thiruppAvai – 01 – mArgazhi thingaL

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

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In the 1st pAsuram of thiruppAvai, the gOpikAs are celebrating that they got the month of mArgazhi for doing their nOnbu. First 3 lines of the pAsuram are about prApyam (means), [being together with bhAgavathAs], and rest are about prApakam (destiny/purushArtham) [krishNan].

mArgazhith thingaL madhi niRaindha nannALAl*
nIrAdap pOdhuvIr pOdhuminO nEr izhaiyIr*
sIr malugum AyppAdich chelvach chirumIrgAL
kUrvEl kodun-thozhilan nandhagOpan kumaran*
ErArndha kaNNi yasOdhai iLam singam*
kAr mEnich chengaN kadhir madhiyam pOl mugaththAn*
nArAyaNanE namakkE paRai tharuvAn*
parOr pugazhap padindhelOr empAvAi.                               1.

sIr malgum AyppAdi – (From the) wealthy place of AyppAdi,
selvach chirumIrgAL – O, the young gOpikAs who have the best wealth (which is association with, and kainkaryam to, krishNan),
nEr izhaiyIr –  who are wearing wonderful ornaments (keeping krishNan in mind),
mArgazhi thingaL – we got the best of all months – the mArgazhi month, and the good full moon day for doing the nOnbu (ceremony to pray for the rains)).
kUr vEl – (Standing with a) sharp spear,
kodum thozhilan – if any enemies come near his kutti krishNan he would be a person doing cruel deeds (to those enemies) – that person is
nandhagOpan –  nandhagOpan, whose
kumaran – dear son is krishNan;
Er Arndha kaNNi yasOdhai – the one who has got beautiful eyes,
iLam singam – her young lion-cub is krishNan,
kAr mEni, sengaN – (his) body is the color of dark (kind) clouds, he has got eyes lotus-like,
kadhir madhiyam pOl mugaththAn – and his face is the bright light of the moon,
nArAyaNanE – and who is none other than srIman nArAyaNan,
namakkE paRai tharuvAn – only srIman nArAyaNan can give us (us who depend only on him) the opportunity to do kainkaryam to him.
Al – So
padindhElOr – those who want to take a good (padindhu)  bath please go with us,
pArOr pugazha – and the people of this world would celebrate that.

This first pAsuram is briefly indicating that what will be achieved (i.e., prApakam/upEyam) is parai (kainkaryam to perumAL).

Here is a bit more detailed meaning for the first pAsuram of thiruppAvai, as taken from parts of vyAkyAnams, upanyAsams and other such sources.

mArgazhith thingaL:

They are celebrating that they got the good mArgazhi month for them to do the kainkaryams to perumAL;  like His lotus feet, mArgazhi is also not too hot or too cold; krishNan also said in gIta that of all the months He is like mArgazhi, so this is the best month for Him too; mArgazhi is the brAhma muhUrtham (serene/tranquil time) of the year (not only for us but also for dEvas because, since our 1 year is 1 day for them, our mArgazhi month is their 4-6am) – so it is a good month in that sense too [1]; the old people of AyarpAdi would not come out early due to the mArgazhi month being cold, which means enjoyment with krishNan as they pleased (தங்களுக்கு கிருஷ்ணனோடே யதேஷ்டம் விநியோகிக்கலாம் என்றபடி); people are happy that this is the good month to do kainkaryams to perumAL, and perumAL is happy that he got an opportunity to take care of the people (‘ayana’ of the word nArAyaNan as occurs in the pAsuram).

madhi niRaindha:

madhi: moon; niraindha: full (Full moon);  Full moon being sukla paksham, is it a good day for doing a good deed? When a person is doing a kainkaryam to perumAL, vidhi/sAsthram will follow what s/he is doing and help her/him, so it is a good day; they are happy about it being a full moon day also because the girls can see each other’s’ happy faces and can go together to wake up krishNan; wouldn’t it be better to go on a dark day to be with krishNan? Since the people of AyarpAdi themselves agreed for the gOpikAs to do nOnbu with help from krishNan, gOpikAs are okay with the place being bright due to full moon; also madhi (another meaning: gnyAnam/wisdom) is being complete for the people because this is the day they came along to go to krishNan.


What a day, like a central piece of a month and fortnight! They are celebrating that it is a ‘good day’. How is it a good day? First, because it is a bright day, it brings more happiness to the occasion; the gOpars had restricted them from seeing krishNan, and today those same people have completely approved them to (do nOnbu and) be with krishNan; a day marked for getting the experience of krishNan is a good day;  for a person who thought s/he was independent (svathanthran) till yesterday the good day dawns only on the day s/he realizes that perumAL is our only saviour (and help us do the kainkaryam to Him); day we do pancha samskAram is our birth day; day we leave this samsAram is our wedding day (with Him);

What a desire in celebrating the month, fortnight, day, etc.?! This flow of affection for these gOpikAs is because of their desire for Him (prApyam).


To reduce their viraha dhapam (because of not meeting krishNan for many days) they want to take a dip (in connecting with krishNan); ‘neerada’ also means கலவி with krishNan (in olden days thamizh people also used the word ‘(neer) sunai aadal’ to mean கலவி),

Among friends why did they not use the casual word ‘kuLikka’ for bath? It is due to the bhagavath sambandham among them. They give such respect even when it is their son or sishya – how srI parAsara bhattar‘s mother (named ANdAL) would take the sri pAdha thIrtham (water that was used for washing the feet of a noble person) of bhattar without thinking of him as a son – because of respect for bhattar as an AchAryan and because he is in the sishya paramparai of rAmAnujar;    and this respect is also similar to how periya nambi who is an AchAryan of rAmAnujar would prostrate upon seeing rAmAnujar with his huge gOshti of people because periya nambi saw rAmAnujar as the person blessed by his own AchAryan ALavandhAr for addressing his (ALavandhAr‘s) wishes. These are similar because all of them are about a higher level deed related to kainkaryam / bhagavath sambandham..

pOdhuvIr pOdhuminO

For low-level (materialistic, etc.,) goals itself one would have to gather and use a lot of money/strength/bravery/good-luck, etc. If that is the case, would it require a lot more of these and then some more, if one wants to enjoy krishNan?? No, only requirement is the “Desire” to do so. By ‘pOdhuvIr’ they are calling the people who have that wish to go with them to serve krishNan. The former ones are undesirable goals, so they required us to gain eligibility;

As a chEthanan (subservient to perumAL) only the wish to do kainkaryam is required. Parents and other elders, AzhwArs, AchAryas have already taken care of other things required to qualify us to do the kainkaryam. All these days, only our wish was missing. Now even that is present. So they are saying ‘those who have got the wish, let us go and see krishNan’. For other low-level wishes one would want to go alone; since these gOpikAs are going for bhagavath kainkaryam, they are calling their friends also to join them, by saying ‘pOdhuvIr’.

Since it is clear that the girls are already interested, what is the need for saying pOdhiminO, that is, pressing them to go? Like thAyAr (pirAtti) it is their nature to correct/advise; it also means – ‘we want to live well so please move right now and quickly let us go and meet krishNan’; also they want their friends to go in the front and they want to walk behind them and enjoy that company.

nEr izhaiyIr

“O girls who are wearing (neatly worn?) ornaments”. As they said pOdhuminO the ones invited became like new.

When they are in a hurry to go and take bath, would they have taken time to decorate themselves with ornaments??! They must have decorated themselves in a hurry and must have worn ornaments wrongly, that is, meant for some other part of the body, so it must have looked different and new, so they were addressed as ‘nEr izhaiyIr‘;  or, since they are always thinking of krishNan, and since they don’t know when krishNan might come and fall on them (அவன் எப்போது வந்து மேல்விழும்?), they are in the habit of always wearing ornaments, so that is why they were addressed as ‘nEr izhaiyIr’; or, because of the happiness that they have about their previous encounters with krishNan they always feel and look great;

sIr malgum AyppAdi – wealthy place that is AyppAdi

Because of krishNan’s presence in AyppAdi, it is having the real wealth; krishNan’s sowlabhyam (being easy to approach, being simple) is so wealthy that its waves are going out from AyppAdi and reaching into srI vaikuntam.  perumAn does not have any need or way to show one of his kalyANa guNas – sowlabyam – when he is sitting in srI vaikuNtam. That is because the AthmAs there are all muktha AthmAs full of gyAnam etc., and perumAn is all available to them; so there is no opportunity to show his sowlabhyam to them; So perumAL is more happy to be in AyppAdi among the common people so that he can put that character of His in to good use.

Only in darkness the light would seem very bright, so perumAL is very happy to come to this world to exercise the full power of one of his kalyANa guNas, that is sowlabhyam. Because of his presence, AyppAdi is wealthy of his guNas; his guNas are wealthy in AyppAdi. He, who is bigger than the three worlds, has made himself available for the commands of the gOpikAs in this place – AyppAdi.

AyppAdi has been content and hence wealthy with cows that provided enough milk, so they were all happy with getting the milk and making the butter (கறப்பன, கடைவனவற்றால் குறைவற்றிருக்கை).

What is so special about AyppAdi? Isn’t it just some small place? It is the divine place where one can go to without having to leave this body (which has to be done to go to srI vaikuNtam); AyppAdi is not the place like ayOdhya where great saints/gyAnis like vasishtar lived – it is just a place where gOpikAs live who are so innocent that they can’t differentiate between their left and right arms; it is not a place that enjoyed the wonderful characters of perumAL (rAmar), but the place that enjoys looking at all the mischief of krishNan.

selva chirumIrgAL! – O, wealthy girls!

What is the wealth this is referring to? It is the association that all the gOpikAs are having with perumAn. When lakshmaNan went behind rAman empty-handed, he was referred by vAlmIki as ‘lakshmaNo lakshmi (wealth) sampanna:‘, because lakshmaNan got the real wealth that is rAma kainkaryam. Similarly when vibhIshaNAzhwAn left lankai and approached empty handed to do saranAgathy to perumAL, he was referred to as ‘srImAn’ (wealthy), because only now vibhIshaNan got the real wealth – that is association with rAman;   gajEndran, the elephant, when he decided that there is no own effort that can save his life, and called  perumAn for help, gajendrAzhwAr was referred to as ‘srImAn’ (wealthy) – again it is the association / surrender to emperumAn that is shown as the real wealth for us. (This association is called ‘bhagavath sambhandham’).

Difference among the above three association examples:

–         lakshmaNan from birth did Not have any swAthanthriyam (any feeling of being independent from perumAn), or anniya sEshathvam (being subservient to someone other than srIman nArAyANan). So he was from birth fully subservient to rAman.

–         vibhIshaNan did not have any swAthanthriyam either but he did have ‘anniya sEshathvam’ that is, he was subservient to rAvaNan. When that was also lost, he became wealthy because of attaining ananyArgha sEshathvam towards rAman.

–         gajEndran had swAthanthriyam at first (when it thought it could save by Only on its own efforts), but it did not have any anniya sEshathvam – it served garlands only to emperumAn. But when gajEndran shed his swAthanthriyam by calling perumAL only to help, he became wealthy too.

The gOpikAs of AyppAdi are wealthy because of their association with krishNan – what with krishNan not tolerating the separation of any of the 5 Lakhs gopikas of AyppAdi, their playing together, and krishNan showing his kAruNyam (mercy/affection) when the gOpikAs are not able to tolerate their separation from krishNan.

What is meant by ‘sirumIrgAL‘ – it is that all the gOpikAs are a match to krishNan in age and ability to play (krishNan is also an iLam singam (lion-cub)); krishNan when seeing the males and those who have become women will stay away from them as he would from those who do poojas to other devathais (than nArAyaNan) or those who possess swAthanthriyam (feeling independent from perumAn). This is to show that he is so much fond of those young gOpikAs who are of good match to his age and ability to play. It is also to show how gOpikAs are so innocent, so devoted to krishNan and his chEshtithams (mischief), and making sure that without gOvindhan getting it first, they don’t put anything into their mouth.

===> kUr vEl kodum thozhilan nandhagOpan :

Earlier nandhagOpan would be so careful to not even step on a fresh grass; like bhattar’s sishya siriyAththAn he was also very kind; after getting these children, thinking ‘what danger might come to them’, nandhagOpan started standing with a well-sharpened spear (சாணை பிடித்து).

(kodum thozhilan) – If he sees an ant down (near krishNan) , he would jump on it with so much anger and vigour that is fit for attacking a lion; and get blood-stains on his hands (from the blood flowing down from the spear!).

What about vEdhas saying not to hurt any living being? vEdhas say ‘sAmAnya dharma’ – that which one should usually follow, and ‘visEsha dharma’ – like to save a cow one could tell lies. In this case, nandhagOpan is doing this with fear of danger to krishNan’s head (what with so many rakshasAs going into the one-way street that is AyppAdi to try to hurt krishNan).

(nandhagOpan) – Why is ANdAL using this word in the pAsuram instead of just saying ‘kUr vEl kodunthozhilan kumaran‘?  It is to imply that nandhagOpan is happy seeing his son. Also, like how periyAzhwAr would be affectionate to her, she is using this name to imply that krishNan’s father also will be affectionate to her and friends and will let krishNan be with them. That is the same reason for waking him up (in pasuram 17) by saying ‘nandhagOpalA ezhundhirAi (nandhagOpa! please wake up)’, to imply that he would help the girls to meet krishNan.

===> kumaran

When the people of AyppAdi go and complain to nandhagOpar, ‘He stole our butter, he stole our girls, (made mess everywhere?)’, then nandhagOpar would say ‘If krishNan comes anywhere near the vicinity of my eye sight I will set him straight (என் கண் வட்டத்திலே வந்து தோற்றினானாகில் நியமிக்கக் கடவேன்).  But when krishNan does appear in front of nandhagOpan, seeing krishNan’s disciplined and innocent behaviour like a little lion cub (hence, ‘kumaran’), nandhagOpar would say “My blunder! Did you say all these bad things about such a sweet boy?” – getting back at those who complained. (கெட்டேன்! இவனையோ இங்ஙனே பழியிட்டது?).

===> Aer Arndha kaNNi yasOdhai

Beauty is resident in yasOdhai pirAtti’s eyes; since she is always looking at her son, it is reflecting in her eyes as beauty (krishna darshan makes our eyes beautiful) ;  aren’t they the eyes that saw the little face which pretended to cry, look at her mother as if scared, and with hands together plead her to untie him?

(yasOdhai) – she is amicable to them to wake her up ‘yasOdhAi arivurAi’ and get what they wanted.

===> iLam singam

Since nandhagOpar tends to do corrections for making him good (as fathers do), krishNan behaves like a little cub (hence ANdAL says ‘nandhagOpan kumaran’). But since yasOdhai will treat him with affection only, in front of her – krishNan behaves like a lion, and with a lot of pride (hence, ‘yasOdhai’s iLam singam’); yasOdhai would not make him afraid by scolding (shouting) – she will let him do his mischief, going along with whatever he did; if anyone comes and complains to her about him, (and only when it becomes extreme) she might scold;  iLam singam – age that matches those of the little girls’ of AyppAdi; parAsara bhattar says he is a சிங்கக் குருகு (‘மேலெழப் பறந்து பாயும் சிங்கக் குட்டி’). kurugu refers to small birds; kutty refers to small. singak Kurugu implies that krishNan is like a lion cub that jumps on you as if flying in the air.

===> kAr mEni

kAr implies both black, and beautiful.  He who was prayed by nammAzhwAr to come and give darshan like a black cloud full of clean water (helps people), is the same boy who is visible to one and all in AyppAdi.   As much as the gOpikas’ parents tried to keep them away from Him, he is so beautiful that it is impossible to be away from Him.

===> sengaN

– Beautiful eyes matching the beautiful thirumEni (divine body of krishNan);

– His affection from inside is showing through his eyes – his affection for we people, without becoming angry at our mistakes which we make as human beings.

– He is the king.  As he has got all that is wealth, it reflects in his eyes.

– He comforts us with his beauty, and looks at us with affection.

kadhir madhiyam pOl mugaththAn

– Face that is the moon that got its brightness from the sun and with its own nicety; kadhir indicates that he provides brightness that helps and be accessible and enjoyable to those who want to befriend krishNan; at the same time it would punish those who want to oppose him (kamsan, the asuras, ..).

–  To emphasize about krishNan’s face not being comparable to anything, ANdAL says ‘mugaththAn’ – uses a metaphor instead of a simile.

nArAyaNanE (all the descriptions above are about krishNan who is nArAyaNan)

– How do gOpikAs know that krishNan is nArAyaNan? This avatharam, by lifting the gOvardhana mountain with its little finger and with other mischief which humans cannot do, has made it easy for gOpikAs to know that he is the sarvEshvaran (god for all, that is nArAyaNan); also the people of AyppAdi do not know other gods, they would use only this word as part of the nOnbu, as they know it is krishNan that is nArAyaNan. Her (ANdAL’s) fathers (AzhwArs) also used this word only in many pAsurams (nAn kaNdu koNdEn nArayaNA ennum nAmam, thiNNam naraNam, nAraNanai nangu arindhEn); like how rishis also used this word (nArAyana shabhdhamAthram, Esha nArAyaNa: srImAn, nArAyaNa parabrahma).

nArAyaNanE namakkE parai tharuvAn

nArAyaNanE implies that He by himself would show his love to us, even when we don’t realize/accept that He is antharyami (he is inside our AthmA); this is because of his affection towards us.

namakkE – only to us who have shed our swAthanthriyam (shedding any thought that we are independent from perumAL) – shedding by deciding that it is against nature to do something thinking that we did it all by ourselves (even if we have the wherewithal to do something) (Akinchanyam); and the ‘we’ who do not have any power are looking for only His helping hands  (ananya-gadhithvam (no other place/devathai/strength to go to for help, except Him for enabling to do kainkaryam to Him)).

parai tharuvAn – While the instrument ‘parai’ is to be obtained from krishNan to be used in the nOnbu, they are actually talking about the ‘parai’ that is pArathanthriyam (ability to be subservient to Him; kainkaryam). How do we know that that is what they are actually talking about – they themselves say it in pAsuram 29 – iRRai parai koLvAn andru kAN, gOvindha, etraikkum EzhEzh piRavikkum … (No, not this instrument parai, hey gOvindha, but the subservience to you in all the births);

==> It says parai “tharuvAn” (he will give) instead of ‘koLvOm’ (we will ~take), because they understand that even if they are eligible, or even if it is possible, only He should give it out of his will and then they should get that (parai).

pArOr pugazha – for the people to appreciate/celebrate.

Those who had not allowed us and krishNan to be together, and also those who had allowed, are now appreciating and celebrating about krishNan’s help of giving us the tools for doing the nOnbu, and us girls getting involved in the nOnbu (for praying to get rains).

Even though they (the elders) don’t fully understand the experience of us girls being together with krishNan, they still celebrate that togetherness. They would celebrate that the whole AyppAdi got the rains and became fertile because of our nOnbu.

padindhu (this goes with ‘padindhu nIrAda pOdhuvIr – that is, take bath well.(or, fully enjoy krishNan)

El – Listen (and)

Or – keep it in your mind (become determined/ committed),

Em pAvAi – our dear girl

-El Or EmpAvAi is also part of nonbu’s phrase (thought)).

-keep it in mind and follow.

-Since this is about getting together and enjoying krishNan, ‘pAvAi’ addresses rathi dEvi.

The first pAsuram celebrates the good time that became available, talks about the people who are eligible for doing kainkaryam (anybody who have got that ‘wish’), explains the beauty of krishNan and how nandhagOpan and yasOdhai cannot hide krishNan’s beauty from others, talks about upAyam/upEyam (Him and kainkaryam respectively), and ended with saying that even those who did not want them to be with krishNan are also celebrating their union with krishNan.



[1] krishNa also says in ruthu He is vasantha ruthu – they are the months of chithra, and vaikAsi – they are the thiru avathAra months of emperumAnAr and nammAzhwAr respectively – kAnchi swAmi.

English translation Raghuram Srinivasa Dasan.

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7 thoughts on “thiruppAvai – 01 – mArgazhi thingaL

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    Hari Om! Word by word explanation that actually arrests Adiyen’s Attention. Food for thought! No thanks can complete my Gratitude!
    Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan Jai Sriman Narayana!

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