Friday, February 2, 2007

Thondar Adippodi Azwar

Period 8th C. AD
Place Thirumandangudi
Other Names Vipra Narayanar, Thiru Mandangudiyaar, Bhakthangirirenu, Palliunartthiya Piraan
Month Maargazhi
Star (Natshatram) Kettai (Jyeshta)
Hamsam Vanamaalai (Garland)

Chozha Empire, which is said to be very special and rich in all of its production, was surrounded by the Cauvery River, made the chozha empire very beautiful and vegetative. Beautiful lakes, small rivers, which surrounds the green vegetative lands are found, which is one of the special vision to be seen. In this type of empire, a small village by name "Thiru mandaggudi", where Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana vedas are well explained by the andhanars who lived in this village. In that village, there was one community people called "Kudumi Sozhiyap Brahmanar" also called as "Vipra" people lived, whose routine work is to praise about Sri Vishnu.

One of the people of that community was an andhanan by name "Veda Visaradhar", who had a great bhakti towards the Emperumaan and dedicated his bhakti towards him by surrendering garlands to him. He did this as his daily work. By the grace of the Emperumaan, Sriman Narayanan, in Prabhava year, Maargazhi month, Krishna chaturthi, Tuesday in Kettai Natshatram (star), as the hamsam of Sri Vaijayanthi Vanamaalai, a beautiful male child was born to him.

On the 12th day after his birth, he was named as "Vipra Narayanar". He was properly taken care of and proper education along with the bhakti towards Sri Vishnu was teached to him. He grew up with all good characters and had a good structured body, too. Inspite of being good and beautiful and dedicated to Sri Vishnu bhakti, he treated all the aged persons and persons who are younger to him in the same way and gave proper respect to them.

One day, "Seenai Mudaliyaar", who was the leader of Sri Vishnu's troop came down to the earth and explained t "Vipranarayanar", why he was born in this mighty world and what are the things that he should follow to attain Mukthi.

On hearing the truth of his birth, he showed much love, affection and bhakti towards Sriman Narayanan. As an extension to it, he started thinking what should be the next step to be taken to explore his bhakti. He thought by travelling to all of the temples where the Emperumaan is travelling to all of the temples where the Emperumaan is giving his seva, should be worshipped. But, he had a question that from which sthalam he should start with. After a long thinking, he finally decided that he should start from the greatest of all of the Vishnu sthalams, the Sri Rangam, which is located on the banks of cauvery river should be the starting sthalam he should worship and started travelling towards it.

After reaching the temple, he went inside the moolavar sannadhi and was very happy to see the perumal on the Aadhiseshan (the snake) who is found in sleeping posture. After seeing the beauty of Sri Ranganathar, he doesnt want to see any of the things around and thought his bhaktiand the remaining life should be spent completely for Aranganathan. He thought in what way he can express his bhakti towards the emperumaan and finally he thought he can offer him with the Garland daily to the perumal.

Soon after this thought, he constructed a bigh Nandhavanam (flower park) in Sri Rangam, where various beautiful and fragrance flower plants are grown. He built a small hut in the midst of the park. Daily, in the morning, as a daily work, he dedicated the Garland to Sri Ranganathar and then only he do his routine jobs. Since, he thought, only Sri Aranganathar is the beautiest thing in this world, he didn't turn up towards any of the women around him. Because of this, all the people thought he doesn't have any feelings towards the people around him. On seeing these kinds of scenes from Sri Vaikundam, thirumagal, Sri Lakshmi questioned Sriman Narayanan that because of having the affection towards him (Sri Ranganathar) and inspite of being a male, he doesnt know how the love should be expressed towards a women and continued that which women can show her love towards a person like Vipra Narayanan? Knowing the future and what is going to happen, Sri Vishnu casually answered Sri Lakshmi that she is going to see what is going to happen for him.

In thirukkarambanoor, there lived two Daasis (Women who dances in front of the king to earn money) by named Devi, who is the elder sister and Devadevi, who is the younger sister. Both of them were very beautiful and can arrest the hearts of the people who are seeing them. They were good in dancing and singing. In that time of their life, having Uraiyoor as the capital, a Chozha king ruled with proper way and as the result of this, the entire empire enriched with wealthiness and all the people were very happy. The king gave the proper respect and prizes to all the Vedic people and people of musical Knowledge.

On hearing this, Devi and Devadevi thought of showing their skill and capacity towards the dance to the king and to get prize from him. They entered the king's palace in Uraiyoor and danced in front of the king and sang different songs with their beautiful voice.

On satisfied with their performance, the king gave them lots of very expensive prizes and precious diamonds and pearls. After getting the prizes from the king, they started from Uraiyoor. As a flash, Devadevi said that she wants to worship Sri Ranganathar and both of them went to Sri Rangam temple to worship Aranganathar.

When they were going to the temple, they had the chance to see the Nandhavanam, which belonged to Vipra Narayanar. The beauty and the silence of the Nandhavanam attracted all of them. Devadevi questioned her sister whether they are actually in the earth (or) in heaven and asked her who might a developed a beautiful, Nandhavanam like this?

The elder sister answered that this belongs to Vipranarayanar, who was a great Vishnu bhaktar and he daily dedicates the Garlands and for this only he has constructed this Nandhavanam.

After, hearing this, Devadevi wanted to see him and they both went to the small hut, where he lived Vipranarayanar was pouring water to the plants and on seeing him, his beauty admired both of them. Devadevi, on seeing him, was very much attracted towards him and started loving at the first sight. She expressed her love in words and continued with his work.

On the action of him, Devadevi said that he will change him towards her and said that she will stay there for a while. On getting the wishes to her sister, Devi left the place.

Devadevi gave all of her prizes got from the king and changed her dress into an ordinary saffron coloured clothes, what all the muni would wear.

Devadevi went towards Vipra Narayanar and said to him that so far she has lived in earth without being useful to others and she lived a life like in the Naragham (Hell) and she added that her rest of the life must be spent along with Vipra Narayanar in doing the seva towards the Emperumaan.

Vipra Narayanar on hearing this became so happy that one more person has joined him for doing the bhakta seva for the Emperumaan and since being kind - hearted, he agreed Devadevi to stay along with him and asked her to enter into the house.

Days passed and on one day, it rained heavily. Vipra Narayanar was inside the small hut, where Sri Ranganathar was done the daily pooja by him. But, Devadevi did not enter into the hut but instead she waited outside itself and got completely drowned in the rain. Since, he was doing the Pooja, he could not know what is happening outside, since he was completely immersed into the bhakti towards the almighty, Sriman Narayanan.

After finishing the pooja, he came out and saw Devadevi drouned in the rain. He asked her to get into the hut and gave his over cloth (Uthriyam - a small cloth which is used to cover the body) to Devadevi for wiping.

After getting the cloth, she asked him that since Vipra Narayanar is taking care of the Nandavanam and at the same time travelling lots of miles to get the food, his legs might become tired. So, she asked whether she could make his legs feel better by giving massage to his legs. Vipra Narayanar agreed for her to do so. Like this, she did some small things to convert him towards her side. She completely turned Vipra Narayanar towards her and they both started to live together.

One day, Devadevi said to Vipra Narayanar that she wanted to see her parents and her sister. Vipra Narayanar said that he would too come along with her, since he could not live without leaving her for a second and both of them went to Devadevi's house.

Vipra Narayanar gave all the things to Devadevi and her mother and one day, he doesn't have anything to give them. So her mother asked her to make him out of the house, but Devadevi could not do this, because she really loved him. But her mother did not want him to be in the house and asked Vipra Narayanar to get out of the house. Since, Vipra Narayanar is helpless, he came out of the house and entered a Nandavanam and being so tired, he slept for a while. On seeing this, the Emperumaan wanted him to get of the Maya and wanted him to get along with the right path, which leads to the Thiruvadi of him (Sri Vishnu).

He changed himself to an ordinary human and went straight to Devadevi's house and knocked the door. Her mother questioned who is he? He said that he is one of the sishyaas (Student) of Vipra Narayanar and gave him a big silver vessel given by his Guru to Devadevi.

On getting that her mother thanked him and asked his Guru, Vipra Narayanar to return back to her house, since Devadevi was feeling worse from the time he left the house. Sri Vishnu, who came as a student went towards Vipra Narayanar and woke him up and said that Devadevi's mother asked him to come back to the house. On hearing this, Vipra Naryanar walked fast to the house and hugged Devadevi.

The Next morning, the archakar (Who performs the daily pooja for the perumal) entered into the Sri Ranganathar sannadhi and found one Vattal (Vessel which is used to do the daily pooja) was missing and complained to the king about this. The king ordered his servants to go in search of the Vattal and they found that in Devadevi's house.

So, they caught hold of Devadevi's mother and Vipra Narayanar and took them to the palace. They both were made to stand in front of the King. The King questioned Devadevi's mother from where did she get the Vattal. She answered that it was given by one of the Sishyan of Vipra Narayanar. But, Vipra Narayanar opposed her words by saying that he doesnt have any student as such. After consulting with the great men in the palace, the king ordered Vipra Narayanar to be jailed for one night on the prison and Devadevi's mother was left free.

On that night, Vipra Narayanar cried and asked the Emperumaan why like this has happened to him and prayed towards him. On the same night, the Emperumaan arise in the dream of the king and explained him what had happened and asked him to free Vipra Narayanar.

The next day in the palace, Vipra Narayanar was given all the respect as what would be given to all the Vishnu bhaktas and gave him lots of precious things. The king also explained that this is a small thiru Vilayaadal (game) of Sri Emperumaan.

Knowing the real truth why he came to the world, he went to Sri Ranganathar temple and praised the Lord. Then, he worshipped all the bhaktas of Sri Vishnu and put the podi (Small tiny dust particles), which is found under the feet of them in his head and sang songs in praise of Sri Ranganathar.

From then, he was called as "Thondaradipodi Alwar". Finally he realised for what he came for to the earth and went to all the Vishnu temples to praise him.


SrImathE Gopaladesika Mahadesikaya nama:

Dearest all,

Now we enjoy the life of ThoNdaradippodiAzhw Ar, who called himself
as "the Dust at the feet of Bhagavatas', was born to a vedic brahmin
by name, vedavisarathar in Thirumandangudi in the month of Margazhi
and in "kEttai" nakshathram, in the family of sOzhiya vaishnava (who
had their "kudumi" (tuft) on the top front portion and not behind);
He was an incarnation of vanamAlA (Divine Garland of Lord Maha
vishnu) and he was named "Vipranarayana" . He was taught Tamil,
Sanskrit, vedas, upanishds, etc., at an early age and he mastered
them with no effort and shone like a bright tEjasvi. He was also
well versed in writing and singing Tamil poetry and was fully well
versed in Shastras. He had no pride (vidhya garvam) and was humble
and modest to the core and hence, he was respected by everyone in
the locality.

He became highly devoted to Sriman Narayana and he took a vow to
stay as a bachelor throughout his life so that he could devote his
full time and energy to perform kainkaryam to the Lord Sriya: patih.
Like periyAzhwAr, Vipranarayana too was interested only in poomalai
kainkaryam. He migrated to Srirangam (which he was longing to visit)
after his father's death) and he made a beautiful nandhavanam with
nice trees to give shadows and cool breeze, flower creepers which
yield excellent sugandha flowers,which can be offered to Sriman
Narayana, like, Lotus, karunkuvalai, Alli(lily), Thulasi, etc.,
stream of water flowing in the middle as an offshoot of Cauveri
where swans swim gracefully, and so on and so on. It was a serene
divine atmosphere in the Nandhavanam and our Vipranarayana stayed
there within the garden in a small hermitage. It used to allure
anybody walking down there to visit and get a divine experience. Not
only that, our Vipranarayana' s singing pAsurams in praise of Arangan
along with the sruthi of bees and birds humming add beauty to the

Every day our AzhwAr gets up in the wee hours, takes a holy dip in
nearby Cauveri, applies bright TirumaN kAppu, carries out
NityakarmAnushtAnan gal, plucks the flowers and Thulasi leaves, makes
beautiful garlands, and takes them to Arangan for adorning Him. He
enjoys when archakAs place them on the Lord and he stands stupefied
by the inexplicable beauty of The Black Emerald; He melts with
tremendous amount of Bhakti rasam generated by the sowndharyam of
the Lord and enjoys His ThirumEni which is like a big huge mountain;
Red Coral lips and mouth(PavaLacchevvA i); Red Lotus eyes; He
addresses the Lord:"O Achutha! There is no enjoyment which is equal
to admiring your such beauty. Even you give me a post of Indra to
rule the Indra lokam and enjoy that position, I still DO NOT NEED
them; I just want to serve your feet!". Such a great AzhwAr is he!
The Lord wanted some fun (Leela krishnan); One day, two sisters were
coming back after performing a dance performance in front of Chozha
king and were attracted by the beauty of our AzhwAr's nandhavanam.
When they saw him closing his eyes and meditating on the Lord, they
were captivated by his tEjas and charm. He ignored their beauty.
Especially the more beautiful younger sister, by name devadevi got
more offended and in fact, challenged the other sister that she
would make our AzhwAr her slave with her beauty. In spite of her
sister's warning and caution not to enter into such an apacharam and
endanger herself, deva devi was adamant and decided to embark on it.
Disguised and dressed as a sannyasini, she requested him to accept
her service to him at his place. Unaware of the plot, he agreed;
However he did not let her stay inside his hermittage. He maintained
the distance and was as usual performing his kainkaryams unaffected
by her presence. She was desperate and felt sad that she was getting
nowhere near her vow. One day, when it rained heavily she got
drenched and was shivering. Vipranarayana could not say no for her
coming into his hermitage (which he avoided till then) and devadevi
slowly aroused his sensual desires and our poor Vipranarayanar was
hooked!. She virtually made him a slave for her beauty and he forgot
all sorts of kainkaryam and singing. His thoughts were only about
devadevi and he became so engrossed in his desire for her that he
could not bear even a moment separation from her.

When she achieved what she wished, she went back to her place in
uttamarkoil (near SriRangam). Her mother didnot allow Vipranarayana
to see her unless he brought some money, true to their profession
(which he did not have naturally). Vipranarayana felt isolated and
was heavily lamenting the separation from devadevi and did not know
what to do. In the meanwhile, our Lord Tiruvarangan felt it was
enough for Him to playwith His bhakta and hence, appeared as a
servant of Vipranarayana calling Himself "Azhagiya manavala dasan"
and went to deva devi's house. He handed over the Big Golden vessel
(Thanga vattil) saying that Vipranarayana asked him to give this to
her. devadevi's mother went in search of our Vipranarayanar and let
him meet her daughter (without telling him why she allowed now;
AzhwAr, too did not ask). Next morning, the archakas found one of
the "vattils" missing in the Lord's Sannidhi and immediately
informed the king. The servant maid of deva devi informed in the
meanwhile other homes where she used to work for about this Golden
vattil in deva devi's house and the news reached the king. The king
after knowing the story arrested our Vipranarayanar without
listening to his pleas that he was not at all aware of any Golden
vattil; nor did he have any servant working for him, since he
himself was so poor. No amount of request or plea helped and he
landed up in a dark cell! There he realised everything; his
mistakes, his follies, his apacharams of not performing kainkaryams
to the Lord etc..

The Lord appeared in the king's dream and narrated the whole
incident and said that Vipranarayana, His dearest Bhakta, was
innocent and he was at no fault at all. Immediately, the king
released Vipranarayana and prostrated at his feet and begged for his
pardon. Vipranarayana felt greatly moved by the Lord's mercy and
daya and sang pAsurams full of bhakti . Having gone through a
traumatic experience with devadevi, he never looked back and since
then, he became a staunch bhakta and called himself the dust at the
feet of bhakas (ThoNdaradippodi AzhwAr).

[Sri Uttamoor Swamy rejects the above incident in AzhwAr's life
saying that this is the false allegation of other avaidika and non-
vedic people (about whom AzhwAr sang strongly against and in
categorical terms.).

He composed two poems namely., Thirumalai (a garland for the Lord)
and ThiruppaLLiyezhucch i (waking up the Lord). His pAsurams are
really excellent marvellous compositions and one is certain to get
moved by the bhakti and longing for the Lord Ranganatha. He did not
sing any other sthalam ; He sang only in praise of SriRangan.
Before concluding Just one look at one of his GREAT PASURAMS and let
us get blessed by Him.

"OorilEn kANiyillai; uRavu maRRu oruvar illai;/
pAril nin pAtha moolam paRRilEn parama moorthee;/
kAroLi vaNNanE (en) kaNNanE! kadharuginREn; /
AruLar kaLaikaN ammA! arngamA nagaruLAnE!/ "

Meaning: I have no place; no properties; no relatves; none other
than you; I know only your Lotus feet; O Lord of Blue hued sky
colour! You only are my refuge. Can you not hear my cries? Is there
any one else to save me except you?"

An excellent pAsuram and how aptly it matches with our lives! May
Lord Sri Ranganatha and His AzhwAr ThoNdaradippodiAzhw Ar shower
Their grace and blessings on us, poor mortals, to help us get rid of
this vicious circle of samsara sagaram.


Ananya said...

Its was very nice. I read that Thondar adippodi azwar is the one who constructed (renovated) Srirangam temple. Its good if you could upload that story as well. This is my humble request

srinivasan vathsal said...

It is not clear from published work as to where his Tiruvarasu is situated in srirangam or tirumandangudi