No. 3 is significant

April 26, 2017 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST

Numerals have a significance in worship of the Supreme One. In the third verse of Tiruppavai, Andal talks of Lord Narayana’s Trivikrama avatara. In this verse, She uses the numeral three, when She talks of rain thrice a month. Andal celebrates this avatara of Lord Narayana in three verses in Her Tiruppavai, said P.T. Seshadri, in a discourse.

What is the significance of three in worship? Sri Vaishnava tradition talks of Tattvatraya and Rahasyatraya, that is the three tattvas and the three secret mantras. The three tattvas are cit, acit and Iswara. The three secret mantras are the Ashtakshara mantra, Dvaya mantra and Charama sloka. The Lord, during His Trivikrama avatara, measured the worlds in three steps. It is stipulated that when Vedic yagas are performed, Trivikrama is to be invoked thrice — at the beginning, in the middle of the yaga, and towards the end of the yaga. Only then the person performing the yaga gets the benefits of the yaga. So the numeral three is important from this angle too.

Periazhvar was the foster father of Andal, and he is referred to as kalpa sutra vyakhyana karta — one who explains the kalpa sutras.

Given this fact, naturally Andal was aware of the importance of the numeral three, which is why She talks of the Trivikrama avatara in three verses, and also refers to rains thrice a month. There are three Sri Vaishnava temples in Tamil Nadu, where the presiding deity is Trivikrama — Tirukkoilur, Sirkazhi and Kanchipuram.

Andal’s verses may seem simple, with words of praise marvelling at Lord Krishna’s sojourn among the Gopikas. But in actual fact, they go beyond this.

They also subtly point to Vedic truths and Vedic practices as well. Andal’s religious observance (nonbu) for a month, is just an excuse for Her to talk about such truths.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.