Skanda Purana reference

Chennai: Andal imagines Srivillupthur to be Gokulam, her companions as the Gopikas and Vatapatrasayee, Lord in the Srivilliputtur temple, as Lord Krishna, and sings her Thiruppavai. She wakes up her companions so that they may perform a ‘nonbu’ — vrata. Now what was the vrata the Gopikas in Gokulam observed? They observed the Katyayani vrata, which is a vrata to Parvati. Their aim was to get rain. Now why would Andal, who would worship none other than Lord Narayana, worship Parvati? No Paramaikantin will worship any other devata, but Lord Narayana. This ‘nonbu’ of Andal’s must be interpreted in the light of Skanda Puranam, said Devanarvilagam S. Padmanabhan.

Andal and Her companions pray for union with the Lord. This is in tune with the yearning of every Paramaikantin. And the Gopikas also had this goal, when they began their vrata. They too wanted Lord Krishna as their consort. But isn’t the Lord both the means and end? While the end is right in this case, it seems the means — Katyayani vrata — is at variance with what is prescribed for a Paramaikantin. The Skanda Puranam sheds light on what seems puzzling.

It says Lord Narayana Himself explained the Margazhi vrata to Brahma. The Lord says that rising early in the morning, having one’s bath, wearing the Urdhvapundaram, and then proceeding to perform utsavas for the Lord constitute the Margazhi vrata. The Lord says an example of such a Margazhi vrata would be the vrata of the Gopikas. And all the features of Margazhi vrata spoken of by the Lord are to be found in Thiruppavai. She prescribes an early morning bath — ‘Naatkale neeraadi,’ and all the other rules mentioned in the Skanda Puranam are also laid down in the Thiruppavai. Thus what Andal performed was not the Katyayani vrata, but the Margazhi vrata. And who can perform this vrata and where? Andal says it can be performed anywhere — ‘engum Thiruvarul petru inburuvar.’ To the Paramaikantin, the goal is Lord Krishna, and the means of reaching this goal is also Krishna. The Paramaikantin never wavers from this commitment to the Lord.