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Thondar Adip Podi Alwar

From: Nutech (
Date: Sun Jan 05 1997 - 16:25:04 PST

Dear Bhagavatas,
In connection with the Tirunakshatram of Thondar Adip Podi Alwar which
falls on December 7, 1997, I submit  below my respectful obeisance to
the Alwar.
Anbil Ramaswamy


Vipra Narayana, as he was known, Thondar Adip Podi Alwar, an incarnation
of Vanamala (the divine garland of Lord Vishnu) was born in
Tirumandamkudi in the Year Parabhava, Margazhi month, Krishna Paksha
Chaturdasi ( aTuesday) in the constellation of Kettai, in the family of
a Sozhiya Srivasishnava. He desired to live as a confirmed
bachelor(Naishtika Brahmachari) and was ' NEVER MARRIED'. Like
Periyalwar, he was also engaged in making flower garlands for Lord
Ranganatha in Srirangam.

Once, a pair of dancing girls returning after a dance performance in the
Chola court happened to stray into his flower garden. He was so immersed
in the thought of the Lord that he practically ignored the girls. The
younger of the two, by name Deva Devi felt offended and challenged that
she would entice him to be a slave to her charms though the elder one
warned her not to embark on such an adventure.

Draped as a Sannyasini, she sought to do any service that Vipranarayana
assigned to her. Not knowing the plot, he consented. One day, when it
was raining heavily, Devadevi got drenched and was shivering. Seeing her
plight and out of compassion, he admitted her into his "SINGLE ROOM'
hermitage. Devadevi slowly played her charms on him and brought him
round. By rousing his sensual desires, she virtually enslaved him. In
due cours, he became so enamoured of her that he could not bear to be
away from her even for a moment.

After having intoxicated him, Devadevi suddenly left for her home in
Uttamarkoil, a suburb of Srirangam. Vipranarayana had no more money to
offer her. True to her profession, she spurned him. Vipranarayana
returned not knowing what to do to win her affection back again.

At this time, Lord Ranganatha appeared before Devadevi, calling himself
as "AZHAGIYA MANAVALA DASAN"- a servant of Vipranarayana and handed over
to her the big silver vessel used for Puja in the temple saying that
Vipranarayana had sent him for the purpose. Thereupon, Vipranarayana was
let in.

Next morning, when the temple priests opened the doors of the Sanctum
Sanctorum, they found the vessel missing. Immediately, an investigation
was ordered.Through the servant maid of Devadevi, news reached that the
vessel was in the house of Devadevi. Devadevi, when questioned, pleaded
that it was Vipranarayana who had sent it to her through his servant.He,
however, swore that he had no servant and had not sent it to her, as
alleged. But, the king ignored his pleadings and put him in jail. That
night, Lord Ranganatha appeared in the King's dream and informed him
that Vipranarayana was innocent and that He himself contrived the trick
to redeem Vipranarayana from the evil ways he had fallen into.
Thereupon, the King released Vipranarayana.

Since then, Vipranarayana turned a new leaf, called himself " THONDAR
ADIP PODI"- meaning that he was like the dust at the feet of the
devotees of the Lord and thereafter never looked back. He composed two
poems 'TIRUMAALAI"- a garland for the Lord and "TIRUPPALLI EZHUCHI"-
waking up the lord. There is a saying that " One who does not know
'Tirumaalai' cannot know ' Tirumaal'-a Tamil name for Lord Sri Lakshmi
Narayana. Having gone through the traumatic experience with Devadevi,
Tondar Adip Podi Alwar had been so chastened that he became a staunch
devotee who was frank and forthright in his frontal attacks on those who
considered divinities other than Lord Narayana as the Supreme deity.


His involvement on devotion to the Archa Moorthi (Idol) of Lord
Ranganatha was so intense that in the 45 verses of his Tirumalai, he
pours out his heart pathetically pleading to the Lord even declaring
that he would not like to trade in his opportunity of serving in the
temple even if he were offered the heavens ruled by the King of Gods,

pachchaimaa malaipOl mEni
 pavaLavaay kamalach chenkaN
achchuthaa! amara rERE!
 aayar_tham kozhunthE! ennum,
ichchuvai thavira yaanpOy
 inthira lOka maaLum,
achchuvai peRinum vENdEn
 arankamaa nakaru LaanE! (2)   

" O! Lord! You have the physical appearance as that of a majestic green
mountain; your lips are red as coral; Your eyes are like the lotus
flowers; You never fail your devotees; O! God of the Gods! Yet, you
appeared as a youthful lad in the cowherd family! Even if you grant me
the Paramapada, I would not prefer it to the beatitude I enjoy here and
now at yor feet in Srirangam"

Some people imagine that the Alwar rejected Paramapadam and wanted to
live on earth. This is not correct. It is only to emphasize the
enjoyment of the Lord in the Archa form that the Alwar used a hyperbole.

In the very next verse, he says why he does not wish to live and
proceeds to spell out a numerical account of how life is wasted on

vEthan^ool piraayam nooRu
 manisar_thaam pukuva rElum,
paathiyu muRankip pOkum
 ninRathil pathinai yaaNdu,
pEdhaipaa lakana thaakum
 piNipasi moopputh thunpam,
aathalaal piRavi vENdEn
 arankamaa nakaru LaanE!    (3)

' Even if one were to live for 100 years as laid down in the Vedas, half
of it (i,e) 50 years goes in sleep;the remaining 50 are also spent in
childhood, adolescence, jeuvanile pursuits followed by vigorous youth
indulging in worldly pleasures yielding to the temptations of the five
senses resulting in untold diseases and suffering, proceeding to old age
and finally death. Since the whole life gets wasted in this manner, O!
Lord of Arangam!- Please spare me from further births."

The Alwar mounts a frontal attack on those who are either unaware of the
grace of the Lord or resort to other faiths and deities that are
incapable of granting liberation. He goes to the extent of saying that
those who resort to Jainism, Buddhism (the Nastika Darsanas) or Saivism
( Those who accept the Vedas but misinterpret it) are indeed mentally
diseased and given the chance and power, he would not hesitate to
decimatethem by beheading them, if need be.

VeRuppodu samaNar muNdar
 vithiyilsaak kiyar_kaL, ninpaal
poRuppari yanakaL pEsil
 pOvathE nOya thaaki
kuRippenak kadaiyu maakil
 koodumEl thalaiyai aankE,
aRuppathE karumaNG kaNdaay
 arankamaa nakaru LaanE!    (8)

Addressing such misled persons as fools who do not know that there is no
other Supreme deity than Sriman Narayana says that only in times of
danger they would realize the presence of this Supreme Lord (who out of
grace tended even the cows by personally taking them to the grazing
grounds). These people forgot all about Him when the going was good 

maRRumOr theyva muNdE
 mathiyilaa maani dankaaL,
uRRapO thanRi neenkaL
 oruvanen RuNara maatteer,
aRRamE lonRa Reeyeer
 avanallaal theyva millai,
kaRRinam mEyththa venthai
 kazhaliNai paNimi NneerE.   (9)

The Lord of the Devas, Lord Ranganatha has His abode in Srirangam where
the bees hum, the peacocks dance in the groves the trees of which grow
so tall as to embrace the dark clouds in the skies and where the cuckoos
sing. He says that at least dogs are grateful but those who do not utter
His name are utterly ungrateful. fools. Any food that is offered to such
ungrateful ones  better be denied to them and given to the grateful

vaNdina muralum sOlai
 mayilinam aalum sOlai,
koNdalmee thaNavum sOlai
 kuyilinam koovum sOlai,
aNdar_kO Nnamarum sOlai
 aNithiru varanka mennaa,
miNdar_paayn^ thuNNum sORRai
 vilakkin^aayk kidumi NneerE.   (14)

The Alwar's mind melts on seeing the irresistable beauty of the Lord-
the Lord who is of the color of the sea; the Lord who reclines on His
sepent couch with His head on the West, His feet to the East, showing
His back to the North and facing the South where Vibishana rules over

kudathisai mudiyai vaiththuk
 kuNathisai paatham neetti,
vadathisai pinpu kaattith
 then_thisai yilankai nOkki,
kadaln^iRak kadavu Lenthai
 aravaNaith thuyilu maakaNdu,
udalenak kuruku maalO
 enseykE Nnulakath theerE!    (19)

Some Divya Prabandham enthusists interpret Lord's turning His back to
the North as indicating His prediliction to the Tamil language of the
South in which the Tamil Veda is written in preference to the hard and
difficult Sanskrit in which the Vedas have been composed!. It only shows
how imagination runs riot when one is deeply attached to one's language-
a kind of linguistic fanaticism, this?.

The Alwar then expresses the Artha Panchakam in verses 29 to 31 and
pleads to the Lord to accept his prayer.
" I have no properties; nmo relations; I know none other than your feet;
O! Lord of the sky color! Only you are my refuge! Kanna! Don't you hear
my pathetic pleas? Who else is there than you to save me?"

UrilEn kaaNi yillai
 uRavumaR Roruva rillai,
paariln^in paatha moolam
 paRRilEn parama moorththi,
kaaroLi vaNNa NnE!(en)
 kaNNanE! kathaRu kinREn,
aaruLark kaLaik Nammaa!
 arankamaa nakaru LaanE!    (29)

" What is my fate? Tell me O! My Lord wearing the divine basil! I am not
pure at heart nor have I uttered any good word all through my life. I
have been hostile and unjustly angry at everyone, spouted fiery words on
one and all; I have not done any penance; I have no riches; I have
wasted my whole life like saline water which is useless for irrigation.
I have always committed crimes against humanity; have been a womaniser
to the extent of being hated by them; You have given me a life of utter

manaththilOr thooymai yillai
 vaayilO rinso lillai,
sinaththinaal seRRam nOkkith
 theeviLi viLivan vaaLaa,
punaththuzhaay maalai yaanE!
 ponnisoozh thiruva rankaa,
enakkinik kathiyen sollaay
 ennaiyaa Ludaiya kOvE!    (30)

thavaththuLaar thammi lallEn
 thanampadath thaari lallEn,
uvarththan^eer pOla venRan
 uRRavark konRu mallEn,
thuvarththasev vaayi NnaarkkE
 thuvakkaRath thurisa NnaanEn,
avaththamE piRavi thanthaay
 arankamaa nakaru LaanE!    (31)

In Verse 38, he characterizes Prapannas as lazy folk since after doing
Prapatti, they have nothing else to do for salvation except to patiently
wait at the doorstep of the Lord till the fall of the body. The Alwar
says that the Lord favours only such lazy folk. This is a kind of '
Nindha Stuti'.

mEmporuL pOka vittu
 meymmaiyai mikavu Narnthu,
aampari saRinthu koNdu
 aimpula Nnakaththa dakki,
kaampuRath thalaisi raiththun
 kadaiththalai yirunthu,vaazhum
sOmparai ukaththi pOlum
 soozhpunal arankath thaanE!    (38)

This Verse is considered to the very essence of this Prabandham like the
Charama Sloka of Baghavad Gita. The term Meip Porul has been variously
interpreted by commentators. Here, it is said to refer inter alia to
"Bhagavata- Lakshanam".

VAAZHUM SOMBAR: Those who are unmindful and lazy about their own living
and live only for the Lord.
KODUM SOMBAR: Those who live for themselves unmindful of their duties
towards the Lord.

By Tiruvaranga Perumal Araiyar

maRRonRum vENdaa manamE! mathiLarankar,
kaRRinam mEyththa kazhaliNaikkeezh,- uRRa
thirumaalai paadumseer_th thoNdaradippodiyem
perumaanai, eppozhudhum pEsu.

"O! My mind! Don't think of anything else. Always speak of Tondar Adip
Podi Alwar who has firm faith in the divine feet of the Lord who
reclines in Srirangam and who tends the groups of cows, the Alwar of
excellent character who composed this Prabandham called ' Tirumaalai'


Like Andal, who sang Tiruppavai to wake up her peers and the Lord, the
Alwar wakes up the Lord by referring to several phenomena indicating the
daybreak and reasons why the Lord should wake up.

kathiravan kuNathisaich sikaramvan^ thaNain^thaan
 kanaviru LakanRathu kaalaiyam pozhuthaay,
mathuvirin^ thozhukina maamala rellaam
 vaanava rarasar_kaL van^thuvan^ theeNdi,
ethir_thisai niRain^thana rivarodum pukun^tha
 irunkaLiR Reettamum pidiyodu murasum,
athir_thali lalaikadal pOnRuLa thenkum
 arankaththam maa!paLLi yezhun^tharu LaayE. (2)  (1)

"O! Lord of Srirangam! The Sun has arisen in the East; The darkness of
the night has been expelled; The beautiful flowers have blossomed and
drip with honey; Devas and Kings vie with each other andf are gathered
at the Southern gater to have your Darshan. Along with them have come
herds of male and female elephants;the sounds of the bands played
reverberate like the roar of the waves of the ocean.O! Lord! Please wake
up and shower your grace"

1, By Tirumali Aandaan

thirumalaiyaaNdaan aruLiyathu

thamEvamadhvaa paravaaSuthEvam
rangEsayam raajavadharhaNeeyam-
praabOthakeem yOgrutha Sookthimaalaam
bakthaankri rENum bakavan^tha meedE.

" I praise Tondar Adip Podi Alwar who deems the Lord of Srirangam
reclining on the serpent couch as the very Lord of Srivaikuntam and who
composed the Divya Prabandham called ' Tirup Palli Ezhuchi"

2. By Tiruvaranga Perumal Araiyar

maNdaNG kudiyenpar maamaraiyOr, manniyaseerth
thoNda, radippodi thonnakaram, - vaNdu
thiNarththavayal thennarankath thammaanaip, paLLi
uNarththum piraanuthiththa voor.

" The wise and the great used to call Tirumandamkudi as the ancient city
wher the Vaidheekas abound. That is the place where was born Tondar Adip
Podi Alwar who gave the wake up call to the Lord who reclines at
Srirangam which is surrounded by beautiful waterfronts"

1. Tiruvarangam
2. Ayodhya