Andal is counted amongst the first female poets in South India. She was the only female among the 12 Alwar Saints who are Vishnu Bhaktas and follow the Srivaishnava tradition. Alwars were the saints who revitalised the Hindu religion with their emphasis on true devotion to God and their worship through poetry between the 5th and 9th centuries. The period of Andal is said to be during 716 – 731 A.D.
The life and writings of Andal are celebrated during Dhanurmasa, ie December and January of every year during which her poetry “Tiruppavai” is recited and analysed. Andal is known for her unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu. The Srivilliputhoor Temple is dedicated to her and she is also seen in all Sri Vaishnava Temples in India and elsewhere next to the Lord.
Vishnuchitta was a Brahmin who lived in Villiputtur near Madurai. One day he found a girl child in his flower garden and adopted her as he had no children. She grew up to be known as Andal and was brought up in an environment of devotional poetry and philosophy. Even as a child, Andal fell in love with Lord Krishna and vowed to marry none but Him.
When Andal was fifteen years old, she refused to marry anyone but Ranganatha, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu at Sri Rangam temple, and when Vishnuchitta was worried about his daughter, the Lord himself appeared in his dream and asked him to send Andal as a bride to the temple. Andal was taken as a bride to the temple and she became united with the Lord and disappeared.
Andal’s poetry is a treasure house for Indian devotional literature. She composed two works both in Tamil. Her first work is Tiruppavai which is a poem of 30 verses in which she imagines herself to be a cowherd girl during the incarnation of Lord Krishna. The second one is Nachiyar Tirumoli which is a poem of 143 verses. It has been translated into many Indian and Western Languages.