Tiruppāvai of Āṇḍāḷ | verses 21-23

Stanza 21

O son of the one who is blessed with countless, generous cows.
 Showering milk, overflowing jars kept under their udders.
O Stable One, Protector of those who come to You for refuge,
 The effulgent light of the universe, please arise.
Like Your routed foes, losing strength and pride,
 surrendering and seeking refuge at your door;
We too have come singing Your praises,
 To fall helpless at Your feet.

Commentary

The Gopīs have now secured the assistance of Nappinnai who joins them in arousing the Lord.

Godā makes an interesting comparison between the Gopīs and the vanquished enemies of the Lord:

This is said to reflect the total and utter humility of the devotees and the spirit of surrender when one finally gives up the struggle to liberate oneself from the bonds of materialism and surrenders totally to the Lord saying "I am thine"! It also implies that they recognise themselves as fallen sinners and request the Lord's forgiveness and compassion.

Two qualifications are necessary for the acceptance of a prapanna (one who desires to surrender) by the Lord:

(1) the prapanna should be free from egoism and
(2) should bear no allegiance to any other but the Lord.

The Gopīs declare that they have both these qualifications: Their egoism had been wiped out by contemplating the super-human pastimes of the Lord, and His inestimable qualities.

O son of the one who is blessed with countless, generous cows — the cows were as innumerable as his good qualities and as noble and generous as Nanda in filling all vessels taken to them, to overflowing with their continuous and copious shower of milk.

The emotion or 'bhāva' in addressing the Lord as Nandagopa's son is —

“You are born in Gokula, leaving Paramā-padā and the Milky ocean, only for the purpose of redeeming the fallen ones who approach you. So you should be fulfilling the object of your birth, please don't sleep away your time.”

O Stable One! — He whose foundation lay deep and unshakeable in the highest source of knowledge, the Vedas; and whose greatness in inconceivable (beyond word and thought).

This inconceivable greatness of the Lord has been attested by His manifesting himself to the whole world.

The effulgent light of the universe — For you Lord every Avatāra or rebirth makes your effulgence shine hundred-thousand fold more than what it was previously, unlike in the case of ordinary mortals, who lose their brightness every time they were reborn.

These last three lines convey the idea, that:—

“just as Kākasura and other enemies prostrated at your feet, unable to withstand your mighty valour, so also we, poor girls, came out of our privacy, stung by the pangs of separation, blessing you like Periyāḻvār unable to withstand your irresistible attraction.”

Esoteric Purport

“O Son of that ācārya whose disciples achieved such perfect enlightenment so as to be able to teach others! Pray arise; O Supreme Truth! O Great manifest Effulgence may others too see you! Please protect us!

Just as your enemies filled with egoism, lose all their vitality before you and surrender themselves completely at your feet, so also are we lost in your majesty.

Casting aside our attachment to the body, notion of independence, and allegiance to others, we seek refuge at your feet, praising you.”

Stanza 22

We have come here, like the kings of this beautiful wide world,
 Humbled, renouncing pride and gathered at the foot of your throne,
We too have come seeking you, with bended head,
 will not your benign eyes like half blossomed lotuses,
resembling little bells, open upon us little by little?
 If you will deign to look upon us with your two eyes
 that resemble the sun and the moon arisen;
 We will be freed from the curse of all our sins.

 Commentary

Again in this stanza the means of prapatti or self-surrender is stressed as the only means to obtain the Lord:

One has first to realise that not only we, but everything that exists belongs to the Lord, so giving up ego, the idea of agency and proprietorship one should take refuge in the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa.

The Lord's eyes are compared to the sun and the moon: The sun dispels the darkness of sloth and ignorance and the moon is cool, refreshing, life-giving and invigorating.

When Kṛṣṇa's glance-of-grace — kripa-kaṭākṣa falls upon us we shall be completely purified of our sins and attain salvation.

Humbled, renouncing pride and gathered at the foot of your throne— denotes that "just as the kings of this earth having suppressed their egoism sought refuge in groups at the foot of Thy throne, so also we Gopīs, have abandoned our sense of self-glory and sought refuge in you, being lured by your inestimable qualities".

The kings sought refuge in Him for they have no other go, whereas the Gopīs sought refuge, for doing service unto Him.

resembling little bells, open upon us little by little — a kingiṇi is a kind of bell-like ornament half-open and half-shut. So the expression alludes to a half-blossomed lotus.

Can you not slowly and gradually open your eyes and gaze upon us? — For a frail human cannot bear the immediate and direct gaze of the Lord.

We will be freed from the curse of all our sins — refers to the accumulative effects of negative acts which should be expiated through penance, if the Lord's grace is not shown.

Esoteric Purport

“Just as the kings, who are noted for their arrogance and egoism, lost all their power, and sought refuge in groups at the foot of Thy throne, after renouncing all their sense of self- glory, so also we have sought refuge in you, after abandoning our egoism.

O Kṛṣṇa! O Protector! Please open your merciful eyes slowly on us and dispel our ignorance!

If we obtain your grace in full, our attachment to the body will vanish, and our understanding of servitude will improve; then we won't seek any other means and the feeling that 'we are the doers' will disappear once and for all. Then we will be in a position to enjoy your good qualities in full.

In this way if you bestow your Grace on us and infuse in us abiding devotion, we will be relieved of the distress due to the separation from you, and our vow will be accomplished.”

Stanza 23

Like a majestic lion that lies asleep in a mountain cave
 during the rainy season, opening its fiery eyes,
Rises heroically, stretching and shaking its mane,
 roaring loudly, it steps out majestically.
O Lord of the dark complexion like that of the Pūvāy flower, may it
 please you to proceed from your mansion, and
ascend the grand and lofty throne in your temple, and
 enquire into the purpose which has brought us here.

Commentary

In this verse, the Gopīs request Lord Kṛṣṇa to rouse himself and to issue out of his abode making a dignified move to the Hall of Audience, there to grace his throne and hear their prayer.

Like a majestic lion — In the first stanza Godā called Kṛṣṇa Yaśodā's lion cub and now she compares him to a full grown adult lion. The majesty of the lion consists in the fact that no one need crown the Lion as "the King of the beasts" it possesses regality by its very birth.

that lies asleep in a mountain cave during the rainy season, — The mountainous breasts of Nappinnai are compared to a mountain den prepared by the lions for winter hibernation.

The rainy season is the period (catur-māsyam) in which monks remain in one place for practicing religious austerities and meditation. For the farmers it is a period of joy and expectation because it brings the promise of abundant harvests.

The commentators add that this season also represents the ocean of relative mundane existence in which spiritual ignorance causes an endless cycle of rebirths.

The lion, when hibernating with its lioness during winter, would be totally immersed in bliss forgetting even its own needs:

In the same way Lord Kṛṣṇa forgetting his own duty and also his devotees lies clasped within the bosom of his consort Nappinnai.

Kṛṣṇa's 'sleep' is not a mundane result of strenuous effort but it is a Yoga Nidrā a yogic trance-like state which he assumes at the time of involution when the entire universe is re-absorbed into his body.

In this state he contemplates upon what should be done after the great cosmic dissolution when he initiates a new cycle of creation.

opening its fiery eyes — The fierce gaze of the lion seeking those who trespass in its territory is a metaphor used here to describe the angry look of Lord Kṛṣṇa whenever he sees any one of his devotee's adversaries.

please you to proceed from your mansion — Kṛṣṇa’s gait conforms to the four classical gaits of a bull, male elephant, tiger and lion, as described by the treatises of aesthetics.

ascend the grand and lofty throne in your temple — the Āyirapaḍḍi comments that the classical throne should be adorned with all the 'cara' and 'acara'— mobile and immobile things — existing in both the worlds (nitya vibhūti and līlā vibhūti).

Periya Acchān Piḷḷai comments that the throne known as dharmādi-pīṭham — borne by Ādiśeṣa in Śrī Vaikuṇṭha, descended to this world (līlā vibhūti) when the Lord incarnated as Kṛṣṇa in order to serve as a seat for him here also.

This divine throne, he says, has eight legs, i.e., dharma (righteousness), adharma (unrighteousness); jñāna (wisdom) and ajñāna (nescience); vairāgya (dispassion) and avairāgya (attachment); aiśvarya (prosperity) and anaiśvarya (penury).

The throne which they wish Him to ascend in his temple is actually the lotus of the heart within the body which is the temple of God.

The Gopīs request him to take his seat on the throne and then to hear their prayer because it will then be formal and binding — like the teaching given on the battle-field sitting on the chariot (by Śrī Kṛṣṇa).

enquire into the purpose which has brought us here — “ask us about the business and purpose that have brought us here” — The real purpose is stated in Stanza 29:—

"We will be bound to Thee for ever and ever, and we will serve Thee alone, Remove, Thou all other desires."

Consider deeply within yourself why all of us have come to you, and then grant us our wishes.

The Gopīs speak like this, for if they state beforehand the purpose for which they have come, he may even refuse to grant their prayer and then there is none to coax him for he is a 'svatantra' (Completely independent of others).

Esoteric Purport

 “O Lord! blue in colour like the Kaya flower! During the great deluge when all the worlds are dissolved, You alone remain absorbed in Yogic meditation on the Upanishads.

Again, the desire arises to reproject these worlds and then you venture forth into Creation in a magnificent form, separating yourself from the primordial nature (prakṛti).

So also you must come forth now, from your inner abode, to the Hall of 'Dvaya mantra' and sit on the throne, which possesses the virtue of fulfilling the desires of those who approach it.

O Lord! if it please you, inquire of us, the business and purpose that have brought us here to you, and shower your grace on us.”