thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr

srimathE rAmAnujAya nama:
srimadh varavaramunayE nama:
sri vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

thondaradipodi-azhwar-mandangudithirunakshathram: mArgazhi, kEttai

avathAra sthalam: thirumaNdangudi

AchAryan: vishwaksEnar

Works: thirumAlai, thiruppaLLiyeLuchi

Place where he attained paramapadham: srIrangam

nanjIyar, in his vyAkyAna avathArikai for thiruppaLLiyeLuchi, identifies that AzhwAr was in samsAram as per “anAdhi mAyayA suptha:” (since time immemorial, he was sleeping (due to ignorance) in this samsAam) and emperumAn wakes him up (gives him blemishless knowledge). But periya perumAL is in yOga nidhrai after that, and AzhwAr takes his turn to awake him and request him to engage him in kainkaryam.

periyavAchAn piLLai, in his vyAkyAna avathArikai for thiruppaLLiyeLuchi, brings out the glories of AzhwAr through AzhwAr’s own pAsurams. When AzhwAr was awakened by emperumAn, AzhwAr after realising his svarUpam, goes to periya perumAL only to find him lying down with his eyes closed instead of welcoming him, enquiring about his well being, etc. It cannot be said that periya perumAL is not interested in AzhwAr since AzhwAr is very dear to emperumAn and vice versa. It can also not be said that periya perumAL is lying down out of indigestion because these defects are only seen in material nature which is filled with thamO guNam – but periya perumAL is fully spiritual – so there is no question of that. The reason for periya perumAL’s lying down on meditation is because he is contemplating to how to reform everyone like he reformed AzhwAr who has the following great qualities:

  • He has full knowledge that this prakruthi sambandham (relationship with matter) is not appropriate for jIvAthmA as he says “AthalAl piRavi vEnNdEn” (ஆதலால் பிறவி வேண்டேன்) meaning I no longer want to be born in this samsAram.
  • He has full knowledge of svarUpa yAthAthmya jnAnam (understanding the true nature of the soul) is bhAgavatha sEshathvam as he says “pOnagam cheytha chEtam tharuvarEl punidham” (போனகம் செய்த சேடம் தருவரேல் புனிதம்) meaning if a srivaishnava gives the remnants of the food he/she consumed that is very sacred.
  • He has clear understanding of material vs spiritual aspirations as he says “ichchuvai thavira achchuvai peRinum vEnNdEn” (இச்சுவை தவிர அச்சுவை பெறினும் வேண்டேன்) meaning I only want to enjoy periya perumAL and nothing more.
  • He has full control of his own indhriyams (senses) as he says “kAvalil pulanai vaiththu” (காவலில் புலனை வைத்து) meaning I have controlled my senses.
  • He has completely given up all other upAyams as he says “kuLiththu mUnRu analai Ombum kuRikoL aNadhanNamai thannai oLiththittEn” (குளித்து மூன்று அனலை ஓம்பும் குறிகொள் அநதணமை தன்னை ஒளித்திட்டேன்) meaning I have given up the path of karma yOgam, etc.
  • He has complete understanding of the upAya yAthAthma jnAnam (true upAyam) as he says “un aruL ennum Achai thannAl poyyanEn vaNdhu NinREn” (உன் அருள் என்னும் ஆசை தன்னால் பொய்யனேன் வந்து நின்றேன்), I have come here fully depending on your krupai (mercy) as the upAyam.

Finally, periyavAchAn piLLai says, since AzhwAr has these great qualities he is very dear to periya perumAL as said in “vAzhum chOmbarai ugaththi pOlum” (வாழும் சோம்பரை உகத்தி போலும்) meaning those who fully surrender to emperumAn are very dear to him.

mAmunigaL glorifies AzhwAr as the one who is glorified by the ones who have mastered the vEdhams since they are the ones who truly understand the essence of vEdhams and observe/glorify AzhwAr’s activities which are fully in line with the essence of sAsthram. We have already seen this and archAvathAra anubhavam of AzhwAr in

With this in mind, let us enjoy the charithram of AzhwAr now.

With the divine blessings during his birth by namperumAL, AzhwAr was born as sudhdha sathva nishtar and was named vipranArAyaNar. He undergoes proper samskArams like chauLam, upanayanam, etc. at the proper age and learns all vEdhams with their angams and meanings. Developing great knowledge and detachment, he enters srIrangam and worships periya perumAL. periya perumAL, being pleased with his devotion, enhances his bhakthi further by showing his divine beauty and makes him stay in srIrangam forever.

AzhwAr, established a beautiful nandhavanam (garden) and performed pushpa kainkaryam for periya perumAL every day following in the footsteps of puNdarIkar (who was a great mahAn), mAlAkArar (one who offered flower garlands in mathurA to kaNNan emperumAn and balarAman with great love and affection), gajEndhrAzhwAn who was a great kainkarya srImAn and our great periyAzhwAr who made beautiful garlands out of eight flowers.

Once, a beautiful vEsyA (courtezan) named dhEva dhEvi from thirukkarambanUr was returning from uraiyUr, enters the garden of AzhwAr and gets amazed by the beauty of the garden, the flowers, the birds, etc.

At that time they see vipranArAyaNar who looks very beautiful with long hairs on head and face, wearing pure vasthrams (clothes), thuLasi/lotus mAlais, urdhva puNdrams, etc with water and garden equipments in his hand. While they were looking at him, vipranArAyaNar was sincerely focussing on his kainkaryam without noticing them at all. dhEva dhEvi asks her sister and friends “is he mad or unmanly, how come he is not looking at a beautiful girl like me standing in front of him?”. Her friends inform her that he is vipranArAyaNar who is a kainkaryaparar of namperumAL and will not bother about her beauty. They say that they will give 6 months time to mesmerize him and change him to be mad at her and if she does so, they will agree that she is the most beautiful girl and will serve for 6 months as her maid-servant. She agrees and gives her valuable jewels, etc to her friends and assume a sAthvika form/dress.

She then goes and prostrates at AzhwAr and tells him that she wants to surrender to a bhAgavatha who is performing confidential service to emperumAn. She approaches AzhwAr and tells him, she can wait until AzhwAr comes back after his mAdhukaram (bhikshai). AzhwAr agrees and she goes on to serve for some time eating the sEsha prasAdham of AzhwAr.

One day, when dhEva dhEvi was working in the garden, it rains heavily. So, she slowly enters the Ashramam of vipranArAyaNar. Seeing her fully drenched, vipranArAyaNar gives his upper cloth to her. After that vipranArAyAnar and dhEva dhEvi becomes intimate to each other like butter and fire. The next day, she brings back her jewels and attractive clothes and wears them and presents her beautiful form to him. He then becomes so attached to her and completely forgets and gives up his kainkaryam itself. She shows some affection towards him for some time and he becomes fully surrendered to her. After taking all his wealth away, she pushes him out and asks him to leave her place. He then becomes very sad and stays at the entrance of her house waiting for her to accept him. At that time, periya perumAL and periya pirAtti happens to pass that street for their divine walk. pirAtti asks emperumAn who is that person waiting at the entrance of the prostitute? and emperumAn replies that he is vipranArAyaNar who was a kainkaryaparar for him and now has become mad on her and is suffering due to that. pirAtti then initiates her purushkAram and asks emperumAn “How can you leave a confidential devotee even if he becomes attached to vishayAntharam? Please remove his mAyai and bless him again to become a close servant of us”. emperumAn agrees and he picks up one of the gold utensils (part of the pancha pAthram used in thiruvArAdhanam) from his sannidhi and goes to dhEva dhEvi’s house (in a different identify/form – not as his own self) and knocks at her door. When she opens the door and asks him who he was, he says, his name is azhagiya maNavALan who is a messenger of vipranArAyaNar and tells her that he gifted this gold utensil for her. She becomes very pleased and asks him to send vipranArAyaNar inside. He then goes to vipranArAyaNar and informs him that dhEva dhEvi invited him inside. Hearing these sweet words, he becomes very pleased and enters her house and they become immersed in material pleasures yet again. periya perumAL returns to his sannidhi and happily lies down on his AdhisEshan paryankam.

The next day, when the sannidhi is opened by the kainkaryaparars, they notice that one of the utensils is missing and they inform that to the king. The king then becomes angry with the kainkaryaparars for their negligence. When one of the maid servants goes to bring water from the well, she hears one of her relatives being the target of the king’s anger and so informs him that vipranArAyaNar gave a gold utensil to dhEva dhEvi and it is under her pillow. That kainkaryaparar informs that to the soldiers of the king and they Immediately go to dhEva dhEvi’s place, locate the gold utensil and arrest both vipranArAyaNar and dhEva dhEvi. When they are brought to the king’s court, the king asks her “Even if some one brings periya perumAL‘s utensil, how can you accept it?” and she replies “I dont know that this is perumAL’s utensil; vipranArAyaNar sent this as his own utensil through his messenger named azhagiya maNavALan and I accepted it without doubting it”. vipranArAyaNar says that neither he has a messenger nor he owns any gold utensil. Hearing these, the king slaps a fine on dhEva dhEvi and releases her. He then offers to utensil back to emperumAn and asks his soldiers to keep vipranArAyaNar in the jail until further investigation can be done in the robbery case.

pirAtti, looking at the incidents, requests emperumAn to make vipranArAyaNar an object of his krupai instead of an object of his leelai. emperumAn at once agrees and appears in the dream of the king that night. He tells the king that vipranArAyaNar is his confidential servant and emperumAn enacted this leelai to remove his prArabdha karmam. Please release him and re-engage him in his previous kainkaryam of maintaining garden and making me garlands. The king wakes up and realises the greatness of vipranArAyaNar and at once orders his release and explains him the whole dream. He honours vipranArAyaNar with great respect and wealth and sends him home. vipranArAyaNar then realises the glories of emperumAn and his efforts to purify him, at once gives up all attachments to material pleasures and accepts srIpAdha thIrtham of bhAgavathas (which is considered as the prAyaschitham – atonement for all sins).

After that, he becomes popularly known as thoNdaradippodi AzhwAr and bhakthAngri rENu – which means thoNda/bhaktha (devotee), adi/angri (lotus feet), podi/rENu (dust) – the dust of the lotus feet of emperumAn’s devotees. This is his unique greatness which is not seen in any other AzhwArs – he is the only one who has a name which reflects bhAgavatha sEshathvam. Just like thiruvadi (hanumAn), iLaya perumAL (lakshmaNan) and nammAzhwAr (satagOpan) who said they will not consider anything other emperumAn as worthy, AzhwAr also said “indhira lOkam ALum achchuvai perinum vENdEn” (இந்திர லோகம் ஆளும் அச்சுவை பெறினும் வேண்டேன்) meaning I dont even want to think about paramapadham – I only want periya perumAL‘s anubhavam in srIrangam. He also shows his upakAra smrithi (gratitude) towards periya perumAL constantly for reforming him and becomes fully attached to periya perumAL only unlike other AzhwArs who have travelled to and sung many archAvathAra emperumAns. Looking at his unflinching faith and attachment towars him, namperumAL also reciprocates such love towards him, blesses him with blemishless knowlege and shows his names, forms, divine activities etc., of parathvAdhi panchakam (the 5 different manifestations of emperumAn explained in in thiruvarangam itself. Also, looking at his devotion, dhEva dhEvi becomes purified and offers all her wealth to periya perumAL and constantly serves emperumAn.

AzhwAr being fully situated in para bhakthi, para gyAna and parama bhakthi and fully understanding that periya perumAL is everything for him, enjoys periya perumAL constantly through thirumanthra anusandhAnam and nAma sankIrthanam. Understanding his divine position, he declares that srivaishnavas need not fear for yaman. He says the servants of yaman will look out for the thiruvadi of srivaishnavas while srivaishnavas will look out for the thiruvadi of other srivaishnavas as their object of worship. Thus he sings thirumAlai infront of periya perumAL just like saunaka rishi explained the glories of emperumAn’s divine names to sadhAnandhar. Just like nammAzhwAr identified the defects of achith (24 elements: mUla prakruthi; mahAn; ahankAram; manas; pancha jnAnEndhriyam, pancha karmEndhriyam, pancha thanmAthrai, pancha bhUtham), AzhwAr also identifies the achith thathvam clearly as “puRam chuvar Ottai mAdam” (புறம் சுவர் ஓட்டை மாடம்) meaning this body is just the outside wall and the AthmA is the in-dweller and controller. He then declares the svarUpam of jIvAthmA as servant of emperumAn’s bhakthas in “adiyarOrkku” (அடியரோர்க்கு) meaning this jIvAthmA is the servant of bhAgavathas. He, being a thirumanthra nishtar, reveals that emperumAn is the only upAyam in the “mEmporuL” (மேம்பொருள்) pAsuram which is the essence of thirumAlai prabhandham. Finally he declares that service to bhAgavathas is the ultimate goal of srivaishNavas in the pAsurams following “mEmporuL” pAsuram and in the last pAsuram of thiruppaLLiyeLuchi by requesting emperumAn as “unnadiyArkkAtpaduththAy” (உன்னடியார்க்காட்படுத்தாய்) meaning make me subservient to your devotees. Thus, he revealed these high principles in two divine prabhandhams named thirumAlai and thirppaLLiyeLuchi for the upliftment of the whole world.

His thanian
thamEva mathvA paravAsudhEvam rangEsayam rAjavadharhaNiyam
prAbhOdhikIm yOkrutha sUkthimAlAm bhakthAngrirENum bhagavanthamIdE

தமேவ மத்வா பரவாஸுதேவம் ரங்கேசயம் ராஜவதர்ஹணியம்
ப்ராபோதிகீம் யோக்ருத ஸூக்திமாலாம் பக்தாங்க்ரிரேணும் பகவந்தமீடே

His archAvathAra anubhavam is already discussed in here –

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

archived in, also visit

Sources: vyAkyAnams, 6000 padi guru paramparA prabhAvam