Life story of Sri Andal:
The life story of Sri Andal is very well known in South India and to a few people in the north. However, a brief narrative is given here for the fresher. The Sri Vaishnava tradition holds that Sri Andal was found in the flower garden in kali yuga 98, Adi (Ashata month), Shukla Chathurthi, Tuesday with Puram star in SRIVILLPUTHUR in the Pandiya dynasty. Accordingly, her date of birth is 8th of June 3004 B.C. But modern historians fix a date the first half of the 8th century A.D. Be that as it may, our account follows the "Guru Parampara" tradition.
Upbringing of Sri Andal by Periyaazhvaar/Vishnuchithan:
As Sita was found by king Janaka, while tilling the land for doing yagna, Vishnuchitha (a great vedic scholar, poet, Vishnu devotee also known as Periyazhvar found the divine child under a tulasi plant while he was tending his nandavana(garden) in Srivilliputhur. He brought her up in simple and godly surroundings natural to a pious, vedic, dhwaija. The child prodigy thus fostered lovingly grew into a beautiful maiden and became an embodiment of love for Sri Krishna.
Sri Andal's love for Krishna/Sri Vatabhadrasayee:
Being a devotee of "Sri Vadabhatrasayee", the presiding deity of srivilliputhur, Vishnuchitha would weave a garland of tulasi leaves daily and keep it sacredly rolled in a flower basket so that he may, after attending to his other course, take the garland later to the temple for offering to the lord. The child “kodai”(Andal) in her profound innocence would take out the garland daily without her father's knowledge, adorn herself and look into the mirror to satisfy herself whether she was suitable bride to the lord and then would remove the garland and replace it in the basket in its original form. This was going on for days and without actually knowing that her daughter had adorned the garland around herself, Vishnuchitha would offer this to the deity who wore it beatifically.
One day to his surprise, Vishnucitha saw the child wearing the garland before he could take it to the temple. He was shocked for he considered this as a great defilement. He remonstrated her for this act. He fasted that day and did not offer the garland and was all repentant. But lo! What a surprise? At night, the lord appearing in dreams asked Vishnuchitha, why you did not offer me the tulasi wreath today? I am ever eager to have the things touched by my devotee. Think not Andal kodai to be a mere mortal.”
To his wonder Vishnuchitha found that tulasi wreath worn on the previous ay by Andal had not faded. But, was fresher than a freshly made garland. Thereafter, he offered the garland to the deity after being worn by Andal. The lord continued to give his the bliss of ineffable “darshan”. (Even today, this practice is being observed at the temple of Srivilliputhur.)
When Andal attained her marriageable age, her father was worried to find a suitable match for her. But, the divine child would not marry anyone except lord Krishna.
Therefore, Vishnuchitha narrated all the KALYANA GUNAS of all the Archa-Murthis of the one hundred and eight Sri Vaishnava Kshetras in India, so that she may for herself choose the deity. When she heard of the Soundarya of lord Sriranganatha, tears of joy came over her and her heart prayed to HIM to come and accept her in wedlock.
Wedlock of Sri Andal with Sri Ranganatha:
At this, Vishnuchitha, knowing not what to do, meditated. Sri ranganatha spoke to him in a dream: "Do not hesitate to offer your daughter to Me, for she is Bhudevi herself." Simultaneously the lord bade the sthanikas(officials in charge) of Srirangam to go to Srivilliputhur and bring Andal in a palanquin in all royalty.
King Vallabhadeva along with his retinue joined the procession from Srivilliputhur to Srirangam with Sri Andal in a palanquin.
The whole route was decorated on either sides with flowers and wreaths of finely weaved green saplings (called thoranam). As sri Andal entered the inner shrine of Sri Ranganatha, the magnetic beauty of the lord instantly attracted her. She boldly mounted up His serpent couch and joined the eternal lustrous light of Sri Ranganatha in the presence of the gathering.
Sri Andal's works:
To posterity, Sri Andal gave two gems as masterpieces:-
- TIRUPPAVAI (30 verses)
- NAACHIYAAR THIRUMOZHI (143 verses).