Thiruppavai - Avatharikai

Srimathe Ramanujaya Nama:
Azhwar Emberumanar Jeeyar Thiruvadigale Sharanam

AVATHARIKAI – Introduction
It is important before we learn about any thing - be it a song, an epic, a story, to know three important things about it
1) To know aboout the greatness Author - Vakthru Vailakshanyam
2) To know about the greatness of the work - Prabhandha Vailakshanyam
3) To know about the greatness of the message conveyed in the work - Pradhipadhi Vailakshanyam

It is natural that we dont take anything coming from anybody but a "trustable" source. It is true that we do not take everything that comes from the "trustable" source but those that are true. It is also true that we do not get all the messages from the "trustable" source.

So we first start by understanding the Vakthru Vailakshanyam - About Shri. Andal.

Vakthru Vailakshanyam/வக்த்ரு வைலக்ஷண்யம்
Four reasons are told to show the greatness of Aandal by our Poorvacharyas.

Reason 1
Azhwars are 11 in number.
Periyazhwar is one of them.
Periyazhwar's daughter is Aandal.
Andal had given us two Prabhandhams - Naachiyar Thirumozhi and Thiruppavai
Thiruppavai is a Prabhandham which has 30 Paasurams (Slokas) in it.

We are here to understand Vedhas through Andal's Thiruppavai.

Let us start by analyzing something that we know. When we are at sea level, an bus could seem very big in size. But the same bus when compared with a big mountain, will make the size of the bus insignificant when you compare it with the big mountain.

In other words there is a huge difference between a Mountain and a Mole-hill.

The difference between a mountain and a molehill is the difference between Rishi’s and Samsaari’s (Us). Same way is the difference between Aazhwars and Rishis. Same was is the difference between Azhwars and Periyazhwar. And the same way is the difference between Periyazhwar and Aandal.

Everything that we see in this earth has a "Cause". There is no "Effect" without a "Cause", which is also accepted by the Scientific world.

There can be two causes for us to be born in the earth. 1) Based on our deeds (Karma) in the past, 2) Due to the Niruhethuka Krupai of God (Emberuman).

Our forefathers(Poorvachaaryas), have accepted that the birth based on the deeds (Karma Sambandham/கர்ம ஸம்பந்தம்), is inferior to that of the birth based on the Niruhethuka Krupai of Emberuman (Eshwara Sambandham/ஈஶ்வர் ஸம்பந்தம்).

The former is to be avoided, and the later cherished. Those who are born in this world because of their Karma are called "Samsari"(s).

Samsaari – Dehaathmabhimaani/தேஹாத்மாபிமானம் (தேஹமே ஆத்மா என்று நினைக்கை). One who thinks that the body is itself self (Athma). One who has not understood what Athma means and believes that one’s body is Athma.

Athma and body are different. Athma is served by the body. Athma is the master for the body. In the same way, Athma serves Sriman Narayanan. Atham is Sriman Narayanan’s servant.

Rishi – AthmaSwarupi/ஆத்மஸ்வரூபி. One who has understood what an Athma is but still believes that he has to protect himselves. They put their own effort in trying to attain the Lotus Feet like Karma, Gnyana, Bakthi Marg to attain Moksha.

Alwars – Mayarvara Madhinalam Arulapetravargal/மயர்வர மதிநலம் அருளப்பெற்றவர்கள். Chosen by God, and enlightened by the Swathanthriam/ஸ்வாதந்த்ரயம் (Independence) of HIM. Alwars believe that to attain God, the only way is to be subserviant to God and ask him to help them. They believe in not making any attempt on their own,a s they believe that they do not have the ability to put in such an effort and take the Lotus Feet of Sriman Narayana.

Aandal – She is also one of alwars but she, through Thiruppavai, is forcing Perumal to wake up from his sleep (which we will enjoy soon) and demands what is due to her (Jeevathma) from Him (Paramathma), that is Moksha.

Our forefathers (Poorvacharyas) have always looked at Shri Ramayana to find an example for anything and everything that they want to understand. And so they quote a few characters in Shri Ramayana who can help us understand the differences between the above stages that one is in.

Samsari - Dehadhmabimani/தேஹாத்மாபிமானி - Kooni/கூனி and Kaikeyee/கைகேயீ are cited as examples of these. Why because Kooni wanted to take revenge on Rama for having hit her in his childhood with a catapult. Kaikeyee wanted her son Bharathan to be the King. Both these thoughts are because of Ego (Ahankaram/அஹங்காரம்). We get this ego because of athma's relationship with body.

Rishis are better than Samsaris because Rishis have understood God by their self effort - Karma, Gnana, Bakhti routes (margam/மார்கம்). They have gone through hardships while going through these Margams but have seen God and understood him because of their self efforts.

An example will be Vasishtar in Shri Ramayana. These Rushis understand that the body and athma are not the one and the same. Yet they have understood God because of their self effort.

Azhwars - Those who have seen God because of God's Mercy (Arul/அருள்). They have taken God as their means to attain him and did not do anything on their part to get to him. Azhwars are like Shri. Lakshmanan in Shri Ramayana. They believed like Shri Lakshmana that the purpose of their existence is to be subservient to God and do all that is required by him (Kainkaryaparar/கைங்கர்யபரர்).

Periyazhwar - The only Azhwar who have always been wanting the Glory of God (Mangalasasanam) to go above and above (Samrudhi/ஸம்ருத்தி). Right from his first paasuram "Pallandu Pallandu"/ "பல்லாண்டு பல்லாண்டு", till the last one in Periya Thirumozhi, all that Periyazhwar had preyed for is for Emberuman's Mangalasasanam. While all other Azhwars also had Bhakthi with God, they always wanted to get liberated from this Samsaram. Periyazhwar never asked for anything from God but always was wanting to do Perumal's Mangalasasanam. In Shri Ramayana, Bharathazhwan is cited as an example to Periyazhwar. Bharathan always wanted the well being of Shri Rama. When he heard that Rama was sent to the forest by his mother, he ran behind him and wanted him to come back so he can take the throne to continue from a place where he should be. He was always ready to do what Rama commanded him to do - Paarathanthryam/பாரதந்த்ரியம்.

Aandal - While Azhwars took Bhagavan as the "means" (Upayam/உபாயம்) to attain his Lotus Feet, Aandal considered Periyazhwar as the Upayam to attain Bhagavan's lotus feet. She was more concerened about Bhagavadha Samrudhi/பாகவத ஸம்ருத்தி (Glory to Bhagavadhas - Bhagavadhas are those who always want Glory to God/மங்களாஸாஸனம்).

What Nammazhwar achieved after singing two prabhandhams and 800 slokas in Thiruvaimozhi - to understand that one has to be subserviant to Bhagavadhas as well, Aandal achieved it in the 29th paasuram when she said
Matrainam Kaamangal Maatru
மற்றை நம் காமங்கள் மாற்று.

Reason 2:
Azhwars in their prabhandhams have in many places assumed themselves as female (Anyobadhesam/அன்யோபதேஸம்) when singing the paasruams. They did so so that Purushothaman is the only male as per Sri Vaishnava Sampradhaya and they wanted to get the Arul of Emberuman to flow from the higher ground to lower ground. Aandal didnt need to do this as she was a Female by birth. Naturally Emberuman's Arul flowed on her.

Reason 3:

Maanidarkendru Pecchuppadil Vazhkilen
மனிதர்கென்று பேச்சுப்படில் வாழ்கிலேன்
By just hearing that she may be married to a man, she said she will die. And hence they never ever said anything of that sort. She was so involved in Krishna, she thought that Srivilliputhur is Aayarpaadi, the people in there are Aayargal, and Vadaperunkoilan/வடபெருங்கோயிலான் (Periya Perumal/பெரியபெருமாள்) in Srivilliputhur is Krishna, but as he did not reply to her fell in great grievance.

But she did not know the means, and she started probing if anyone has ever made it to him. She heard through a few stories that Gopikas of Aayarpadi have done that.

She wanted to go to Thiruvayarpadi, without even realizing that she is in Kali Yug, when the Gopikas lived in Dwapara Yug. She was so blindly in love, she didn’t know how to go, being a very small brahmin girl, having not known anything other than Srivilliputhur.

Reason 4:
She also had Anyobadesam/அன்யோபதேஸம்(considering oneself as someone else, like a man considering him as a woman or a woman considering her as a man) in the fact that she considered herselves as an Edaichi (one who rears cattle). Being born from a Brahmin family, she acted as if she is an Edaichi. Every activity of her was like that of a girl from a family which rears cattle.

Idai Pechum, Idai Nadaiyum, Mudai Naatramum Kondal
இடை பேச்சும், இடை நடையும், முடை நாற்றமும் கொண்டாள்.

All her actions, her way of speaking, her walk, ever she smelled that of a grazer.
Prabhandha Vailakshanyam/ப்ரபந்த வைலக்ஷண்யம்
As we are covered by Ahankaram for unknown time, we were sleeping without understanding the relationship between us and God. God tried waking us up by giving us Sense organs, giving us Vedhas, creating Ithihas/இதிஹாஸம் and Puranas/புராணம் through Rishis in an effort to educate us, and even was born Himself to wake us up.

But through Thiruppavai, Aandal waks the Lord Himself and all his Baghavathas and reminds him of his duties to rid the Bhagavadhas of Samsaram.

We just saw that Aandal was madly in love with Emberuman. She wanted to marry him. But, when she realized that it is impossible for the above reasons, she thought she would at least go to those places and see them and feel happy about it but again that wasn’t also possible.

Which is when she heard a story about the Gopikas. The story was about Gopikas who were nto allowed to meet Krishna in Aayarpadi. The people of Aayarpadi felt that Krishna may take away the young girls and the butter, and hid them from his sight. By staying away the Gopikas felt very sad. Also Krishna was sad not to be able to see the Gopikas, and when the God is not happy, the rains failed. The villagers decided that if there is a Vrath by the girls of the village, then the rain will come, and the Gopikas wanted this to happen as well, so they can see Krishna.

When the Vrath/விரதம் was conducted, Krishna took the girls away and performed Raslila. Krishna’s Raslila, in which Krishna takes multiple forms and plays with all the Gopikas in Aayarpadi. The dance formation is like Krishna – Gopika – Krishna – Gopika – Krishna – Gopika and loops back like in a circle.


During this dance, the Gopika’s felt extremely happy, when Krishna felt that any more dancing will kill them, and vanished all of a sudden. When this happened, the Gopikas where saddened and started crying. One of the Gopika suggested that some of them act like Krishna themselves so that they can reduce their sorrow.

So, one Gopika acted as Kalinga, one acted as Krishna who danced on Kalinga, and began dancing on the other. This lessened their grief. They all went home and slept.

Hearing this Andal wanted to reduce her grief by taking Margazhi Vratham, the same practiced by Gopikas. She decided to take the Vratham with the desire to getting married to Lord Krishna. Remember, the earlier story yesterday, when the children blindly believed what Krishna said when he asked the Villagers to offer the offering to Govardhana Giri instead of Indra. Maha Vishvasam?!!. That is what Andal also had Maha Vishvasam.

And so, she beings by waking the Gopikas who went to sleep in Dwaparak Yug by singing Thiruppavai.
So here we start from today, with the blessings of my Aacharyan, Poorvacharyas, Alwar, Periya Piratti and Sriman Narayanan to enjoy the sweet nectar of Thiruppavai.

Adinayen Ramanuja Dasan

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