Thiruppavai - Verse 3 Learning and interpretations

After a brief hiatus, back to the Thiruppavai series. All these days, I was ruminating on a lot of commentary for Thiruppavai and other Vishitadvaitam works. One thing that was clear to me was, Thiruppavai seems to be the easiest/quickest possible way to start reading about the philosophical tenants of Vedanta. Without much ado, delving into the verse 3.

Thanks for Krishna for Today, for this wonderful artwork.

ஓங்கி உலகளந்த உத்தமன் பேர்பாடி *
நாங்கள் நம் பாவைக்குச் சாற்றிநீர் ஆடினால் *
தீங்கின்றி நாடெல்லாம் திங்கள்மும் மாரிபெய்து *
ஓங்கு பெருஞ்செந்நெ லூடு கயல் உகளப் *
பூங்குவளைப் போதில் பொறிவண்டு கண்படுப்ப *
தேங்காதே புக்கிருந்து சீர்த்த முலைபற்றி வாங்கக் *
குடம் நிறைக்கும் வள்ளல் பெரும்பசுக்கள் *
நீங்காத செல்வம் நிறைந்தேலோ ரெம்பாவாய் *

Our religious texts, as we know, are filled with personifications. The personification was made so that the concept was driven down easily. Unfortunately, the intent got diluted and personification was replaced with verbatical understanding.

This verse if translated would mean that, if we were to chant praises of Lord Vamana who measured the world in three giant steps and keep up with the rules of the nombu, we can expect a good spell of rain, thereby leading to prosperity(indicated by plentiful milk supply, tall paddy fields and ponds with fishes).

Now to decipher the personifications:

ஓங்கி உலகளந்த உத்தமன் பேர்பாடி *

Here the reference is made to Trivikrama. As mentioned in previous posts, the Trivikrama avatar is said to be a personification of the three giant strides that the Lord takes to measure three worlds.

This three stride concept is interpreted in various ways by different commentaries. But, something that is common across all these interpretations is that the strides manifests in form of Sun or rising, culmination and setting of the sun.

The weather channels define strides that Earth takes around the sun in terms of Equinox and Solstice. *Equinox indicates equal night i.e., equal day and night.

Vernal equinox - First day of spring.

Autumn equinox - First day of Autumn.

Summer solstice - the first day of summer, characterized by longest daytime.

Winter solstice - the first day of winter, characterized by shortest daytime.

These terminologies rely on the fact that there is an imaginary celestial sphere.

Surya Siddhanta - the grammar book for Vedic astrology, explains the similar concepts but personifies the strides of the earth as strides of Lord Vishnu.

Here the terminology is:

This theory is based on the movement of the sun towards north or south hemisphere.

To correlate these two terminologies:

Putting these together, Trivikrama performs his three strides to keep this seasons going.(chakra personification to indicate that this is a never-ending activity)

ஓங்கி உலகளந்த - Taking large strides to around the world.

The seasons are directly proportional to weather. So, the purpose of these strides is to predominantly provide the apt weather conditions that aid harvest and living.

It is a known fact that moon has a significant effect on rainfall on Earth. Moon(personified by Sangu - may be due to its white color), Sun(personified by chakra) and strides, the path of movement, together are responsible for good rainfall season.

Okay, now what has these stuff got to do with Thiruppavai and margazhi?!

நாங்கள் நம் பாவைக்குச் சாற்றிநீர் ஆடினால் *
தீங்கின்றி நாடெல்லாம் திங்கள்மும் மாரிபெய்து *

The major benefit of pavai nombu is the three spells of rain that helps in maintaining the water cycle.

Rainfall prediction was done merely by observing the nature and finding patterns that led to good spell. Astrology scriptures say that conception of rainfall is indicated via three symptoms:

It is said that the chances of having rainfall 195 days after the record of these symptoms are really high.

The conception of monsoon happens right after the rainy season has come to an end. The conception begins on a full moon day of margazhi. So how do we observe these symptoms? Pointers for these are also in Thiruppavai:

Planetary symptom

வெள்ளி எழுந்து வியாழம் உறங்கிற்று

There are certain favorable combinations but one such thing recorded is Venus rise and Jupiter set at the same time.

Atmospheric symptom

This is for sure, observing the clouds.

கீழ்வானம் வெள்ளென்று எருமை சிறு வீடு

Silver/whitish pre-dawn clouds is a good symptom. The wind is nice and breezy in the margazhi mornings.

Terrestrial symptom

பாவை நோன்பின் முக்கிய அம்சமே இளம் சிறுமியர், மார்கழி மாதம் விடியலுக்குமுன் எழுந்து, ஆற்றங்கரை சென்று, சில்லிடும் ஆற்று நீரில் நீராடி, ஆற்று மணலில் பாவை எனும் பொம்மை செய்து, அதற்குப் பூச்சூட்டி விளையாட்டாக வழிபடுதலே ஆகும்.

Pavai nombu is characterized by setting the water in motion during the pre-dawn time. One common term is வைகறைப் பொழுதின் சலசலப்புகள்

When people come out it eventually leads to warming up of atmosphere and there my setting the conception phase for rain.

Thus, keeping up this pavai nombu tradition, helps in the conception of rain, thereby leading to a good monsoon season.

With all these explanations in mind, take a look at the fitting art work below: