Tiruppāvai of Āṇḍāḷ | verses 14-15

Stanza 14

Look in your back-yard pools, already the day is dawning,
 The red lotuses have bloomed and the blue lilies closed.
The ascetics in their saffron robes and white teeth,
 Have gone to their temple to blow their conches.
You boasted that you would awaken before us.
 Shameless braggart, get up, girl, you adroit talker!
Let us sing the glory of the Lotus-eyed Lord who holds aloft
 The Conch and Discus in His mighty hands!

Commentary

In this verse is awakened a very eloquent Gopī who is one of the ring leaders of the group. This girl is one who bragged the day before that she would wake up first in order to awaken the others.

This Gopī is very spiritually advanced because unlike the maidens in the previous stanzas this one is referred to in the plural form which denotes great respect.

The red lotuses have bloomed and the blue lilies closed — Even in the big pool in your back-yard, the red lotus has opened its buds and the blue lily has closed its buds.

The lotus blooming in the light of dawn is the symbol of spiritual unfolding and the folding night lilies symbolize the suppression of the senses and of ignorance.

The ascetics in their saffron robes and white teeth, Have gone to their temple to blow their conches.

— Here one should note that at the opening of the doors of the temple, the conches are blown for good augury. The reference to white teeth denotes that these sannyāsins don't chew betel. The conches announce the beginning of the spiritual dawn of enlightenment.

You boasted that you would awaken before us — ’O perfect lady who bragged yesterday’ — The expression 'naṅgāy' (perfect lady) is taken as sarcasm.

Shameless braggart — You should be ashamed of yourself that yesterday you bragged about waking us up first. The terms "shameless braggart" and "adroit talker" are not used in an abusive sense but out of deep affection and familiarity.

you adroit talker — having a sharp tongue, an adept in bragging —

(a) that is, you say one thing and do another; you never act according to your word and it is due to your fault of cultivating intimacy with that Kṛṣṇa, who like His serpent has two tongues (i.e.,) saying one thing and doing another.

(b) Again, the expression means ' having a sweet tongue and a fascinating speech excelling others'.

The Conch and Discus in His mighty hands — The cakrāyudha (the discus) is intended for destroying His enemies and the 'Śaṅkha' (conch) for the announcement of the commencement of battle.

But, for His Bhaktas, both these weapons will be a source of delight.

Note, for example, the sound of His conch struck terror in the hearts of his enemies during the Mahābhārata war and the chakra guarded his devotee Arjuna from the deadly arrows of Bhīshma.

So these weapons will seem deadly to enemies and will be ornaments to devotees.

Esoteric Purport

“O Mediatrix between the Lord and ourselves! Please arise: you are the repository of knowledge; for in you the 'para-tantriyam' (dependence upon God) denoted by the middle word 'namaḥ' in the Tirumantra became manifest, and the sva-tantriyam (self-dependence) dissolves.

Those who have knowledge of service to the Lord (Śeṣatva-jñāna) and who want to attain their desires, have gone to their respective temples to worship the Lord.

Even before we expressed our desire, you, out of your profound grace, desired our enlightenment, and made a statement to that effect. Are you not bound to act according to your declarations? If you don't, it will bring you shame.

O, adroit speaker, even Īśvara is captivated by your speech! Come and join us and let us all sing about Lord Kṛṣṇa, who bears the weapons of Cakra and śaṅkha in his hands and who has lotus-eyes. He will see that our vow is successful.”

In this verse is awakened a girl resembling Tiruppānāḷvar. Here all the three expressions nangāy, nāṇādāy, nāvuḍaiyāy are applicable to him:

nangāy — denotes the perfection of qualities; hence Lord Raṅganātha could order the Sage Loka Śārṅga to bring the Āḻvār (a śūdra) on his shoulders into His temple?

The Āḻvār without hesitating even a little, mounted up on the shoulders of the sage, because he had fully realised the 'Paratantriya svarūpa' and herein lies the 'guṇa' perfection.

nāṇādāy — denotes absence of ego (Ahaṁkāra), and the Āḻvār had no Ahaṁkāra at all even when he was on the shoulders of a sage.

nāvuḍaiyāy — The adroit speech seen in his hymn Amalanādipirān.

The Jīyar School holds the view that, in this verse the girl represents Nammāḷvār:

The rational is that the sentiment expressed in this verse is of one who has not ventured much out of her house; so also, Nammāḷvār never stirred from the foot of the tamarind tree, where he first took his seat, immersed in transcendental bliss.

The words 'sengaluneer' and 'ambal' denote respectively wisdom and ignorance in svapadeśārtha and thus we can deduce, that the 'inner darkness' which cannot vanish before Āditya, the sun, disappeared in toto when the Vahulabūṣana Divākara began to shed its rays of Tiruvāymoḷi.

Further, just as the Lord is said to reside in the midst of the sun, so also He resides in the heart of Nammāḷvār.

Moreover, just as the ambal flower closes its buds as soon as the sun makes its appearance, so also as soon as the name of Nammāḷvār is mentioned when reciting his Tiruvāymoḷi, everyone will close his hands in 'añjali' in reverence to him.

The line engaḷai munnam ezhuppuvān vāy pēcum clearly refers to Nammāḷvār; Nammāḷvār occupies the first place in Disciplic Succession.

Śrī Vedānta Deśikan states that we have attained the lotus feet of the Lord through the grace of Nammāḷvār our chief and foremost guide.

Moreover, he wanted to awaken others from the illusion of Samsāra, and began to preach to them about the essentials of His philosophy, but when he started preaching about the saulabhya (accessibility) of the Lord he was overcome and lost consciousness.

He who had tried to enlighten others had to be awakened instead from this loss of body consciousness. Similarly, he fell unconscious enwrapped by the Lord's qualities.

According to Guru Paramparā, Śrīman Nāthamuni is wakened in this verse:

Through his adherence to yogic practices he attained enlightenment. Besides he was not ashamed (nanday) in the least to learn the Divya Prabandham under Nammāḷvār who belonged to the śūdra caste.

Stanza 15

Hello! tender young Parrot, yet sound asleep?
 Don't be so sharp and shrill in calling me Great Ladies, I am coming.
We have known for long your promises and power of words.
 Clever you all are in verbal altercation, but let it be me!
Come along quickly now, what restrains you?
 Has everyone come already? Yes, come out and be counted too.
Let us sing about the Mysterious One, Who killed the mighty elephant,
 and Who would destroy the arrogance of His foes.

Commentary

The Gopī awoken in this stanza is one that is truly advanced in devotional service.

She is the last to be awakened and the verse is in the form of a conversation between her and the group that is standing outside.

This verse enunciates the way in which one should conduct oneself regarding dealings with other devotees of the Lord.

Godā mentions arrogance in the last line as a fault to be avoided at all costs. This is very important and that is why Aḻakiya Mañavāḻa -perumal Naiyanār considered this as the central and most essential song of the entire Prabandham.

Hello! tender young Parrot, — The parrot symbolises absolute truthfulness as well as a melodious voice.

The inferred context of this exchange is that Gopīs had been rousing her neighbour (in Stanza 14) this young lady caught their last word (i.e., Let us sing the glory of the Lotus-eyed Lord ) and began to sing in her melodious voice as she lay on her bed.

The Gopīs heard the delightful voice and moved towards it, exclaiming:— "Hello! tender young parrot!"

This interrupted the Gopī and she kept silent. The Gopīs continued —

"Are you still sleeping"? With so many waiting outside to greet and honour you, how could you neglect us like this? Or having obtained the best opportunity to seek the secret audience of the Lord could you fail to take advantage of it?

The Gopī was so engrossed in contemplating the Lord that the other Gopīs' words were harsh on her ears and she retorted:

Don't be so sharp and shrill in calling me Great Ladies, I am coming — the Gopīs were apparently stung to the quick and replied;—

We have known for long your promises and power of words — we are well acquainted with your barbed speech and skilful tongue! But she hastily retorted;—

Clever you all are in verbal altercation, but let it be me! — you are the truculent ones, not, I — but added a second thought, having reflected on it; — "so let it be me then".

Having been charged with barbed speech and skilful tongue this Gopī's first reaction was to retaliate, but having reflected a moment, she accepted the fault.

This is the way of true devotees; to be so submissive that whenever anything goes wrong anywhere, they think it is all their own fault.

Bhārata thought it was his own fault that drove Rāma to the forest. This sort of self-abnegation (nīca bhāva) is essential for a devotee. Herein lies the essence of Vaiṣṇava tattva and this sort of realisation is the essential attribute of a Vaiṣṇava.

When the Gopī inside the house said 'Let it be me', this reply subdued the others and they said — "Come along quickly now, what restrains you?

The Gopī who was inside was aware of the eminence of the bhaktas and had only been waiting for all the Gopīs including the novices to gather together and therefore, questioned — “Has everyone come already?

They answered — “Yes, come out and be counted too.” — the object of taking count being to mix with each and every individual and not merely with the gathering as a whole.

And what was the object of all this?

Let us sing about the Mysterious One, Who killed the mighty elephant, and Who would destroy the arrogance of His foes.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa's demonic uncle Kamsa sent a mad elephant Kuvalayāpīḍa to kill Him. Without any difficulty the elephant was dispatched by Kṛṣṇa as had the other demons that were sent before to kill Him.

The expression Who would destroy the arrogance of His foes denotes that Kṛṣṇa won't let his enemies go unpunished, as Rāma had done in the case of Rāvaṇa by saying:

"You appear exhausted; go today and come tomorrow fully armed and refreshed for battle!"

Kṛṣṇa on the other hand will smite them instantaneously.

Such a mighty Lord behaves like a slave to the girls of Gokula, for many times has the Lord been manipulated by His true Bhaktas! — and this idea is brought out by the word 'māyanai'.

Esoteric Purport

"O Swamini! Who is fully aware of the eminence of Kṛṣṇa's devotees! This is remarkable! Even after all of us have arisen early and assembled before your house, you are still lounging upon your couch? Please get up!"

To this, she replied: "Your words interrupt my meditation upon the Lord; so please be patient and wait for a while, I shall soon join you. "

Having heard this reply, the devotees called out - "We already know that you are adroit in hiding the highest truths of philosophy!"

and the Swamini retorted:—

“you have interrupted my absorption in God and you must appreciate the wrong done to me. But you never realised your own faults; never mind about it; anyhow service to Vaiṣṇavas is always my aim and as such, I am prepared to accept the blame.'

Hearing this, they said:—

"O Svamini leaving all these things, you must also now come out quickly to join us for it is not proper to engage in personal and secret devotion to the Lord."

To this, she inquired;—

"Have all the others assembled in the hall of service?" having confirmed this, she asked them;— "What is expected of me?",

and they said;— "if you join us in our singing about Nārāyaṇa, the Lord, who dispelled the 'false ego' and who destroyed all the evil propensities (Kāma, krodha etc.) in us, our kainkarya nonbu will fructify successfully."

The Gopī in this verse resembles Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār. This can be substantiated as follows: —

This Āḻvār has followed the argumentative method in the padigam "Mānamarum mēl nōkki" (Periya Tirumoḷi, 1-5 ) as if the altercation is between two Ayar girls, similar to the theme of this verse.

iḷangkiḷiyē — This expression can be fitting applied to this Āḻvār:

This Āḻvār in his immortal Tiruneḍun-tāṇḍaham refers to the parrot in the verses stanza 13 and stanza 14. The Āḻvār calls himself a parrot in Periya Tirumoḷi 3-7-2.

Moreover, he repeated the substance of Nammāḷvār’s four works, in his six Prabandhas. Besides, the Āḻvār possessed a beautiful personality, and so he was termed a parrot '.

innum urangudiyē:— In the early stages of his life, Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār was steeped in ignorance and this can be inferred from his own declarations in his poems.

vallai un kaṭṭuraigaḷ— The word 'kaṭṭurai' means 'words pregnant with meaning and emphatic in their ideas'. Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār had sung such beautiful songs that he is termed popularly as nālkavirāja Perumāḷ — (a master of the four kinds of Tamil verses).

There is nothing to equal the sound and symphony of this Āḻvār's compositions and that is why the expression 'kaliyan oli ceyda ' (Kaliyan rhythmically sang) is commonly found as contrasted with 'Kurukūr Caṭakōpaṉ sonna'— (Caṭakōpaṉ of Kurukūr spoke).

Moreover, whereas Nammāḷvār composed the ideas of the four Vedas in Tamil, Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār composed the six Vedāngas in beautiful Tamil verses.

Paṇḍē un vāy aṛidum — "we know your harsh speech and skilful tongue" — This is also applicable to Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār:

He waylaid the Lord Himself and showed Him his sword and at last gained from Him the Mahā-mantra 'Oṁ Namo Nārāyaṇāya'.

Further, He is one who cannot be limited to a restricted vocabulary of words or ideas. He will never obey words, but words will obey him.

ellārum pōndārō? pōndār pōndu eṇṇikol — The feeling expressed in this line can also be fittingly attributed to Tirumangaiyar's wife:

According to the directions from Kumudavalliyar, his wife, the Āḻvār used to feed a thousand and eight Brahmins daily in his household,

and it might so happen, that she could have asked him as to whether all the thousand-eight had turned up, and he could have retorted "All have come; if you so desire, you yourself can go over and count."

From the above elucidation, it is inferred that Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār is innately referred to in this verse. The Jīyar School is also of the same opinion.

According to Guru Paramparā, it is Nammāḷvār that is wakened in this verse.