--> Skip to main content

Thiruppallandu – Dedicated To Vishnu – Composed By Periyalvar

Thiruppallandu is a composition in twelve verses in honor of Bhagavan Vishnu or Sri Narayana. It was composed by Vishnuchitta, or Periyalvar, one of the twelve Alwars (or Vaishnavite saints) of South India. It finds a place at the very beginning of the first part of Nalayiradivyaprabandham, a collection of verses by the twelve Alvars and a sacred scripture of the Vaishnavas.

While all Alvars sang hymns as expressions of their love for Vishnu, Periyalvar’s Thirupallandu reveals his anxiety that no harm should come to Bhagwan Vishnu. Periyalwar’s fear that some calamity could befall Vishnu is evident in the very first verse of Tiruppallandu – ‘Many years, many thousands of years, many crores and millions of years, O Lord of blue emerald hue and great shoulders (arms), may your bewitching, beautiful pair of feet be protected.’

In Thiruppallandu, with mangalasasana (well wishes), the devotee-composer actually assumes the role of a protector of Bhagavan Vishnu. Manavalamamuni, a famous Sri Vaishnava teacher (1370 – 1443 CE), has stated in his Upadesha Ratnavali that the name Periyalvar (Peria – big or senior) was given to Vishnuchitta because of his utmost concern for Bhagavan Vishnu. Both the Vadakalai and Thenkalai sects of the Sri Vaishnavas consider Thiruppallandu to be of primary importance.

The conception of Bhagavan Vishnu according to Vishnuchitta (alias Periyalwar) is of unique nature. While other Alvars extolled Vishnu as a lover and protector, Periyalvar, in addition to these, perceived Bhagavan Vishnu as a baby (especially as Krishna incarnate), and blesses him.

Hagiology records that Vishnuchitta proved the supremacy of Narayana in a debate at the court of the then Pandya king and was taken on the royal elephant around the city. At that time, Narayana presented himself on his vahana (Garuda) before Vishnuchitta. This worried the devotee, as he thought that some evil might befall Narayana.

In accordance with conventional practice, Periyalwar sang Thirupallandu to drive away evil. This fatherly concern for Narayana earned him the title ‘Periyalwar’.

There is another Pallandu in the Shaivite tradition. This was composed by Senthanar and is in praise of Chidambaram, a sacred place for Shaivites.