The Month of Margazhi is here, for simpler understanding it is the period approximately mid Dec to mid Jan.
What does this mean for us all in 2018-19, living in cities across this wide world ? We are not going to bathe in a river, wake up very very early morning, draw a Kolam (rangoli) in front of our doors and keep a nice yellow pumpkin flower stuck on a blob of cowdung (gobar) in the center of that kolam (rangoli) et al.
We may not be able to do many of the physical acts (rituals ?) but that is okay ; but we can pray to God amidst all the hustle and bustle that our lives today are, right ? Here we go !.
The most famous thing about Margazhi is Thiruppavai. Sri Andal’s thirty verses for the thirty days of this holy month, dedicated to the worship and praise of the Lord to the exclusion of all other celebrations and earthly events.
Sri Andal’s story very briefly is as follows.
Andal was discovered as a baby by her foster father Periazhwar in his garden at a town called Srivilliputhur in Tamilnadu India.
Andal grew up with intense devotion to the Lord and was so fond of Lord Krishna that she pictured herself as one of the Gopikas and aspired to wed the Lord. Her father used to make a garland for the Lord everyday and take it to the temple and adorn the God. Andal used to take that garland and wear it herself and picture the scene of the Lord putting the garland on her (symbolic of the marriage) and then admire the enhancement of her beauty and glow as she wore the Lord’s garland. Legend has it that one day, like every other day she had worn the garland before her father took it to the temple. But on that day the priest notices a strand of hair on the garland and refused to put it on the Lord saying this is not pure and that someone had already worn it. Periazhwar was totally crestfallen at this very inauspicious happening and came home dejected and scolded the child severely. In some time, the Lord appears in the mind of the priest and orders him to bring the garland back saying that is the garland that He likes, The priest and andal’s father Periazhwar, realise the true nature of Andal’s intense devotion and the appreciation of the same by the Lord and wear the garland on the Lord to everyone’s joy.
Andal continues to celebrate her Lord and sing his praises in many a verse and does her penance to attain him. The Thiruppavai is one such work in which her worship manifests. Eventually the Lord one fine day comes and marries her and takes her into His fold.
Let me take you through my simplistic, simplified sometimes trivialized explanation of how I understand the Thiruppavai. I claim no correctness or completeness of my understanding – my merit is that it is my interpretation (perhaps influenced partly by what I have heard or read ) written by me, my admiration for the work is sincere and my devotion to the Lord in whose name it is written is total and has no ulterior motive.
The framework – before we commence the study of the 30 verses let us see the framework of the Thiruppavai. Once you understand the framework it is that much easier to understand and appreciate the work and also slowly divine the inner meanings that emerge from the rich poetry in these verses.
Thiruppavai can be broadly split into three major sections with a few subsections inside them.
Section 1 ( Verses 1 – 5 )– Andal announces the intention to a perform a month long Nonbu (let’s say a project) a sustained and intense worship of the Lord Narayana manifesting in the form of Lord Krishna. This section has five verses. In these five verses the fact of the Nonbu, some details of how it is going to be done, some do s and don’t s are described in the first two stanzas and in the next three verses the glory of the Lord in whose name the Nonbu is being done is extolled to create the motivation and the energy for carrying on the Nonbu and achieve success in the project.
Section 2 (Verses 6 – 15)– Any good activity is enhanced when done together by a group of like minded good people. Every project works with a good team right ? so here is Andal in section 2 collecting her team, a group of ten young girls like her to join her in her penance. Section 2 contains 10 verses. Each verse describing how Andal goes to the house of one of the girls, waking her up and imploring her to join the band. Each verse besides waking up the girl is rich in poetry describing the environment then, alluding to the Lord in His many forms and glory.
Section 3 (Verses 16 -20 waking up the Lord, 21-28 His praise and Worship 29 – the Prayer 30- the blessing) – In the Sixteenth verse Andal and her friends reach the entrance to the Temple of the Lord and beseech the guard there to let them inside. The next four verses gently wake up the Lord and his consort Nappinnai . And as the Lord wakes up, opens his Lotus Eyes and walks up majestically to the yard, the next verses sing eloquent praise of the various great qualities and victories of the Lord.
More about these later as the days unfold…….
Let me recall the verses in English for the benefit of those who cannot read Tamil, and then the simplified meaning of the verses and some comments.
Sunday 16 December 2018 (1st verse) (Section I Verse 1 of 5)
You can also listen to the song here –
Margazhi thingal madhi niraindha nannalal
On this full moon day this Month of Margazhi
Nirada podhuvir, podhu mino neridaiyeer
All ye who set out to bathe the holy bath
Seermalgum aayppadi ch chelva chirumeergal
the young girls of the prosperous Ayarpadi town
Koorvel kodunthozhilan nandagopan kumaran
the son of Nandagopan who wields a cruel sharp spear
Erarndha kannni yasodhai ilan singam
the young lion cub of Yashoda with the beautiful eyes
Karmeni chengann kadir madiyam pol mugathan
the black hued,red eyed Lord who shines like the mid day Sun
Narayanane namakke parai tharuvan
It’s that only that Narayana who will give us boons
Paror pugazha p padinthelor empavai.
Let us join with the world in praising his glory, Girls
This first verse sets the time as the first day of the month of Margazhi (When Sri Andal sung this verse that was probably a full moon day ) thingal – month madi – moon). Andal invites the young girls of the prosperous Ayarpadi and everyone to symbolically bathe and join in the excellent and exemplary worship of Lord Narayana who will bless us and give us succor. Like in all the verses the Lord is referenced not just by name but by a number of lines of praise about His Form, lineage, beauty, valour, kindness and many virtues and also anecdotes from his victories and other illustrious events. In this verse the Lord is referenced as Krishna, the son of Nandagopan (who is ever vigilant with a sharp spear to protect the baby Krishna, the lioncub like son of the beautiful eyed Yashoda, the Lord who is dark, and whose face is radiant like the sun.
Monday 17 December 2018 (2nd verse) (Section I verse 2 of 5)
You can also listen to the song here –
Vaiyathu Vazhveerkal ! nanum nam pavaikku
All ye who live in this world ! Listen, to our plan
Seyyum kirisaikal keleero ! Paarkadalull
of our actions for our Lord, who on the ocean
Paiyya thuyindra paraman adi paadi
is asleep while we sing at his feet, his praise
Neyy unnom paal unnom naatkale neeradi
we fast, forsake milk and ghee, and bathe early
Maiyittezhudom malar ittu naam mudiyom
nor decorate ourselves with eyeliner or flowers
Seyyadana seyyom theekkuralai sendrodhom
not do inappropriate acts, nor say harsh words
Iyamum pichaiyum aandanaiyum kai kaatti
Will give charity, give alms and be good to the saints
Uyyumarenni ugandhelor empavai
think noble thoughts to attain salvation, my girls
In this second verse Sri Andal enumerates the dos and don’ts for the month long Nonbu ( intense worship) that she is setting out to do with an invitation to everyone to join in. We will sing the praise of the feet of the Lord who is sleeping gently on the serpent in the middle of the wide ocean. We will wake up early and bathe, we will not adorn ourselves with kajal and flowers, we will not eat Ghee and milk, we will not do inappropriate deeds, will not speak evil and and harmful words, we will do charity and righteous deeds. Think noble thoughts and work to attain salvation and unification with the Lord.
The reference to not eating and not adorning is an advice to change the focus from the self and enjoyment of worldly pleasures to increasing the focus intensely on God and godly matters. When intensity of one activity increases the intensity and time on other activities automatically decreases. Conversely when we make the choice to eschew some activities, we automatically create the time and inclination for other activities.
As you are into the second day of Margazhi it is a good time to introduce a nice little verse that can be recited every day before you recite the Thiruppavai. This verse is in praise of Sri Andal, was written by Sri Uyyakondar and goes like this.
Anna-vayal puduvai Andal arangarku
Pannu thiruppavai palpadiyam – innisai yaal
Paadi koduthall nar-paamalai poomalai
Soodi koduthalai sollu
Soodi kodutha chuddar kodiaye ! tholpavai
Paadi arula valla palvalaiyaai – Naadi nee
Vengadavark kennai vidhi endra immatram
Naam Kadava Vanname Nalgu
This is a beautiful verse that can be recited everyday before reciting the Thiruppavai and sings the praise of Sri Andal the author of Thiruppavai.
Tueasdy 18 December 2018 (3rd verse ) (Section I – 3 of 5)
You can also listen to the song here –
Ongi ulagalandha utthaman per padi
Singing the praise of the Lord who rose and measured the worlds
Naangall nam pavaikku sattri neeradinal
When we do the holy bath and begin our intense prayers
Theengindri nadellam thingal mummari peydhu
It will rain all through the season, but without losses
Ongu perun sennnell oodu kayalugala
and the fishes happily prance amidst the irrigated paddy crops
Poonkuvalai p podir pori vandu kannpaduppa
and the bee rests gently in the petals of the flowers
Thengathe pukkirindhu seertha mulai pattri
the overflowing udders of the cows so full
Vaanga kudam niraikkum vallall perum pasukkal
the benevolent cows that fill pots with prosperity
Neengadha selvam niraindhelor empavai
Everlasting riches fill our lives, my girls
Referrring to the Lord as the One who rose to the Viswaroopa form and measured the three worlds with three giant strides during the Vamana Avatar , in this third stanza, Andal describes the good that will follow when during this prayer, we all sing the praise of the names of the Lord during the Margazhi Nonbu.
All throughout the nation, without any disaster(floods), we will have adequate rains during all the months, the crops will cherish making the fields of tall well grown paddy lively with the fish jumping around, honey bees gently sleeping in the beautiful flowers, the big cows, like great philanthropists will fill the pots with milk from their abundant udders and In all prosperity and plenty will fill the lives of the devotees who are performing this prayers.
Andal cited the measures of prosperity in these terms in the days that she lived. Will these measures mean prosperity now ? We may be preoccupied with other measures like the GDP and the Sensex but with the focus on the environment as the single largest concern for humanity, Andal’s metrics appear truly farsighted.
And the everlasting wealth that she is alluding to as we will discover later is really the Grace of the Lord.
Wednesday 19 December 2018 (4th Verse) (Section I – 4 of 5)
You can also listen to the song here –
Aazhi Mazhaik kanna ondru nee kai karavel
The lord of the rains, Krishna, shower in plenty
Aazhi ullpukku mugandhu kodaarththeri
sweep down into the ocean bringing up all the water
Oozhi mudalvan uruvam pol mey karuthu
the clouds dark like the form of the Lord Krishna
Paazhiyan tholudai p padmanabhan kaiyyil
in the hands of the Lord with powerful arms who rose from the Lotus
Aazhi pol minni valampuri pol nindr adhirndhu
Shining bright like the Disc and the shattering cry of the conch
Thazhadhe sarngam udiatha saramazhai p pol
Like the stream of arrows that issue from the powerful bow of yours
Vazha ulaginil peydhidaay nangalum
Shower in plenty in this world so that we
Margazhi neerada magizhndelor empavai.
will bathe and rejoice in your glory this margazhi month my girls
Continuing the prayers that she commenced, Andal in this fourth verse, refers to the Lord as the master of all the rain that falls on this earth. She picturises the Lord as going deep into the ocean, taking the water and rising high in the sky to deposit it in the magnificent black clouds to eventually precipitate into rain. The Lord’s dark colour, his mighty and handsome shoulders are compared to the clouds, the sound of thunder to the sounds from His Conch (Valampuri), the lightning to the shine on the Lord’s Disc (Aazhi – Chakra) and the plentiful rain compared to the stream of arrows issuing out of the Lord’s Bow (Sarngam). Timely and adequate rain is referred to as the precursor of many gains and prosperity and the Lord Padmanabha as the master of that phenomena is offered prayers seeking that bountiful rain for the welfare of the devotees and all beings on earth.
Thursday 20 December 2018 (5th Verse) (Section I -5 of 5)
You can also listen to the song here –
Maayanai mannu vada Madurai maindhanai
The magician Lord the boy from Northern Mathura
Thooya peru neer yamunai th thuraivanai
from the banks of the pure waters of the river Yamuna
Aayar kulathinil thondrum ani-vilakkai
The bright lamp who was born into the clan of cowherds
Thaayai k kudal vilakkam seydha Damodaranai
The child who made his mother proud and was tied up with a rope
Thooyumai vandhu naam thoomalar thoovi thozhudhu
We have come to you pure and with beautiful flowers to worship
Vayinar padi manathinaal sindhikka
to sing your praise with our tongues and to contemplate in our minds
Poya pizhaiyum pugutharuvan nindranavum
All our past sins and mistakes without remiss
Theeyinil thoosagum cheppelor empavai
will be made to disappear like cotton burnt in a flame
The way to worshipping the lord is described here in this fifth verse as follows – come with cleansed body and pure mind, offer fresh flowers to the Lord, sing verses and songs in praise of the Lord with your mouth and think deeply of the Lord in your mind. And how do you think of the Lord – think of Him in his many forms, as the One who incarnated in Mathura, as the one who is the Lord of the Yamuna, as the scion of the cowherd community, as the One who made his mother proud, as the One who was bound by a rope as a naughty child.
And if you do so, all the sins that one had done unknowingly and our bad thoughts will be burnt away like cotton in a flame, therefore come my dear friends, let us worship and perform our Nonbu.
Thus concludes the first section of the Thiruppavai consisting of the first 5 verses, Sri Andal has established the fact of the worship, described the do s and don’t s, described the Lord in whose name the prayers are to be performed, described the method of doing the worship, explained the benefits that will accrue on account of the worship and put the energy and motivation into the worship.
Good idea to recite these five verses together at one go and imbibe their essence ; will give you the energy to keep you going for the month – make time for it. We will go the next section (10 verses) the next day.
Thursday 21 December 2017 ( 6th Verse) (Section II – 1 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 1 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
The second section of Sri Andal’s Thiruppavai consists of 10 verses beginning with the above 6th verse and sets out to wake up 10 girls to join Andal for the margazhi worship. Each verse is an attempt to awaken one of the girls and adopts a different reasoning and pleading. The common theme however is citing the reason for waking up ie to worship the Lord, and the the Lord who is to be worshipped is referenced citing his many splendorous qualities and pertinent deeds He performed during his incarnations in this earth.
Like any scripture or any great literary work, the meanings inside the verses are far far greater than what they appear to be on first reading. The more we know and are involved in the subject, the more we understand it. For now I will stay with the simple meaning of these verses, We will revisit the deeper inner meanings later. While retaining this format for the beginners, we will open up a level 2 section in a couple of months as also other sections of this site.
You can listen to the song here
Pullum silambina kaann pullaraiyan kovilil
The birds are awake and from the temple of the Lord
Vellai vili sangin per-aravam kettilaiyo
Can you not hear the loud sound of the white conch
Pillaay, ezhundhiray pey mulai nanjundu
Oh young lass, wake up, the Lord who suckled poison into the demon’s breasts
Kallla chagadam kalakkazhiya k kaalochi
The Lord who vanquished the demons
Velllath tharavil thuyilamarndha vitthinai
The Lord who is resting gently on the serpent in the ocean
Ulllathu k kondu munivargalum yogigalum
the One who is meditated by the sages and the yogis
Mellla ezhundhu ariyendra per-aravam
As you wake up gently may the magnificent glory of the Lord
Ulllam pugundhu kulirndhelor empavai
Fill your mind and make you joyful , my girls
Andal cites signs that indicate that the day has dawned, others – humans, animals and birds are up from their sleeps and therefore so should the girls. In this verse Andal says the birds are up and setting out, the sound of the white conch from the nearby temple is heard, so it is really daybreak, so dear girl, please wake up. The great Yogis and Munis invoke deep in their minds the Lord who finished the she-demon by suckling poison into her breasts, the Lord who vanquished the demon in a cart, the Lord who is resting gently on a serpent in the wide ocean and their minds are filled with the sound of “Hari”. As you wake up may a similar godliness enter your mind to enable you to begin our worship.
Friday 22 December 2017 (7th Verse) (Section II – 2 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 2 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Keesu Keesendrengum aanai ch chatthan kalandhu
The wild chirping of the many birds singing together
Pesina pecharavam kettilaiyo ? Pey pennne !
Are you not able to hear it, devilish girl
Kasum pirappum kalakalappa k kai perthu
their hands bedecked with bangles and other jewellery
Vasa narunguzhal aaychiyar matthinal
The lovely scented cowherd maidens, with their mixers
Osi paduttha th thayir-aravam kettilaiyo?
can’t you hear the sounds as they churn the curds
Nayaga p pennppillaiy ! Narayanan Murthy
Oh the Lord’s Girl, the embodiment of Narayana
Kesavanai p padavvum nee kette kidathiyo
who is Kesava ( Krishna), to sing his praise you are made
Desamudaiyai thiravelor empavai.
You are sleeping, please come and open the door my girl
Sounds wake us up from sleep. Andal asks the girl, can you not hear the sound of the birds that are chirping, conversing before the leave the company of each other in their nests and setting out on their own to search for their food ? The beautiful ornamented women of the cowherd community with fragrant tresses are up and at work churning the curds for butter, and as they churn the curds with their dainty hands can you not hear the sounds ? We think of you as our leader, but you are asleep, why are you not awake even as we sing the praise of the Lord Narayana as Kesava who vanquished the demon Kesi, Is the sound of our music lulling you to sleep instead of waking you up ? Please open the door !
Saturday 23 December 2017 ( 8th Verse) (Section II – 3 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 3 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Keezhvanam vellendru erumai siruveedu
The lower horizon is brightening and the buffaloes are grazing the tender grass
Meyvaan parandhanakan mikkulla pillaikalum
The animals, the birds and the young children all
Povaan pogindrarai pogaamal katthu unnai
Instead calling everyone passing by we came
Koovuvan vandhu nindrom kodhugalamudaiya
unto you to call you, Oh girl of happy disposition
Paavai ezhundirai paadi p parai kondu
Oh girl, wake up, sing along and seek boons
Maavay pilandhanai mallaraia mattiya
From the Lord of tore apart the demons and wrestlers
Devadi devanai sendru naam sevitthaal
We will worship the King of all the Lords
Aavaa vendra rayndh arulelor empavai
He will be pleased and bless us my girls
Pointing out the signs of dawn ; the slow brightening of the lower skies, the buffaloes out to graze the tender dew laden grass, Sri Andal says to the next girl whom she is calling upon, – many of the girls are going out to worship, but leaving them aside, we are at your doorstep, please wake up and let’s get to the Lord ; the Lord who vanquished the demon kesi in the form of a horse, the Lord who defeated the wrestler demons, the Lord who is the king of all kings and devas. When we sing and pray and get to Him, He is going to be so pleased that we sought him out instead of Him coming to us, that He will joyfully bless us and remove all our deficiencies.
Sunday 24th December 2017 ( 9th Verse) (Section II – 4 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 4 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Thoomani Madathuch chutrum vilakkeriya
In a stately well appointed bedroom lit by lamps
Dhoopam kamazha thuyilanai mel kann kavarum
on a bed, fragrant from the burning incense, you sleep
Maaman magale manikkadavam thall thiravaay
Oh Uncle’s daughter, please open the door with the bells
Mameer avalai ezhuppeero ? un magal than
Oh, Mother of the girl, can you please wake her up ?
Oomaiyo ! andri sevido ! anandhalo !
Is she dumb or deaf or just slovenly
Is she in slumber because of some magic spell ?
Mamayan madhavan viakuntan endrendru
by many sacred names like madhavan and vaikuntan
Naamam palavum navindrelor empavai
Let us call unto Him, my dear girl !
A nice bed, comfortable and a conducive environment make for good deep sleep. In this verse Sri Andal and her friends struggle to wake up a girl (a relative – her Uncle’s daughter) who is sleeping in a nice bed, with nice lights and scented aromas so soundly that they suspect she has become deaf, not hearing anything, dumb not responding to their calls and so overcome by sloth so as not to wake up and come to open the ornate door. The girls plead to the mother of the girl to wake her up to which she responds, sing the many many names of the Lord as Maamayan, Madhavan and Vaikunthanan and being a pious and God loving girl, she will wake up on hearing the Lord’s names being chanted.
Monday 25th December 2017 (10th Verse) (Section II – 5 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 5 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Nottru suvargam pugugindra ammanay
Mattramum thaaroro ? vassal thiravadhaar
Nattra thuzhay mudi Narayanan nammaal
Pottra parai tharum punniyanaal pandorunaal
Kootrathin vaay veezhnda kumbakarnanum
Thottram unakke perundhuyil than thandaano
Aattra anandhaludayaiy ! arungalame
Thettramaiy vandhu thiravelur empavai
Oh blessed girl, who by virtue of her earlier worships is destined to unite with the Lord in heaven, please open the door, why are you not even responding with words to our call ? Have you been handed over the sleep of the demon Kumbakarna ? Kumbakarna who was slain by Lord Rama, the embodiment of dharma who is adorned by tulsi mala, with fragrant hair, who is worshipped by us and is full of virtues. Oh sleepy slovenly girl, please wake up adorn yourself and come and open the door and join us in the Paavai Nonbu.
Tuesday 26th December 2017 (11th Verse) (Section II – 6 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 6 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Kattru karavai kanangal pala karandhu
Settrar thiralazhiya chendru seruchcheyyum
Kuttramondrilladha kovalar tham porkodiye
Puttravalgul punamayila podharay
Suttratthu thozhi marellarum vandhu nin
Muttram pugundhu migilvannan per paada
Chittradhe pesadhe selvap pendatti nee
Ettrukk urangum porulelor empavai.
We are all blessed to be in this land and community of Lord Krishna, You are the unblemished golden jewel of the cowherds who have milked their many cows and are capable of vanquishing their enemies in battle. Oh beautiful one, all your friends are gathered in your yard, singing the praise of the cloud like dark skinned Lord, and how do you still sleep and not wake up to join the worship ?
Wednesday 27th December 2017 (12th Verse) (Section II – 7 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 7 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Kanaithilan kattrerumai kandrukk irangi
Ninaitthu mulai vazhiye nindru paal sora
Nanaitthillam cherakkum narchelvan thangay
Panitthalai veezha nin vasar kadai pattri
Sinathinal thennilangai k komanai ch chettra
Manatthukkiniyanai paadavum nee vaay thiravaay
Initthan ezhunthiraay eedhenna p perurakkam
Anaithilltharum arindhelor empavai
Sri Andal continuing her pursuit of waking up the girls to join her on the Margazhi Nonbu ( worship) has enrolled 6 girls till now and is now on the door step of the 7th girl. The scene is the house of a cowherd whose magnificent cows are so laden with milk that when the milking is delayed by the cowherd, the cows thinking of their calves start secreting so much milk from their udders in overflow that the ground below becomes slushy. The reference here is that when anything is in great abundance it pours forth, abundance of devotion for the Lord, pours forth as divine music. So is the Lord’s compassion for his devotees that it can pour forth for us. Oh girl, we are standing in your courtyard with the early morning winter dew drenching our heads, and singing the praise of the Lord who destroyed the King of Lanka, the Lord who is so dear to our hearts and you are not even responding ! Everyone can see us here and you are in such deep sleep, wake up girl and join us for the worship.
Thursday 28th December 2017 (13th Verse) (Section II – 8 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 8 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Pulll in vaay keendanaip polla varakkanai
Killi kalaindhanaik keerthimai paadi poiy
Pillaikal ellarum pavai kalam pukkar
Velli ezhundhu Vyazha muzhangittru
Pullum silambinakann podhari kanninaay
Kullak kulira kudaindhu neeradadhe
Palli kidatthiyo paavay nee nannallal
Kallam thavirndhu kalandhelor empavai
In this verse the effort is to wake up a girl with beautiful eyes, the girl appears to be sleeping lost in the thoughts of Lord Krishna, indicating that the girls were all inherently deeply devoted to the Lord and had Him in their thoughts most times, only given to laziness and reluctance to get out of their sleep in the early morning. The girls refer to the Lord as Krishna who tore up the jaws of the demon who took the form of a bird and as Rama who vanquished Ravana and destroyed his demon clan. Singing His praises the girls have gone forward to the holy place of worship, the morning planets are visible, the birds are out to search for their food, Oh beautiful girl, do not enjoy the thoughts of Krishna alone, come join us and let’s worship Him together.
Friday 29 th December 2017 (14th Verse) (Section II – 9 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 9 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Ungal puzhakkadai thottathu vaviyul
Sengazhuneer vaay negizhnindhu aambal vaay koombinakann
Sengal podikkoorai venpall thavathavar
Thangall thirukkovil sangiduvaan podandaar
Engalai munnam munnam ezhuppuvaan vaay pesum
Nangay ezhundhiray naanadhay naavudayay
Sangodu chakkara mendhum thadakkaiyan
Pangaya k kannanai paadelor empavai
This girl had promised that she would wake all others up, but she is now still sleeping. The red lotus and other flowers in the small pond in her backyard have blossomed, the ascetics with saffron robes and shining white teeth are on their way to the temple, Oh clever speaking girl, please wake up, let us sing the praise of the Lord who with the Conch and the Chakra in His hands has such Lotus like eyes and perform our worship.
Saturday 30th December 2017 (15th Verse) (Section II – 10 of 10)
(Awakening and inviting girl 10 to join the Special Worship -Nonbu)
Elle, Ilankiliye, innam urangudhiyo
Chillendrazhaiyenmin nangaimeer podharugindren
Vallai un katturaigall pande un vayaridhum
Valleergal neengale nanedhanayiduga
Ollai nee podhay unakkenna verudaiyai
Ellarom pondaro ponder pondennik koll
Vallanai kondranai matttrarai mattrazhikka
Vallanai maayanai padelor empavai.
We are at the halfway mark of the Thiruppavai and the end of part II, the effort in this verse is to wake up the 10th the last on the list of girls that Sri Andal desires accompanies her to the worship. The girl here engages her callers in conversation as they call her a young parrot endearingly, she cribs unwilling to wake up, why are you crying out ? Have all others come ? etc,. the group chides her for being oversmart and clever with words. The girl accepts all that and the conversation continues with the girls pulling each others leg, but being firm in the request to join singing the praise of the Valiant Lord, who killed the demons and destroyed those who were his enemies.
With this the girls proceed to the Temple to see the Lord. Tomorrow ie on the 16th day they will all reach the doorsteps of the Temple. Then begins Thiruppavai’s third section’s I part. In many households the 16th day of the Thiruppavai is celebrated with Joy by preparing as prasad special chakkarai pongal to enjoy the arrival of the girls at the temple. Section III consist of three parts waking up the Lord, worshipping the Lord and singing his glory and finally the prayer and the summation.
Sri Andal will set out to wake up the Lord and worship him. What is the objective of the “Nonbu” ? What is that special “parai” that Andal is going to seek from the Lord? As is commonly believed – is it marriage with the Lord that she seeks ? No Andal like the rest of the true gopikas had united with the Lord long back in thought and mind completely, their devotion is so strong and sincere that they actually do not have to seek that as a boon from the Lord. Andal saves the suspense of revealing what is it that she seeks from the Lord till the very end of the Thiruppavai.
Stay with me and we will be with Andal and her group at the temple to sing the Lord’s glory in the coming days…
Sunday 31 December 2017 (16th Verse ) part I of section III 1 of 10)
(Requesting the Temple Gate keeper to open the doors )
Nayakanai nindra Nandagopanudaiya
Kovil kappane kodith thondrum thorana
Vaayil kappane, manikkadavam thall thiravaay
Aayar sirumiyoromukku arai parai
Maayan manivannan nennale vaay nerndhaan
Thooyomay vandhom thuyilezhap paaduvaan
Vayal munnam munnam mattredhe yamma nee
Neya nilaik kadavan neekelor empavai.
Having woken up the ten girls and collected her retinue, Sri Andal has reached the temple of the Lord, it is either the Temple or the palace of of Krishna’s foster father Nandagopan. They find that the ornate doors and the festooned doorstep are bolted and guarded by sentries, so the girls address the gate keeper and ask him to open the bolts and let them in. The girls plead with the gatekeeper “we are small girls from the cowherd community and we seek the grace of the Lord. The Magical dark skinned Lord has made promises to us. We are pure and we come to sing the wake up song for Him. Please do not refuse entry for us, Please do open the door to enable us to obtain the grace of our Lord.
Monday 1st January 2018 (17th Verse) Verse I of section III
(Waking up the Nandagopala , Yashoda and the Lord)
Ambarame thanneere sore arancheyyum
Emperuman nandagopala ezhunthiray
Kombanarkellam kozhunthe kulavilakke
Emperumatti yashoda ! arivuray
Umbar komane uranga ezhundhiray
Semporkazhaladich chelva baladeva
Umbiyum neeyum urangelor empavai
The doorkeeper appears to have let the girls and Andal inside and it looks like Andal’s work of waking up people is still a long way to go. Why is everybody sleeping in the Thiruppavai and why is there so much waking up ? There appears to be a very strong inner meaning to this whole waking up business. Is Andal subtly waking up the whole world not from physical sleep but from something else. Is the request not just to wake up to the day but to wake up to a new thought, habit and orientation ? Let’s see that later.
Sri Andal is now attempting to wake up Nandagopan and mother Yashodha, singing their praise as the munificent giver or food and water and clothes to everyone, as my Lord, Ruler of many kings, please wake up. She also attempts to wake up Lord Krishna and his brother Balarama, praising the Lord as the one who rose up to the sky to measure the three worlds and one who is wearing a red golden anklet, please do not sleep, wake up !
Tuesday 2nd January 2018 (18th Verse)
(requesting Nappinnai to open the inner door)
Undhu madhagalittran odadha thollvaliyan
Nandagopalan marumagale nappinnaaiy
Gandham kamazhum kuzhali! Kadai thiravai
Vendengum kozhi azhaiththanakann madhavip
Panthal mel palkal kuyilanangal koovinakaan
Pandharvirali ! un maithunan per paadach
Chenthamaraik kaiyal seerar valai olippa
Vandhu thiravaay magizhnthelor empavai
Sri Andal now sets out to wake up the Lord’s consort Nappinnai – addressing her as the daughter in law of Nandagopan who is as powerful as the elephants in heat and one whose broad shoulders have known no defeat, Andal describes her as one who has fragrant tresses and tells her that many birds are awake and chirping on the lines laid out for the creepers so its dawn and so please wake up. With your beautiful hands that are like red lotuses and with your bangles jingling come joyfully and open the door to make us all happy.
Wednesday 3rd January 2018 (19th Verse)
Kuthuvilakkeria kottukkal kattil mel
Meththendra panjasayanaththin meleri
Kothalar poonkuzhal Nappinnaik kongaimel
Vaitthtu kidanda malarmaarba ! Vaay thiravaay
Maiththadan kanninay nee un manalanai
Eththanaipodum thuyilezha vottay kann
Eththanayelum pirivattra killayaal
Thaththuvamandru thagavelor empavai
The Lord is in his sleeping chamber, on a majestic cot with legs made of Ivory and an ambience heightened by the tall lamps, resting on a soft mattress with beautiful Nappinnai bedecked with beautiful flowers in her tresses closely by His side and leaning on His broad chest. The girls beseech Him to open his mouth and plead with Nappinnai “oh beautiful eyed one, why cannot you let go of your Lord and allow Him to wake up even though it is well past dawn now, we know you cannot bear separation from Him even for a second, but that is not fair ; this should not be your nature !”
Thursday 4th January 2018 ( 20th Verse)
Muppathu moovar amararkku mum chendru
Kappam thavirkkum kaliye ! thuyilezhaai
Cheppamudaiyay thiraludaiyay !chettrarkku
Veppam kodukkum vimala ! thuyilezhay
Cheppenna menmulai chevvay sirumarungul
Nappinnai nangai thiruve thuyilezhaay
Ukkamum thattoliyum thandhun manalanai
Ippodhe emmai neerattelor empavai
In the 20th verse, the waking up effort continues, why is the Lord asleep ? Why is Nappinnai too not awake ? There is obviously more meaning to this whole business of waking up. Waking up the Lord is found not just in the thiruppavai but is a practice in all temples, the idea is that the devotee’s enthusiasm to see the Lord makes him/her wake up really really early ; much before even the Lord does. And the devotee also does not want the Lord to wake up and wait for the devotees right ? think about it – we will go into the deeper meanings of waking up some other time. May be next year in version 2.0 of this work.
The girls begin the praise of Lord Sri Krishna as a King to whom other Kings also subservient, as one who gives the shivers to His enemies, Lord Wake up ! They then turn their attention to Nappinnai and address her as the very beautiful well endowed one, please wake up, please give oil, mirror and other things essential for a bath to your husband and send him out, so that we all may be bathed in His glory.
Friday 5th January 2018 (21st Verse)
Ettrak Kalangall edhirpongi meedhalippa
Maatradhe paal soriyum vallal perumpasukkall
Aattrap padaithaan magane ! Arivuraay
Oottramudaiyay ! periyaay ! ulaginil
Thottramaay nindra chudare thuyilezhay
Maatrar unakku vali tholaindhu un vaasarkann
Aattradhu vandhu unnadi paniyumam pole
Pottri yam vandhom pugazhndhelor empavai.
The girls are getting closer to waking up Sri Krishna, the glory of the Lord is infinite, cannot be contained in few descriptions and in every verse there is a reference to that greatness, Oh Son of the Nandagopan who is the owner of magnificent cows that yield milk in torrents, Oh learned one, Oh one who protects all people of the world, Please wake up ! Your enemies lose all their courage on seeing your valour and seek refuge at your feet, likewise we your ardent devotees, sing your glory and praise and offer our worship at your feet.
Saturday 6th January 2018 (22nd Verse)
Anganmagyalath arasar abhimana
Bangamay vandhu nin palllikattir keezhe
Sangamirippar pol vandhu thalaippeydhom
Kinnkini vaych cheydha thamaraip poo pole
Chengann chiri chiridhe em mel vizhiyavo
Thingalum adithiyanum ezhundhar pol
Angann irandunkondu engal mel nokkudiyel
Engal mel saapam izhindhelor empavai.
Having woken up Nappinnai and persuaded her to help them and join in the worship in the previous verse, the girls now proceed to wake up the Lord and sing His Praise. As the first step to waking up the girls beseech the Lord to gently open His eyes. Oh Lord, the Kings of many lands shed their arrogance, and gather at your threshold to pay their respects to you, likewise we too have gathered before you, to wake you up gently, like the beautiful red lotus flower blossoming, will you so ever gently open your eyes and look at us ? When you open both your bright eyes, it looks as if the Sun and the Moon are shining at the same time, but if you look at us with both your eyes, we will be absolved of all our sins and sorrow and be filled abundantly with your grace.
Sunday 7th January 2018 (23rd Verse)
(The Lord has woken up !)
Maari Malai muzhanjil mannik kidanthurangum
Seeriya singam arivuttru thee vizhitthu
Veary mayir ponga eppaadum porndhuthari
Moori nimirndhu muzhangip purappattu
Podharuma pole nee poovai poovannna ! Un
Kovil nindrangane pondharulli koppudaiya
Seeriya singasanaththirundhu yam vandha
Kaariyam aarayndharulelor empavai
The Lord has woken up ! and when the almighty wakes up the world knows about it ! The girls request is finally answered and Sri Andal here in this 23rd verse becomes ecstatic describing the Lord’s waking up. The Lord of the world is likened to the Lord of the Jungle, like a magnificent Lion who earlier sleeping with his mate inside a cave in the mountains, wakes up from sleep and stirs to action as if spitting fire and shaking his fiery mane vigorously, scattering the scent symbolizing his presence all over the place, stretching his body and coming out of the cave with a fierce loud roar. Oh Lord whose skin is the colour of a dark flower, we request and desire that you please go from your temple to the majestic throne in the shaded courtyard and enquire from us our wishes and fulfill them.
Please note that Andal has not yet spelt out her desire to the Lord. She began performing the Nonbu (worship) describing how it is to be done, ( pure mind, no indulgences, offerings of flowers and prayers through the lord’s songs, praise and chanting of His names through our lips and the all enveloping thoughts of the Lord in our minds ) also informs that by doing this worship, the rains and prosperity will bestow on the land and the people who live in that land(1-5). She then gathers the ten girls waking each one of them patiently, alluding to many signs of the dawn and conveying the objective of worshipping the Lord by referring to many of his virtues and acts of valour(6-15). She reaches the temple, similarly wakes up nandagopan and yashoda, enlists the support of Nappinnai (16- 21) and now has the Lord also awake(22-23). Throughout these verses the glory of the Lord, his acts of greatness are referenced in many different forms, but there is yet to reference to a specific request to God for any favour. Hold on – we will get to it soon..
Monday 8th January 2018 (24th verse) (Verse 1 of 5 Singing the Lord’s Praise)
Andri ivvulagam alandhay ! adi pottri
That day you measured this world, Praise your feet
Sendranguth thennilangai chettray ! thirall pottri
Vanquished the ruler of Lanka in the south, Praise your valour
Pondrach chagadamudathaai ! pugazh pottri
Kandru kunila verindhaay! Kazhal pottri
Kundruk kudaiyai edutthay ! gunam pottri
Vendru pagai kedukkum nin kaiyyil vel pottri
Endrendrum un sevakame aethi parai kolvaan
Indru yaam vandhom irangelor empavai.
The Lord has woken up, is majestically seated on His throne, Sri Andal and he band of girls are having their eyeful of the lord, standing in front of Him finally and what does she do ? Does she go ahead and list her demands of boons ? No; wonderstuck by the glory and beauty of the Lord, she starts singing His praise ; this 24th verse is a wonderful verse that is fully devoted to rhythmically singing the Lord’s praise referring to his various victories.
Once you measured the whole world ! Praise to thee and your feet
You went downsouth to Lanka and destroyed the demon there Praise thee valour!
You destroyed a demon who came in the form of a cart ! praise your fame !
In one stroke you vanquished two demons in the form of a calf ! praise to thee
You picked up a hillock to protect your people from the rain ! Praise your kindness
Praise to the sharp spear in your hands that kills your enemies
We come here to praise your valour and offer our worship
Hear our pleas and bless us with your grace
Tuesday 10th January 2018 (25th Verse) (Verse 2 of 5 Singing the Lord’s Praise)
you can listen to the song here
Orutthi maganaayp pirandhu oriravil
Born to a certain woman in one night
Orutthi maganaay olitthu valara
Brought up hidden as another’s child
Tharikkillanagith thaan theengu ninaittha
in Many ways sought to harm you
Karutthai pizhaippitthuk kanjan vayittril
created terror in his stomach
Neruppenna nindra nedumaale ! unnai
You who stood like the fire, to You
Aruththithu vandom parai tharudiyaagil
Wantonly we came to you seeking your grace
Thiruthakka selvamum sevakamum yaam paadi
We sing about your limitless grace and service to you
Varuthamum theerndhu magizhndelor empavai
will be rid of our sorrows and be happy my girls
Andal continues singing the Lord’s praise. Krishna, you were born to one woman (Devaki), but had to be hidden and brought up as the son of another woman (Yashoda) . the demon Kamsan who came to know about this sought to harm you in many ways, but you creator terror in his mind and made his stomach burn like a raging fire. We are here to sing about your Glory and if you bestow grace on us and fulfill our wishes we will rejoice and be rid of all our sorrows and be happy ever. This is the second of the five verses that sing the praise of the Lord after he wakes up. In all these five verses the worship is so powerful invoking the great qualities of the Lord with appropriate references and reiterating the fact and desire that the Lord will bestow grace and fulfill the desires, but not mentioning the desire till the very end.
Wednesday 10th January 2018 (26th Verse) (Verse 3 of 5 Singing the Lord’s Praise)
You can listen to the song here
Maale manivanna ! margazhi neeraduvaan
Lord, deep blue pearl colored, we will bathe the holy bath of Margazhi
Melaiyar seyvanagall venduvana kettiyel
All the good deeds of the month, let us recount
Gyanathey ellam nadunga muralvana
the whole world trembles
Palanna vannnathu un panchajanniyame
the milk white colored conch of yours called the Panchajanya
Polvana sangankal poyppadudaiyanave
Salapperum paraiye pallandu isaippare
Kola vilakke kodiye vithaname
Aalin ilaiyaay ! arulelor empavai
Oh Lord, who is in the color of deep blue pearl, let us recount the purity that devotees have observed for the Margazhi nonbu, we salute your Conch Panchajanyam that is milk white hued, which can make a sound that can make the whole world tremble and that has huge spaces inside. Oh beautiful Lord, you were so nonchalantly resting on a peepul leaf in the flooded ocean during pralaya, holding your devotees, and your grace and the lamps and the flags all protected in your fold, Bestow your grace on us.
Andal’s cup of joy is overflowing, she has woken up the Lord, who has now settled down to the worship and andal is at His feet, singing His praise in verse after verse and is feeling very satisfied that her Nonbu is close to fulfillment, she is ready for some celebration. In the next verse (Koodarai vellum seer Govinda) she describes the celebration and some treats. So you can prepare to make as Prasadam some wonderful “chakkarai pongal” tomorrow ( 27th verse – 11th January 2017). More about the verse tomorrow.
Thursday 11th January 2018 (27th Verse ) (Verse 4 of 5 Singing the Lord’s Praise)
Koodarai vellum seer Govinda ! Undrannai
Govinda, who vanquishes those who do not join, to you
Paadi parai kondu yaam perum sammanam
Singing and receiving the gifts from you
Naadu pugazhum parisinaal nandraga
With these gifts that are praised by all in the land nicely
Soodagame tholvalaiye thode sevippoove
Garlands, ear rings, and other ornaments
Padagame yendranaiya palkalanum yaam anivom
We will wear all these when given by you
Aadai yuduppom adhan pinne paar soru
We will wear the garments and then eat Milk rice
Mooda neiy peydhu muzhankai vazhivara
With ghee dripping till our forearm
Koodiyirundhu kulirndhelor empavai
will join together and be divinely happy my girls
Sri Andal has in the early verses described the rigors of the Nonbu as not decorating themselves and not eating ghee and other delicacies to enable focus on the Lord. Now that She is in front of the Lord, she addresses the Lord as one who wins over those who are not willing to join Him or vanquishes those who are not following the righteous path and sings, we are singing your praise and seek from your hands gifts that the nation will be enamored of. We seek from Your hands lovely garlands and ear rings and many other ornaments ; then lovely garments. We will adorn ourselves when these are given by your hands or you adorn us yourselves. Our beautification is for you to see and enjoy. And after adorning ourselves we will eat paal soru ie rice cooked in milk and ghee as your prasadam and the delicacy will be so full of ghee that the ghee will flow down our elbow as we eat. And being in unison with you, in your company, partaking of the gifts and the food that you give us, we remain together and happy and blissful.
Friday 12th January 2018 (28th Verse) (Verse 5 of 5 Singing the Lord’s Praise)
Karavaigall pin chendru Kaanam serndhunnbom
We will go behind the cattle in the forest and eat together
Arivondrum illadha aaykkulathu un drannaip
We are ignorant, cowherds, we are
Piravi perundhanaip punniyam yaamudaiyom
Blessed to be born in your midst
Kuraivondrum illadha Govinda ! undrannodu
Govinda without any blemishes, with you
Uravel namakkingu ozhikka vozhiyadhu
our relationship with you should never cease
Ariyadha pillaiygalom anbinal undrannaich
Ignorant Children we are, out of love, we
Chiruper azhaiththanavum seeriyaruladhe
Called you small names, don’t be angry with us
Iraiva nee thaaraay paraiyelor empavai
Lord, please give us our boons, my girls
Sri Andal is at the verge of asking her boon for which she performed the month-long nonbu, she has seen the Lord, got His attention, sung his praise to her heart’s content , asked for some gifts, got ready to celebrate. She now feels it is the right time to also reiterate the context, reintroduce themselves and also ask for forgiveness before asking for the real boon.
So she goes on to say we are the simple cowherds who drive the cattle to the forest and thus earn our daily bread, we are without much intelligence, but have been wonderfully fortunate to be born in this clan and be in your midst, You are the truly blemishless Govinda, the bonds and relationship that we have with you cannot ever be broken, We are small girls and it is possible that out of our enthusiasm and deep love for you, we might have taken liberties with you and in calling your name in singular, so please pardon and forgive us. Oh Lord, please grant us the “parai” boon that we seek.
Saturday 13th January 2018 ( 29th verse) (finally asking for the boon )
Chittran sirukale vandhunnaich sevitthu un
Very early morning, we came to worship you
Pottramarai adiye pottrum porull kelaay
At your golden Lotus feet, let us tell you why ?
Pettram meytthunnum kulathil pirandhu nee
Born into the cowherd clan, you
Kuttreval engalai kolllamall pogadhu
You cannot refuse to give us your grace
Ittrai parai kollvaan indru kaan Govinda
Not for the boons now and not just for today, Govinda
Ettraikkum ezheazh piravikkum undrannodu
Forever and for the next seventy seven births, with you
Vuttrome yavom unakke naam aatcheyvom
We seek to be bound to you and to you alone we should pay obescience
Mattrai nam kamangal mattrelor empavai.
Please change all our other desires my girls
Thus Andal finally gets down to asking for her boon. This is the most famous of the verses of the Thiruppavai and this verse and the next one are often recited in isolation often in the daily prayers of most people. This is indeed a very powerful plea and shows the intensity of the devotion that Sri Andal had for Krishna.
So Andal says to the Lord, let me tell you the objective of why we come to you in this early early morning, bow at your lotus feet and sing your praise ! Born alongwith us in the cowherd community who look after the cows to earn a living, you cannot refuse to take our worship or bestow your grace on us. What we have come for us not to just get your grace and boons today alone. What we seek is this – Forever and forever, in the next seven times seven births that we may take we should be privileged to have a relationship with you in all your avatars and we should be beholden and offer worship only to You and none other. You should give us this as a boon and also ensure that any other desires of ours other than this are removed from our minds.
So this is the final boon – that we should worship and serve the Lord without any other thought or desire in our minds, not just for today but for ever and ever. Unwavering, unquestioning, totally dedicated faith in Krishna at all times and occasions is what should rule our minds.
Sunday 14th January 2018 (30th Verse) (phalasruti – the good that will come out of reciting these verses)
Vangak Kadal kadaintha Madhavanaik Kesavanai
Thingal thirumugatthuch cheyizhaiyar sendrirainji
Angap parai konda vaatrai anipuduvai p
Painkamalath than theriyal pattarpiran Kodhai sonna
Sangath thamizh maalai muppadum thappame
Ingip parisuraippar eerirandu maal varaith tholl
Senkann thirumugaththu selvath thirumaalal
Engum thiruvarul pettru inburuvar empavai
Sri Andal has actually completed her Nonbu with the previous verse and this verse is more in the form of a “phalasruthi” – a last verse that describes the benefits that will accrue to a person who devotion follows the work or recites these verses.
The Lord Madhava, who churned the oceans for the devas, one who killed the demon Kesi, one whose face is like the moon and one who is worshipped by the women on the cowherd clan who are dressed with fine ornaments, was worshipped by Sri Andal of Srivilliputtur thru these garland of thirty tamil verses that are greatly enjoyable. All devotees who worship the Lord whose four shoulders are strong, whose eyes are bright red and who is the embodiment of all riches with these verses with similar zeal, will forever obtain the grace and blessings of the Lord and be supremely happy.
Thus we come to the conclusion of Thiruppavai. It is said that the Thiruppavai can be chanted on all days, not just during Margazhi although chanting this during Margazhi does have a distinct charm.
I am thankful to the Lord for His Grace to help me complete this work and let me end with the verses that sing the glory of Andal who wrote the Thiruppavai.
Kodhai pirandha oor, Govindan vazhum ooor
Needhiyal Nalla Bhaktarkal vazhum oor,
naan maraigall odhum oor,
Padhagankal theerkum paramanadi kaattum
Kodhaith thamizh iyyaindhum iyndhum
Ariyadha manidarai vaiyyam sumappadum vambu
Thiruvaadi p poorathu jagath tudithal vazhiye
Thiruppavai muppadum cheppinall vazhiye
Periyazhvaar pettreduththa pennpillai vazhiye
Perumpoodur maamanikku pinnanall vazhiye
Oru nootru narpathu moondr uraiththall vazhiye
Uyararangarke kanni ugandhaliththal vazhiye
Maruvarum thirumalli vada nazhi vazhiye
Van puduvai nagar Kodhai malar padangall Vazhiye
Sri Andal Thiruvadigale Charanam !