Learnings From Thiruppavai
Celebrating Andal Thirunakshathram 2020, JET USA invited interested devotees to share learnings from Thiruppa:vai! Here they are.
Thiruppavai written by one and only women Azhwa:r Anda:l, in praise of Lord Vishnu consists of 30 Pasurams (verses). They aim at removing the effects of bad karma, shows us how to reach the holy feet of Supreme.
is said to be ’Vedam Anaithukkum Vithagum’ meaning seed of all Vedic Knowledge.
Thiruppavai, given to us by Andal for conducting our day to day activities, devotion, understanding the ultimate reality and attain Mukti (salvation). In just 30 verses dripping with
melody, sweetness and profundity, I have learned many lessons which have a great impact on my daily life. Some of the key lessons are as follows:
• Andal did not actually go to any pond or river or perform a religious rite, she is actually praying to be granted the service of the Lord for all eternity. It is the soul's inner craving to redeem itself and to reach the Divine in order to serve him.
• There is a lot of similarities between Thiruppavai and Bhagwat Gita, so it is essentially Vedas brought to humanity easily by Andal Nachiyaar!
• By practicing this vartham, one can attain not only materialistic happiness but also attain Eternal Bliss.
• Spend the auspicious time of Brahma Muhurta (early morning) in the service of God, to attain the Gnana and develop the spiritual wisdom.
• Power of Satsang, where Andal calls all the seekers to join her in the early predawn period in the auspicious month of Margazhi, gathering various seekers on the way to take a spiritual Bath in the Holy waters of Gnana and to usher oneself into the Divine Presence.
• Supreme Lord can easily be attained in the idol form or Archa Murthi with the same auspicious qualities as he is in his highest divine abode Paramapadam.
• Importance of serving devotees (Bhagavatas) and serving Bhagavan for HIS pleasure not ours.
• Importance of an Acharya whose guidance is mandatory for a disciple to get the trio of Mantras.
• Learn the essence of three Rahasyams: Thirumantram, Dhvayam and Charama Sloka which signify the truth of Supreme Lord and provide the importance of these in a symbolic way.
Thiruppavai teaches a lot of aspects of Hinduism. Be it Vedanta, importance of an Acharyan,
Artha Panchakam, Sharana: gathi and many more.
Goda devi came into this world to teach many values and principles that all of mankind should follow. Goda devi was sent to earth to teach some rules and ways people should follow to reach the lord. This was happening because of mankind’s ways. In the past God took many incarnations and forms to set people on the right path of life. But as hard as he tried, they weren’t listening or understanding. God was upset and Andal came to the earth to teach people, she taught us that how to love god. She also taught us that how to communicate with god himself. Andal always proved the lord in vaikuntam is same as in our home as archamurthi and same in our heart are the same being. To reach the Lord, she said to approach gurus. Goda Devis said we should follow 3 main rules while worshiping the lord.
1. Always chant the lords name.
2. Offer beautiful flowers.
3. Finally, always be in Satsang.
Now that we know all the things Andal taught us, we should implement these in our daily life. We can use the 3 ways when we worship God. To worship God at home, at the temple, service to all beings as service to god.
And last to understand that you should love and respect God at all costs.
In the month of Ma:rgasi:rsha, Go:da: de:vi: performed the Dhanurma:sa Vratham. The month suitable for undertaking uplifting work is Ma:rgasi:rsha. She explains that one doesn’t need any qualification to perform this vratham. She teaches us the concept of equality and so everyone is eligible to serve the god.
To achieve good ends, there are many means such as karma, jna:na, and bhakthi. But for those who surrendered to the Lord as means, there is no need of any other means. Lord is “Ma:rgasi:rsha” or the “Best Path”. “Om” is the essence of the Ve:das. This is the Bow. The arrow is Ji:va. The target is the eternally blissful god.
The Lord is compassionate, but the guru who shows the Lord is even more compassionate and reveals the path to disciples. Go:da: de:vi who gave Thiruppa:vai to us is a prayer offered by go:pika:s to the lord which was accepted by him. This is also called the Dhanurma:sa Krathu. Go:da says,The desire to experience the supreme bliss is all that's needed...Come let’s go!
Prajna Cumming, Atlanta, GA
From this pa:suram, I learnt that Lord resides in our hearts and we need to recognize His presence every moment. Like the great sages and saints who meditate on Him, we need to at least chant His names like "Hari" and feel His presence in our hearts. Also, A:nda:l describes that He is the Original Creator of this entire Universe, sleeping on the serpent bed of Adise:sha in the great milky ocean. He, out of compassion is also residing in our hearts. I try to feel His presence and chant His glories through Stho:thrams I know like the wonderful Vishnu Sahasra Na:ma or Haryashtakam, Krishna:shtakam etc., which I learnt in the Prajna modules.
Thank you very much,
-By Thapati Andal, 11 years, Prajna Module 4 - NJ
In this Pa:suram, Nanda Go:pa is referred to an Acharya and Andal is talking about the means to attain Perumal. Here, Andal and Go:pikas wanted to meet Sri Krushna- Paramatma/Perumal while its Dark. Darkness represents once Ignorance.
Ignorance doesn’t allow one to realize things while they are there- Aatma/Paramatma; doesn’t allow one to realize the purpose of life. Acharya is the one who will remove this ignorance and hence the means to attain lord is through Sam:asrayanam- approaching a guru/Acharya. Sri Krushna living in the mansion of Nanda Go:pa represents that Perumal/Paramatma stays with Acharya and reaching the sannidhaanam of an Acharya is the means to attain lord. The previous pa:surams of Thiruppavai also talks about how Sri Krushna is with Nanda Go:pa- like an obedient son.
The guards of Nanda Go:pa’s mansion is given utmost prominence here by the Gopika:s to reach Sri Krushna. So here, Andal is guiding us that, the way to reach Acharya is through pleasing his Devotees/Antharangikulu, who will always be protecting the Acharya Sannidhanam- This talk about the prominence of Bhaagavatha Abhimanam.
The Flagpole/Dhawaja Stamba mentioned in this pa:suram represents Veda:s. Here Anda:l is also guiding us the way to visit the Archa mu:rtis in temples. When we visit a temple, it is important to first offer Namaska:ram at the Dhwaja Stamba, showing our belief in the Veda:s. Then, we need to offer respects to Acharyas and Alwa:rs in the temple, then Piratti and then only we go to see Perumal.
Jai Sri:manna:ra:yana! A:nda:l Thirunakshathram is coming soon, on July 24th. What better way to celebrate our beloved Mother Go:da:de:vi than to learn about Her beautiful work, Thiruppa:vai? Many of us chant Thiruppa:vai, the quintessence of Ve:das in 30 verses, especially during Dhanurma:sam or Ma:rgasi:rsha Ma:sam time. We do this to remember God and how Go:da:de:vi or A:nda:lamma performed vratham to God with lots of bhakthi. By learning the meanings of the pa:surams we chant, we can enhance our experience, connect with what Go:da:de:vi is really trying to tell us through Thiruppa:vai, and put it to practice in our daily lives. In this article, I will talk about some beautiful hidden meanings from pa:suram 21 in Thiruppa:vai.
1-- Importance of A:cha:rya and Analogy with Cows -- E:ththa Kalangal Edhirpongi Mi:dalippa, Ma:ththa:de: Pa:l Soriyum Vallal Perum Pasukkal, A:ththap Padaiththa:n Magane: !
In these lines, A:nda:lamma is saying, “O! Sri Krushna! The milk is gushing and flowing incessantly - into the pots kept high (under the cow’s udder). The pots are so quickly getting filled with the milk, that it is overflowing and springing out of the vessels as soon as it is placed under the udder! O! Sri Krushna! You, are the beloved son of Nandago:pa who is the owner of herds of such excellent cattle that flush milk with great compassion, please awaken and come to Your senses.”
Here, the cows represent a:cha:ryas. They roam in forests of scriptures and take in their essence (like how cows eat grass). Then, they simplify it (referring to how cows digest grass so milk is produced) and present it to their devotees the quintessence of the Truth in the form of milk. The disciples are the pots that keep filling up and overflowing. If the disciples only ask, the a:cha:rya will unconditionally keep pouring the scriptural instructions to them. A:cha:ryas are like the big cows which give milk to ease their udders, not just to benefit others! This means that a:cha:ryas are so delighted with knowledge about God’s true nature that they feel the need to share it with others just so they can contain their happiness. And, so many disciples get benefited in the process.
Another interesting point is that as the pots keep overflowing with milk, it appears that they are producing the milk. This means that as the disciples are overflowing with knowledge, it will seem like they themselves are the source of that knowledge, but it always comes from the a:cha:rya (cow).
Nandago:pa is the father of Krushna, and the owner of all these cows. He heads all these a:cha:ryas and is benevolent as he educates many people about Ve:da and its essence. The cows are his disciples that inherited his generosity as well and are like cattle wealth.
What we can learn from this is to always accept an a:cha:rya’s teachings and take full advantage of the opportunity if we ever have one. We never know when we will be able to learn from an a:cha:rya the knowledge worth knowing from the Ve:das, so whenever there is an opportunity for us to learn something from a spiritually advanced person, we should always take it! Whether it be a chance to listen to a pravachanam, get thi:rtham from an a:cha:rya, go to a sathsangh with enlightened people, or join a class learning a scripture, any opportunity should be taken. An a:cha:rya is always willing to help us. If we don’t ask them or don’t accept their guidance, we are considered losers. Also, we should be very grateful to those a:cha:ryas that uplift us and help us understand the real purpose of human life. Even if it appears like we are very knowledgeable and dha:rmic, we should never feel that way, because without our a:cha:rya we would not even know about the path to God. Since guru shows us the right course to reach God, Ve:da declares that guru should be worshipped as God!!!
2-- Importance of Mediator/Purushaka:ra (present here as Ni:la:de:vi) and How to Approach God -- Arivura:y! Uththamudaiya:y Periya:y ! Ulaganil Tho:ththama:y Ninra Sudare: ! Thuyilezha:y
The meaning of these lines is: “O the Supremely Radiant One! You, are described as the sole objective in the Ve:das, You are all-encompassing and cannot be measured. You are in-comprehensible and have taken a visible form in this world for our sake - Please wake up.”
Go:da:de:vi is praising God in these lines. She is being guided by Ni:la:de:vi, who tries Her best to fulfill the go:pikas and Go:da:de:vi’s wish to go to the Lord and comes with them to wake up Sri Krushna. She is teaching them to say the Dvaya Manthram (‘sri:manna:ra:yana charanau saranam prapadye:’) which means: There is no other succor than the Lord’s Lotus Feet.
In pa:suram 20, A:nda:lamma and Her friends asked for a mirror and fan. They also desired to take a shower with the Lord. The mirror is ‘O:mka:ra’, which shows that the ji:va/soul in the body is for Parama:thma’s sake alone and belongs to Him. The fan is ‘namaha’, which drives off selfish attitudes and thoughts that experiencing God is for personal enjoyment or gratification. Just like how the nithyas and mukthas pray to God in Paramapadam that their service should be to God’s liking, Ni:la:de:vi is telling Go:da:de:vi and Her entourage that us going to God is for His pleasure. We are His lost property in Samsa:ra so we are going back to Him because we belong to Him, not solely to please ourselves. When someone is in deep connection with God, they will understand why it is a little selfish to aim for extreme joy instead of aiming to directly please Him. In our daily lives, we shouldn’t feel as if we are doing something so we can get to experience extreme joy, but rather so we can go back to Him and do what He would want us to do.
The last point is that the go:pikas and Go:da:de:vi wanted to take a shower in the river of God’s auspicious attributes. In this way, Ni:la:de:vi keeps guiding them on how to approach God, like a mediator. Lakshmi:de:vi is the Purushaka:ra or mediator. We shouldn’t do Sarana:gathi to God without approaching Lakshmi:de:vi. Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja also showed us this in ‘O:m Bhagavan Na:ra:yana:bhi…” slo:kam from Sarana:gathi Gadyam. A guru helps us to understand Her importance in approaching God (another reason why guru is so important!).
Go:da:de:vi is asking why Krushna is not coming out when she mentioned Nandago:pa’s name (as God will come whenever we mention the a:cha:rya’s name). She is inquiring if their a:cha:rya is proud or if they didn’t remember him as there would be no delay when they remember him. Ni:lade:vi tells Her that Nandago:pa did not wake up saying, “Everyone has wealth, but I have one special asset which you people fail to recognize.” An a:cha:rya is always humble and never boasts of himself or treats people without the knowledge he has as inferior to him. A real a:cha:rya would not do these things. Like Chinna Ji:yar Swa:miji, a true a:cha:rya attributes all his knowledge and position and fame and gain to his own a:cha:rya! So, if God is not coming when we ask, we shouldn’t say it is our a:cha:rya’s fault or blame them. We should correct ourselves instead.
A:nda:lamma glorifies the Lord, saying, “O Supreme Lord! Only Ve:da can reveal you! You have taken so many incarnations to prove it. Your resplendence enhances more and more with every incarnation You take! Your avatha:ras are innumerable, but You are still determined to keep your word and always rescue those who believe in You. You are very compassionate to give more than what one asks for. You feel very happy when you fulfill our wishes. Lord! Now if you do not listen to us, these attributes would become untrue.”
Now, God responds by saying, “Okay, okay, now tell me why you are here.”
3-- God’s Arrows, Why One Shouldn’t Have Ego, and Real Surrender/Love for the Lord -- Ma:ththa:r Unakku Valitholaindu Un Va:sarkan, A:ththa:du Vandu Unnadi Paniyuma:po:le:, Po:ththiya:m Vandho:m Pugazhindu E:lo:remba:va:y.
The translation of these lines is, “Those who developed animosity towards You - all such enemies got defeated before Your immense strength and have taken refuge in You. They have been serving Your divine feet, unable to leave Your threshold. Similarly, we too got humbled before Your divine qualities and shedding our feminism we have fallen near You, singing Your glories and offering You our good wishes. Please arise and come…”
A:nda:lamma answers the question posed by Sri Krushna earlier now. She says, “Lord! Your enemies were unable to bear the pain of Your arrows and they lay at your doorstep waiting for You to come and sought Your protection. Ka:ka:sura and Ra:vana were some demons like that! We (Go:da:de:vi and Her friends) are more egoistic. We got rid of our female ego…”
What She is trying to say here is that enemies of God could not bear the strength of Him and were in extreme pain. They went to God’s feet for protection. Examples are Ra:vana and Ka:ka:sura (who had a little help from Si:tha:de:vi), both demons that God encountered when He came to Earth in Sri: Ra:ma:vatha:ra. A:nda:lamma and the go:pikas got rid of their ego (which is used as a feminine term here) which prevented them from completely seeking God’s protection. We also need to do that, too! We shouldn’t make any exceptions when we say that God is the only protector. Many times we may say this, but don’t always act like it. We might feel like we are capable of protecting ourselves whenever we complete something or get past an obstacle (by ‘ourselves’) using some materialistic/temporary solution. We forget about God for that time period and don’t realize that He is really the one who helped us. But, we come running back to God when there is something we cannot control or deal with by ourselves. Instead of doing this, Go:da:de:vi is telling us to always depend on God for protection and realize that He only is giving the strength to deal with any type of obstacle. The ego that ‘I can do this myself’ or ‘I am capable of doing this’ should be destroyed.
She continues, “Your auspicious attributes are not letting us be away from You and they made us go to Your Lotus Feet. Enemies come crying to You. But we came with devotion (bhakthi) praising You and singing ‘mangalam’ (wishing well) to You. Your enemies physically get hurt with the shots of Your arrows and Your very powerful qualities, but Your ‘kalya:na gunas’ are piercing our hearts. The arrows are escapable but your ‘gunas’ trouble us wherever we are! Swa:mi! We surrendered at your Lotus Feet. Now it’s up to You. Whether You accept or not, we are not bothered about it at all. It’s Your concern, Lord!” This is how A:nda:lamma prayed to Sri Krushna as taught to Her by Ni:la:de:vi.
Wow! Go:da:de:vi is an expert in analogies regarding a ji:va’s relationship to God and His glories. She says that God’s enemies surrender out of pain and come crying to Him, but She and Her friends, on the other hand, come with love for Him. The enemies of God get physically hurt and damaged from God’s arrows, but their hearts are getting pierced with God’s auspicious qualities! Literal arrows can be escaped from, but His qualities always come to a mind of a true devotee. We should always try to think of God’s auspicious qualities and His pastimes for some time everyday. Saying slo:kas or stho:thrams with concentration, decorating and doing service to archa:mu:rthi, and doing scriptural studies/reading about His stories in various avatha:ras are all some easy ways that we can do this. It is one of the ways to purify our mind without even realizing it! A true devotee, like A:nda:lamma, sees God and His incredibleness in everything, no matter where they are. They do their normal activities but always think of God in the process. We can do the same thing. There is no need to give up doing our normal duties. Go:da:de:vi isn’t asking us to go to the forest and meditate. She is telling us that any activity we do for the purpose of pleasing God and with loving thoughts of God, even if it is not a religious ritual, is considered sacred. How do we please God? By doing our dharma. Our dharma depends on what body we’re in and how old we are, which varna/a:srama we’re in, etc., but in simple terms it means ‘do what the scriptures and God advise you to do;’. For example, if you’re a kid, it means listening to your parents, helping your family, and performing well in academics and other categories. There are specific dharmas like this for all types of people. Doing them with the goal of pleasing God is what is needed from us.
Finally, A:nda:lamma is stating that they have surrendered to the Lord. He actually decides whether to accept the surrendered souls. That much of love She has for Him!! She knows that many people ask God for so many things. Good jobs, good scores, good outcomes, good education, good home, good family, good possession, good neighbors, good food, good opportunities, good friends… A lot of us usually ask for these things. Even if we go to the temple, we see some people saying, “God, if you give me this I will give $100 for Your hundi” or “Please give me this God, and I will donate special prasa:dam for this many days”. We don’t think about how God feels when so many people only ask Him for things but never inquire about His welfare. Our a:cha:ryas feel sad sometimes seeing that not many people care to see that the Lord is happy. Think about it this way: If you really loved someone, you wouldn’t always request them to give you things (their presence would be enough). You would make them happy and relaxed, not forcing them to do anything. Go:da:de:vi, like Bhagavad Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya and our own a:cha:rya, has got this gift. She understands that it is up to God to accept them and doesn’t pressure Him. She just does Her job. We should follow Her. If we have faith in God, He will certainly help us. If we do our job, He’ll do His, and additionally help us do ours, too. So, let’s not ask Him for many things or become impatient with Him if it appears like He isn’t helping us or giving us what we want, since a real prapanna surrenders him/herself completely and knows God will give whatever is required for sure.
These are just many of the beautiful meanings behind Thiruppa:vai. It is cool to see what A:nda:lamma was trying to tell us in E:ththa Kalangal… Each pa:suram has so much we can learn from. I am thankful I could learn about one! Hopefully Go:da:de:vi’s blessings will be on everyone so everyone can taste the nectar of Thiruppa:vai on Her birthday and apply it in their lives. Jai Sri:manna:ra:yana!
A:NDA:L SRI: HASTHE:NA - CHANT IT WHILE COOKING.
Our divine Mother A:nda:l is considered a teacher, a great savior, a poet, and many more. She woke Lord from sleep and reminded Him that He’s the savior of the entire Universe through Her divine Prabandham, Thiruppa:vai.
Unlike other Goddesses, A:nda:l has liberty towards God, which is why He agrees with Her decisions. In this era, A:nda:l is the one Who cooked Prasa:dam to Lord Sri Krushna. He consumes the Prasa:dam made by Her with utmost love.
Therefore, the priests (pa:chaka swa:mys) who make Prasa:dam in Thiruvantapadi (Sacred Kitchen) for Peruma:l chant “A:nda:l Sri Hasthe:na” while cooking, which means A:nda:l herself is cooking for the Lord with Her divine hands. It’s not only confined to the priests, but we can also chant this while making Prasa:dam too, He accepts it with great delight.
Jai Srimannarayana! From,
NAME: Animish Amaravadi, Bloomington, IL AGE: 10 GRADE: 4
Prajna Module 6