Thondaradipodi Azhwar was born in Thirumandankudi on a Saturday under the star Kettai, Chaturdasi thithi, Margazhi month theipirai. He is the Vanamala amsam of Mahavishnu. His parents named him Vipranarayanar.
Not interested in family life, Vipranarayanar wished to go on a pilgrimage to many temples and began his journey with Srirangam. Once he saw the Aranganathan in Srirangam he wanted to stay there and serve Him. Like Periyaazhwar, he also started making garlands out of flowers for Aranganathan. He created a garden full of flowering plants and trees and stayed in a kudil (a thatched home) there.
There lived a devadasi by name Devadevi in Uthamarkoil, north of Srirangam. Devadevi and her sister went to Uyriyor for a dance performance in the court of the Chozha king and on the way back, Devadevi saw Vipranarayanar’s garden and was so impressed by it that she wanted to meet the owner. Her sister advised her that Vipranarayanar was only interested in serving the Lord and it is not possible to make him hers. Devadevi challenged her sister that if she is not able to make Vipranarayanar hers in six months time, she will become her sister’s slave.
She dresses in a simple saffron saree and falls at the feet of Vipranarayanar. When Vipranarayanar enquires, Devadevi says that due to her sins in the previous births she was born as a Devadasi, but does not want to be one any more. She also tells Vipranarayanar that she wished to help him in his service to the Lord. Taking pity on her, Vipranarayanar lets her water the plants, pluck the flowers, make the garlands and generally take care of the garden. She does all these jobs to make him trust her. She was given to stay outside his kudil.
After some months, one day when it rained very heavily, Devadevi was drenched and taking pity on her Vipranarayanar allows her inside his kudil. Once she gets, she makes him hers. Successful in her mission, she leaves him.
Vipranarayanar yearns for her and goes to her house and stands hesitantly at the front door. Mahavishnu decides that it was time to make Vipranarayanar His and taking a human form, picks up a golden utensil from the temple vessels, brought it to Devadevi and said that he was Manavaladasan, sent by Vipranarayanar and passed the message that Vipranarayanar was waiting outside. Devadevi instructs Vipranarayanar to come inside her house. Next day morning, when the temple was opened, it was found that a golden utensil is missing and it was reported to the King. The king sets up an enquiry with the Bhattar and other people in charge. Finally he finds that the vessel is at Devadevi’s place and calls her for enquiry. She admits that Vipraranarayanar’s servant Manavaladasan brought it to her and then Vipranarayanar is called for enquiry. The king instructs Devadevi to return the vessel to the temple and puts Vipranarayanar in prison.
Mahavishnu comes in the king’s dream and makes him understand that Vipranarayanar was not the thief and He had only come as Manavaladasan. The Lord asks the king to release Vipranarayanar. The King released Vipranarayanar, apologises and sents him home.
Realising his mistakes, Vipranarayanar goes in search of the learned. He understood that to the best way to cleanse himself from his sins was to drink the water with which the Vaishnava Bhagavathas feet were washed and did just that. As he continued to serve the Vaishnava Bhagavathas, he was called “Thondaradipodi Azhwar”
Thondaradipodi Azhwar continued his floral service to Aranganathan and sang hymns in his praise.
Devadevi also gave all her property to the Lord and did service like cleaning, drawing kolams, etc at the temple
Here is an audio file of Thondaradipodi Azhwar's paasuram - Pachai ma malaipol meni sung by Unnikrishnan
Thondaradipodi Azhwar has sung hymns on the following temples