Andal (Tamil: ஆண்டாள், Äṇɖāḷ ) is the only female Alvar among the 12 Alvar saints of South India. The Alvar saints are known for their affiliation to the Srivaishnava tradition of Hinduism. Active in the 8th-century, with some suggesting 7th-century,[note 1] Andal is credited with the great Tamil works, Thiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi, which are still recited by devotees during the winter festival season of Margazhi.
7th or 8th century CE
|Literary works||Thiruppavai, Nachiar Tirumozhi|
History of AndalEdit
Periazhwar (originally called Vishnuchittar) was an ardent devotee of Perumal and he used to string garland to Perumal every day. He was childless and he prayed to Perumal to save him from the longing. One day, he found a girl child under a Tulasi plant in a garden inside the temple. The child was goddess Sri Mahalakshmi herself incarnated to test the devotion of alvars. He and his wife named the child as Kothai, who grew up as a devotee of Kannan, an avatar of Perumal. She is believed to have worn the garland before dedicating it to the presiding deity of the temple. Periazhwar, who later found it, was highly upset and remonstrated her. Sri Vishnudeva appeared in his dream and asked him to dedicate only the garland worn by Andal to him. The girl Kothai was thus named Andal and was referred as Chudikodutha Sudarkodi (lady who gave her garland to Vishnu). The practise is followed during modern times when the garland of Andal from Srivilliputhur Andal temple is sent to [Tirumala Venkateswara Temple] on Garudotsavam during the Tamil month of Purattaasi (September - October) and [Azhagar Koyil] during Chitra Pournami.
Dedication to PerumalEdit
Kodhai was brought up by Vishnuchitta (Periyalvar) in an atmosphere of love and devotion. As Kodhai grew into a beautiful maiden, her fervor for the Lord Perumal grew to the extent that she decided to marry only the Lord himself. As time passed, her resolve strengthened and she thought constantly about marrying Ranganathar of Srirangam (the reclining form of Perumal).
In North India, Radha Rani is celebrated as the "Queen of Bhakti (devotion)." Similarly, in Tamil Nadu Andal is remembered for her pure love and devotion. In the Thiruppavai, Andal, as a Gopi in Ayarpadi (Brindavan), emphasizes that the ultimate goal of life is to seek surrender and refuge at the Lord's feet.
It is also believed that Ranganatha of Thiruvarangam Ranganathaswamy temple married Andal, who later merged with the idol. Since Andal married Thiru Ranganatha, who came as king Raja Sriman Andhra Vishnu, the presiding deity is called Rangamannar.
Andal garland and Tirupathi VenkateswaraEdit
For Tirupathi Venkateswara temple Brahmotsavam festival, Garland worn by Andal in Srivilliputhur temple (Tamil Nadu) is sent all along to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh one day before the Brahmotsavam.These traditional garlands are made of tulasi, sevanthi and sampangi flowers.These garlands are used on prestigious Garuda seva day of Tirupathi Venkateswara in which the lord appear as Maha Vishnu.
Every year Tirupathi Venkateswara’s garland is sent to Srivilliputtur Andal for marriage festival of Andal Thayar.
Andal garland is being sent to Madurai Kallazhagar for Chithirai Festival day.
Andal's hairstyle and ornamentation are unique to south India.
Thiruvillipuththur Andal's hand-crafted parrot is made with fresh green leaves each and every day.This parrot is kept in the left hand of Andal. It takes approximately four and half hours to make this parrot. A pomegranate flower for beak and mouth, Bamboo sticks for legs, banana plant, petals of pink oleander and nandiyavattai are used to prepare this parrot.
Importance in South IndiaEdit
Andal is one of the best-loved poet-saints of the Tamils. Pious tradition holds her to be the incarnation of Bhūmi Devi (Sri Lakshmi as Mother Earth) to show humanity the way to Lord Vishnu's lotus feet. Representations of her next to Vishnu are present in all vainava temples. During the month of Margazhi, discourses on the Thiruppavai in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Hindi take place all over India. The Andal Temple at Thiruvilliputhur consists of twin temples, one of which is dedicated to Andal. Most South Indian Vishnu temples have a separate shrine for Andal. There are a number of festivals dedicated to Andal, among the most notable being the Pavai Nonbu in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December – January), Andal Thirukalyanam in Panguni, Pagalpathu, Rapathu, Adi Thiruvizha, when Andal is depicted seated in the lap of Ranganathar. Andal is known for her unwavering devotion to god Vishnu, the God of the vainavargal. Adopted by her father, Periyalvar, Andal avoided earthly marriage, the normal and expected path for women of her culture, to marry Vishnu, both spiritually and physically. In many places in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, Andal is treated more than a saint and as a form of god herself and a shrine for Andal is dedicated in most Vishnu temples.
Thousands of people from the state participate in the "Aadi Pooram" festival celebrated in the Andal Temple. After early morning special pujas, the presiding deities, Shri Rengamannar and Goddess Andal are taken in decorated palanquins to the car. The festival marks the adoption of presiding deity, Andal, by Periyazhwar after he found her near a Tulsi plant in the garden of Vadabadrasai Temple at Thiruvilliputhur on the eighth day of the Tamil month of Adi.
Women groups inspired by AndalEdit
In poetry, 9th-century Andal became a well known Bhakti movement poetess, states Pintchman, and historical records suggest that by 12th-century she was a major inspiration to Hindu women in south India and elsewhere. Andal continues to inspire hundreds of classical dancers in modern times choreographing and dancing Andal's songs. Andal is also called Goda, and her contributions to the arts have created Goda Mandali (circle of Andal) in the Vaishnava tradition.
Andal composed two literary works, both of which are in Tamil verse form and express literary, philosophical, religious, and aesthetic content.
Her first work is the Thiruppavai, a collection of 30 verses in which Andal imagines herself to be a Gopi, one of the cowherd girls known for their unconditional devotion to Lord Krishna. In these verses, she describes her yearning to serve Lord Vishnu and achieve happiness not just in this lifetime, but for all eternity. She also describes the religious vows (pavai) that she and her fellow cowherd girls will observe for this purpose. It is said that Thiruppavai is the nectar of Vedas and teaches philosophical values, moral values, ethical values, pure love, devotion, dedication, single-minded aim, virtues, and the ultimate goal of life.
The second work by Andal is the Nachiar Tirumozhi, a poem of 143 verses. "Thirumozhi" literally means "Sacred Sayings" in a Tamil poetic style and "Nachiar" means Goddess. Therefore, the title means "Sacred Sayings of the Goddess." This poem fully reveals Andal's intense longing for Vishnu, the Divine Beloved. Utilizing classical Tamil poetic conventions and interspersing stories from the Vedas and Puranas, Andal creates imagery that is possibly unparalleled in the whole gamut of Indian religious literature. However, conservative vainava institutions do not encourage the propagation of Nachiar Tirumozhi as much as they encourage Thiruppavai because Nachiar Tirumozhi belongs to an erotic genre of spirituality that is similar to Jayadeva's Gita Govinda.
Some of Andal's verses express love for Lord Vishnu, written with bold sensuality and startlingly savage longing, hunger and inquiry, that even today many of her most erotic poems are rarely rendered publicly. In one such verse Andal dispenses with metaphor and imagines that she herself in lying in the arms of Krishna, and making love to him:
“My life will be spared / Only if he will come / To stay for me for one night / If he will enter me, / So as to leave / the imprint of his saffron paste / upon my breasts / Mixing, churning, maddening me inside, / Gathering my swollen ripeness / Spilling nectar, / As my body and blood / Bursts into flower.”
Andal whilst admiring herself wearing the garland which was meant for the deity,
the guilt glazed love lay on Andal's breasts.
thick and heavy as him.
frightened with force
and locked away, she conjured him every night,
her empurumaan, her emperor-man.
In one of her poems, Andal says that her voluptuous breasts will swell for the lord alone, and scorns the idea of making love to mortal beings, comparing that with the sacrificial offering made by Brahmins being violated by jackals in the forest, and in another verse she dedicates her swelling breasts to the Lord who carries a conch.
Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagar Dynasty composed the epic poem Amuktamalyada in Telugu, which is considered as a masterpiece. Amuktamalyada translates to one who wears and gives away garlands, and describes the story of Andal or Goda Devi, the daughter of Periyalvar.
Amuktamalyada describes pain of separation (viraha) experienced by Andal, who is described as the incarnate of Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu. Further the poem describes Andal’s beauty in 30 verses written in the keśādi-pādam style, starting from her hair, going down her body till her feet.
|S.No.||Name of the temple||Location||Photo||Number of Pasurams||Presiding deity||Notes/Beliefs|
|1||Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam||Thiruvarangam, Trichy district
Ranganathar (Periya Perumal)
|Thiruvarangam temple is often listed as the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world, the still larger Angkor Wat being the largest existing temple. The temple occupies an area of 156 acres (631,000 m²) with a perimeter of 4,116m (10,710 feet) making it the largest temple in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world. The annual 21-day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) attracts 1 million visitors.|
|Vaikuntha is the celestial abode of Vishnu who is one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the supreme being in its Vaishnavism tradition. Vaikuntha is an abode exclusive to the him, his consort the goddess Lakshmi and other liberated souls that have gained moksha. They are blessed with pure bliss and happiness in the company of the supreme being for all eternity.|
|Venkateswara Temple is a landmark Vaishnavite temple situated in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Thiru Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. Hence the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham and Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam. The temple is also known by other names like Tirumala Temple, Tirupati Temple, Tirupati Balaji Temple. Lord Venkateswara is known by many other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa. Tirumala Hills are part of Seshachalam Hills range. The hills are 853 metres (2,799 ft) above sea level. The Temple is constructed in Dravidian architecture and is believed to be constructed over a period of time starting from 300 AD. The Garbagriha (Sanctum Sanctorum) is called AnandaNilayam. It is the richest temple in the world in terms of donations received and wealth. The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on average), while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.|
|In Hindu cosmology, Thiruparkadal (Ocean of milk) is the fifth from the center of the seven oceans. It surrounds the continent known as Krauncha. According to Hindu mythology, the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) worked together for a millennium to churn the ocean and release Amrita the nectar of immortal life. It is spoken of in the Samudra manthana chapter of the Puranas, a body of ancient Hindu legends. It is also the place where Vishnu reclines over Shesha Naga, along with his consort Lakshmi.|
|The temple in Mathura, is among the most sacred of Hindu sites, and is revered as the birthplace of Krishna. Kehsav Dev (Krishna) is the deity of this temple. According to traditions, the original deity was installed by Bajranabh, who was great-grandson of Krishna.|
|The temple is dedicated to the god Krishna, who is worshiped here by the name Dwarkadhish, or 'King of Dwarka'. The main shrine of the 5-storied building, supported by 72 pillars, is known as Jagat Mandir or Nija Mandir, archaeological findings suggest it to be 2,200 - 2,000 years old. Temple was enlarged in the 15th- 16th century.|
|The temple is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines. The temple has a seven-tiered rajagopuram. The temple is surrounded by a large fort, part of which is dilapidated. Kallazhagar is believed to have appeared sage Suthapava. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship.|
|This temple is along Kaveri and is one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams. The temple is believed to be of significant antiquity with contributions at different times from Medieval Cholas, Vijayanagar Empire and Madurai Nayaks. The temple is enshrined within a huge granite wall and the complex contains all the shrines and the water bodies of the temple. The rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). The Potramarai tank, the temple tank, is located opposite to the western entrance of the temple. Sarangapani is believed to have appeared for sage Hemarishi.|
|9||Neelamegha Perumal temple||1||Neelamegha Perumal||The presiding deity is believed to have appeared with a wig (called sowri locally) to save a devotee, leading to the name Sowrirajan. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines and three of its seven bodies of water. The temple has a seven-tiered rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower and a huge temple tank in front of it. The temple is believed to have been built by the Cholas, with later additions from the Thanjavur Nayaks.|
|10||Srivilliputhur Andal Temple||1||Andal
|The temple is associated with the life of Andal, who was found under a Tulsi plant in the garden inside the temple by Periazhwar. She is believed to have worn the garland before dedicating it to the presiding deity of the temple. Periazhwar, who later found it, was highly upset and stopped the practise. It is believed Vishnu appeared in his dream and asked him to dedicate the garland worn by Andal to him daily, which is a practise followed during the modern times. It is also believed that Ranganatha of Thiruvarangam Ranganathaswamy temple married Andal, who later merged with him. The temple has two divisions - the one of Andal located on the Southwest and the second one of Vadapathrasayi on the Northeast direction. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines, the garden where Andal is believed to have been born and two of its three bodies of water. The Vijayanagar and Nayak kings commissioned paintings on the walls of the shrine of temple, some of which are still present.|
|believe that Lord Krishna spent his childhood in this place.|
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Vaikuntha (Vishnu's celestial home)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Andal.|
- Works by Andal at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)