Tiruppāvai of Āṇḍāḷ | verses 24-25

Stanza 24

You measured the earth that day; blessed be Your feet!
 You went and destroyed Lanka in the south; blessed be Your prowess!
With a kick You destroyed the cart-demon; blessed be Your glory!
 You flung the calf-demon as if from a sling, blessed be Your anklets!
You lifted up the mountain like an umbrella; blessed be your goodness!
O Vanquisher of foes; blessed be the spear in Your hand!
Thus and thus singing about Your heroic exploits we have come for the drum,
 Won't you relent, and have compassion on us?

Commentary

The Gopīs are now so overcome by the beauty of Lord Kṛṣṇa that they not only praise Him but also pronounce benedictions on Him out of profound love,

just as the Rishis of Daṇḍakāraṇya forgot the humiliations they had suffered at the hands of the Rākṣasas when they saw the gorgeous form of Rāma standing before them, and began to bless Him.

Thus, so great indeed, has been the love roused in some of the eminent saints by the charming personality of God, that they have even forgotten the relationship of superior and inferior, of protector and protected, and blessed him, the Omnipotent Lord.

The most notable instance of such a saint, being Periyāḻvār, (the father of our Poetess) who sang the Tiruppallāṇṭu.

Lord Kṛṣṇa may be contemplated in two aspects:—

(1) His Being and (2) His exquisite beauty.

When one contemplates upon his Being (svarūpa) one regards oneself as the protected and the Lord as the Protector. When one contemplates Kṛṣṇa’s saukumārya (exquisite beauty), the position is entirely reversed.

The former is the stage of knowledge, the latter that of extreme love which transcends the highest knowledge and holds even the Most-high and All-pervading Lord in its lap.

Here one may ask "is it not a paradox or perversion of knowledge (viparita jñāna) to bless the Lord instead of importuning Him for the attainment of desires?"

The answer is, that because of profound devotion, His Omnipotence (sarva-balamai), all-protecting ability (sarva-rakṣagatvata) and other qualities are completely forgotten when one comes face to face with Kṛṣṇa. Attracted like a magnet by his exquisite beauty (saukumārya) the devotee begins to bless Him and pray for His safety.

Moreover, it is the duty of a servant to pray for his master's welfare. Even Ādiśeṣa becomes anxious for the safety of the Lord, and emits fire from his thousand mouths in Paramā-padā so what is wrong in these poor girls, pouring forth their blessings on Kṛṣṇa, being afraid for the safety of their Lord, in the Gokula.

Now, another question may be asked— "Instead of blessing Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, why should they bless His feet etc.?"

The answer is that these bodily parts are instrumental in the fulfilment of His glorious exploits. The feet are a focus for much devotion and ritual worship because they are the lowest part of the body.

In an attitude of utter humility and self-surrender one takes the lowest part of the Body of the Lord and places it upon the highest or cleanest part of the body of the devotee - the head.

This is the symbolic behind the wearing the white and red lines upon the forehead: The two white lines represent the feet of the Lord and the red central line represents Lakṣmī.

You measured the earth that day— Here Godā mentions the Vāmana incarnation for the third time, You destroyed the cart-demon — and the killing of the cart-demon for the second time.

You flung the calf-demon as if from a sling— Here another incident from the life of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is mentioned —

the killing of Vatsāsura who took the form of a calf and mingled with the cows that Lord Kṛṣṇa was tending and then at the opportune moment tried to kill Him, needless to say Lord Kṛṣṇa made short work of him.

One should note that Kṛṣṇa 'used a thorn to take out another thorn'. This illustrates his technique to kill the wicked through the wicked by reference to the dexterity with which Kapiṣṭhāsura was killed by flinging Vatsāsura at him!

You lifted up the mountain like an umbrella — Indra was deprived of his usual annual festival & offerings on the instruction of Kṛṣṇa, he retaliated against the cow-herders by sending down a deluge. Kṛṣṇa saved them by raising the mountain on His little finger as an umbrella.

blessed be Your feet! — signifies that for measuring these three worlds you have to place only two steps, whereas, we sinners, make you place at least ten steps for our sake thereby causing pain to your tender lotus feet.

blessed be Your glory! — this refers to the glory attained by the baby Kṛṣṇa, in killing Śakaṭāsura alone unaided even by his mother.

The word "ponṛa" (destroyed) denotes, not like Mārīcha, who was released to do further mischief, but was killed once and for all.

Periya Acchān Piḷḷai comments that it is absolutely more essential to bless the Lord in Kṛṣṇā Avatāra than to bless Him in Rāmā Avatāra:

In the Rāmā Avatāra, the father of Rāma is the renowned warrior Daśaratha who killed Śambara in battle; the place is Ayodhyā, where no enemy can enter. The purohits are Vasiṣṭha and the other rishis, who are great sages and seers.

The brothers are all paragons of valour who had vanquished many demonic kings. So there is no necessity to bless Rāma for he can defend himself and also has many capable associates.

In the Kṛṣṇā Avatāra the parents are innocent graziers; the place is a remote village, the adversaries are fierce monsters like Kamsa, and even women posing as nurses (Pūtana) pose mortal danger! What else can we do but bless the Lord in Kṛṣṇā Avatāra!

blessed be your goodness! — praise and safety to your graciousness —

the Lord's graciousness (nṛśamsyam) lies in sparing the life of Indra, enduring his attack and at the same time protecting the cows and graziers from their miserable plight, by lifting up the Govardhana Hill.

blessed be the spear in Your hand! — this reference to his having a spear in his hands is quite in keeping with the expression in stanza one which refers to the spear in Nandagopa's hand. As is the father, so is the son. Further, it is usual for cowherds to carry spears.

Won't you relent, and have compassion on us? — denotes, that praises or blessings are of no avail to compel the Lord to grant ones desires, the Lord must grant the desires out of His own Grace.

Esoteric Purport

As desired by the devotees, Kṛṣṇa left the bed-chamber and seated himself in the dvaya- maṇḍapa.

Captivated by the magnetic personality of the Lord, the devotees forgot the purpose for which they had come and began to bless the Lord, singing His praises as follows:—

“You who measured this world steeped in ahaṁkāra and mamākāra and thereby not only purified it but demonstrated your lordship (svāmitvam), many blessings to your feet.

O Great one! Who destroyed this prakṛti, the repository of egotism, with its composite three guṇas! Blessings to your unbounded prowess!

O Destroyer of the evils like selfish-desire (kāma) and anger (krodha) which entangle the Jīva! May your illimitable fame be blessed!

O Up-rooter of desire in this world! Blessings to your ornamented lotus-feet! O Protector of the devoted! Blessings to your endearing qualities; may your Discus which destroys the adversaries of your devotees be blessed!

In this way, we have approached you, singing your glorious exploits at this auspicious time, to receive the puruṣārtha from you.

Doubtless we should have awaited your arrival, but instead we have come to you to pray in your presence. If you have compassion on us and grant us Your Grace, our service will be successful.”

Stanza 25

Born to one mother, and at the dead of night
 lodged with another to be bred unknown.
You frustrated the chagrined tyrant's plots.
 A raging fire within his (Kamsa's) belly.
We have come here your beggars O Nedumal (Trivikrama)!
 Should you grant us the drum we seek,
We shall ever sing of Your bounty, befitting the Goddess of Wealth,
 and Your might, our sorrows dispelled, we shall rejoice.

Commentary

This stanza recalls the circumstances of Kṛṣṇa's birth. He was born to Vāsudeva and Devakī, the sister of the demonic king Kamsa:

Kamsa for fear of his life had imprisoned them, but at the moment of Kṛṣṇa's birth the doors were opened and Vāsudeva escaped to Vrindāvan with baby Kṛṣṇa. There He was lodged with Nanda and Yaśodā.

Kamsa hatched several plots to have Him killed by various demons.

Born to one mother — ’one lady’ — If the name of the lady were to be mentioned the Gopīs feared that Kamsa might do her some harm; and so they simply said ’one lady’.

In the first line, ’one lady’ refers to Devakī and in the second line, it refers to Yaśodā. In both cases the expression means "peerless woman". Devakī was peerless, for she compelled the Supreme Lord of the Universe, to obey her instructions! It should be noted that the Lord gave the Avatāra Rasa to Devakī and Līlā Rasa to Yaśodā.

According to the commentators Devakī and Yaśodā represent the two sacred mantras; the Aṣṭākṣarī — Om Namo Nārāyaṇāya and the other the dvādaśākṣarī — Om Namo Bhāgavate Vāsudevāya.

and at the dead of night — Here lies the pathos that the Supreme Being who is beyond Time and Space is born in the night and grows in concealment!

You frustrated the chagrined tyrant's plots — Here the poetess refrains from explicitly stating that Kamsa wanted to kill Kṛṣṇa, but simply says "contemplated to do evil". Great poets will not stoop to mention explicitly harsh and inauspicious words or ideas.

A raging fire within his (Kamsa's) belly — Kamsa became so agitated by Kṛṣṇa's existence that it was like a raging fire in his belly.

Should you grant us the drum we seek, We shall ever sing of Your bounty — The Gopīs actually mention that the drum is simply an excuse to come and sing Kṛṣṇa's praises. If He would give it to them then they would be in His debt forever.

Esoteric Purport

“O Īśvara! You are manifest explicitly in the sacred mantra composed of eight syllables (Aṣṭākṣarī) and you are concealed in the twelve syllabled mantra (dvādaśākṣari).

The Cetanās who are your servants have blessed you and as a result your status has been reinforced; seeing your power, the ego (ahaṁkāra) began to hate you, and you have uprooted it totally.

Now we have come to you to receive the purpose of our being (puruṣārtha).

If you grant us the puruṣārtha, we shall ever sing of your prosperity befitting your consort Lakṣmī, and of your prowess, and with our sorrow of separation from you removed, we shall rejoice for ever; and thus our vow will end successfully.”