ĀLVĀRS' LIFE


LIFE OF ĀLVĀRS

Introduction
The life of Alvars may be studied under two sections.  One is the study of the general nature of Alvars and the other is about their individual life.  The study of the nature of Alvarsmay vouch for their unique place among the Vaisnavites.  The discussion on the life of Alvars may be of great help in understanding the intervention of God in their lives, which is crucial to their theology.

3.1 General nature of Ālvārs
In the first section, an attempt may be made to define the word Alvar, in order to distinguish them from others.  As they are considered to be different from normal human beings, an allusion to their divine origin is called for.  Along with the divine origin, their southern origin, number and purpose will be highlighted.  A discussion on the dates of the Alvars is essential to locate them in a specific historical context.
As the Alvars belonged to a very ancient period a clarification on the sources available to study them is necessary.  To understand the Ālvārs, it is essential to verify their specific context.  This verification leads to the next step of analyzing the sources that inspired the Ālvārs.  The supernatural characteristics attributed to the Alvars find their explanation in the reverence shown to them by the Vaisnavites.
Since the Ālvārs were not philosophers per-se, their peculiar religiosity needs to be marked.  Whether their religiosity was mystical or theistic requires further clarification.  Discussing the stand taken by Alvars about caste distinguishes their unique role in the social realms.  Besides, their impacts upon the religious sphere require special attention.  It is worth noting that, similar developments took place in Śaivism.

3.1.1 Definition
In simple language “the Vaishnava mystics and Saints are known as Ālvārs.[1]  N. Subbu Reddiar gives the etymological meaning of the word as the exact root from which the word is derived is ‘āl’ or ‘dive’ and Ālvār would get the meaning as one who is plunged in God-enjoyment or a diver in divinity.[2]  According to Swami Shuddhananda Bharati “the Tamil expression “ALVAR” means one who has taken a deep plunge in to the ocean of divine consciousness.”[3]  For S. Dasgupta “the word Ālvār means one who has a deep intuitive knowledge of God and one who is immersed in the contemplation of Him”.[4]  According to J. S. M. Hooper Ālvār is one who has gone deep in the knowledge of God, one who is immersed in the contemplation of him.[5]
Adding wider dimensions to the word Alvars it is said, “the term Älvär signifies a devotee sunk in the beauty and glory of his Lord.”[6]  The Sanskrit equivalent for Ālvār is Sūri i.e., learned man or sage.  Often they are called ‘Divya Sūries’. In this connection “Saintly lord seems therefore the most appropriate translation, derived from contemporary parlance”.[7]  Another definition is that the “Âzhvâr” has the meaning of “Drowned in God-love” or “Sunk deep in ecstasy”. Or “Bhaktas or Lovers of God by God’s Grace.”[8]  They are not self-made, but made by the grace of God.  In general, Ālvār is the one who has gone deep into inseparable God realization.   


3.1.2 Divine Origin
Apart from the available details about the birth of the Alvars, they are considered as incarnations of Lord Vishnu’s weapons.  “The orthodox Vaishnavas hold that the Alwars were the incarnations of the sacred weapons and vehicles of Vishnu.”[9]  Tradition also regards them as divine incarnations.  Still further “the saints have all been said to be incarnations of divinity.  Not the whole of Divinity, but several parts of His Divine person…”[10] According to Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi] they were the incarnations of Lord Visnu’s ornaments, consort, weapons and vehicles to set right the world.[11]
 Besides the divine origin, some Alvarsare attributed with supernatural birth.  In the words of S. M.Srinivasa Chari “apart from the divine origin, the tradition also speaks of a supernatural birth in respect of a few Ālvārs.”[12]  The fact that few Alvarsare attributed with miraculous episodes[13] is also indicated.  According to Swami Shuddhananda Bharathi, “the lives of these Saints are revelations of the Divine Grace.”[14]
The divine origin of the Ālvārs, the supernatural births attributed to them and the miraculous episodes associated with them are proof for the highest esteem that the Vaisnavites show to the Ālvārs.  These accounts do not have any historical support and they are beyond the reasoning of normal human beings.  As these stories are of later attributions to the lives of Ālvārs, they abound with much super-human elements.  Of course, this is the way much of the religious heads were elevated from normal human birth to divine origin. 


3.1.3 Southern Origin
 Scholars have proved that south India is the destined place of birth for all the Ālvārs.  Dasgupta, quotes Bhāgavata–Purāna xi.5.38-40 and says it is said that the great devotees of Vishnu will appear in the South on the banks of Tāmraparnï, Krtamālā (Vaigai), Payasvinī (Palar), Käveri and Mahānadi (Periyar).  According to him,
It is interesting to note that the Ārvārs, Nāmm-ārvār and Madhura-Kaviy-ārvār, were born in the Tāmraparni country, Pēriy-ārvār, and his adopted daughter Āndāl In the Krtamāla, Poygaiy-ārvār, Bhūtatt’-ārvār, Pēy-ārvār and Tiru-mar isai Piran in the Payasvinï, Tondar-adi-podiy-ārvār, Tiru-pān-ārvār and Tiru-manigaiy-ārvār in the Kāveri, and Periy-ārvār and Kula-sēkhara Perumāl in the Mahānada Countries.[15]

 There is no second opinion about the southern origin of Ālvārs. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi][16] as well supports this.

3.1.4 Number of Ālvārs
Generally, the number of Ālvārs is held to be twelve.  Their names are Poygai Ālvār, Puttattālvār, Peyālvār, Tirumaliśaiālvār, Tondaradippodiālvār, Kulaśekharālvār, Tiruppānālvār, Tirumańgaiālvār, Periyālvār, Āndāl, Nammālvār and Madhurakavi.  There are scholars who are of the opinion that the Alvarsare ten in number.  They do not consider Āndāl, and Madhurakavi on par with the other Ālvārs.   The ten Alvars are called the principal Alvars.  Naturally, the other two are relegated to subordinate place.  The reason given by such writers is “the former is the adopted daughter of Periyālvār, while the latter is a devoted disciple of Nammālvār and hence they are also included in the list.”[17]  This argument does not hold good in the spiritual lives of the Vaisnavas.  They consider the twelve as Ālvārs, probably with much devotion.  Āndāl is believed to be the incarnation of goddess Lakshmi Herself and Madhurakavi was the one who awoke Nammālvār from long meditation.  Further, the Guruparamparā Prabhāvams and the collection of the works of Alvarsinclude the lives and poems of these two as well.

3.1.5 Purpose of the Alvars
The purposes of the life of Alvarsare variously described.  One of the purposes was that the “Ālwārs were the torch-bearers of Sri Vaishnavism.”[18]  It was true because Ālvārs came to action when Buddhism and Jainism were in the ascendance.  The second purpose is “they were saints who devoted their entire life to the worship of Visnu as the Supreme Deity.”[19] This is significant because in Vaisnavism, worshipping the deity and serving Him are the two major demands from the devotees.  At the same time it lacks social implications.  The third purpose is described as “Śriman Narayana created Alwars and Acharyas to liberate the people from the sea of Samsara.”[20]  This has much religious implication.  The central aspect of Hinduism is to free the souls from samsara.  This is differently described in Vaisnavism.  The Vaisnavas aspire to continue service at the feet of the Lord, while living here on the earth, and even at the next world.  The total preparation for complete liberation was not the crucial aspect.
In continuation with the third purpose is the fourth one.  It is also a great encouragement to the devotees.  It is described “that Saviors have come out of the midst of sinful men is guarantee that every soul, now in fetters, is ultimately bound to arrive at Saint hood and reach God hood.”[21]
The fifth purpose is stated as “for the welfare of the people of the world, Sarveswara created Alwars to propagate and perpetuate the way of liberation from Samsara.”[22]  This has two parts.  The second part i.e. liberation from Samsara is very common and often stressed very much.  The first part of the description i.e. welfare of the people is very important but rarely mentioned.  It views the purpose of liberation from Samsara as the welfare of the people. Welfare is not mere preparation for liberation from Samsara alone.  It includes the application of spiritual dynamics one has gained, in the day today life, so as to be model to others, for a spiritual life here, and a liberated life in the next world or life.  How far, this ideal is actualized and strove for is a basic question of the hour. 



3.1.6 Date of the Alvars
The crucial issue related to the dates of the Alvars is plainly put as, “the traditional date ascribed to the earliest Alvar is 4203 B.C., and the date of the latest Alvar is 2706 B.C., though modern researches on the subject bring down their dates to a period not earlier than the seventh or the eighth century A.D.”[23]  Most of the traditional dates are based on Guruparamparās.  These dates do not have any historical significance except assigning an early and mythical date to the Alvars.  The dates are given as:
According to the Guruparamparās, the first four Ālvārs – Poygai, Pūtattār, Pey and Tirumalisai-were born at the end of Dvāparayuga, which will correspond to 4200 B.C.  Madhurakavi is also believed to have taken birth in the Dvāpara era corresponding to 3222 B.C.  Nammālvār, Kulaśekharālvār, Periyālvār and Āndāl were born during the first century of Kaliyuga, which approximates to 3101 B.C., to 3003 B.C.  The remaining three Ālvārs-Tondaradippodi, Pānan and Tirumañgai – took birth in the years of 298, 343, and 399 respectively of Kaliyuga, which correspond to 2803 B.C. and 2702 B.C.[24]

Modern critical scholars refute these traditional dates, and place the Alvarsbetween fifth and eighth century A.D.  It is suggested that “…they belong to a period which is later than the period of the Āgamas, the Epics and the older Purānas, since their hymns disclose a deeper knowledge of these works.”[25]
The modern date may be confirmed because sixth century witnessed the re-emergence of the Pāntiya kingdom in Madurai and the ascendancy of the Pallavase in Kāñjipuram.[26]  Further “the Alvarswere itinerant saints who contributed to the religious renaissance in the Pallava, Pandya and Chola countries.”[27]  During this period the Vaisnava movement in south India gathered momentum.  According to Dasgupta, the Alvārs flourished in the eighth century A.D., which was the period of a great Vaisnava movement in the Cola and the Pāndya countries and also of the Advaitic movement of Śankara.[28]  The Sankara factor is important because some of the Alvarshave vehemently opposed the Maya Vada of Sankara.  This is also an evidence to say that few Alvarslived after the time of Sankara.
Subbu Reddiar did not agree with the traditional dates because there are overwhelming evidences, which militate against the acceptance of these traditional dates.  And hence, he suggested that the dates between 700 and 850 A.D. appear to be acceptable.[29] 
In short, to fix a final date for Alvars is not quite easy.  S.M. Srinivasa Chari gives convenient and reasonable dates for the Alvars, which is followed in many leading scholarly works.  Accordingly, the dates are, Poyagai Ālvār-713 A.D., Pūtattālvār-713, Peyālvār-713, Tirumaliśai Ālvār-720, Tondaradippodi Ālvār-726, Kulaśekharālvār-767, Tiruppānālvār-781, Tirmañgai Ālvār-776, Periyālvār-785, Āndāl-767, Nammālvār-798, and Madhurakavi-800 A.D.[30] 
The modern dates may be justified to some extent, from the internal evidences obtainable in the works of Alvars.  At the same time the traditional dates cannot be supported, because there is no historical or internal evidence. The Achariyas who succeeded the Alvarsproposed these non-historical dates.  Of course, their concern was not history, but religion.  Hence they had made all attempts to spiritualize the Alvarsand make them mythological religious figures.
Even the earthly life of the Alvars, their parents, their conversion by the grace of Lord, their confrontation with their prominent contemporaries and their specific religious stand etc. go to prove that the Alvarswere historical persons and not mythological.

3.1.7 Sources to Study Alvars
J. S. M. Hooper indicated three main sources for the study of the Alvars.  They are the legendary lives of the saints, contemporary inscriptions on stone or metal (epigraph) and the collection of Alvars’ hymns known as the Nālāyira Prabandham-the collection of four thousand.[31]  The difficulties with these sources are that the first one lacks historicity and contains material beyond ordinary reasoning.  The second type is very rare.  The works of the Alvarsare the only reliable source to study their contributions.  Of course, they do not contain adequate details about the incidents in their lives. The commentaries on the works of Alvarsare immense help to understand them.  But they are aimed at advocating visistādvita.  Friedhelm Hardy writes, “…the commentaries are written on the doctrinal premises of Viśistâdvaita, which makes them impose on the poems conceptual categories alien to their original spirit.”[32]  The reason is that most of the commentaries were written only after the time of Rāmānuja and the initial commentators were his disciples.
Although unreliable, traditional information about the Alvarscan be obtained from the different “Guru–Parampara” works.[33]  The uncertainty of the available source is further stressed as “we do not have an authentic and fuller information about the life of the Alvarsother than what is narrated in the guruparamparās.[34]  The reason for its unreliability is that “the life sketch of the Alvarsas presented in the Guruparamparās is full of miraculous anecdotes.  In the absence of reliable historical and other credible evidence it is difficult to accept them on their face value.”[35]  In spite of the shortcomings, the guruparamparās present adequate information about the life and contributions of the Alvars.
Among the works dealing with the life of Alvarsthe first major one is a Mahākāvya, the Divyasūricaritam by Garudavāhana (12th century).[36]  This hagiographic work also contains many unhistorical and super natural elements.
Two other biographical works have appeared at a later period, based on Divyasūri-Ceritam.  “The first one was written in Manipravāla style by a Pinpalakiyaperumāl Jīyar (about 13th century) under the title of Guruparamparāprbhāvamrāyirappadi.[37] And the second book was contributed by Trtīya Brahmatantra Parakālasvāmi (about 14th century) bearing the title of Guruparamparāprabhāvam-Mūvāyirappadi.[38]
These two commentaries are the accepted ones among the many.   They created interest among Vaisnavas about the Alvars. Friedhelm Hardy says, “besides a hagiographical tradition, the Śrīvaisnavas expressed their interest in the Alvars through a number of commentaries on their songs.”[39]
The problems with the commentaries are that they are written in the Manipravala style (mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit) and there is also a clear tendency here to ‘dilute’ the original meaning of words.  The commentators’ inadequate knowledge of the conventions of Cańkam poetry was responsible for the abstruse allegorical interpretation, which became fashionable from the thirteenth century onwards.  Further, as stated above, most commentaries intended on promoting the non-dualistic philosophy of Ramanuja and his successors who in various ways upheld the same premises.

3.1.8 Context of the Alvars
           The context of the Alvarsmay be briefly stated as “it was in the South under the Pallavas where Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism contended as rivals that the Alvarslent a new dimension to bhakti by making it intensely personal and popular appeal, which disregarded hierarchical and formal tradition.”[40]  It is noteworthy because, traditionally bhakti was restricted only to caste Hindus who are expected to follow the prescribed principles of devotion without any hindrance so that no harm is caused to the devotee.  The Alvarshave made it accessible and conducive to all in the form of prapatti.
The second concern the Alvarshad to address was the Maya Vāda of Sankara.  “The Vaishnava Bhaktas, chiefly the twelve Alvars, had already revolted against this system through their production of songs in praise of the deity in his incarnate forms.”[41]  This fact is further established by saying that after the eighth century the Advaitins became an equally grave challenge like Buddhist and Jaina philosophers.[42]  The reason for this is that Sankara expounded the fundamentals of monistic Vedānta with unsurpassed power and brilliance.[43]
        The major religious factors were Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism i.e., Vaisnavism and Śaivism.  Each of them tried to maintain its superiority.  The struggle between them is glowing in the works of Alvars.   It may be plainly said that the opponents of Vaisnavism at that time were the Jains, the Buddhists and the Śaivites.  The Alvarshad discouraged these three traditions in their works.  Whether the Alvarsused exclusive language or they were intolerant towards other faiths can be understood only in the later stage. Of course, no religion can be exempted from the use of exclusive language.  This is the life-blood of any religion.  But the main issue is how far the Alvarswere responsible to prompt intolerant attitude towards other religions. 
Another tendency to be confronted was the impersonal and atheistic nature of Jainism and Buddhism.  S. K. Ramachandra Rao maintained that the Śaiva and Vaisnava saints of this period could have been at least partly a reaction against the impersonal and atheistic tendencies of the two ascetic religions, Buddhism and Jainism.[44]  No doubt, Gītā could have been the main inspirational source for the Vaisnava bhakti.  Yet the immediate context was the growing influence of the Jains and Buddhists.
  One more circumstances is that “this Alvars represent the phase of synthesis of the Vedic outlook and the Āgama ideology.”[45]  This is to say that the Alvars propagated Vedic truths in the form of worships and practices described in the Āgamas.  Agamas are considered to be non-Vedic in nature.  It is vital to remember always that, the Hindus, irrespective of their adherence to any specific sect, never violate from the centrality of the Vedas.  This is obvious in the lives of the Alvars.

3.1.9 Sources of Alvars
The main source of inspiration for the Alvars was the Cańkam conviction of love.  It is said, “the poetic ‘landscapes’ which the Alvars will create have their direct roots in this akattinai.”[46]  The next Cańkam conviction on which the Alvars developed their religion was the ‘religious humanism’ as reflected in the Cańkam literatures.  Many scholars have noted this aspect, but whether the ‘religious humanism’ is practiced by the Vaisnavas requires clarifications.
A crucial source of inspiration for the Alvars is the fusion of the southern ‘Cańkam’ culture with the new sectarian Krsnaism from the northern fringe of Tamil-nādu (Kāñcī).[47]  No doubt, the south north convergence has provided ample material for the religious poems of the Alvars.
 There is Vedic influence also.  “Many Vedic myths such as of Trivikrama or the highest heaven of Visnu are alluded to by the Ālvārs…”[48] Because these references have served as nucleus for the developments of more supernatural stories in the form of puranas, which were to be utilized by the Alvarsto express their religious experience. 
Most of the writings of Alvarsreflect the Upanishadic elements in matters of religion and philosophy.  S. M. Srinivasa Chari writes, “all the Ālvārs, however, have dwelt either directly or indirectly on the three fundamental doctrines of Vedānta namely, tattva or the Ultimate Reality, hita or the means of its attainment and Purusārtha or the Supreme goal of life.”[49] This is another feature of Vaisnavism that it finally subscribes to the philosophical outlook of the Upanishads.
The main sources of influence were the epics and puranas.  “The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Bhagavatha and the Visnu puranas were founts of inspiration for the works of the Alwars or men of deep wisdom.”[50] Such influence was common to both Śaivism and Vaisnavism. Hopkins states that, “the poetry of the Nāyanārs and Alvarswas strongly influenced by the stories of the gods in the epics and Purānas.”[51]  This fact cannot be denied and this has added strength to the poems of bhakti saints.

3.1.10 Esteem of the Alvars
         The Alvars are respected to the state of divine beings.  Hence the Vaishnavites hesitate to think of the Alvars as normal human beings.  The status of the Alvarscan be understood from the attitude of the Vaisnavites towards them.  They considered that to examine the birth or caste of Alvarsis a sin.[52] According to Swami Shuddhananda Bharati, “an Ālvār is a living Gita, breathing Upanishad, a moving temple, a hymning torrent of divine rapture!”[53]  The conception of Alvars as the divine incarnations of Visnu keeps them as a special category and could not be classified with mortals.[54]  But an examination of the life of Alvars testifies that they were human beings filled with the rapturous love for and devotion to god.  This mystical relationship is revealed in their hymns.  Their relation was so intense that a moment of separation from God created great agony in them.
Often they are revered by offering worship to them.  Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar states, “the reverence paid to the Alvars is very great, and their images are placed by the side of the god representing Visnu or Nārāyana in some form and worshipped.”[55]  Similar pattern is found in Śaivism where the sixty-three nayanars are venerated in temples, along with other deities.
In fact, their divine characters and respect are not reflected in their works.  “Their main objective is to disseminate the essential tenets of Vedānta philosophy among the common people through the media of Tamil.”[56]  This is a common feature one can note among all the sects of Hinduism.  Irrespective of the various names and forms of deities worshipped at various levels, all hold to the fact that, the ultimate reality is one.  But, the language used to explain this aspect is exclusive in nature.  For the Alvarsthe one final reality is Vishnu and for the Nayanars, it is Śiva.

3.1.11 Philosophy and Religion of Alvars
Alvars did not neglect or deviate from the fundamentals of Vedas.  In fact it is said that they showered the essence of Vedas in Tamil.[57]  At the same time they always maintained that the supreme is one and that one is Tirumal and He is the source of all other gods.[58]  Thus, their sole concern was the one Ultimate Reality (paratattva), beyond time and space whom they called Visnu.[59]
A reading of the works of Alvars would suggest that they reflect Vedantic philosophy but it is explained in personal terms.  God is understood as one having many attributes.  It is said “the philosophy, implicit in much of the work of the Alvars and explicit in Rämänuja, maintains the personal existence of the supreme being, and emphasizes his love and pity for the sinful beings who adore him.”[60]  According to V. Rangacharya, “the great feature of the Ālvār movement is that it was emotional and not metaphysical.”[61]  Going further, it is said, in spite of the prevailing Vedāntic notion “they moved about extensively and propagated the religious philosophy of total surrender to God head.”[62]  The Alvars’ religious out look was different from the others.  This difference is due to their emphasis on prapatti, in the place of bhakti.
One fact needs to be emphasized is that the main task of Alvars was not philosophical speculation although the philosophical outlook is very much implicit.  They brought forth their spontaneous religious experience in the form of hymns, using the prevalent akam principle of Tamil literature.  It may be said that the Alvars were not given to any philosophical speculation but only to ecstatic experiences of the emotion of love for God.[63]
As to the religious nature of the Alvars, they lived normal human life and taught that householders can experience God in their lives.[64]  This is a great breakthrough in the context where there was so much emphasis on strict ascetic practices to attain greater religious ideals. “The Alvars attached greater importance to the path of devotion than to the other doctrines.”[65]  Their form of worship was not limited to bhakti alone.  They moved further and suggested prapatti, self-surrender, is the easiest and the supreme form of worship.[66]  Subbu Reddiar maintained that more than devotion and prapatti, “the Alvars preferred to have only sāyuja that is, close communion, a state which need not be distributed thereafter.”[67]  He may be partly right because the Alvars always longed for ceaseless union with the Lord.    
The frequent references to Śiva in the works of Alvars suggest that though Visnu is considered as God of gods, they were tolerant towards Śiva.[68]  This is a difficult issue to decide. According to V. Rangacharya “though there are occasional passages in the Prabandham showing toleration, the Alvars were fanatical lovers of Visnu.”[69]  But there are references, which suggest that, the mention of Śiva and Visnu together are examples to show that they were considered equals.
A note about the emotional love of Alvars, which reflect the akam genre of Cańkam literature, is quite meaningful.  This was based upon certain sentiments.  “The emotions that stirred them were primarily of the types of parental affection (as of a mother to her son), of friends and companions, servants to their masters, sons to their father and creator, as also that of a female lover to her beloved.”[70]  According to K.K.A. Venkata Chari, for the Alvar’ “human relationship as the analogy of divine relationship is absolutely central to their religious perspective.”[71]
Among all the emotional sentiments used, the frequently applied one is the relation between man and woman.  S. L. N. Simha writes, “their devotional outpouring took the form of the love of the bride for the all-perfect Supreme Bride-groom, from whom there can be no separation.”[72]  This significant characteristic is described as “the Ālvārs were probably the pioneers in showing how love for God may be on terms of tender equality, softening down to the rapturous emotion of conjugal love.”[73]  When this relation is stressed in connection with Krishna, it is said “the Alvars refer to the legends of Krishna’s early life in Brindavan and many of them play the role either of Yośodā, the friends of Krishna, or of the Gopis.”[74] 

While placing this ‘love-relation’ at a higher level, it cannot be forgotten that it is not the only method the Alvars followed.  They have used their language skills to the best of their ability.  Their descriptive quality is remarkable.  The knowledge of flora and fauna is amazing.  In short, they have utilized all the tools available to them in their earthly sojourn to describe their loving devotion to their personal God, Vishnu.

3.1.12 Mysticism of the Ālvārs
Before deciding the types of mysticism found in the works of Alvars, it would be helpful to see one or two definitions. Accordingly “mysticism means communion with God, that is to say with a Being conceived as the supreme and Ultimate reality.”[75]  The author quotes another definition i.e., mysticism is the immediate feeling of the unity of the self with God.[76]  The process involved in the mystical experience is explained as “mysticism appears in connection with the endeavor of the human mind to grasp the divine essence or the ultimate reality of things, and to enjoy the blessedness of actual communion with the highest.”[77]
At least two types of mysticism are drawn from the lives of Alvars.  One is the bridal mysticism.  It is said “bridal mysticism is a remarkable trait enlivening the devotional spirit of the Ālvārs.”[78]  This aspect has been explained under the previous heading.
There is another form of mysticism too.  This is called theistic mysticism.  It seeks an intimate union, which does not negate all differences.  The object of theistic mysticism is the God of love or mercy.  The sole means in theistic mysticism is bhakti, devotion and surrender to the Lord.  And the end of theistic mysticism is the union of the self with God without losing personal identity. The author declares that “all the essential characteristics of the theistic mysticism are seen in the hymns of the Alvars which represent the earliest examples of such experience in the Indian tradition.”[79]  The single point underlying these two claims is the mystical experience of the Alvars.  It will be sufficient to hold that they utilized the akam genre of Tamil to explain their mystical experiences.

3.1.13 Alvarsand Caste
Alvars never recognized caste as a prerequisite to reach God.  Among the twelve Alvars, one was a lady, seven were Brahmins, one was a ksattriya, two were śūdras and one was of the low panar caste.[80]  According to J. B. Carman, “the Alvars came from a number of different castes; some were Brahmins, some Sudras, and one was an outcaste. The small Vaisnava community that treasured their memory and sang their hymns was also made up of different castes; …”[81] This breakthrough is expressed as, in the Ālvār movement the distinctions of caste, rank and sex were ignored.[82]  During the time of Ramanuja, “he gave the sacred mantra to all and opened the doors of the temples for the untouchables.  He called them the sons of Sri, “Tirukkulattar”.[83]  The same tone can be found in the bhakti poems.  They emphasize that there is no distinction amongst people.  All are children of God.  There is only one caste, tontarkkulam.[84]
It is further affirmed that caste, creed, sex, sect, community, etc., have no place in the community of the servants of God, tontarkkulam.  Bhakti recognized the basic human values and encouraged the nourishment of human qualities.  On the same ground “it recognized the role of woman in such a spiritual community.[85]  K. K. A. Venkata Chari says, “the very reason for Nammālvār’s birth in a lower Varna was to raise the status of the group by his efforts and bred among the cowherds to save the world”.[86]    Again “the Tiruvāymoli is a scripture available to everyone irrespective of Varna – this is a radical innovation of the Tamil bhakti movement”.[87]  Unfortunately these changes were very pale in the bhakti movement.  Probably one of the reasons for the division of Rāmānuja’s followers into southern and northern school is the result of this liberal outlook.  At any rate these changes did not affect the society at large.  It is said that the bhakti saints insistently preached the doctrines of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, but the society at large neither tried nor desired to get out of the caste frame to which it had been accustomed all along.[88]  Hopkins pointed out that, “though many have been out castes and Sūdras they have helped make the Brahmanical synthesis work by constantly revitalizing Hindu religious life and making its highest products available to all.”[89]  However, the breakthrough, which the saints have brought in and the liberative motive latent in their works may have telling impact upon a relevant contemporary theology of religions.

3.1.14 Impact of the Alvars
The Alvars have added new life to bhāgavata cult.  “The bhāgavata cult which has been in existence from very early times, even before the period of the Alvars got a fillip under the inspiration of the teachings of the Ālvārs”.[90]  They were responsible to develop a system of Vedāntic thought based on the Vedas and the Nālāyiram.  S. K. Ramachandra Rao suggests, “Ālvārs, not only heralded a significant movement of devotion but prepared the ground for a great philosophical system, later crystallized by the eminent Ācāryas, Nāthamuni, Yāmuna and Rāmānuja.”[91]  Even some of the later bhakti sects got their inspiration from the life and work of Alvars.  “The Krishna bhakti of Nimbārka and Vallabha owes its rich development to the devotional hymns of the Ālvārs…”[92] Another grand impact of the Alvars could be seen in the realm of literature.  It is said devotional literature is the net result of bhakti movement.[93]
The negative impact of the Alvars is viewed as anti-Buddhistic and anti-Jain.  The Alvars spread the bhakti movement with the purpose of exterminating the heterodox systems and establishing the orthodox religion.[94]  “As a result of the vigorous preaching of the Saiva and Vaishnava Saints, called the Nayanars and Alvars, Buddhism and Jainism declined.”[95]  Of course, this alone may not be the reason for the decline of these two religions.  Other reasons may be their negative approach to God, strict spiritual disciplines and change of patronage.

3.1.15 Alvarsand Nayanars
As Vaishnavismis proud of the twelve Alvars, Śaivites are blessed with sixty-three Nayanars.  In fact, these two together rehabilitated Hindu faith from the opponents.  As a result the Buddhist and Jaina creeds fled from these parts[96] (south India).  A more emphatic statement is that they sang Buddhism and Jainism out of their province.[97]
Alvars and Nayanars were responsible for the enrichment of temple worship and religious literatures. Trivedi Krishnaji stated that “the Nayanmars and Alwars did much to popularize temple worship and their devotional outpourings enriched the religious literature of South India.”[98]  They used popular speech in their soul-stirring compositions and they were set to simple tunes, which the masses loved to sing.[99]
Another positive outcome of this combination is that they did not accept caste distinctions.[100]  They accepted people from all castes into their fold.  But it was unfortunate that this liberative element was stalled at various levels.
From the point of the theology of religions “the religious tolerance preached by the Ālvārs and Nayanars gave rise to a galaxy of saints in North India who spread the message of peace and harmony among the masses and paved way for Hindu-Muslim understanding.”[101]  The use of exclusive language and elite claims are common to all sects or religions.  Each religion strives to strengthen its own position.  This is basic to all religions.  Mere exclusive language alone does not show aggressive antagonism and intolerance among religions.
Having analyzed the various aspects of Alvars now it is appropriate to study the life of each one of them to evaluate the impact of their lives in their response to religious pluralism.

3.2 Life of Alvars
The study of the life of twelve Alvars may provide a biographical background-history for an in depth analyses of their religious attitude. In this section, adequate care shall be taken to locate the Alvars in their original life situation.  Besides the miraculous episodes, supernatural stories associated with them and their divine descent shall be focused.  Mention will be made to the conflicting suggestions about the dates of the Alvars. 



3.2.1 Mudalālvārs 
Poykaiyālvār, Putattālvār and Pēyālvār are called Mudal-ālvārgal or the first Alvars.  Often Tirumaliśai Ālvār is added to this list, because he too was their contemporary.[102]  The uniqueness of the first three Alvarsis “that they were contemporaries having blossomed forth into life within an interval of one day between each of them.”[103]  They met Tirumaliśai Ālvār at Tirumalicai near Madras to enjoy his companionship.[104]  According to Ethirajan, the three met him in a cave on their journey.[105]  The point is, Tirumaliśai is often mentioned along with the first three Alvars because they had met him.
It is believed that the first three Alvars were born in the same month on three consecutive days.[106]  This view is supported by the tradition.  “According to the tradition they were born in the same year and month but on three consecutive days.”[107]  These stories add divine flavor to the lives of Alvars.  The very idea that the three were born on three consecutive days suggests that it took place by the initiative of God.
The names by which the Alvars are known now raise questions.  For example, it is argued that “the names we know them by are not personal names but sobriquets and they can be intriguing.”[108]  It may also suggest that their original names were lost and what remains are the latter attributions by the Vaisnavites. 
Much supernatural elements are added to their birth. Ethirajan says that they did not know their parents.  Unlike ordinary humans they were born on their own.[109]  Hence they are called āyoniyar.[110]  That is not born of the womb.  This conclusion is derived on the basis of the tradition that they were born out of flowers.[111]  It is not uncommon to attribute miraculous episodes and super human stories to the Alvars in the Vaisnavitē tradition.

3.2.1.1 Divine Birth of MudalAlvars
Apart from the miraculous episodes and supernatural stories, these Alvars were attributed with divine origin.  According to the Guru–Paramparā the first three Alvars were incarnations of Vishnu’s Gadā,[112] Śankha[113] and Nandaka.[114]
With little more explanation and adding the fourth contemporary S. M. Srinivasa Chari stated, “the first four Alvars– Pūtattār, Poygai, Pey, Tirumaliśai – were incarnations of weapons of Visnu – Gadā (Mace), Śañkha (Conch), Nandaka (Sword) and Cakra (discus) respectively.” [115]  These divine origins confirm that the Alvars were not ordinary human beings, but incarnations of the weapons of Lord Visnu.  It is also often pointed out that God sent these Alvars to save humanity from samsara.  According to Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], the first three were not born of womb but of flowers and were embodiment of satva guna.[116]

3.2.1.2 Date of MudalAlvars
The first three Alvars appeared at the right time.  It was when the end of the Cańkam decadence, around sixth century A.D. they sowed the seed of bhakti movement[117] in the south.  The decadence of Cańkam created negative growth in the Tamil literature.  It was the period of Kalabhras, and called dark age in the Tamil literature. The newly emerged Pāndya – Pallava rule, which was conducive for religious and literary development, over threw Kalabhras.  And it was this time that the first three Alvars came to the scene.  Of course the date of the first three Alvars cannot be exactly determined.[118]  Yet an examination of the various suggestions can lead to a meaningful consideration.
After analyzing the works of first three Alvars and Tirumaliśai, it is said that they were the earliest in age, that age being the age of the Cańkam celebrities.[119]  Few voiced that, “they are considered to belong to the fifth to sixth century A.D.”[120]  The gentle and simple bhakti of the Mudal Alvars and their being free from a sectarian outlook, and “…their employment of the Venbā meter in their songs, points to a really early date for them – not later than the fifth or the sixth century A.D.”[121] Another suggestion is that “both Poikai and Pey have celebrated Vinnagaram or Vishnu Nagar in Canjeeveram, built probably by Paramesvara Varma 2, a Pallava king, about A.D.690.”[122]
Two more dates are suggested.  One is the first quarter of the eighth century.  That is “the traditional year in which the three Ālvārs were born was Siddhārthi which could be taken to correspond to A.D.719 and not to an earlier date.”[123] Having considered the internal evidences from the works of the Alvars, it is suggested, “…the first three saints could not have flourished before the early part of the eighth century.”[124]  On the basis of these analyses and the historical evidences, the first three Alvars can be placed between sixth and seventh century A.D.

3.2.1.3 Meeting of the Three
There is a fascinating account about, how God revealed himself to these saints.[125]  It is said, as they were going from one religious center to the other, one night, they were caught up in the heavy rain.  To escape the fury of rain they took shelter in a place too small for them.  “According to the guruparamparā account, the place was so narrow that hardly one person could lie down, two could sit and three could stand.”[126]  One view holds that the place was the narrow entrance room of a hermitage near Tirukkovalur.  Another view is that this place was the footpath of the Tirukkovalur temple entrance-tower.[127]  According to Mūvāyirappadi it is the front portion of a house called rali.[128]  Irrespective of the specificity of the place, it is enough to accept that the three Alvars came together on a specific day and God revealed Himself to them.  As to the order of entry into the place the common view is that, Poygai, Pūttam and Pey, respectively.
The revelation of God is described in the following way.  As they stood so close, they were conscious of another presence squeezing in among them.  They realized that the fourth person squeezed in was God, Sriman Nārâyana.  And it was His plan to reveal Himself to these committed devotees.[129]  The amount of truth in this narrative cannot be determined precisely for it is mythical in nature and lacks historical evidences. Yet the story has much religious significance for the Vaisnavites.  It is believed that all of them had divine vision when they came together at Thirukkoilur to have darsan of God during the temple festival there.[130] 

3.2.1. 4 Poygai Ālvār
Among the first three, Poygai Ālvār, the earliest[131], was born near a tank in the proximity of Yathoktakāri temple located in Kanchi (the present Kanjeevaram).[132]  Adding more color A. Govindacharya writes, “the first of our Triad, the Blest Saro – muni was born in a golden lotus in the Holy Tank Situated in the precincts of the Holy Vishnu Fane of Kânchi–puram (Conjeeveram).”[133]  Since he was born in a Poygai (tank) he was called Poygai Ālvār.  His name Saroyogi also indicates his birth in a saras (tank).[134]  The name Kâsâra – yogi also denotes that he was born in a water tank.
Tradition places his birth in the Dvâpara Yuga.[135]  With regard to his divine origin, he was the incarnation of the conch (sañkha) in the hands of Lord Tirumal,[136] which is called panjasanya.[137]  His work, the Mudal Tiruvandādi was the outcome of his realization of God.[138]  A specific contribution of this Ālvār was the idea of sesa.  N. Subbu Reddiar says, “he brought out vividly the concept of Śesa by describing the manifold services which Ādiśesa renders to the Lord.”[139] Service to deity and devotee play crucial role in the spirituality of Vaisnava tradition.

3.2.1.5 Pūtattālvār
Pūtattālvār was the second among the three.  He was born at Kadalmallai,[140] which is the present Mahabali Puram near Madras.[141]  People called him Pūtam after being surprised by his constant devotion to Tirumāl.[142]  Another explanation is that he was called so because he lived as if his body (pūtam) was only for Tirumāl.  He is also known as Bhūta – Muni.  One more explanation to his name is that “he is so named because of the possession of divine knowledge out of God’s grace.”[143]  Probably the name is an indication of his close communion with the Lord.
Tradition emphasizes that he was born on the next day of the birth of Poygai (in Dvápara age).[144]  He too was born in a flower.  The flower is identified as Mādhavi flower[145] and its Botanical name was Gartnera Racemosa.[146]
He was the incarnation of one of the five weapons of Tirumal called gadā (mace).[147]  Pūtattālvār’s work is called Irandam Tiruvandādi.  The chief emphasis of this work is the all sufficiency of Tirumāl.

3.2.1. 6 Pey Ālvār
“Peyālvār, the third one, was born at Mylapore, a locality in the Madras city.”[148]  He too was born out of a flower.[149] J. S. M. Hooper maintains, “Pey Ālvār, according to the tradition was born in a red lotus in a well in Mylapore.”[150]  A more vivid statement is that “this saint was born in Mayûura – Puri (Mailápúr) in the Holy Fane of Âdi – Kesava – Perumāl, in a Red – Lotus blossoming in the Holy well there.”[151]  Tradition ascribes that he was born in the Dvāpara age.
As to his name S. M. Srinivasa Chari says, “the term Pey means one who is possessed and as he was intoxicated with intense love for God, he was called Peyālvār.”[152]  Another name by which he is known is Bhrānta-Yogi.  “He is called Bhrānta – Yogi because demented by love of God.”[153]  “He is also called Mahadāhvaya Muni, signifying his greatness as one who had experienced God.”[154]

Pey Ālvār was attributed with the specific achievement of transforming Shiva Vakkiyar, a Shiva siddha, in to Vaisnavism, who was later called Tirumalsai Ālvār.[155] His devotion to Vishnu has bust out in the form of Mūnrām Tiruvandādi.[156]  


3.2.2 Tirumaliśai Ālvār
Tirumaliśai Ālvār was born at a place known as Tirumaliśai, also called Mahīsāra (near Madras city).[157]  According to tradition, he was born three months after the first three Alvarsin the village of Tirumalisai, near Poonamallee.[158] Thus he was their younger contemporary. One of the names given to him is Bhakti–Sāra.[159] It is interpreted as implying para-bhakti.[160] Another interpretation to this name is that “…he is the very personification of intense bhakti to God.”[161]  According to Mūvāyirappadi the name was given by Śiva in appreciation of his devotion.[162] It is said that Śiva, after confrontation with the Alvar worshipped him.[163] This is an instance to recognize the role of myths in the struggle for religious superiority.
  In fact, his popular name is associated with the place of his birth i.e., “he is known by his village name Thirumazshi.”[164]  Another name that has considerable significance from the point of religion was Sivavakyar. Because “the Ālvār was at first a devote of God Siva and was known as Sivavakyar.”[165]  According to Mūvāyirappadi he consulted many religions before accepting Visnu as the real God.[166]   It is said, Pey-Ālvār was responsible for this religious transformation.  This is an evidence to say that; the struggle to establish religious ascendancy between the Śaivas and Vaisnavas was always there. 

3.2.2.1 Date of Tirumaliśai Alvar
There are at least three different dates suggested for Tirumaliśai Ālvār.  The first one is A.D.720. According to N. Subbu Reddiar “this date of birth as A.D.720 for this Ālvār becomes acceptable, as he could have made Nandivarman 2 Pallavamalla (A.D.731 – 794) turn a Vaisnavite through his pupil Kanikannan.”[167]  The second suggestion is that he was a contemporary of Mahendravarman 1[168] (590 – 630).  Early eighth century A.D[169] is another suggested date.  Considering these suggestions, the Ālvār may be placed between seventh and eighth century A.D.

3.2.2.2 Miraculous Birth of Tirumaliśai Alvar
The birth narratives about Tirumaliśai Ālvār are quite appealing.  Sources suggest, Bhargava Rishi and a heavenly damsel abandoned him.[170]  Later, Thiruvallan, a bamboo cutter and his wife Pankajavalli, a childless couple picked up the baby.[171]   According to Mūvāyirappadi, Thiruvallan was a hunter.  This miraculous episode is described as,  “Tirumaliśai Ālvār was born to a sage named Bhrgu who was enticed by a celestial nymph during his penance and the baby born out of this union was deserted by the nymph in a jungle but later picked up by a hunter who reared it.”[172]
A more spiritual version of the story is that ‘Bhargava muni, worshipped Narayana for twelve years through Yoga.  Then the Lord gave him an oracle that he will get a son who is the incarnation of Lord’s weapon (wheel) and he will guide the world into release or moksa.  This spiritual story is flavored with a supernatural story.  That is, his wife gave birth to a formless mass of flesh. They left it in a bamboo basket and continued austerities.
Thirumagal fed the crying baby.  She collected milk in a cup from her breasts and made drops fall in the mouth of the baby, and then she with the Lord disappeared.  The above said couple picked this baby. God enabled the breast of the hunter’s wife to secrete milk.  But the baby refused to drink, because it was busy with the names of the Lord.  Knowing this an elderly couple supplied cow milk and the Ālvār drank.  Once he gave part of the milk to the elderly couple.  They became young and   gave birth to a son, called Kanikannan.
At the age of seven the Ālvār learned all arts, science, and religions. He involved in meditation to know the supreme.  According to Mūvāyirappadi he began to acquire knowledge at the age of eight.[173]  There are many miracles attributed to this Ālvār.[174]  Like other Ālvārs, he was also attributed with a divine origin.  “According to the Guru – paramparā…Tiru-malisai Pirān was regarded as the incarnation of the cakra (wheel) of Vishnu.”[175]
The unusual incident with Tirumaliśai Alvarwas that he was a Śiva saint converted to Vaisnavism by Pey Alvar.  A story is said that to convert Tirumaliśai, Pey Alvar pitched a hut near the former.  He planted the plants upside-down and watered them by a multi-holed pot.  The other laughed at Pey.  But, by this he instructed Tirumaliśai Alvar that, his search in other religions is meaningless as the work.  Thus Pēy Alvarmade it clear that, Narayana of Vaisnavism is the paramporul.[176]
About his conversion, it is held that he searched for truth in Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvaka philosophy, examined six orthodox systems and also that of kudrstic (which must refer to that of Advaita) and the Śiva schools of religion.[177]  After his conversion he became an orthodox Vaisnavite.  “According to a tradition, Thirumaliśai was the iconoclast Saiva Sage Siva–Vakiyar turned into a Vaishnava and hence his rancor against his old faith.”[178]  The entire episode may be summarized as he practiced Jainism, Buddhism and Śaivism before settling down finally as a Vaisnava Yogi.[179]

His intellect is hailed thus: “Tirumalicaiy Alvar is the most erudite and philosophical minded among the Ālvārs.”[180]  One of the salient contributions of this Alvar is that “he introduced the use of the sacred mud as the Vaisnavite creed mark and this is perhaps commemorated in the story that he discovered the place in Tiruvallikkēni where the earth for that mark was available.”[181]  It is significant that each sect of Hinduism has its own mark, which distinguishes one from the other.


3.2.3 Tondaradippodi Ālvār
TondaradippodI Ālvār was born at Mandañgudi.[182]The place is also called Tirumandañgudi,[183]a village in Thanjāvür district.  This place is five miles from Kumbakonam.[184]   He was from an orthodox Soliya Brahmin family.[185]  He learned Vedas.[186]
 His original name was Vipra Nārāyana.[187] “The Alvar claims for himself the appellation ‘Tontaratippoti’, that is, the dust clinging to the feet of those who do service (tontar) to the Lord.”[188]  Further “he sincerely believed that he is a devotee of devotees of God and called himself as Tondaradippodi which means one who enjoyed besmearing his head with the dust of the feet of devotees.”[189]
Another name was Bhaktānghrirenu. Trivedi Krishnaji says, “because of his humility and devotion to Godmen or Bhaktas, he is called Thondaradippodi Alvaror Bhakta Anghri Renu.”[190]  Again “as a mark that his salvation was solely effected by means of the virtues contained in the dust of Holy men’s feet, he gave to himself the significant title of Tonder-adi-ppodi (Tamil) or Bhakti-ânghri-renu (Sanskrit).”[191]  He was the incarnation of Vanamāla (the garland worn by Vishnu).[192]

3.2.3.1 Date of Tondaradippodi
Three different dates are suggested for Thondaradippodi Alvar.  According to J.S.M. Hooper he may be dated about the middle of the ninth century.[193]  Another opinion is that he lived at about 700A.C.[194] A mythological date is that he was born in the 288th year after the advent of the Kali Age or after St. Ândâl.[195] The dates are too confusing to derive at a point.  Nevertheless, in conformity with the main line scholars, it may be enough to consider him as the fifth in the list of Alvars.

3.2.3.2 Life History of Tondaradippodi
Thondaradippodi was a committed Vaishnava devotee.[196]  “The crisis of his life came when he yielded to the seductions of a courtesan called Dēvādēvi.”[197]  The Lord, who was not happy to watch His devotee going astray, restored him to His service.  It is stated that, “he was under her spell for some time, and was at last saved only by the intervention of the god Rañganthan himself.”[198]  According to Mūvāyirappadi, the entire drama was the divine play of God.[199]The story is, “the Alvar rendered service, to the Lord at Śri Rañgam by rearing a garden of flowering creepers and trees and wreathing the flowers into garlands for the Lord.”[200]  He did so because “right from the childhood he developed an intense devotion to Vishnu.”[201]  In the course of time the beauty of a harlot named Devadevi[202] captured him.  He fell into her trap, and by God’s grace he was saved. About his crisis it is said that the Lord wanted to test him because of his fervent devotion.[203]   Another version is that the Lord’s consort requested Him[204] to rescue the devotee from all his difficulties.  This is an indication of God’s concern for his devotees out of sheer grace -a doctrine that finds repeated expression in the works of Alvars.

3.2.4 Kulasekhara Alvar (The Royal Saint)
Kulasekhara belonged to Sola desa or Kolli country.[205]  Another version is that he was born in Tiruvancikkulam in the state of Kerala.[206] “He was a Cëra king, most probably of the Koñku Cēra line.”[207] He was also called Kollikāvalan (the king of Kolli), Kūtal-Nāyakan (the Lord of Maturai) and Kolikkōn (the Lord of Uraiyur).[208] According to N. Subbu Reddiar “these names indicate that he who was a prince had sway over the Kerala, Pāntiya and Cōla kingdoms.”[209]  On the basis of internal evidences S. M. Srinivasa Chari writes, “from his own writings it is evident that he belonged to a royal family and ruled over the Chera kingdom, the present Kerala in South India.”[210]
Like other Alvarshe is also attributed with divine origin. According to the tradition he spiritually descended from the kaustubha-part of Srī Mahā Vishnu.[211]  Kausthuba is an ornament adorning the chest of the Lord.

3.2.4.1 Date of Kulaśekhara
For the purpose of order, Kulaśekhara is treated as the sixth Alvar.  The hosts of dates assigned to him are widely different.  One such date is that “probably the first half of the ninth century may be accepted.”[212]  Another probable date is sixth century A.C.[213] The next suggestion is that his birth could be around 767 A.D.[214] Two more dates are given.  The first one is that “this saint lived probably in the 11th c.”[215] And the second is that “…it appears highly probable that the Alvar Khulaśekhara lived in the first half of the twelfth century.”[216]  These variations in the dates are due to the lack of historical evidences.

3.2.4.2 Life of Kulaśekhara
Kulaśekhara was a capable ruler, but his interest gradually turned to religion.[217]  He“…rejected riches and pleasures of the palace to walk as a humble pilgrim in the path-way of God.”[218]  His fervent devotion to the Lord can be understood from the following statement that “remarkable in his devotion to Vishnu, he, in course of time, abdicated his throne in favor of his son and retired to Srirañgam where he is said to have engaged himself in the construction of portions of the temple of Rañganātha.”[219]  There is an interesting story about his obsessive devotion to Lord Visnu.
The story is that instead of ruling the country, he spent much of his time with Vaisnava devotees.[220]  To check this, his ministers accused the devotees of stealing a golden image.[221]  To prove innocence, the devotees were asked to put their hand in a pot where there was a live cobra.[222]  His devotion to the Vaisnava devotees was so strong that “the king told them that he himself will put his hand and if the Vaishnavas were innocent, he will be left harmless, and put his hand into that pot.  The ministers felt abashed.”[223]    
 His devotion to Visnu is reflected in his respect and concern for the Râma Avatar.[224]  “Srî Râma was to him no other than God incarnate on earth, as Savior of souls, - the same God whom the scriptures spoke.”[225]  Whenever he heard the Rāmāyana read to him, he ordered his troops to go in aid of Rāma who was fighting with the Asuras.[226]  This is again a reference for his obsessive devotion to Rama, the incarnation of Lord Visnu.  Although he was a ruler turned to be an Alvar he maintained a smooth and friendly relation with everybody irrespective of the religious affiliations.

3.2.5 Tiruppān Ālvār
It is said that Tiruppān Ālvār was found in a paddy field in Uraiyur.  ‘Uraiyūr is situated near Tiruccirāppallï.[227]   A childless Pānār or lute-player and his wife adopted him.[228]  Thus, his family belonged to a ‘low caste’ origin.[229]  According to Mūvāyirappadi he was an out caste.[230]  In other words he was from “a pañchama grade of society, called the Pānars, a class below the Sūdras, who take to the profession of lute-playing, and who are not allowed to dwell with the high-class townsmen.”[231]  Irrespective of being born in the outcaste family, he rose to the status of an Alvar by the loving grace of the Lord.
“According to tradition, Śrï Tiruppān Alvaris said to be an ayonija i.e., not born of mortal human beings; in other words, his birth is said to be of divine origin.”[232]  This supernatural incident is further described as our saint was descended from no carnal parents.[233]  Like other Alvars, he is also an incarnation of the Lord Vishnu.    He is said to have appeared as a descent of Srīvatsa mark (the mole found on Lord Vishnu’s chest).[234]  More spiritual flavor is added to the life of Tiruppān.
 Tradition says, a priest carried Thiruppan Ālvār to the presence of god as commanded by God.[235] Therefore, he is named Muni Vahana or Yogi Vahana Ālvār.[236]  M.S. Purnalingam Pillai writes, “this Alwar bore the name ‘Muni-Vahan’ because he was carried by the sage Lōka Sāranga into the temple at Srirangam at the command of the local deity…”[237] Although for the convenience of study, Thiruppan Alvar is placed after Kulacēkaraālvār, there is no certainty about his date.

3.2.5.1 Life Story of TiruppānAlvar
A story is told about the ascending of this saint to the level of an Alvar.  Tiruppānālvär was not allowed to enter the temple because of his birth in the panchama community.  Hence, “Tiruppānālvär used to come to the banks of the river Kāveri and sing in praise of Lord Ranganātha, seeing from at a distance the temple-tower of Śrīrañgam; as he had immense devotion towards the Lord, he used to get into trance.”[238]  In spite of his birth in the lower order of the society, he was confident about the Lord.  Often, the Alvar would not know what was happening around, when in ecstasy.  It is believed that the Alvar would enjoy the presence of God when he was in rapture. 
One day the temple priest Lokasārañga Muni hurled a stone at Pānan as he was found obstructing the pathway to the river to fetch water for the puja. Tiruppānālvär realized later that he was hurt because he did not hear the shouting of the priest.  It is said the same night Lord Rañganātha commanded the priest, in a dream, to bring the saint inside the sanctum.  “Following the divine command, the priest carried Pānan on his shoulders and took him inside the temple so that he could offer worship to Lord Rañganātha.”[239]  That is why he is called Munivāhana or the one who was carried on the shoulders of a muni.

 3.2.6 Tirumańgai Ālvār
Two scholars placed him at the end of the order of the Alvars.  According to J.S.M. Hooper, last and most picturesque of the Alvars comes Tirumañgai.[240] For Alkondavilli Govindacharya, he is the last of the twelve canonized saints.[241] Even Mūvāyirappadi, places him at the end.  These considerations do not correlate with the Vaisnavite tradition. It holds that Nathamuni who collected the works of Alvarscame to know them, through the last two Alvars, according to the order followed in the Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi].

3.2.6.1 Birth of Tirumańgai Alvar
About his community and birth, it is stated “Tirumañgai, also known as Kaliyan and Parakālan was born at Tirukkuraiyalur in Tamil Nadu (South India) in a family of tribal brigands.”[242]  Another version is “TirumañkaiyAlvaris believed to have been born of Kalla caste and to have led a life of brigandage.”[243] Tirukkuraiyalür is situated near Cikāli in the Thañjāvūr District.  According to Mūvāyirappadi, he was born in fourth Varna.[244] According to Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], he was a Milayacha i.e. fifth varna.[245]   About his divine origin it is said, he was spiritually descended from the Holy Bow Sáranga of Srî Mahā-Vishnu.[246]     Tirumańgai was a ruler changed to an Alvar.[247]  The course of his change is described as, “he was the petty chieftain of Ālinādu in the Tanjore district who, legend says, became a highwayman in order to carry off and marry the daughter of a Vaishnavite doctor of a higher caste for whom he also changed his religion.”[248]

3.2.6.2 Names of Tirumańgai
Like his predecessors, he too was known by different names. His parents called him Kaliyan.  Another popular name is Nîla. It is held that, “his father, who is said to have belonged to the Kalla-Kkulam (Thief-class), was commander to the armies of king Chôla; and gave the name of Nîla (or The Blue), after the Blue color of Srî Krishna.”[249]  According to J.S.M Hooper “the name Nîla (blue) was given to the child in honor of Vishnu.”[250]  This suggests that he was born in an orthodox Vaisnava family.  According to Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], he was named so because of his birth in the milayacha community.[251]
In order to reflect the abundance of God’s favor on him, he was called Arul-Mâri. In the words of Alkondavilli Govindacharya “God’s Grace symbolized as Srî, had fully operated on Kaliyan’s soul, and accordingly he received the Title of Arul-Māri or ‘The Grace cloud’, either he on whom the Cloud of Grace had rained, or he whose Cloud of Grace raineth on us.”[252]
Succeeding his father, Kaliyan also became a chieftain. He was made chieftain of a group of villages with Tirumańgai as headquarters under the sway of the Chola king.  “He thus earned the title of Tirumañgai-Mannan or the Chief of Tirumańgai, which remained his name even after he became a saint.”[253]
Desiring to marry the girl of his choice, he involved in highway robbery, after exhausting his treasury.[254]  His choice of action was unethical, yet it was justified by saying that he acted on the principle of end justifies the means.  “His end was Divine service, from which therefore all trace of selfish purpose or egotism was absent.”[255] It is also held that Tirumañgai was the most learned of all the Alvars.

3.2.6.3 Date of Tirumańgai
Tradition says he was born in the four yugas.  In each yuga he pleaded for salvation and practiced austerities to Tirumal.  And at last, he got it in the Kali yuga (era).[256] Excluding this mythological date, majority of the scholars are of the view that he belonged to ninth century.  One earlier date was that he lived from 660 – 765 A.C.[257] All other dates suggest that he belonged to the ninth century A.D.  Having analyzed the existing sources, it is said, “the conclusion that could be drawn from these references is that this Alvarflourished in the middle of the ninth century.”[258] J.S.M Hooper draws similar conclusion.  According to him, “Tirumangai’s period is probably the first half of the ninth century.”[259] Another date also places Tirumangai at the same period, but places him at the end of the order of Alvars. According to it he lived some time between the end of the eighth and the beginning of the ninth century.[260]

3. 2. 6.4 Conversion of Tirumańgai
There is an interesting story about the conversion of Tirumangai Alvar.  It is put in nutshell as “a man of fierce passions and filled with worldliness became a saint of deep divine devotion, and full of spiritual illumination.”[261] Tirumangai inherited his father’s position after him.  He indulged in passion.   It is said “in his private life he was thus a man after the pleasures of the senses.”[262]  “In short, he was given to music, dancing, drama, and poetry; and thus as proficient in erotic feats as in military exploits.”[263]
In course of time, he wanted to marry the heavenly nymph named Kumudavalli, who was an adopted daughter of a Vaisnavite native doctor.[264]  She is called Kumadavalli, as she was found in a lily pool.[265] “Uninfluenced by his offers of jewellery and wealth, she refused to marry anyone but a true Vaishnava.”[266]  She demanded that “…he should become a true Vaisnavite both by conviction and deeds and for this purpose he should also feed daily 1,008 Vaisnavas for a period of one year.”[267]  His passion for her is worded as “he was delirious with desire for Kumudavalli; and had it been asked, he would have laid his life down.”[268]
As the fulfillment of her first demand he went to a temple and begged the lord to make him Vaisnava.  “In answer to his prayer the twelve marks of Vishnu-the wheel, the conch, etc. were imprinted on his person, and he thus returned to claim his bride.”[269]  From this point he became Tirumańgai.  In order to feed the devotees, he exhausted the funds from the king.  Thus the Chola king put him in prison.[270]  It is said, in captive, the Lord revealed him a hidden hoard.[271]  This too was soon exhausted.
“When all the riches were exhausted by public feeding… he thought that he might continue the feeding with stolen wealth.”[272]  His emptying of the hidden hoard and his decision to indulge in robbery is stated as “when it was exhausted he took to highway robbery to procure the requisite money.”[273]  Of course, “he managed to fulfill this expensive promise by indulging in highway robbery.”[274]  Often such an unethical story is spiritualized. “It is stated that he even resorted to highway robbery in order to carry out his holy mission and charities.”[275]
Watching the zeal of this devotee, Lord Himself came in the form of a marriage party, to be robbed off.[276]  It is said, “as he was trying hard to remove the ornaments on the toe of the bride, he realized that the young couple were no other than the Lord Nārāyana and His beloved consort.”[277]

The revelation of God to Tirumangai is affirmed as, “Tirumańgai did his work thoroughly but was unable to lift his rich spoil from the ground until the Brahmin taught him a mantra which contained within itself all the four Vedas.”[278]  In other words, “Kaliyan bundled up all his rich spoil, but when he wished to lift them off the ground and run away, the bundles would not lift.  They stuck to the ground as if by magic.”[279]  This account is narrated with the intention to show how God is keen on his devotees.  The devotee also later became a staunch Vaisnavite.

 It is believed that the Alvar stole a golden image of the Lord Buddha from the shrine at Nagapatam in order to renovate the Srirangam Temple.[280]  He utilized the proceeds for the said purpose. When funds exhausted the masons rebelled.  “He contrived to drown them in the Kaveri waters.  So that branch of Kaveri is called Kolladam or Konnedam.”[281] It is alleged that the masons saw the Lord as they were drowning.  His life accounts portray his attitude towards people of other faiths, particularly Buddhists.


3.2.7 Periyālvār
Periyālvār was born of an orthodox Brahmin family at Srīvilliputtūr[282] in the Rāmanāthapuram District.  He is also known by the name Vishnu-chittar.[283]  According to N. Subbu Reddiar, “Periy Alvar is only a surname while his real name was Vittucittan or Visnu-Cittan (whose mind was set on Vishnu).”[284]  In accordance with his name he devoted his life to Lord Vishnu.[285]   To actualize his devotion to the Lord  “he engaged himself in rendering Kaiñkarya or divine service to the deity at the local Vishnu temple.”[286]  As part of his service, he cultivated a flower garden and offered flowers daily to the deity.[287] Like his predecessors he was divine in origin. He was the incarnation of Garuda,[288] the mount of Lord Vishnu.

3.2.7.1 Life Story
The Pandyan king Vallabhdeva (king of Madura) wanted to know who the supreme deity among the Hindu pantheon was.[289]  A great assembly was convened. Visnu Chitta felt humble and thought himself that he was not a scholar to attend the assembly.  But the Lord appeared to him in a dream and made him participate.[290]  In the assembly, to the surprise of all, he proved with all ancient wisdom that Narayana was the Supreme.  It is believed, the bag of gold tied as prize fell automatically at his feet.[291]
The king was convinced.  He wanted to honor the Alvar.[292]  Thus the king took the Alvar on an elephant in a procession. During the procession the Alvar saw the glory of God.[293]  It is described as, “when he was taken round the main road of the capital city on an elephant, he beheld the vision of the Lord Vishnu along with his consort Laksmï seated on Garuda (Vishnu’s mount).”[294]  It is assumed that his work Tirupallāndu was the outcome of God’s vision.[295] Trivedi Krishnaji writes, “when the procession was moving, Vishnu Chitta had a beatific vision of God Vishnu and he was thrilled with devotion and sang rapturously ten verses called ‘Pallandu’.”[296]  In this “…Periyalvar with great devotion and at the same time with fear, blessed the Lord for His existence of many many long years.”[297]  It looks surprising, but this is the result of genuine devotion.  He sang his devotion expressing vatsalya bhava, the love a mother has for her child.
It is accepted that the Alvar remained a celibate and his vatsalya bhava was rewarded with a baby found in his Brindavan or Tulasi grove.  The child was named Goda and Āndāl, who grew to be an Alvar and spouse of Srī Ranganatha.[298]

3.2.7.2 Date of Periyālvār

The dates proposed to Periyālvār varied from sixth century to ninth century.  One view is that the Alvar lived earlier in the sixth century A.C.[299] The next date closer to this is that the Alvar and his foster-daughter Āndāl probably lived round about eight hundred and fifty A.D.[300]  Moving upward, it is also suggested that “Periyālvār, who is said to have been the spiritual counselor to Srīvallabha, the Pāndya king, flourished in the last half of the eighth century.”[301]  There is also a suggestion for the middle of the ninth century.[302]  It looks a date between the eighth and the ninth century may be a possible one.


3.2.8 Āndāl
Many Vaisnavites do not accept Āndāl as an Alvar for the very reason that she was an adopted daughter of Periyālvār.  Of course, the present Vaisnava cannon accepts her as an Alvar.  “Āndāl, also known as Goda was born in Śri Villiputtur (South India).”[303]  She was an adopted daughter of Periyālvār.[304] Trivedi Krishnaji writes “in his fifty first year, Periya Alvar was blessed with a female child, found in his Tulasi grove.”[305]  Thus the incident has a divine purpose.
Āndāl was known by different names.  PeriyAlvarnamed her Gōdâ.[306]  “The word Goda means, gift of the mother earth.”[307] i.e., (go-earth, da-gift).  She is called   Āndāl because “she conquered the Lord and ruled over Him and hence she came to be known as Andal, which also means protector of all beings.”[308] Her other name is ‘Sūdikkodutta – Näcciyār’ the goddess who offered the garland worn by her.[309]  In other words, it means a consort who first wore the flowers and then gave them to the Lord.[310]

3.2.8.1 Divine Origin
Āndāl was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.[311]  “Her spiritual descent is traced back to Srî Devi, - the Universal Goddess – or nearer to Bhû Devi.”[312]  A little more explanation can be obtained from the statement that, “according to the Vaisnava theology she is an incarnation of Bhū-devï, one of the consorts of Vishnu.”[313]  The same idea is put in plain language as “Srī Gōdā or Āndāl is said to be an avatāra (descent in human form) of the Mother Earth.”[314]  Her descent into the world is compared to that of Sita.[315]  “Like Sita, Goddess-incarnate, who became the spouse of Rama (an incarnation of God Vishnu), Goda was Ayonija born of no woman.”[316]  It is very clear that the story of Āndāl was spiritualized to the core.

3.2.8.2 Life Story of Āndāl
The spiritual story revolving around Āndāl is based upon the conviction that  “right from her childhood she developed an intense love for God and yearned to marry Him.”[317]  She helped her father in gathering flowers and preparing garlands for offering in the temple.  Sometimes she used to decorate herself with the flower garland kept ready by her father to be offered to the deity at the temple.[318]    Once, Periyālvār saw it.[319]  He felt very uneasy that the flowers kept for the Lord were used by Āndāl.  To console Periyālvār, Lord appeared in a vision and asked him to offer the same flowers, which Āndāl worn.[320]  In fact God preferred the flowers that Āndāl had worn.  Thus God appeared in a vision and revealed his happiness. “From this day onward, Āndāl received the blessed epithet of ‘Sûdik-kodutta-Nácchiyâr’ meaning the Queen that wore and gave.”[321]
 About Āndāl’s marriage with Lord Ranganatha, it is said that, “the temple priests and Peria Alvar were commissioned by Lord Ranganatha to conduct Goda Devi with due honors befitting her as His Bride.”[322]  Periyālvār’s concern and Lord’s consolation are described as, “when the question of Āndāl’s marriage was causing concern for Periyālvār, the latter was commanded in a dream by Lord Rañganātha to bring her to ‘Śrīrañgam and offer her in wedding to Him.”[323]  From the point of Vaisnava spirituality, she merged with the Lord, in the marriage.[324]
  It is believed that “she went to Srīrañgam with due ceremony, and was there absorbed into the divine being.”[325]  Culmination of this process is described as, “Sri Goda Devi walked like a bride with measured steps towards her Beloved Lord Ranganatha, ascended the serpent bed and to the amazement of all was absorbed into the Lord.”[326]  Another version of the account is that, “as soon as Āndāl entered the sanctum sanctorum of the deity, she was absorbed into the idol.”[327]
Certain salient characteristics are attributed to Āndāl.  One such feature was her marriage.  “Every Sri Vaisnava Shrine celebrates “Andal Kalyanam” year after year.”[328]Another special aspect is that “Āndāl, the only female Vaisnava saint, takes on the role of a milkmaid and pours out her devotional love to Lord Krishna.”[329]  The purpose of her descent to this world is “…only to uplift the sufferings in the ocean of samsara, like a mother who jumps into a well to rescue her child that slipped down in the well.”[330]
There is a similarity between Āndāl, and Tiruppānālvar.  Like Āndāl, TiruppānAlvaralso became one with Lord Rañgañatha of Srirañgâm with the human body.  “If the union with Āndāl was that of a bridegroom with his beloved bride, that of the latter was the union of a loving Svāmī (master) with a devoted Dāsa (servitor).”[331] The presence of Āndāl in the list of Alvars is a sign of liberative elements in them.

3.2.9 NammAlvar

Nammālvār was said to be a yogi even at the time of birth.[332]  Like other Ālvārs, supernatural elements and miraculous incidents are associated with him. Alkondavilli Govindacharya says, “as soon as the child was born, it never cried, but smiled a heavenly smile, never sucked the mother’s milk and showed itself to be an extraordinary child maintaining wonderful silence and serenity.”[333]
The supernatural quality ascribed to him reveals that he was in deep communion with the Lord.  According to K. K. A. Venkatachari “…as soon as he was born, he was so absorbed in the contemplation of God that he would not eat or drink but soon took up residence under a tamarind tree and remained there.”[334]
Ten days passed and “the eleventh day, according to Hindu ordinances, the parents bathed, and taking the child to the Holy Lord of Srinagari situated on the Southern Bank or Támraparni, fondly and reverently disposed it in a gem-set gold cradle under the Holy Tamarind Tree.”[335] When they left the child the child crawled into the hollow in the trunk of a tamarind tree nearby, and remained there in a state of nirvikalpa samadhi, without any food or sleep, radiating spiritual glow for sixteen summers, until his chosen disciple Madhurakavi Alvar was drawn to his feet.[336] 
 It is believed that “sixteen years did thus pass by, and the child would neither open its eyes nor its mouth.”[337]  The happening in these sixteen years is declared as  “during that time he was visited by the divine Visvaksena, who had been sent by the lord from the heavenly Vaikunta to teach Śatakōpan all that he needed to know about everything divine and human.”[338]
According to tradition his silence was broken only when Madhurakavi, met him.  About this incident, it is narrated that on his northern tour, at Ayôdhya, he saw every night a strange light in the south.  Having resolved to know the mystery of this light, he moved towards south, determining to go wherever the light might lead.  He went up to Tirunagari, where the star disappeared.  On inquiry, he was told about the child.  “Madhurakavigal felt impelled to visit the Tree, and lo! When he went and reached the spot, he saw his star there in the person of our saint Nammâzhvâr absorbed in meditation, seated in the posture called Padmâsana.”[339]
Further “when Madhurakavi reached the temple of Adinath, his eyes met with a strange phenomenon.  He beheld a youth sitting in Padmasana, with the jnana mudra absorbed in Samadhi, blissful and radiant.”[340]  To wake him, he lifted a big stone and let it drop on the ground.[341]  Thus the figure opened.  Later when Madhurkavi discovered his spiritual power, he woke him up from the trance and sought him as his guru.[342]
Then Madhurakavi put a question to him: “a little thing born in a dead body, what will it eat and where will it live?”[343] Or  “Oh Guro! when a jiva enters achit or prakriti on what does he feed and wherein does he rest?”[344]  Or  “if in the womb of what is dead, a subtle thing be born, what doth it eat, and where doth is abide?”[345]  The reply of Namm Alvar to these questions was that “it will eat that and lie there.”[346]  Or  “it eateth that; it abideth there.”[347]
“Madhurakavi was impressed with the wisdom of the Alvar and dedicated himself completely to the services of his Guru.”[348]  Because “Maturakavi realized that Namm Alvar meant that though the body is a dead thing and soul infinitely small, it had the capacity to stay in the body and live on it.”[349]  Further “by this Namm Alvar sought also to convey that emancipated souls, though finite and small, dwell in God and is their food, wealth, mind, wisdom, bliss and everything.”[350]  This is a clear reference to the Upanishadic influence on the teaching of the Alvars.
It is said, “with the advent of Madhurakavi the yogic life of Nammalvar gave way to a life of devotion and Prabhakti.”[351]  The birth of Nammālvār had a specific purpose.  The purpose was lord Nārāyana’s limitless compassion for the world.[352] It may be pointed out about the birth and life of Nammālvār that he was the conglomeration of divine elements, miraculous episodes and supernatural stories.  The story looks unbelievable.  But it has a lot of significance for the Vaisnav bhaktas.
In the midst of several superhuman stories about Namm Alvar, he is ascribed with human parents.  “His parents were Kari and Uthaya-mankai.”[353]  The human parents were only to give birth to a divine descent of Lord Narāyana.  There are two views about his divine origin.  One is that “he is claimed to be the Incarnation of the Holy Sandals of Narayana.”[354]  And the other version is that “Namm Alvar was an incarnation of Viśvaksena, the divine angel…”[355] According to Mūvāyirappadi, it is Visvaksena.[356] Even Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], suggests the second view.[357]

3.2.9.1 Names of NammAlvar
Regarding Nammālvār’s names, “his real name was probably Māran-perhaps his grand father’s name, perhaps a name given in honor of the king in whose court his father may have served.”[358]   Of course, his parents gave the name.[359]  Besides his original name, he was also called Śathakopan.  It is believed that, “his parents gave him the name Māran, and Śathakopa was the Sanskrit title probably given to him by his spiritual preceptor.”[360]  It looks he had a preference for his name Śathakopan.  “He often called himself in his hymns as Māran Śathakopan or Kurhūr Śathakopan.”[361]  It is because he seems to have gained the name Śathakopa on the occasion of his initiation.[362]  The explanation given to his name was that, “Śatakopa is a symbol representing the Lord’s feet that are placed on the devotee’s head in reverential worship.”[363]  This goes in the line of considering him as a divine descent of Lord Vishnu’s sandals.
The popular name by which he is known is Nammālvār.  It shows the affection shown to him by Vaisnavas.  According to K. K. A. Venkatachari “his very name, Nammālvār, our Alvar, shows the esteem and affection in which he is held in the Srivaisnava community.”[364]   S. M. Srinivasa Chari says, “he is fondly called ‘Nam Ālvār’ (our saint).”[365]  The other popular name is Parankusa.

3.2.9.2 Caste
The information pertaining to his caste background helps understanding him better. “NammAlvarwas born to a pious parents belonging to the Vellala family of Tirukkuruhūr, now known as Ālvār-Tirunagari in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu (South India).”[366]  His caste was considered as the fourth Varna[367] i.e. Sūdra community.[368] Nammālvār the popular one among the Alvarswas born in a Sūdra family has a lot of implications for the caste dimension in the bhakti tradition of Ālvārs.  In fact it is a positive sign from the point of Ālvārs, with regard to their openness to caste system.

3.2.9.3 Characteristics
The specific characteristics of NammAlvarmay be identified.  One such characteristic is that “Nam-Alwar is the first human Guru of the Visishtadvaita Siddhanta.”[369]  Vaisnavism puts lot of importance in the role of Guru in spiritual emancipation.  His role is so great that he was called Kulapati.[370] Secondly, the spiritual wisdom of the Alvar is acclaimed by the Vaisnavites.  N. Subbu Reddiar writes, “NammAlvaris considered by the Vaisnavites to be the greatest of the Ālvārs for the spiritual wisdom contained in his poems.”[371]  The third feature is “unlike some of the other Ālvārs, the whole of his life was devoted to meditation on divine truth.”[372] In all respects, he is considered as an outstanding Alvar.
Fourthly, “NammAlvaris the most outstanding mystic saint both in terms of his extensive composition of the hymns and the distinctive contribution he made to the Vaisnava Philosophy and Theology.”[373] His writings reveal that he was gifted with spiritual knowledge.  He had adequate knowledge of Vedas, Upanishads, Rāmāyana, Mahābhārata, Purānas and Agamas.  “Though he does not quote the Śrutis or scriptural texts, the phrases used in the Tamil hymns convey the import of the Upanisadic statements.”[374]  His deep religious insight may be inferred from his milder and yet profound religious language.

3.2.9.4 Date of NammAlvar
Different dates are suggested for Nammālvār.  One of them is, saint NammAlvar was born just forty-three days after the ascension of Krishna.[375]  This suggestion is spiritually motivated and mythical in nature.  The second view is that “about the 5th century A.D. would seem the most suitable time for him, and stylistic and literary criticism would support this view.”[376]  Many did not accept this suggestion. Tirukkannapuram inscription of A.D.908[377] situates him around second half of the eighth century.  A second such assumption is that “the date that modern scholarship assigns to NammAlvaris about the first half of the ninth century.”[378] Francis X. Clooney writes, “Satakōpan probably lived in the 9th century CE…”[379] The accepted suggestion, as per the scheme of research is that, “the Vellāla saint Nammālvār, also called Śathakōpa, and his Brahmin pupil Madhurakavi were the latest of the Ālvārs.”[380]  This is in accordance with the tradition that Nathamuni compiled the works of Alvarswith the insights from Madhurakavi.

3.2.9.5 Tamil and NammAlvar
NammAlvar deserves special mention with regard to his massive application of Tamil literary skills in his poems. Friedhelm Hardy says, “it was NammAlvarwho achieved the final integration of the Akattinai with Krsna religion.”[381]  This is reflected in his famous Tiruvāymoli. According to Francis X. Clooney “among the most striking and distinctive of the songs in Tiruvāymoli are the 27 songs in which the classical genre known as akam-pertaining to interiority – predominates.”[382]This view looks quite exaggerated because every Ālvār had utilized the various modes of love, as expressed in the Tamil classics.  In some cases, a specific aspect might be dominant over the other.  Hence, it is appropriate to hold that Tamil literary skills were the source of inspiration for all the Alvarsto come out with spontaneous expressions of their religious experiences.
3.2.10 Madhurakavi Ālvār
Madhurakavi was born in a Brāhmana family[383] at Tirukkōlur in south India, a few years earlier than Nammālvār.[384]  Tirukkōlur is in the Tirunelveli District on the bank of the Tamraparni river.  His father was Naryana Dikshitar.[385]  Another version of the early life narrative is that, he was brought up by a wealthy landlord.[386]  In spite of these two differing accounts, Madhurakavi is attributed with divine origin. 
Madhurakavi is said to be spiritually descended from the Angel Kumuda – Ganesa, a subordinate functionary under the High Lord of Hosts, Senesa.[387]  The purpose of his descent into this world is stated as “like dawn, - the harbinger of day, - Saint Madhurakavigal had already taken birth on earth in order to foretell the event of our Saint coming.”[388]  Tradition holds that it was Madhurakavi who became instrumental in activating the spiritual treasure of Nammālvār.
The early life of Madhurakavi is described thus: “as Brâhmana, all the sacraments such as the Upanayana etc. were duly administered to him; he became well-versed in all the fourteen subjects which make the wise men: viz., the six Angas (Siksha, Vyákarana, Chandas, Nirukta, Jyotisha and Kalpasûtra), the Mimámsa (the Pûrva and the Uttara Divisions), the Nyáya or Logic, the Puránas, (eighteen in number) and Dharma – Sástra or the Laws.”[389]
According to tradition “while he was at Ayodhyä on pilgrimage, he happened to observe one night a brilliant light in the southern quarter of the sky.”[390]  He followed the light and reached Nammālvār.  He accepted him as his guru.  “It is believed that he recorded the spontaneous outpourings of Nammālvār.”[391] 
Madhurakavi is assigned an unhistorical date.  According to that, he was “…born in the Kali Age, B.C. 3102, or just 43 days after the retirement of Lord Krishna from the world or at the end of the Duâpara age.”[392]  This date does not fall under the critical – historical view.  A moderate date suggested is eight hundred A.D.[393] Accepting a date subsequent to this would be appropriate.

3.2.10. 1 Salient Features
One of the salient features is that, “St. Madhurakavigal is distinguished from all other saints, in having preached to mankind not the Greatness of God (Prathama–Parva) but the Greatness of God’s Elect, God’s own godly souls (Charama–Parva).”[394]  To be more specific “while all other Alvarsenjoyed the mystic vision of God and His infinite auspicious attributes, Maturakavi sang about the glory of Nammālvār alone in his only composition.”[395]  He was also remembered for introducing Acharya–bhakti.  It is said, Madhurakavi’s special contribution was the discovery of a spiritual preceptor (Ācārya) and the need of such a preceptor is, what he gives expression to, as his peculiar teaching in the eleven verses of his included in the Prabandham literature.[396]  He lived an exemplary life. In summary “Madhurakavi Alvar is the greatest example of Guru Bhakti and a model for the emphasis given in Vaishnavism to Acharya Bhakti.”[397] Thus, Guru bhakti and Ācārya bhakti became significant in Vaisnavism.

Summary
            An analysis of the meaning of the word Alvardistinguishes them from other religious functionaries. They were so saturated with the love of God, that they couldn’t think of separating themselves from this intense relationship even for a short span of time.  Their birth into this world was the plan of god for the spiritual elevation of the people.  So they are considered to be divine in origin.  To strengthen this position, they are attributed with miraculous episodes and super-human stories.
In spite of all these divine elements, history proves that they were normal human beings born in south India. Their number is fixed as twelve, amidst the demand of a few scholars to reduce them to ten, on the ground that, Āndāl and Madurakavi were different from the others.
The purpose of their incarnation in this world was to liberate people from the Samsara.  On the whole, there was very little trace of obvious social dimension in their purpose.  As tradition takes Alvars far back from the convincing historical dates, fixing dates for them is a vexing issue.  The available sources are in support of a historical date, rather than accepting mythological ones.
There are different sources to study the life and contributions of the Alvars.  The Guruparampara stories abound with non-historical data.  The commentaries on the works of the Alvarsare biased in that they interpret the works from the Visistadvaita point of view.  Studying the hymns of the Alvarswith the literary principles of Tamil at the background is the only viable method.
The context of the Alvars was marked by the struggle among Buddhists, Jains, Śaivites and Vaisnavites to maintain their superiority.  Another force to be reckoned with by the Alvars was the Advaidic philosophy of Sankara.  On the whole, they used exclusive language and claims.  But there was no evidence to prove intolerance or aggressive antagonism between religions.  Apart from the influences of the Tamil literature, the Alvarsnever broke away from their traditional sources like Vedas, Upanishads etc.
The Alvarsare raised to the position of deities to be worshiped along with other gods.  They were not philosophers, but persons conquered by the love of God.  They emphasized prapatti in the place of bhakti.  Often, they were called mystics.  But the debate continues as to whether they followed bridal mysticism or theistic mysticism.  There was also a suggestion that their bhakti is Viraha bhakti, i.e. the theme of separation dominates their religious fervor.
The Alvars accepted people from all walks of life into their fold.  It was unfortunate that this practice could not function effectively.  No doubt, the Alvars  gave life to Vaisnavism.  Their contribution to the devotional literature is indeed great.  Yet, it is deplored that they were one of the causes for the decline of Jainism and Buddhism from the Tamil country.  The sixty-three Nayanars played similar role in Śaivism.
Poykaiālvār, Pūtattālvār and Pēyyālvār are called the first three Alvars.  They were contemporaries in the sense there was only one-day gap between the births of each Alvar.  They represented three different weapons of Lord Vishnu in this world.  They lived between sixth and seventh centuries.  A traditional story describes that, the three Alvarswitnessed god on the same day, in the same place.  Tirumaliśai comes in the fourth place.  He too was considered as the younger contemporary of the first three Alvars.  The specific characteristic of this Alvar was that he was a Śaiva saint converted to Vaisnavism.  It is an indication of the point that, apart from Buddhism and Jainism, Vaisnavism had to confront Śaivism as well.
Tondardippodi is a good example to understand the saving grace of God.  Kulaśekhara Alvar was a ruler who gave up his throne for the sake of God.  He was an ardent devotee of Rāma.  Tiruppān Alvar was an outcaste chosen by God.  His caste background is strong evidence to claim that the Alvarswere above the traditional caste system.
Tirumańgai Ālvār was a ruler.  He became an ardent Vaisnavite to marry a girl of his choice and to fulfill her wishes.  In the process, he adopted crude methods.  But they were spiritualized and described as service to God.  His attitude to the people of other faiths puts him in the list of an orthodox Vaisnavite who was insensitive to them.
 PeriyAlvar was extolled for proving the supremacy of Lord Visnu in the assembly of the Pandyan king Vallabhdeva.  He was blessed with the pleasant vision of God, and that was reflected in his work.  He was also praised for being the worldly father-in-law for Lord Visnu.  Āndāl was the adopted daughter of Periyālvār.  She reached the fame of being the wife of Lord Visnu.  She was the only woman saint.  This takes the Alvar tradition to have the credit of including women in their fold.
Nammālvār is the popular saint among the Alvars.  He was praised for his knowledge in the realm of religion and philosophy. His massive use of Tamil literary principles in his works deserves special attention.  The last one in the list was Madhurakavi Ālvār.  He was the one who declared the greatness of NammAlvar to the world.  He was also responsible for enabling Nathamuni to compile the works of Alvars.  His major contribution to Vaisnavism was that he introduced Guru bhakti.
The life story of the Alvarsreveals that, God chose these Alvarsout of His grace for His own service.  The conversion incidents associated with few Alvarsreveal that, there was a struggle to maintain the supremacy of their respective deities.  There are also evidences to suggest that very few Alvarswere fanatic in their attitude towards Buddhism and Jainism.
The divine origin of the Alvarsplaces them above the ordinary mortals.  As human beings, the Alvarshad broken the restrictions laid on the basis of caste, in matters of religion.  It was unfortunate, that later Vaisnavism tend to slip away from this commitment.  It was also unique that a woman was in the list of the twelve Alvars.  The Alvars’ liberative concerns are clear from their stand on caste and woman.  These elements have, as we shall demonstrate later, strong and positive implications for a contemporary theology of religions.



[1]D. S. Sarma, Hinduism Through the Ages, Bombay, Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, 1967, p.36.
[2]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabamdham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Sri Venkateswara University, 1977,p.197.
[3]Swami Shuddhananda Bharati, AlvarSaints, Trichy [India], Anbu Nilayam, 1942,
p.3.
[4]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, First Indian Edition, New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Indological Publishers & Books
Sellers, 1975, p.68.
[5]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ĀLVĀRS, Oxford University Press, 1929, p.11.
[6]N. N. Bhattacharyya ed., Medieval Bhakti Movements in India, New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1999, p.11.
[7]Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of Krishna Devotion in South India, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1983, p.251.
[8]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy lives of the Azhars, or the Dravida Saints, Bombay, Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, 1982, p.71.
[9]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Revised and Enlarged, New Delhi / Madras, Asian Educational Services, 1994,  p. 182.
[10]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, “Introduction”, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars,,
Op. Cit., p. XXV.
            [11]Pinpalakiya Perumāl Jiyar, Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], ed. by S. Krishnaswamy Ayyangar, Trichy, 1975, p.7., ( Hereafter, Ārāyirappadi).
[12]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidess Publishers, Private Limited, 1997, p.14.
[13]Ibid.
[14]Swami Shuddhananda Bharathi, AlvarSaints, Trichy, Anbu Nilayam, 1942, p.7.
[15]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.63.
[16]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.7.
[17]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit.,
p.9.
[18]M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Tirupati, Sri Ananth Publications, 1997, p.41.
[19]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of  the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., pp.1-2.
[20] M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Op. Cit., p.55.
21Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, Introduction,
Op. Cit., p. XXXIV.
[22]M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Op. Cit., p.1; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.7.
[23]Ibid., p.64.
[24]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.10.
[25]Ibid., p.13.
[26]Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of KrishnaDevotion in South India, Op. Cit., pp. 168 – 169.
[27]S. K. Ramachandra Rao, ‘Forward’ in S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. IX.
[28]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.65.
[29]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabamdham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.854.
[30]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.11.
[31]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., pp. 9 – 10.
32Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of Krishna Devotion in South India, Op. Cit., pp. 244 – 245.
[33]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.64.
[34]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.16.
[35]Ibid., p.10.
[36]Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of KrishnaDevotion in South India, Op.Cit.,p.243.
[37]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.10.
[38]Ibid.
[39]Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of KrishnaDevotion in South India, Op.Cit.,p.244.
[40]Susmita Pande, Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, New Delhi, Books & Books Publishers and Distributors, 1982, p.5. 
[41]C. Retnadas, Incarnation and Contextual Communication, Sadhu Sundersingh Perspective, Tiruvalla, Christian Sahitya Samithy, 2000, p.85.
[42]Susmita Pande, Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, Op. Cit., p.113.
[43]Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Fourth Edition, Madras, Oxford University Press, 1975, p.5.
[44]Susmita Pande, Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, Op. Cit., p.115.
[45]S. K. Ramachandra Rao, ‘Forward’ in S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. IX.
[46]Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of Krishna Devotion in South India, Op.Cit.,p.229.
            [47]Ibid., p.241.
[48]Susmita Pande, Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, Op. Cit., p.117.

49S. M. Srinivasa Chari, ‘Preface’, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., pp. XIII – XIV.
[50]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Op. Cit., p.181.
[51]Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition, Inc [USA], Dickenson Publishing
Company, 1971,  p. 117.
[52]G. Damodaran, Ācārya Hrdayam : A Critical Study, Tirupati, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, 1976, p.45.
[53]Swami Shuddhananda Bharati, AlvarSaints, Op. Cit., p.3.
[54]K. K. A. Venkatachari, Introduction in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruāymoli, English Glossary, Volume II, Bombay, Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, 1981, p. XVI.
[55]Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, Vaisnavism, Saivism and Minor Religious Systems, Madras, Asia Educational Services, 1995, p. 71.
[56]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, ‘Preface’, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. XIV.
[57]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Karikudi (Tamil Nadu), Sri Vainava Sidhanta Noor Patippu   Kazaham, 1998, p.15.
[58]Ibid., pp. 19 – 21.
[59]S. K .Ramachandra Rao, ‘Forward’ in S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. IX.
[60]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ĀLVĀRS, Op. Cit., p.8.
[61]V. Rangacharya, “Historical Evolution of Sri-Vaisnavism in South India”, Cultural Heritage of India, Second Edition, Vol. IV, Ed. by Haridas Bhattacharya, Calcutta, The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, 1953, p.169.
[62]S. K. Ramachandra Rao, ‘Forward’ in S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. IX.
[63]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.79.
[64]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.18.
[65]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.152.
[66]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.15.

[67]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., pp. 865 – 866.
[68]Ramani, “Some Important Characteristics of the Saiva and the Vaisnava Bhakti Movements of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka – A Comparative Estimate”.  Journal of Tamil Studies, (No Number) June, 1985, pp.93 – 103.
[69]V. Rangacharya, “Historical Evolution of Sri-Vaisnavism in South India”, Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. IV, Op. Cit., p.169.
[70]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.83.
[71]K. K. A. Venkata Chari, The Manipravala Literature of the Srivaisnava Acaryas: 12th to 15th Century A.D., Bombay, Ananthacharya Research Institute, 1978, p.53.
[72] S. L. N. Simha, Tiruppāvai of Godā, Bombay, Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, 1982, p.45.
[73]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.84.
[74]Ibid., p.81.
[75]W. R. Inge, Mysticism in Religion, London, Rider & Company, 1969, p.8.
[76]Ibid., p.31.
[77]Ibid., p.31.
[78]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.855.
[79]Susmita Pande, Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, Op. Cit., p.115.
[80]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.64.
[81]John Braisted Carman, The Theology of Ramanuja: An Essay in Interreligious Understanding, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1974, p.25.
[82]D. S. Sarma Hinduism Through the Ages, Bombay, Bharatiya Vidya
Bhavan, 1967, p.37.
[83]Pandurangan, “Bhakti Literature and Human Values”, Journal of Tamil
Studies, 43 & 44, June & December, 1993, p.172.  The eight-syllable mantra was ‘Om Namo Narayana’.
[84]Ibid.
[85]Ibid., p.179.
[86]K. K. A. Venkata Chari, The Manipravala Literature of the Sri Vaisnava Acaryas, 12th to 15th Century A.D., Bombay, Ananthachary Research Institute, 1978, p.38.
[87]Ibid., p.39.
[88]N. Subrahmanian, Tamil Social History, Vol.1, India, Institute of Asian
Studies, 1997, p.16.
[89]Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition, Op. Cit., p.126.
[90]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.855.
[91]S. K. Ramachandra Rao, ‘Forward’ in S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. IX.
[92]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.875.
[93]S. N. Kandaswamy “Tamil Literature Through the Ages,  A Bird’s Eye View”. Journal of Tamil Studies, 49 & 50, June & December 1996, p.91.
[94]Ibid.
[95]Silendranath Sen, Ancient Indian History and Civilization, Second Edition, New Delhi, New Age International [p] Limited, Publishers, 1999, p.452.
[96]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers.  Tiruchi, Shivaji News Printers, 1971, p.89.
[97]D. S. Sarma, Hinduism Through the Ages, Op. Cit., p.33.
[98]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.89.
[99]K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India form Prehistoric Times to the Fall of Vijayanagar, Second Edition, Madras, Oxford University Press, 1958, p.416.
[100]A. Pandurangan “Bhakti Literature and Human Values”, Journal of Tamil Studies, Op. Cit., p.172.
[101]Ibid., p.178.
102Trtiya Brahmatantra Parakāla Swāmi, Guruparamparā Prabhāvam (müväyirappadi), Madras, Lifco, 1968, p.13 [Hereafter Mūvāyirappadi].
[103]Mūvāyirappadi, Ibid., p.8.  &  Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers, Op. Cit., p.62.
[104]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya PrabaNdham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.174.
[105]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.83.
[106]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8  & Ibid., p.77.
[107]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit. p.16.
[108]Krishna Chaitanya, The Betrayal of Krishna, Vicissitudes of a Great Myth, New Delhi, Clarion Books, 1991, p.315.
[109]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., pp. 49-50.
[110]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.11; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.10.
[111]Ethiraja Ramanuja  ed. Guruparampary Vaibabam, 2nd Edition, Chennai, Ālvārgal Amutha Nelayam, 1991, p.22.
[112]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.8.
[113]Ibid.,
[114]Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, First Indian Edition, New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Indological Publishers & Book Sellers, 1975, p.64; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.9.
[115]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.13.
[116] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.10.
[117]M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Tirupati, Sri Ananth
Publications, 1997, p.1.
[118]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.50.
[119]S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, Early History of Vaishnavism in South India, Madras, The Oxford University Press, 1920, p.77.
[120]C. Retnadas, Incarnation and Contextual Communication, Sadhu Sundersingh Perspertive, Op. Cit., p. 58.
[121]Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Fourth Edition, Madras, Oxford University Press, 1975, p.426.
[122]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Revised and Enlarged., New Delhi / Madras, Asian Educational Services, 1994, p.185.
[123]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.179.
[124]N. N. Bhattacharyya ed., Medieval Bhakti Movements in India,[Srī Caitanya Quincentenary Commemoration Volume] New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 1999, p.11.
[125] Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.11. & Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],
pp.  10-12.
[126]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit. p.16.
[127]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.84.
[128]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.11.
[129]Ibid.
130Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.11.   &    Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers, Op. Cit., p.62.
[131] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 8.
132Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8.  &    S. M.  Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p.16.
[133]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Bombay, Anantha Charya Indological Research Institute, 1982, p.73; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.8.
[134]S. M.  Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.16.
[135] Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8.
[136]Ibid., p.8.  &  A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p. 65.
[137]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.8.
[138]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.11.
[139]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.622.
[140]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.9.
[141]S. M Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.16.
[142]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.72.
[143]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Älvärs,
Op. Cit., p.16.
[144]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8.
[145]Ibid., p.8; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.9.
[146]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints,
Op. Cit., p.73.
[147]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8. &  A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.73.    
[148]S. M.  Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.16; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.9.
[149]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.8; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],p.9.
[150]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Oxford University Press, 1929, p.11; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.9.
[151]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op. Cit., p.74.
[152]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.16.
[153]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints,
Op. Cit., p.74.
[154]S. M.  Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.16.
[155]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., p.83.
[156]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.11.
[157]Ibid.,  P.13.  &  S. M.  Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p.17.
[158]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.12.
[159] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 21.
[160]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.630.
[161]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.17.
[162]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.14.
[163]Ibid.
[164]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.66.
[165]Ibid., p.66.
[166]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 13-14.  
[167]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., pp. 178 – 179.
[168]Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Op. Cit., p.371.
[169]C. Retnadas, Incarnation and Contextual Communication, Op. Cit., p.58.
[170] Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.13 & Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],
 pp. 13-30.
[171]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.66.
[172]Cf. Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p. 13. & S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p.14.
[173]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.13.
[174]S. Jagathratchagan, Guruparampari Pravaham, Chennai, Ālvārgal Āivu
Myam, 1994,  pp. 14 – 19.
            [175]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.13. & Cf. Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.64.
[176]S. Jagathratchagan, Guruparampari Pravaham, Op. Cit., pp.15 – 16.
[177]Cf. Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.13-14. & Ibid., p.177. 
[178]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Op. Cit., p.186.
[179]Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Op. Cit., p.426.
[180]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.626.
[181]Ibid., p.179.
[182] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],p.51. ;Cf. Mūvāyirappadi,
Op. Cit., p.33.  &   J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ĀLVĀRS, Op. Cit., p.15.
[183]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., pp. 26 – 27.
[184]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.89.
[185]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammalvar, Op. Cit., p.180.
[186]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.33.
[187]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 51.
[188]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammalvar, Op. Cit., p.635.
[189]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.27.
[190]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., pp. 89 – 90.
[191]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,pp.14 – 15.
[192]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.33. & Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 51.
[193]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.15.
[194]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.89.
[195]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.1.
[196]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.33.
[197]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.15.
[198]Ibid., p.15.
[199]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.33.
[200]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.632.
[201]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.27.
[202] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.53.
[203]S. Jagathratchagan, Guruparampari Pravaham, Op. Cit., p. 30.

[204]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.33.
[205]Ibid., p.23; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],p.32.
[206]S. M Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.25.
207N.Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Näläyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.182.
[208]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 33.
[209] N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Näläyira Divya Prabandham with Special  Reference to Nammālvār, Op.Cit. p.182.               
[210]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.26.
211Alkondavijlli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op. Cit., p.117; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.32.
[212]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.13.
[213]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.84.
[214]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.183.
[215]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Op. Cit., p.189.
[216]Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, Vaisnavism, Saivism  and  Minor Religious Systems, Madras, Asia Educational Services, 1995, p.70.
[217]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.23.
[218]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages,
Seers, Op. Cit., p.84.
[219]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Näläyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.182.  Cf. Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p. 23.
[220]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.23.
[221]Ibid.,  p.24.
[222]Ibid., p.24.
[223]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.85.
[224]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 23-24.
[225]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.124.
[226]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.24.
[227]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.184.
[228] Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.37.  & Cf. J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS,
Op. Cit., p.15.
[229]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.28.
[230]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.37.
[231]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.136.
[232]V. K. S. N Raghavan, The Tiruppāvai of Sri Andal and the Amalanādipirān of Sri Tiruppanalvar, Madras, Srï Visistādvaita Pracārini Sabhā, 1986, p.72.
[233]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.137.
[234]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.64. & Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit. p. 37.  & Cf.    V. K. S. N Raghavan, The Tiruppävai of Sri Andal and the Amalanädipirān of Sri Tiruppanalvar, Op. Cit., p.72.
[235]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.37.
[236]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.95.
[237]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Op. Cit., p.192.
[238]V. K. S. N. Raghavan, The Tiruppāvai of Sri Andal and the Amalanādipirān of Sri Tiruppanalvar, Op. Cit., p.72.

[239]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p.28.
[240]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.16.
[241]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.145.
[242]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.29.
[243]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.185.
[244]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.39.
[245] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 69.
[246]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.145. & Cf.  Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.39.
[247]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 39-40.
[248]K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India from Prehistoric Times to the Fall of Vijayanagar, Second Edition, Madras, Oxford University Press, 1958, p.415. &
Cf.  Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.39.
[249]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.146.
[250]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.16.
[251] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.69.
[252]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.168.
[253]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.29.
[254]Müväyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 39-40.
[255]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.188.
[256]A. Ethirajan, Ālvārgal Varalaru, Op. Cit., pp.205 – 206.
[257]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.99.
[258]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.188.
[259]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.17.
[260]Bimanbehari Majumdar, “Religion of Love: The Early Medieval Phase, (C.AD 700 – 1486)” ed. by. N. N. Bhattacharyya, Medieval Bhakti Movements in India,
Op. Cit., p.11.
[261]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvara, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.166.
[262]Ibid., p.147.
[263]Ibid.
264Müväyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.39.  & Cf. S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., p. 29.
[265] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 70.
[266]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.16.
[267]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.29. & Cf.  Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.37.
[268]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.153.
[269]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.16.
[270]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.41.
[271]Ibid.
[272]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
 Op. Cit., p.101.
[273]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.17.
[274]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.29. & Cf.  Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp.41-42.
[275]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., pp.186 – 187. Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.76.
[276]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 41-42.
[277]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.29.
[278]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.17.
[279]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.163.
[280]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.42.
[281]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers, Op. Cit., p.104.
[282] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.38.
[283] Ibid.
[284]N.S ubbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.189.
[285]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.25.
[286]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.23.
[287]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.25.
[288]Ibid. & Cf. Surendranath Dasgupta,  A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume III, Op. Cit., p.64.
[289]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 25 & 27.
[290]Ibid..
[291]Ibid., p.27.
[292]Ibid.,
[293]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.27.
[294]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.23.
[295]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.27.
[296]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.75.
[297]M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Op. Cit., 37.
[298]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.77.
[299]Ibid., p.76.
[300]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.192.
[301]Bimanbehari Majumdar, “Religion of Love: The Early Medieval Phase,
 (C.AD 700 – 1486)” ed. by. N. N. Bhattacharyya, Medieval Bhakti Movements in India,  Op. Cit., p.12.
[302]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.14.
[303]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.24.
[304]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.29; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],p.46.
[305]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.80; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],p.46.
[306]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.29. & Tiruppāvai, song 503 & Nācciyār Tirumoli, song 513, 523,  544 etc.
[307]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.80.
[308]S. L. N. Simha, Tiruppävai of Godā, Op. Cit., p. 4.
[309]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.24.
[310]S. L. N. Simha, Tiruppāvai of Godā, Op. Cit., p.3.
[311]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.29.
[312]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.41; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi],p.46.
[313]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.24.
[314]V.K. S. N. Raghavan, The Tiruppävai of Sri Andal and the Amalanādipirān of Sri Tiruppanalvar, Op. Cit., p.10.
[315]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.46.
[316]S. L. N. Simha, Tiruppāvai of Godā, Op. Cit., p. 3.
[317]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p.24.
[318]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.29.                                            
[319]Ibid.

[320]Ibid.
[321]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.47.
[322] Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.83.
[323]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs, Op. Cit., pp.24-25; Cf. Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.49.
[324]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., pp. 30-31.
[325]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ALVARS, Op. Cit., p.15.
[326]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.83.
[327]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 25.
[328]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.83.
[329]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 7.
[330]M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Op. Cit., pp.41 – 42.
[331]A. Srinivasa Raghavan, ‘Forward’ in V. K. S. N. Raghavan, The Tiruppävai of Sri Andal and the Amalanādipirān of Sri Tiruppanalvar, Op. Cit., p. III.
[332]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 18.
[333]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.198.
[334]K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruvāymoli, English Glossary, Volume II, Bombay, Ananthacharya Indological Research
Institute, 1981, p.  XIV.
[335]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.199.  Cf. Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.18.
[336]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas : Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.69.
[337]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.199.
[338]Francis X. Clooney, Seeing Through Texts: Doing Theology Among the Srīvaisnavas of South India, First Indian Edition, New Delhi, Sri Satguru Publications, A Division of Indian Books Centre, 1997, p.23.
[339]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.201.
[340]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.69.
[341] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p.96.
[342]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 19.
[343]K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruvāymoli, Volume II, Op. Cit., p. XIV.
[344]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.70.
[345]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.202.
[346]K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruvāymoli, Volume II, Op. Cit., p. XIV.  Cf. Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.19.
[347]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.202.
[348]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.70.
[349]K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruvāymoli, Volume II, Op. Cit., p. XIV.
[350]Ibid., pp. XIV – XXV. 
[351]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.70.
[352]Francis X. Clooney, Seeing Through Texts: Doing Theology Among the Srīvaisnavas of South India, Op. Cit., p.23.
[353]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Op. Cit., p.187.
[354]V. N. Ramaswami Aiyangar, Where do North and South Meet – An Exploration of Vaishnavism and Indian Culture, New Delhi, Bahri Publications (P) Ltd., 1982, p.58.
[355]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
 Op. Cit., p. 13.
[356]Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.17.
[357] Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], pp. 90-91.
[358]Francis X. Clooney, Seeing Through Texts: Doing Theology Among the Srïvaisnavas of South India, Op. Cit., p.14.
[359]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 18.
[360]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.192.
[361]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 18.
[362]K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India from Prehistoric Times to the Fall of Vijayanagar, Op. Cit., p.416.
[363]K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruvāymoli, Volume II, Op. Cit., p. XV.
[364]Ibid.,  p. XV.
[365]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 18.
[366]Ibid.,  p. 14.
[367]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.17.    Cf.    K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruvāymoli, Volume II, Op. Cit., p. XIV.
[368]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ĀLVĀRS, Op. Cit., p.12.
[369]V. N. Ramaswami Aiyangar, Where do North and South Meet – An Exploration of Vaishnavism and Indian Culture, Op. Cit., p.66.
[370]M. Varadarajan, The Voice of Alwars and Acharyas, Op. Cit., p.21.
[371]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.192..
[372]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ĀLVĀRS, Op. Cit., p.13.
[373]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 18.
[374]Ibid., p.19.
[375]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, ‘Introduction’ in The Divine Wisdom of the Dravida saints, ed. by. T. D.  Muralidharan, Mumbai, Archish Publications, 1998,
pp. XXI – XXII.
[376]S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, Early History of Vaishnavism in South India,
OP. Cit., p. 84.
[377]Bimanbehari Majumdar, “Religion of Love: The Early Medieval Phase,
(C.AD 700 – 1486)” ed. by. N. N. Bhattacharyya, Medieval Bhakti Movements in India, Op. Cit., p.14.
[378]J. S. M. Hooper, Hymns of the ĀLVĀRS, Op. Cit., p.13.
[379]Francis X. Clooney, Seeing Through Texts: Doing Theology Among the Srīvaisnavas of South India, Op. Cit., p.14.
[380]Nilakanta Sastri, A History of South India, Op. Cit., p.372.
[381]Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha – Bhakti, The Early History of Krsna Devotion in South India, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1983, p.472.
[382] Francis X. Clooney, Seeing Through Texts: Doing Theology Among the Srīvaisnavas of South India, Op. Cit., p.68.
[383]Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.19.  &  Cf.     Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.197
[384]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 22.
[385]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.69.
[386]M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, Op. Cit., p.188.
[387]Guruparamparā Prabhāvam [Ārāyirappadi], p. 93. & Mūvāyirappadi, Op. Cit., p.19.    & Cf. Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints,  Op. Cit.,p.197.
[388]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints,  Op. Cit.,p.197.
[389]Ibid., p.198.
[390]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.192.&  Cf.  Mūvāyirappadi, Op.Cit.,p.19.
[391]S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Ālvārs,
Op. Cit., p. 22.
[392]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.192.
[393]N. Subbu Reddiar, Religion and Philosophy of Nālāyira Divya Prabandham with Special Reference to Nammālvār, Op. Cit., p.92.
[394]Alkondavilli Govindacharya, The Holy Lives of the Azhvars, or the Dravida Saints, Op.Cit.,p.225.
[395]K. K. A. Venkatachari, ‘Introduction’ in S. Satyamurthi Ayyangar, Tiruväymoli, Volume II, Op. Cit., p. XV.
[396]S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, Early History of Vaishnavism in South India,
Op. Cit., p.45.
[397]Trivedi Krishnaji, Mahatmas: Acharyas, Mystics, Saints, Sages, Seers,
Op. Cit., p.73.



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