getting up to keep things ready for the husband and children) and cittrañ ciu kālē is even before that when even the sun hasn’t risen;

 Morning because the darkness of separation is gone and there are now in union with Krishna;

 (vandunnai cēvittu) from our couch to Your couch, we came, after surmounting vigilance, gatekeepers and inner bedsteads. It is You who should have actually come but our grief of separation didn’t allow us to wait and forced us into actions against our norms;

 We didn’t stop with just coming but continued with worshipping You; We forgot our nature of remaining like a stone at Your will (atyantaparatantriyam – no individual wish) and rushed to You ; moreover we also forgot Your nature of humbleness towards Your devotees (Ashrida paratantriyam) and prostrated You; But we didn’t consider this as a means but worshipped You for the sake of worshipping (svayam prayojanam).

 (un pottrā-maṛai aḍiyē pōttrum porul kēḷāy) Your divine Feet is priceless and glittering like gold, soft, fragrant and honey filled attracting bees like a lotus,

 Please listen with attention to what we are going to say sitting under your lotus feet;

 Our thirst didn’t end with just reaching Your doorsteps we proceeded to wake You up and we started praising Your divine Feet;  Being Your servants, more than the other parts of your divine body only your divine Feet attracts us the most; Like Lakshmana who declined the offer to become the prince and wanted only servitude under your divine Feet, we devotees prefer to be only under your Feet forever; Devas like brahma and rudras might wish to be a part of Your divine body but we devotees want to serve only Your divine Feet;

 The golden Feet like gold is common to all, desired by all, attracts one and all and  makes one want to possess it at any cost but at the same time not hard and odour-less but soft, fragrant and honey dropping like the lotus; Like the gold it is a means to fetch pleasure (upayam) and self enjoyable (upeyam) like the lotus; The gopis started the prabhandam with ‘paramanadi padi’ then in the middle they say ‘adi porri, kazhal porri’ and they conclude at the end ‘aiyē pōttrum’ indicating the prime motto of this work is praising/service to the divine Feet;

 (pōttrum porul) if praising is the result what is there to listen more? They want to stress the point that just not for now but forever we need to be in His service without any other distractions;

 (kēḷāy) Kṛṣṇa is so immersed in the beauty of the gopis that Andal calls for Him to listen/pay attention;

 Andal the great daughter of Sri Vishnuchitta (erudite scholar in Vedanta) instructs the Lord Himself “adhyApayanthee”. 

 ‘We have by mistake told that it is our goal but actually it is yours’ remarked Andal. Why? Wondered Kṛṣṇa;

 (pettram mēyttuṇṇum kulattil pirandu nī) Because it is You who have taken birth (descended all the way from the divine abode) to take hold of your property; having been born in a caste which ekes out its livelihood by grazing cows — There must be some purpose for You to incarnate amongst us. If You reject our kainkarya or service your incarnation becomes useless.

 We haven’t approached the creator, or the son of the big king Dasaratha but we have come to the doorsteps of our master Nanda’s son, for what other purpose could You have incarnated here if it was not to protect ignorant girls like us? You have come here for us then why do You hesitate?  Even for cows there are others to protect but for us it is only You who can protect.

 (kuttrēval) personal service (antaranga kainkaryam);  We are not interested in services that keep us away from You but You need to keep us for Your personal service close to You always;

 (kuttrēval engaḷai koḷḷāmal pōgādu) Both You and we cannot exist without we doing service to You; after being born here to bless us with Your service why don’t You grant the same to us;

 Let me get the service from You later now take the drum you requested earlier, replied Kṛṣṇa;

 (ittrai paṛai kolvān andru kāṇ) Did you think we will take the drum and go away; if we hide our intent for the sake of others will You not be able to understand the same? We are unable to open out our love explicitly but You our beloved wont You understand the same?

 We are here to give You our service and not get anything from You.

 (govindā!) Oh! Govinda have You lost Your intelligence due to going at the back of the unwise cows;

 Earlier they used the same Name to indicate His completeness (kurai ondrum elladha govinda!) now they use it to show His lack of intelligence due to frustration of not getting what they want;

 (ettraikkum ēzhēzh piṛavikkum undannōḍu uttrōmē yāvōm unakkē nām āt ceyvōm) Kṛṣṇa said: — “I have now understood that You desire to serve me this day alone. To this, the girls retorted: — “No, not to-day only! But for ever more and for all births to come, we shall not only do service to You and only You, but also will remain related to You.”

 The Lord takes innumerable incarnations, now the gopis aspire to take birth every time with Him to render eternal service; or even if we take birth otherwise we need to be only in your service; Always we need to be related to you not even like Sita Devi or Bharata who had to be in separation for sometime but like lakshmana who was ever with you in your service;  And that service is not for our pleasure but only for your pleasure;

 Do you say that doing service to me does not give you happiness? No we will do service for your pleasure and get happiness seeing you enjoying the same.  So what the gopis want is not direct happiness but an indirect one.  Their motto is bringing joy to Kṛṣṇa;

 The gopis say that they wish to serve Kṛṣṇa as Sri MahaLakmī, the Universal Mother, had done in all His Avatāras. Sri MahaLakmī followed Him in all His incarnations. She was Sītā in the incarnation of Śrī Rāma and Rukmini in this incarnation as Kṛṣṇa and it is said she was with Him in His other incarnations also. By the expression unannōu uṛṛōmē yāvōm they convey their desire to serve Him like ādiśea. The gopis desire to have the intimate relationship that existed between Daśaratha & Rāma;between Vidura & Kṛṣṇa, between the wife & husband;

 This line is the central theme of this verse and for whole of thiruppavai.

 Is that all? Enquired Krishna

 (mattrai naṅ kāmaṅgaḷ māttru) Śrī Andal uses the most beautiful words at the conclusion of this crowning stanza, thereby depicting the Prayer of Prayers, the Prayer for all lovers of God and for all time. Śrī Āṇḍāḷ prays not for the suppression of desires, but for the sublimation of them into God-centered desires; that is to say, she prays to Kṛṣṇa that He be pleased to convert all her desires into the one desire for Him. The intensity and extensiveness of the basest desires towards the material objects should be sublimated into a desire for God and should be diverted towards spiritual attainment.

 Andal prays for the following 

  1. This world is capable of changing the minds of even eternal souls (nithya sooris) so keep us away from other desires;
  2. We don’t want to even desire yourself as paramapadanathan but all our love should always be with You Oh Govinda!
  3. While doing service to You even Your beauty shouldn’t hinder the same please take care;
  4. While two people enjoy together the enjoyment for both of them would be equal but that should not be the case here we need to get happiness seeing you enjoy the union/our service to you;

Our preceptors consider this verse to esoterically explain the meaning of Thirumanthram. 

LESSON FOR THE DAY

The Jīva is a ‘śea’ or servant, that is, one whose existence is for the sole benefit of another, that is Lord Kṛṣṇa. Service then, is the only form of prayer and devotion which a person who has realised the real nature of the jīva, can properly offer to the Lord; and when it is absolutely untainted by egoism in all the three stages of its origination, it’s doing, and its result, it constitutes the highest goal and end of human existence. Even if any element of pride enters in the origination or doing of service, or if it is made for the pleasure of the doer, or the joint pleasure of himself and the Lord, and not for the sole pleasure of the Lord, it will be imperfect.

In tradition, a Srivaishnava is supposed to chant all the 30 verses of thiruppavai daily, if not possible at least chant this 29th verse considered to be the quintessence, if even that is not possible one need to at least remember that Andal sung 30 verses and our preceptors dwelled in the meanings of this divine work every day.