Thondaradippodi Alvar Pastimes by HH Bhakti Rasamrita Swami Hindi
Thondaradippodi Alvar was a Tamil Vaishnava Saint who is also named as "Vipra Narayanar" led his life in devotion to Lord Narayana and worked for the Perumal (Lord) by dedicating him with Garlands. He is one of the 12 Alvars.
Birth and Early life
Thondaradippodi Alvar was born in a small village by name 'Thiru mandaggudi' in Prabhava year, Margazhi month, Krishna chaturthi, Tuesday in Kettai (Jyestha) Nakshatram (star). His father ‘Veda Visaradhar’ belonged to "Kudumi Sozhiyap Brahmanar" community also called as "Vipra" people, whose routine work is to praise about Shri Vishnu.
On the 12th day after his birth, he was named as "Vipra Narayanar". From an early age, bhakti towards Shri Vishnu was taught to him. He grew up with a well rounded personality. It is said that in spite of being good and beautiful and dedicated to Shri Vishnu bhakti, he had no conceit and treated all the aged persons and persons who are younger to him in the same way and gave proper respect to them.
As per lore, Viswakshenan, who was the commander-in-chief of Shri Vishnu's troop, once descended to earth and revealed to Vipranarayanar, why he was born in this mighty world and what are the things that he should follow to attain Moksham.
On hearing the truth of his birth, he showed much love, affection and bhakti towards Shriman Narayanan. As an extension to it, he started thinking what should be the next step to be taken to explore his bhakti. He thought of traveling to all of the Temples where the Emperumaan is giving His seva. But, he had a question that from which sthalam he should start with. After a long thinking, he finally decided that he should start from the greatest of all of the Vishnu sthalams, the Shrirangam, which is located on the banks of Cauvery river should be the starting sthalam he should worship and started traveling towards it.
After reaching the Temple, he went inside the Moolavar sannadhi and was very happy to see the Perumal on the Aadhisheshan (the snake) who is found in sleeping posture. After seeing the beauty of Shri Ranganathar, he did not want to see any of the things around and thought his bhakti and the remaining life should be spent completely for Aranganathan. He thought in what way he can express his bhakti towards the Emperumaan and finally he thought he can offer him with the Garland daily to the Perumal.
Soon after this thought, he constructed a big Nandhavanam (flower park) in Shrirangam, where various beautiful and fragrance flower plants are grown. He built a small hut in the midst of the park. Daily, in the morning, as a daily work, he dedicated the Garland to Shri Ranganathar and only then did his routine jobs. Since, he thought, only Shri Aranganathar is the beautiest thing in this world, he didn't turn up towards any of the women around him. Because of this, all the people thought he doesn't have any feelings towards the people around him. On seeing these kinds of scenes from Shri Vaikundam, thirumagal, Shri Lakshmi questioned Shriman Narayanan that because of having the affection towards him (Shri Ranganathar) and in spite of being a male, he doesn’t know how the love should be expressed towards a women and continued that which women can show her love towards a person like Vipra Narayanan? Knowing the future and what is going to happen, Shri Vishnu casually answered Shri Lakshmi that she is going to see what is going to happen for him.
Devi and Devadevi
In Thirukkarambanoor, there lived two Daasis (Women who dances in front of the king to earn money) by named Devi, who is the elder sister and Devadevi, who is the younger sister. They wanted to dance to the Urayoor king and to get prize from him. Then both of them went to Shri Rangam Temple to worship Aranganathar.
When they were going to the Temple, they had the chance to see the Nandhavanam, which belonged to Vipra Narayanar. Devadevi wanted to see him and they both went to the small hut. Devadevi, on seeing him, was very much attracted towards him and started loving at the first sight. She expressed her love in words and continued with his work. She did service to convert him towards her side. Soon she completely turned Vipra Narayanar towards her and they both started to live together.
One day, Devadevi said to Vipra Narayanar that she wanted to see her parents and her sister. Vipra Narayanar said that he would too come along with her, since he could not live without leaving her for a second. But her mother did not want him to be in the house and asked Vipra Narayanar to get out of the house for he did not have any wealth. Since, Vipra Narayanar is helpless, he came out of the house and entered a Nandavanam and being so tired, he slept for a while. On seeing this, the Emperumaan wanted him to get of the Maya and wanted him to get along with the right path, which leads to the Thiruvadi of Him (Shri Vishnu).
He changed himself as a Student of Vipra Narayanar and went straight to Devadevi's house and gave him a big silver vessel as given by his Guru to Devadevi.
On getting that her mother thanked him and asked his Guru, Vipra Narayanar to return back to her house. On hearing this, Vipra Naryanar walked fast to the house and hugged Devadevi.
The Next morning, the archakar entered into the Shri Ranganathar sannadhi and found one Vattal (Vessel which is used to do the daily pooja) was missing and complained to the king about this. The king ordered his servants to go in search of the Vattal and they found that in Devadevi's house.
Vipra Narayanar was jailed for one night. On that night, Vipra Narayanar cried and asked the Emperumaan why like this has happened to him and prayed towards Him. On the same night, the Emperumaan arise in the dream of the king and explained him what had happened and asked him to free Vipra Narayanar. The king explained that this is a small thiru Vilayaadal (game) of Shri Emperumaan.
Knowing the real truth why he came to the world, he went to Shri Ranganathar Temple and praised the Lord. Then, he worshipped all the bhaktas of Shri Vishnu and put the podi (Small tiny dust particles), which is found under the feet of them in his head and sang songs in praise of Shri Ranganathar.
From then, he was called as "Thondaradipodi Alwar". Finally he realised for what he came for to the earth and went to all the Vishnu Temples to praise him.