Andal is the most popular among the Azhwars. All of us know the story of Andal well. All the Tamizh women would have sung her Tiruppavai sometime or the other in their lives.
In Periyaazhwar’s garden, in a Tulsi plant, in the Tamil month of Aadi, valarpirai, chathurdasi thithi, Tuesday, Pooram star, Andal was born. Andal is the amsam of Bhoomidevi.
Periyaazhwar saw the baby in his garden, named her Kothai and brought her up as his own daughter. Kothai grew up hearing the stories of Mahavishnu everyday from Periyaazhwar and her love for Him grew day by day. She was always thinking of the Lord and dreamt of getting married to him.
Periyaazhwar was doing his service of making floral garlands for the Lord of Srivilliputhur. Kothai loved to imagine the Lord as the one who would marry her. Hence, she used to take the garland prepared by her father and wear it everyday and admire herself in the mirror before removing it and placing it in the basket to be taken to the temple.
Periyaazhwar was quite unaware of this daily exercise and used to take the same garland to the temple and decorate the Lord there. It was always accepted by God. One day, quite by chance, Periyaazhwar saw Kothai wearing the garland and was angry. He scolded her for the same and refused to take the used garland to God.
The Lord came in Periyaazhwar’s dream and made him understand that He liked the garland worn by Kothai. Periyaazhwar understood that Kothai was an avatar and named her “Andal” and “Soodikodutha Nachiaar”
Some more years passed and Andal yearned for the Lord and sang Thiruppavai and Nachiaar Thirumozhi in his praise. In Thiruppavai she explained the vrathams to be followed to attain the Lord. To this day reciting Thiruppavai in the month of Margazhi is said to get a girl a good husband.
As a father, Periyaazhwar tried talking to Andal about marriage and Andal made it clear that she will not get married to an ordinary man as she belonged to the Lord. She asked Periayaazhwar detail on the Lords in the 108 divya desams. She was thrilled to hear about the Lord of Mathura, smiled when she heard about Tirupathi Perumal, happy to hear about the beauty of the Lord in Thirumaliruncholai, but she was ecstatic when she heard about Thiruvarangan. She chose Thiruvarangan as her husband and was always thinking about him.
She sang as follows on Thiruvarangan:
கற்பூரம் நாறுமோ கமலப்பூ நாறுமோ
திருப்பவளச் செவ்வாய்தான் தித்தி திருக்குமோ
மருப்பொசித்த மாதவன்றன் வாய்சுவையும் நாற்றமும்
விருப்புற்றுக் கேட்கின்றேன் சொல்லாழி வெண்சங்கே
Periyaazhwar wondered how Andal can get married to Perumal and Thiruvarangan came in his dream and instructed him to bring Andal to his temple so that he can accept her. Thiruvarangan also came in the dream of the temple priest and instructed him to go to Srivilliputhur with all the things needed to welcome a bride and bring Kothai. He also came in the dream of the Pandya king Vallabadevan and instructed him to bring Kothai in a pearl palanquin to Srirangam.
Kothai also had many dreams on the Lord that night and she sang thus to her friends:
மத்தளம் கொட்ட வரிசங்கம் நின்றூத
முத்துடைத் தாமம் நிரைதாழ்ந்த பந்தற்கீழ்
மைத்துனன் நம்பி மதுசூதனன் வந்தென்னைக்
கைத்தலம் பற்றக் கனாக்கண்டேன் தோழீநான்
Pandya king arranged to decorate the path from Srivilliputhur to Srirangam and met Periyaazhwar to explain about his dream. Delighted by the Lord’s karunai, Periyaazhwar arranged for sacred water to be brought from different rivers and Kothai was bathed with this water, dressed up in new clothes and was made to sit in the pearl palanquin. The whole town followed the palanquin on foot. As the procession moved, people praised Andal. The palanquin reached the Srirangam temple entrance, then the front mandapam and then Kothai reached the Lord’s sannidhi. She was drawn to him like a magnet. She went near the Lord, climbed on the serpent bed and became one with Him.
As Periyaazhwar, Pandya King and others were amazed by this, the Lord said to Periyaazhwar that he had become his father-in-law like Samudrarajan and blessed him. He also instructed him to continue his service at Srivilliputhur.
Andal has sung on the following temples: