Apt interpretations

Andal’s Thiruppavai can be seen as praise of Ramanujacharya, said G. Satyabhama in a lecture, adding that all the verses were interpreted in this manner by Prativadhi Bhayankaram Annangarachar Swami. The first verse begins with the words Margazhi thingal. In Tamil, this is a reference to the month of Margazhi, that is Margaseersha. But marga means path, and if we take this meaning, then it can be taken as referring to the best path to moksha, which Ramanuja showed us. If we have the grace of our Acharya, then we are assured of moksha.

All of the Thiruppavai is about reverence for Acharyas. Mati niraindha, sings Andal, indicating that it is full moon. But mati can be taken to mean jnana, and niraindha, meaning full, shows that the world was filled with jnana. This happened when Ramanuja was born, for he dispelled the darkness of ajnana, just as the bright moon dispels darkness on full moon day. It is a nan naal, says Andal, a good day. It is good because the Gopikas are going to see Krishna. If we take it as referring to Ramanuja, that too is appropriate, for it was certainly a good day for mankind when Ramanuja was born. Andal refers to Krishna as kumaran, the eternally young one, and this is a most suitable description for Krishna, for He hid His greatness and mingled freely with the Gopas and Gopikas. Ramanuja too was kindness personified.

Krishna is an ilam singam — a fierce young lion. Ramanuja too was like a lion when it came to winning arguments against opponents. Kaarmeni is the word Andal uses to describe Krishna’s beautiful dark hue. But how can this apply to Ramanuja, of whom traditional records say that he was fair skinned? Ramanuja was always thinking of Vishnu and so he too took on his beloved Krishna’s colour.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 4:26:27 AM |

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