Born: 7th or 8th Century
Andaal descended onto earth on Tuesday, Shukla chaturthi of Asadh month in the Purvafalgun nakshatra in Shri Villitpur of Tamilnadu state. She was born in the tulsi tree garden of Shri Vishnuchitt. According to traditional belief, her birth time is supposed to be 3004 or 3005 BC, but people with unconventional views believe it to be between the seven and nine centuries, similar to Periya Azhwar. Few scholars believe her lifespan to be exactly from 716 AD to 731 AD. According to these scholars, this mata lived on this earth only for fifteen years.
She is supposed to be a statuesque form of the universal mother, Mata Lakshmi. Mata Lakshmi has divided herself into three idols. Shree Devi is her first form. She resides in the chest of Lord Vishnu. Bhu-Devi is the second form. She resides in the eyes of Shrimann Narayan. Neeladevi is the third form. She feels blessed in this form by singing praises to the greatness of Narayan and getting engrossed in the love of God. Neela Devi had incarnated in the form of Andaal. Some people believe that Mata Andaal was the incarnation of Bhu-Devi.
It is said that once, early in the morning, while Periya Azhwar ( Shri Vishnuchitt) was plucking flowers in his garden, he found a newborn girl child in the tulsi trees. He brought her home very lovingly. He nurtured the girl with great love, thinking her to be a gift from God, and named her “Godai” ( Kodhai).
While growing up with Vishnuchitt, a great devotee of Vishnu, Godai also became a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. When she started to speak, the only word she could speak was Vishnu. She would sit in the temple and talk with the Lord for hours, sometimes laughing and sometimes upset with the Lord. She would cry and sometimes clap and dance with joy. Sometimes, when no one was around in the temple, she would remove the garland from God’s neck, wear it herself, and once again make the Lord wear it. This was her favorite childhood game. She did not like playing with children of her age group. When she became a little more mature, she started singing songs of the Lord. When her father would leave for the temple, she would take care of the garden, pluck flowers for pooja, and make a garland out of them.
When she grew a little older, she started worshipping Lord Rangnath, considering him her husband. Once, her father saw her wearing the Tulsi mala (garland) that he had made for her. He was very upset at this gesture. He explained to his daughter that it was a great sin to wear the lord’s garland. But she questioned why it was a sin. She told him that Lord Vishnu lives in her heart and that by wearing the garland in this manner, she was forcing the Lord to wear it. Saying this, she started crying.
That night, Lord Vishnu came into Periya Azwar’s dream and told him, “Why didn’t you offer me the tulsi mala today?” Andaal had worn it while engrossed in my love; tomorrow morning, you offer me the same tulsi mala.”
Shri Vishnuchitt felt defeated by this achievement of his daughter. He realized that his daughter was no ordinary person. In the morning, when he saw the tulsi-mala, it looked much fresher and had more fragrance than the previous day. Without hesitating, Shri Periya offered that mala to Lord Vishnu. He understood that his daughter was the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu and had a place in the lord’s heart. Since she had a special place in the lord’s heart, Shri Vishnuchitt and everyone else started calling her Andaal. Andaal means “a girl who ruled over the lord”.
When Andaal grew up, Shri Periya was worried about her marriage. But Andaal flatly refused to marry anyone else except Shri Rangnath. Periya knew that Shri Rangnath ruled her heart, but how was that possible? Worried, Periya prayed to Lord Vishnu for guidance. The same night, Shri Rangnath came into his dreams and told him, “O, my greatest devotee, don’t worry, your daughter is herself, Lakshmi.” Please bring her to me; I will immediately hold her hand. “
The very same night, the Lord came into Shri Rangam Mandir’s poojari’s dreams and told him to take all the necessary items for marriage to Andaal’s house, make her ready, and bring her to the temple in a palki.
The next day, poojari came to Periya Azhwar’s house with all the necessary things and palki to take Andaal. When Andaal’s father came to know about this, he was overwhelmed. Andaal dressed elegantly and prepared to travel to palki to marry Shri Purshottam. Many people joined her. Drums are beating, conch shells are blowing, Brahmins are chanting mantras, and devotees are rejoicing with a cry for the union of Andaal with the Lord. Lovestruck Andaal enters the temple. She is thrilled to see Shri Rnagnath over there. Seeing her, Shri Rangnath embraces her, at which point Andaal gets engrossed in his love. A light brightens up in the hall, and when the light diminishes, Andaal was nowhere there; she had penetrated with Shri Rangnath.
After the acceptance of Andaal by Shri Rnagnath, Shri Periyar became famous as the father-in-law of Shri Rangnath. After returning to Villiputtur, he built a temple to Andaal and spent the rest of his life worshipping Shri Rangnath and his beloved Sahri Andaal Devi.
Even today, the Vaishnav temples of South India celebrate Andaal’s wedding ceremony. As Shri Rangnath married Shri Andaal, she is also known as Rangnayaki.
There are many beautiful creations for the love of God by Shri Andaal. One of them is ” Tiruppavai”. There are 30 stanzas in this creation wherein she has portrayed herself as Gopi and the stanzas are full of love for Lord Krishna. The second creation is ” Nachiyar Tirumoli”. This has 143 stanzas. Here, Shri Andaal’s great love for Lord Vishnu has been described.
Shri Andaal is the first lady poetess and devotee of South India. She is one of the twelve great and worshipped Azhwarons of the Tamil Vaishanavas.