Friday, February 2, 2007

Sri Andaal

Period 9th C. AD
Place Sri Villiputhur
Other Names Soodi Kodutha Naachiyaar, Kodai, Kodai Piraatti
Month Aadi
Star (Natshatram) Pooram (Poorva Phalguni)
Hamsam Bhoodevi

Life story of Sri Andal:

The life story of Sri Andal is very well known in South India and to a few people in the north. However, a brief narrative is given here for the fresher. The Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Sri Andal was found in the flower garden in kali yuga 98, Adi (Ashata month), Shukla Chathurthi, Tuesday with Puram star in SRIVILLPUTHUR in the Pandiya dynasty. Accordingly, her date of birth is 8th of June 3004 B.C. But modern historians fix a date the first half of the 8th century A.D. Be that as it may, our account follows the "Guru Parampara" tradition.

Upbringing of Sri Andal by Periyaazhvaar/Vishnuchithan:

As Sita was found by king Janaka, while tilling the land for doing yagna, Vishnuchitha (a great vedic scholar, poet, Vishnu devotee also known as Periyazhvar found the divine child under a tulasi plant while he was tending his nandavana(garden) in Srivilliputhur. He brought her up in simple and godly surroundings natural to a pious, vedic, dhwaija. The child prodigy thus fostered lovingly grew into a beautiful maiden and became an embodiment of love for Sri Krishna.

Sri Andal's love for Krishna/Sri Vatabhadrasayee:

Being a devotee of "Sri Vadabhatrasayee", the presiding deity of srivilliputhur, Vishnuchitha would weave a garland of tulasi leaves daily and keep it sacredly rolled in a flower basket so that he may, after attending to his other course, take the garland later to the temple for offering to the lord. The child ?kodai?(Andal) in her profound innocence would take out the garland daily without her father's knowledge, adorn herself and look into the mirror to satisfy herself whether she was suitable bride to the lord and then would remove the garland and replace it in the basket in its original form. This was going on for days and without actually knowing that her daughter had adorned the garland around herself, Vishnuchitha would offer this to the deity who wore it beatifically.

One day to his surprise, Vishnucitha saw the child wearing the garland before he could take it to the temple. He was shocked for he considered this as a great defilement. He remonstrated her for this act. He fasted that day and did not offer the garland and was all repentant. But lo! What a surprise? At night, the lord appearing in dreams asked Vishnuchitha, why you did not offer me the tulasi wreath today? I am ever eager to have the things touched by my devotee. Think not Andal kodai to be a mere mortal.?

To his wonder Vishnuchitha found that tulasi wreath worn on the previous ay by Andal had not faded. But, was fresher than a freshly made garland. Thereafter, he offered the garland to the deity after being worn by Andal. The lord continued to give his the bliss of ineffable ?darshan?. (Even today, this practice is being observed at the temple of Srivilliputhur.)

When Andal attained her marriageable age, her father was worried to find a suitable match for her. But, the divine child would not marry anyone except lord Krishna.

Therefore, Vishnuchitha narrated all the KALYANA GUNAS of all the Archa-Murthis of the one hundred and eight Sri Vaishnava Kshetras in India, so that she may for herself choose the deity. When she heard of the Soundarya of lord Sriranganatha, tears of joy came over her and her heart prayed to HIM to come and accept her in wedlock.

Wedlock of Sri Andal with Sri Ranganatha:

At this, Vishnuchitha, knowing not what to do, meditated. Sri ranganatha spoke to him in a dream: ?Do not hesitate to offer your daughter to Me, for she is Bhudevi herself.? Simultaneously the lord bade the sthanikas(officials in charge) of Srirangam to go to Srivilliputhur and bring Andal in a palanquin in all royalty.

King Vallabhadeva along with his retinue joined the procession from Srivilliputhur to Srirangam with Sri Andal in a palanquin.

The whole route was decorated on either sides with flowers and wreaths of finely weaved green saplings (called thoranam). As sri Andal entered the inner shrine of Sri Ranganatha, the magnetic beauty of the lord instantly attracted her. She boldly mounted up His serpent couch and joined the eternal lustrous light of Sri Ranganatha in the presence of the gathering.

Sri Andal's works:

To posterity, Sri Andal gave two gems as masterpieces:-

TIRUPPAVAI (30 verses)

NAACHIYAAR THIRUMOZHI (143 verses) which are considered as the summum bonum by the Srivaishnavaits.

Swamy Desikan mentions about Andal in GodhA sthuthi:

SrivishNuchittha kulanandana kalpavaleem
Srirangaraaja harichandana yoga drusyaam I
SakshAth KshamAm karuNayA KamalAmivAnyAm
GodhAm ananya saraNa: SaraNam prapathyE II

(Meaning ) : O GodhE ! I perform Saranagthi at Your sacred feet as one, who
has no other recourse! I have no one else to save me. You are the Kalpaka
creeper adorning the Lord standing as the auspicious HarichandanA tree in
the flower garden of the Kulam of VishNuchitthA, your father. The darsanam
of you united with Your Lord tightly as the divine kalpakA creeper and the
celestial HarichandanA tree is a blessed sight to see.

Saakshaath kshamaam- In Your infinite patience with the aparAdhis , You are
Bhumi dEvi and in your limitless compassion, You are like Maha Lakshmi

I offer my Prapatthi at your sacred, lotus feet as the one who has no other

Thus, Swamy says: She is BhumA dEvi and Sri Devi as well.

His Holiness added: Swami Desikan also says in his GodhAsthuthi:
Oh GodhA Piraatti! Sriman NarayanA's role is to carryout punitive actions
against us (who are trespassing sasthrAs and are committing
sins/apachaarams). But Periya Piraati MahAlakshmi, the Most Merciful Mother
is there by His side to be soft on us and always recommends us (the sinners)
to Sriman Narayanan for forgiving our apachaarams out of Her compassion. How
many times He can yield to Her recommendations? (before even the performance
of our sins gets dried, Sri Lakshmi recommends us for His pardon!). He gets
vexed and is totally helpless and turns His face to
the other side (in disgust- THAT He is always asked by the Mother
MahAlakshmi- Periya Piraatti- to forgive us (the sinners)- How merciful She

On such occasions when the Lord turns away from Lakshmi, on the other side
there sits equally Most Merciful (if not more) BhUmi Piraatti GodhA
Piraatti- who is taking her turn to recommend us again to the Lord! He,
simply smiles at both of You (Periya Piraatti and GodhApiraatti) and
forgives us! When you and Periya Piraatti are there, GodhA! What is there to
worry about?

Thus Swamy beautifully narrated GodhA PiraaTTI's greatness and Swamy blessed
the devotees with sakala sowbhAgyam with nArAyaNa smaraNam.


SrimatE Gopaladesika MahadesikAya Namaha,

Dear Bhaktas,

On this most sacred Tiruvadi Pooram day, the Tirunakshatram of Andal, adiyen wishes to share the following reflections.
Srivilliputtur, the birthplace of Andal is sanctified because, Andal chose to incarnate there. Unlike avatarams of the Lord where He incarnated through GarbhavAsam, Periya Azhwar found Andal in his flower garden. Therefore, Her birth was Avirbhava. It is significant to note that two months of the year designated as Shoonya masams are - Adi and Marghazhi. Significantly, both of these months have been rendered sacred by Andal - Adi due to Her incarnation and Marghazi due to the brilliant delivery of the Tiruppavai verses, at the end of which She attained eternal union with Lord Narayana. Significantly, Lord Krishna Himself declares in the Bhagavad Gita "mAsAnAm marghashIrshOsmi"(among the months I am the MargashIrsha) in anticipation of His union with Andal. For Andal, expression of Her pangs of separation from Her Beloved (Lord Narayana) came naturally. Therefore, She did not need to adopt Nayaki Bhavam in her outpourings like Swami NammAzhwar or Tirumangai Azhwar.

Andal, being an Amsham of Bhumi Piratti is the epitome of compassion. This is glorified in the Purusha Sooktam rk "HrIscha thE lakshmIscha pathnyoU". The term Hri denotes compassion- Andal's compassion. Since Lord Narayana is the father of the entire universe, Andal as His consort becomes the mother of the entire universe.

Her limitless compassionfor Her children (erring baddha jIvans, who are subject to a seemingly endless cycle of births and deaths), who perform SharaNagati manifests itself in the form of Her impassioned appeals to Lord Narayana to forgive their sins. The act of granting refuge to a Prapanna is a yajna performed by Lord Narayana. The term Patni is reserved for exclusive use in the context of yajna. Andal's elevated role in this yajna of protecting Prapannas is glorified in the Bhu Sooktam Rk
"shrungE shrungE yajnE yajnEviBhishaNIi"

A remarkable feature of Andal's incarnation is the harmonious unison of theory and practice underlying SharaNagati. We may remember that when Bhumi Piratti was rescued from the depths of the ocean by Lord Narayana, in his incarnation as Varaha (jnAna Piran), her overwhelming compassion for Her Children (errant baddha jivans) took the form of a question seeking the upayam for redemption. The
response from Bhagavan Varaha is the famous Varaha Charma Shlokam, which briefly outlines the theoretical principles underlying SharaNagati. We may observe that Swami Desikan dedicates an entire Chillarai Rahasyam entitled "rahasya shiKhamaNi" to the discussion of the esoteric meanings underlying the Varaha Charma Shlokam.

Not satisfied with this, Andal's extreme compassion for Her children is such that She undertook the performance of the Vratam (nombu) of SharaNagati to llustrate the jiVatma -ParamAtma relationship. The 30 verses of Tiruppavai contain a consummate description of this relationship, which has been elaborated upon in the Upanishads and in the Bhagavad Gita. It is instructive to note that recitation of Vedic hymns have significant restrictions in that one must be aware of the time and place to recite these hymns. Furthermore, not everyone is qualified to recite these hymns. Only Gruhastas can recite some hymns, while some are the privy of Sanyasis alone and so forth. Whereas no such restrictions apply to the recitation of verses from Tiruppavai. Also, the Vedas are quite cryptic in their reference to the margam of SharaNagati. Therefore, they are often termed as Marai (that which is not visible to the naked eye). However, Andal being an Amsham of Bhumi Piratti beautifully intuited the nuances and prescriptions of SharaNagati from the Vedas and described it a simple-to-understand language using 30 delectable verses of Tiruppavai. The following important messages are contained in this outstanding literary masterpiece.

(1) Every jivAtma is irrevocably the property of the ParamAtma, Lord Narayana, who is its Sheshi, ruler, Swami.
(2) The existence and activities of every jivAtma are solely for the pleasure of Lord Narayana.

Andal illustrates (1) and (2) through the "ariyAdha piLLaihaLO"
salutation in the Tiruppavai.

(3) The surest way to restore the property (jivAtma) to its rightful owner is through the path of unconditional, total surrender to the Lord's Lotus Feet, i.e., SharaNagati.
(4) The performance of sharaNagati is simply Atma vivAham, i.e., a wedding between the jivAtma and the Paramatma.
(5) The rules underlying the performance of this nOmbu are clearly stated in the Tiruppavai. For example, verse 2 elaborates on the yama and niyama exercises. The term yama means that which must be given up, whereas the term niyama means that which must not be given up, i.e., that which must be followed. Some of the rules contained here are significant in that they echo important upanishadic messages. First, upon waking up one must recite the name of Lord Narayana-this seems to be the basis of Swami Desikan's Vaishnava Dinasari, where he notes that upon waking up one must recite the name Hari 7 times. Next, Andal discusses that which must be given up-neyyuNNOm pAluNNOm. This is not interpreted to mean that one must give up partaking of ghee and milk. However, it is merely an instruction that these should be partaken only upon offering to Lord Narayana. Further, Andal discusses what must be given in charity.

This is a remarkable echo of the Taittriya Upanishad
salutations "shraddaya DhEyam" and "shriyA DhEyam" and the Dharma Shastras (Manu Smriti for example)that contain stipulations for setting apart a percentage of one's income for charitable /philanthrophic purposes. Exponents of Yoga have also commented that verse 2 is a prescription for facilitating the realization that Lord Narayana who resides in the milky ocean is forever resident in the lotus of one's heart. This illustrates the Mahanarayana upanishad salutation "yOanta samudhrE kavayO vayanti"

(6) The thirty verses of the tiruppavai represent the condensed essence of the esoteric messages contained in the three Srivaishnava rahasyams. The gist of these three rahasyams is that (i) Lord Narayana is the supreme being-Tattvam (ii) Performance of SharaNagati (unconditional, total surrender) at His Lotus Feet is the surest way of redemption-Hitam (iii) Upon performance of SharaNagati,
one must take delight in performing Kaimkaryam for Lord Narayana, His Bhagavatas, and Acharyas. Nithya Kaimkaryam at the behest and for the pleasure of the Divine Couple follows at the end of one's earthly existence-PurushArtham

(7) It may be questioned as to what is the authority for performing this Nombu of SharaNagati? Andal answers this through the salutation "melayAr seyvanagal", i.e. treading the path established by elders. The reference here is to the mahOpakaram of Swami NammAzhwar-the Prapanna jana Kootasthar, who established the efficacy of SharaNagati beyond doubt.

(8) The salutation "unakkE nAmATchaIvOm" is the condensed essence of the sAma vedam, which glorifies Lord Narayana to the exclusion of all other deities.

(9) The glorification of Lord Narayana as dhamOdharanE is a succinct illustration of the Bhrahma Sutra "janmAdhyasyayathOnvayAdhitharaThaschArthEshva vijnya svarAt"

Swami Desikan's Goda Stuthi seems to follow the path of Andal's 30 verses in letter and spirit. Specifically, Swami Desikan's opening contains a surrender to the Lotus Feet of Goda ". In the concluding verse of this Stuthi, Swami Desikan elqouently describes the fruit of this surrender through the salutation "charaNa kamala sevAm shAshvatIm abhyupAishyan". The bountiful blessings arising from the performance of SharaNagati are also described by Swami Desikan as he echoes the message of Andal's "shara mazhai pOl" salutation in the Daya Shatakam verse "shArnga DhanvAnukampa" It is instructive to note that in the war against Ravana, after the killing of Indrajit, Ravana
was grief stricken and ordered his fiercest hordes of demons to launch a full scale offensive on Lord Rama and the Vanara army. The Vanara army suffered heavy casualties as a result of this attack by the asuras, who used the darkness of the night to full advantage. Lord Rama entered the fray at this juncture and rained an unending stream of arrows from his bow, which effortlessly repelled the attack of the Asuras. Adikavi, Valmiki, states in the Ramayana that the arrows came so swiftly from Lord Rama's bow that it appeared as if a multitude of Ramas were present on the battlefield. This is illustrative of the
fact that every baddha jIvan is unaware of its true swaroopam and is thus steeped in the darkness of ignorance on account of its bondage to samsara by the rope of Karma. Sri Sookthis from Acharyas bestow the light of knowledge upon the Baddha jIvan causing the baddha jivan to realize its true swaroopam (eternal servitude to Lord Narayana), resulting in the performance of Prapatti. The bountiful
fruits arising from the performance of Prapatti are akin to the copious stream of arrows from Lord Rama's bow. This is indicative of the Vedic messages "tamasOmA jyOtirgamayA" and 'mruthyOrmA amruthanga mayA". The bliss arising from the performance of eternal Kaimkaryam at the behest and for the pleasure of the Divine Couple is described in the VishNu Sooktam Rk "Tad vishNO: Paramam padagam sadhA
pashyanthi soorayaha" and the Taittriya Upanishad salutations
"sa yEkO brahmaNa Ananda:", "AhamannAdO"
and the Chandogya Upanishad salutation
"na cha purnarAvarthathE na cha purnarAvarthathE".

Happy Birthday Amma!

Namo Narayana,
Sri Muralidhar Rangaswamy
SrimathE Gopaladesika Mahadesikaya Namah:

Dearest Sisters and Brothers,

Today Aug 1st is a Great day. The day of our Dearest Mother GodhA Piraatti's Thirunakhsthram, Thiru Adi pooram- Sri AndAL's Birthday. BhUmi Piraati took the avatar as an ordinary girl amongst us to bless us with rich, philosophical, easy-to-understand pAsurams of ThiruppAvai and Naacchiyaar Thirumozhi (30+143 verses). She is so merciful that she sang the 30 verses that are simply the essence and seed of all vEdAs.

Thiruppavai (30 verses) can alleviate all our enormous Greatest sins; They can show us the Lotus Feet of Paraman (Sriman Narayanan) and bless us. They are the seed of all VedAs. Those who do NOT know these 30 (5x5+5) verses of GodhA are simply burden to the Earth (BhUmipiraati - Sri AndAL). (Let us pray to Her for granting us the determination so that we will recite these 30 verses everyday morning POSITIVELY and NOT cause further burden to our dearest Mother GodhAPiraatti- BhUmi Piraatti.) Let us meditate on the most compassionate and most merciful Divine Godha PiraaTTi and surrender to Her Lotus feet.

Swami Desikan starts off the GodhAsthuthi, which is reported to have been sung by Swami, when he was greatly captured by GodhA's Divine Beauty in the streets of Sri Villiputthur during a procession (Uthsavam) on the day of which Swami was observing Mouna vratham (perhaps, PradhOsham time).

GoDhA looked gracefully at Swami and her divine beauty appeared as if allured him to say "Hm.... Sing .. Come out..VedantaAchAryarE!" Swami had to break his silence and blessed us with the most brilliant divine 29 excellent verses of GOdhAsthuthi. (one less than 30 pAsurams of ThiruppAvai)

Slokam 1 of GodhA sthuthi : SaraNAgathi at the Holy feet of GodhA PirAtti

SrivishNuchittha kulanandana kalpavaleem
Srirangaraaja harichandana yoga drusyaam I
SakshAth KshamAm karuNayA KamalAmivAnyAm
GodhAm ananya saraNa: SaraNam prapathyE II

(Meaning ) : O GodhE ! I perform Prapatthi at Your sacred feet as one, who has no other recourse! I have no one else to save me. You are the Kalpaka creeper adorning the Lord standing as the auspicious HarichandanA tree in the flower garden of the Kulam of VishNuchitthA, your father. The darsanam of You united with Your Lord tightly as the divine kalpakA creeper and the celestial HarichandanA tree is a blessed sight to see. In Your infinite patience with the aparAdhis, You are Bhumi dEvi and in your limitless compassion, You are like Maha Lakshmi Herself. I offer my Prapatthi at your sacred, lotus feet as the one, who has no other means!

Swamy Desikan in Prabandha saaram (10th verse):

vEyar pugazh villiputthUr ADI POORAM
mEn mElum miga viLanga, vittu chitthan
thUya thirumagaLaay vandhu aranganaarkkutth
thuzhaay maalai mudi soodik koduttha maadhE!
nEyamudan Thiruppaavaip paattu ARu aindhum
nee uraittha thaiyoru thingat paamaalai
Aya pugazh nooRudan naaRpatthu moonRum
anbudanE aDiyEnukku aRuL sey neeyE!

In the most famous, great Sri villiputthUr, (famous due to Bhattar Piraan?s place, with his establishment of Parathvam and the Lord appearing with Mahalakshmi on GarudAzhwAn to witness the grand celebration of his devotee VishNuchitthan - Bhattar Piraan), in Veyar kulam, GodhA (Sri ANdAL) appeared in the garden of Sri VishNu chitthan in order to enhance its (Sri villiputthUr?s) greatness to the greatest extent by Her appearance. She adorned herself with the garland meant for Arangan (Lord Ranganathan) and then adorned the dhivya mangaLa vigraham of the Lord! (which was actually preferred by the Lord!- please read the life of Sri ANdAL). She lovingly and devotedly sang the 6 * 5 = 30 verses of ThiruppAvai and 143 pAsurams (verses) of Naacchiyar Thirumozhi which starts with thaiyoru thingaL..

Swamy Desikan prays to her.. ?Oh GodhE! Please bless aDiyEn mercifully those bhakti laden pAsurams of yours (namely ThiruppAvai and Naacchiyar Thirumozhi)..

Also, Sri Manavala Maamuni says:

inRO Thiruvaadippooram;- emakkaaga anRO inghu ANdAL avatharitthaaL-
kunRaadha vaazhvaana vaikuntha vaan bhOganthannai igazhdhu
AzhwAr ThirumagaLaaraay.

Beautiful and simple: Maamuni says: Today is Thiruvaadipporam. Andal appeared only for us; She sacrificed Her eternal Vaikunta enjoyment and living and appeared here as the human daughter of AzhwAr. (What a compassion of Bhumi Piraatti!)

Srimanyai VishNu chitthaaryamanOnandhanahEthavE!
nandhanandha sudharyai gOdhaayai Nithya MangaLam!!

Let us pay our obeisance to Sri AndAL on Her Birthday and pray to Her for Her Most Merciful Glances on us always to forgive us for all our trespasses and apachaarams/sins..

Let us make a sincere attempt to recite her ThirupPAvai everyday as it takes only 15 minutes to do the same.
AndaL ThiruvadigaLE SaraNam
Namo Narayana

Let us enjoy her Vazhi Thirunaamam.
The first line reads:
?Tiruvaadip Poorathu Jagathudithaal Vaazhiye?
Meaning that she was born in the month of Aashaada in the constellation of Poorva Phalguni. This was about 5000 years ago (7C Ad). When Swami Desika visited Srivilliputtur (Sridhanvinayapuram), it was a ?Mahaapradosham? day. He used to observe silence during ?pradosham? But, he made an exception and suddenly burst into a panegyric to Goda in his ?Goda Sthuthi?, when he witnessed in the main streets of Srivilliputtur the grand procession of Goda Rangan. He surrendered immediately at the lotus feet of Goda, the quintessence of mercy and forgiving saying-
?Saakshaath Kshamaam karunayaa kamalaamivaanyaam
Godaam ananyasarana: Saranam prapadhye?
In the very next Sloka, he gives the reason why he broke his silence. It was her overwhelming quality of ?daya? that made him loquacious despite his own limitations (mounaan mukharayanthi gunaa: tvadheeyaa:)

Referring to the direction of her birthplace, he observes in the 11th stanza ?Oh! Gode! By your birth the Southern direction itself became blessed as the best of directions, so that even while asleep, Lord Ranganatha looks at your Avatara Sthalam.
Dik dakshinaapi pari pavitram upalabhyaath
Sarvottaraa bhavathi Devi thava avataaraath /
Yatraiva Rangapathinaa Bahumaana purvam
Nidraalunaapi nisatham nihitha: kataakshaa: //
Thondaradippodi Azhwaar described the supine posture of Lord Ranganatha saying that the Lord had His head on the West, feet in the East, showing His back to the North, but was looking at the South. But, he gives a different reason for this, saying that HE was looking at Lanka, the land of Vibheeshana.
?Kuda dhisai mudiyai vaithu Guna disai paadam neetti
Vada dhisai pinbu kaatti then dhisai Ilangai nokki
Kadal nira kkadavul enthai aravanai thuyilumaa kandu
Udal enakku urugumaalo! Yen seigen ulagathhre!?

Swami Desikan, however, felt that the Lord could not take His eyes off the birthplace of His beloved Andal and therefore, was facing South.(Before the Rajagopuram of Srirangam was built, the Rajagopuram of Srivilliputtur was considered the tallest).
The Lord also seems to be enjoying the cool, refreshing and soothing Southern breeze called ?thenral?.

Veda piraan Bhattar celebrates:
?godai pirandavoor Govindan Vaazhumoor
Jodhi manimaadam thonrumoor ? needhiyaal
Nalla patthar vaazhumoor naan marai Odhumoor
Villiputtur Vedakkonoor?
?Srivilliputtur is the birthplace of Goda: Lord Govinda (Vadapatrasayee) has His abode here: here are gem studded uprising palatial mansions: great devotees of the Lord live here chanting the 4 Vedas; and, this is also the abode of the great Bhattarpiraan (Vedakkone)?
Though Govindan was born in Mathurai, brought up in Nandagokulam and ruled from Dwaraka, His final abode (as Vatapatrasayee) is the birthplace of Goda (Govindan Vaazhum oor)

Swami Desikan celebrates thus:
? Veyar pugazh Villiputtur Aadip Pooram
Menmelum miga vilanga Vittuchittan
Thooya Thirumagalaai vandu arangarkku
Thuzhaai maalai mudi Soodik kodutha maadhe!
Neyamudan Tiruppavai Paattu Aaraindum
Nee uraitha thai oru thingat paamaalai
Aaya pugazh Nootrunaarpattu moonrum
Anbudane adiyenukku arul sei neeye
?Oh! Goddess Gode!, the one who has offered to Lord Ranganatha of Srivilliputtur the garland of Tulasi (holy basil) after wearing it (the garland) on the locks of your tresses being ? as ayonijaa (Nat taking birth from the garbha of any mortal being) ? the benign foster daughter of Sri Vishnuchitta at Srivilliputtur on the Poorvaphalguni constellation of Aashaada (Aadi) month ? doubly making auspicious and lustrous birth, (both Aadipooram and the sacred town of Srivilliputtur) which are hailed by the cowherds and other devotees of the Lord!. May you lovingly and affectionately shower your graceful blessings on me, your humble servant so that I will understand the quintessence of your two great compositions ? Tiruppaavai consisting of six pentads (30 verses)and Naachiyaar Tirumozhi, the garland of songs beginning with ?thai oru thingal? consisting of 143 verses? *

Praising the 30 verses of Tiruppaavai, Vaazhi Tirunaamam says ?
Tiruppaavai muppadhum cheppinaal Vaazhiye?
These are not ordinary literary verses. They have layers and layers of deep, deeper and deepest meanings and messages for liberating our souls. Let us see what they can do?
?paathakangal theerkkum?- They will remove all our sins that stand in the way of moksham. (Cf Poya pizhaiyum pugu taruvaan ninranavum theeyinil thoosaagum)
?Paraman Adi Kaattum?: They will show us the means to reach the divine feet of the Lord (Paraman)
?Vedam anaithukkum vithu aagum?: they are the very seeds of the Vedas. Nammaazhwaar?s Srisookthis may be the essence of Vedas, Mahaabhaarata may be the fifth Vedam, But, Tiruppaavai is hailed as the very seed from which the Vedas sprouted.

What happens to those who do not know these 30 verses? They are verily a burden on mother earth Remember that Goda is Herself Bhoodevi (mother Earth)
?Godai tamizh aiyaindum aindhum (5x5+5=30) ariyaadha maanidarai vaiyam sumappathum vambu?

The 3rd line says:
?Periyaazhwaar petredutha pannpillai Vaazhiye?
meaning that she was ?born? to Periyaazhwaar. But, is this true?
She was an ?ayonijaa? as already mentioned. She took Her Avataara as the ?just born? baby girl in the muddy pit of the holy basil nurtured by Periyaazhwaar. So, elders would say that it would be more appropriate to describe Her Avataara true to fact as ?Periyaazhwaar 'pEtru' edutha penn pillai Vaazhiye? - the one who was picked up when the mud in the pit was dug up!

Like the holy basil with its natural fragrance right from its sprouting, Andal was immersed in the fragrance of Bhakti right from the moment of Her appearance at the pit.

The 4th line reads: ?Perumpudur maa munikkup pinn aanaal Vaazhiye? meaning
?She became the younger sister of Perumpudur Maamuni (Bhagavad Ramaanujar). The period of Andal was in 7c AD. The Sage lived from
1017 to 1137 AD. Is it not anachronism to call him the elder brother of Andal? This expression is not historical but is figurative. It is said that Andal desired to offer the Lord of Tirumaalirumsolai, a 100 vessels of sweet pudding (Akkaara adisil). Bhagavad Raamaanuja is said to have fulfilled her desire by actually offering the same on her behalf. The general practice in those days was that the elder brother is the one who usually fulfills the desires of his younger sister. Thus, Perumpudur Maamuni is deemed figuratively to be her elder brother.

The 5th Line says: ?oru nootrunaarpathu moonru uraithaal Vaazhiye?
meaning that She composed a poem of 143 verses. This is ?Naachiyaar Tirumozhi? which contains details of every step of her ?Dream Wedding? with the Lord.The portion called ?Vaaranam aayiram? is recited in the weddings of Srivaishnava girls even to this day.
How and why this practice?
Sastras declare: ?Jaamaathaa Vishnuvath Poojya?. The word
?Jaamaathaa? means both Son-in-law and the Lord. At the time of wedding, the bridegroom is deemed to represent Lord Vishnu and the bride as Andal. Even today, we see the bride being decorated like Andal under the wedding canopy.

The 6th line says: Uyar arangarkkE kanni uganthu alithaal Vaazhiye? meaning
?She happily gave Herself up to Ranganatha, the Supreme Lord?.
Andal hoped; She dreamed; She persevered; Now, Her hour of triumph had arrived. Indeed, Her prophetic ?dream came true?. She married Lord Ranganatha. She offered not only the garland of flowers (poomaalai) and garland of poems (paamaalai) but also She gave Herself up to the Lord.

The 7th line says ?maruvaarum tirumullai valanaadu Vaazhiye? meaning
" Hail the prosperous land (Valnaadu) permeated by fragrance of flowers? This refers to the prosperity of Her birthplace and the fragrance of Bhakti that filled the air there. ?maru? means ?fragrance? and ?Valanaadu? means Land of abundance?

Andal Herself refers to this prosperity of Srivilliputtur (which She imagines to be Ayarpaadi itself) in several verses (cf Selva Sirumeergaal, Narchelvan nangaai, Vaiyathu Vaazhceergaaletc).

The last line reads: ?Vann Pugazh nagar Godai malar padangal Vaazhiye? meaning
? Hail the lotus feet of Goda of the prosperous city of Puduvai" (here, means Srivilliputtur).

Varavaramuni celebrates Her Avataaram in 3 verses as below:
Inro Tiruvaadip ppooram, namakkaaga
Vanro ingu Andal avatharithaal ? kunraadha
Vaazhvaan vaikunta vaan bhogam thanai igazhndhu
Aazhwaar Thirumagalaai
Today is Tiruvadippooram. Forsaking the pleasures of Paramapadam, She descended ?down to earth? for our sake as the daughter of Azhwaar.

Pariyaazhwaar penn pillaiyaai Andal pirantha
Tiruvaadip poorathin seermai ? oru naalaikku undo maname! Unarndu paar
Andaalukku undo Oppiu itharkku
Today is the Pooram day in the month of Ad when Andal appeared on earth. Oh! Mind! Understand this. Is there any other day any more auspicious than this? Is there any one comparable to Andal?

Anju kudikku oru santhadhiyaai, Azhwaargal
Tham seyalai vinji nirkkum thanmaiyalaai
Pinjaai pazhuthaalai Andaalai Bhaktiyudan naalum
Vazhuthaai maname Magizhndhu
Andal is the single descendent of the five great families of Azhwaars. But, she excelled all of them by ripening even while being a tender unripe fruit. Oh! Mind! Pray to Her with delight and devotion daily.
Who are the five Azhwaars? The three mudal Azhwaars together are the first family Tirumazhisai, the second; Nammaazhwaar and Madhurakavi (together form one family),the third; Kulasekarar, the fourth and Her own foster-father, Periyaazhwaar,the fifth. Other Azhwaars viz. Tondaradippodi, Tiruppaann and Tirumangai Azhwaars were born much later after her. Still, Andal is generally considered as the inheritor of the traditions of all the Azhwaars.

Soodikkodutha Sudarkkodi Andal Tirvadigale Saranam

Anbil Ramaswamy

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