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Aandal Thiruppavai (Thiruppavai in the month of dhanu is considered auspicious)

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Submitted by UMAMAHESWARI on Mon, 2006-12-04 19:58. Other
The contribution of Alwars to the bhakti literature is amazing. Between the fifth and ninth centuries, in the Tamil speaking regions of India these saints revitalized the Indian religious milieu, sparking a renewal of devotional worship throughout the subcontinent. They composed exceedingly beautiful poetry to their Divine Beloved, Vishnu, as an expression of their love for Him. They sculpted a new religious heritage of emotional bhakti, or love of the Divine, the impact of which is still felt today. There are 12 Alwars including Andal the only woman in this exalted group. Her original name was Godai which means daughter of the earth. A devotee of the Lord Ranganatha, Andal’s two major works _ Tiruppavai and Nachiyar Tirumozhi are rendered in the tradition bound families in the month of Markazhi [Dhanu].

The life of Andal is remarkable in its romantic simplicity. A devout Brahmin, Vishnucitta lived in Villiputtur, a town near Madurai. He procured flowers for the worship of the Lord at the local temple. One morning, he discovered a baby girl lying under a tulasi plant in his garden. Having no family of his own, Vishnucitta felt it was God's grace that gave him this child and named her Godai. Naturally Godai grew up in an atmosphere of love and devotion. Vishnucitta sang songs to her about his Beloved Krishna, taught her all the stories and philosophy he knew, and shared with her his love of Tamil poetry. Gradually the love for the Beloved Lord intensified in her. Even as a child, Godai made up her mind to marry none but the Lord of Brindavan. She imagined what it would be like to be His bride, playing the role of His beloved, enjoying His presence. She adorned herself daily with the flower, and thinking of herself as His ideal bride, she would put the garland back, for her father to take to the temple and offer to the Lord.
One day, Vishnucitta noticed a strand of Godai's hair on one of the garlands. He scolded Godai for her misuse of the garland and discarded it.
That night, the Lord appeared to Vishnucitta in his dream and asked him the reason for discarding the garland and said that he would be pleased to wear the garlands once worn by Godai. He realized the intensity of Godai’s love for the Lord and her spiritual greatness. Even the Lord Himself wished to share her presence!!! Since then she is known as "Andal", the girl who "ruled" over the Lord.

Andal blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Her desire was to become the consort of Sree Ranaganatha, the Lord at the great temple town of Srirangam. Vishnucitta became desperate. Lord Ranganatha again appeared in his dream and asked that Andal be sent to Him in all her wedding finery. Andal waited with excited anticipation as the wedding party approached Lord Ranganatha's shrine. As the procession entered the temple, she jumped out of the palanquin. Unable to restrain herself any longer she ran into the sanctum sanctorum, embraced Lord Ranganatha and disappeared in a blaze of glory.

The tulasi garden in which she was found is preserved in Srivilliputtur. Vishnucitta's house, adjacent to Lord Vishnu's temple, has been converted into a temple in honor of Andal and contains the well in which she admired her reflection while wearing the Lord's garlands.
Her works display a literary and religious maturity far beyond her years. Her first work Tiruppavai, a poem of thirty verses in which Andal imagines she to be a cowherd girl during the incarnation of Lord Krishna. She yearns to serve Him and achieve happiness not just in this birth, but for all eternity, and describes the religious vow (pavai) that she and her fellow cowgirls will take for this purpose.

The second is the Nacciyar Tirumozhi, a poem of 143 verses. This poem fully reveals Andal's intense longing for Vishnu, the Divine Beloved. Utilizing classical Tamil poetic conventions and intermixing stories from the Sanskrit Vedas and Puranas, Andal creates imagery unparalleled in the whole gamut of Indian religious literature. Commentaries on Tiruppavai, in various Indian and foreign languages are available today.


Although this great classic can be recited everyday it is auspicious to do so in the month of Markazhi[Dhanu] The general practice is to offer an predawn service to the Lord Vishnu by reciting each stanza [pasuram] a day
The first five stanzas provide an introduction to the main theme-the vrata, its principle, and purpose. According to Andal one should also give up luxuries during season. She believes that sincere prayers to the God would bring abundant rain thus prosperity. Meditate Lord Krishna with fresh flowers to ward off sins committed earlier and those that may be committed in future.
In the next 10 stanzas she describes the importance of community participation. She invites her friends to gather flowers. She essays the ambience at her village-like the chirping of birds, colorful blossoms, the musical sound of the churning of butter, herds of cattle with tingling bells, and blowing of the conch from the temple.

She visits each household and awakes all her friends to join her for a bath in the nearby pond. She cajoles them and asks whether Kumbakarna had cast a spell on them? She also praises the incarnations of the Lord in between. The next five stanzas she describes her visit to the temple accompanied by her friends. She desires to render Suprabhata gently to wake up the Lord. The group appeases the temple guards and enters the temple cleverly. The group recites prayers extolling the parents of the Lord Krishna and begs them to wake up Krishna and Balarama. It was not fruitful and so they approach Neeladevi the consort of the Lord to have a darsan.

The last 9 pasurams are on the glories of the Lord. On receiving his blessings she list out her demands, which include milk for the vrata, white conch, lamps, flowers, and rich costume and jewellery to adorn after the vrata, and plenty of ghee and butter enough to sink her elbow, and finally seeks pardon for taking the liberty. In the concluding stanza she identifies her as the daughter of Vishnucittar who made this garland of 30 pasurams and says those who recite with devotion will have Lord’s blessings.
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