śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 8, Issue 6
Posted: 6 July 2015

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Śrī Godādevī Ālvar
by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

(Portrait of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda)

The life of Godādevī, or Āṇḍāl, was glorious, for it was filled by her glowing love for Godhead. The spiritual origin of her incarnation can be traced back to the Supreme Lord’s Nīlā-śakti potency.

In a town called Śrī Villiputtur, there once lived a person named Viṣṇucitta, who later became known as Periya Ālvar. He was born in a brāhmaṇa family and had a small garden where he grew sacred Tulasī plants with his own hands. One of his important duties was to weave garlands of fragrant flowers with Tulasī leaves and offer them to the deity there, named, Vaṭa-patraśāyī Bhagavān*.

* The Bala-Gopāla form of Bhagavān who took shelter of the leaf of a banyan tree (vaṭa) at the time of universal devastation, while sucking His toe.

One day while he was picking leaves and flowers, he was astonished to find a wonderful baby girl, marvellously similar in beauty to Lakṣmī-devī, laying amidst the Tulasī plants. Seeing her fascinating beauty and loving form, Viṣṇucitta could understand that she was in fact a divine child. He brought her home and gave her the name Godā. His heart committed at once to nurturing her, and he began raising her with every mark of tender care and affection.

He noticed that from an extremely young age she had developed a loving attraction for Śrī Nārāyaṇa. This divine child, Godā, had appeared in 3005 BC in the month of Āṣāḍha, under the pūrva-phālgunī asterism.

The days rolled on, and Viṣṇucitta’s only daily occupation was to offer the Supreme Lord beautiful flower garlands from his garden. Baby Godā grew into a child and then blossomed into a maiden. In a joyful, playful mood, she would wander about at will, without any obstruction to her childish frolicking. Her ageing father looked at the divine child with intense adoration, but when he was away, she liked to playfully meddle with his things, and even try on the flower garlands he had made for the Lord. Daily she engaged in ornamenting herself with these garlands.

One day, her father discovered the wrong-doings his darling daughter had been committing. He chided her severely for her misconduct and threw away the wreaths she had already worn, considering them to be unworthy for the Lord. That day he went to the Lord without flowers.

That night, the saint had a dream in which the Lord asked him why he had not presented Him with a flower garland earlier. He explained the whole story, exclaiming that the garlands had been desecrated by the Lord’s ignorant maid. The Lord frowned at the explanation and replied, saying, “‘Desecration!’ Rather, you should say ‘consecration!’ The garlands have been rendered more aromatic and sweet after being used and worn by your daughter. I like them more now. I want to have the ones she wore, and no others.”

The saint woke up in great astonishment. Reflecting on the dream, his already intense awe of the miraculous damsel swelled even more. He considered, “Perhaps she is Śrī, Bhū or Nīlā-śakti herself.” From that time onward, he looked upon her with even more reverence. And from that day forward, he offered the wreaths to the Lord only after they were first used by the celestial damsel.

Gradually she matured into the full bloom of youth and was on the verge of womanhood. Viṣṇucitta became anxious to find her a suitable husband, but Godā would not accept any human being as her husband. She would only accept Śrī Nārāyaṇa. Seeing her so determined, Viṣṇucitta became uneasy and realized that her love for Godhead was truly immense and growing deeper and deeper every day.

The young saint became so enamoured with love and devotion for the Lord that she could not bear her existence in separation from Him. In her passionate ardour to attain the most personal and intimate relationship with Him, her imagination carried her beyond all reasonable expectations. She pictured before her all of the exploits of the Supreme Lord in His vṛndāvana-līlā, as if they were being enacted anew, for her.

Viṣṇucitta was becoming more and more anxious as he watched his beloved and revered daughter so intensely pining for her Divine spouse. But relief finally came. Śrī Nārāyaṇa appeared before him in a dream and saved the situation by announcing to him, “Godā is Lakṣmī herself, My nitya-śakti. Give her in marriage to Me.”

At the same time, Śrī Nārāyaṇa also appeared to the priest of the temple in a dream and gave the following instructions: “All you good servants of Mine go to the house of Viṣṇucitta tomorrow morning. Take with you all the necessary things for a marriage ceremony, and escort his daughter here, to Me, fully dressed in bridal attire.”

The priest came as directed the next morning and related everything to Viṣṇucitta. Our Viṣṇucitta was surprised beyond measure at this happy concurrence. In great pomp and glory, the journey to the temple began. Godā, or Āṇḍāl, was carried toward the temple in an enclosed palanquin, followed by a large crowd.

The great assembly was enormous, and they gathered in the halls, corridors and courtyards, breathlessly waiting to see what would happen. There was a stir, a rustling, and then a glorious virgin softly descended from the palanquin and proceeded towards the temple. She moved softly with a swan-like gait and stood before Bhagavān Śrī Nārāyaṇa, her breast heaving, and gazed at Him with love-laden eyes that knew no satiety. To the surprise of the bystanders, the deity of Śrī Bhagavān extended His arms and took her in His embrace. And she remained there for eternity.

All present were speechless and unable to move for a long time. Our saint, Viṣṇucitta, was especially dumbstruck. He had nurtured the divine child with profound care, and could not check his emotions. Tears rolled down his cheeks. Soon, a voice was heard consoling Viṣṇucitta. Śrī Bhagavān spoke with a soft smile, saying, “You have become My father-in-law. May you now return to your home. Godā will remain with Me forever. Do not worry.”

Viṣṇucitta later received the designation of Periya Ālvar. Godādevī wrote Thiruppavai in the Tamil language. It is said that she also wrote Nachiar Thirumozhi.*

* These works are famous in South India. Thiruppavai is a compilation of thirty stanzas in praise of Lord Viṣṇu. Nachiar Thirumozhi means “Sacred Sayings of the Goddess”.

Adapted from The Gaudiya, Volume 45, Number 7
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 8, Issue 6, "Tiruppāṇī Ālvār" by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.