Thondaradipodi Azhwaar

இந்த பகுதியின் தமிழ் பதிப்பைப் படிக்க இங்கே சொடுக்கவும், நன்றி


We are going through some of the interesting aspects on Azhwaars in this weblog. As mentioned earlier, the name “Azhwaar” is bestowed on them, due to their deep devotion towards Mahavishnu. In Tamil, “Azhnthu” means “immense or deep”.

Initially we have seen about Mudhal Azhwaargal, (First Azhwaars) Poigai, Bootham and Pei Azhwaar, who focussed and sang on the greatness of Paravasudevan, one of the five states of Paramathmaa. Then we have seen about Thirumazhisai Azhwaar, who focussed and sang more on Antharyaami state of Paramathmaa.

Later we moved on to see few details on Namazhwaar , to whom Lord Krishna was everything, as he sang “unnum soru, parugum neer, thinnum vetrilai ellaam kannane be the food he was eating, the water he was drinking or the betel he would chew after meal. Along with Namazhwaar, we had also seen about Madurakavi Azhwaar, to whom Swami Namazhwaar was everything.

In the same way, we had seen the sixth Azhwaar, Periyazhwaar, whose devotion towards Sri Krishna was a motherly affection towards a child. Periyazhwaar’s daughter, Andal, like her father, was also totally devoted to Sri Krishna and she was the next Azhwaar about whom we saw. Later we also seen about Kulasekara Azhwaar, who is known for his devotion towards Sri Rama.

We are yet to discuss about the three remaining azhwaars, namely, Thirupaan Azhwaar, Thondaradipodi Azhwaar and Thirumangai Azhwaar. Thirupaan Azhwaar and Thondaradipodi Azhwaar compiled hymns on Sri Ranaganathar in their prabandhams and Thirumangai Azhwaar compiled hymns on many of the deities of divya desams, which are archaavathaarams, one of the five states of Paramathmaa. In this weblog let us try to see some details about Thondaradipodi azhwaar.

Azhwaar’s Life

Thondaradipodi Azhwaar was born in a place called Mandangudi, near the Divyadesam, Pullaboothankudi in the Tamil month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan) on the star “Kettai” on a Tuesday, in the Brahmin community as a representation or feature of Paramathmaa’s Vanamalai. In his earlier days, he was named as Vipranarayanar.

Our achaaryars mention that Vishvaksena, Chief General of Paramathmaa, came down from Srivaikuntham to perform the vaishnava rituals for Vipranarayanar.

Manavaala Maamunigal, an achaaryar, praised this Azhwaar’s birth, by highlighting the Tamil star Kettai, in the Tamil month of Margazhi (Dec 15th to Jan 14th), as one of those rare occasions which was celebrated by the learned people who knew all the four vedas. In his book, Upadesa Rathna Malai, he praised Thondaradipodi Azhwaar as one who had learnt all the four vedas thoroughly and who was an expert in all the four vedas.

Thondaradipodi Azhwaar had been engrossed , fascinated and enthralled by the loveliness of Sri Ranaganathar, in Thiruvarangam/ Srirangam, so much that he decided to serve Him with the flowers. He groomed a garden , full of colorful and fragrant flowers and Thulasi, exclusively for Sri Ranaganathar and he made the garlands and offered them to Him. We can recall that Periyazhwaar, another azhwaar also had done similar pushpa kainkaryam to Perumaal.

On a later date, when Thirumangai Azhwaar, was renovating the fencing walls for the Srirangam Temple, he made sure that the garden built by Thondaradipodi Azhwaar was not disturbed in anyway. This leads to a conclusion that Thondaradipodi Azhwaar and Thirumangai Azhwaar might have met. These were the rare occasions, as azhwaars had not met each other many times in the past. The following are the occasions where azhwaars had met :

  • Poigai, Bootham and Pei azhwaars, collectively known as Mudhal Azhwaars, met in Thirukovilur when they were with Perumaal in the idaikazhi, a small porch, a place within the temple.
  • Peyazhwaar took the role of a Guru to guide Thirumazhisai Azhwaar in Vaishnavism and he was the reason for Thirumazhisai Azhwaar to follow Vaishnavite tradition (Sampradhayam).
  • Periyazhwaar and Andal
  • Namazhwaar and Madurakavi Azhwaar

To honour the floral services of Thondarapadi Azhwaar, even today, there is a nine-day celebration or festival, called Vasantha Utsavam, (Spring festival) in Srirangam in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May-June). During this festival, Perumaal visits the garden raised by Thondaradipodi Azhwaar every day in the evening. In addition, Azhwaar’s birth day is also celebrated elaborately in Srirangam during the Tamil star Kettai in the month of Markazhi.

Another important aspect of this azhwaar’s life is that Perumaal Himself played a critical role, as recommended by Thayar, to ensure that the azhwaar was fully dedicated to Paramathmaa and he was with Him all the times.

  • Once Azhwaar had realised that he made a terrible mistake in forgetting Sri Ranaganathar for some time in the middle of his life. As an atonement and correction, he took the dust particles from the footsteps of the devotees of Sri Ranaganathar and placed them politely on his head. Hence he was called as “Thondaradipodi Azhwaar”. Thondar means devotees, adipodi means the dust from their feet.
  • In the same way, some of our achaaryaars state that Thondaradipodi Azhwaar took the water that was used to clean the feet of the devotees of Sri Ranaganatha as a remedy for all his previous misdeeds .
  • Some others also used to quote that the azhwaar took the name to make him known as the dust from the feet of the devotees of Sri Ranganathar.

All the above represent one of the basic facts of Sri Vaishnavism, where people are to shred or give up their pride, completely and make themselves as insignificant as possible. In addition, these also subscribe to the fact that there is a greater significance in Vaishnavism to serve the devotees than to serve Him.

Azhwaar is also recognised and appreciated as “thol pugazh ser anbarke thondu kondaan vaazhiye“, meaning he served the devotees and he got the name and fame for that.


There are two prabandhams that were sung by this azhwaar. One is called Thirumaalai, which consists of forty five (45) hymns. There is a saying that those who do now know Thirumaalai, will not know about Thirumaal or Perumaal. (“Thirumaalai ariyaathaar, thirumaalaiye ariyaathavar“). The second one is an attempt to wake up Sri Ranganathar, Paramathmaa in the Archai State, known as Thirupalliyezhuchi. By and large, this is sung in almost all Sri Vishnu temples as the first thing in the morning to wake up Perumaal.

Namjeeyar, one of the achaaryaars, wrote in his explanation for Thirumaalai that Perumaal had woken up Thondaradipodi azhwaar from his ignorance of Paramathmaa and gave him immense knowledge and that was seen in Thirumaalai. Later when he wrote Thirupalliyezhuchi, Azhwaar tried to wake up Perumaal from His so called sleep, Yoga Nidhirai. In Thirupalliyezhuchi, azhwaar informed Perumaal that everything was ready for Him to get up and bless Azhwaar that he was His favourite and he could do service to His devotees. “alliyan endru aruli un adiyaarku aat paduthaai” was the request of this prabandham by Azhwaar.

In our next weblog, let us see Thirupalliyezhuchi first and then move on to Thirumaalai.

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