Published: 11 Dec 2023 1 PM Updated: 11 Dec 2023 1 PM
Andal invites you to come!
Sakthi Vikatan Team
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Mukundagiri Dr. U.V. Anantha Padmanabhachariyar Swamy
The machine translation was heavily edited by Dr. Veeraswamy Krishnaraj.
Please see additions, comments, explanations...
Paavai Nōnbu: பாவை நோன்பு = The important ceremony for the damsels to wake up before the sunrise in the month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan), go to the riverside, take ceremonial dips in the river, make dolls with the river mud, apply flowers and garlands to them and playfully offer services to Lord Krishna. பாவை = Paavai = doll. நோன்பு = Nōnbu = ceremonial fast.

1. In Thiruppāvai, which is the seed of all vedas, Kōthai Nāchiyār praised Paranthāman. She invited her friends to observe a religious (ceremonial) fast. Thinking of Srivilliputhur as Vadamadurai, the damsels treated themselves as the youngsters of the Āyar Kulam (pastoral family) and fasted for the experience of Krishna.

2. Andal and her friends woke up early in the morning, roused the other sleeping friends and observed pāvai's fast (damsel’s fast). A reference is made in the poems to the ten damsels in hymns from the sixth to the fifteenth pasuram.

3. When they awaken them, they call every damsel with words that describe her unique personality. In this article, let us appreciate the individuality of the beautiful damsels of Aayarpadi by their monikers as said to us by Andal.

Wake up, O child!

4. But the girl is young, new to Bhagwat (God) experience. She wants to be the first to start the Paavai Nōnbu for this season. She couldn't get up early in the morning because her enthusiasm kept her awake all night.

5. She slept, unable to hear the birds and even the loud sound of the conch. Kothai admonished and called her Pillāi (child) with the pointed finger because she would sleep through the chanting of Hari’s sweet name* by the devotees. Kothai encouraged her to wake up from her childish nature.

*‘the sweet words of the Bhāgavatas (devotees), 'Harir Hari: Harir Hari: Harir Hari: Harir Hari: Harir Hari:'
Bhagavat is God. Bhāgavat is the devotee.

The cowherd chieftain’s daughter
6. The young girl, whom Kothai was trying to wake up, was the cowherd chieftain’s daughter. Kothai and others wondered whether she could handle the responsibility of being at the head of Paavai Nōnbu.

Andal = Kothai
7. Under the circumstances, Andal addressed her, ‘'You foolish girl! You are the heroine who is sleeping in your house as if you had not listened to the speech of the Birds of Bharadwaja called Valiyan, and the sound of the Āychiyars (women of the herdsmen caste = milkmaids) churning the curd (yogurt) in your house, and their Kesava Nama Sankirtana (panegyric to Lord Kesava), to the point of rending the sky! Get up,' she called out.
Lord Kesava = God Krishna = God Kesava

8. Since this woman did not wake up though hearing the Sankirtana of the Lord's name, she first called her ‘Fiendish Girl' because she looked like those who are in a state of ecstasy, possessed by a demon.

9. She is to be the leader of the women who go to the paavai fast. But when she heard the name of God Kesava, she did not recall the experience of Bhagavad and woke up but remained in bed. So, she said to her, 'You have the body of Andal!' 'O Kanyamani, whose body shined with the experience of The Bhagavad, and who is in a perfect form full of effulgence! Wake up, open the door, join us, and rejoice with us.

Andal = Kothai = Bhūdevi, Consort of Balaji or Venkateshwara.
Joyous damsel
10. Thirdly, Andal is eager to bring the fast to a successful end. She stood at the door of the house and said, 'Utsāhā! O joyous lass! When we all met and talked last night, your interest inspired us all! Are you of that nature still sleeping? Don't let us wait too long..." She spoke.

11. But she could have been confused and astounded by the suspicion that it was dawn and that all the children had gone to the place of ceremonial fasting, which caused her to lay in bed motionless and still like a doll.

The daughter of Krishna's uncle!

12. Andal, who assumed the role of Gōpastrī (The mistress of Gopis or milkmaids) and her friends as herdswomen, went to wake up this fourth woman, the daughter of (Krishna's) uncle.

13. The woman told her friends that one should go past her house on the street to reach Sri Krishna's house. Therefore, having lost sleep all night, she decorated the house for the arrival of the devotees belonging to herder caste, lit incense, and lamps, made all the arrangements and waited. Unknowingly, leaning on the thick pillow, she fell asleep.

14. It was then that the heroine came and woke her up. She didn't wake up. Therefore, with the help of the woman's mother, she said, 'O Mother Dear! Will you wake her up?' she tried to wake her up. Māmi (= Aunt = honorific title accorded to an older woman) could not wake her up either.

15. Since she could not easily wake her up from deep sleep, the lady wondered 'what else she could do', and decided to recite the Vishnu’s holy names contained in the Sahasranāma (1000 names) and began to sing (God’s praise).

16. The Lord, who was pleased with the Nāmasankīrtana (singing his names in praise), became gracious and benevolent. The woman rolled over, her arms and legs moved, and she got up slowly. She looked up with her eyes and heard Bhagavannāma Sankīrtana (Singing of God’s names in praise), coming from outside her room. She immediately joined the group, apologizing for having made everyone wait for her!

Rare ornament, that you are!
17. The fifth is a very sleepy woman. The reason for her deep sleep is the experience of Bhagavatanubhavam (Bhagavata-anubhavam = God-experience). Since the person was a woman who had a special bhagavatan experience more than other women, the Gopistrīs first described the Mahābhāgyasāli (Mahābhāgyasāli = mahā-bhāgya-sāli = Great-Grace-Receiver) as 'Amman' i.e., 'Mother!' with great respect.

18. Every virgin is like a kalam (ornament). However, because she woke up from Beyond Deep Sleep (Turiya and Turiyatīta- the 4th and 5th state of consciousness, wherein the person communes and merges with God.) That meant she was like a 'beautiful jewel!' i.e., 'You are like a beautiful ornament! You have wonderful beauty and character!' they cried.

Comment: There are five states of consciousness: Awake, Dream sleep, Deep sleep, Turiya and Turiyatita. Turiya state is a state one knows there is dichotomy (Difference) between him and God. Turiyatita is when there is non-difference between man and God, a complete integration, from which the person can step out.)

Andal assigned monikers to the women.
19. Thus, Andal Nāchiyār continued to describe other women as Wealthy wife, Rich man’s sister, One with big eyes, Woman looking like young parrot... She called them out and went with them to Kannan's palace.

20. Do you know what the elders and the sacred books tell us by pointing to this? We are in one or the other position as depicted by the above-mentioned women. You must find release from that position and move towards the feet of the Lord. Andal's hymns and Margazhi pujas will help us. Come on, Andal is calling... Let us all join her in worshipping Kannan's flower feet! (Sacred books describe God’s feet as flower-feet. Margazhi = mid-December to mid-January.


Arangan's cymbal
1. Nammazhwar gave 4000 Divya Prabandham songs and Vaishnava doctrines to the Nada muni who were incarnated in Kattumannarkoil.

2. Nathamunigal came to Srirangam after writing these songs on palm leaves. After worshipping Arangan, he presented 4,000 songs at the feet of Sri Arangan. Arangan, who was pleased with the devotion of the Nathamuni, gave him darshan; He then presented his crown and a cymbal. Not only that, but Arangan also blessed that all the honor given to him should be given to the Araiyars who serve him. Araiyar = Araiyars are male Vaishnavites who used to recite the Tamil pasurams of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham regularly at Perumal Temples.
3. During the time of Sri Ramanuja, there were more than 700 Araiyars throughout Srirangam Keezha Uthira Street. This street was called 'Senthamamizh Paduvan Veedhi'.

4. Vaikunta Ekadasi, the most important festival of Srirangam, is celebrated in front of Sri Ranganatha Perumal. It is believed that just by seeing this, you will get entry into Vaikunta.

- R. Kesavan, Trichy