TIRUPPAVAT which consists of 30 songs is a small lyric, an expression of intense love for the Lord, by Sri Andal, one of the ten Vaishnavite saints of South India.
Andal is supposed to have been found by her foster—father in a Tulasi –garden (Basil garden) which he had reared for making malas (garlands) for the worship of Vatapatra-Shayi, the Deity at Sri Villiputtur near Tenkasi. Shri Vishnuchittar brought up Andal like his own daughter, and reared in that devotional atmosphere, she grew up into beautiful womanhood coupled with a sense of devotion, which only reminds us of the great woman-saint of Rajasthan, Mirabai. Vishnuchittar used to offer tulasi (basil) and flower garlands to the Deity every evening for worship. Young Andal used to adorn herself with the flower garlands daily before they were taken to the temple for offering without the knowledge of her father. She used to put them on and delight herself by looking into the glass and admiring her own beauty. She was once detected by her father with the garlands on her and looking into the glassVishnuchittar was naturally upset and did not take those garlands for offering. The Lord Vatapatrasbayi appeared in the dream of Vishnuchittar that night and was cross with him that flower garlands were not offered to Him as usual.Vishnuchittar with folded hands excused him by pointing out that they were not offered because they had been polluted by being worn by hidaughter. The reply of the Lord was that it was that very garland which he loved and that if only garlands worn by Andal were offered he would accept them and not otherwise. This miraculous dream resulted in the recognition by Vishnuchittar of Andal’s greatness as a devotee and saintliness. It is believed that ultimately Andal who insisted on getting married only to the Lord Himself, became identified with Ranganatba, the Deity at Srirangam. The temples of Shri Vata patrashayi and Andal are situated in Sri Villi puttur and the custom of sending flower garlands worn by Andal to the Deity of Vatapatrashayi temple still eoninues to this day. This legend is one of the many which are characteristic of the bhakti cult and the particular form of upasan.a which is followed by devotees belonging to the Shrivaishnava Satnpradaya of Sri Ramanuja.
This book “Thiruppavai” is a collection of thirty devotional songs said to have been corn— posed by Andal. The songs celebrate the festival of Dhanurrnasa, which is held every year in the month of Margashirsha, which has been declared by Shri Krishna to be a favourite with him in the Geetha. Masanam Margashirashosmi is what Shri Krishna says and this month is devoted to early rising and worship of the Lord in a form which is peculiar to Shrivaishnavas. Men and women, par. ticularly women, are anxious to raise very early, have their ablutions and bath and engage themselves in a vrata which seems to have been performed by the Gopis in order to win the affection of Lord Krishna. In this poem which is recited one on every day during this month by Shrivaishnava devotees, Andal exhorts the Gopis and other women to rise early, do their duties and join in the worship of the Lord and win His affection. The poems are exquisite in their sweet Tarnil and can compare with the best of devotional songs in any 1ierature. The homely sentiments expressed in the Pashuram or stanzas and the beautiful language in which they are expressed constitute a true representation of what is called anuragcthhakti or devotion in the relationship of divine love.
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