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Alvar Saint


Dates: 10th century

Known for: Alvar saint, Tamil devotional poet, daughter of Periyalvar

Also known as: Andal, Saint Goda

About Andal:

A few hagiographies survive of Andal, a poet in Tamil Nadu who wrote devotional poetry to Krishna in which her own personality comes alive at times. Two devotional poems by Andal are known and are still used in worship.

Adopted by her father (Perilyalwar or Periyalwar) who finds her as a baby, Andal avoids earthly marriage, the normal and expected path for women of her culture, to "marry" Vishnu, both spiritually and physically. She is sometimes known by a phrase which means "she who gave garlands that had been worn."

Her name translates as "savior" or "saint," and she is also known as Saint Goda. An annual holy day honors Andal.

The Vaishnava tradition honors Shrivilliputtur as the birthplace of Andal. The Nacciyar Tirumoli, which is about the love of Andal for Vishnu and Andal as beloved, is a Vaishnava marriage classic.

Her exact dates are unknown, but are likely to have been the ninth or tenth centuries.

Sources include:

  • Phillip B. Wagoner. Tidings of the King. 1993.
  • Joseph T. Shipley. Encyclopedia of Literature. 1946.

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