Pasuram 28 of Andal’s Thiruppavai The full text of all 30 Pasurams may be found here. Also, a scholarly discussion can be found at the link given below. A word-by-word translation is given at See below the images of the English and Tamil texts of Pasuram No. 28 of Andal’s Thiruppavai. For those who wish to read the text in other languages, please go to Andal is considered to be Sridevi’s amsaavataaram. She was born at Srivilliputoor (close to Kanchipuram, also the city where Indira Gandhi’s son and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated), as the daughter of PeriyAzhwar. She is also the only female among the 12 SriVaishNavite Azhwars. She longed for union with Her Lord and insisted that she should be taken to Srirangam where she eventually merged with Lord Ranganatha. You can read more about Andal at the link given above (or click here). The immortal Thiruppavai, attributed to Her, is a divine composition, filled with deep esoteric meanings, on which many commentaries have been written over the centuries. In the first pasuram, ANDAL invites Her friends for the Vratham observance. In the second paasuram, She spells out the rites to be observed and the deeds to be abandoned. In the third Paasuram, She describes the fruits of the Vratham. The aacaaryas who have blessed us are considered to be like the milk giving cows with overflowing udders. In the fourth Paasuram, Andal is directing her prayers to Varuna (actually to KrishNa who had the complexion darker than the darkest rain bearing clouds), the god of the rains, and comparing the bounty bestowing by aacaryas to the bounteous rains showered by Varuna. In Pasuram 5 Andal tells us that He would completely burn off all of our accumulated sins much like a fire burns pieces of straw thrown into it.

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Simple Word for Word meanings ( )

kaRavaikaL pin cenRu kaanam


uNpOm *

Cows following (them)(after)forest reaching(we will) eat

aRivu onRum illaatha aaykkulaththu * un^thannaip enlightenment any not having, (We the) cowherd community you piRavi peRun^ thanaip puNNiyam yam utaiyOm * born having been (to us) (What) good deeds (to) our (credit do we) claim kuRai fault onRum illaatha kOvin^thaa * un^ thannOtu any not having Govinda your

uRavEl namakku iNGku ozhikka ozhiyaathu * relation to us here (cannot) break or be broken aRiyaatha piLLaikaLOm anpinaal * un^ thannai innocent children (we all) (with) affection you (with) ciRu pEr azhaiththanavum cIRi aruLaathE * short name (we) address do not be angry iRaivaa! nI thaaraay paRai O Lord You (please) give us emancipation . El Or empaavaay Come (Let us do) (the penance of) paavai nOmbu See also: In Pasurams 6 to 15, Andal finishes waking up 10 different types of bhaktas and they all join her in the performance of the Paavai nombhu. In Pasuram 16, the arrival of the entire party at the palace of Nanda Maharaja is described. They ask the doorkeepers to let them in. Pasuram 17 describes their entering the inner bedchambers to wake up Nanda Maharaja, Mother Yashoda, Krishna and His younger brother Baladeva. Each of them is praised. In Pasurams 18 to 20, Andal and her friends try to wake up Nappinnai, the eternal consort of the Lord, since
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attempts to wake up Krishna (Kannan) proved futile. In Pasuram 21, they address Krishna directly since Nappinnai has by now agreed to join them. Andal and her friends plead that they have come to Him, on their own, unlike others, with no other expectations other than His grace and to sing His glories. In Pasuram 22, Andal and her friends are assembled at His bedside. They just want Him to glance at them with His beautiful lotus-like eyes, like the cool moon, or the sun, when they rise. In Pasuram 23, ANDAL describes how the Lord should majestically come out of His chamber and be seated on the perfectly suited and well-deserving throne; and then, May You kindly look try to understand the purpose of our coming here (to awaken You). In Pasuram 24, one of the most auspicious pasurams in the entire Thiruppavai, Andal waxes into eloquent poetry with the repeated use of “PoTTRi”, which is roughly equal to “Jai ho” in Hindi, or “All glories to You”. And with each PoTTRi she describes one of the divine lilas of the Lord, performed in various incarnations. In Pasuram 25, Andal sings about the glories of Krishna’s birth in the womb of one (Devaki, who is not named) and His being raised as the son of another (Yashoda, who is also not named). In Pasuram 26, Andal and her friends are requesting Krishna (who is called Maale MaNivaNNaa) to join them (following the long tradition set by the ancestors) in the ritual bathing during the holy month of Margazhi. She wants this to be a great joyous celebration. In Pasuram 27, Andal and her friends are asking for the ultimate benefits of their having come to Krishna and observed their vratam. They address Krishna as Govinda. They want to receive all material prosperity (which is to be used to serve Him). Now, in Pasuram 28, Andal and her friends again address Krishna as Govinda, and also as One beyond all wants (kurai ovonRum illadha). Andal and her friends also mention here their own humble origins in a cowherd family. They only know about grazing the cows and sharing food with each other in the cow pastures. They are blessed to have Him born as one among them. They desire no other type of relationship with Him. They request Him to forgive them, without being angered, if they have unknowingly talked about Him in intimate and endearing terms as just a mere relative. O deliver us (nee thaarai), You are indeed the Supreme (iraivaa).
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In the first verse Andal says “naaraayaNanE namakkE paRai tharuvaan” – The Lord is one who is to be attained by us. He is also the means of this attainment. Andal elaborates on this in this verse and the verse to follow. The path of sharanagathi has been told here on the pretext of nombu observance. Kannan says, “I have already accepted to give you all those things that you have asked me for, starting from “choodagamE”. But yet, it seems you have something else to ask me of. What is it?” The Gopis reply, “Our earlier pleads were meant for our own. You also consented to observe the nombu ritual with us. But now our sole aim is to attain the bliss of your divine communion.“ Kannan asks, “That fruit is indeed deliverance. In order to attain that, one should follow the paths of either bhakti or sharanagathi. What path have you chosen? One should perform the sacrificial oblations without fail, as per one’s status and should refrain from seeking the fruits of the actions thereof. One should realise the essential nature of the self and should behold the supreme soul that is the indweller in all sentient and nonsentient orders. Such a supreme soul needs to be incessantly meditated upon and at His lotus feet should a soul surrender itself. Now, what have you done?” The Gopis reply, “kaRavaigaL pin senRu kaanam sErndhu uNbOm” – The unwise is often compared to a cow. We do not possess a good mind like that of a cow. We only follow the cows and take them to the forest to graze. We take our food there and come back with the cattle in the evening.“ Kannan continues, “That aside, not being knowledgeable is not a big issue. Have you at least sought imparts from a noble teacher?” The Gopis say, “To us, the cattle are like the revered preceptors Vasishta and Vishwamitra. We partake the milk that is given by these cattle. Where else could we get a more relishing fodder? Moreover, we
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do not live in the lands that are the habitat of noble souls who would bestow their fellowmen with all good and auspicious things. We live in the dense grasslands. Moreover we hail from the ancestry of the naïve and the unintelligent cowherds. Kannan says, “Set that aside. At least you should have grazed your cattle in the forests of my liking like Ahobilam, Naimisharanyam, Badarikashramam and Veeksharanyam in order to aspire for moksham. The Gopis say, “Oh we were not choosy about the forests that we took our cattle to graze. We just followed the cattle and the day as it went by”. Kannan comes back, “Do you at least have any good merits (punyam) on your side. How will I be able to give moksham to you, with no good merits of any sort? Gopis come back, “We do not know the purports of the shastrams. But we know “undhannai(p) piRavi peRundhanai(p) puNNiyam yaam udaiyOm” – We have done such good deeds to have made you, the supreme Lord to take birth in our lineage. Is it not our merit that we are bestowed with the fortune of being able to say that Kannan, the Lord, belongs to our Yadavakulam? Though we are not deserving, yet, you are the unblemished and the unsullied “ kuRai onRum illaadha gOvindhaa”. You are perfect and absolute. Whatever be the want of the devotees, you bestow it on them plentifully. Have you not taken your birth amongst us to relieve us from all our torments and to grant us with the wealth of emancipation?” undhannOdu uRavEl namakku ingu ozhikka ozhiyaadhu– The Gopis say, “You are our close relative. Our relation may neither be disowned by you nor may be renounced by us. It is also not plausible for both of us to relinquish this relation. In the master servient relationship, the master is the one who ordains and the servient does it to the delight of his master. We have many such bindings between us. Oh Naaranane! I am not there without you and you are not there without me. This is established beyond doubt.
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aRiyaadha piLLaigaLOm anbinaal undhannai siRu pEr azhaiththanamum seeRi aruLaadhE– Having forgone your virtue of supremacy, you have come and taken birth amidst us in the lineage of the Yadavas. You have endeared yourself to us unassumingly. Apart from your supremacy, you are the indweller, the supporter, the inner controller, the object of attainment and the means of attainment. We had addressed you with the term “Narayana”, that reflects all these purports completely. Have you been made indignant? Moreover your supremacy is unmatched and we have been addressing you singularly as Yadava, Krishna and others. Has that made you indignant? If that is so, with your abundant mercy, kindly forgive us for all those transgressions. We might have committed many transgressions out of our unbounded love for you. If one’s hands and legs commit mistakes, then is it correct for him to punish them? If the teeth bite the tongue, then do we tear the tongue off? Is it not your responsibility to bear with all the transgressions of your dimwitted subservients? We therefore surrender ourselves unto you for forgiveness.” iRaivaa nee thaaraay paRai– Oh Lord, pray bestow on us the object of our desire. Though we adore and worship the Lord with utmost devotion, at the end of it we should seek His forgiveness and express our gratitude to Him for bearing with all those transgressions that we might have committed in the name of Bhagavadaradhanam. This is the hidden purport of this verse. The following taken verbatim from Dear BhakthAs: SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 28TH PAASURAM In the previous Paasuram (KoodArai Vellum Paasuram), the Gopis declared, “Unnai arutthithu VanthOm” and requested the blessings of “Paal, sORu,
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AbharaNams, Aadai” et al. That to Lord KrishNa looked like the Gopis were seeking from Him, the siRRinbhams (worldly pleasures). He was amused and Our Lord turned around and asked them: “Oh Gopis! Your mind seems not to be steady. Are you desiring the perishable pleasures or something higher than that from me?”. The Gopis recognized the situation and responded:” Oh Lord, we might have given You the impression that we are seeking sanmAnam that is commonly asked of You in a lOka reethi. Our true and inner wish is to have You and perform kaimkaryams to You always”. Then the pleased Lord revealed to them His Isvaryam (MahA VibhUthis) and the Gopis were overwhelmed and sought His pardon (aparAdha KshAmanam) for taking liberties with Him and forgetting His SarvEsvarathvam. They say: “Oh Lord of the Universe! You are Self complete (Svatha: PoorNan). We might have appeared to have offended You due to our Overwhelming sense of affection (PraNayam) or attachment (abhimAnam). For You. You are the most generous (parama OudhAryan). You are the most compassionate (parama DayALu). We are simple folks, who do not know the difference between our right hand and left hand (idathu kai, valathu kai aRiyAtha aai peNNkaL. We do not have the Jn~Anam, Bhakthi, anushtAnam, AachAram, Vidvath balam to seek You innately as SiddhOpAyam in the saasthrA-ordained manner. We do NOT have therefore the seven requisites (states of mind) needed to approach You (the SarvEswaran) as a SaraNAgathan: (1)Aakinchanyam (kai muthal inmai) (2)Naichyam (awareness of our lowliness to approach You) (3)awareness of Your Soulabhyam (ease of access by One& all (4)awareness of Your Parathvam (as the Supreme Lord) (5)awareness of knowledge about Sambhandham (Seshathva Jn~Anam: our uRavu to You, which is timeless & indestructible) (6)awareness of the need to seek Your pardon for our trespasses (aparAtha KshAmanam). (7)awareness of the importance of seeking You as the only rakshakan to provide the strength to seek Your lotus feet as refuge (“Unnadi sEr vaNNam aruLAi, KaLai kaNN maRRilEn”). PerukkAranai Swamy points out that the word “Unn” is used by the Gopis in an endearing manner THREE times in this paasuram: (1) UNRRANNAI piRavi perumtannai puNNiyam yAmm udayOm (2) UNRANNODU uRavEl nammakku ozhikka ozhiyAthu
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(3) anbinAl UNRRANNAI siRu pEr azhaithtanavum The Gopis address the Lord as “KuRai OnRum illAtha GovindhA!” and say “We are unsophisticated cowherdesses (aRiyAtha PiLLaikaLom) with the BhAgyam of having You born in our kulam (UnraNNai piRavi perumtanai puNNiyam yaamm udayOm). Out of affection, we have called you by inappropriate names (anbinAl unn tannai siRu per azhaitthanavum). We addressed You as NandhagOpan mahanE and other short names! Please do not be angry at us (seeRi aruLAthE) for that. Our relationship is indestructible (unthannOdu uRavu ozhikka ozhiyAthu). You are sEshi and we are sEshans. Even if we do not have seshathva Jn~Anam, the sEshathvam will not disappear. Sarva Jeeva seshathvam is incorporated in Your Pranavam. Therefore, Oh SarvEswaran who has descended from Sri Vaikuntam in the form of a human being to be with us and bless us! Please grant us the nithya Kaimkarya purushArtham!”. The Lord's identity as “PrApya-PrApaka Sangrahan” (essence as means and goal) was revealed succinctly in the First verse (NaarAyaNE namakkE paRai tharuvAn) and that quintessential upadEsam is elaborated in detail in paasurams 28 and 29 (KaRavaikaL pinnsenRu and SiRRam siRukAlE vanthunnai sevitthu). Bhagavath daasyam through Sva-Svaami (servantMaster) relationship is pointed out here as the way for our liberation. PBA SWAMY'S ANUBHAVAM In the first Paadham (karavaikaL pinn senRu ghAnam sErnthuNpOm), the Gopis describe themselves as the ones, who seek their livelihood by tending to cattle in the forests and thus do NOT have sath-Kaarya Phalan. In the second Paadham (aRivonRumillA Aaikkulatthu), they reveal their unfitness (apakarsha anusandhAnam) to pursue Bhakthi, Jn~Ana Yogams. We are Tatthva-Hitha-PurushArtha Jn~Ana Soonyars. “Jn~AnEna Heena: pasubhi: samAna:” In the Third Paadham (piRavi peRumtanai puNNiyam yaam udayOm), they refer to the extraordinary BhAgyam of having KrishNA born as sajAthIyan in their Kulam. In the fourth Paadham, the Gopis address Him as “KuRaivonRumillatha GovindhA”. They celebrate here the moola Sukrutham (the fundamental, quintessential bhAgyam) of Isvara GuNa Poorthy (PrApya-Prapaka sangrahathvam and GuNa Thungathvam).

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In the fifth Paadham (UnRannOduravEl namakku inku ozhikka ozhiyAthu), the Gopis celebrate the sambhandha Jn~Anam In the sixth paadham (aRiyAtha piLLaikaLOm anbinAl), the Gopis identify themselves as the little country girls without awareness of lOka maryAdhai and without Bhakthi or Jn~Anam. In the Seventh Paadham (UnraNNai siRu pEr azhaithtanavum sseRi aruLAthE), the Gopis seek PoorvAparAdha KshAmanam (forgiveness for previous trespasses). In the eighth paadham, the Gopis address te Lord as “IRaivA” and request for Kaimkarya sampath (Nee ThArAi parai). Here UpAya apEkshai is made. THE ANUBHAVAM OF ABHINAVA DESIKAN Until the 27th slOkam, the VaishNava dinasaris up to the third stage (ijyA Kaalam) were described. In this paasuram, the activities of a Sri VaishNavan for the fourth and the fifth stages of the day (SvAdhyAyam and Yogam) are referred to. During the SvAdhyAya Kaalam, one should approach BhaagavathAs (who are like affectionate, milk giving Pasus) and study the Dhivya Sookthis with them. The PuNyam (Punniyam YaamudayOm) refers to the state of wakefulness (Jaagaram) or Yogam to have dhruva smruthi about the Lord. “anbinAl siRu pEr azhaitthanavum seeRi aruLAthE” refers to AparAdha KshAmanam for deficiencies in upachArams during AarAdhanam. “Nee ThArAi paRai” refers to the prayer to grant vignarahitha aarAdhanam and performance of pancha kaala prakriyAs of a Sri VaishNavan.

Meaning of Parai
Starting with the very first pasuram, we find Andal referring to "Parai" repeatedly, including Pasuram 27, which is supposed to represent the ultimate benefits of performing the vratam (Paavai nombhu) described by Andal. "Parai" means a drum in Tamil and the word "Paraiyan" or "Paraiyar", which in English became 'pariah', means the lowest of the lowest of outcastes. Paraiyan or Paraiyar, actually means a "drummer". Andal is referring thus to the drums played by such drummers and it is ironic that although pariah is considered to represent
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contempt or derision, in Andal's pasurams "Parai" actually means the highest good. How did this association of "parai" with the highest good come to mean something so demeaning over the years? The "drummers" or pariyars were actually outcastes who were not allowed to live in the city, town, or village. However, they were sought after for their skill in playing the drums at all auspicious occasions such as weddings, temple functions, etc. They were also used by the kings of ancient times to make important announcements (the English equivalent is "heralds" those who announced). How is the announcement made? The "drummer" or pariyars (plural or paraiyan, also considered to be a more respectful way of saying paraiyan) would beat their drums and so everyone came out of their houses to hear what the "drummer" had to say or read loud. This is how messages were transmitted in the old days (today, important and emergency announcements are made in TV channels or radio). "Parai" of Andal's pasurams is the same -- it is an announcement --- that the highest good has now been achieved. Krishna, or Kanna, or Narayana, has blessed them with the highest good. It is to be loudly proclaimed. It is a matter of great joy. The first Pasuram ends with NaaraayaNane namakke parai tharuvaan. Today's pasuram 27 states "paaDi parai konDu yaam perum sammaanam". Perum sammanam means the highest of blessings, the highest of honors. Singing the glories, beating the drums, is all achieving the highest of honors. May be there is nothing to be ashamed of being a "paraiyan" or "pariayar". Let us rejoice and banish the demeaning implications of pariah and celebrate with Andal. I have provided some links below which discuss the origins of this word.

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