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Adiyal Vinnappam (A Devadasi's Appeal)

February 12, 2018

The mid January furor in Tamilnadu over the comments of film lyricist Vairamuthu against the mystic saint poet ANDAL brought several voices to the fore. Amidst the cacophony of death threats and menacing comments about the revered Andal's poetic genius and inspiration, came the realisation that she was one historical figure who had ignited the spark of Tamizh pride, Beyond, caste and gender, ANDAL was claimed by some as MOTHER and others as SISTER.

Musicologist, Dance afficionado, guardian of important Carnatic traditions and a keen observer of the performing arts, Sujata Vijayaraghavan has written these lines in Tamizh with an accompanying English translation.

Readers may respond via this forum.

A Devadasi's Appeal
- Sujatha Vijayaraghavan

Surrender we did
At the feet of the Lord.
Rendered His own
Bonded to Him
In servitude.

Molesting us
Dragging the like of us
Into flesh trade
Denigrating our caste-
These Keechakas
What indeed may be their caste?

Caste is abolished,
So they say.

Descended on this earth,
By virtue of her stellar life on earth
Venerated as a celestial.
Casting aspersions on these and others
In the name of caste!
These heckling perverts
What do we say to them?

Bhu Devi Mother Earth!
All this thou can bear
And much more.

O Thou, Ocean of
Unbounded compassion
Our Dear Pavai!
Heed this appeal
Of Thy servitor.

Seal the impudent lips
Of the vile bullies
And kindly impart
Even unto their ilk
Lessons in decency.

Keechaka The lecherous brother-in-law of King Virata of Mathsya country , where the Pandavas lived incognito for a year during their exile. When he tried to bring Draupadi to his bedchamber, he was pummelled into a pulp by Bhima.The story is from Mahabharatha.

Bhu Devi Andal, the female Vaishnava Saint, is revered as the Bhu Devi. Mother Earth aspect of Mahalakshmi, consort of Maha Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity.

Vag Devi Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning and Knowledge

Pavai Literally a young maiden. Here the allusion is to the appeal ' Ael ore em Pavai" that forms the refrain of the last line of Andal's Thiruppavai, a set of thirty sacred hymns composed by her and recited at temples and homes in the month of Margazhi (December-January).

The first two lines of this poem (A Devadasi's Appeal) are an echo of the famous last lines of a hymn by the Saivite saint Appar, where he describes a maiden surrendering herself body and soul at the feet of Siva.

The Devadasis were ritualistically married to the Lord of the temple where they served and were called Devar Adiyal or Deva Dasi, meaning servant of the Lord. They were like the vestal virgins who can marry no man.

(The original Tamil version)

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