Narayana’s five forms

The first five verses of Andal’s Thiruppavai talk of the five forms of Lord Narayana. The first verse talks of Para Vasudevan; the second verse talks of His vyuha state; the third verse talks of His vibhava form; the fourth talks about the Lord as antaryAmi; the fifth pasuram talks of His archa (idol) form. It is said that the remaining twenty-five verses of the Thiruppavai are explanations of the first five verses. There is a parallel that we find to this in the Brahma Sutra, said M.S. Srikanth, in a discourse. The first four adhikaranas, which contain what the Vedas say, are explained in the remaining one hundred and fifty two adhikaranas..

In an invocatory verse of Andal, the Thiruppavai is said to have five times five, plus five verses. It could so easily be said that it has thirty verses. What is the need for saying it in a circuitous way? The reason is in the nature of Andal’s work. The first five stand apart, as verses that describe the Lord’s five forms. The remaining twenty-five verses help us to understand the Lord in His five states. The first verse is explained by verses six to ten. The second verse is explained by verses eleven to fifteen. The third is explained by verses sixteen to twenty. The fourth verse is explained by verses twenty-one to twenty-five. The fifth verse is explained by verses twenty-six to thirty.

Andal uses the word ‘mannu’ to show His lasting connection with Mathura, which is an auspicious city. The Lord took the Vamana avatara here. Viswamitra did japa here. Shatrugna established Mathura after vanquishing Lavanasura.’ In Sri Vaikuntha, there is no need for a manifestation of the Lord’s compassion, for those in His abode are happy always. But as Krishna, His compassion shines, and so Andal calls Him aNiviLakku — a resplendent lamp.

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