Faith

Thiruppavai, a gem

One can understand the significance of Thiruppavai only by studying the commentaries. Andal’s work is a gem. A gem shines more when polished. Andal’s works too shine more due to the commentaries. All the meanings given in the commentaries would have been ones that Andal intended, for Acharyas will never infer anything that was not intended, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan in a discourse. Andal says in the second verse of Thiruppavai that she will give up ghee and milk, due to the vrata that she has undertaken. But before she makes this vow, she says she will sing of the One who reclines in the milky ocean.

Why does she first talk of singing His praises before she makes Her vow? Because His name is so sweet that once she sings His names, even milk will not be sweet, but will taste bitter. In Nachiar Thirumozhi, Andal says Indra’s charioteer faced the enemy for the first time. Does not a charioteer who drives his king to battle always face the enemy?

So what was special about Indra’s charioteer Matali facing the enemy? Peria Vachan Pillai explains why this was special. When Rama fought Ravana, the latter was in a chariot, but Rama had no chariot. So sage Narada asked Indra to lend his chariot to Rama, along with his charioteer Matali. Losing in battles was a common occurrence as far as Indra was concerned , and because of his defeats, he would turn away from the battlefield. So Matali had only driven away from the enemy, when he had driven the chariot for Indra. But Rama was a fearless warrior, and He asked Matali to drive the chariot towards Ravana. This was the first time that Matali was asked to drive forward to meet the enemy, and this was a new experience for him. That is why Andal stresses that Matali drove Indra’s chariot towards the enemy.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:27:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/thiruppavai-a-gem/article30332129.ece

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