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by Prof. A. Srinivasa Raghavan
October 1, 1974

Prefatory Note

Nammalvar is revered as a saint and his works have been accorded the authority of scriptures. The task of interpreting him began some seven hundred years ago and has resulted in commentaries some of which have now almost as much validity as Nammalvar's words. To cover all that the great commentators say within the space available here is impossible, and is not attempted. Besides, it may not be of much interest to the non-Tamil general reader for whom this book is intended. So, many details of a purely theological nature have been omitted and only what was thought essential to a brief general survey has been retained.

A certain amount of overlapping in the matter presented has been unavoidable; clarity demanded it; it has, however, been kept down to a minimum.

A word about the translation. Every effort has been made to steer a middle course between literalness and freedom. Passages (sometimes only portions of stanzas) have been chosen and translated with an eye mainly on their illustrative value.

I am grateful to my friends Sri A. N. Makara Bhushanam and Sri K. Pakshirajan, Advocates, Tirunelveli, for going through the manuscript of the book as it was being written and for offering valuable suggestions. Both of them are competent scholars in Tamil and earnest and devoted students of Nammalvar and they have been most helpful. My friend Sri A. K. Gopala Pillai, Advocate, Tirunelveli, served cheerfully as the first non-Tamil reader and his comments and reactions have helped me to set the tone of the book.

Tuticorin A. Srinivasa Raghavan
October 1, 1974

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Copyright 1975, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Used without permission. Will withdraw upon request.