Tiruppāvai of Āṇḍāḷ | verses 6-8


Tuyelizhāi — The Awakening — Part B.

Stanzas 6 to 15 describe how the Gopīs who have arisen first go to the houses of those who are still in bed, and awaken them so that they may all go in a group to Kṛṣṇa's mansion and enjoy His companionship under the pretext of celebrating the vow (nonbu). The reasons for going in a group to seek the Lord and to participate in the Divine Bliss, and not individually are as follows: —

Firstly, just as one seeks the help of others before venturing into a flooded river, so also the tendency of every lover of God is to secure the help of similar aspirants before s/he plunges into the river of bhakti, for, the qualities of the Lord during mystical absorption may overwhelm one completely.

NammĀḻvār warns us: "O poets! Safeguard yourselves before venturing on service to the Lord " (Tiru vāy-mozhi 10-7-1.)

Secondly, it is not proper that one should enjoy anything in solitude. One should share one's pleasure with others.

Thirdly, the company of those who are in love with God is a great asset in approaching the Lord. Saint NammĀḻvār says that we should do service to the Lord only with the help of learned Vedāṅtins.

In the Bhagavad Gita X;9 it states "bodhayantaḥ parasparam" - the devotees of God should constantly be enlightening and encouraging each other.

Each of the Gopīs who is awoken, has a particular characteristic of her own. Some commentators have taken these to be cryptic references to the Āḻvārs while others opine that they refer to the ācāryas.

Vanamāmalai Jīyar in his swapadeśa (commentary) on Tiruppāvai opines that Śrī Āṇḍāḷ here awakens the ten Āḻvārs in the following order:—

Stanza 6 — Poigai Āḻvār; 7 — Peyāḷvar; 8 — Bhutattāḷvar; 9 — Tirumalisai Āḻvār; 10 — Kulaśekhara Āḻvār; 11 — Peri-Āḻvār; 12 — Toṇḍaraḍippodi-Āḻvār; 13 — Tiruppānāḷvar; 14 — Nammāḷvār; 15 — Tirumaṅgai Āḻvār.

Other scholars give the following order:-

Stanza 6 — Periyāḻvār; 7 — Kulaśekhara Āḻvār; 8 — Nammāḷvār; 9 — Tirumalisai Āḻvār; 10 — Peyāḷvar; 11 — Bhutattāḷvar; 12 — Poigai Āḻvār; 13 — Toṇḍaraḍippodi Āḻvār; 14 — Tiruppān-Āḻvār; 15 — Tirumaṅgai-Āḻvār.

The stanzas 6 to 15 are also said to indicate the awakening of the ten ācāryas respectively according to the order of the ācārya Paramparā —

1. Guru, 2. Parama-guru, 3. Sarva-guru, 4. Śrī Rāmānuja, 5. Śrī Parāṅkuśa dāsa, 6. Śrī Yāmuṉa-muni, 7. Śrī Rāma-miśra, 8. Śrī Puṇḍarīkākṣa, 9. Śrī Nāthamuni, 10. Śrī Śaṭhakopa

God can only be approached through the mediation of the spiritual preceptor and so Godā is approaching the ācāryas seeking their aid and intercession for finally attaining Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Stanza 6

The birds are chirping; can't you hear in the Bird King's temple
 the thunderous sounds of the great white conch?
Awake, O Young maiden, ever contemplating in your mind
 the One who drank the milk of Putana, the One who with a kick destroyed
Sakatasura, the One who is the Primal Cause of the whole cosmos,
 and the One who reclines on the Serpent in the Milky Ocean;
the sages and the yogis have just arisen slowly from their yoga, loudly chanting
 the names of Hari, resounding, let that Name enter our hearts and refresh us.


In this stanza the Gopī addressed has just recently attained love of God and has just started on the path of devotional service.

[even] the birds are chirping — The particle um in pullum conveys the idea that the fact that we have arisen from our beds and are making noises is sufficient in itself to indicate that dawn is approaching. In addition to this, the birds have also begun to chirp. The chirping birds are also indicative of the great saints singing the glories of the Lord at the break of the spiritual dawn of enlightenment.

in the Bird King's [Garuda] temple — refers to Kṛṣṇa riding upon Garuḍa. The shrine of Garuḍa is always outside, facing the Sanctum of the Lord and so the conch is usually blown near that shrine at daybreak.

“Can’t you hear the thunderous sounds of the great white conch?” — the Gopī being awakened doesn’t seem to accept the chirping of the birds or the entreaties of the other Gopīs as an indication of the approach of the dawn, so the Gopīs call her attention to another indication — the temple conch.

“Awake, O Young maiden!” — suggests that the Gopī awoken is a novice in Devotional Service, who does not know that we should approach the Lord with the help of other Bhāgavatas.

the One who drank the milk of Pūtanā — The reason for using the word 'Pey' (demoness) is in order to frighten the sleeping Gopī to get up quickly in fear for the safety of Kṛṣṇa.

Pūtanā was a demoness who tried to suckle Kṛṣṇa with poisoned milk. Kṛṣṇa drank to His fill with no deleterious affect at all, and sucked out the life-breath of Pūtanā at the same time.

She too was granted liberation for playing the part of Kṛṣṇa's mother and affecting love for Him, even although her intention was to kill Him. If such a person is granted liberation how much more those who truly love the Lord!

the One who with a kick destroyed ŚakaṭāsuraŚakaṭāsura was a demon who took the shape of a cart in order to crush Kṛṣṇa but with one kick He destroyed him. Esoterically the cart represents the human body with its senses as horses. Although it tends to run amok at times it can be restrained by the touch of the Lord's foot which confers liberation

the One who reclines on the Serpent in the Milky OceanĀdiśeṣa - the thousand-headed Serpent of Eternity acts as a cool silken bed so that Kṛṣṇa may not feel any discomfort whatsoever. The inhalation and exhalation of Ādiśeṣa acts as a lullaby. The waves of the Milky Ocean gently swing Him to sleep.

The sages and the yogis — By 'munivar' is meant those like Bharata who constantly meditate on the Lord and His attributes. By 'yogi' is meant those who do service to the Lord like Lakṣmana. The Supreme Lord dwells in the hearts of these yogis and sages, who are free from the three afflictions of life — physical, mental and natural.

have just arisen slowly from their yoga — yogis rise up slowly from their beds or yoga practice because of their intense love of the lord, and fear of disturbing Him who dwells within their hearts!

loudly chanting the names of Hari — The name 'Hari' possesses the greatest significance among all the other names of lord Nārāyaṇa. It means "He who liberates us from the bonds of Material Nature by destroying our sense of Self — 'Ahaṁkāra” and sense of possession 'mamākāra' and so devotees always utter the name of Hari when they rise up from their beds early in the morning.

Esoteric Purport

The devotees (Bhāgavatas) filled with the quality of goodness (sattva guṇa), rise from their beds to perform their daily karmas according to their station and stage of spiritual development (varṇāśrama dharma); and while rising they chant the holy name of the Lord.

"O Cetana, a novice in devotional service! Can't you hear the loud voice of the ācāryas preaching to their disciples about the meaning of the middle letter in Praṇava mantra — U, wherein, it is said, the Almighty dwells?

Arise! O Cetana! This is the auspicious time for worshipping the Lord.

The sacred name of 'Hari' chanted by munis and yogis — that Hari, who will shower His grace on us by destroying our selfish desire (kāma) and anger (krodha) and the sinful activities which result from these negative emotions.

He is the first and primordial cause of the world, and reclines in Yogic sleep on the bed of Ādiśeṣa in the Milky ocean. He has entered our being and granted us beatitude.

The learned scholars who consider that in this verse a Gopī resembling Periyāḻvār is awakened consider that the form of address 'piḷḷai' is applicable to Periyāḻvār – for in his love for the Lord he forgot that the Lord is omnipotent, and began to bless Him for His safety (maṅgalāśāsanam).

Furthermore, he was well acquainted with the signs of the approach of dawn like 'the chirping of birds' etc., for he spent most of his time in his tulsi garden cultivating flowers for the Lord’s garlands.

The expression 'pullaraiyan' fits in well, with Periyāḻvār, for he is said be an expansion 'amśam' of Garuda.

The phrase, veḷḷattu aravil tuyil amarnda vittinai uḷḷatu koṇḍu conveys the same meaning as the word 'Vishnu Chitta' which means — 'one who always meditates on Vishnu'.

Other scholars of the Jīyar school of thought hold the view that the Gopī awakened in this verse resembles Poigai Āḻvār. This conclusion is also reached from the word 'Piḷḷai'. According to Āchārya Paramparā, it is said that in this verse is awakened one's own Āchārya:— 'Asmāt Guru'.

Stanza 7

"Kisu kisu" the king-crows screech in chorus after copulating,
 conveying senseless notes; can't you hear O deluded girl!
The matrons of the cowherd clan, with fragrance wafting from their locks
 churn the curd, their arms going back and forth,
 their bangles and necklaces making a tumultuous sound, do you not hear it?
 O headman's daughter, how can you hear our hymns
 in praise of Nārāyaṇa; The Killer of Kesi, and yet sleep on?
 O damsel of glittering splendour, open your door!


Godā now calls to a maiden who knows Kṛṣṇa but does not yet love Him. She is called "deluded" because she is still lethargic and careless about her devotional service. There are so many indications that the time for prayer and devotion has arrived and yet she remains fast asleep.

after copulation — after mingling and copulating with one another, with no difference whatsoever.

‘deluded girl’ & ‘headman's daughter’ — Theses expressions (pēy peṇṇe and nāyaka peṇpiḷḷāy) — suggest that the Gopī, who is addressed in this verse has knowledge of God but has forgotten that one should approach the Lord with the company of other Bhāgavatas.

In praise of Nārāyaṇa - Keśava — Kṛṣṇa is here referred to by the epithet "Keśava" recalling His pastime of destroying the demon Keśī who came to kill Him in the form of an ass. The ass is also a symbol of ignorance and stubbornness! (Godā also acknowledges here a fundamental theological point that Kṛṣṇa is none other than Nārāyaṇa).

Esoteric Purport

Awake, O Cetana! - neglectful of devotional service! Can't you hear the conversation among the pure devotees (parama Bhāgavatas) who are taking leave from one another, after a long period of socialising?

Why do you waste your time in sleep, disregarding everything that you have learnt about the nature of the Supreme Being (Bhāgavat viśaya)?

The ācāryas are engaged in heated discussions about the esoteric meanings of the three sacred mantras (Tirumantra, Dvaya and Carama śloka), and their inter-dependence:

These great devotees who have clear knowledge about the aim of life (puruṣārtha), the means of attaining it and about the absolute dependence upon Kṛṣṇa (ananyarha śeṣatvam), are preaching to Cetanās who are still deeply entangled in the ocean of Samsāra.

O Cetana! who is qualified to become the chief among the Bhāgavatas, you are a suitable  person to guide us to the Lord!

Is it proper on your part to be idle and indolent, wasting time in this manner! Are you absorbed in mindfulness of the auspicious and beneficent qualities (kalyāṇa guṇas) of Śrī Kṛṣṇa/ Nārāyaṇa whom we are praising?

O Cetana! who is fortunate in possessing the Lord's grace in full!

If you overcome your ego (ahaṁkāra) and idea of possession (mamākāra) and plunge into the ocean of God-realisation (Bhāgavat guṇa anubhāva) along with us, our vow (nonbu) will undoubtedly be successful.

Some commentators regard that this verse is directed at a Gopī resembling Kulaśekhara-Āḻvār. The three epithets — 'pey-penne' (crazy), 'nayakapen-pillay' (crown princess) and 'tesa-mudaiyay' (radiant damsel) emphasise that Kulaśekhara is referred to here.

Kulaśekhara, in his Tirumoḷi calls himself a mad man in the verse 3. In other verses the Āḻvār also speaks of himself as a female; and among the order of Āḻvārs, he is said to occupy the central place (crown princess).

The expression "kēṭṭē kiḍattiyo" may be considered as referring to Kulaśekhara because he would be daily engrossed in hearing the Rāmāyaṇa:

One day when listening to the tale of the war at Janasṭhāna between Rāma single handed and Khara supported by 14,000 rākṣasas; Kulaśekhara forgetting that he was listening to a discourse immediately ordered the mobilisation of his troops to help Rāma!

The storyteller was amazed and at once had the presence of mind to expound that Rāma won a tremendous victory over the demons and was reunited with Sītā. Kulaśekhara stopped his expedition.

Such was the intensity of his devotion to Rāma.

The Jīyar school is of the opinion that the Gopī awakened in this pāśuram is actually Peyāḷvar: Confirmed by the expression 'pey-penne'.

Further, the girl has knowledge of God but has forgotten to go to Him, in the company of others. So also Peyāḷvar says in Munṛam Tiruvaṇḍādi Stanza 1 that he has forgotten and neglected all that he knew about Kṛṣṇa.

Stanza 8

Dawns breaks in the east, and the buffaloes
 let loose a short while, are grazing all over.
We detained many that would have gone,
 and have come here to call you out. O Jubilant Maiden,
 rise up! Let us sing that He may give us the drum.
 Let us go to the Killer of Kesi, to the Slayer of the Wrestlers,
To the God of gods let us go and offer obeisance and service.
 Taking pity on us indeed, Krishna will bestow upon us His grace.


In this verse Godā awakens a maiden who is more advanced in the spiritual path.

the buffaloes let loose a short while, are grazing all over — The words "ciṛu vīḍu" indicate the custom of allowing buffaloes to graze on the dewy grass for a short time, just before milking so that they may yield milk in larger quantities. This is a short period of release in contrast to the longer period of release for major grazing throughout the day.

Peria-acchān-piḷḷay expresses great surprise that Āṇḍāḷ being the daughter of the Brahmin Periyāḻvār must have been well acquainted with Agnihotra and other yajñas is now so transformed into a Gopī that she is fully conversant with all their customs!

We detained many that would have gone — This clearly depicts that we should not approach the Lord without the aid of other Bhāgavatas. Vibhīṣaṇa had to surrender himself to Rāma with the help of monkey-people (vānara-mudalis).

"You should worship the Supreme Lord of Heavenly Beings, through those who know the Vedas".

(Tiruvaymoli. 4-6-8)

Akrūra was directed by Kamsa, to bring Kṛṣṇa to be tortured and Akrūra proceeded with mingled feelings of joy and regret: joy at the prospect of meeting the Lord, the highest aim in one's life and regret of the purpose of the mission itself.

O jubilant maiden — 'kotukalam ' is from the Sanskrit word ' kautukalam ' which means joyful; it may also mean 'the Gopī who is especially loved and adored by Śrī Kṛṣṇa'.

the Killer of Keśi, to the Slayer of the Wrestlers — Godā refers to two incidents in the life of Kṛṣṇa. The killing of the demon Keśi who appeared in the form of a wild ass and the dispatching of the two wrestlers Muṣṭika and Cāṇūra sent to kill him by the wicked Kamsa.

The Demon Keśi esoterically represents the ego and the two wrestlers are desire and anger. These three represent the greatest obstacles on the path to God-realisation.

To the God of gods let us go — It is proper that Kṛṣṇa should come to our place to meet us; but on the other hand, we are going to His abode.

Periya Acchān Piḷḷai renders the meaning as:—

'We are going to his abode to show our frames, emaciated due to the Lord's separation from us'.

Esoteric Purport

Awake O Swāmī! who is blessed with Divine Grace in full! The propitious time for the development of the quality of goodness (sattva guṇa) has arrived.

We have held back other devotees from approaching the Lord alone, telling them that one should worship God in company of the devotees. These devotees now consider the act of going to the Lord's presence, itself their sole aim in life. Now, all of us have come here to invite you to join us.

Awaken, O Swāmī who is absorbed in devotion! If we approach Kṛṣṇa— the destroyer of Ego and Possessiveness, the Lord of the Angelic host (Nityā Sūrīs) while chanting His names, He can in no way deny us His protection. His Grace will remove all our defects, and our nonbu will be successful.

The Gopī awakened in this verse possesses the characteristics Nammāḷvār:

The words — (O you ever jubilant girl!) apply to Nammāḷvār because the term kotukalam also means ‘a desire for sexual enjoyment’ and Nammāḷvār often declares a desire to physically enjoy the Lord and the Lord in turn had a desire to accept him. In the Tiruvāymoḷi he often speaks of himself as a girl — pāvāy (Tiruvāymoḷi 4-2-2, Tiruvāymoḷi 6-7-3

The command ‘rise up’ (ezhundirāy) also applies specifically to him because among the Āḻvārs, he is the only one who is always depicted as seated.

The phrase ‘dawn breaks in the east’ (kīzhvānam veḷḷeṇeru) can also be specifically related to Nammāḷvār because, when the sun (Nammāḷvār) arose at the beginning of the Kali Yuga, he dispelled the darkness of ignorance from this mundane world by His great poem the Tiruvāymoḷi.

Some commentators consider that "small release" refers to Kaivalya Mokṣa and Nammāḷvār refers to this kind of Mokṣa in Tiruvāymoḷi 4-1-10 and 4-9-10.

and have come here to call you out — from this it is evident that the Gopī referred to occupied the highest status among all the Gopīs, just as Nammāḷvār occupies the highest status among the other Āḻvārs. Nammāḷvār is said to be the 'avayavi ' while other Āḻvārs are considered to be 'avayavas'