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Srimati Andal - Alwar and Consort of Govinda

Satyabhama - Mon, 27 Sep 2004 20:33:57 +0530
The Story of Goda devi (Andal) and her father, Periyalwar

On Adi pooram day when Periyalwar was plucking flowers and tulasi leaves in his beautiful nandhavanam, he heard a faint cry of a baby, which appeared as an incarnation of Bhoomi devi. He was pleasantly surprised to find a little bundle of joy with beautiful pretty limbs and a divine golden face with great amount of tejas. He immediately picked up the female child with both the arms lovingly and showered her with lots of kisses. His wife vrajai was extremely thrilled to hug the God-given child in their nandhavanam and melted with vAtsalyam for the kid. When they hugged the child they felt as if it is Lord BalakrishNan himself whom they were holding; They were getting tremendous amount of joy by bringing up this blessed pretty girl, whom they named "Godai".

Godai with their love, affection, and bhakti laden pAsurams and Bhagavadh kankaryam grew up with a GREAT amount of bhakti for Kannan. She used to pluck flowers and prepare garlands along with her father. Her speech and thoughts were always on kannan, and she used to accompany her father to VadapathrasAyee temple to have the Lord's darshan.

Years rolled by and Godai grew up like a beautiful mullai creeper (kodi); Along with that, her bhakti for kannan too grew exponentially and she longed to see Him and be blessed by Him. She took a vow to marry Him only and could not think of getting married to any other person. She even dreamt of him coming to her like a male elephant adorned with pattu and peethAmbharam, and marrying her. PeriyAzhwAr seeing all this got worried as to how he could make his darling daughter accomplish her wish. (How to help someone who wants to marry the Lord?)

Once, PeriyAzhwAr as usual prepared garlands of flowers and tulasi and kept them in a safe, clean place and came out. Godai, seeing such beautiful garlands, thought for a while, "When I marry my Kannan, He will put a beautiful garland around my neck like this one..." She put on the garlands and admired her beauty by looking at the mirror, and then replaced them. Later that day, when PeriyAzhwAr adorned the Lord with those garlands, the Lord looked exquisitely beautiful and there was even a smile on his lips. The garlands were spreading an divine fragrance throughout the temple and every one was talking about how beautiful the Lord was looking.

This continued everyday. Godai wore the garlands secretly and looked at herself in the mirror, and the Lord enjoyed wearing them with great amount of happiness and satisfaction. Then on the day of Krishna Jayanthi, PeriyAzhwAr saw Godai wearing the garland and he got terribly angry and depressed. He felt very sad and hurt and sked her" Godaiye, my child, why did you do such a mahaa paapam? Were the garlands not meant for the Lord, Sriman nArAyaNan? How can you impurify by your wearing them, my child?" Kodhai replied with regret. Her eyes welled up with tears and a feeling of guilt and PeriyAzhwAr's heart melted seeing his darling child crying. He hugged her and consoled her saying "Not that, Godai, This is meant for the God our Lord, Will it not become impure by our wearing it, kaNmaNi.. Okay. Do not worry.. Do not do this again. Today I will make another garland. Don't cry." He made another set of garlands and adorned the Lord with them. But that day there was no divine fragrance, no special beauty and no brightness on His face; nor there was any smile on His lips. The bhattars (archakAs) were also confused.

PEriyAzhwAr felt sad that he became angry with his sweet child that day for the first time and the Lord also did not look well with the second set of garlands. He had a restless sleep and just before dawn, Govindhan appeared in his dream. He opened His red beautiful coral lips and said "My dearest vishNuchittarE! PeriyAzhwArE! BhattarpirAn! For singing paamaalai (verses) and wearing my poomaalai (garlands) only, Godai appeared as your daughter and I love to wear the garlands worn by her. She has ruled over me with her paamaalai and poomaalai and hence, shall be called "Andal" hereafter. Do not try to stop her from wearing the garlands. She should continue wearing them." PeriyAzhwAr woke up and realised Godai's greatness. He became excited and thrilled to know that she is the one who ruled the Lord and called her "Andale!". He explained everything to her and Andal's face became red with "vedkam" (shyness) and blushed. She became widely known as "Soodikkoduttha sudar kodi".

Andal wrote Tiruppaavai (30 verses) as a nonbu to perform prapatti to the Lord and seek refuge at His Lotus feet. There were great seers who came later appreciated the depths of this philosophical composition of Andal. When PeriyAzhwAr brought up the topic of marriage to Godai, she mentioned only Govindhan's name as Her groom. PeriyAzhwAr knew well of her intentions, since he had only himself to blame for bringing her up to think only of Kanna at all times. He also knew that Sri Ranganaathan was her heartthrob, the one who stole her heart. He was rightfully worried as to how it is possible to get her married to the Almighty. His worry and burden increased day by day as much as Sri AndAL's love for the Lord increased.

Then the Lord appeared in PeriyAzhwAr's dream again and asked him to come to Sri Rangam the next day. He also appeared in the king Pandyan Vallabhan's dream and asked him to arrange to bring Andal and PeriyAzhwAr to Sri Rangam with full honours. The next day the King along with his parivArangal, Srirangam koil archakas, the chief officers, ministers, and all the people of Sri villiputthoor, thronged at PeriyAzhwAr's house. Palanquin, kudai( umbrella), kavari, temple elephant and Royal elephant were all brought to bring the blessed father and the daughter. The ladies beautified the already beautiful looking Andal with pattu, ponnagai, maNI, etc. PeriyAzhwAr and vrajai brought Godai slowly, lovingly and affectionately to the palanquin. Sri Andal boarded and sat down in the palanquin, symbolifying "peNmayin ilakkaNam". Throughout the way there were arches of flowers and decorations and festive looks. People thronged to see the blessed Beauty of Villiputthoor. (How nice it would have been, sister and brothers.- How great our Sri Andal would have looked in such an attire with the pretty face getting prettier with "nANam".) They reached Sri Rangam and the temple. They were guided straight to the Sanctum sanctorum, the sannidhi of Thiruvarangan. Our Godai stepped into garbha griham, looked at Him and His face and immediately merged and united with the Lord in a flash of light.

PeriyAzhwAr and Vrajai were saddened with terrible grief and were crying heavily for having lost their darling daughter to the Lord. Even though PeriyAzhwAr knew all bhakti and vEdha poruL, etc., etc., he could not control his tears for the separation from his dearest Godai.

"Oru magaLai udaiyEn; ulagam niRaindha pugazhAl |
ThirumagaL pOl vaLartthEn senkaNmAl dhAn koNdupOnAn ||"

(meaning: Only one daughter I had; The one who became very famous (with her love for Lord); I brought her up like mahAlakshmi; (Now I have lost her;) That Red lotus eyed Lord has snatched her from me)

{eriyAzhwAr and vrajai felt old suddenly for having lost the child. With the help of the king, he consecrated an Andal murthy in Sri Villiputthoor and till last day of his life he did his usual kanikaryam of Malai to Sri VadabhathrasAyee but with a heavy heart thinking of Godai always.

pAthagangaL theerkkum paramanadi kAttum*/
vEdham anaitthukkum vitthAgum *- kOdhai thamizh/
ayyaindhum ainshum aRiyAdha mAnidarai/
vaiyam sumappathum vambhu./

(That which removes all our sins and shows the feet of The Lord, which is equal to the Vedas and even the essence of all Vedas; That is Tiruppavai, sung by Godai, in thirty verses. If one doe not know that, he (or she) is a BURDEN to the earth. Oh my dearest sisters and brothers, Please make it a point to recite these excellent 30 verses every morning and be blessed by Sri Andal, who is none other than Bhoomi Piratti and who alone can save us from our samsaaric afflictions.)
Attachment: Image
Satyabhama - Mon, 04 Oct 2004 23:52:04 +0530
Nacchiyar Tirumoli, paasuram 14.1

baladEvanin tambiyai brindAvanattE kaNDOmE

paTTi mEyndOr kArERu baladEvarkku Or kIzhk kanRAi
iTTiru iTTu viLaiyADi i’ngE pOdak kaNDIrE
iTTamAna paSukkaLai inidu maRittu nIrUTTi
viTTuk koNDu viLaiYADa virundA vanattE kaNDOmE

A. From SrImAn SaDagOpan's tamizh treatise:

- “Did you see a dark-hued bull called Kannan who is Balaraaman’s brother and who goes around playing and grazing cows to His delight?”
- “Yes, we did; we saw that Gopala in Vrindavana, looking after His most beloved cows with great joy, lovingly calling them by their names, making them drink water and letting them graze on the grass happily.”

(From Nacchiyar Thirumoli- Notes by Sri V. Sadagopan (Oppiliappan Koil)
Translated by Smt. Kalyani Krishnamachari with
additional translations from purvAcArya-s' commentaries)