Wednesday, September 26, 2012


- ANDAL conveyed the lofty philosophical doctrine of how Jivatma should strive to reach Paramaatma through commonplace examples like praying to ?Parjanya dEvata? for copious rains that sustain life on earth (thingaL mummaari peidu) and mundane (loukeeka) concepts like observing ?Paavai nOnbu? for attaining a good husband. Lord Ranganatha yielded to Her binding Him with Her with garland of flowers (Poomaalai) even as He yielded to YassOda binding Him to a mortar. (kaTTuNNap paNNiya peru maayan) In the case of Swami Desika, both PerumaaL and PiraaTTi allowed themselves to be bound by the wonderful garlands of StOtras (paa maalai) so much that they conferred on him honorifics like ?VEdanataachaarya? and ?Sarva Tantra Swatantrar?.

In fact, Swami says that having conferred such titles, it became the responsibility of the Lord to prove them true! (VEdaanta dEsika padE vinivEsaya baalam dEvO vaihaarikENa vidhinaa samayE gruheetam veeNaa visEshamiva vEnkaTasailanaatha: - Dayaa Satakam SlOkam 104)

- ANDAL shows how the Lord whose greatness, even the VEdas could not comprehend and therefore returned crestfallen (YatO vaachaa nivartantE apraapya manasaa saha) was found rubbing shoulders with the unlettered cowherds of AyarpaaDi. Upanishads describe various means to reach the Supreme Lord. It is not possible for ignoramus children like us to understand and much less adopt any of these means. Merciful mother that she is, ANDAL literally spoon-feeds us with ?baby formula? food. In Tiruppaavai, she calls her peers (and by extension us too) as ?Dear Children? (Selva SirumeergaaL) and proceeds to teach step by step in a language that we children could understand and readily relate to on topics like-

(i)     Who is ?Paraman?? (PaarkaDaluL paiyatuyinra paraman)
(ii)    How to approach Him? (Thoo malar toovi tozhudu,Vaayinaal paaDi,
manathinaal sindikka)
(iii)   How to approach Him in a congregation? (KooDi irundu kuLirndu)
(iv)    How to pray to Him in His august presence? (POtri, POtri)
(v)     What to ask Him? (UntannODu utrOmE aavOm)
(vi)    How to ask Him? (UnnODu uravEL namakku ingu Ozhikka Ozhiyaadu)

Swami Desika brings all these into our focus with equal felicity through his simple but sound Srisooktis to cater to lay folk like us and to scholars alike.

In fact, in all of his works whether in Gadhyam, Padhyam or NaaTakam, whether small, medium or long in size, and whether in Sanskrit, Praakritam or Tamil ? the one message that runs through the warp and woof of his works is nothing but ?SaraNaagati? (Surrender to the Lord which ANDAL has conveyed through her Tiruppaavai.

- ANDAL?s Tiruppavai is considered as the very seed from which Vedas sprouted (Vedam anaithukkum vithu aagum).
Do you know why?

She is the darling daughter of Periyaazhwar, the very incarnation of GaruDaazhwar (Periya TiruvaDi) and the very personification of the VEdas (Vedaatma VihagEswara). Therefore ANDAL could have comprehended the Vedas as revealed in her Tiruppavai, which is justifiably regarded as the seed of the Vedas. Swami Desika was also the recipient of the benediction of this ?Vedaatmaa VihagEswara?, since his Acharya ?AppuLLaar? initiated him into the GaruDa mantram. (Incidentally, the word ?Appullaar? also refers to the divine bird ? GaruDaazhwar). Therefore, there is no wonder that he had also understood the essence of the Vedas all within 20 years of his age.

Added to this, GaruDaazhwar blessed him with Sri Hayagriva Mantra, which made him a real ?Sarva Tantra Swatantrar? Thus, in a mystical sense, can we regard Swami Desika as ANDAL?s younger brother even as Bhagavad Ramanuja is deemed to be her elder brother (Perumpudur maamunikkup pinn aanaaL vaazhiyE)?

- If ANDAL in her original form had the blessings of Lord ?Yagjna Varaaha?, Swami Desika had blessings from ?Jnaana Ananda mayam dEva ? Lord ?Hayagriva?

- ANDAL?s concern for the welfare of the world (neengaada selvam niraindu and engum TiruvaruL petru inburuvar) is well reflected in Swami Desika?s works. (e.g.) He calls his ?Dasavatara StOtram? as conferring universal happiness ?Jagan MangaLam?, his ?Goda Stuti? as delightful with numerous auspicious qualities ?BahuguNa RamaNeeyaam?- conferring supreme bliss on the readers (sa bhavati Bahumaanya: SreematO Rangabartu:)

- Like Azhwars, Swami Desika?s ornaments were his Knowledge and detachment to worldly pleasures (Jnaana Vairaaghya bhOOshaNam). Like Azhwaars, he also forgot his manhood and simulated the role of a ladylove in ?Naayaki Bhaava? inspired by the example of ANDAL, the bridal mystic. He was indeed ?Desika Naayaki? like Nammaazhwar and Tirumangai Mannan who were called ?Paraankusa Naayaki? and ?Parakaala Naayaki? respectively.

- If ANDAL had single minded devotion to the Lord as to declare that she would rather end her life than getting married to a mere human (maaNidavarkku enru pEchuppaDil VaazhagillEn- Naachiyaar Tirumozhi 5), Swami Desika?s Vairaaghyam was of the same caliber when he declared ?Dhanyaam na manyaamahE, Deavm sevitumEva nischinumahE? in his ?Vairaaghya Panchakam?

- Being head over heels in divine love with the Lord, he was so enchanted by ?Devanaayakan? of Tiruvaheendrapuram that it overflowed in what the Swami himself calls ?Chandamigu Praakritam?, the language used by womenfolk in those days in his ?Achyuta Satakam?, an exercise not attempted even by the Azhwars!

- Besides this, he sang also in Sanskrit (Devanaayaka Panchaasat) and in Tamil (MummaNIkkOvai and NavamaNi maalai) on Devanaayakan ? ?a hat trick?, as it were, that no other Divya Desa PerumaaL could muster!

- ANDAL appealed to Nappinnai to recommend (Purushaakaaram) vide ?Ukkamaum TattoLiyum tandu unn maNaaLanai ippOde emmai neeraaTTu?. Similarly, ?Desika Naayaki? appeals to PiraaTTi saying ?Please recommend to your spouse to accept me? thus emphasizing the importance of and need for ?Purushaakaaram? (Bhoo Stuti 30)

- Like ANDAL who adorned her Lord with fragrant garlands and won Him over, Desika Naayaki also wove multicolored garlands in his Tamil Prabandams employing varied metres like ?Agaval?, ?VaNbaa?, ?Aasiriyappaa? ?KaTTaLaikkaLiturai? etc., that are the specialties of that language. Like Lord Ranganaatha who preferred to wear garlands of poems and flowers offered by Naachiyaar, Lord Devanathan seems to have yearned to adorn Himself with the wonderful garland of poems brimming with ?Sringaara Rasam?

- Like Naachiyaar who pined for her KaNNan, this Desika Naayaki languishes for the love of Devanaayakan accusing Cupid (Manmata) of heartlessly tormenting her with his flowery arrows. The joy of union (SamslEsham) and the pangs of separation (VislEsham) get portrayed graphically in his work reminiscent of similar sentiments of Naachiyaar and other Azhwaars. When the Lord does appear before Desika Naayaki, she exclaims that those who have seen the pulchritude of the Lord will reach Him forever and will never again be born in this world.
?Adiyavarkku meyyanE! Ayindai vaazhum manju enavE aruL pozhiyum vaLLalE! Ninn vaDIvazhagu maravaadaar piravaadaarE? (NavamaNI maalai Paasuram 6)

- Swami refers to ANDAL as ?Bhoo-magaL?. Vaikuntavaasi Sri Seva SwamigaL used to interpret this both directly and derivatively. In the former, it refers to BhoodEvi while in the latter taken as ?Bhoovin magaL?, it can refer to her as Mahaalakshmi Herself, who as Sri Sita sprang from the earth while ploughing for the Yaagasaala while Sri ANDAL sprang from the earth in the TuLasi pit.

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