Andal

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Andal
Religion Hinduism
Philosophy Vaishnavism Bhakti
Personal
Born Kodhai
7th or 8th century CE[1][2][3]
Thiruvilliputhur
Literary works Thiruppavai, Nachiar Tirumozhi
Honors Alvars

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,[2][4] with some suggesting 7th-century,[3][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.

Thiruvilliputtur Andal Temple Tower in Tamil Nadu's Emblem
Saint Andal (14th Century, Madurai), at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

History of Andal[edit]

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.[6]

Dedication to Perumal[edit]

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 Thiruvarangam (the reclining form of Perumal).[7][8]

Andal's Bhakti[edit]

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),[9] emphasizes that the ultimate goal of life is to seek surrender and refuge at the Lord's feet.

Andal's Garlands[edit]

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.[10]

Andal garland and Tirupathi Venkateswara[edit]

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.[11]

Every year Tirupathi Venkateswara’s garland is sent to Srivilliputtur Andal for marriage festival of Andal Thayar.[12]

Kallazhagar[edit]

Andal garland is being sent to Madurai Kallazhagar for Chithirai Festival day.[12]

Andal's Hairstyle[edit]

Andal's hairstyle and ornamentation are unique to Kerala. The tuft of hair is worn in front of the head similar to the Nambudiri priests of Kerala[13]

Andal's Parrot[edit]

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.[14] 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.[15]

Importance in South India[edit]

Andal Temple of the Hoysala period, Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

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.[16] 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.[17] Andal is known for her unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu, the God of the Vaishnavites. 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.[18]

Festivals[edit]

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.[19][20]

Women groups inspired by Andal[edit]

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.[21] Andal continues to inspire hundreds of classical dancers in modern times choreographing and dancing Andal's songs.[22] Andal is also called Goda, and her contributions to the arts have created Goda Mandali (circle of Andal) in the Vaishnava tradition.[22]

Goda Mandali[edit]

Goda Mandali (circle) which was named after Andal was formed in 1970 and reorganized in 1982 spreads Andal songs widely through TV and radio programs[23][24]

Literary works[edit]

Andal composed two literary works, both of which are in Tamil verse form and express literary, philosophical, religious, and aesthetic content.

Thiruppavai[edit]

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.[25][26]

Nachiar Tirumozhi[edit]

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.[27][28][29][30]

Contemporary commentaries and inspired poems[edit]

In contemporary commentaries on Tamil bhakti poetry, A.K. Ramanujan's work remarks on how many other religious traditions would keep and treat passionate love and devotion to God as separate, while in the bhakti tradition, they can be in resonance with one another:

"All devotional poetry plays on the tension between saguna and nirguna, the lord as person and the lord as principle. If he were entirely a person, he would not be divine, and if he were entirely a principle, a godhead, one could not make poems about him. The Vaishnavas, too, say that the lord is characterized by both 'paratva, 'otherness' and soulabhaya, 'ease of access'; he is both here and beyond, both tangible as a person and intangible as a principle-such is the nature of the ground of all being. It is not either/or, but both and; myth, bhakti and poetry would be impossible without the presence of both attitudes". Prentiss, Karen Pechilis (1999). The Embodiment of Bhakti. OUP. p. 25. ISBN 9780195128130. 

Feminist interpretations look at some of Andal's verses as her open acknowledgement of her love for Lord Vishnu, written with bold sensuality and startlingly savage longing, hunger and inquiry as widely found in Tamil Sangam literature that express women's longings and their separation from their men; even today, her most erotic poems are rarely rendered publicly.[31] In one such verse Andal dispenses with metaphor and imagines herself lying in the arms of Krishna, making love to him:[32]

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.

William Dalrymple- In search of Tamil Nadu’s poet-preachers[33][34]

tell him I will survive
only if he will stay with me
for one day -
enter me
so as to wipe away
the saffron paste
adorning my breasts

Vidya - The Body Adorned: Sacred and Profane in Indian Art(p. 140)[35]

Andal admiring herself whilst wearing the garland that 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.

- Meena Kandasamy, Ms Militancy[36][37][38]

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,[39] and in another verse she dedicates her swelling breasts to the Lord who carries a conch.[34]

My surging breasts long to leap to the touch of his hand which holds aloft the flaming discus and the conch.

Coax the world-measurer to caress my waist, to encircle the twin globes of my breasts

[40][41]

Krishnadevaraya's Amuktamalyada[edit]

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.[42]

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.[43][44]

Mangalasasanam[edit]

Antal has sung in praise of eleven holy sites: [45]

S.No. Name of the temple Location Photo Number of Pasurams Presiding deity Notes/Beliefs
1 Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam Thiruvarangam, Trichy district
Tamil Nadu
10°51′45″N 78°41′23″E / 10.8625°N 78.689722°E / 10.8625; 78.689722
Srirangam14.jpg
10 Ranganayagi
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.[46][47] The annual 21-day festival conducted during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) attracts 1 million visitors.[48]
2 Paramapadam Heavenly
Vishnu, Lord of Vaikuntha
1 Lakshmi
Vishnu
Vaikuntha is the celestial abode of Vishnu[49].[50][51] Vaikuntha is an abode exclusive to him, his consort Lakshmi and other liberated souls that have gained moksha.
3 Tirupathi 13°08′35″N 79°54′25″E / 13.143°N 79.907°E / 13.143; 79.907
Tirumala 090615.jpg
18 Alamelumanga
Venkateswara
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.[52]
4 Thiruparkadal Heavenly
Kurma
3 Lakshmi
Vishnu
In Hindu cosmology, Thiruparkadal (Ocean of milk) is the fifth from the center of the seven oceans. It surrounds the continent known as Krauncha.[53] 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.[54] 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.
5 Govardana 27°30′17″N 77°40′11″E / 27.504748°N 77.669754°E / 27.504748; 77.669754
Kurma
19 Radha
Krishna
The temple in Mathura, is among the most sacred of Hindu sites, and is revered as the birthplace of Krishna.[55] 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.[56]
6 Dwarka 22°14′16.39″N 68°58′3.22″E / 22.2378861°N 68.9675611°E / 22.2378861; 68.9675611
Dwarka temple
4 Radha
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.[57][58][59] Temple was enlarged in the 15th- 16th century.[60][61]
7 Kallazhagar temple 10°04′27″N 78°12′52″E / 10.074136°N 78.214356°E / 10.074136; 78.214356
Temple tower
11 Thirumamagal
Kallazhagar
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.[62]
8 Sarangapani temple 10°57′34″N 79°22′29″E / 10.95944°N 79.37472°E / 10.95944; 79.37472
Temple tower
1 Komalavalli
Sarangapani
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 granite wall and the complex contains all the shrines and the water tanks of the temple. The rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). [63]
9 Neelamegha Perumal temple 10°52′7″N 79°42′6″E / 10.86861°N 79.70167°E / 10.86861; 79.70167
Temple tower
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.[64]
10 Srivilliputhur Andal Temple 9°30′32″N 77°37′56″E / 9.50889°N 77.63222°E / 9.50889; 77.63222
Temple tower
1 Andal
Vatapathrasayee
The temple is associated with the life of Andal, who, according to legend, was found by Periazhwar under a Tulsi plant in the garden inside the temple. She is believed to have worn the garland before dedicating it to the presiding deity of the temple. Periazhwar, who later found the garland, was highly upset and stopped the practice. It is believed Vishnu appeared in his dream and asked him to dedicate the garland worn by Andal to him daily, a practice followed unto the modern day. 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 southwestern and the second one on the northeastern side. 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.[65][10]
11 Thiruvaipadi 26°57′00″N 80°26′19″E / 26.95009444667719°N 80.43869165722663°E / 26.95009444667719; 80.43869165722663
Gokul temple
4 Rukmani Sathyabama
Navamohanakrishna Perumal
believe that Lord Krishna spent his childhood in this place.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The hagiographic tradition asserts that Andal lived around 3000 BCE.[3][5]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Bryant, Edwin Francis (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-19-803400-1. 
  3. ^ a b c S. M. Srinivasa Chari (1 January 1997). Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Āl̲vārs. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-81-208-1342-7. 
  4. ^ Chitnis, Krishnaji Nageshrao (2003). Medieval Indian History. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 116. ISBN 978-81-7156-062-2. 
  5. ^ Greg Bailey; Ian Kesarcodi-Watson (1992). Bhakti Studies. Sterling Publishers. ISBN 978-81-207-0835-8. 
  6. ^ Rao, A.V.Shankaranarayana (2012). Temples of Tamil Nadu. Vasan Publications. pp. 195–99. ISBN 978-81-8468-112-3. 
  7. ^ "Andal Biography". freeindia.org. Archived from the original on 23 July 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2007. 
  8. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 192. 
  9. ^ http://ebooks.tirumala.org/Home/Download/?ID=1929
  10. ^ a b Anantharaman, Ambujam (2006). Temples of South India. East West Books (Madras). pp. 177–181. ISBN 978-81-88661-42-8. 
  11. ^ "ANDAL MALA PRESENTED TO LORD VENKATESWARA IN TIRUMALA – TTD News". news.tirumala.org. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
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  13. ^ "isbn:8174781757 - Google Search". books.google.com. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  14. ^ http://www.andaljeeyar.org/images/pdf/SRIVILLIPUTHUR.pdf
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  21. ^ Tracy Pintchman (2007), Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195177077, pages 181-185
  22. ^ a b Tracy Pintchman (2007), Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195177077, pages 185-187
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  29. ^ "Nachiyar aesthetically conceived". The Hindu. 5 January 2001. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  30. ^ Muthukumaraswamy, MD (25 August 2016). "In Tamil lit, an erotic bhakti for Krishna". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 January 2018. 
  31. ^ Rajarajan, R K K (2015). "Art and Literature: Inseparable Links". The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society. 106 (4): 53–61. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  32. ^ Lakshmi, C S (7 December 2003). "Landscapes of the body". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 January 2018. 
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  37. ^ Mulchandani, Sandhya (2014). "Divine Love". The Indian Quarterly. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
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  46. ^ Mittal, Sushil; Thursby, G.R. (2005). The Hindu World. New York: Routelge. p. 456. ISBN 0-203-67414-6. 
  47. ^ Vater, Tom (2010). Moon Spotlight Angkor Wat. USA: Perseus Books Group. p. 40. ISBN 9781598805611. 
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  49. ^ Maehle, Gregor (2012). Ashtanga Yoga The Intermediate Series: Mythology, Anatomy, and Practice. New World Library. p. 207. ISBN 9781577319870. Vaikuntha (Vishnu's celestial home) 
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  54. ^ "Churning the Ocean of Milk by Michael Buckley". 
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  57. ^ 1988. -Marine Archaeology of Indian Ocean Countries- S. R. Rao, page.18, text = "The Kharoshti inscription in the first floor of Sabhamandapa of Dwarkadhish Temple is assignable to 200 BC.", page.25 text = "Excavation was done by the veteran archaeologist H.D. Sankalia some twenty years ago on the western side of the present Jagat-Man- dir at Modern Dwarka and he declared that the present Dwarka was not earlier than about 200 BC."
  58. ^ 2005, L. P. Vidyarthi -Journal of Social Research - Volume 17-, text= "Inscription in brahmi found in the temple supports the fact of its construction during the Mauryan regime. Apart from this beginning, the pages of history of Dwarka and Dwarkadhish temple are full of accounts of its destruction and reconstruction in the last 2000 years."
  59. ^ 2005. -Remote Sensing And Archaeology- Alok Tripathi, page.79, text = In 1963 H.D. Sankalia carried out an archaeological excavation.. at Dwarkadheesh temple at Dwarka to solve the problem. Archaeological evidences found in this excavation were only 2000 years old
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