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Thoughts On Bhakti Of Andal

 Hast thou not heard the twittering everywhere,
And sound of Anaichattan’s mingling voice,
O simple maid? Hast thou not heard the sound
Of churning buttermilk, while dairymaids
With fragrant hair their tinkling necklets toss
From side to side? Child, of the maidens queen,
Still dost thou lie, when thou hast heard the song
To him, Narayanan? To Keshavan?
Andal, Tiruppavai

Andal as the young gopi in the verse above, is all awake in the Divine. The first sounds of dawn send her hurrying to her friends whom she wishes to take along to awaken Krishna, the deity of Vrindavan, and ‘secure from him a drum, as a pledge of bliss’. Andal’s being is exquisitely alive to divine sounds, and her heart gushes forth in praise of the Divine. The drum symbolizes her commission to sing Krishna’s praise and proclaim his glory. The joyous notes of her compositions provide a unique melody to the divine symphony that underpins the universe. Andal is the soul that not only is awakened but has so lost itself in ecstatic love that its voice is in distinguishable from the voice of the Divine. This ecstatic love or prema is ‘the rope by which you can tether God, as it were. Whenever you want to see Him you have merely to pull the rope. Whenever you call Him, He will appear before you.’ But the paradox about this ability to pull God according to one’s will is that ‘when prema is awakened the devotee not only feels the world to be unreal, but forgets even the body, which everyone loves so intensely’.

Having surrendered one’s ego to the Divine, the devotee becomes a conduit for the divine Will — a
flute for the Divine to play its own melody. The heights of prema attained by Andal are not given to ordinary individuals to scale. But it is indeed tragic that the majority of us are deprived of even hearing the divine call. ‘That is not available to many even for the mere hearing, (and) which many
do not comprehend even on hearing,’ declare the Upanishads. This may appear surprising at a time
when preachers of virtually every religion, sect, and denomination are actively using all possible means of communication to reach out to people across the entire globe. If the Upanishadic statement still holds true, then the message of the Divine is scripted in a language different from ours.

SourceExcerpts from Prabuddha Bharata editorial August 2008 issue.