Category Archives: Tirupati

The Story of Andal

Andal

Vishnuchittar also known as Periyaazhwar (9th Century) was one among the twelve prominent Vaishnava Saints of Tamil Nadu born in Srivilliputhur near Madurai. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and has contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. His major contributions include Thirupallandu and Periya Azhwar Thirumozhi.

Vishnuchittar was childless and that worried him. He prayed to God to bless him with a child. One day, when he was walking in his garden, he found a baby girl lying near a Tulasi plant. It is said that Mother Earth (Bhumi Devi) herself had appeared as a child in answer to his prayers. He brought the child home, named her “Kothai” and brought her up as his own daughter. He would teach her songs and tell stories about Lord Vishnu and His glories. Hence, the little girl grew up in a divine atmosphere of Bhakti. As she grew up, her devotion and love for Sri Hari also grew to such an extent that, she decided she would only get married to the Lord. As the days progressed, her resolve to marry the Lord only strengthened.

Vishnuchittar used to make beautiful flower garlands, take them to the temple and offer them to the Lord daily. This was his devoted nitya seva to the Lord. Kothai who considered herself the bride-to-be of the Lord used to take the garland, wear it and admire herself in the mirror and then remove it and place it in the basket to be taken to the temple. Vishnuchittar was unaware of this and used to take the same used garland and offer it to the Lord. Hence for days, the garland worn by Kodhai was being offered to the Lord.

One day, Vishnuchittar saw his daughter wearing the garland made for the Lord and was shocked. How could anyone wear what was meant for the Lord? He was extremely upset and scolded her and told her never to repeat this again. That day there was no garland for the Lord. That night, the Lord came in Periyaazhwar’s dream and told him that he liked the garlands worn by Kothai and henceforth He would only accept garlands worn by her. From then onwards, Kodhai came to be known as “Andal” – one who ruled over the Lord.

Andal’s yearning for the Lord increased day by day and her devotional outpourings are called Thiruppavai and Nacchiaar Thirumozhi. When Vishnuchittar was searching for a suitable groom for “Andal”, she expressed her keen desire to get married to the Lord. He told her that there are 108 Divya Kshetras of Lord Vishnu and she asked him to narrate the glory of the Deity of each Kshetra. She was thrilled to hear about the Lord of Mathura, smiled when she heard about the Lord of Tirumala, happy to hear about Lord of Azhagar Temple (Madurai), but was ecstatic when she heard about the Lord of Srirangam! She choose Lord Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam as her husband.

The father was worried as to how he should proceed. The Lord then appeared in his dream and asked him to bring her to the temple. Simultaneously, the Lord appeared in the dream of the temple priest and asked him to bring Vishnuchittar’s daughter as His bride from Srivilliputhur to Srirangam. The Lord also told the Pandyan king, Vallabhadevan to make arrangements for the wedding. Accordingly, Andal in bridal attire was brought in a pearl palanquin. She reached the temple of Srirangam. As every one around was seeing, she walked into the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Ranganatha and merged with Him.

Bhumi Devi who came as Andal is worshiped in Srivilliputhur. Even to this day during Tirupati Brahmotsavam, garlands worn by Andal in Srivilliputhur temple are sent to Lord Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati. These traditional garlands are made of tulasi, sevanthi and sampangi flowers. These garlands are worn by Lord Venkateshwara during the Garuda seva procession.

During Dhanurmasa or Margazhi Masa, the verses from Sri Andal’s TIRUPPAVAI (one verse a day) are daily chanted/sung as part of Margazhi Vrata.

When emotion of devotion increases, the devotee's personality and the Infinite nature of the Lord of his heart become one-----and this is the Essence of the Experience-Supreme - Swami Chinmayananda

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

 

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Bhavaji who played “Game of Dice” with the Lord!

hathiram-bhavaji

Bhavaji was a saint from North India. He was a great devotee of Lord Rama. He once came on a pilgrimage to Tirumala (Tirupati). The quiet and serene atmosphere of the Tirumala Hills was so captivating that he decided to stay there. He made a small kutia for himself and daily used to visit Lord Venkateswara temple, stand for hours together in front of the deity in whom he saw the Lord of his heart — Sri Rama. The temple priests got annoyed with his constant presence over there and told him to go away.

Next day and the day after, when he came to the temple, they refused to allow him into the temple. He pleaded for a glimpse of his Lord, but they refused. With a heavy heart he went back to his humble hut and cried his heart out to the Lord. At night, he couldn’t get sleep and to keep himself occupied he started playing the game of dice — he played for both the parties: he on one side and the Lord on the other side! After some time, he fell off to sleep. There in his vision, the Lord appeared asking him to get up and play dice with Him. He woke up and there was the Lord in front of him. His joy knew no bounds! He and the Lord played the game of dice, and the Lord was defeated. When the Lord asked him what he wanted in return, Bhavaji’s request was that every day the Lord should come and play dice with him. The Lord assured him and as promised, the next day Lord came to Bhavaji’s place. They played…..the Lord even rested for a while and Bhavaji sang for Him. This went on for a few days.

One day, after the dice-game, the Lord hurriedly left. The gem studded necklace that the Lord was wearing slipped down unnoticed and got left behind. Bhavaji later saw it, picked it up and kept it safely to give it to the Lord next day. In the meantime, when the priests opened the temple doors in the morning, they found the necklace missing around the Lord’s neck. The temple authorities were informed. The priests who disliked Bhavaji and had denied him entry into the temple suspected him. The search party reached Bhavaji’s place. They enquired and he immediately brought the necklace from inside, saying it got left behind the previous night when the Lord had come to his dwelling to play the dice-game. Nobody was prepared to believe this. Bhavaji was accused of stealing and covering it up with a fictional story.

The matter was taken to Krishnadevaraya, the king of the Vijayanagar Empire. The king saw the innocent face of the Lord’s devotee and suggested a test for him instead of punishment. Bhavaji was locked up in a cell with a huge stack of sugarcane which he had to consume and finish by next day morning. The cell was closed, the guards were posted outside. Bhavaji prayed fervently to Lord Rama and was lost in his contemplation. Lo! A majestic elephant appeared in the cell. Within a few minutes it consumed the entire bulk of sugarcane and woke up Bhavaji from his meditation with a huge trumpet. He was overwhelmed to see his own Lord Rama in the form of an elephant come down to save him. He again and again prostrated to the Lord. The guards heard the elephant’s trumpet and rushed in. The entire bulk of sugarcane had vanished, and they saw an elephant hurriedly leave.

The matter was reported to the king.  Everyone came rushing. They saw an overwhelmed Bhavaji looking at the site where the elephant stood and uttering the words: “Hathi Ram! Hathi Ram!!”. Having heard of what had happened, the king and the priests asked for forgiveness from Bhavaji. Later on, he was made the Chief Priest of Venkateswara temple for many years. Since he was a devotee of Lord Rama who had appeared as Hathi (elephant), he came to be known as “Hathiram Bhavaji”. In the North, Lord Venkateswara is addressed as “Balaji” which is attributed to him. The Hathiramji Mutt was established in his name, and it exists even to this day.  The Mahants of the Mutt used to administer the Tirumala Temple from 1843 to 1932 till the present Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board was created.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]