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Madal is an ancient Indian practice where a lovesick person rejected by their beloved would go around riding on a fake horse made of palmyra stems badmouthing their beloved, in an effort to embarass them into marrying them. The Periya Thirumadal and Siriya Thirumadal are two devotional poems by the Alwar Thirumangai Alwar in praise of Vishnu. In these poems Thirumangai Alwar (a man) pretends to be a woman who was rejected by the man she loves, Vishnu, and who threatens to engage in Madal against Vishnu.

Now near the beginning of the Siriya Thirumadal, Thirumangai Alwar describes how old women advised the lovesick woman to turn to a fortune teller:

ārāṉum mūtaṟiyum ammaṉaimār colluvār: pārōr colappaṭum kaṭṭuppaṭuttirēl

Some old woman familiar with the happenings of the past said, “There is a practice among the people called fortune-telling.”

Here is what the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Periyavachan Pillai says about the part in bold in his commentary on the Siriya Thirumadal:

intraṉ paṭikaḷirukkumpaṭiyeṉ eṉṟu orutti oruttiyaik kēṭka toṇṇūṟṟeṭṭu intrātikaḷai sēvittēṉ, intraṉpaṭi kēṭkiṟāy, vēṇumākil colkiṟēṉ eṉṟāḷiṟē. Appaṭiyē paḻaiyarāy, nōykaḷumaṟintu, nōykku nitāṉamumaṟintu parihāramum paṇṇuvittup pōrum mūtaṟivāṭṭikaḷ collukiṟārkaḷ.

A certain woman asked another woman, “Do you know what Indra looks like?” She said “I have seen 98 Indras, and you’re asking me whether I know what Indra looks like? If you want to know, I’ll tell you.”. Old women similar to that, knowing the ailments of a woman’s heart, knowing the causes of those ailments, as well as the treatments to be done for them, said this.

My question is, who is this woman who saw 98 Indras?

For those who don’t know, Indra, like other Devas, is a position filled by different Jivatmas in different ages. One Indra serves for one Manvantara, and there are 14 Manvantaras in a Kalpa. So that means that that this woman was alive for 7 Kalpas! Clearly this is no ordinary woman, since Bhuloka itself is destroyed at the end of every Kalpa. So does anyone know what scriptures mention her and/or describe her story?

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    I am pretty sure this is folkore. Did you by any chance saw this in one of the scriptures? – Wikash_ May 31 at 7:55
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    @Wikash_ That’s part of the purpose of my question, to find out whether it’s from scripture. In general Sri Vaishnava Acharyas like Periyavachan Pillai don’t mention folklore stories, so I expect this is from some scripture or the other. – Keshav Srinivasan May 31 at 8:28

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