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Andal as Universal “Nayika” of Natyashastra

Bharatamuni in Natyashastra, has given a unique classification of the Nayikas or heroines based on their age, basic character, personality, and relationship with lover and various stages of love.

Andal’s femininity is generally recognized when she is viewed as the Nayika or the heroine of a kavya-like text from the perspective of traditional Indian aesthetics. However, this aestheticization of femininity or bhakti is inadequate. Aestheticization results in viewing the Tiruppavai and Tirumoli as examples of love poetry, but bhakti is more than just this.

Heroines (nayika) are of eight kinds as given in Natyashastra & Andal presents herself as some of the various nayikas as described in Natyashastra in the following situations. 

ANDAL AS VASAKASAJJA

 Vasakasajja-One dressed up for union. A Heroine Dressed Up For Union- A woman who in eager anticipation of lover decorates herself joyfully, when the conjugal union is soon to happen. 
Andal dresses up in all her grandeur with the intention of marrying only Sri Ranganathar & wears the garland of Tulsi every day before offering to the Lord.

ANDAL AS VIRAHOTKANTITHA

 VirahotkantItha– (one distressed by separation) A Heroine Distressed By Separation- A woman whose beloved one does not turn up on account of his preoccupation with other engagements, making her afflicted with sorrow.

In spite of knowing Andal’s love, devotion & Bhakti for Him, Lord Ranganatha delays his arrival …meantime Andal refuses to get dressed with her basic Alankarams & becomes weak & thin due to lack of sleep & food. Kodhai sets upon a period of deprivation that will seemingly lead her to receive love from the divine form. Andal’s self-deprivation takes the form fasting, loss of interest in adornment, loss of a sense of shame, distress and suffering:  My body is filthy, my hair unkempt my lips are pale and I eat but once a day .(Nachiyar Tirumoli 1.8, Venkatesan, 2010, 149) 

My bones melt and my eyes long as spears resist even blinking. For days now, I am plunged into a sea of distress and I ache to attain that great boat, Vaikuṇṭha but I cannot see it. (Nachiyar Tirumoli, 5.4, Venkatesan, 2010, 160). The fire of desire has invaded my body I suffer. (Nachiyar Tirumoli, 8.2, Venkatesan, 2010, 16

Quickly bring me the dust from his footsteps smear it on me and prevent my life from fleeing. (Nachiyar Tirumoli, 13.6, Venkatesan, 2010, 184)

ANDAL AS ABHISARIKA

 Abhisarika–one who moves (to her lover)  Heroine Moving To Her Lover – A woman who due to intense love gives up modesty for going out to meet him, daring the nature around and the world.

Andal very clearly stated to her father Vishnuchittar that she would marry nobody else except Sri Ranganatha. All the arrangements were made to take Andal as the bride to Sri Ranganathar at Sri Rangam.

ANDAL AS ABHISARIKA

 Abhisarika–one who moves (to her lover)  Heroine Moving To Her Lover – A woman who due to intense love gives up modesty for going out to meet him, daring the nature around and the world.

Andal very clearly stated to her father Vishnuchittar that she would marry nobody else except Sri Ranganatha. All the arrangements were made to take Andal as the bride to Sri Ranganathar at Sri Rangam.

Andal, like Krishna, has a dual personality, one a divinity and the other, a symbol of love, sexual union, marriage and fertility. Certainly for Andal her body is the pulsing vessel that receives the sacred. Among the reasons women love her dearly are that she’s confident, unashamed and proud of her beautiful form. She desires her God as a lover openly, erotically with no holds barred. At the same time Andal is deeply spiritual. She aligns herself with cosmic harmonies. She calls on divine grace to pervade her.

 Kodhai was neither a demure bride-to-be nor a god-intoxicated ascetic, but a willful woman unafraid of her own magic, who sought to move life and the universe to do her own bidding. Deeply forlorn, yes but profoundly self-possessed. For Andal, her body and her sexuality are no embarrassment or impediment to her. The body is the instrument, the site, through which her devotion is expressed. Her relationship with the lord is set within the framework of bridal mysticism.

 Andal’s devotion quickens her body; she awakens early to the beauty of her body, through her single-minded meditation upon the lord. She rejected the mortal world and its restraining social contracts to explore an ‘alternate possibility’. In this pursuit, she aspired for the unattainable divine and was even successful in realizing it. Her disdain for an unremarkable mundane life, a life that every other girl of her age lived in her society, made her an undisputed outlier of her times.

References

http://mytho-thoughts.blogspot.com/2018/01/

https://www.news18.com/news/books/book-excerpt-why-women-poet-saints-of-the-bhakti-movement-were-true-champions-of-feminism-2275193.html

https://www.indictoday.com/research/rethinking-femininity-transgression-andal-bhakti/

https://issuu.com/chandsi27kataria/docs/research_article_917163ec29ad2d

https://medwinpublishers.com/JONAM/JONAM16000102.pdf

http://anujghai.blogspot.com/2014/05/mysticism-devotion-and-place-of-erotic.html

https://namadwaarsg.org/sri-andals-bhakti-for-lord-sri-krishna/

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