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ThoNdaradippodi thonnagaram

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Tue Dec 19 1995 - 08:17:32 PST

Thursday, December 21, 1995 (maargazhi, kEttai) is
ThoNdaradippodi aazhvaar's thiru nakshathram.

This aazhvaar was born as Vipra Narayana, in a place
called ThirumaNdangudi, near KumbakONam, about 3
KM from Thiru Adhanoor, one of the 108 Dhivya
DhEsams.  I had the opportunity to visit this sacred place
in 1991.  As we approached the town I was thinking of
the phrase "thoNdaradippodi thonngaram" (the old town
of ThoNdaradippodi) from the thaniyan to
ThiruppaLLiyezhuchchi, a poem by this aazhvaar.  But, it
was no town, just a tiny tiny village.

The Sri Ranganatha temple in the village was deserted.
There was no easy approach to the temple.  The
praaharam was full of thorny bushes making it extremely
difficult to do pradhakshaNam.  Fortunately for us, a
bhattar was in the temple and by the grace of our Lord
Sriman Narayana, we had a good dharsan.  It seems a
bhattar from the nearby Thiru Adhanoor visits everyday
about noon time for a quicky thiruvaaradhanai, or, mostly
just nEvEdhyam.

This sorry state of the temple must partly be due to the
indifference of the present-day ThirumaNdangudivaasees.
They seemed oblivious to the village's renown.  The
aazhvaar himself moved to Sri Rangam early in his life
and dedicated himself to serving Lord Ranaganatha by
providing flowers for the daily worship (nandhavana
kaingaryam.)  His life of devotion was disrupted by
DhEva DhEvi, a beautiful devadaasi.  It took the direct
intervention of Lord Ranganatha Himself to turn the
aazhvaar back to a life of piety.  As atonement for his
lapse the aazhvaar reverentially consumed the water he
used to wash the feet of devotees of our Lord Ranganatha.
Further, he adopted the pen name "ThoNdar adip podi"
(dust of the feet of devotees.)

Thondaradippodi graced us with two prabhandams,
ThiruppaLLiyezhuchchi and Thirumalai.

The ten beautiful paasurams of ThiruppaLLiyezhuchchi
are recited everyday to awaken our Lord in all Sri
Vaishnava temples.  It may have served as inspiration for
composing VenkatEsa Suprabhaadham, I don't know.

Thirumaalai contains 45 paasurams.  The verses show a
range of emotions from deep sorrow for past sins, to
impatience at people with no desire to worship our Lord;
to anger at those who oppose Sri Vaishnavam and what it
stands for; to pure joy and ecstasy at the beauty of Lord

I would like to share one paasuram from Thirumaalai that
illustrates "kaarpaNyam," one of the five angaas for
prapatthi described by Swami Sri DhEsikan.

manaththilOr thooymai yillai vaayilO rinso lillai,
chinaththinaal seRRam nOkkith theeviLi viLivan vaaLaa,
punaththuzhaay maalai yaanE! ponnisoozh thiruva rangaa,
enakkinik kathiyen chollaay ennaiyaa Ludaiya kOvE!

                  -- Thiru maalai 30

"Am not pure of heart, neither am I of sweet words,
with anger I behold my adversaries,
                 and pour out fighting words,
O! my Lord Ranganatha! adorned with thuLasi garland,
                surrounded by kaavEri water,
Who else but you can be my redeemer!"

Sri Rangam is the only temple ThoNdaradippodi aazhvaar
sang about.  Thus, Sri Rangam, with 11 aazhvaars
praising Lord Ranganatha, leads Thiru vEngadam
(Thiruppathi) by one aazhvaar.  Madurakavi is the
aazhvaar who did not sing in praise of Sri Rangam; he
sang only about his Lord, and ours, Nammaazhvaar.

-- P. Dileepan