Jul 24: Andaal

24 Jul

The Nama Sankirtan was lead by Ramaniji and his family.

Narayananji from Boston talked about the significance of ‘Shravana’ as expounded in Srimad Bhagavatam in the episode of King Prithu.

In Srimad Bhagavatam,  the lineage of man is being described, where the creation first starts, with Svayambhuva Manu, and Shatarupa being the first couple for procreation. They had two sons – Priyavrata and Uttanapada and three daughters Akuti, Devahuti and Prasuti. The lineage of Uttanapada starts with his son Dhruva, who performed penance when he was five years old and saw the Lord face to face. The lineage of Dhurva is mentioned in a very elaborate manner. Anga was Dhruva’s son and Vena was Anga’s son.  Vena was extremely sinful and hence the Rishis, not able to stand his atrocities, cursed him to death.  As there was no ruler, the kingdom was filled with dacoity and hence the rishis decided to take Vena’s corpse and churn it.  When his shoulders were churned a beautiful couple – Prithu who was verily the form of Mahavishnu and Archis (form of Maha Lakshmi Devi) emerged.

Prithu was a glorious ruler.  It is thanks to him that we enjoy all the natural resources on earth – he was the one who showed the way to tap the natural resources from Mother Earth. Prithu happened to be a illustrious king and was praised by all his subjects. But Prithu says that it is only the Lord Almighty that is worthy of praise.  Humans are in no way, praiseworthy.

Prithu also says that our biggest enemy that cannot be pardoned is the one who wastes our time. Any one who wastes our time from thinking about the Lord is our biggest enemy.

When granted a boon, Prithu says that he would ask for a thousand ears.  Even with a thousand ears, one cannot get tired listening to the glories of the Lord.

Thus the more and more we listen to the glories of the Lord we acquire Bhakti to reach the glories of the Lord.   Such is the glory of Sravanam.

Aravindji from Orlando gave a discourse on life and Bhakti of Andal given the next day was Aadi Puram,  the birth star of Andaal.

When we go to a store and purchase some toys and gadgets we get an instruction booklet. Even though everyone knows how to use these things we are given an instruction booklet. But what is the instruction booklet for life? The instruction booklet for life is verily the scriptures – Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, etc. The whole purpose of the scriptures is to tell us the goal of life is God Realization. So the question arises that, if God-Realization is the goal of life then who is God? What does he look like?  It is said that the Lord we see in the temple is same as the one we may see once we realize Him. But since God is an unknown factor for most of us, the saints have done a great benefit by bringing the god to a specific form, which is none other there what we see in the temples. What is the proof that God worshipped this way will lead to liberation? The proof is in the life of saints. Today we are going to see the life of one such saint –  Andaal.

In the temple town of Srivilliputhur lived a pious Brahmin named Vishnuchitta. He was a great Bhagavata and all he loved doing pushpa-kainkarya (offering flowers) to Lord Vatapatrasayee of Srivilliputhur. He was very strict in making sure his pushpa service to the lord was immaculate.

His only desire that was not fulfilled was his longing to have a child. One fine day in the month of Aadi (Ashaada), he went to his garden and he heard a big noise that shattered the silence of the entire place. From this emerged the goddess who resides in the heart of Sri Ranganatha; the goddess who is the embodiment of compassion with a parrot in her hand. Once Sri Vishnuchitta emerged from the shock he noticed a very beautiful girl lying on the ground. Sri Vishnuchittar named the girl Kothai (Godha) since she had a beautiful locks of hair.

Children usually imitate their parents. Thus Kothai’s one and only enjoyment was Nama Sankirtan and playing with her toys as though they were verily Lord Krishna. Every day Sri Vishnuchitta used to narrate to Kothai about the lilas of Bhagavan. As Kothai grew up, her Bhaava also grew. She started composing pasurams at an early age. [Pasurams are devotional verses sung in the praise of the Lord, which are part of the Nalayara Divya Prabhandam]

Our Guru Maharaj says that if we think about only one mantra or any one thing constantly, it will arise from our consciousness automatically after a time. All around her house Kothai had written “Krishna” everywhere around her house. Sri Vishnuchitta started noticing these things and he praised her for her Bhakti. He started narrating to her the Shthala Puranas of the various deities. One of the deities captured Kothai as no other and that was Sri Ranganatha of Sri Rangam.

As a girl growing up, Kothai started telling her father that she would marry Sri Ranganatha when she grows up. However, hearing this everyone in the village started making fun of her. They also started spreading rumors that Kothai has gone mad without understanding her Bhaava. This started upsetting Sri Vishnuchitta a lot. He tried reasoning with Kothai about how it was not feasible for the Bhagavan to come and marry her. Being completely immersed in the thought of marrying Krishna, Kothai couldn’t bear to hear these words from her own father.

As she grew older, her Bhava started getting stronger. She would start rolling in the sand claiming that it was the same earth that was covered by the Lord during His Tiruvikrama Avatar. She would see a snake and pick it up thinking it was the snake on which the Lord was rests.  She would embrace fire and feel as if she had embraced Lord Krishna.

Sri Vishnuchitta got very worried about these developments. So he called a doctor to diagnose her illness. When the doctor asked her hand to check a puilse, she rebuked him that he would never understand her disease, which was Krishna Viraha (pangs of separation from Lord Krishna). Every now and then, Kothai would start crying since she could not bear everyone making fun of her and she felt the Lord did not care enough about her to understand her pain.

One fine day when Sri Vishnuchitta was reading Srimad Bhagavatam when Kothai heard him recite a sloka about the Gopis praying to Godess Kathyayani during the month of Margazi and doing a vratha (fast) in order to attain Lord Krishna. This led Kothai to consider a similar path and the outcome of this was a collection of pasurams called Thirupaavai. During this time, she had a dream that Sri Ranganatha would come and marry her. Hearing this and having no other way to convince her otherwise, Sri Vishnuchittra told Kothai that if she had such dreams then Lord Ranganatha would definitely come in person and marry her.

We saw how Sri Vishnuchitta was known for the pushpa service of the Lord. Once he prepared the garland for the Lord but had to leave urgently for an errand. During this time, Kothai in her bhaava wore the garland. When Sri Vishnuchitta came back and saw his daughter wearing the garland, his patience ran out and he considered this a sacrilege. He chastised Kothai for her act but realized he had to make a new garland. So he hurried to the garden, prepared a new garland, and ran to the temple to hand it over to the priest right on time. When the priest placed the garland on the Lord, the garland fell. After repeated attempts both priest and Sri Vishnuchitta were shocked. Then the priest heard a voice, which told him to fetch the garland that Kothai wore. So Sri Vishuchitta ran back to the house to fetch the garland and told Kothai about the incident. Kothai’s joy grew leap and bounds hearing this and she was happy that the Lord actually accepted her.

Once a woman fortune-teller came to their house and told Kothai that Sri Ranganatha himself would come and marry her. This again increased Kothai’s happiness. When Kothai offered the fortune-teller a piece of cloth, she tied it on her head like a man. This puzzled Kothai. During this time, Sri Vishnuchitta woke from his sleep and told Kothai about a dream he had. When he explained his dream, it was absolutely similar to the real incident that Kothai had just experienced with the fortune-teller who visited her. Sri Vishnuchitta said that it was Lord Ranganatha himself who came as the fortune-teller thus explaining the reason why the fortune-teller tied the cloth as a turban like a man.

On an auspicious day, in the month of Panguni on the Uttara star, a huge procession came into the village. The villagers had never seen such a big procession and hence it caught everyone’s attention. In one of the palanquins was a very handsome man the town folks ever saw. Everyone followed the procession to see where it was headed. The procession stopped in front of Sri Vishnuchitta’s house. Once Sri Vishnuchitta saw the handsome man, he realized it was Sri Ranganatha himself. He informed this to Kothai. Since Kothai was waiting for this moment, she was not at all surprised. She took her time to dress up in the most beautiful bridal garment. Then, she accompanied the Lord and both went to Srivilliputur temple and got married. After this, everyone went to Sri Rangam.

Once in Sri Rangam temple, the Lord took Kothai’s hand and walked into the sanctum. Kothai merged with Lord Sri Ranganatha.

Sri Vishuchitta, though pleased with all these events, requested the Lord with to take care of Kothai well and blessed them. Because the Lord became his son-in-law, Sri Vishuchitta is called Periaazhwaar, meaning the great Alwar.

If one reads Thirupavai, Kothai repeatedly talks about the glories of the Lord and prescribes Nama Kirtan as the easiest way to reach Him. Since she captured everyone’s heart, Kothai is called Andal.

The satsang ended with prayers and Nama Sankirtan.

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