srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:
avathAra sthalam: srIvilliputhUr
Works: thiruppAvai, nAchiAr thirumozhi
In thiruppAvai 6000 padi vyAkyAnam, periyavAchAn piLLai first establishes the greatness of ANdAL over all other AzhwArs. He builds a beautiful layer of different categories of jIvAthmAs and shows the difference between each category.
- The difference between samsAris (dhEhAthma abhimAnis – materialistic people) and the rishis who have realised the Athma svarUpam is similar to that of a small stone and a big mountain.
- Difference between such rishis (who attain the knowledge by their own effort and at times fall down from their positions) and AzhwArs (who are divinely blessed by emperumAn himself and are completely pure) is similar to that of a small stone and a big mountain.
- Difference between rest of the AzhwArs (who focus on svAnubhavam at times and mangaLAsAsanam at other times) and periyAzhwar (who is fully focussed on mangaLAsAsanam only) is similar to that of a small stone and a big mountain.
- Difference between periyAzhwAr and ANdAL is similar to that of a small stone and a big mountain. The reasons for this are:
- all AzhwArs were first divinely blessed by emperumAn and then they woke the samsAris up from their sleep, i.e., gave them the knowledge about emperumAn. but ANdAL, being an avathAram of bhUmi pirAtti, she herself went and woke emperumAn up from his sleep, i.e., reminded him about his responsibilities of protecting every one. As it is established by nampiLLai in thiruvirutham and thiruvAimozhi vyAkyAnams, AzhwArs were originally samsAris who were blessed with divine knowledge by emperumAn, but ANdAL is bhUmi pirAtti herself who is already a nithyasUri and specifically she is one of the dhivya mahishis of emperumAn himself. periyavAchAn piLLai follows similar line here and establishes the same principle.
- ANdAL being a woman, it is natural for her to engage in husband/wife relationship with emperumAn (unlike AzhwArs who had male thirumEnis) and it is shown that her love towards emperumAn is far greater than the love of AzhwArs.
piLLai lOkAchAriar brings out the divine glories of ANdAL in a few sUthrams in his srIvachana bhUshaNa dhivya sAsthram. Let us enjoy some of that here.
- sUthram 238 – brAhmanNOththamarAna periyAzhwArum thirumagaLArum gOpajaNmaththai AsthANam panNnNinArgaL (ப்ராஹ்மணோத்தமரான பெரியாழ்வாரும் திருமகளாரும் கோபஜந்மத்தை ஆஸ்தாநம் பண்ணினார்கள்). In this prakaranam, piLLai lOkAchAriar is explaining the greatness of bhAgavathas (irrespective of their varNam – birth, etc). Here, he gives many examples where great personalities desired to take different births which are condusive for bhagavath anubhavam/kainkaryam. In this sUthram, he explains that periyAzhwAr and ANdAL, even though born in great brAhmaNa families, they themselves desired to be the cowherd girls of vrindhAvan. ANdAL specifically showed that kainkaryam that pleases emperumAn is the most important goal and one must glorify and desire for such kainkaryam in whatever form.
- sUthram 285 – koduththuk koLLAthE konNdaththukkuk kaikkUli kodukkavEnNum (கொடுத்துக் கொள்ளாதே கொண்டத்துக்குக் கைக்கூலி கொடுக்கவேணும்). In this prakaraNam, piLLai lOkAchAriar is explaining how one should do kainkaryam. This is related to sUthram 238 – in that sUthram piLLai lOkAchAryar shows one should desire for kainkaryam that pleases emperumAn. In the previous sUthram (284), piLLai lOkAchAriar explains that kainkaryam should done be with out any expectation in return, i.e., we should not do kainkaryam to get something else. In this sUthram, he says that kainkaryam should be done and when emperumAn gets pleased we should do more kainkaryam to him. mAmunigaL explains this concept beautifully using ANdAL’s words. ANdAL says in NAchiar thirumozhi 9.7 “inRu vaNthu iththanaiyum cheythidapperil, NAn onRu NURu AyiramAgak koduththu pinnum ALum cheyvan” (இன்று வந்து இத்தனையும் செய்திடப்பெரில், நான் ஒன்று நூறு ஆயிரமாகக் கொடுத்து பின்னும் ஆளும் செய்வன்). In the previous pAsuram she says she wants to offer 100 plates of butter and 100 plates of sweet rice to thirumAlirunchOlai azhagar. In this pAsuram she says seeing emperumAn accepting her offerings, to show her gratitude towards emperumAn, she will offer more such offerings to please emperumAn further and keep doing it (without expecting anything other than his happiness from him ever). Thus she shows her the pinnacle of our sampradhAyam so easily in her pAsurams.
Ay jananyAchAryar in his vyAkyAna avathArikai identifies the glories of thiruppAvai (and there by ANdAL nAchiAr) very beautifully. He has done 2 vyAkyAnams – 2000 padi and 4000 padi. In the avathArikai, he shows an incident where emperumAnAr’s sishyas request him to perform an upanyAsam of thiruppAvai and explain the meanings of the same. emperumAnAr replies that “You will find people (to explain and to hear) thiruppallANdu but not for thiruppAvai” meaning thiruppaLLANdu is done by periyAzhwAr as mangaLAsAsanam to emperumAn (pratham parvam – initial level) for which we will find more people, but thiruppAvai is done by ANdAL as mangaLAsAsanam to bhAgavathas (charama parvam – ultimate level) for which there will be less people in that highest state. He also explains that “Men are not qualified to explain and hear about thiruppAvai.” meaning one should have full dependency on emperumAn like a woman is dependent on her husband to be able to understand the intricacies of thiruppAvai and the heart of ANdAL. He further explains that “Even amongst women, not even emperumAn’s pirAttis who are constantly looking for anubhavam (and having the same) with emperumAn can explain/hear about the subject matter of thiruppAvai. ANdAL (who reflects the best aspects of all the AzhwArs put together) is the only person with qualification and bhAvam to explain and hear about the subject matter of thiruppAvai”. Such is the greatness of ANdAL and her thiruppAvai.
mAmunigaL also glorifies ANdAL’s greatness in upadhEsa rathina mAlai pAsurams 22, 23 and 24.
- In the 22nd pAsuram, he becomes greatly emotional thinking about how ANdAL gave up her comforts in paramapadham and stepped down to samsAram to protect him (svAnubhavam) and took birth as the divine daughter of periyAzhwAr. Just like if a mother sees her child caught in a river, she also jumps into the river to save the child, ANdAL being the mother of all, she jumps into samsAram to save the samsAris.
- In the 23rd pAsuram, he says there is no equal to the birth day of ANdAL “thiruvAdi pUram” just like there is none equal to ANdAL.
- In the 24th pAsuram, he says ANdAL is the daughter of “anju kudi” and her activities are far greater than other AzhwArs and how she developed love for emperumAn right at a very young age. piLLai lOkam jIyar in his vyAkyAnam explains that “anju kudi” means:
- descendant of the clan which contains all the AzhwArs just like parikshIth was the great descendant of the pancha pANdavas.
- the descendant of AzhwArs who are part of the prapanna kulam
- the descendant of periyAzhwAr who is always worried (achcham – fear) about emperumAn and performing mangaLAsAsanam.
ANdAL is purely in AchArya nishtai. It is because of periyAzhwAr’s attachment towards emperumAn, ANdAL also developed attachment towards emperumAn and glorified him. This is seen from:
- her own words in nAchiAr thirumozhi, pAsuram 10.10, ANdAL says “villiputhuvai vittuchiththar thangaL dhEvarai valla parichu varuvipparEl athu kAnNdumE” (வில்லிபுதுவை விட்டுசித்தர் தங்கள் தேவரை வல்லபரிசு வருவிப்பரேல் அதுகாண்டுமே). She says, if periyAzhwAr can convince his dear emperumAn to come here, she will worship him.
- mAmunigaL in his upadhEsa rathina mAlai, after explaining the 10 AzhwArs, introduces ANdAL, madhurakavi AzhwAr and emperumAnAr together since all 3 of them are AchArya nishtars.
With this in mind, let us enjoy the charithram of ANdAL now.
ANdAL was born in srIvilliputhUr (where nAchiAr temple is now seen) near a thuLasi mAdam. Just like sIthA pirAtti was born from the earth when janakarAjan was ploughing the field and was named sItha (named after the plough which means sIthA), periyAzhwAr found ANdAL who is an avathAram of bhUmi pirAtti near a thuLasi mAdam and named her kOdhai (which means a garland).
As she was growing up, she was fed with emperumAn’s divine leelais by periyAzhwAr. periyAzhwAr was regularly making garlands and offering them to vatapathrasAyi emperumAn. She shows great attachment to emperumAn and want to marry him only. Once, in his absence, ANdAL took a garland which was ready to be offered for emperumAn, wore it and checked if it fits her and also checks if she looks like a good match for emperumAn. periyAzhwAr returns and he offers those garlands to emperumAn. This routine goes on for some time and one day periyAzhwAr notices that ANdAL is wearing the garland before it is offered to emperumAn. He becomes very anguished knowing about this and that particular day he does not offer the garland to emperumAn. That night, emperumAn appears in the dream of periyAzhwAr and asks him why he did not bring garlands that day. AzhwAr says since it was first worn by ANdAL it became unfit to be worn by emperumAn. emperumAn immediately tells him that he actually likes the garlands worn by ANdAL first as they have the special fragrance of bhakthi of ANdAL. AzhwAr becomes very pleased hearing this and then after develops great attachment and respect towards ANdAL. After that, he offers the garlands first to ANdAL and subsequently to emperumAn every day.
ANdAL nAchiAr, was born with parama bhakthi towards emperumAn since she is bhUmi pirAtti herself who is naturally attached to emperumAn. Her attachment towards emperumAn is far greater than AzhwArs’ attachment. Unable to bear the separation of emperumAn she starts to look for ways to marry him. Following in the foot steps of gOpis (cowherd girls) who acted out the pastimes of kaNNan emperumAn during his sudden absence during rAsakrItai to sustain themselves, ANdAL pretends that vatapathrasAyi is kaNNan emperumAn, his temple is NandhagOpan’s thirumALigai, srIvilliputhur is thiruvAippAdi and her local friends are gOpis and starts singing thiruppAvai.
In thiruppAvai, ANdAL beautifully explains the following details:
- establishes that prApyam (goal) and prApakam (path) are emperumAn only.
- do’s and dont’s for srivaishnavas and all of that fully based on pUrvAchArya anushtAnam (sistAchAram)
- bhagavath anubhavam should be done as a group instead of doing it individually (selfishly) – she wakes up 10 gOpis to go along with her to meet kaNNan emperumAn
- we should take shelter of emperumAn’s close adiyArs like dhvAra pAlakas, balarAman, yasOdhai, nandhagOpan, etc., before going to emperumAn
- we should always take the help (purushakAram) of pirAtti before going to emperumAn
- we should always perform mangaLAsAsanam to him
- we should ask for kainkaryam to him – kainkaryam should be prayed for as it is svarUpam for jIvAthmA to request emperumAn to accept his kainkaryam
- that he is the upAyam to get that kainkaryam and we should never think that our effort is the upAyam even a little bit
- kainkaryam should be done for his pleasure only and we should not look for anything in return
Even after that, emperumAn had still not appeared to emperumAn and accepted ANdAL. So, ANdAL out of unbearable sorrow, calls out to emperumAn in her nAchiAr thirumOzhi. Many great principles of our sampradhAyam are explained in nAchiAr thirumOzhi and it is generally explained that one has to be very matured to even start listening/reading nAchiAr thirumozhi’s meanings. In this she says that “mAnidavarkkenRu pEchchuppadil vAzhagillEn” (மானிடவர்க்கென்று பேச்சுப்படில் வாழகில்லேன்) meaning “even if some one without my knowledge talks about marrying me to some one else other than emperumAn I will die”. She dreams about her marriage with emperumAn in her vAraNam Ayiram padhigam (9.6). periyAzhwAr then explains to ANdAL the vaibhavam (greatness) of all the archAvathAra emperumAns and ANdAL becomes very attached to thiruvaranganAthan. AzhwAr becomes filled with anxiety thinking how he can fulfill ANdAL’s desire. One night, in his dream, thiruvaranganAthan appears and asks him to bring ANdAL over to srIrangam so that they can unite there. AzhwAr feels greatly satisfied with that and in the mean time srIranganAthan sends a beautiful palanquin, chAmaram, umbrella and his kainkaryaparars to srIvilliputhUr to bring ANdAL over. AzhwAr, after getting permission from vatapathrasAyi, leaves to srIrangam along with ANdAL in the closed palanquin with mELam (band music), etc in a grand procession.
After entering srIrangam, ANdAL who was most beautifully decorated, stepped out of the palanquin, entered the temple and subsequently into the garbagruham of periya perumAL and touched the lotus feet of emperumAn. Immediately she vanished and reached the divine abode of paramapadham.
Every one became astonished seeing these events and started glorifying periyAzhwAr. periya perumAL immediately declares that periyAzhwAr has also become his father-in-law just like samudhrarAjan and gives him special honors.and in returns to srIvilliputhUr to continue his kainkaryams to vatapathrasAyi emperumAn.
ANdAL’s unlimited glories are heard so many times (atleast once an year during mArgazhi month) but every time we hear/read about them, they always feel like new and there are so many divine principles that we find in her life and prabhandhams every time we read them.
To have a glimpse of the true glories of ANdAL and thiruppAvai, we can end with bhattar‘s divine words. bhattar says that one should recite the 30 pAsurams of thiruppAvai every day. If that is not possible at least one should recite the chiRRam chirukAlE pAsuram every day. Even if that is not possible, at least one should think that there was bhattar who had great attachment to thiruppAvai – simply that thinking itself will please emperumAn. Just like when a mother cow starts giving milk even when she sees a fake calf (which is made of straws and covered with calf’s skin), emperumAn will see us thinking about bhattar’s attachment towards thiruppAvai or us reciting 1 pAsuram or reciting 30 pAsurams – as long as we have some connection with ANdAL emperumAn will shower us with his causeless mercy, since that is what ANdAL (as bhUmi pirAtti) requested varAhan emperumAn. Out of her causeless mercy, ANdAL took birth in this samsAram and sung thiruppAvai, so that we can also be blessed with the divine grace of emperumAn and be permanently relieved of the pains of this samsAram and enjoy bhagavath anubhavam/kainkaryam in paramapadham.
nILA thunga sthanagiri thatI suptham uthpOdhya krishNam
pArArthyam svam shruthi shatha shiras sidhdham adhyApayanthI
svOchishtAyAm srajinikaLitham yAbalAth kruthya bhungthE
gOdhA thasyai nama itham itham bhUya EvAsthu bhUya:
நீளா துங்க ஸ்தனகிரி தடீ ஸுப்தம் உத்போத்ய க்ருஷ்நம்
பாரார்த்யம் ஸ்வம் ஸ்ருதி சத சிரஸ் சித்தம் அத்யாபயந்தீ
ஸ்வோசிஷ்டாயாம் ச்ரஜிநிகளிதம் யாபலாத் க்ருத்ய புங்க்தே
கோதா தஸ்யை நம இதம் இதம் பூய ஏவாஸ்து பூய:
Her archAvathAra anubhavam is already discussed in here – http://ponnadi.blogspot.in/2012/10/archavathara-anubhavam-andal-anubhavam.html.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
Sources: vyAkyAnams, 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam