Sri Vaishnava : Alvars Add/View Comments
THE ALVAR SAINTS
Alvar means one who is "immersed" in the experience of God, the omnipresent mysterious One. Tradition reckons 12 Alvars. They come from all walks of life and all strata of society and include in their ranks one woman. Between the fifth and ninth century, in the Tamil-speaking region of South India, these saints revitalized the Indian religious milieu, sparking a renewal of devotional worship throughout the subcontinent. Traveling from place to place, from temple to temple, from holy site to holy site, they composed exceedingly beautiful poetry to their Divine Beloved, Vishnu, as an expression of their love for Him. Anyone can see why their poetry was so attractive; at once both impassioned and philosophical, their words cut across all barriers of caste and class, attracting all to their faith. In doing so, they sculpted a new religious heritage of intensely emotional bhakti, or love of the Divine, whose impact is still felt today in the Indian religious life.
Not yet represented: Madhurakavi Alvar. I will also replace
the poor quality photographs with better ones in the near future.
The Alvars composed approximately 4000 Tamil verses. In the 9th-10th centuries, the philosopher-saint Nathamuni went to extraordinary efforts to recover these verses from near oblivion. Nathamuni arranged them as the Divya Prabandham, or Divine Collection, set many of them to music, and rejuvenated the tradition of formally reciting them in temples.
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Mani Varadarajan Last modified: Tue Apr 13 13:54:38 PDT