The Alvars : Ancient Tamil Vaishnava Poet-Saints of South India

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ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमःॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

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The Alvars meaning those immersed in god were Tamil poet-saints of South India who espoused Bhakti (devotion) to the Hindu god Vishnu in their songs of longing, ecstasy and service.

They are venerated especially in  Vaishnavism, which regards Lord Vishnu as the Supreme entity.

Many modern academics place the Alvar date between 5th century to 10th century CE. However, traditionally the Alvar are considered to have lived between 4200 and 2700 BCE.

Orthodoxy posits the number of alvars as ten, though there are other references that include Andal and Madhurakavi Alvar, making the number twelve.

Andal is the only female Alvar among the 12. Together with the contemporary sixty three Shaiva Nayanars, they are among the most important saints from Tamil Nadu.

The devotional outpourings of alvars, composed during the early medieval period of Tamil history helped revive the Bhakti movement through their hymns of worship to Vishnu and his avatars. They praised the Divya Desams, 108 abodes (temples) of these Vaishnava deities.

The poetry of the alvars echoes bhakti to God through love, and in the ecstasy of such devotions they sang hundreds of songs which embodied both depth of feeling and felicity of expressions. 

The collection of their hymns is known as Divya Prabandha.

The Bhakti literature that sprang from alvars has contributed to the establishment and sustenance of a culture that broke away from the ritual-oriented Vedic religion and rooted itself in devotion as the only path for salvation.

In addition they helped to make the Tamil religious life independent of a knowledge of Sanskrit. As part of the legacy of the alvars, five Vaishnava  philosophical traditions (sampradayas) have developed at the later stages.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Though academically trained in modern Western Sciences, Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar is a crazy maniac of India's ageless, timeless ethnic arts, crafts & textiles. The rich & glorious cultural & spiritual heritage of India is a subject extremely dear to her heart, and the whole of this Blog has been dedicated to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide, to every nook & corner of the globe, through these simple Blog-posts. Any constructive criticisms & suggestions in this regard for improvement of the Blog 'MOST WELCOME'. Also, High-Quality Guest Blog-posts 'MOST WELCOME". LinkedIn Profile :

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