Goda Devi or Andal is one of the most celebrated among the Vaishnava saints of South India. Everything in the life of Goda Devi is mystic, is supra-natural-her advent in the world, her marriage and her final union with the Lord. Her immortal works Thiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi –describing the soul’s eternal quest for the ultimate goal are gems of poetic excellence and ecstatic devotion.. According to the Acharyas, they contain the essence of the Vedas. The Bridal mysticism that gleams through Goda Devi’s luminous hymns splendidly expresses the Bhagavata concept that the Supreme Lord is the only Man; all others form Brahma downwards are like women (who long to be united with Him).
‘Goda Stuti’ written by Vedanta Desika, in praise of Goda brings out the greatness and glory of Goda and her words. Set in sweet and simple language it is full of literary beauty and spiritual fervour. This stotra of 29 verses abouds in excellences and the author himself has described it as ‘bahuguna ramaniyam’. In this work, Desika, that Supreme Master of logic and poesy, has conveyed to us not only the divine aura radiated by Goda Devi through her compassion and love but also the highest philosophy and religious ideals revealed in her works.
Dr. Prema Nandakumar has rendered a great service to the non- Sanskrit knowing readers by translating this much- acclaimed work into English. She captures the majesty and sub-limity of Goda Stuti in her natural, graceful style. Dr. Prema Nandakumar’s critical acumen combined with her complete mastery over the subject makes the commentary, a rare treat to the readers.
We hope the Devotees will find in this book the treasures of Desika’s philosophy and devotional thoughts which will help them lead a spiritual life.
The presence of Goda Devi in Indian literature is wide and deep. Considered as an incarnation of Mother Earth, people from all walks of life have prayed to her for her grace to achieve the very best in their lives and to gain the presence of the Lord. There have been scholarly books, commentaries, dramas and prayerful poems. She is fondly envisioned in folk lore too, as seen in Tamil Kummi and Telugu Tirunamamu poems. Emperor Krishnadeva Raya’s epic Amukta Malyada based on her life, has given rise to the great commentaries of Vavilla Ramaswami Sastry and Vedam Venkatraya Sastry. Among sublime poems, Vedanta Desika’s Sri Goda Stuthi, Marriganti Appala Desika’s Sri Goda Sthavam and Kesava Kaviraja’s Sri Goda Parinaya Champu in Sanskrit and Madhurakavi Srinivasa Iyengar’s Kothai Venpa in Tamil, are wellknown. Recent additions to narratives on Goda Devi’s devotional life are the Telugu poems, Goda vaibhavam (1979) by Ekkirala Krishnamacharya and Amuktha (1998) by Kovela Sampathkumaracharya. The fountainhead of all these works is certainly, Vedanta Desika’s (13th century) Sri Goda Stuthi.
The time has come now to introduce the younger generations to this priceless heritage based on Goda Devi’s luminous life of devotion to Krishna in the English language. During 1983-84, I happened to wride daily on the Sri Goda Stuthi of Vedanta Desika for the Vijayawada edition of The Indian Express. I am grateful to Sri R. Sampath (who was in-charge of the edition) for his suggestion and his enthusiastic acceptance of my work. The articles received widespread attention and as the poem of Vedanta Desika had not been translated into English nor any commentary available in the English language, there were requests for issuing the articles as a book. I am deeply grateful to Dr. P.Krishnaiah, I.A.S., Executive Officer of T.T. Devasthanams for kindly acceding to my request and publishing this book.
In writing the commentary I have benefited much by the Tamil edition of Vedanta Desika’s Sthotras by the erudite scholar, Sri V.N. Sriramadesikacharya of Oppiliappan Koil. In the eighties, when I was writing the work, I received constant help and encouragement from my father, Prof. K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar. Though he has withdrawn from the physical body, his love continues to guide me in my literary and spiritual endeavours.
I am thankful to Dr. N.S. Ramamurthy and Sri V. Sreesan of T.T. Devasthanams for their never- failing help and attention to detail in seeing the book through the press. As always, my mother, Srimati Padmasani and my husband, Sri M.S. Nandakumar have helped me in drawing very close to Srivaishnavism. My salutations to them for sustaining me in every way.
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