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Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Margazhi Blogotsavam: Day 9: For Whom the Lord Knocked at a Dancing Girl's House: Thondaradipodi Azhwar

Vipranarayana was born in Thirumandangudi, located near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. Well-versed in the Vedas, he would follow all the rituals of worship as prescribed and had decided to remain celibate, a Brahmachari. Every day, he would collect flowers from the garden he tended himself, and make a wonderful garland for Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam.

One day, two dancing girls passed by the garden while Vipranarayana was also there. Piqued by how he ignored them, the sisters argued with each other. Finally, the younger girl, Devadevi said, “I’m so beautiful and yet, he ignores me! I’m going to take this as a challenge, and make him feel attracted to me.”

Devadevi began dressing like a Vishnu devotee – yellow robes, gopichandan on the forehead and a tulasi mala around her neck. She began to visit the garden frequently and yet, Vipranarayana did not pay any special attention to her. One day, she intentionally got wet in the rain, and begged him for shelter inside his hermitage; on humane grounds, Vipranarayana agreed, and that proved to be his undoing! He was now bewitched by Devadevi and spent every possible moment in her company. Forgotten was the garden, the garland, and even Sri Ranganatha.

Now that Devadevi had won her challenge, there was nothing more in the relationship for her. She went back to her place, and when Vipranarayana followed her there, her mother drove him away, saying he could see Devadevi only if he brought money. Vipranarayana had nothing, and so, lamenting his fate, he went away.

The Lord had seen enough – he never forsakes His true devotees, and always finds some way of bringing them back to the right path.

The next moment, a man went to Devadevi’s house, saying he was Vipranaryana’s servant, and handing over a huge golden bowl, he said Vipranarayana had sent it. Pleased with the gift, Devadevi’s mother allowed Vipranarayana to meet Devadevi, without telling him the reason for her change of heart.

The next morning, the priest in the Srirangam temple found one of the golden bowls missing from the sanctum sanctorum. The information reached the king. Soon, through the maid working in Devadevi’s house, the word also reached him about the bowl being in Devadevi’s house. Vipranarayana was declared the thief and thrown in jail for having robbed the golden bowl.

Lying in the dark cell, Vipranarayana’s mind went over all the events that had unfolded. His eyes opened, and he wept tears of remorse, repenting his folly in getting enticed by Devadevi, ruing the fall that blinded him to Sri Ranganatha, crying at his sins of forgetting to worship and serve the Lord.

That’s all that Sri Ranganatha was waiting for. He appeared in the King’s dream and narrated the real story. Vipranarayana was his dearest devotee and innocent; it had all been the Lord’s doing. 

Tondaradipodi Azhwar Pic Courtesy:
Vipranarayana was released and the King begged his forgiveness. Overwhelmed by the kindness and mercy shown on him by the Lord, Vipranarayana sang songs full of bhakti, in praise of Ranganatha. Never again did he stray from his single-minded focus on the Lord. Not just the Lord, he took great pleasure in serving the Lord’s devotees too, and that gave him the name “Thondaradipodi Azhwar.” (Thondar=servant of God, Adi podi=dust at the feet of).

Thondaradipodi Azhwar is famous for his two compositions called Tirupalliezhucchi and Tirumaalai. Today, the day of the Jyeshtha nakshatram, is celebrated as his birth anniversary.

Through this story, can we learn to ignore worldly pleasures that divert the mind from God?

Can we see through the transient nature of all our cravings and not get carried away by them?

Can we make our devotion so strong that when we err, the Lord Himself feels moved to put us right?

Even if we cannot directly serve the Lord, can we serve those who serve Him, and thus, attain the Lord’s grace?



  1. Such Maya we live in ..... Though you decide to be tough ..... Maya just like devadevi keeps pulling you astray of your devotion and path of riteousness .....

  2. These distractions are only tools to test the strength, resolve and spiritual evolution of the devotees which He uses time n again, only to convey to them the real status of our spiritual growth. N such tests are necessary because it is only thru them that one realises if one is ready to renunciate the material world, to what extent.

    1. 🙏🙏 He decides the syllabus, sets the test, helps the student prepare, and Himself declares the result!


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