Guru Parampara Series – Andal The Unique Azhwar

Srivilliputtur andal

Srivilliputtur has the distinction of being the avatharasthalam of two Azhwars – namely Periyazhwar and Andal. In the Tamil month of Aadi (between July 15th and August 15th), on a Purvaphalguni (Pooram) morning, when Vishnu chittha was collecting flowers and Tulasi for Perumal, He found in the midst of the Tulasivanam a beautiful girl child. Taking the baby in His arms He accepted Her as the gift of Mother Earth and named Her Godha (Go is sanskrit for earth) Godha was nurtured by Krishna stories and she joined Her father in all activities: collecting flowers, Tulasi  and making beautiful garlands for Vatapathrasayee the Lord of Srivilliputtur and accompanying Her father to the temple was part of Her daily routine. All songs were about Krishna. All Her thoughts were Krishna-centric and She was totally in love with Him. Wondering if She was worthy of Him She tried on the garland to be offered to Him and peeped into the well to look at Herself and then put the garland back in the basket. One day She was so lost in Krishna that She never realized that Her father had come. Shocked by Her act He chided Her and that day no garland offering was made. That  night Vatapathrasayee came in Periyazhwar’s dream and said that thenceforth only the garland worn by Godha was to be offered to Him. Thenceforth Godha came to be known as Andal meaning One who ruled the Lord and as Sudikodutha Sudarkodi (One who offered the garland to Perumal after adorning it.)

Periyazhwar the doting father was worried about finding a suitable alliance for His unparalleled daughter. When He brought up the topic She said that She had given Her heart to Krishna and wanted to marry Him. But Krishna was an avathara in Dwapara Yugam and beyond the reach of mortals. But He is Eternal, said Andal so like the Gopis of Vraja She called all Her friends in Srivlliputhur and together they observed The Pavai Nonbu in the month of Margazhi for 30 days resulting in the masterpiece called Tiruppavai which contains the essence of the Vedas and has been named Godhopanishadh.

Her next creation was “Nachiyar Thirumozhi” consisting of 143 verses divided into 14 Thirumozhis. Andal’s longing to unite with Krishna is expressed and the 6th Thirumozhi contains Andal’s dream “Varanamayiram” containing all the Vedic rites of a Brahmin wedding and is sung till date during SriVaishnava weddings.  Andal sent the cloud as a messenger to Tirumala Hills, She wished to offer 108 vessels of Akkaravadisal and butter to Azhagar of Tirumalirumcholai.  This wish of Hers was fulfilled much later by Yathiraja which made Him Her elder brother. Ramanuja is referred to as”Godhagraja .(elder brother of Godha)”. Andal wanted to wed Periya Perumal of SriRangam and Vishnuchittha brought His daughter to SriRangam where as they reached the sanctum Andal got united with SriRanganatha. Periyazhwar was distraught but Perumal assured Periyazhwar that He would marry Andal in Srivilliputtur. Thus Andal Rangamannar wedding took place according to Vedic injunctions in Srivilliputtur and Garuda who carried Ranganatha to the spot was accorded a place next to the Divya  Dampathis inside the sanctum sanctorum.

Thus Andal earned the name Periyazhwar for Her father who became the father-in-law of Periya Perumal. She is Unique because She is Bhumi Piratti and an Azhwar. Her mother is Tulasi, father Vishnuchittha, brother is Ramanuja and husband Ranganatha, undoubtedly connections of the highest order but our relationship with Andal is eternal and cannot be severed under any circumstances.

To sum up:

“Praises to The One who took avatharam on TiruAdiPooram Day!
Praises to The One who spoke the thirty verses of Tiruppavai!
Praises to The Daughter of Periyazhwar!
Praises to The Sister of Perumpudhur Mamuni!
Praises to The Creator of The 143 verses (Nachiyar Tirumozhi)!
Praise  be to The One who offered Herself to Ranganatha!
Praises to the town of Srivilliputtur!
Praises to the Lotus Feet of Godha!

Write-up by Smt Vyjayanthi Rajan

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