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Guru Parampara Series – Thondaradipodi Azhwar

Thondaradipodi-Azhwar-Thirunakshatram-at-MandangudiThondaradipodi Azhwar took avatharam at Mandangudi (near PullumBhuthamkoodi) in a Vaidhika family in the holy month of Margazhi under the constellation Jyesta (Kettai). Sriman Narayana’s favourite Vaijayanthi Vanamala took avatharam as Vipra Narayanan. Vipra Narayanan means one who has understood Sriman Narayana as He is in SriVaikuntam. He was born into Vishnu bhakthi and nourished by it so He imbibed satvik qualities. Desiring to visit Divya desams He started with SriRangam. So enamoured was Vipra Narayana by Ranganatha He did not have the heart to leave SriRangam.  He created a beautiful Nandhavanam (flower garden) and lived in a hut in its premises. Totally absorbed in kainkaryam, Vipra Narayana had no other thoughts and lived the life of a brahmachari. One day it so happened that two devadasis passed that way and Vipra Narayana did not even take notice. One of them named Deva Devi challenged to make Vipra Narayana her slave. She entered in the garb of a sanyasin and gradually Vipra Narayana succumbed to her charms and only thought about her.  He had exhausted all the wealth possessed and was turned out of Deva Devi’s house.  Perumal taking pity on His devotee came in the disguise of Vipra Narayana’s servant and gave a golden bowl to Deva Devi’s mother who called Vipra Narayana inside.  Next   morning at the SriRangam temple the loss of the golden bowl was noticed  and on searching it was found in Deva Devi’s house.  Vipra Narayana was jailed and it was here that He realized that Ranganatha alone was True. The king of the land was told about Vipra Narayana’s innocence in his dream, so Vipra Narayana was released.

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Thenceforth Vipra Narayana realized that the dust of the  servants of Narayana were the most precious thing on earth and He called Himself Thondaradipodi (Thondar – servant of God, adi – feet, podi – dust). He lived for 105 years and sang only about Ranganatha. Thondaradipodi’s two creations are Tirupalliezhucchi and Tirumaalai. Tirupalliezhuchi consisting of 10 verses is the Suprabatham for Ranganatha and is sung everyday during Vishvaroopa Sevai to the accompaniment of the veena. Tirumalai comprising of 45 verses contains the essence of Vishnu dharmam.  The power of Perumal’s Tirunamam is talked about clearly so much so that it is said that those who do not know “Tirumalai” do not know “Tirumal”.

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Let us conclude with Swami Desikan’s eulogy in Prabhandha Saaram – Taking avatharam at Madangudi in Chozhadesam in Margazhi Kettai, Thondaradipodi the satvik went on to construct a Nandavanam in SriRangam and offer flower garlands to Ranganatha. This led Thondaradipodi to compose the 45 pasurams of Tirumaalai and the ten verses of Tirupalliezhucchi in praise of Ranganatha.  Let us pray with Swami Desikan to bless us with these 55 pasurams.

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Write-up by Smt Vyjayanthi Rajan

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