Composed 55 of the most beautiful verses of the Naalayira Divya Prabhandham
Thirupalli Yezhuchi and Thiru Maalai in praise of Srirangam Lord Ranganatha
Born in Thiru Mandangudi in the Papanasam taluk in Kumbakonam district, Thondaradipodi Azhvaar, one of the last of the Azhvaars (he lived just before ThirupaanAzhvaar), was the most ardent devotee of Srirangam Lord Rangantha. So much so that he decided to sing praise only of the Srirangam Lord.
But what songs were they… some of the most beautifully composed paasurams of the Naalaayira Divya Prabhandham were the ones composed by Thondaradipodi, whose original name was Vipra Narayanan, signifying one who had not just mastered all the Vedas but who lived by the essence of the Vedas- ‘I surrender to Lord Emberamaanaar and am a slave of him’.
His early life
Thondaradi Podi Azhvaar lived his life in the ultimate service of Lord Ranganatha. He created a beautiful Nandavanam in Srirangam on the western side.
Every day, he would pluck flowers, make a garland and would hand it to the Lord. This is said to be the most ‘Uththamam’ of service to the Lord.
Living in Brahmacharyam
Vipra Narayanan wanted to live in Brahmacharyam through his life. Once, Deva Devi, a beautiful dancer, came to the Nandavanam. While everyone was attracted by her beauty, Vipra Narayanan remained engrossed in plucking the flowers, though she was standing next to him.
She was surprised to see a man who would not even turn to look at a beautiful lady within his sight. Her friends informed her that he was very committed in his service and that she will not be able to attract him.
Taking it as a challenge, Deva Devi decided to be with him and help him in his service. One evening, the place was struck by lightening and thunder and in the heavy rains that followed, she asked for permission to stay in his place that night. Having been pleased with her service, he permits her to stay. That night, she wins over him and is delighted to have finally attracted him.
Having won the challenge, she decides to leave him. By now, Vipra Narayanan is unable to live without her and offers his prayers to Lord Ranganatha to get her back.
One evening, Lord Ranganatha goes to her place and hands over 4 Golden Vattil and informs her that Vipra Narayanan asked him to hand it over to her. The next day, the king finds that the Vattils are missing from the temple. A maid working at Deva Devi’s place informs the king that she saw those Vattil’s in her place. Suspecting Vipra Narayanan’s role in this, the king locks him up in a Jail.
It is here that Vipra Narayanan realises his folly of having fallen prey to the beauty of a woman. He regretted the fact that he had lost thought of the Lord for a while and that what he is suffering now was a result of this weakness.
Thirupalli Yezhuchi and Thiru Maalai
Once released, Vipra Narayanan comes back, remains in thought of the Lord ever after and composes 2 of the best known Paasurams of the Divya Prabhandham - 45 verses of Thiru Maalai(872-916) as well as 10 verses of ThiruPalli Yezhuchi (917-926).
It is said that those who do not know Thiru Maalai will not really understand the Lord, his fame and his powers, such is its composition. Belief is that one who listens regularly to the Thiru Maalai will change, dramatically, for the good.
One of the specialities of the Thiru Maalai is that it is in a very simple language and can be easily understood by all. Listening to Thiru Maalai will instantly enlighten one. In his first paasuram, Thondaradi Podi says:
காவலிற் புலனை வைத்து , களிதன்னைக்
நாவலிட்டு உழிதர்கின்றோம் நமன்-தமர்
மூவுலகு உண்டு உமிழ்ந்த முதல்வ
நின் நாமம் கற்ற
ஆவலிப்பு உடைமை கண்டாய்
அரங்க மா நகருளானே
It is said that Lord Ranganatha wanted to listen to the praise from his own son and hence wanted Thondaradipodi Azhvaar to sing praise of his fame. In his very first Paasuram, Thondaradipodi tells Lord Ranganatha of the fame behind his name (Lord’s).
Thondaradipodi has his feet on Yaama and says that he has sung praise of Lord Ranganatha himself and hence no foul can befall him and that Yama cannot take him (as he has Ranganatha’s blessings). He says he can exult and rejoice stepping on the head of Yama.
பச்சை மா மலை போல் மேனி பவளவாய்
அச்சுத அமரர் ஏறே,ஆயர் தம்
கொழுந்தே என்னும் இச்ச சேவை தவிர,
யான் போய் இந்திரா லோகம் ஆளும்
அச்ச சுவை பெறினும் வேண்டேன்,
அரங்க மா நகருளானே
In the 2nd of his Thiru Maalai, Thondaradipodi says, "Lord of Srirangam, I would not even accept the opportunity to rule Indira Logam if you gave it to me. I would not want even that, if you deny me the opportunity and the joy of singing praise of you".
Through his 10 verses of Thiru Palli Yezhuchi, Thondaradipodi Azhvaar praises Srirangam Ranganatha and asks him to wake up and shower his blessings to all his devotees, now that the sun is up!!!!
கதிரவன் குணதிசைச் சிகரம் வந்து அணைந்தான்,
கணை இருள் அகன்றது காலை அம பொழுதாய்
மது விரிந்து ஒழுகின மா மலர் எல்லாம்
வானவர் அரசர்கள் வந்து வந்து ஈண்டி
எதிர்திசை நிறைந்தனர் இவரொடும் புகுந்த
இருங் களிற்று ஈட்டமும் பிடியொடு முரசும்
அதிர்தலில் அலை-கடல் போன்றுள்ளது எங்கும்
அரங்கத்தம்மா, பள்ளி எழுந்தருளாயே!!
Says Thondaradipodi, “The sun has risen, flowers have blossomed, everyone is ready before your sanctum. The elephant has come. The drums are beating. Please wake up, Lord Rangantha”
Thirumangai changes the direction of his famous Mathil
The last of the Azhvaars, Thirumangai, found the Nandavanam created by Thondaradipodi, coming in the way of the Western wall of the Srirangam temple. But such was the regard for Thondaradipodi and his creation of the beautiful garden that was abound with flowers all around, that Thirumangai altered the direction of the wall slightly and moved it away from the Nandavanam.
Lord offers Sri Vaikuntam, Thondaradipodi refuses
Srirangam Ranganatha offered Thondaradipodi a chance to go to SriVaikuntam, but he refused. He then offered him to go to the 14 logams(7+7 logams). But Thondaradipodi refused this too saying that this 3rd world – Srirangam- is where he will stay. Nothing can move him out of here.
In all times, this is the best place for one to be- to spend your Childhood, Youth,family life- for all of them. In and around the Srirangam temple, all of them can enjoy. Hence, I will not move out of here, said Thondaradipodi Azhvaar. And stayed here ever after.
Thondaradipodi Azhvaar Sannidhi is at the Southern Entrance(தெற்கு வாசல்) of the Srirangam temple on the right just before the Ranga Vilas Mandapam.