by Koyil T. S. Sundara Rajan  
August 1, 1997 -


The asterism 'tiru-aadi-pUram' (which falls in July-August) marks a fragrant day in our calendar, as the 'tiru-nakshatram' of Andal. This blessed day is highlighted by Sri Manavala Mamunigal in the 'Upadesa Ratnamalai' stanza

      periyAzhvAr peNpiLLai-yAi ANDAL piranda
      tiruvADip-pUrattin SIrmai, oru nALaikku
      uNDo? manamE uNarndu pAr, ANDALukku
      uNDAgil oppu idaRkum uNDu.

On this day, the 'rathOtsavam'/'tiruttEr' (car) festival is celebrated in Srivilliputtur, when Andal in her bridal finery and her winsome consort Sri Rangamannar mount the imposing 'ratham' (the loftiest in the country), to course through their domain. This is verily a heavenly celebration of the profoundest of mystical and literary traditions of the country.

Andal is venerated as divinity per se. The great hagiographer Pinbazhagiya Perumal Jiyar affirms this by citing the sloka:

     dEvasya mahishIm divyAm AdAu gOdAm upAsmahE |
     yan-mAuli-mAlikAm prItyA svIkarOti svayam prabhu: ||

It is said that for the mental peace of a disciple who confessed to restlessness, Sri Parasara Bhattar composed two slokas:
the first one, "bhUtam saraScha mahadAhvaya..." naming the ten 'divya suri' (Alvars) and Sri Udaiyavar [Ramanuja],
and the second one, "nILA-tunga- stana-giri-taTI-suptam..." exclusively devoted to the 'daivatam' (Andal).
These two slokas constitute important 'taniyans' to 'aruLic-cheyal anusandhAnam' (recitation of 'divya-prabandham').

'Kodai' and 'Goda'

'kOdai' was the first name Periyalvar gave to Andal. This Tamil word stands for 'a string of flowers'.
In the golden quadrangle of Tirukkurungudi, Vanamamalai, Alvar Tirunagari and Srivilliputtur, girl-children were commonly named 'mAlA-nAcciyAr'.
When the Tamil name was Sanskritised as 'gOdA', it yielded a rainbow of meanings. In Sanskrit, the root 'gAuh' means, inter alia, the 'vEdam';
hence, 'gOdA' signifies one who gives of the 'vEdam'.

Andal Book is scripture

"vEdam anaittukkum vittAkum kOdai tamizh" is how Sri Vedappiran Bhattar affirmed Tiruppavai's scriptural status. As Sri Parasara Bhattar perceives it, Andal in her Book seems to instruct Isvara Himself on his majesty, on the several proofs of the Sruti, in his being One without a second: "kRshNam pArArthyam svam Sruti-Sata-Siras-siddham adhyApayantI". This was no parochial or denominational boast.

It was given to Sri Kanchi (prativAdi-bhayankaram aNNA) Svami of blessed memory, to identify the several Vedic sources of not only Tiruppavai but of Nacciyar Tirumozhi as well. In the best of poets' traditions in all climes and languages, the Andal Book registers many an echo of revelations in the smRti as well. The well- known line "achalAm Sriyam ApnOti" (in the 'sahasranAma phalaSruti') reads as "nIngAda Selvam niRaindu" (in the 'Ongi ulakaLanda...' Tiruppavai).

    sakhEti matvA prasabham yad-uktam...
    ajAnatA mahimAnam tavEdam... tat kshAmayE...

(from Srimad Bhagavad Gita 11:41-42) reads as

    aRiyAda piLLaikaLom, anbinAl untannai 
    SiRu-pEr azhaittanavum SIRi aruLAdE,    iRaivA!

in the 'kaRavaikaL...' Tiruppavai.

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