Vazhit tirunamam

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Text of the back-ground Chant:

vaazhi thiru naamam

kodhai piRandha oor govindhan vaazhumoor
sodhi maNi maadam thonRum oor
needhiyaal nalla paththar vaazhum oor naanmaRaigaL odhumoor
villipuththoor vEdhak konoor
paadhagangaL theerkkum paraman adi kaattum
vEdham anaiththukkum viththaagum kodhai thamizh
aiyaindhum aindhum aRiyaadha maanidarai
vaiyam sumappadhu vambu.

thiruvaadip pooraththu jagatthudhiththaaL vaazhiyE
thiruppaavai muppadhum cheppinaaL vaazhiyE
periyaazhvaar petreduththa peN piLLai vaazhiyE
perumpudhoor maamunikkup pinnaanaaL vaazhiyE
oru nootru naaRpaththu moonRuraiththaaL vaazhiyE
uyararangaRkE kaNNiyugandharuLithaaL vaazhiyE
maruvaarum thirumalli vaLa naadi vaazhiyE
vaNpudhuvai nagark kodhai malarp padhangaL vaazhiyE

AndaaL thiruvadigaLE charaNam

An article on:
The Greatness of Sri Andal

by Shriman Sadagopan Iyengar

(   Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 

Srimate Srivan Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:

Margazhi or Dhanur Masam is probably the best among months, in all ways. Climate-wise, it is a month with neither enervating heat nor biting cold, but an extremely pleasant weather. It is a month ideally suited for spiritual exercises and sadhanas. The popular feeling that Margazhi is unsuited for auspicious things is based on a wrong interpretation of what is auspicious. For us, anything that takes us towards God is propitious, while other activities, which lure us away from Him, are inauspicious. The reason that marriages and similar functions are not performed in this month is to give pride of place to spiritual themes, relegating mundane matters, which ensnare us deeper into samsara, to the background. It is the month liked most by Sri Krishna- "MAsAnAm MargasIrshOham" says He in the Bhagavat Gita. Sri Rama too appears to have liked this month, which is evident from Sri Lakshmana's words-"ayam sa kAla: samprApta: priyO yastE priamvada". Going by tradition, it is the only month when everybody, irrespective of caste, creed, sex, etc. rises early in the day before sunrise and devotes time to spiritual activities. If we find even habitual late risers who greet the overhead sun with a toothbrush in their hand, rising fairly early, then it must indeed be Margazhi. It is the month in which Sri Nammazhwar attained Paramapadam-the month in which the famous Vaikunta Ekadasi occurs. It is the only month which appears to have been set apart for spiritual activities by people who otherwise rush about their tasks with little thought for the Lord.

However, the major reason for the popularity of Margazhi is Tiruppavai, the emotional outpouring of Kodai Nacchiar, consisting of 30 beautiful verses, recited one a day during this month.

The greatness of Sri Andal is beyond description. If we remember that She was the avatara of Bhoomi Piratti, we may have some idea of Her magnificence. Like Sita Piratti, Andal too was born without undergoing the ten-month sentence in a mother's womb. It is noteworthy here that whether it is as Rama, Krishna, Balarama, Parasurama,or Vamana, the Lord has always undergone the ordeal of garbha vAsam, while Piratti demonstrates Her superiority time and again by being born at will, without having to seek a mother's womb. This is perhaps because She is the Universal Mother and is unable to find a suitable mother for Herself..

Sri Andal has several unique achievements to Her credit. 
She is the only lady in the male-dominated club of Azhwars. She is the only Azhwar to have been eligible for and fortunate enough to attain marital union with the Lord. While other Azhwars like the Parankusa Nayaki and Parakala nayaki might speak volumes about the pangs of separation from the beloved, She is much more qualified, by virtue of her womanhood, to experience and recount what it means to be apart from one's lover and the boundless bliss of reunion. In this matter, other Azhwars are at best pretenders before Her. 
She is the only lady who got away with appropriating for personal use, garlands meant for the Lord. It was only Her family, which produced the maximum number of Azhwars-Herself and Sri Periazhwar. She is perhaps the only Azhwar to have showered the Lord with the choicest words of abuse. She calls Sri Krishna a "dharumam ariya kurumban" (a mischief-monger devoid of any scruples) and "Puram pOl uLLum kariyAn" (Black of the heart as He is of complexion). 

While the works of other Azhwars are at best equated with the Vedas in terms of greatness, Sri Andal's Tiruppavai is the only Prabandam to be acclaimed as the very source and seed of Vedas-"Vedam anaitthukkum vitthAgum Kodai Tamizh". Of all the prabandas, it was Tiruppavai with which Sri Ramanuja was enamoured, which is indicated by the sobriquet "Tiruppavai Jeer". His fascination with the pasuram "undu mada kaLitran" is well known. 

Tiruppavai has the distinction of being the only prabandam that is recited during Margazhi, to the exclusion of the sreesooktis of all other Azhwars. We do not find any other month set apart exclusively for the recitation of any other prabandam. Sri Andal is acclaimed as the heir to other Azhwars in Bhagavat guna anubhavam. She is the only Azhwar on whom Acharyas have composed a stotra (the Goda Stuti of Swami Desikan). 

While adorning Herself with perishable garlands meant for Emperuman, Sri Kodai adorned Him with a garland, which would never wilt away-, a garland of thirty glorious songs that are a source of inspiration for us till today and will remain so for posterity. In the process, She earned Herself a beautiful title-"Choodi koduttha Sudarkkodi". Apart from Sri Nammazhwar, She is the only Azhwar endowed with uncontainable Bhagavat bhakti right from childhood. She is the only Azhwar with a distinguished elder brother in Sri Ramanuja, as Her vAzhi tirunAmam indicates-"Perumboodoor mAmunikku pinnAnAL vAzhiyE". She is the only Azhwar to be honoured with the sobriquet "AndAL", signifying Her clout with the Lord. 

Swami Desikan goes to the extent of saying that Sri Periazhwar was able to obtain the Poorna anugraham of the Lord, only after he started adorning Him with garlands made more fragrant by association with Sri Andal's hair. She is the only Azhwar to have thought big-She offered the Lord of Tirumalirumsolai a hundred cauldrons ("tadA") of "akkAravadisil". No other prabandam is elaborated upon with such popularity and listened to so eagerly, as Tiruppavai. Come Margazhi, we find Vidvans of varying scholarship vying with each other to lay bare the innermost purport of Tiruppavai, before the devout public. So much so that if a Vidvan remains uninvited for upanyasam during Margazhi, his scholarship is suspect.

If the holy month of Margazhi and the emotional outpouring of Tiruppavai have such great attraction for devotees and scholars, for people like me, they are appealing in an entirely different way. The fragrance and taste of the veN Pongal seasoned with pure ghee that is distributed at all sannidhis at the end of Satrumurai as prasadam, are without parallel! This is a month that provides a feast not only to the intellect and the psyche, but also to the palate, in the form of a daily diet of ven Pongal, and Sarkkarai Pongal on the days of "NayakanAi nindra Nandagopan" and "Koodarai vellum seer Govinda" etc.

Is there any doubt now that Margazhi is indeed the best of the months?

Srimate Sri LakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka 
SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:
Dasan, sadagopan.

Ongi UlagaLanda Utthaman - The Tall One:  Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002
From: "sadagopaniyengar"
Subject: A Tribute to the Tall One

Tiruppavai is all about KrishnAnubhavam. Most of the pasurams are aimed at waking up slumbering devotees and make them partners in the indescribable bliss of union with the "Yasodai iLam singam". The prayer to Sri Krishna is to rid us of all desire that comes in the way of the aforesaid bliss-"Mattrai nam kAmangaL mAttru". Like Her distinguished father Sri Vishnuchitta, Sri Andal too engages in the extremely pleasant avocation of enjoying the innumerable auspicious attributes of Govindan, by thought, word and deed. Where Sri Periazhwar has somewhat limited himself to mostly chronicling the exploits of the child Krishna, Sri Andal, as befits Her sex, is more obsessed with the slightly older but none the less attractive and youthful Krishna. Thus it would be accurate to say that Sri Kodai Nacchiar's focus has been on the KrishnAvatAram and its matchless magnificence.

However, despite Herself, Sri Andal does mention two other avataras in Tiruppavai. Her resolution to focus solely on Sri Krishna suffers an involuntary relaxation, when She is forced to sing about the TrivikramAvatAram and Sri Ramavataram. Of these two, Sri Rama finds a mention in two places, " sinatthinAl ten ilangai kOmAnai chettra manatthukkiniyAn" and " sendru angu then ilangai chettrAi tiral pOttri".

Significantly, in both these contexts, Sri Andal finds nothing worth mentioning about Sri Rama but for His triumph over RavaNA. As such, we may consider this to be only a passing reference to the avatara from a ladylove, who is firm in Her allegiance to "NandagOpan Kumaran". As it were, She doesn't want to get distracted from the immense pleasure of KrishnAnubhavam , and restricts Her references to the Prince of Ayodhya to a mere passing mention.

However, try as She might, She is unable to dispose of TrivikramAvatAra so lightly. The towering Lord, tall in physical stature as well as glory, refuses to be put off so easily from Sri Andal's thoughts and continues to linger on, prompting repeated references time and again. At the very beginning of Tiruppavai, in the third pasuram, Nacchiar commences the verse with "Ongi ulagaLanda utthaman", goes on to eulogise His exploits in "ambaram Udarutthu Ongi ulagaLanda umbar kOmAn", and ends up singing His praise again in "andru ivvulagam aLandAi adi pOttri".

Thus two very significant pasurams commence with a tribute to the Tall One. Considering Her preoccupation with Sri Krishna, it is indeed noteworthy that Lord UpEndra has managed to bag two pasurams and a portion of the third, accounting for a tidy ten percent of Tiruppavai.

What is more significant is the choice of sobriquets showered on Trivikrama, which outshine even the appellations addressed to the Hero of the work, Sri Krishna.

The best possible epithet, "utthaman", is reserved for Trivikrama, who is again referred to with adulation as "umbar kOmAn" (the Lord of the Celestials) in the 17th pasuram. This is perhaps understandable, as the thieving Krishna could hardly be addressed as "Utthaman", for He is more of a "Dharumam ariyA kurumban" and "Puram pOl uLLum kariyAn".

What makes Choodikkoduttha Nacchiar address this originally diminutive specimen as "utthaman", a privilege She doesn't afford to any other of the Lord's forms?

First of all, the Trivikramavatara has the distinction of being extolled by the Vedas, not once or twice but any number of times- the Yajus Samhita is full of such references to the Lord's wonderful feat of measuring the three worlds with His feet.

"treeNi padA vichakramE Vishnu: gOpA adAbhya:" trEdhA Vishnu: urugAyO vichakramE" "VichakramE prithivImEsha EtAm" etc.

This is perhaps the only avatara, apart from Sri VarahAvatAra, to find extensive mention in the Vedas.

It is therefore no wonder that the avatara is given preferential treatment in Tiruppavai too, which is after all "Vedam anaitthukkum vitthAgum Kodai Tamizh".

Secondly, Sri Trivikrama is eminently qualified for the sobriquet "Utthaman". By stature, He towers above all of the Lord's forms known to us. There is simply no comparison to this Emperuman, as far as physical dimensions are concerned. From a pitiable little dwarf, He grew into an immense, immeasurable giant, piercing all the spheres above the earth and the Universe. The pace and magnitude of this growth can be imagined, if the Constellation of stars, which originally formed a canopy over the Lord's head, turned first into a magnificent necklace around His neck and then into a glittering belt around His midriff. When He grew further, it adorned His feet as an anklet. And when He outgrew even that, the Stars admitted their defeat and begged the Lord to advise them as to how they might be of adornment to Him. The following slokam from Swami Desikan's DEhalIsa Stuti describes this beautifully

"Bhaktapriya! Tvayi tathA parivardhamAnE MuktA vitAna vitati:
tava poorvam Aseet HaravaLi: paramatho rasanA kalApa:

TArA gaNa: tadanu mouktika noopura Shree:"

Thirdly, by character too, the Trivikrama is an "Utthaman". Based on their traits, people are categorized into "adhaman" (the scum of the earth), "Utthaman" (the noblest of men) and "Madhyaman" (those belonging to intermediate classes, neither bad enough to be adhamAs nor great enough to be UtthamAs).

Those who make their livelihood based on the sweat and toil of others without any inherent goodness or industry of their own, are "adhamAs". Those who are gracious enough to live and let others too live, are "MadhyamAs". It is those great people who sacrifice themselves for the welfare of others, who qualify for the label "utthaman". Thus, it is Sri Trivikrama, whose sole avatara prayOjanam was the restoration of Indra's glory, (without Himself gaining anything from the strenuous exercise of measuring all the worlds with His feet) who suits the word "Utthaman" to a T. The monumental surveying exercise must have indeed been tiresome to the Lord, (as the Azhwars remark-"andru ivvulagam aLanda asavE kol?"), making Him resort to a reclining posture permanently thereafter.

One man's food is another man's poison: so goes the adage. While Sri Andal considers the Trivikrama an "Utthaman", it is interesting to note that Sri Nammazhwar calls Him a cheat and deceiver, for the very act of measuring the worlds with His tiruvadi, for having given the impression of a dwarf and then, after having wangled out three feet of land from MahAbali, growing into a giant of unimaginable proportions-

"gyAlam koLvAn KuraLAgiya vanjanE" " ariyAmai kuraLAi nilam mAvali moovadi endru ariyAmai vanjitthAi" etc.

The Bhagavat Gita too appears to concur with the Nacchiar's assessment that Trivikarama is an "Utthaman"-

"Utthama: Purusha: tu anya: ParmAtmA iti udAhrita: yO lOkatrayam Avisya bibharti avyaya Ishwara:"

If we stretch the word "Avisya" to mean the Lord's feet traversing the three worlds, we come to the conclusion that it is indeed Trivikrama who is the "Utthaman" referred to here. This epithet is used in this sloka synonymously with "ParamAtmA" :Ishwara:" etc., proving conclusively that Trivikrama is not only the noblest of the noble, but is also the Supreme Lord.

That this "Utthaman" is also the Master of all Celestials is derived from Sri Andal's second tribute, "ambaram Udaratthu Ongi ulagaLanda umbar kOmAn". He is the omnipotent Lord, to whom all devatas vie with one another to be of service and pay tribute-"SarvEsmai dEvA balim Avahanti".

When Sri Andal says "Utthaman pEr pAdi", She refers to the chanting of the Ashtakshara. This magnificent mantra, like the Vamana moortthi, contains in its short structure all that needs to be known about the self, the Lord and other components of the Arttha Panchakam. Similarly, the Narayana sabdam in the Ashtakshara is synonymous with the Trivikrama sabdam, due to its all-pervasive nature.

The term "Utthaman" thus signifies the Superlative, the other degrees of comparison being represented by "Uth" and "Utthara".

That the chanting of the Lord Trivikrama's holy name can bring us all prosperity is derived from the succeeding lines of the pasuram-'teengindri nAdellAm tingaL mummAri peidu'. This tirunamam is capable of dispelling all evil and ensuring timely and copious rains, which in turn spell fertility and affluence.

The "Utthaman"'s glory is as tall as His stature, and defies description. The Veda Purusha tries in vain to encapsulate Trivikrama's eminence, and gives up after several futile attempts, admitting his inadequacy. We too can but try to eulogize this Lord's tiruvadi, in Sri Andal's own immortal words- "andru ivvulagam aLandAi adi pOttri".

Srimate SriLakshmINrsimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:

Dasan, sadagopan.