Thursday, October 6, 2022

Tiruppavai-1 : Goda’s love letter: A poetic Garland

When someone asked Acharya Sri Ramanuja to explain the significance of Tiruppavai, Acharya said to have remarked that it would be difficult to find someone efficient to explain Tiruppavai. This statement shows significance and complexity of 30-poem Kavya of Goda Devi in praise of Lord Ranganatha, which is recited every day in Dhanurmasam – that starts in the middle of December and goes up to Bhogi January 15. Tiruppavai explains the essence of Vedas through examples from divine stories of SrimadBhagavatham and SrimadRamayanam. One should try to understand the enormous meaning, symbolism, alankara and in-depth concepts that form the content of eight-line Pashuram -Poem written by Goda Devi.

In Tirumala, Tiruppavi is recited every morning in this month instead of Suprabhatam, because Goda has sung these songs to wake up Gopika’s to take them to worship Sri Krishna in Brindavanam, assuming so while connecting her friends in Sri Villiputhur, an ancient temple in Tamil Nadu, which one of the 108 Vaishnava DivyaDesha. 

Garland offered by devotees

Like Radha, Mirabai in north, Goda is devotee full of love for Sri Krishna from southern part of India. Goda was found in Garden of Periyalwar – Vishnu Chitta. When her father collected flowers from Garden, which were later made into a garland, Goda used to wear it and verified how it looked on her person standing before mirror or watching reflection in water in the well, then she used to put the garlands in basket that was taken to Vatapatra Sai, the Lord of Sri Villiputhur. Once father notices a piece of hair, finds that his daughter has used it. He was worried as he offered used flowers all these days. The legend says Sri Maha Vishnu appeared in dream that he loved to wear only those were once decorated on Goda’s person. Since then she was called ChudiKoduthaNachiayaarmeaning the lady who wore and gave her garland to Lord Vishnu. This is the meaning of the title of great poem by Sri KrisbnaDevaraya-AmuktaMalyada (one who wears and gives away garlands) in Telugu.

During Purattasi month (September-October) garlands from Sri Villiputhur are being sent to Tirumala Sri Venkateshwara Swamy regularly to continue the centuries old tradition. Each poem is a love letter to Sri Ranganatha and message of devotion for whole of the world. Andaal is another name which means, my mother, as stated by her father Periyalvar. She sang in praise of Sri Maha Vishnu in 11 ancient temples – DivyaDesha. She is one of the 12 Alwaars in Sri Vaishnava tradition.

Paavai means Vow or vratam in Telugu, or ritual observed throughout month of Marghazhi. She takes her friends to perform this vratam for thirty days. These wake-up songs contain the cardinal principals of Vaishnava Dharma – a school of thought, which are sang for peace, prosperity and Divine Grace. Let us all sing and assimilate the divine devotional love of Goda.

Pashuram in English script.

MargazhiThingalmadiNiraindaNannalal           

Niradapoduvir, PoduminoNerizhaiyeer                  

SeermalgumAayppadiSelvaChirumeergal        

KoorvelKodumThozhilamNandagopan Kumaran     

ErArndhaKanniYasodhaiIlansingam                        

Karmenichengann Kadir Madiyam pol Mugathan    

NaaraayananeNamakkeParaiTharuvan       

ParorpugazhaPpadintdul-el or empaavaai.                

Goda asks her friends to wake up and join her in bathing in the light of moon on this day of Marghazhi month, and pray the Hero Sri Krishna, son of Yashoda and Nanda, who wears a weapon to protect all of us, his garlands spreads fragrance. He is a cub of lion in cloud colour, with sharp red eyes, whose face glows like a full-moon, non-other-than Shriman Narayana. Let us bathe and pray together to start our Vrata for thirty days. This is the message of Goda.

English Poem

Nature shines in the moonlight of Margazhi month

Come, dear friends let us bathe before the Sunrise

O Team of enriched and enlightened devotees of our rich village

Where Nanda wields protective spear for his son,

Lotus eyed young cub of mother Yashoda

His resplendent face with eyes shining like the Sun and Moon.

Aiming to reach ultimate Lord Naaraayana               

Let us commission the mission together.

Madabhushi Sridhar

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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