- The King’s Problem
- In a Garden
- Vishnuchitta Comes to Madurai
- The Great Alwar
- The Treasure in the Earth
- God Alone Should Help It!
- The First Birthday, God’s Gracious Gift
- Andal’s Childhood
- ‘I Too Must Please the Lord’
- ‘What Has My Daughter done?’
- The Great beloved who offered Flowers she had worn
- A Light to Friends
- Andal’s Teaching
- ‘Shriranganatha is my Husband’
- Andal Has Won My Heart
- Shriranganatha’s Wife
- Andal’s Garland of Poems
- The Story of a Florist
- Let Your Devotion Find Expression in Hard Work
- They Belong to All Mankind
- The Path of Surrender
- Awakening the Lord from his Sleep
- The Divine Mother
- A Meaningful Life
The girl who would marry no one but God.
She lived a life of innocence, purity, and total dedication to her God and was finally united with Him.
Pandya was a kingdom in ancient Tamilnadu.
Its capital was Madurai. Vallabhadeva was the ruler. He was a very good ruler. The people were happy. He was always watching his officers making sure that they did their work honestly and well.
The King’s Problem
One day the king went around the city on horseback in disguise to inspect the work of the guards. A man was sleeping on a pial. The king woke him up and enquired who he was. “I am a Brahmin pilgrim; I am going to Rameshwaram after a dip in the holy Ganges,” said he. “Tell me anything you think important,” said the king.
The Brahmin replied, “Oh King! One has to work for eight months to earn enough for one full year’s living. To provide for a happy life in old age a man must earn and save plenty of money in his youth itself. To gain happiness in the next world one must strive hard on earth in all possible ways and means to earn Punya (Merit in God’s eyes).”
On hearing this, the king was upset. ‘True, I have not done anything here to earn happiness in the other world. How can I earn merit? Different religious codes teach different ways of earning merit. To get clear knowledge, I must invite learned men from different countries and get a decision in the matter,’ he thought.
So there was a conference of learned men.
In a Garden
Famous scholars from far and near have assembled in Madurai. The winner gets plenty of money, and this money is placed near the main door of the assembly hall itself. The learned men are explaining their ideas to the king.
An officer of the palace of Vallabhadeva had a dream. Lord Srinivasa of Simhadri, a place at a distance of ten miles from Madurai, appeared in the dream and said, “Go at once to Shrivilliputtur and bring Vishnuchitta to Madurai.” Vallabhadeva had a minister and religious adviser, Shelvanambi by name. It was he who had the dream. He traveled from Madurai to Shrivilliputtur and enquired about Vishnuchitta.
Somebody said: “Look, there he is in the garden.”
Vishnuchitta Comes to Madurai
A very beautiful garden. Even at a distance, the air was full of the fragrance of the Tulasi plant and the jasmine, the champak, and the dandelion. The garden was full of bunches of flowers of different colors and was very beautiful (This garden can be seen even to this day. It is the flowers of this garden that are used for the worship of the deity).
A middle-aged man, with twelve sacred marks on his body, was singing hymns and collecting the leaves of the Tulasi plant and flowers. He was conscious of nothing else. His hands were busy with God’s work; his mind was with God. He was Vishnuchitta. He was a Shrivaishnava (a devotee of Shri Vishnu), a pious and saintly man.
Shelvanambi came to this garden. They greeted each other. Vatapatrashayi (the God who lies on a banyan leaf) was the God whom Vishnuchitta worshipped. He too heard the call of God. God seemed to say: “Go to the city of Madurai. There, in the assembly of King Vallabhadeva proclaim the Paratatva (the gospel that God is the ultimate goal).” At the same time, Shelvanambi also came with his request.
Vishnuchitta was not well-read in the Vedas or Shastra’s (the Scriptures). He had read them like any other devoted Brahmin of the day. He was not a learned scholar. He nursed plants bearing flowers, and with his own hands wove the garlands and offered them to God. God Himself had asked him to visit Madurai, but yet Vishnuchitta was worried. Though Shelvanambi came on behalf of the king and invited him, Visnuchitta was very much worried.
It was an assembly at the king’s court and the King had particularly invited scholars to it.
Renowned scholars would have gathered there.
Vishnuchitta thought to himself, ‘I have not studied the Vedas. I am not a great scholar. What can I do in this assembly of towering scholars?’ Finally, he decided that he should bow down to God’s wish and left for Madurai.
God had been pleased with Vishnuchitta’s devotion. God’s grace was with him when he went to the assembly. Vishnuchitta clearly explained the message of the Vedas. The learned men gathered. They were compelled to nod their heads in appreciation. Vihnuchitta won laurels.
King Vallabhadeva was very much pleased.
He conferred the title ‘Pattar Piran’ (Chief Priest) on Vishnuchitta. He had Vishnuchitta taken in procession on an elephant.
The Great Alwar
It was Vishnuchitta who sang the devotional poem ‘Tiruppallandu’ (may you prosper). He never asked for anything for himself. ‘May God bless all mankind, and may all turn towards God’, so he prayed. In the first stanza of his poem he prays God as follows:
“May your feet, which are like a red lotus, illumine the world forever and forever! Oh Lord, whose dark blue shoulders overcome the strongest wrestlers, may the beauty of your lotus feet illumine the world forever!”
After eleven years of prayer and worship, he concluded Tiruppallandu with the vow that he would always meditate on Lord Narayana.
Tiruppallandu is sung every day in many Shrivaishnava temples.
Vishnuchitta came to be called ‘Periyalwar’.
‘Alwar’ means one who always loves God; the devotees of an Alwar believe that God is so pleased with his devotion that he follows his wishes. Vishnuchitta is the ‘Great Alwar’. It was natural that a man of boundless devotion, who yet said he wished for nothing for himself, should come to be called the Great Alwar.
There is only one woman among the Alwars of the Shrivaishnava sect, and she is Andal. It was Vishnuchitta who adopted and brought up the girl. Andal, pure of heart, was the adopted daughter of Vishnuchitta, himself pure of heart, and father and daughter were both fortunate.
The adoption of Andal by Periyalwar is itself a very interesting story.
The Treasure in the Earth
Vishnuchitta returned from Madurai and became once again absorbed in the floral worship of the Lord.
One morning, the sun had just risen and spread his red rays everywhere. Vishnuchitta was working in his garden preparing beds for his Tulasi plants with a spade. He was digging below a big Tulasi plant. The spade struck something and there was a sound.
Again, holding the spade firmly, he dug the earth and then removed the mud around. There was a box. He feared that the box might contain money and jewels. But at the same time, he thought that with this wealth he could worship God better and was pleased. But yet again he grew nervous and worried because he thought he should not take the treasure.
Well, all this must be the will of Vatapatrashayi! ‘Whatever is in the box belongs to Him and is for Him only’, he decided. When he opened the box, he saw something beyond his wildest dreams. A lovely female baby lay in the box. It shone with a divine radiance most pleasing to the eye.
Periyalwar thought that this was the play of the Divine will. He brought the bright baby to his dwelling.
This incident happened about one thousand and one hundred years ago.
After he brought the baby, one after another several thought troubled him.
God Alone Should Help It!
There was no woman in the house. Who was to bring up this baby? And how? He did not know how to handle a child and how to take care of it. Caught in the whirlwind of this thought, the Periyalwar concluded that the child was meant to serve God and that God Himself should help the child.
He named the baby ‘Goda’. (‘Go’ means the ‘earth’ and ‘da’ means ‘given by’) In Tamil he calLed her ‘Kodai’ (one who has beautiful hair). He also called her ‘Andal’ (one who attracts).
Vishnuchitta developed a deep affection for the baby. He brought her up with great care and love. He was both father and mother to her and became absorbed in the task of bringing her up.
The First Birthday, God’s Gracious Gift
Periyalwar never cooked for himself in the house. The Prasadam (cooked rice offered to God) given in the Vatapatrashayi temple was his food. The same food was given to Andal also, who became accustomed to it. He wanted her to be associated with God from her infancy.
A year passed. Andal’s birthday had to be celebrated. But how was he to do it? He was not able to do anything. God’s service and meditation were all he was capable of. He brought the sweet Prasadam from the temple and gave it to the child.
He was very happy to see the child Andal eat it with delight. The thought of God and His Prasadam always thrilled Andal. Even as a child, meditation on God and His worship absorbed her mind.
As days passed the childishness of Andal delighted the Periyalwar ranks more and more. Sometimes he thought ‘l am poor. I got this child. Should this child also grow up in poverty?’ This made him gloomy. But he was comforted when he saw that Andal had developed good qualities and was dedicated to the Lord; he thought she was indeed rich and not poor.
Little Andal was always with him. Whenever he went to the garden he took her also with him. He used to tell her stories of God’s matchless strength and goodness and mercy. He was delighted when he heard her pronounce the names of Rama and Krishna. Little Andal used to listen to the stories of Rama and Krishna with rapt attention. Her interest in these stories grew.
Her love for God and devotion to him developed from her childhood itself. Little Andal moving about with tiny steps surprised the Periyalwar himself by her enthusiasm for his work. She gathered the flowers and put them in the basket.
The Periyalwar used to keep saying, ‘Everything is for God, everything is for God.’ Even while collecting the flowers Andal used to remember Periyalwar’s words. While weaving the flowers into garlands she sang like her father.
Every time she chose a flower she was happy with the thought that it would adorn God’s head or feet. She would identify herself with the flower and begin to dedicate herself to God. She excelled in the professional garland-makers in weaving garlands for the Lord.
‘I Too Must Please the Lord’
One day Periyalwar had prepared a big garland. Andal saw it. She was filled with the desire to wear it. She wanted to please God, as the garland pleased God. But she was afraid of what her father would say. But Periyalwar was not in the hut. Boldly she put on the garland.
She looked at herself and thought God might be pleased with her, too. After some time she put the garland back where it had been. She repeated this every day. Every day Periyalwar offered a garland to the Lord; so every day Andal first put it on and then put it back for worship.
‘What Has My Daughter done?’
One day Andal put on the garland and said,
“This is offered to God.” The Periyalwar heard these words and turned to her in wonder. She was wearing the garland meant for God!
Periyalwar was shocked. He took care to touch the flowers only with his fingers while plucking them and weaving the garland. He would not allow any other parts of his hand to touch the flowers, the flowers were for God, and he did not want them to wither by his touch.
He used to cover his nose with a cloth while weaving the garland so that he might not smell the flowers. He would breathe softly. With such care did he offer the flowers to the Lord? And now his daughter had put on the garland meant for God, and the garland had touched her entire body!
On seeing this Periyalwar was taken aback. “Oh, the garland has become defiled,” he cried with agony.
“What has my daughter done? She has herself worn the garland meant for God’s worship! We must offer to God only flowers, which are fresh and pure. A crime has been committed!
Lord, forgive my ignorant and innocent child,” cried out Periyalwar and prayed to God on one side he was unwilling to question his daughter about it, lest she should be unhappy; on the other, he felt that she must be told about it; otherwise, she would continue to commit the same mistake every day and incur God’s displeasure.
After all, she was a girl; she might have a natural craving for flowers. The mistake must be corrected. It was his duty as an elderly person to correct her, so he thought. He called Andal and told her gently, “Child! What have you done? It is sinful to offer flowers to God after we wear them.” Andal was pained and at once said, “Never shall I do this, father,” and begged him to forgive her.
The Great beloved who offered Flowers she had worn
That day Periyalwar had got the mind to offer the garland to God. Vatapatrashayi did not get his daily garland. Periyalwar came to God empty-handed and prayed to Him to forgive his daughter who had done wrong in her ignorance.
God Vatapatrashayi seemed to speak. “Periyalwar, the garland worn by your daughter has the sweet fragrance of her devotion and purity; that is the garland I love.” Alwar was very much astonished and was happy. He had been worshipping God for a very long time to gain His grace. And God had responded to the devotion of this young teenage girl! ‘My daughter is very fortunate.
She has gained the grace of God! She has excelled in divine knowledge! I did not realize this, ‘he thought. He was full of repentance. He offered to God the very garland worn by his daughter. From that day God came to be worshiped with the garland which Andal had worn before.
She came to be called ‘Shoodikkodutta Naacchiyaar’(the Beloved who first wore the flowers and then offered them to God). She was very happy. She won over Periyalwar by her qualities and indeed became ‘Andal’ (one who attracts).
A Light to Friends
Andal was never alone. She wanted her friends also to be devoted to God and love him, as she did. She wanted her girlfriends to please God by their sincere devotion, meditation, and worship. So she gathered a team of her friends for the Lord’s services.
A ‘Vrata’ (special worship) demands strict discipline. The worship in the month of Margashira (winter) is of greater virtue than in other months but is particularly difficult. Margashira and Pushya are winter months. People shiver with cold. Often there is thick fog. To leave the warm bed even a little early in the morning seems difficult. Margashira Vrata requires the devotee to get up early in the morning and meditate on God.
Whatever be the difficulties, one who has undertaken this worship must get up early. Andal offered this worship with deep devotion. She trained her friends for this special austere worship. Shri Krishna was the beloved Lord of Andal. She wrote thirty songs of devotion to wake her up lord and sang them. These songs became famous and are known as ‘Tiruppavai’ (‘Tiru’ means the highest; ‘Pavai’ means devoted worship). It is to her credit that Andal taught her friends the path of devotion to God and introduced congregational worship and prayer.
Andal brought together five hundred thousand women for the devoted service of God.
She joined them in their meditation and hymns.
She taught them to worship God with love and devotion.
Andal showed an easy way of pleasing God.
Not everyone can study and understand the Holy Texts. Not everyone can serve God by spending money. ‘All are equal in the eyes of God. Dedication and love are all that He wants,’ said Andal.
Andal would constantly be singing songs in praise of God. She would close her eyes and meditate on God, and forget the world in her meditation. Seeing all this, her father used to admire her devotion. He was happy when he saw Andal always lost in meditation.
‘Shriranganatha is my Husband’
The devotees narrate an interesting story about the marriage of Andal.
Andal grew up. She had to be married. Father Periyalwar also thought about it. “Whom will you marry?” Vishnuchitta asked his daughter.
“The Lord of Shrirangakshetra, Shriranganatha is my husband. I will not accept anyone else as my husband replied Andal. Vishnuchitta heard this with deep concern. ‘Where are we and where is Almighty Shriranganatha?’ thought Periyalwar. He prayed to God to guide him.
Andal Has Won My Heart
One day Periyalwar had a dream. Shriranganatha appeared in his dream and told him,
“Andal has won my heart, give her to me in marriage.”
Periyalwar’s heart was filled with joy. His worries vanished in no time. But how could he go to Srirangam? Shrirangakshetra was nearly two hundred miles away. In those days it was very difficult to travel that long distance. There was no one to help him. What to do?
Periyalwar thought of the Pandya King Vallabhadeva. He sent word to him. He told him about his daughter’s decision and the wish of Shriranganatha. He made a request: “I have to go to Shrirangakshetra with my daughter. Please help me.” The king was very happy. He considered himself a member of the bride’s party. He made grand arrangements for Periyalwar and his daughter Andal to travel.
The priest of Shriranganatha Temple also had a dream: “I am marrying Andal. She must be brought in a grand procession, with all honor,” so ordered Shriranganatha. The priest was surprised. But he did not delay. He started at once.
King Vallabhadeva also came from Shrivilliputtur to join the bridal party. Andal appeared as a bride, wearing splendid ornaments. Periyalwar was very happy when he saw the grand procession, which came from Srirangam.
Andal sat in the palanquin. The marriage procession moved to Shrirangam with musicians playing on varied instruments. It reached Srirangam. People came from many places to witness this grand wedding.
Andal stepped down from the palanquin and stood before Shriranganatha. She was thrilled when she saw her attractive Lord. All watched with bated breath. The marriage of Andal did take place! Andal dedicated herself to the feet of Lord Shriranganatha. Her dream came true.
Shriranganatha accepted her joyfully. Everyone realized the greatness of Andal. Periyalwar was grieved to lose his daughter, but her supreme good fortune in being united with Shriranganatha Himself filled him with joy.
Andal became a Goddess to everybody. She, who had been an ordinary girl, became a deity to be worshipped. There is a beautiful temple of Andal in Shrivilliputtur. By its side is a garden. To this day. Andal is worshipped with the flowers of that garden. The garland worn by Andal the previous day is presented to Vatapatrashayi the next day.
Andal’s Garland of Poems
Andal is the person who gave ‘Poomaalai’ and ‘Paamaalai’. Just as she presented the garland of flowers to God after having worn it, she gave Him a garland of songs too. She had been called Goda; the word means not only (one given by the earth’ but also ‘one who offers words’. The name given to her was justified.
One of Andal’s works is called ‘Naacchiyaar Tirumoli’ (‘the song of the Beloved’). It contains 143 songs. This is a collection of beautiful songs.
‘It is not enough if the devotee loves the Lord, the Lord must love the devotee,’ this is the desire expressed in the song. Meditation of the Lord has made Andal’s mind pure. ‘May God love me too,’ is her prayer. She is unable to forget the enchanting form of God. She remembers Him always. She does not want food, she does not want sleep; such is her love of God. ‘How happy I would be if I am married to God,’ she thinks.
She imagines that the pomp and the splendor of her marriage with God would excel those of the marriage of monarchs. ‘Tirumoli’ is a song of rapture – a song that rises only from the joy of deep devotion to God.
A wedding is a singularly appropriate occasion for the singing of these Tamil songs. Andal’s service to Tamil literature is very great. For that reason, she has won a very high place in Tamil literature.
‘Tiruppavai’ composed by Andal is a very beautiful collection of poems. She prays to Lord Krishna in a variety of ways and calls her fellow devotees to worship.
Bhagavatha is one of the famous religious books in India. The story of Shri Krishna’s childhood is narrated in it, and it contains other stories about Him and His devotees. In one of the stories of the Bhagavatha some girls pray to Durga Katyayani Devi, may we get good husbands and may we live happily after marriage – this is their prayer. Andal has made use of this story. But in Tiruppavai the devotee’s prayer is different.
She prays that God may become her husband.
‘May I win Lord Krishna’s love!’ prays Andal. She prays, ‘May Lord Krishna rise from his bed; my heart is His throne; and may He always shine on the throne of my heart! People who worship Shri Krishna believe that He is an incarnation of God. Shri Krishna was Devaki’s son.
Thinking that Kamsa would kill Krishna, Krishna’s father Vasudeva took the baby to Nandagokula and left him there. Yashoda brought him up in Nandagokula. Devaki, who gave birth to Krishna, and Yashoda, who brought him up, we’re both human beings. Recollecting this Andal prays to Krishna:
‘We have come to you. Only you can fulfill our desires. We shall happily sing of the boundless joy you bestowed on us.’
In one of the songs, Andal wakes up a friend with these words: ‘Birds are flying. Did you not hear the sound of the conch in the temple? All hermits are praising Shri Krishna, who pretending to suck milk killed the Rakshasi (the demon) Pootani. All the sages are praying to Lord Hari (Krishna). So wake up.’
In another poem, Andal says to her friends:
‘In the garden behind your house, the flower known as Saugandhika has opened its lips. The lotus has closed its lips. The sun has risen. The sanyasis are going to worship God. So wake up.
Let us also sing the praise of God.’
Andal prays to God thus:
‘We desire to worship you in the early morning and offer our services at your feet. You are a protector of cows; accept our loving service; we shall be your servants in every birth.’
Tiruppavai attracted all that followed the path of devotion.
Shri Ramanujacharya appreciated it very much. He approved the path of Andal and followed it. He called her the Ideal Woman. Today the Tiruppavai of Andal is an immensely popular collection of songs.
The Story of a Florist
There is a story that the seller of flowers attained salvation by preparing beautiful garlands and offering them to Shri Krishna.
There is a city called Mathura in North India.
This is some 300 miles to the south of Delhi. The kings of Chandravamsha (the Moon Dynasty) lived there. Mathura was their capital. Ugrasena was the king. Kamsa was his son. He imprisoned his father and himself became king. Many good people were persecuted by Kamsa.
Kamsa hated Shri Krishna. He wanted to kill him somehow. He kept ready elephants and wrestlers for this purpose. Shri Krishna was in a place called Nandagokula. Kamsa invited Shri Krishna to Mathura.
Shri Krishna and his elder-brother Balarama came to Mathura. As they were village boys, they wore simple clothes. But should they not go to the king’s court in fine clothes? They saw a washerman of Kamas’s palace. Krishna and Balarama took fine clothes from him. A little later they saw a hunchback; she used to supply sandal paste to the palace. The brothers got sandal paste from her and applied it to their bodies.
Then they reached the house of the man who supplied flowers to the palace. His name was Sudama, meaning a maker of lovely garlands. He earned his livelihood by selling garlands.
When Balarama and Shri Krishna came to his house, Sudama involuntarily got up and touched their feet. He gave water that they might wash their hands and feet and then offered seats. The followers of Shri Krishna who had accompanied him from Nandagokula were also welcomed in the same way.
The florist felt very happy. He said to Shri Krishna, “Lord! My life has now become meaningful. My house has attained holiness. By worshipping you one gains the blessings of all other gods.”
Then he presented beautiful, colorful garlands to both Shri Krishna and Balarama. The complexion of Shri Krishna was Shyamala (blue-black). He wore blue-black flowers to match his complexion. Balarama was of fair complexion.
He wore flowers to match his complexion. Shri Krishna and Balarama were very happy. “Oh, Sudama, what do you desire? I will give you whatever you wish,” Shri Krishna said to him.
The florist replied, “Lord you are everything to me. I am your devotee. Grant that my devotion be firm and unwavering. And may I have the compassion to suffer from those that suffer!” Shri Krishna wondered that Sudama wanted nothing for himself.
He said to him, “I have given you whatever you have asked for. But you must also listen to what I say. Generation after generation, your family will have all that it desires. May your family continue! May you be wealthy so that you can serve God! Be happy and live in peace!” So Shri Krishna blessed the florist. Like this maker of garlands Periyalwar, too, asked for nothing. He also made garlands and offered them to God with devotion.
As Sudama went on offering garlands to Shri Krishna and Balarama, saying, ‘This is lovely, this is lovelier, so Periyalwar also found fulfillment in presenting flowers to God. He would not give even a single flower to anyone except God. Did he not grow angry even with Andal, whom he loved so much, because she wore the garland?
Let Your Devotion Find Expression in Hard Work
In this way, both Alwar and Andal set the example of showing devotion to God through hard work. And not only that. They nursed the garden with their unceasing care and hard work.
They never forgot that every flower grown in the garden would be offered to God. They looked after every plant and flower as if they were children. And they offered the flowers of these plants to God with devotion.
How many have attained God with hard manual labor? ‘God likes hard labor which is the high-way to Vaikunta (God’s Place)’ – Alwar and Andal exemplified this lesson in their lives.
They Belong to All Mankind
Periyalwar composed songs. Andal also composed songs. In the songs of both of them, there is one thing that shows their greatness.
In their songs, both of them pray God to eradicate unrighteousness (Adharma) and pray only for righteousness. Is not this the prayer of the people of all countries and all religions? May vice perish, may goodness grow, and may all people live in cooperation, without harming one another – is this not the prayer of all good people?
Such people belong to all religions; they belong to all who desire the good of all mankind. Both Alwar and Andal practiced the ideals of selflessness and freedom from all desires, and they set an example for others to follow. It is not wondered that people of all religions and have all time honor them.
The birthday of Andal, which falls on Pubba Nakshatra (star) day in the month of Adi (usually in July) is celebrated everywhere as ‘Tiruvadippoora’.
Even to this day, the pleasing idol of Andal can be seen in all Shrivaishnava temples. The Tiruppavai composed by her is chanted every day.
The Path of Surrender
Tiruppavai contains the very essence of her way of life; so let us learn something more about it.
Andal took the story of the Vraja girls from the Bhagavata. But while they desired handsome and loving husbands, Andal desired that God Himself should be her husband. She loves God and God alone. She seeks to become one with Him. Then she will escape from the cycle of births and deaths, she will be free from disease and sorrow. So becoming one with God is supreme bliss; it is the highest goal.
But how can one become one with God? How can one become worthy of being accepted by God?
In the first five hymns, Andal explains how one may become so worthy. Both body and mind should be pure. And God must fill the mind. No other desire, another goal should enter it.
Then Andal preaches total surrender to God.
Everyone who is filled with the desire to reach God is like a maiden looking forward to her joyful life with the husband she has chosen. Such a maiden lives only for her husband and wants nothing except to live with him. The devotee who wants to be accepted by God should show the same love and dedication.
Awakening the Lord from his Sleep
Some of the songs are to awaken the Lord.
What does this mean – this awakening of God from His sleep? God has to protect the good and punish the wicked. But God is also merciful.
Because of His mercy, God sometimes does not punish the wicked; so His mercy makes Him inactive. It is this inaction, induced by God’s mercy that Andal calls sleep in these hymns. Evil forces grow stronger if the Lord does not help good people. So she begs God to awaken from His sleep and overcome the forces of evil.
Man Has to Awaken from Sleep Too. Human beings, too, are lost in sleep. A person’s life is mere sleep until he awakens to the greatness and the glory of God. The days and years he spends in seeking other pleasures and objects are like time spent in sleep.
When he realizes the greatness of God he is like one who awakens from dreams to reality. The devotee who has surrendered himself to God finds pleasure in nothing except the thoughts of God.
The Divine Mother
Andal seeks the grace of the Divine Mother.
The Divine Mother is the gracious teacher and guide of all who seek the Lord. She is full of compassion for one who desires to reach the Lord and through Her, the devotee achieves God’s grace.
Andal begs Shri Krishna to wake up – to leave his bed and to ascend His throne; the pure heart of the devotee is His throne. The Lord’s radiant form, His mercy, and His greatness have enchanted the devotees, and Andal invites Him to adorn their hearts.
Beyond Man’s Understanding Reflecting on the story of Lord Krishna, Andal finds much to wonder at. God, who has no birth and no death, was born as the son of a mortal woman, Devaki. He, who is the light of all the worlds, was of dark complexion. He who delivers men from fear was hidden in fear. The Lord of Heaven grew up in cowsheds. Who can understand God’s ways?
So Tiruppavai is a song of wonder and love, of prayer and surrender; it sings of God’s glory and man’s devotion.
A Meaningful Life
Andal was young in years, but she wanted to make her life meaningful. She did not want an empty life – a life spent in eating and drinking and sleep and trivial pleasures. The light of God-love filled her life.
‘Andal Utsava’ (celebrations) in Shrivilliputtur is like a grand religious fair. The women of the place participate in the festival with pride. Andal is like a precious jewel among women.