Kotai-Andal: the only woman among the twelve Alvar saints.
Legend tells us of a young girl in the ninth century who swears to marry none but Vishnu. She appropriates a garland meant for him - a transgressive act yet one of singular devotion.. Born of her boundless consuming love for Vishnu are the two exquisite Tamil poems Tiruppavai and Nacciyar Tirumoli. These compositions in which Vishnu is her awesome mesmerizing and sometimes cruel lover give expression to Kotai's powerful experiences and her vibrant bold sensuality. Eventually the story goes Kotai wins Vishnu for herself becoming his bride at the great temple of Srirangam for which extraordinary feat she earns the title Andal: She Who Rules.
The Secret Garland aims to capture the lyricism beauty and power of the original poems. Archana Venkatesan's detailed notes based on traditional commentaries and discussions of the ritual and performative lives of the two poems contextualize the significance and influence of Andal's continuing legacy. An essential addition to the classical library.