The Nityopavasi

Panguni Uthiram (celebrated on March 26 2013) is said to be the auspicious day when Gowri married Lord Shiva, Sita married Lord Rama, Andal married Lord Ranganatha and became one with him. In contemporary times, it was on this auspicious day in April 2010 that Sri Ammalu Ammal, a great devotee who spent her entire life devoted to Lord Krishna, became one with Him! She was then 104 years old.

Srimad Bhagavatam says,
“kalau khalu bhavishyanti nArayana parAyanAh
kvachit kvachin mahArAja dravideshu cha bhUrishaha
tAmraparNI nadI yatra krutamAlA payasvini
kAverI cha mahApuNyA pratichI cha mahAnadI”

In Kali Yuga, innumerable devotees of Lord Narayana will incarnate in the southern part of India known as Dravida desha, on the banks of various rivers like Tamirabharani, Kruthamala, Payasvini, Kaveri, Mahanadhi, etc.

As predicted in Srimad Bhagavatam, Kali Yuga has indeed seen the birth of countless devotees of the Lord right from the Azhwars. Ammalu Ammal was one such great devotee who lived (almost incognito) among us!

Ammalu Ammal was born, in Kumbakonam-Tamil Nadu, to a pious Kannada speaking Madhwa couple in the year 1906. Girls, in those times, were married when they were quite young. Similarly, Ammalu Ammal too was married at a very tender age. And, within a very short time, she lost her husband. Her own family and community started considering her inauspicious from then on and tormented her by words and deeds. Driven to despair, she attempted suicide. The compassionate Lord Narasimha came in her vision and forbade her from killing herself. Instead He commanded her to sing His praises and glories. Further, He promised her that her basic necessities of food and clothing would always be taken care of. This incident reminds us of a similar incident in Bhakta Meera’s life. Meera too, was driven to despair by society preventing her from singing her Lord Krishna, and attempted to take her life. However, the Lord appeared before her and prevented her from doing so.

From that day onwards, Ammalu Ammal felt no hunger and partook only a glass of curd/milk and fruit every day for the rest of her life. And she would forgo even that on Ekadasi. However she would cook grand varieties of food for the Lord.

Ammalu Ammal immersed herself completely in devotion and sang and danced for the Lord in ecstasy. Divine compositions started pouring out from her. Till date, she has composed tens of thousands of songs. And she is also said to be an avatara of Sri Purandara Dasa.

Once Lord Panduranga commanded her to come to Pandharpur. She started to Pandharpur the very next day and spent several years lovingly serving the Lord. When she finally came back to her hometown, she brought back a small Panduranga idol from Pandharpur and lovingly continued her service to the Lord for the rest of her life.

Kanchi Maha Periyava had great regard for Ammalu Ammal and always spoke highly of her. Once a rich man who had an unmarried daughter approached him to seek his blessings. Instead of blessing him, Kanchi Periyava asked him to go seek the blessings of the “Nityopavasi” (one who fasts everyday) living under the tree. Only then did people, even of her own community, come to know about the greatness of Ammalu Ammal.

She spent the latter part of her years mostly in her hometown, Kumbakonam. She would spend the whole day worshipping her Panduranga – waking Him up, giving Hm a bath, meticulously dressing Him, cooking for Him and constantly singing His praises, even at her advanced age.

Her beautiful songs are sung even today by her followers and often also in GOD satsangs.

Sowmya Balasubramanian, Fremont, CA

8 Responses to The Nityopavasi


    Its good to see the article on Sri Ammalu Ammal. Is there any action taken to publish oo protect her Keerthanas. It will be worth while atleast on Panguni Utthira Day, a set of good artist recite her songs in her place, Kumbakonam. In this context if I can be of any help, pl let I know. I was moved by her Laali on Srimushnam Boovaraha, which is also a Vairagya patha.

    Sri Swamiji knows me as Rayar, who designed Thriuthers for Thiruvaali – Thirunagari. My Cell No: 9840255724

  2. surya says:

    Hi, I was just looking for details about Ammalu Athai and ended up here. She was our distant relative. My mom and Grand mom used to sing her songs always. I have a collection of few of her songs. If it could be of any use, I can send it through.

  3. Padma sangeetha says:

    Mr.surya. this is padma. I want ammalu ammal songs. Please tell me how I can contact u. Thank u

  4. B SRINIVASAN says:

    kinly let me know the total collection of ammalu ammal kritigalu is available in book form

  5. Balaji says:

    Good to study the history of Ammalu.Evergreen memories of participating in deepotsavam at kumbakonam in my childhood are still with me.

  6. R Ragavendran says:

    All, Our family was also involved in Bhajans. My Parents and I were fortunate to attend many of her bhajans. and know quite a few of here keertanas too. Please include me also in the list. And would like to know more, collect her songs, etc. I am in Chicago now. Originally from Ambattur, Chennai. R Ragavendran.

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