Tiruppāvai of Āṇḍāḷ | verses 12-13


Stanza 12

Sister of that prosperous cowherd; whose buffaloes
 yearning for their calves bellow and drip milk.
The floor turned into a mire from the flow.
 Standing here at your door, unmindful of our
 heads soaked with the morning dew,
 We sing the praises of the Lord of our hearts, Rama
 who in wrath slew the king of Lanka, yet you're silent!
 Kindly arise now! The neighbours are scandalised.


Sister of that prosperous cowherd — This line indicates that this Gopī is one who never leaves the company of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

yearning for their calves bellow and drip milk — If the buffalo had been milked at the proper time, there is no necessity for it to bellow and to allow the milk to pour from the udder.

The floor turned into a mire from the flow — Indicates that the house is flooded and rendered wet and slushy by the milk pouring from the udders of the young she-buffalo, who thinks of her calf and out of the fullness of her natural love lets the milk flow steadily out at the mere thought, even without any human agency

 who in wrath slew the king of Lanka: — This expresses the idea that Rāma never wanted to kill Rāvaṇa whole-heartedly but was provoked by unabated anger.

This anger arose due to Rāvaṇa’s torturing of Hanumān who was a pure devotee. The Lord will never ignore an offence against a devotee. Furthermore, anger for a righteous cause is considered to be a good quality befitting a heroic ruler

We sing the praises of the Lord of our hearts, — this expression has two interpretations:

(1) He is the dear one to his friends and neutrals, and
(2) He is the dear one even to his very enemies.


1. Dear to the Sages; — as soon as the Rishis on the banks of the Ganges saw Rāma they rushed to welcome him, singing his glory, dancing in glee, and drank in his beauty.

2. Dear to his subjects; — they loved Him more than food and drink, and even life itself. Secondly his very name 'Rāma' is most delightful and very dear to every one's heart. There is no mantra more beneficial than the name Rāma made up of only two syllables.

3. Dear to Śūrpaṇakhā: — When the demoness Śūrpaṇakhā was bleeding profusely after having lost her nose, ear, etc.,. she cried out:

"O after all, what loss have I suffered in losing my nose. To have a long protruding nose is unbefitting a fair maiden."

She then continued —

"O hero; I know why you have amputated my nose; by so doing you are indicating that a paragon of beauty, will never leave you and will always remain at your side;

moreover, you have mutilated me so that no one else will look at me with eyes of love, with such intentions you have not wronged me, and my love for you is only increased and strengthened".

When Śūrpaṇakhā described the beauty of Sītā in detail to Rāvaṇa, it was so realistic that he saw an illusory vision of Sītā standing before him and at once, called for Śūrpaṇakhā and cried out: —

"O girl! Is this the Sītā that you have just now referred to, who stands before me like a peacock, with eyes as cruel and curved as a scythe, smeared with collyrium? (Marican vaday stanza;148)

Śūrpaṇakhā replied:

"This is that Rāma, the valiant archer, who comes like a hill of collyrium with lotus red eyes, purple lips, broad shoulders, long arms and broad chest." (Marican vaday stanza.149)

She had lost awareness of where she was and to whom she was replying, being aroused so much in the illusory vision of Rāma which always haunted her.

4. Dear to Vali: — With Rāma's arrow piercing his chest, and on caught in the throes of death, Vali, began to abuse Rāma who stood in front of him.

But as he was about to expire he became very composed and rational, addressed Rāma as his saviour:—

"You gave me real wisdom at the time of my death, by shooting me; your arrow was my preceptor; (just as your foot became the ācārya to Kāliya).

I have now understood you properly; you are the Trinity: you are the Supreme Godhead; you are in all things and all things are in you; what a paradox — sin and dharma, enmity and friendship!"

5. Dear to Rāvaṇa: — In the first day's battle Rāvaṇa was thoroughly defeated by Rāma and he returned to Lanka downcast, rankling over his defeat.

He went straight to Mālyavān and told him about Rāma's prowess and other qualities and concluded by saying: "At the time of my downfall, I have at last met a good and befitting adversary".

The evil Rāvaṇa says good adversary — (nalla tor pagay). That is because of the impeccable personality of Rāma and the exhibition of his valour.

6. Dear to Mandodarī: — Instead of being enraged at the one who killed her husband, Mandodarī, the paragon of chastity began to praise Him. (Rāvanan vaday stanza.245)

In the Nacciyār Tirumoḷi we come across the following line; —

"We sing of the glories of the righteous one (dharmātma) Rāma, not that of Kṛṣṇa, the thief."

We sing the glories of one who pined in grief for the loss of his wife, suffered many hardships for her sake, eating roots, herbs, and leaves of trees, and not that of Kṛṣṇa who always danced in glee, after filling his stomach with butter, curd, and other edibles, not caring for a moment about the hunger of his play-mates!

Again, we sing of the glories of one who had undergone untold suffering for the sake of his consort, and not of one who makes the girls of the Gokula weep disconsolately!

Kindly arise now! — ’What is the meaning of this deep slumber?’ —

Sleep is of two kinds:— Worldly (Laukika) sleep — that which is common to all beings, due to the 'Tamo guṇa', and Yogic sleep — like that of Viṣṇu on the serpent couch in the Milky Ocean.

Though outwardly He may seem to be sleeping, yet He is continually mindful of His protecting duty and is eternally contemplating the protection of all the worlds.

The girls say; — 'your sleep is peculiar — it doesn't fit in with either of them, laukika or yogic sleep'.

Even the Bhagavān when immersed in yoga nidrā arises immediately if He hears any one summoning him; like in the story of Gajendra.

The neighbours are scandalized — ’every one in every house has long ago arisen’ —

If you intend to boost your reputation by making us assemble in front of your house, the least you can do is to come out.

Here Periya Acchān Piḷḷai compares Āṇḍāḷ to Rāmānuja, for everyone realised the greatness of Śrī Rāmānuja when he openly gave the secret mantras to all at Tiru-koṭṭiyūr

The question of the continuation of one's social and professional duties once again is taken up with this stanza:

Should one abandon one's personal duties (sva-dharma) or family obligations (kula-dharma) simply because one has surrendered to the Lord?

Tirumalisai Āḻvār says:—

"It is my duty to sing the names of Tirumāḷ and I can't afford to spend my time in any other way".  (Nānmugan Tiruvantāḍi, 85).

Thus in the previous stanzas, 'karmānuṣṭhānam' or doing one's duty is stressed, here the emphasis is on doing 'Bhāgavat Kainkaryam' or Service to the Lord, even at the expense of one's social duties.

We find yogis immersed in yoga for many many years, meditating on the Lord and thus doing service to him: 

During this period they may not be able to fulfil their nitya karmas; still no sin is incurred. But after they come out of their yogic meditation, they will do their nitya karmas as usual.

One should never swerve from one's duties: and even if by any chance or force of circumstances, one has to suspend their performance awhile, they should be renewed again as soon as possible.

Nañjiyar once told Piḷḷai Tirunaraiyur Araiyar that abandoning one's religious, social and professional obligation (svadharma anuṣṭhānam) is not a sure way to attain the Lord, and too much adherence to svadharma anuṣṭhānam is also not a sure guide either.

The reliable guide is the Lord Himself, for it is He who knows how to attach us to Himself by relieving us of our svadharma. Those duties which have been prescribed by the Śāstras should always be adhered to.

Esoteric Purport

“O Swāmī! rise up now! You are the sibling of the great ācārya by whose grace his disciples are able to enjoy Lord Kṛṣṇa's presence.

Though the enjoyment of the qualities of the Lord and his devotees detract us from doing service unto you, yet we are able to surmount them and stand before your presence awaiting your grace.

We have uprooted the 'ego' in us, which is responsible for our cycle of births and deaths and we are singing the glories of Rāma.

In spite of this, you do not arise. What kind of sleep is this?

If it is the common sleep of humans, you should have awoken by now because it is morning: if it is a sleep like Viṣṇu's, it should have dissipated the moment we called out to you.

O Swāmī! you are quite aware that Bhāgavat Guṇa-anubhava is not a secret practice so please come and join us so that our Kainkarya nonbu may end successfully.”

The Gopī that is awakened in this verse is likened to Poigai Āḻvār:

The term of address tangāy is most applicable, in that Poigai Āḻvār was born in the lotus, like Lakṣmī.

nanaittillam cērākkum — this expression denotes that Poigai Āḻvār wept over his past days - Mudal Tiruvandāḍi, 16.

kannaittu — This is also applicable to Poigai Āḻvār, because he was the first to sing about Viṣṇu.

kanṛuk kiṛaṅgi — This Āḻvār sang the verses for our sake out of pure grace.

pani talay vīzha — this indicates he was born in the lotus in a tank, open to wind and rain, and dew.

The Jīyar School is of the view that this verse refers to Thoṇḍardippoḍi Āḻvār:

The first line of this stanza contains a reference to buffaloes and so also Toṇḍaraḍippoḍi Āḻvār referred to buffaloes in his composition Tiruppallezhucci — the Hymn of Awakening.

The expression manattukkiniyānai pāḍavum nī vāy tiṛavāy hints to the fact that at first the Āḻvār was deeply obsessed with worldly love and sex and later was roused from this stupor by the grace of God.

According to Guru Paramparai, Manakkāḷ Nambigaḷ (Rāma-miśra) is awakened — accordingly we find Rāma's story referred to in lines 5 and 6.

Stanza 13

All the girls have reached the meeting ground,
 They went, singing the praise of the One who Killed Bakāsura.
The One who decapitated the Demon King Ravana.
 Venus has arisen and Jupiter has already set.
Look! the birds are chirping away, O lotus and doe-eyed one!
 Will you forego the dip in the freezing waters and
lie abed and sleep? Dear girl, on this auspicious day
 kindly leave off your aloofness, don't lie there, join us!


Here Godā and her growing crowd of companions try to awaken another Gopī who has already experienced God-realisation and subsequent bliss. Since then she has remained aloof from the other devotees shunning their association.

The general sentiment is — just as all the Gopīs have gathered at the meeting place singing the glory of Kṛṣṇa, so also, you are probably lying abed contemplating His glory.

All the girls — denotes that girls, younger in age than you, have already arisen from their beds and when such be the case, is it proper that you should still be lounging around?

have reached the meeting ground: — This is the place where the deity Kātyāyani or Durgā made of sand is consecrated. It is here that all the girls are expected to assemble to perform the worship.

the One who Killed Bakāsura — The incident from Kṛṣṇa's life alluded to here is the killing of the demon Bakāsura who appeared in the form of a crane. Lord Kṛṣṇa gave battle and subsequently tore him apart.

The crane in Sanskrit literature represents hypocrisy and the cheating potential.

Demon King Rāvaṇa — Like Yama who separates life from the body, so also this demon separated the beautiful Sītā from Rāma and so he was termed 'wicked'.

Furthermore, the expression 'demon king’ connotes that there must be a ’godly king' and also the expression 'killing of the wicked king’ denotes 'protecting the good king.

Vibhīṣaṇa is the good king and he is referred to as 'dharmātma' — a pious Self in Vālmīki Rāmāyana by Śūrpaṇakhā.

Venus has arisen and Jupiter has already set — Venus is the planet which presides over love whereas Jupiter is the presiding deity of spiritual knowledge.

So Godā here indicates that the pangs of love for Kṛṣṇa are welling up and the dry spiritual knowledge is receding into the sub-conscious.

This astronomical reference was used by research scholars like L. D. Swamikanu Piḷḷai and Rao Saheb M. Raghava Iyengar. Accordingly they have determined the date of Śrī Āṇḍāḷ as the first half of the 8th century C.E.

Look! the birds are chirping away: — This same symbol has been already quoted in verse 6 and as such is that not redundant?

The answer is that in verse 6 the expression meant the chirping of birds in their nests; here it means the chirping of birds in places where they have gone in search of their food.

O lotus and doe-eyed one! — this can mean 'eyes resembling the kuvalai flower' and the 'eyes of the deer'. But if we take 'ari' to mean a bee, then it means "one who possesses eyes resembling the black bee sitting on a kuvali flower."

Esoteric Purport

 “O Swāmī! who has attained God-realisation! Please wake up from your bed and join us!

The Bhāgavatas have already reached the hall of culture, singing about the qualities of that Lord who destroys the six afflictive emotions (ariṣaṭ varga):—

kāma (selfish desire), krodha (anger) lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (arrogance) and mātsarya (envy/malice) and the ego in us. Consequently ignorance has vanished and sublime knowledge dawned.

Other Bhāgavatas have quickly assembled, and it is not proper on your part to contemplate the Lord's qualities alone in solitude. As the day is quite auspicious, you should abandon this mental isolation, and come forth and join us so that our vow may be successfully.”

Some scholars opine that the girl awakened in this verse is Thoṇḍardippoḍi Āḻvār:

In the vocative expression pōdāri kaṇṇināy the word 'ari' refers to the plucking out of flowers and as such there is a reference to the flower-service rendered by Thoṇḍardippoḍi Āḻvār to the Lord.

kuḷḷa kuḷira kuḍaindu ...kiḍattiyō?— This phrase refers to the time when this Āḻvār had abandoned his kainkarya for some time when he had fallen in love with the courtesan and was cultivating her association.

The Jīyar School holds the view that this Gopī resembles Tiruppānāḷvar: The reference to the beauty of the eyes (Podarik-kaninay) in this verse is also referred to by this Āḻvār in his Amalanādhipirān.

According to Guru Paramparā Uyyakkoṇḍār, also known as 'Puṇḍarīkākṣa' is awakened.