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Andal (7th century or 8th century)

Sri Andal
Sri Andal

Andal was found in a flower garden under a Tulasi plant. Regarded as an incarnation of Bhu-Devi:

Andal was found by a devout brahmin named Vishnucitta in his flower garden under a Tulasi plant in Sri Villiputtur (near Madurai). Visnucitta (who later became Periyalvar, one of the 12 Alvars), tended the flower garden with devotion for the daily worship of Sri Vishnu with flower garlands. Seeing the baby girl, Visnucitta felt that the child was given to him by the Lord Himself. Vishnucitta named the girl as Godai, meaning A gift of Mother Earth, and raised her as his own daughter. Godai who later became the child-saint Andal is regarded as an incarnation of Bhu-Devi.

Andal grew up in an environment of love and devotion:

Vishnucitta (later Periyalvar), who himself was a great devotee of Sri Vishnu raised Andal in an environment of love and devotion. He sang songs of Sri Vishnu to her and told her about the stories of the Lord. Thus Andal grew up in an environment of love, devotion and worship of Sri Vishnu.

Andal wore the flower garlands meant to be offered to Sri Vishnu:

Vishnucitta tended a flower garden to offer flower garlands to Sri Vishnu. Andal used to make the flower garlands which were sent to the temple. However acting in a strange manner, Andal used to wear the flower garlands herself which were meant to be offered to Sri Vishnu. This happened day after day until one day Vishnucitta found this out. Being a devout brahmin, he was greatly upset and scolded Andal, and asked her not to repeat this act in future. Andal was apolegetic, discarded the garland and made a new garland for Sri Vishnu that day.

Sri Vishnu came in the dream of Vishnucitta for discarding the garland worn by Andal:

That night, Sri Vishnu came in the dream of Vishnucitta and asked him why he had discarded the garland worn by Andal since He was whole-heartedly accepting those garlands. Visnucitta came to know about the divine relationship between the Lord and his daughter. After this incident Godai was respected by the devotees as Andal, meaning The girl who ruled over the Lord.

Andal decided to marry only the Lord of Srirangam:

When Andal was 15 years old (which was considered as marriageable age during that time), Vishnucitta started seeking for a suitable groom for Andal. However Andal stubbornly refused to marry anyone but the Lord of Srirangam. This made Vishnucitta worry about the future of his adopted daughter.

Sri Vishnu divinely arranged Andal's wedding with Him. Andal merged with Sri Vishnu.

When Vishnucitta was filled with anxiety regarding Andal's marriage, Sri Vishnu divinely instructed Vishnucitta to bring Andal to Srirangam. Simultaneously, the Lord commanded the priests of Srirangam in their dream to prepare for the wedding. When Andal reached Srirangam she was overcome with emotion. With great urgency she ran inside the sanctum sanctorium of the Lord and then merged with Sri Vishnu.

Thus within a short span of 15 years, the divine life of Andal ends in this world. But Andal remains in the memory of the devotees of Sri Vishnu till this day for her simple and divine life and intense yearning for the Lord.

Andal's two great works: Thiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi

Andal composed two works in her short life of 15 years:
1. Thiruppavai is a collection of 30 verses in which Andal imagines herself to be a Gopi (cowherd girl) of Vrindavana and yearns to serve Sri Krishna. Thiruppavai describes the religious vows (pavai) that she and her fellow cowherd girls will observe for this purpose.

2. Nachiar Tirumozhi is a poem of 143 verses. Nachiar Tirumozhi means Sacred Sayings of the Goddess (Tirumozhi means Sacred Sayings and Nachiar means Goddess). This poem reveals Andal's intense longing for Sri Vishnu, her beloved.

Andal is one of the best-loved poet-saint of the Tamils. During the month of Margazhi, Thiruppavai is recited in different languages all over India.


References:
Wikipedia and other sources

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Last updated on Jan-2017

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