Monday, July 15, 2024

Only 33 Deva’s, not 33 crore!

Tiruppavai – 20

Madabhushi Sridhar

4 January 2024

Tiruppavai by Godadevi from Tamil


KappamThavirkkumKaliye! Thuyilezhaai!

Seppamudayaai! Thiraludayaay! Settraarku

VeppamKodukkumVimalaa! Thuyilezhaai!


Nappinnainangaai! Thiruvey! Thuyilezhaai!


IppotheEmmai Neer Att-el or Empaavaai.

English Translation from By Madabhushi Sridhar

Valiant warrior, you confront enemies, before,

33 crore celestials complain of fear of demons,

Pure, upright with immense strength, and kind,

Inclined to protect always: You have no enemies,

But you terrorize the Foes of your devotees; Awake!,

O beautiful Neela, with two golden pots of bosom, pink lips,

Slender waist; Perfect, No less than Lakshmi, wake up!

Get us fan, mirror and let Krishna bathe with us.

 This is third Pashuram describing Neela Devi’s significance. It is a romantic song intertwined with philosophical wisdom, symbolic lessons and devotional waking up of both Sri Krishna and his lovely concert Neela. 

Also read: Love of Neela and Sri Krishna

Gopikas led by Goda address Krishna: MuppattuMuvaramararkumunsenrukappamtavirkumkaliyeTuyilezai = O Warrior, you rush to fight the demons even before the celestial beings approach you with fear of Asuras. You shower unlimited favours to 33 crore angels unasked. Don’t you hear the devotional prayers of five lakh Gopikas? Is it because they are less in number? We request you to get up and fulfil your promise to us.

We generally know that Devathas are around 33 crores. But, according to the Vedas, they are only 33, not 33 crores. 

Eight Vasuvus, Eleven Rudras, Twelve Aadityas, and Two celestial physicians (Ashwini). These celestials are superior and immortal bodies. When they also find it difficult to ward off the problems created by demons, they seek refuge in You. But even before they seek your help, you rush to ward off the dangers. Will you help only immortals?

Celestial beings are highly knowledgeable. We do not know much. They have no death. The Sruti says:

one who has knowledge of Brahman is immune to death, thus he is immortal. Avidya (lack of knowledge) is an enemy for not only Devathas, but everyone.  Before their minds are overpowered by the enemy of Avidya, you strike them to save. Similarly, the Supreme Self removes all causes of fear among sages of disturbing the continuous meditation of Brahman. Only the grace of Brahman can destroy the ignorance. He gives the knowledge, helps frightened sages from the apprehension of bondage of rebirth. Gopikas seek such help.

 Do you help those who are already strong, immortal, and not devotees like us who depend on Your grace? They have different purposes. They want to protect or regain the kingdoms. We do not have any other interests. We want You only. Indra, whom you are protecting whenever his kingdom is threatened, struck you with Vajrayudham when you were taking the Parijata tree from his garden. Those eight rulers in charge of eight different directions (Dishas) appear worthy of your protection. We completely surrender to You, but we are ignored. We are not asking for nectar and immortality. Your face and your looks are more than amritha for us. We can no longer tolerate separation from you.  We have no fear of enemies. But we are afraid of losing the privilege of watching your beauty while waking up. We want to sing your praise. Help us win over this fear. You need not fight for us, nor wage war against demons, or lift a mountain like Mandhara during churning of Milk Ocean. You have saved Arjun from the mortal weapon Shakti hurled by Bhagadatta. Facilitate us to have a glimpse of your radiant beauty while You sleep and wake up, your affectionate looks and hear your melodious words.

Also read: The Mother: Neela Devi, Nappinna Piratti

Seppa Mudaiyay, Trial Udaiyay = you are personification of great uprightness and insurmountable valour.

Serrarkkuveppamkodukkumvimalatuyilezai =O stainless person, you instil enormous fear in the enemy. Get up from sleep for us.  Seppam means both protection and uprightness, which means consistency in thought, word, and action. You never breach your words. But you have asked us to come together and promised to bless us. You are efficient enough to protect all the Lokas. You can inflict chilling fear in the enemies. You are unblemished.

Do not be angry with us for using harsh words with Nappinna. Having said thus to Sri Krishna, they turn to Neela and invoke her generosity. They praise her physical beauty – rosy lips, full bosom, and thin waist and call her a perfectly complete personality.  Krishna wins her after a tough fight with seven strong bulls. It was a great hardship for him. As he won her with valiant efforts, He loves her most. That is her perfection referred to by Goda and her companions. I am awake and aware of your prayers. I am just thinking what to give you. What do you want?

UkkamumTattoliumTandunManaalanaiIppodeYemmaiNeerattuelo -rempaavaay = give us the fan and the mirror; and arrange for our association with Krishna while bathing. 

The words though give obvious meaning of shringara, their inner meaning is divine and philosophical. Rosy lips indicate affection for the progeny, the whole world of beings. Her pair of fully grown bosom indicates Jnana and Bhakti or Para Bhakti and Paramabhakti. Para Bhakti is desire for having darshan.

Parama Bhakti means the devotees concern that he may lose sight of Bhagawan. This jnana gives detachment from all objects unconnected with Him… “Paramatma Niyorakta Virakta Aparamatmani”.

The message of this Pashuram

The Gopikas are asking Neela to give Krishna to them. All the Gopikas are sages in Treta Yuga during the times of Sri Rama, whom they loved. As per the philosophy – Vaishnavism, except Parama purusha Paramatma, every other living being is woman who desires to enjoy Brahmanandam. Here giving Krishna to Gopikas means facilitating deep meditation on Krishna, which is Snana of Bhagavatdhyana. Neela, who passed through the processes of Jnana, Bhakti, detachment, and experienced Supreme Lord, is requested to take up Purushakara and facilitate all Jeevas to have Brahmanandam.

For bathing, they are asking for a mirror and a fan. One needs to look into a mirror to see the face. The moment we watch our face in the mirror, we are proud of it. An element of ego enters. That is indicated by micro drops of sweat on face immediately after bathing, which can be wiped out by fan. They ask for three objects- mirror, fan and Paramatma. Mirror gives knowledge about the self, (Swa Swaroopa Jnana); it is Omkaram (Pranava). Fan removes ego (Ahamkaram). Ego is replaced by the Namah, and the third is Paramatma Himself. Everyone should always remember that it is not ‘me’ and it is ‘not mine’. Namah means ‘not mine’. Asking for Paramatma Himself means desiring for proximity with Him.  Snana means Saannihityam. (Bathing with Krishna means being nearer to Him).

Also read: A selfless king and people of Vrepalle

Om Namah encourages detachment, then, one will enjoy the real bliss- Brahmananda. Omkara (mirror-given self-knowledge) is replacing Ahamkara with Namah (sweat removed by fan), enjoying proximity with Him and having undisturbed meditation i.e., Brahmanandam. This is the message of this Pashuram.

(Aandaal worshipped Vatapatra Sahi at Sri Villiputtur and Utsava Vigraham)

Neela Suktham

Neela Suktam is important as one among the Pancha Suktams (five suktams) by Vaishnavites the other four usually being Purusha Suktam, Narayana Suktam, Sri Suktam and Bhu Suktam.

Neela Devi, the third consort of Lord Vishnu, after Sri Devi (goddess Lakshmi) and Bhu Devi (mother earth), each representing three gunas (qualities of nature) – sattva (pious harmony), rajas (passion) and thamas (inertia) respectively.

Vaishnavite literature tells the story of Nappinnai, daughter of Yashoda’s brother, who is said to have married Krishna. Nappinnai too is considered an incarnation of Neela. The main text of the hymn extols the goddess as all-powerful, refers to her as the consort of Vishnu, and seeks her compassion and benevolence.

In Vishnu’s avatar as Krishna, Niladevi is either regarded as Nagnajiti, the consort of Krishna in Dvārakā or in some accounts, as southern counterpart of Radha, the gopi consort of Krishna in North Indian traditions.

Also read: Goda awakens 10 Aalwars

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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