In the Bhakthi litereature in India God is worshipped in many forms. The relationship is not always the standard one of reverence that a creation owes its creator but it has taken many forms like those between alter-egos like Nara and narayana, partners or lovers as in the case of Mira or Andal, friend, advisor, parent apart from the ultimate, the supreme, the final destination and salvation. But the most fascinating of all these relationships is the one where the bhaktha becomes the mother and treats God as a child. There are many beautiful songs in all our languages expressing adoration for Krishna, the baby. Some of my favorites are the well-known "thaye yashoda', "enna thavam seidanai","krishna nee begane baro", "chinnan chiru kiliye" and "Bhavayami Gopala Balam". They are beautiful not only for the description of the miracles performed by baby krishna's but for the basic emotion underlying the theme of the song.
In such a relationship, there is no request for any favours, not even the one which simply asks to become one with Him. There is no anguished cry about the sufferings in the material world. There is nothing to seek not even protection, shelter, refuge. There is only the simple love of the mother, in total adoration of the child and wonder at every little step it takes. An intense desire to satisfy its every need, to protect it and care for it.
This total effacement of the self and total devotion ,a complete need to give without expecting anything in return - Perhaps this is what makes these kind of songs stand out supreme among the Bhakthi songs. And perhaps this is one kind of Bhakthi that all mammals are capable of and can easily relate to.
Just listen to M.S.Subbalakshmi give voice to Annamacharya melting with maternal feeling (Just as Yasoda must have) watching little Krishna take his first steps:

Bhavayami Gopala Balam ... Mana Sevitham ,
Tat padam chintayeyam sada
kati ghatitha mekhala , khachita mani ghantika
Patala ninadena vibharaja manam
kutilapada ghatitha samakula chintitenam
chatula natanam samujala vilasam
niratakarakalita navaneetham
bramhadi ,suranikara bhavana shopitapadam
thiruvenkatachala sthitam anupamam harim
paramapurusham gopala balam

Anyone who has seen a child take his first unsteady steps can relate to the feelings and imagine what a delightful sight it must have been to watch the bejewelled Baby krishna walk unsteadily toward mama Yashoda with the butter in his hand spilling all the way!!
I can see why the whole of cosmos stopped to watch this sight!
14 Responses
  1. Kishore Says:

    Beatiful song.. I love all of oothukkadu songs, thiruppavai and some of annamacharya kritis...

    The point where Andal's rendition scores over every other ones sung over Lord Krishna is the fact that, Andal was the only one who spoke of "love" and "lust" towards the lord...

    love and lust - 2 qualities that grace the most intimate relationship ever felt in humans - that of a husband and wife.. every other relation (mother,friend et. al.) have the love factor, but lust is something confined exclusively to that of a husband and wife... a Wife who gives "herself" to her Man...!!!

    And this is her love for the Lord that Andal portrays in thiruppavai... Beautiful!!!!

  2. Ram Says:

    Wow! I'm lost for words to thank you for this beautiful post, and even more for quoting Annamacharya, who's amongst God's many unique gifts to mankind. You've really it made my day!

    Amongst the azhwars, Sri Vishnu Chittar (Periyazhwar) and Sri Kulasekharan stand out for treating the lord as a child.

    Kulasekharar was so consumed by the maternal instinct towards Lord Rama that--after listening to the Ramayanam discourses in 'Svanubhavam' mode--he would criticise Valmiki for not including any typically naughty balya vruttantam (childhood episodes) in the Ramayanam. Again, EVEN AFTER HEARING ABOUT THE EVENTUAL VICTORY OF THE LORD, as a mother, Sri Kulasekhara is disconsolate about the huge risk Rama was put to in fighting Karan, Dushanan & thousands of their associates in the janasthanam battle. He even wonders whether this misfortune was out of Valmiki forgetting to exorcise the evil eyes of jealousy that would have inevitably been cast on the lord after the exposition of his kalyana guna: (divine qualities) in the bala kandam. Result: He brings out his own lullaby in Tamil to do away the 'drishti dosham'--never mind that the Lord in the song is thirty plus! Obviously, it doesn't matter to mother Kulasekhara! And, in a different mode--putting himself as the child and the lord as his mother, he says:
    "...ari sinathal eendra thai agatridinum matraval than arul ninainde azhum kuzhavi aduve ponru irundene". (I'm like the child that keeps beseeching the mother's love even when she nudges it aside out of her anxiety do do her chores.)

    Periyazhwar has blessed the Srivaishnavas with the privilege of taking the child Krishna up for brushing of teeth, bathing, adorning etc. as part of the nitya aradhana (daily worship)and has composed mangalasasanams for each of these. (Interestingly, these songs also portray how he would create pretexts to avoid these and how the mother in us cajoles him to come around--what a reversal of roles!) To cap it all, we jeevatmas bless him to have a long life ("pallandu, pallandu, pallayirathandu....") And, it is for this ground-breaking thought--the norm is that the juniors can pray to but not bless their seniors--Sri Vishnu Chittar was hailed as 'Periya' azhwar (Senior supreme devotee) ahead of the supreme theoretician Nammazhvar and the most prolific Tirumangai Azhwar.

    I agree with Kishore that Andal and her Tiruppavai constitute the ultimate celebration of the lord. Interestingly, Sri Swami Vedanta Desikan--himself a persona that defies and surpasses even the most sublime deification--hyperlinks to the above episode of decoration of Periyazhwar but has a different take: He says, it is not because you intentionally wrote those profound lyrics but because you unintentionally served the lord the garland worn by Andal, that you merit your title ahead of the likes of Nammazhvar & Tirumangai azhwar!!!! (‘Taatastu te madhubidastutileshavasyat…--Sri Goda stuti)

    Again, Sri Bhashyakara Sri Bhagawad Ramanujacharyar, who was rightly and rightfully hailed as jeeyar (unsurpassable exponent) of all Vedas, Upanishadas, Itihasas, Puranas etc., relished the title, ‘Tiruppavai jeeyar’ the most and that explains why he extolled it as 'vedam anaittirkum vittu' (the fount of all Vedas).

  3. Pradeep Nair Says:

    Very good and thought provoking.

  4. Usha Says:

    I love andal's poetry too but I have to disagree with you onher being the only one expressing "lust" for the Divine. A major portion of our Bhakthi litereature is devoted to the nayaka/nayika relationship which is so full of this kind of emotion.

    Thanks for all those additional insights. I have to come sometime and raid all those poetry books from you.

    Pradeep: Thanks

  5. Mahadevan Says:

    I can see why the whole of cosmos stopped to watch this sight!

    Can anybody improve upon this line to describe the scene?

  6. Ram Says:

    Poetry books--I don't have any!! These ideas were ingrained in my mind by my seniors. I'm sure you would agree with me that these mahans were endowed with the ability to think laterally (multi-lateral or multi-dimensional could be more apt).

    I shall be privileged to refer you to my sources.

  7. Visithra Says:

    Ah beautiful as always - In general krishna songs pull a more emotional string - maybe because it always potrays love either of a mother and son or lovers

    whereelse other god songs are fashioned in bakthi even if they were nayaka nayika bayam - take manikavasagars thiruvembavai or palandus - there's still a strong hint of bakthi and awe

    whereelse songs written on krishna are purely love and antics - that they stir your emotions

    i love ootukadu songs just for the lyrics - the composition is an added bonus i must say - adathu asangathu, palvadiyum mugam - totally pictures a childs wonderful antics - while love pours in Alaypayude

  8. Ardra Says:

    wonderful post- and I love all the songs that u listed...its such a pleasure to be able to enact these songs-
    enjoyed reading the comments too...

  9. Ush, Just heard the song online...really nice. Please tell me what the words mean.....

  10. Ram Says:

    While all songs of Annamacharya are pleasing to the ears and indeed some like 'Brahmam okade', 'Bhavayami', 'Dolaya',
    'Kshherabhi kanyakaku', 'Sreeman Narayana', etc. are very popular, you may also like to try out the following: 'Fala netranala', 'Kanti akhilanda kartanathi', 'Gatulanni khilamaina', 'Kondalalo nela konna', 'Adivo aladivo', 'Alarulu', 'Oka pari', etc. If not all, at least, 'Gatulanni khilamaina'.

  11. Usha Says:

    This is the general meaing:
    This mind in constany contemplation of Krishna’s lotus feet, bows with reverence to baby Gopala’s form.. Wearing a mekhala that is studded with gems and pearls, his radiant form radiates even more with the splendour of these ornaments. His steps are unsteady and being the Lord Himself even he is puzzled by his unsteady gait. And as he is taking his steps, the butter in his hands overflows and spills. It si such a marvelous sight that Brahma and the other Gods have come together to watch the spectacle.
    Annamacharya pays obeisance to the Ultimate, the unparalleled in the form of Bala Gopala , the child.

    Pradeep,Mahadevan, Visithra,ardra: Thanks.

    ram: Thanks again. Will check out _ I think Priya sisters have brought out these in their albums.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    though i love this song with same bhava as she has sund (it is meant to be sung like that .
    Can anyone give the meaning of the song line by line .cursing myseldf for not knowing telugu

  13. Babu Says:

    Hello Usha, Pradeep, and ..........

    "Entharo Mahanubavulu Anthariki Mana Vandanamulu" - Sri Thiyagarajar

    I am so much thankful to you for the wonderful post.

    I got some problem in understanding the meanings of your comments as it seems all of them are very high standard. As a normal person, I am finding more difficulties in getting deeper to your comments.

    Could anyone post the same in Tamil?


    Babu Venkataraman

  14. puma Says:

    most wonderful and deeply soothing song... thanks a ton for the post :-)