Messages from the two Pavai hymns

CHENNAI JAN. 4. Spiritual traditions and the methods of carrying out the exercises like rites may vary among the schools of religious thoughts but the goal is one for all — to get permanent relief from the worldly bondage. One of the steps to seek the grace of God is to get up early in the morning and proceed to rivers or ponds to cleanse the body and then adopt the procedures to purify the mind and praise God. In Saivism, importance was given to the obeisance to be shown to the servants of God, whereas in Vaishnavism, devotees approached Him and prayed for His protection (through His representatives). The two paths have been portrayed in two hymns — in Thiruvempavai by Saint Manickavasagar and in Thiruppavai by Andal — the former with 20 stanzas and the latter with 30.

The themes are alike — young women resorting to the spiritual exercises but one adoring the Divine messengers and the other pleading with God to bless them. Both adopted this tradition (one as a vow and the other through songs) to be fulfilled during the Tamil month of Margazhi because of the equable climate. The prayer in general was to get married to good husbands and their plea included the boon of copious rains ensuring bumper crops.

Comparing the two works, Prof. V. Rathinasabapathy, in a lecture, said God-intoxicated persons do not feel hungry or thirsty when they are immersed in the ocean of bliss beyond the reach of any words, addressed to the Divine messengers. Manickavasagar refers in one verse about the seven different types of praise showered on the Divine bards and Lord Siva, incidentally showing how devotees visualised the Almighty in Nature's beauty. "He is the sacred water in which we bathe with ardour that the sorrow of shackling birth may cease. He creates, protects and withdraws the Heaven, earth and land."

In Andal's work one finds the efficacy of God's name "Govinda" and in the Yadava community there was a tradition of conducting "Govinda's coronation". In one of Her verses there is a reference to the Lord's incarnation as "Narasimha". Both the hymns explain the paramount relationship, which exists between the Creator and the created, which cannot be snapped. Andal's verse also throws light on the significance of devotional path when God who took the "Varaha Avatara" delivered a message after rescuing Her from a demon's clutch.

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