Avvai (also called Avvaiyar in respect) was perhaps the one of the world’s first female poets. At a very young age she gave up a material life for a spiritual one. She traveled far and wide, met various people and gained a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Due to her frequent travels she became an informal diplomat carrying messages, doing peace missions and establishing relations among various kingdoms. She also helped prevent several wars. As a poet she contributed to the development and spread of the Tamil Language.
God gives us several opportunities and chances in life to sense his presence. He will never appear before you and perform miracles like a stage magician. Instead the presence of God is very often gentle and subtle and we should train ourself to sense his presence. For Avvai the realization of his presence came in a very interesting way…
One day she was traveling a long distance by foot (no vehicles in those days) and she was exhausted and decided to rest under a tree. As she was resting she saw a young cowherd boy sitting on top of the tree. The boy asked “Grandma you seem tired, do you want me to drop you some fruits to refresh yourself?”
She saw the boy was lively and cheerful and bright. She said “Thank you my child. If you help this old lady, God will definitely bless you”. To this the boy asked “Do you want hot fruits or cold fruits?”
At this Avvai was taken aback. She thought the boy was teasing her. How can there be a hot fruit? Surely there are no hot fruits in this tree. So she decided to tease back. She said… “well my boy why don’t you throw down some hot fruits for me?”
So the boy threw down some fruits. Avvai took them and blew off the dust on the fruits before eating them. The boy laughed and asked. “Why Grandma… are the fruits really hot? Do you have to blow on them to cool them down?” ;-)
Avvai quickly realized the pun and smiled at how an illiterate boy had fooled such a learned and wise person. At that moment she said
“What we know is a drop in the ocean
What we do not know is the ocean itself”
She realized she was so sure about what she knew and what she had experienced that she had failed to realize there can be a truth she was not aware of. She felt how often do we use our valuable life in pursuit of true knowledge? The knowledge that will lead us to devotion and help us leading a good life. Why do we need miracles to sense the presence of God? Avvai continued to sing
It’s a miracle to be born as a human
It’s a miracle to be born without disabilities
It’s a miracle to be born without diseases and ailments
It’s a miracle to have eyes that see, ears that hear, nose to smell, tongue to taste and skin to feel.
But the greatest miracle of all
is the power to sense God’s presence
its the power of self realization
its the power of the conscience
How often do we waste our valuable life on earth in a “senseless” pursuit of material and physical pleasures? How often do we kill or silence or ignore our conscience in this pursuit. How often do we consume alcohol, drugs and other intoxicants on a date or party without even realizing we are doing it just to kill our conscience temporarily during the sins we are going to commit as the night goes on? Some even think these intoxicants are “Romantic” or “Cool”! How different are we from animals if we live just for our 5 senses? Let us realize the unique blessing of our life as human beings and use our sixth sense to realize ourselves.