Periyāḻvār Tirumoḷi | 201-250



Yaśodā, the best among women,
called her son to put kaappu on him who stays
in auspicious Thiruveḷḷaṛai
with Lakshmi the goddess of wealth
who lives on a lotus.
Viṣṇu-Citta who knows the benefit of learning the Vedas
made Yaśodā’s words into poems.
The bad karma of devotees
who recite even one part of these poems will disappear.

18. The complaining cowherd girls!


The cowherd girls complain saying,
“When he gulps down the butter in our house
and throws the pots on the stones
we hear the noise of them breaking.
We can’t stop his naughty deeds.
You should take care of your son.
The things he does hurt us
as if they were pouring sour juice into wounds.
You should tell your son not to act like that.
You gave birth to a son
whose actions are very naughty.
You are the mother of the one who is the chief of all.
O lovely Yaśodā, call your son!”


Yaśodā asks Kaṇṇaṉ to come
and then speaks to her neighbours.
“You are my dear child!
You were the dwarf Vāmaṉaṉ who went to the king Mahābali.
Come, come, come here!
You are the best of the Kākutstha dynasty.
You have dark hair, a beautiful face and a lovely mouth.
Come here.
And you, lovely neighbours, you know he is my beloved child.
You know how precious he is to me.
Listen, son, you with a body dark as kohl,
it hurts me when I hear the neighbours complain about you.
I can’t bear it. Don’t you feel sorry for me?
Come to me.”


The cowherd women complained to Yaśodā and said,
“Your wonderful son doesn’t hesitate to do naughty things.
He thinks it is just fine to do them.
He swallowed all the melted ghee in our pots,
and broke them,
and now he stands here as if he has done nothing wrong.
Is it right to do bad things like this to your neighbours?
Yaśodā, call him to come to you.
He doesn’t allow us to live!
No doubt, he is indeed Madhusūdana.


Yaśodā asked Kaṇṇaṉ to come to her and said,
“O you who have the colour of a cloud, come.
You are the god of Srirangam. Come.
You are the divine Nārāyaṇa of Thirupperur
surrounded by the ocean with clear waves. Come.”
He came running into the house and said,
“I’ve only come to eat.”
Yaśodā could not get angry at him.
She approached him and embraced him.
This is the loving trick
that Yaśodā’s dear child has learned.


A cowherdess complains,
“I milked the cow and put the milk on the stove,
but then I found out I didn’t have any fire to light it.
I asked my daughter to stay there
and went to borrow some fire from a neighbour.
As I stood there and chatted with the neighbour for a while,
the dear god of Saaḷakkiraamam turned over the pot,
drank the milk and ran away.
O beautiful Yaśodā,
your voice is as sweet as the juice
from a sugarcane press,
call your son.”


Yaśodā called Kaṇṇaṉ to come to her.
“ O my son, you should come to me.
You should come to me now.
Don’t say you won’t come. Come to me.
The neighbours keep complaining about you
and it’s hard for me to hear so many complaints.
You are a happy little one!
You carried Govardhana mountain.
You danced the Kuḍakkuthu dance.
You are the meaning of the Vedas.
You are my god of Veṅkaṭa hills.
You are clever.
Come here.”


A cowherd girl complained,
“I made twelve types of sweets with good rice,
small lentils, sugar, fragrant ghee and milk
for the festival of Thiruvoṇam.
I know what he does!
He already ate my food once before.
He said he wanted more and gobbled everything up
and then stood as if he hadn’t done anything wrong.
O lovely Yaśodā, call your son
and ask him to come to you.
I only have a little bit of food left over.”


Yaśodā called Kaṇṇaṉ to come to her.
“O Keśava, come here.
Don’t say no. Come to me.
Don’t go to unfriendly people’s houses and play there.
Come to me.
Don’t stay where common people
say bad things about you and servants live.
Obeying your mother’s words is your duty.
Dāmodara, come here.”


A cowherd girl complains,
“ I kept sweet laḍḍus, seeḍais and sesame sweet balls in a pot
and went outside.
I thought no one would come into my house
and take anything, but your son entered my house
and ate all the sweets without leaving any at all.
He even looked into the pot hanging on the uri
and checked to see if there was any butter hidden there.
O Yaśodā, you are beautiful.
Call your son to come to you.
I’ve only told you some of the naughty things he did.”


A cowherd girl complains,
“If anyone complains about your son, you get upset.
O lovely Yaśodā, he is tricky.
He came to our house and called my girl.
He took her bracelets, went away through the backyard,
sold them to the berry seller,
bought some sweet berries and ate them.
When I asked him about the bracelets,
he said, “I haven’t seen them” and laughed.


The chief Paṭṭar, Viṣṇu-Citta, composed songs
describing the play of the god of Srirangam in the southern land
surrounded with groves where bees happily swarm
and the Kāverī flows with its abundant water.
People who sing these songs and dance
will become devotees of Govinda
and will be like lights that brighten up all the eight directions.
I bow to them and worship their feet.

19. The complaints of the young cowherd girls


O Yaśodā, your son threw mud at us
when we were bathing and playing in the river.
He stole our bracelets and clothes
and ran faster than the wind and hid in his house.
When we asked for our clothes and bangles
he didn’t answer. This isn’t fair.
If he doesn’t give us our bangles it isn’t fair.


O Yaśodā, your son has long ear rings.
He has long hair.
His sacred thread hangs down to his belly button.
He is worshipped and praised
by people in all eight directions.
We are beautiful women and our hair is decorated
with flowers that swarm with bees.
Your son stole our clothes
and climbed to the top of a tree
that touches the sky and sat there.
This isn’t fair.
We begged him to give our clothes back,
but he wouldn’t. This isn’t fair.


Yaśodā, your son stirred up the water in the pond
where large lotuses bloom,
grasped the tail of the poisonous snake Kālinga
and climbed on its heads, dancing and shaking its whole body.
We think that was good,
but he stole our clothes, stays in the top of the tree
and refuses to give them back. This isn’t fair.


Yaśodā, your son killed the Asura Thenuhan,
threw his body at the tree,
and made the fruits of the palmyra tree fall.
When Indra made a heavy rain fall on the cattle,
he carried Govardhana mountain in his big arms
and protected the cows. We think that was good,
but he stole our clothes, stays in the top of the tree,
and refuses to give them back. This isn’t fair.


O Yaśodā, your son stole the milk and yogurt
in the cowherd village and ate them.
The cowherds saw him, caught him and tied him up.
Now he can’t steal the butter
made by the cowherd women
who have round bamboo-like arms
because they tied him up and spanked him so he cried.
This isn’t fair.


O Yaśodā, even when he was a baby
toddling with his tiny feet,
that young child knew in his mind
that the demon Pūthanā would come, cheat him and try to kill him.
When she came, he drank milk from her breasts and killed her.
We think that was good,
but he stole our clothes, stays in the top of the tree
and refuses to give them back. This isn’t fair.


O Yaśodā, the god
went to the sacrifice of king Mahābali,
asked for three feet of land,
and measured this earth with one foot
and the sky with the other foot.
We think that was wonderful,
but he stole our clothes, stays in the top of the tree
and refuses to give them back. This isn’t fair.


O Yaśodā, your son, the god of gods in the sky,
came riding on his vehicle, the Garuḍāḻvār
and removed the sorrow of Gajendra the elephant
when he was caught by a crocodile
in the large pond blooming with cool screw pine plants,
and ambal flowers.
He killed the crocodile with his discus.
We think that was wonderful,
but he stole our clothes, stays in the top of the tree,
and refuses to give them back. This isn’t fair.


O Yaśodā, your son has the colour of the cloud in the sky.
He grazes the cows in the forest and plays happily.
He took the form of a boar, went beneath the earth
brought the earth stolen by an Asura
and put it back.
We think that was wonderful,
but he stole our clothes, stays in the top of the tree,
and refuses to give them back. This isn’t fair.


Paṭṭan, the chief of Puduvai,
composed poems describing the complaints
of the beautiful cowherd women to Yaśodā
about Kaṇṇaṉ who has lotus-eyes.
Devotees who recite those poems
will not have any trouble in their life.

20. Yaśodā gives food to Kaṇṇaṉ
Yaśodā is afraid of feeding Kaṇṇaṉ because she thinks he is the god.


He toddles and comes to me
just like thousands of other children.
I give him butter precious as gold and milk.
He drinks the milk and embraces me.
He is the god who drank milk from the breasts of
the cheating demon Pūthanā
whose waist is thin as lightning and killed her.
Dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


I gave a bath to your sky-blue body
and fed you food sweet as nectar and went out.
Before I came back you killed the Asura
who had come in the form of a fully-laden cart
and returned to stay quietly at home.
You changed the mind of a young girl
who has waist thin as lightning
and you made her love you.
Dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


You swallowed all the butter and the lentils in the pots,
turned over the yogurt pot and ate all the yogurt.
Now, after killing the Asuras
who were disguised as marudam trees, you come.
O best among men!
You can do all these miraculous things.
People say you are my son,
but dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


You fascinate the beautiful young cowherd girls
whose dark eyes are decorated with kohl.
You follow them holding onto their soft clothes,
and steal their clothes and stand alone
and do many mischievous things.
You tell lies and people are gossiping about you.
I heard a lot about you near the pond.
Dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


You swallow the butter and the yogurt
that the cowherd women churn three times a day and keep.
You make the pots that the cowherds
carry on their shoulders fall and drink the yogurt.
You sob and sob like the children
who want to drink milk from their mothers.
Dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


When an Asura came in the form of a calf
and refused to eat the good paddy
that all the other cows were eating happily
on the flourishing fields humming with bees,
you knew that it was not a calf.
You threw him up, made the vilam fruits fall and killed him.
O naughty one, you wander about and plot
to make a young girl whose soft curly hair is filled with bees
fall in love with you.
Dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


You are the light!
You go into the grove and play soft music
on your flute, enthralling everyone.
The cowherd girls with soft curly hair come
and surround you to listen to you playing music
and worship you.
O dear child,
my only fault is that I have raised you.
You are naughty and the cowherd women
are always complaining about you,
but I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


Even if you keep quiet
without doing anything naughty,
people don’t believe it.
You fascinate the beloved daughters of others,
embrace and enjoy them,
and do things one can’t speak of.
No matter what I say about you,
the cowherd families don’t listen.
They blame me because of you
until I can no longer listen to all their complaints.
You, son of Nandā, are like a bull.
I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


Cowherd mothers go to sell buttermilk.
Cowherd fathers go behind the cows to graze them.
Fearless, you run behind the lovely cowherd village girls.
You wander around and everyone who sees you
says how naughty you are.
You are the god who does things to please even those
who don't like you.
You are my dear child.
I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


You went into a blooming garden with a young girl
whose hair is decorated with a flower bunch,
embraced her breasts decorated with pearl chains,
and stayed there with her all night.
You only returned after the night was gone
and came at dawn.
Let the people who want to gossip about you
say what they want.
I won’t shout at you.
Dear child, I know who you are
and I’m afraid to give you food.


Yaśodā whose hair is decorated with fragrant flowers
called the one who has a dark cloud-like colour
and told him that she will give him food sweet as nectar,
not just any food.
Paṭṭarpiran, the chief of Puduvai, the famous poet
who is praised by the whole earth,
composed poems with Yaśodā’s words.
Those who recite these poems
will become the devotees of god Hrishīkesa.

21. Yaśodā sends Kaṇṇaṉ to graze the cows


I bathed the dear child of cowherd clan
who has the colour of kohl in turmeric water
and sent him out to go behind the calves
because I didn’t want him wandering from house to house.
But how could I send my child who fought Kaṁsa
without worrying that his feet decorated with anklets
would hurt as he went behind the calves?
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I don’t want my son to go wandering around
kicking and destroying the play houses
of doll-like lovely girls
who wear fragrant turmeric powder on their bodies.
I don’t want him going around doing naughty things.
Why have I sent him behind the calves to the forest
where hunters go with their axes?
Why did I send my child behind the calves?
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I don’t want my son wandering
and playing every day with young girls
decorated with beautiful maṇimegalai ornaments.
I don’t want him making his shining golden body dirty with mud.
That’s why I’ve sent my sapphire-coloured son
to go behind calves on the forest paths
where the bells of the cattle ring out.
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I don’t want him wandering around
in this cowherd village doing naughty things
so the beautiful dark-haired women there come
and gossip about him.
He is sweet to the eyes.
He is the god beyond all thought.
I have sent him to the forest behind the calves to graze them.
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I don’t want him wandering here and there
in the cowherd village doing naughty things.
I don't want him approaching the cowherd girls
and kissing them with his lips that are like kovvai fruits.
I’ve sent that divine one, the king of gods,
behind the calves to the forest
where hunters carry afflicting bows.
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I don’t want him stealing butter
and filling his mouth by swallowing it
and doing many other naughty things
as he wanders around in this cowherd village.
I’ve sent him behind the calves to the forest paths
where many elephants wander and people trip and stumble.
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I don’t want him jumping around,
playing and wandering about with his friends
as women with vine-like waists gossip about him.
I’ve sent the lord of Garuḍa behind the calves
to the hot forest paths where there are dry kaḷḷi plants.
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I carried him on my lap for twelve months,
and fed him nectar-like milk from my young breasts.
Now I have sent my young lion-like son
behind the calves to the dry forest
where he will hurt his golden feet,
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


I have sent my son Dāmodara behind the calves
without giving him an umbrella and sandals
to go in the terrible forest
where broken, hard, rough stones will hurt his feet.
Cruelly, I have sent my son to the forest.
O god, what a terrible thing I have done!


Paṭṭan, the chief of Puduvai filled with palaces that shine like gold
composed a garland of sweet Tamil poems
that describe how Yaśodā was worried
when she sent her beautiful sapphire-coloured son
who was always sweet to her to graze the calves.
Those who recite these poems
will have no difficulties in their lives.

22. Kaṇṇaṉ returns after grazing the cows


He wears kudambai flower for an earring on his one ear
and a red thondri blossom on another ear.
He wears a lovely kachu on his waist
and a checked dress on his body.
He wears a precious pearl chain on his chest
as he goes behind the cattle.
Come and see the beautiful form of the ocean-coloured one.
O lovely women, I am the only one
who has a precious son like him on this earth.
There is no one like me.


You are the eternal, famed Madhusūdana
who stays in Srirangam surrounded with good strong walls
where the Kāverī river flows and groves bloom.
O Keśava, I have done wrong.
I fed you a little food and heedlessly sent you
on your tiny feet to graze the young calves
because I thought it would be good for you.
No woman has a harder heart than I.
O small one, give me a kiss.


O Dāmodara, you go through the forest,
graze the calves, run behind them and return,
wearing koḍal flowers that bloom in the rainy season.
Now see, your body is covered with dirt.
You are the beloved of Nappinnai, lovely as a peacock.
I have made water ready for your bath.
Take a bath and come to eat.
Your father hasn’t eaten yet. He will eat with you.


You stay in the beautiful Tiruvēṅkaṭam hills
filled with fragrant groves!
You are a strong bull that fights in terrible battles.
O dear child, I brought you an umbrella, sandals and a flute
but you went without taking them
and your small red lotus-like feet
that went behind the calves have blistered.
Your eyes are red and you are tired, dear child!


You are a bull in the battle!
When you blow the Pañchajanya conch
on the battlefield, your enemies shiver.
You are the little lion of the cowherd clan.
You are the beloved of Sītā.
You are Maal, you are small and short and have lovely eyes.
You left your clothes and a small sword on your bed
and went to graze the cows with other cowherds.
It seems you have returned with them.


You are beautiful!
You hold a shining discus in your hand.
I felt I might die when you entered the pond
and fought with the snake that spat poison.
What can I do?
You made my stomach hurt.
I am not worried.
Everything you did made Kaṁsa happy,
O you who have the dark colour of a kayam flower.


You have the dark colour of the ocean
and you sleep on the milky ocean.
You took the forms of a boar, a turtle and a fish.
When the cunning Asura came in the form of a calf
to the field where cows were grazing,
you took him in your small hands
and threw him at the vilam fruit trees.
Those Asuras always do only evil things to my son.