[This article explains why we say Govinda thrice each time (“Govinda, Govinda, Govinda”) when we climb the Tirumalai hills although that Lord is Srinivasa or Venkatesa and it seems that the name Govinda appears to have no connection with the names of the Lord of the Tirumalai Hills. This articles starts with details of the five forms of our Lord’s manifestation, then refers to why archai is suitable for us, then goes on to refer to 3 Govindans, and how they relate to Tirumalai and concludes with quotes from NammazhvAr and AndAL. Words in Italics are what occurred to this translator- AdiyEn on reading this article and may be ignored; errors are adiyEn’s responsibility and kshamikkaprArthikkirEn ].
Our Sastras say that our Lord Sriman Narayanan manifests Himself in five forms: param, vyUham, vibhavam, antharyAmi and archai. Let us see in some detail about each of these forms:
1. Param: In this, our Lord sits in the form of Paramapada nAdhan or Sri Para VAsudevan in paramapadam or SriVaikuntam. Only those who are Nithyamukthars can worship (prostrate before) this form and so, SamsAris like us cannot offer our worship (i.e. see and understand Him in this form).
2. vyUham: This form is above the SathyalOka world of Brahma and below the VirajA nadhi river. Our Lord manifests Himself in the form of VyUha VAsudEvan and is with the six qualities of jnAnam, balam, aiswaryam, vEryam, shakthi and tejas. This vyUha VAsudevan created out of Himself the three forms: SankarshaNan, Pradhyumnan and Anirudhan corresponding to Brhama, Siva and Vishnu. Then He bestowed a pair of guNAs on each of the three:
He gave Aisvaryam and VEryam to Brahma in the rUpam of Pradhyumna;
He retained with Himself Shakthi and Tejas, as Vishnu in the form of Anirudha;
He bestowed on Siva in the form of SankarshaNan jnAnam and balam to enable him to destroy all reations; He carries on like this till the end of everything in the universe, at a time called Pralaya kAlam. When we do Achamanam (during prAtha: Sandhyavandanam etc.) we utter the 12 nAmAs of Kesavan, NarAyaNan, MAdhavan, Govindan, Vishnu, MadhusUdhanan, Thrivikraman, vAmanan, SrIdharan, HrishIkesan, Padmanabhan, Damodaran. All these come from the vyUha rUpam of Sriman NarAyaNan. These very same 12 become the dwAdasa (i.e. 12) AdhithyAs and the dwAdasa Urdhvapundram [(12 ThirumaN we wear after SamasrayanNam). How fortunate should we be to have been born as Srivaishnava, wear the sacred thread and perform samAsrayaNam at the lotus feet of our Acharyans as these confer on us the benefit, blessings and protection of the VyUha rUpam of Sriman NarayaNan Himself].
However, only MaharishIs and those who have conquered their minds can realize this vyUha form of our Lord and so not possible to realize for us, Bhakthas.
3. Vibhavam: This form is like what our Lord described in the slokAs like: yathA yathAhi dhramasya…”, “parthrANAya sAdhUnAm..” etc. Swami Desikan says in his Sillarai RahasyangaL that these are 39. Of these 39, we are aware that the DasavathArams (Mathsya to Kali) are more prominent. These vibhavAthArangaL were visible to only those who lived contemporaneously in those period when the respective avathArAs happened. So, for us samsArIs, this is not available to realize.
4. AntharyAmi: BhagavAn resides in our sarEram in the form of antharyAmi. We are all conscious through our mind about the presence of JeevAthma in our body but we are not able to feel the presence of antharyAmi through our senses (indhriyangaL) or mind and so we are not able to realize/ see this form of the Lord.
5. archai: Our emberumAn is established in the form of vigrahAs or archA mUrthis in temples which we visit and where we offer worship daily. We are all delighted to feel and see with our eyes, these archA mUrthEs and offer our worship to our Lord. Although we are not able to perceive/ realize/ see our Lord in the other four forms of His manifestation described above, yet because of His immense grace, He has enabled us with our eyes to see Him in his archAmUrthy swarUpam. Hence for us samsArIs, this is the only form of His manifestation, the seeing/ perceiving/ realizing of which will grace us all.
This archArUpam is what our AzhvArs and AchAryAs have worshipped and sung in their praise (mangaLAsAsanam). We call the 108 temples where there are such archAmUrthIs and which our AzhvArs have done mangaLAsAsanam.
Of these 108, our forefathers thought 4 as very important. That is why these 4 divya desams have their special names (or epithets) i.e. wecall Srirangam as Kovil, Tirupathi as Thirumalai, Kancheepuram as PerumAL kovil and MelkOttai as hirunArAyaNapuram.
That is the reason why we recite at the conclusion of every (thirkAla) sandhyavandanam, the sloka”Sriranga mangaLa nidhim karuNA nivasam….yathusailadEpam”.
Among the ten AzhvArs, NammAzhvar comes first (in our sAmradAyak hierarchy). Only NammAzhvAr is worshipped in our Acharya Guruparamparai (the lineage of our AchAryas). This AzhvAr ds saranAgathi in Tirupathi divya desam. Perhaps because of this or so, our Sri BAshyakArarum states in the beginning of his very great (mahOnnathamAna) grantha Sri BAshyam which expounds with detailed explanations of the Brahma sUthram. Whenever we refer to Arangan (Lord Ranganatha), Amuthan (ArAvamudhan), Varadan (Kancheepuram Lord) or other divya desa lords, we prefix the names with Sri or Thiru to that Lord’s name or His divyadesam’s name. But when we say Thirumalai or Thirupathi or Srinivasan, we simply say so without an addition of Sri or Thriu before these names or without separating the Thiru or Sri from these names.
From this, do we not see or know crystal clearly about the greatness of these divya desams?
[Now we come to the main idea of this essay or article]: People of all castes, creeds without any distinction of varNa or Asrama etc., male or female call out the name of GovindA thrice whenever they worship at Tirumalai. We do know that the lord of the seven hills who blesses us from Tirumalai is Srinivasan. But we do not call out aloud his above name or His other names such as Malaiappan, VEnkatavan, VEnkatAchalapathi etc. We do not see any link or connection between the names ThiruvEnkatavan and GOvindan but yet we do call out GOvinda’s name, that too not once but always in three times when we stand in the queue to worship and when we actually stand in front of Him. What is the reason for this?
Another thing: In our daily performance of sankalpam we always recite “asya sree GOvinda, GOvinda, GOvinda, mahApurushasya etc.. Here also not once but thrice do we utter GOvinda’s name. Why?
Likewise, AndAL also in her 27, 28 and 29th verse of ThiruppAvai, she mentions the name of GOvindA nAmA. Why?
[we basically see three questions above] The answer to all our above questions is in the pAsuram 3-3-8 of ThiruvAimozhi of SwAmi NammAzhvAr (kundram yEndhi….vinalOyumE)
Krishna as GOvinda held the Goverdhana giri and protected from chill rain.
Was it not Kannan who saved cows and cowherds by holding the Hill as a protective umbrella. “GAvaha vindhandhyEnam ithi GOvindaha” is how Indra praises the GoverdhanadhAri Gopalan in Hari Vamsam and this echoes the above sentence in thiruvoimizhi. This is the first GOvindan.
Next, once upon a time GoOvindan as Thrivikraman measured the whole universe. He came as a dwarf to King Mahabali, sought for 3 feet of the land and then by growing up to be Thrivikraman, He measured the twice seven or fourteen worlds. gAm means the eorld; vindheyam means to measure. Hence gAm vindhyEyam means GOvindan. Thus the lord who measured the worlds is the second GOvindan.
We call Tirumalai as VarAha kshetram because VarAha is the Lord of Thirumalai. It was He who allowed ThiruvEnkatavan to stay in his Hill. Who is this varAhan? He was the very Lord who saved the earth from the demon HiranyAksham. We saw gAm means the place or the earth. Vindhathi means uthharippathu. So this means GOvindan means the Lord who recovered the earth from the water and saved it from the demon. In the Vishnu sahasranAmA, there is a phrase: mahA varAhO gOvindaha meaning VarAhan is Govindan. Hence it is clear that tirumali of VarAhan is the Govinda Himself and this is the third GOvindan.
We now see that Krishna as GOvinda, Thrivikraman as Govindan both went to TiruvenkatamAmalai and joined with the VarAhan there as GOvindan and became one. All these 3 Govindans joined ogether to become one Lord Srinivasan. This is precisely the reason why whenever we climb the hill or worship the lord, we call His name out as Govinda, not once but thrice, each time.
In this Kali yuga, the lord supreme is Tirumalaippan and that is why whenever we do sankalpam by reciting the thithi, vAram, nakshatram etc, we say asya sri Govinda, govinda, govinda…..
What did AndAl do? She referred to the 3 Govindans in her TiruppAvai verse 27, 28 and 29 separately and remembered to recall the same 3 Govindans in the first verse of her nAchiyA thirumozhi (Thai oru thingaLum…) where she concludes that verse as vEnkatavarkennai vithikkitrAyE and worships all the 3 Govindans and prays to the very manmathan who is our BhagavAn.