thiruppAvai – Introduction

srImathE satakOpAya nama:
srImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srImadh varavaramunayE nama:

Full Series

Difference between rishis and samsAris is like the difference between a mountain and a tiny pebble; that much is the difference between AzhwArs and rishis; that much is the difference between periyAzhwAr and other AzhwArs; that much is the difference between ANdAL and periyAzhwAr – Compared to other AzhwArs who were all males, ANdAL being a female had a more natural love towards perumAL; she being the only female, she is like a child to all AzhwArs who are ready to give all their wealth(bhakthi) to get her married to emperumAn; (srIranganAthan is giving respect to his father-in-law by having sayanam facing the South – that is srIvilliputhUr (but a son-in-law would be shy to accept that fact, so it is widely known that He is facing south in order to honor vibhIshaNan).

thiruppAvai is about praying to perumAL to give us the ability to serve Him as much as possible, because that is the natural state for us. For that, ANdAL re-enacts the nOnbu that the little gopikAs conducted in AyarpAdi to reach krishNan.

(Is it okay to pretend doing nOnbu (fasting, etc.,) when she is really not doing that? Would it not amount to a lie? Since it is for getting krishNan’s thiruvadi, and as she is saying she is repeating what the gopikAs did in AyarpAdi, it is acceptable to do that, similar to how it is acceptable when trying to get someone married, or when there is something life-threatening.)

As a child ANdAL learned so much from periyAzhwAr about perumAL.  As a girl she naturally felt love for emperumAn.

With so much love she went to the sannidhi of vadaperungkOil udaiyAn, to be with Him (perumAL in the srIvillipuththUr temple). But he did not seem to reciprocate her affection.

As a little child she then thought she could meet krishNan himself and be with Him. But, as she learned, He came and lived in this world several thousand years ago, so it is not an option now.

Then she wondered whether any one has had the opportunity to be with krishNan and enjoyed him. She got the answer that the small gopikAs in AyarpAdi got that opportunity; but again that was long ago.

She then thought that at least she could touch the sacred sand where He walked, be around the trees and cows which He was playing with, and touch the river yamunA where he took bath – the kumkum and manjaL would still be mixed in that water, and see the gOvardhana mountain which he lifted with his little finger, and touch the cows whose ascendant-parents krishNan would have touched and played with. But all these were in a faraway place in the North (India), and as a small girl from a small Brahmin family there was no way for her to go there.

==> At that time an upanyAsakar who visited srIvilliputhUr narrated what once happened in AyarpAdi:

Once, the gopikAs in AyarpAdi played and enjoyed with krishNan so much that krishNan thought that excessive experience of him might cause trouble for the gopikAs; so he hid himself away from them. Because they missed him so much, they started playing among themselves, with one girl pretending to be krishNan, another girl pretending to be kALingan, and so on, and they enacted krishNan, kAlingan and so on. They did nOnbu to be with krishNan and enjoy him.

==> When ANdAL heard this story, she got a wonderful idea! She pretended srIvilliputhUr to be thiru AyppAdi (gOkulam), her friends in her neighborhood to be the gopikAs of AyarpAdi, with herself to be one among them, vadaperungkOil to be the house of nandagOpan, and the perumAL vataperunkOyiludaiyAn (vatapathrasAyi) to be her krishNan. Her mind started living this and she pretended to be living in AyarpAdi. Her walk, her speech, her hair, all became one that of a cowherd girl; and what a wonder, her body odour changed to that of a cowherd girl – what with those mixed odour of milk, butter, ghee and so on! (முடை நாற்றம்)

KrishNan_oldpicture2==> In AyarpAdi, all the gopikAs were always playing and enjoying with krishNan so much. When they reached their young age, their parents said that krishNan is playing with all these little ones all the time, and the elders thought that they should stop this. They put all the girls inside their homes and did not allow them to go out and play with krishNan. They also hid all the Butter away from krishNan. — So, the two most important ones for krishNan were not available to him.

==> (Because of this) as there was no rain for a long time the gOpar of AyarpAdi decided to get the little girls to do nOnbu (fasting, etc., in a prescribed way) and pray for getting rain for their well-being. For this the elders determined that krishNan should help the little girls by arranging for all the necessary items for the nOnbu. They approached krishNan. At first krishNan disagreed (pretended?). They pleaded and compelled him and then he agreed to help. The parents brought out all the gopikAs and told them to do the nOnbu and be with krishNan to get his help. Day before the start of nOnbu, as krishNan was with all the girls, he told them that since this is nOnbu nobody should doubt about us so please go to your homes, come back Very early in the morning next day to start the nOnbu. He went to nILA dhEvi’s (nappinnai) house to sleep (‘nILA thunga sthanagiri thatI’ during the next morning).

==> The gOpikAs also went to their homes, but because of the excitement they could not sleep, so even though they went to bed they were lying awake thinking about krishNan. Early next morning, the gOpikAs who were able to wake up early went around to other houses and woke up the other gOpikAs also, and finally went to nandagOpar’s thirumALigai to wake up krishNan and announce to him about their subservience to him.

==> ANdAL is enacting this same story and doing the same in her 30 pAsurams of thiruppAvai created during 30 days of mArgazhi, and explaining what happened on that whole nOnbu day.

During thirty days in the month of mArgazhi, she created the thirty pAsurams of thiruppAvai.

In thiruppAvai she enacts committing to do the nOnbu, gathering all her friends, going to nandagOpan’s thirumALigai, waking up nandagOpan and others, waking up krishNan’s wife nILa dhEvi (nappinnai), and finally waking up krishNan Himself. She ends with asking krishNan to give mOksham and the opportunity to be always subservient to him, and that too for His enjoyment and happiness. (In the next month of Thai, she created the prabandham nAchiAr thirumozhi).

Andal Thirkalayanam-779299-p_kumar.blogspot.comperumAn asked that she be brought to srIrangam. She was brought in a palanquin to srIrangam. At one point near the temple, the palanquin suddenly felt very light. Feeling that something is happening, periyAzhwAr checked inside and found that ANdAL was absent there. He pleaded to perumAn to know her whereabouts. The place this happened is now called veLi ANdAL sannidhi. periyAzhwAr then saw ANdAL kneeling before arangan and vanishing from there into Him. ANdAL went to srI vaikuNtam as a pirAtti (wife) of perumAn.

sthala purANam at srIvilliputhUr adds that periyAzhwAr prayed to perumAn that He wed ANdAL in srIvilliputhUr, and perumAn agreed and came there and married her on a panguni uthiram. In srIvilliputhuUr there is no separate sannidhi for ANdAL (thAyAr), but only a sannidhi where perumAn and thAyAr are present together, along with garudAzhvAn who is getting pirAn and pirAtti to be married. If this happened in srIvilliputhUr, shouldn’t the sthala purANam say that vatapathrasAyi married ANdAL? Why then is ranaganAthan said to be married to ANdAL? AzhwAr saw Him as rangan only; as he also sang ‘வெண்ணை உண்ட வாயன் அணி அரங்கன்’ – one who ate butter, the one in arangam.

ramAnujar was devoted to understanding the meanings of thiruppAvai, so much so that he was also called ‘thiruppAvai jIyar’.

perumAL gave ‘மயர்வற மதிநலம்‘ (blemishless knowledge) to the AzhwArs because of which they (without any effort of their own) wrote such wonderful divya prabandhams. But, ANdAL, She gaveமயர்வற மதிநலம்‘ to perumAL, by waking him up and letting him understand about her subservience to him!!

==> lakshmaNan and most AzhwArs are of one type who wanted the experience of perumAL and were devoted to perumAL.

bharathan and periyAzhwAr are of one type whose aim was the well-being of perumAL!!

srI_periyAzhvAr_aani_brahmothsavam_2013_arulalaperumal.tripod.comBUT, chathrugnan, madhurakavi AzhwAr, and ANdAL are of a different type and of a higher level because their aim was doing kainkaryam to bhAgavathas (to Devotees). chathrugnan was devoted to bharathan, madhurakavi to nammAzhwAr, and ANdAL to her father periyAzhwAr as he is the one who taught her about perumAn – if her father had asked her to fall on someone else’s feet then that is what she would have done – she knew only how to follow periyAzhwAr.

ANdAL, with the front of doing nOnbu, wanted to reach perumAL – as reaching Him and doing uninterrupted kainkaryam to Him is the natural state of an AthmA.

Whereas nammAzhwAr spoke of association with bhAgavathas (Devotees) only in the later parts of his 1000 pAsurams, ANdAL spoke of it in the first pAsuram itself, “nIrAdap pOdhuvIr” (Requesting other devotees to join to go to krishNa).

Near the last pAsuram of thiruppAvai she says “unakkE nAm At cheivOm” [kainkaryam] (upEyam) and she allotted the in-between time for ‘dhEha yAthirai (spending the remaining time in this world doing kainkaryam to him)’.

English translation Raghuram Srinivasa Dasan.

archived in

One thought on “thiruppAvai – Introduction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *