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Tiruppallāṇdu | by Periyāḻvār

Tiruppallāṇdu | by Periyāḻvār

Śrī Periyāḻvār

 Periyāḻvār occupies a special place among Āḻvārs as he became the father-in-law of Lord Śrī Raṅganātha when his daughter Andal married Him.

His Avatāra took place in Srivilliputhur on Svātī Nakṣatra of Tamil Aani month. He is believed to be the amśa of Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu.

Historically he is placed around the later part of 6th century A.D.

He belonged to a family of devout Vaiṣṇava Brahmins and was named "Viṣṇu-citta".

True to his name, his mind dwelt constantly on the form and līlās of the Lord. He did not show much interest in learning scriptures and constantly enjoyed the Lord as little Krishna.

 He wanted to perform some service of which the Lord would be especially fond of.

With this objective, he set up a beautiful garden with great variety of flowers and Tulasī leaves. He used to prepare specially decorated garlands and offered them to the Lord at the "Vatapathra Sāyī" temple.

 Once, the king of Madurai named Vallabha Deva came to Srivilliputhur in disguise and was going around the villages to know the welfare of his citizens.

He saw a brāhmin sleeping on the front porch of a house and stopped to enquire about him. The brāhmin told the king that he was a pilgrim returning south after a tour of many temples in the gangetic plains.

The king asked him to teach some ślokas that will lead to his enlightenment. The pilgrim recited a śloka, the substance of which runs as follows:

"One has to gather everything necessary
for the rainy season when the sun shines.
One has to save for old age
by working hard during the younger days.
Similarly, one has to search for the ultimate reality
in this birth to benefit in the next birth."

 The king was greatly impressed by the śloka and honoured the brāhmin.

King's mind dwelt on the futility of his past life and he constantly worried over what is the ultimate reality. He could not choose his faith from the various paths offered by different religions.

He called his family preceptor named Selva Nambi and asked him to call scholars and philosophers of various faiths to a contest which will determine the reality.

The king tied a big bag of gold coins to a long vertical pole and announced in the contest that the prize will go to the scholar who can bring it down with his faith.

For many days, number of scholars tried in vain to do this with their scholarly works, eloquent speeches and heated debates.

One night the Lord appeared in Viṣṇu-citta's dream and asked him to go to the king's court and win the contest.

Viṣṇu-citta woke up in the morning and proceeded to the king's palace according to the Lord's directive.

However he was well aware of his limitations, as he had never shown any interest in scriptural learning. He was confident that the Lord's will always prevail.

 In the King's court, he proceeded to talk on ‘Śrīman Nārāyaṇa’ as the ultimate reality. The words started flowing as a torrent as he went on quoting the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Purāṇas.

Selva Nambi, the king and the entire gathering were thrilled to the core by his conviction in his faith and were astounded to see the bag of coins fall on its own accord into Viṣṇu-citta's palms.

The whole court acknowledged that Viṣṇu-citta had the special grace of the Lord. The king honoured him with the title "Bhaṭṭar Pirāṉ".

When the Āḻvār came to be called Bhaṭṭar Pirāṉ, one evening, the king took Viṣṇu-citta on a ceremonial parade around the city on his elephant.

Śrīman Nārāyaṇa, delighted to see all these honours being showered on the Āḻvār, appeared in the sky on His Garuda Vāhana with Śrī Mahālakṣmī.

Viṣṇu-citta was dazed to see the splendour of the Lord and since he always enjoyed Krishna as a child, blessed the Lord with a long life imagining himself as the Lord's mother and sang his "Tiru-Pallāṇḍu" verse. He came to be called "Periyāḻvār" as he thought of himself as elder to the Lord Himself to bless Him.

From that day of his victory in the king's court, he started offering garlands of his verses along with floral garlands to the Lord. He has enjoyed Krishna Līlās as much as mother Yaśodā would have done earlier.

It is impossible to capture his grace in words other than his own - Periyāḻvār’s "Pallāṇḍu" and "Nīrattam" verses are part of Vaishnava tradition and are recited very often.

His verses (461 verses) in the Nālāyira Divya Prabandham are called "Periyāḻvār Tirumoḷi".

To Periyāḻvār, the various Avatāras of the Lord are not recollections of the past depicted by the Purāṇas. They are dramas enacted right before his eyes and he bestows a benediction on the Lord for the feats that He performed as Nrisimha, Rāma and Krishna.

Once, while he was collecting flowers and Tulasī from his garden, he saw a small baby girl under a Tulasī plant. Periyāḻvār carried this baby home to his wife Vraja.

The couple who were till then childless were delighted to receive this divine grace of the Lord and showered their love on this child. They named her "Godā" meaning daughter of mother earth in Sanskrit.

The child had the great fortune of growing up in this family of great bhaktas and turned out to be a great Krishna bhakta, whose experience is unparalleled in history. Even among the Āḻvārs, Godā’s grace surpasses that of all the others. The Jñāna and bhakti came to her at a very young age.

Godā pays homage to her father’s influence by referring to herself as "Bhaṭṭar Pirāṉ’s Godā" in all her verses. One can trace a lot of parallels between her verses and those of her father.

It is said that Periyāḻvār sang all his verses on the Lords of divya deśas at Godā’s request as she wanted to choose and marry one among them. In his verses, Periyāḻvār refers to his only daughter, her love for Krishna and her later marriage to the Lord.

Tiruppallāṇdu | by Periyāḻvār

1.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”
You conquered your enemies with your strong arms.
You have the colour of the blue sapphire.
We praise you forever, forever and forever
and for many crores of years.
Protect us as we are beneath your divine feet.

2.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”
Let us live never apart from your devotees and you.
Let us praise you.
Let us praise the beautiful Lakshmi
who lives on the right side of your strong chest.
Let us praise the beautiful shining discus
that you carry in your right hand.
Let us praise the Pañchajanya conch
that you blow on the battlefield.

3.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”
O devotees, if you wish to serve the god
come and carry sand and fragrance in his festivals.
If you concern yourself only with food,
we will not include you among our devotees.
We are from families
that have not sinned for seven generations.
Let us praise the god who fought and destroyed
the Rākṣasas and their land Lanka.

4.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”.
Come and join us to do service to the god.
If you realize always that your soul is god
there is nothing you need to think of to go to him.
Praise, singing, “Namo, Nārāyaṇa!”
in all towns and in all countries.
O devotees, come and praise the god with us.

5.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”
O devotees, worship and praise Hrishīkesa,
the king of the whole earth.
He destroyed the Rākṣasas and their large clan.
Give up your old ways and join us
and recite the thousand names of the god.
Bow to his feet and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”

6.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”.
My father, his father and his grandfather, for seven generations
they all worshipped him and served him.
He took the form of Narasimha
on the evening of Śravaṇa Nakṣatra day
and destroyed Hiraṇya.

7.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”
We brand our shoulders
with the famous divine discus that shines like fire.
We join the temple and serve the god for many generations.
The strong god fought with Bāṇāsura
who had a thousand arms and a magical army
and destroyed him with his discus
making all his thousand arms bleed.
Let us praise that strong god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”

8.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu Pallāṇḍu!".
O divine god, you gave me prasādam with good ghee,
betel leaves and nuts, ornaments for my neck,
earrings to decorate my ears, and sandal paste to smear on my body.
You gave me your grace
so that I would become pure and wise and serve you.
Let me praise the god who holds the Garuḍa banner
and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”

9.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu Pallāṇḍu!”
We are your devotees.
We wear the silk clothes that you have worn.
We put on the Tulasī garland that adorned you.
We eat the food that is left over after you have eaten.
We do the services that you want us to do everywhere.
On the day of Śravaṇa festival,
we praise the god who sleeps on the snake bed
and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”

10.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu Pallāṇḍu!”
From the morning of each day we serve you as your slaves
and we will do the same in all our lives and in future generations.
Release us from birth and give us moksha.
You were born on auspicious Śravaṇa day.
You broke the bow of Kamsa in northern Madhura,
and danced on Kālinga the five-headed snake.
Let us praise and say, “Pallāṇḍu, Pallāṇḍu!”

11.

Let us praise the god and say, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”
Dearest god, I am an old devotee of yours,
like Abhimanadungan, the king of beautiful Koṭṭiyur
where there is no injustice.
You are pure in all ways.
Devotees praise you with many names and say,
“Namo Nārāyaṇa” with love.
I will praise you and say, “Pallāṇḍu Pallāṇḍu”

12.

Vishṇu-Citta of Villiputtur praised the highest god,
the pure god who carries the bow Śārṅga.
Those who recite these poems and worship the god
saying, “Namo Nārāyaṇa”
will be with the highest god, praising him always
and saying, “Pallāṇḍu! Pallāṇḍu!”