Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 4 April 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.



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Language in Andal's Thiruppavai

Poornima Immanuel, Ph.D.

The Focus of This Paper

Andal (a:NDa:L) is a mystic hymnist of South Indian religious renaissance, in particular, the Vaishnavite tradition. The main motive of the religious mystic is achieving an intimate relationship with God. It is essential to have knowledge of the fundamental principles of the mystic's philosophy and theology to understand the language of a mystic. This paper will attempt first to analyze the philosophical and religious content of Andal's Thiruppavai and then proceed to discuss its poetic richness and lyrical felicity.

Consummation of Relationship with Lord Ranganathan

Andal, who lived over a thousand years ago, is seen as a mystic due to her recognition of the existence of the soul and its relation to the Divine Soul. Andal is also a great mystic because through her sensuous poetic images she brings out the intimacy between her and Lord Ranganathan, the presiding deity of the Vaishnavite sect, Lord Ranaganathan of Srirangam. She looks for the consummation of this relationship with him as her consort, longing to marry him.

Lord Ranganathan is Emperumal, my or our Lord and Master. Tradition records that Andal was eventually absorbed in the image of Renganatha at Srirangam, which represents the human identification with cosmic process. In other words, spiritual union takes place and her yearning for this is depicted in sensuous terms in her poems of great artistry and intimate communication.

The Alchemy of Relationship

Max Muller, the great Indologist, wondered about the alchemy of Hinduism where men become Gods and Gods become men. The immortal story of Andal presents an example of this alchemy: a pious devotee par excellence being turned into channels divine through the metamorphosis of pure bhakti. Her lyrical poems Thiruppavai and Natchiar Thirumozhi celebrate the intimacy of human soul with the Universal Soul.

The Structure of Thiruppavai

Andal's Thiruppavai consists of 30 verses in which Andal imagines herself as a cowherd girl during the incarnation of Lord Krishna. In the first fifteen verses a cowherd girl beseeches other Ayar (shepherd) lasses to wake up and immerse in the depth of enjoyment of her verses. In the next fifteen verses, Ayar lasses sing 'Thirupalli Ezhuchi' (exhortation to rise up in the morning) to the Lotus-navelled Govindan and his Nappinai and seek their blessings.

Consider the significance of this division of verses: Individuals are asked to prepare themselves to worship their deity. Preparation includes many rituals including chanting of verses. In the next part actual worship is encouraged.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Poornima Immanuel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Sri Meenakshi Government Arts College for Women [Autonomous]
Madurai 625002
Tamilnadu, India

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