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Kulasekhara Alwar became threshold before Venkateshwara

Tiruppavai 7

KeechuKeechuEndru Engum AanaichathanKalandhu

Pesina PecharavamKettilaiyo? Peypennnay!

Kasum PirappumKalakalappa-k-kai Perthu

VaasanarumKuzhalAaychiyarMatthinal

OsaipadutthaThthayir-aravamKettilaiyo?

Nayaga Ppennppillaiy! Naaraayanan Moorthy

KesavanaiPpadavvum Nee Kette kidatthiyo

ThesamudaiyaiThirav-el or Empaavaai.

Tiruppavai by Godadevi from Tamil

Sridhar’s English poem

As dozens of birds chirp together at dawn

O, crazy, listen to morning dialogues of Bharadwaja birds.

Hear the music of golden necklaces & bangles.

Of lovely hands; feel the fragrance of flowers of their hair

Churning curds by staffs, can’t you hear?

O, the lady of Naaraayana, get up, to lead us.

To Keshava and to sing with us, His praise.

Awaken, open the doors & let us go, my girl.

The threshold in front of the Lord is called Kulasekhara Padi. Kulasekhara was a Vaishnava devotee. He had made a humble request to the Lord, to transform him to a stone threshold in front of Lord so that he will have a glimpse of divine beauty every day! Hence, this threshold was named after him.

In this Paashuram, Goda is waking up Kulasekhara Alwaar. He is a shining jewel among the 10 Aalwaars. He is a Kshatriya, of the ruling class, He is a guru of gurus, i.e. Parama Acharya. Thus, the acharya mantra is ‘Asmat Parama Gurubhyonnamah”. When God appears and offers a boon to Kulasekhara, he seeks to be a threshold at the sanctum sanctorum of Tirumala Temple so that he would be looking at the God always and enjoy touch of foot (padasparsha) of devotees. The threshold before Lord Venkateshwara is thus called Kulasekhara Padi, none except the ardent archakas can cross it.

Goda in this 7th song is waking up Kulasekhara Alwaar. She sang morning song for Periyaalwaar, her father in her 6thPaashuram, which embodied the Acharya Vandana “Asmat Guru Bhyonnama” (Namaskarm to my Gurus). In this song, Goda is saying “Asmat PaRaamaGurubhyonnamah”. (Salutations to Guru of Gurus, ex:Kulasekhara)

O, crazy, listen to morning dialogues of Bharadwaja birds

Goda in this 7th song is waking up Kulasekhara Alwaar. She sang morning song for Periyaalwaar, her father in her 6thPaashuram, which embodied the Acharya Vandana “Asmat Guru Bhyonnama” (Namaskarm to my Gurus). In this song, Goda is saying “Asmat PaRaamaGurubhyonnamah”. (Salutations to Guru of Gurus, ex:Kulasekhara).

What is the meaning of chirping sounds of birds? Goda says, they are planning to fetch food together for their children. They can fly with two wings- Knowledge and Practice. Rishis meditate for some time, then come out to discuss with other Rishis, and they go back to penance. The chirping is nothing but such conversation, Goda says.  Gopikaas attained Bhakti not because of their learning and knowledge.

Also read: Wake-up calls of Chirping birds before dawn

It is because of their association with Krishna in Vrepalle. Each of those villages used to bring what all they made or cooked for Krishna. A mother-in-law could not tolerate this madness and to teach a lesson to daughter-in-law, she entrusted a huge stock of Curds and Milk to be sold in a day. That Gopika took it to nearby town for sale and could sell it all easily by chanting the names of Govindaa, Damodaraa and Maadhavaa instead of the milk products she carried. They got dissolved themselves in the thoughts of Krishna.

Tiruppavai Stories

Gopika at the doorstep indicate three points to convince the Gopika inside about the passage of night and beginning of dawn. In 6th Paashuram chirping of birds, Conch sound, chanting of Hari Hari by Yogis and Munis are the three sounds of the morning to be noticed. Birds render great service to the mankind by waking them up at right time with their sounds unknowingly. Sankha Naadam (sound of the Conch) tells us that it is time to pray to God. It is Omkaram, which links us to God, whereas the third sound is the chanting of Munis and Yogis which is the result of human effort.

What is the meaning of chirping sounds of birds? Goda says, they are planning to fetch food together for their children. They can fly with two wings- Knowledge and Practice. Rishis meditate for some time, then come out to discuss with other Rishis, and they go back to penance. The chirping is nothing but such conversation, Goda says.

Sri Rama Paduka Pattabhishekam | Chinnajeeyarhttps://chinnajeeyar.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Sri-Rama-Paduka-Pattabhishekam.jpg

Bharatha, great brother of Rama

This Song mentions about Bharadwaja Muni. Bharadwaja birds which are found in Kerala-Tamil Nadu coastal region make sounds like Parrots. Prince Raama during his exile, stays for a night at Bharadwaja’s Ashram (residence). Thereafter, Bharatha, with his family, Gurus, royal staff and army arrives at the forest in search of Raama, and pays respects to Bharadwaja in his Ashram. Bharadwaj asks Bharatha, “What else do you want to do to Raama, who is innocent and harmless: Why are you searching for him?”.

The question is quite derogatory and suggestive of suspicion. Pained, Bharatha falls on his feet and cries: “Muni, you know past, present and future, don’t you know my role and can’t you read my mind?”.  Bharadwaja wants to test him further. He creates a spacious Royal palace for all who came with Bharata and asks him to take the King’s seat. Bharatha leaves it and goes to a nearby seat meant for the Minister and operates the hand-fan towards the Simhasana as if Raama is sitting there. This proves that he was not fond of occupying the king’s seat.

Bharadwaja spent all Taposakthi to build this palace just to test the devotion of Bharata. But he was happy to discover a great Bhagavatottama in him. Bharadwaja uses all his Purush Ayush (300 years of life of pious man) to learn a small part of Veda Adhyana. He invokes from God another Purush Ayush to study Vedas further. He could not complete and asks for another 300 years from Prajapathi. Three terms Ayush of 300 years each was not enough for him to learn even a little portion of Vedas. When Bharadwaj did Tapas again, Prajapati appeared and showed there three big hills of Vedas and a fistful of earth on each Hill. He said: “in all these years you have learnt three fistfuls from the three Hills of Vedic knowledge. Now you can stop learning and start the practice of what you gained”. To reach God, one must serve His devotee. This is a quote from Bharadwaja Samhita. Bharadwaja was trying and testing who would be such a divine devotee whom he can cultivate as a contemporary colleague, and he found Bharatha after spending all his Taposhakti& knowledge attained in 900 years. Goda says it is not enough to meditate on God, one should frequently meet the devotee.

Keshava kills Keshi

Krishna became Keshava when he killed a demon-horse in a very unusual manner. It was the demon Keshi, in horse form that attacked Krishna with open mouth. Little Krishna pushed his hand into his mouth. Keshi was happy that he could eat the tender hand away. But that was a play (a leela) for little Krishna, who increased the size of his hand making Keshi breathless. Keshi died as the enlarged hand spread to the entire body.

The sounds of churning in Vrepalle

Goda’s words are quite symbolic. Cows are Vedic sentences; their milk represents God’s beautiful form and wonderful deeds. Discovering them through Teacher and remembering them is reflected in Curds. Curd is the experience. Churning staffs relate to God, thread is thread of love for God, while churning is the action. The result is the mind that could be offered to God, that is butter. That butter melts down with the heat of separation from God. Retain the butter and offer it to Krishna before you are separated from Him. 

When Ocean of Milk was churned, three sounds emerged. 1. Sound of returning rivers as Mandhara Hill was placed in the ocean as a churning staff, raising the water levels. 2. Sound that emerged while Vaasuki (Serpent) was tied as rope around Mandhara. 3. Sound of surging waves in the ocean due to the rotation of Mandhara in the ocean. Similarly, three sounds emerged from Gopikaas- the sound of bangles, their song, and of churning curds. Churning of Milk is compared with churning of Milky ocean, by Goda. The act of churning is the Gopikaas’ penance. 

Butter making is better penance

In Brindavan, Gopikaas always meditate on Sri Krishna. Even when they are immersed in their daily activities, they do not forget Sri Krishna. What all they think, say, and do, they offer it to Sri Krishna. Sarvam Sri Krishnaarpanam. (Everything is dedicated to Him).

Gopikaas attained Bhakti not because of their learning and knowledge. It is because of their association with Krishna in Vrepalle. Each of those villages used to bring what all they made or cooked for Krishna. A mother-in-law could not tolerate this madness and to teach a lesson to daughter-in-law, she entrusted a huge stock of Curds and Milk to be sold in a day. That Gopika took it to nearby town for sale and could sell it all easily by chanting the names of Govindaa, Damodaraa and Maadhavaa instead of the milk products she carried. They got dissolved themselves in the thoughts of Krishna.

While churning the buttermilk with staffs also, they were meditating on Krishna. Goda is asking the Gopika, “Can you hear those churning sounds? As they churn, their bangles and necklaces shake and produce a lot sound”. And the flowers decked in their plaits get loosened spreading their fragrance. Goda addresses the girl inside as a leader and requests her to lead all the Gopikaas to the abode of Sri Krishna.

Tiruppavai- 8

Awakening Nammalwar

Goda is awakening the third Gopika and Nammaalwaar here. She refers to Guru Mantra “Asmat Sarva Gurubhyonnamah”, saluting all Gurus. Having great interest in Bhagavan, His devotees – Bhagavatottama, and in all who love Bhagavan, symbolises Nammaalwaar- when Goda says ‘KodukulaMudaiPaavaay’. In the 7th song she referred to Kulasekhara Aalwaar and in 6th song her father Periyaalwar. 

Goda’s Tamil Paashuram

Keezh Vanam VellendruErumai Siru Veedu

MeyvaanParandanakanMikkullaPillaikalum

PovaanPogindraraiPogaamal Katthu unnai-k

KoovuvanVandhuNindromKodhukulaMudaiya

Paavai EzhundiraiPaadi-p-paraiKondu

Maavay-p-PilandanaiMallariaMaattiya

DevadidevanaiChenrunaamSevitthaal

Aa vaaEendruAaraindu Arul-el or Empaavaai.

Sridhar’s English Translation 8

As east brightens, cattle start to graze tender grass.

Moving along with birds, and young kids.

Instead of calling each, we stopped all to drive

To Him and calling you, the God-loving girl.

Awake dear and join us to get God’s gift of Parai.

Krishna, who tore Keshi’s mouth apart & killed Chaanura- Musthika

Prostrate & Pray before the King of Gods,

O Girls, come He will bless us with all compassion.

Goda says determining to travel to reach God itself is a pleasant thought. Goal is good but the travel equally is a happy process. If several people travel together to reach God’s place, it will be a great pleasure. Goda says the journey of a Jeevi after death towards the abode of God (Archiradi), Journey of Akrura to Nanda Vraja village to invite Sri Krishna to Mathura, and journey to Tirumala to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara are the pleasant journeys greater than the destination. The thought of journey or the determination (sankalpa) for journey gives great joy. Goda says such a journey with a team is a greater joy. She preaches in this ‘greater joy of going together for good deeds and for God. 

Goda knocks at the doors of a Gopika, who is inside her residence: With gradual rise of pre-dawn brightness, the cattle started to graze the dew-covered tender grass, along with young cowherds. Instead of calling all of them individually, we stopped them to divert to Krishna’s palace. We want you also to join us and hence we are standing at your doorstep. Krishna, the wonder boy has torn the mouth of Keshi, the demon in the form of Horse, defeated and killed wrestlers Musthi and Chaanura, the rogue elephant Kuvalayapeedam, and pulled out its tusks. Balaram and Krishna carried a tusk each on their shoulders and entered Raja Sabha.  Krishna pulled down Kamsa from the throne and killed him with his punches. He did all this in his teenage itself.  I know you have deep interest in reaching Lord Krishna. Then, why don’t you get up, we all shall sing his praises and seek gift of Parai (Dakka- music instrument) as promised. 

Mushtikaasura is a symbol of unsatiated desires while Chaanura represents anger (Krodha).   Keshi is embodiment of Ego. Kamsa deputes Horse Demon – Keshi to kill Bala Raama and Krishna. Horse was happy when Krishna thrust his hand into his mouth. Demon thought it was easy to eat out the hand. But Krishna increased size of the hand suffocating him to death. Some fools open mouth only to eat and do not open to ask for the knowledge. But Krishna can open it to more than its size. Only through the generosity of Krishna, one can get relieved of Kama, Krodha and Ahankara.

Upanishads say that five Indriyas 1. Vision (caksh-indriya), 2.Hearing (shrotr-indriya), 3.Smell (ghrān-indriya), 4.Taste (jivh-indriya), 5.Touch (kāy-indriya) are five horses of desires that pull the chariot of ‘human body’ in five different and opposite directions. If the reins of mind are placed in the hands of wisdom, the chariot will reach the goal; otherwise, it will break into pieces. 

Listen what two Gopikas discuss in 8th TiruppavaiPashuram

Goda imagines Srivilliputtur as Vrepalle

In brief but candid eight lines of her Tamil Pashuram, Goda has filled whole lot of knowledge that forms essence of Upanishads and our ancient texts. Goda incorporated a meaningful conversation between Goda (or Gopika outside the door and another Gopika inside) in Eighth Paashuram (song).  Gopikas were enjoying the divine association with Sri Krishna during Dwapara Yuga in Vrepalle and Brindavan. Goda imagines Srivilliputtur as Vrepalle and all her friends as Gopikas, and their conversation goes on:

Goda: It is the appointed hour to meet Krishna. My team is asking how you can sleep in this hour.

Gopika: How do you know that such a time has arrived?

Goda: Don’t you see the brightened East?

Gopika: You are suffering separation from Krishna; you have a strong desire to meet Him. You are always thinking about it. Your faces are bright like the Sun, and you always like white curds and white milk. Hence you find everything around as bright and white.

Goda: Cattle started in the early morning to graze the tender grass, along with their kids. If Krishna also goes with them, how can we meet Him? Can we survive without Him? Please wake up from your sleep and join us.

What are AnyathaJnanam, VipareethaJnanam and Yathartha Jnanam?

Gopika: Milch animals did not go for grazing. Your bright faces moved away the shadows which looked like the moving animals. The light is emanating from your bright faces, not sunrays. This is AnyathaJnanam (the other knowledge, which means you are under illusion that clouds are animals). Thinking shadows or clouds as animals is VipareethaJnanam (Considering one as another, for example, believing serpent as rope and rope as serpent). The Brahma Muhurtha- pre-dawn time- is conducive for securing Yathartha Jnana with Sathwa Guna, Afternoon makes it easy to get Anyatha Jnana because of Rajo Guna, and at night with Tamo Guna gives Vipareetha Jnana)

Goda: Okay, ours is Anyatha or Vipareetha Jnana. As you have Yathartha Jnana, please tell me how you consider that it is still not the dawn.

Gopika: We have 5 lakh Gopikaas in Brindavan, but not even a thousand came here.

Goda: They came and left.

Gopika: Then you may not need me. Or you do not care for me.

Goda: Not like that. They were all in a group and as they do not know whether you were here or already left. They might have gone to see you there. They care for you.

Gopika: Why did they go?

Goda: Those who are on the way to Shree Vaikuntham in Archiraadi route, or Akrura, who is travelling to Nanda Vraj to see Sri Krishna, or those going to Tirumala for Lord Venkateshwara’s Darshan. Going itself is their purpose, nothing else.

Gopika: When they left me behind, what is the use of coming now.

Goda: Now you know why they left. We told them that you are yet to come. Then they stood standstill with surprise. None ordered or asked them to be so. When they came to know that you did not arrive, they could not move at all. Then we asked them to stay there assuring that we would get you. As they thought glancing Lord Krishna was the sole purpose, requesting you to come with us is our sole purpose. And we came to your doorstep. Please come. When Ram’s army of Vaanaraas reached Lanka, Vibheeshan came to meet Ram and stood in the sky above on this side of the ocean. The moment he saw Ram, he was standstill. We also stood without movement for you.

Gopika: Am I so great that you all wait for me?

Book CoverGoda: Krishna Himself loves you and looks for you. Otherwise, we do not have any standing to come and invite you. As He loves you, we too want you. We want to see your grace and beauty as you walk towards us. Please give us the credit of succeeding in inviting you by honouring our request.

Gopika: What is that we gain now?

Goda: We get again what we used to achieve from the graceful look of Krishna. Elders of village separated us from Him. We were only meditating upon Him and hiding the pleasure. They are permitting us to meet Krishna now. We can sing his praises without any hesitation and enjoy. Let us prostrate before Him as He told us in Bhagavadgeeta.

Gopika: Will Lord Krishna grant us boon of that music instrument Parai.

Goda: He killed all our enemies like demons in the form of Horse and many others, and offered Himself to our love, hence, he would surely give us that gift.

Gopika: It’s an old story. Now He went to Capital City Mathura where he might have seen more beautiful women. He might have forgotten us long back.

Goda: He killed Chaanura and Musthikasura and gave darshan of his lotus-like face to women like us there. He will never forget us.

Gopika: He is praised as King of Gods, why should He bother about us?

Goda:Yes. He is Devaadideva, but for us he descended as one among us- cowherds. And if we go first on foot to Him, He will respect our effort and feel for giving us the trouble of walking to him. He will surely come to our rescue. As Raama arrived in the forest during exile, ascetics and Rishis went to Him seeking protection from demons. Raama felt guilty as He did not reach them first and gave them pain of reaching Him. He cannot tolerate the pain of His devotees. When Guha rushed to reach Him, Raama says you walked to see me! What else can one do other than this? He embraced Guha. Come let us go fast to see Him.

Also read: Goda’s love letter: A poetic garland

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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