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The Yugas and the date of our Alwars.
Date: Thu Dec 14 1995 - 01:43:29 PST

My namaskarams to all of you Sriman NarayaNa devotees:

Recently there was a very beautiful article written by Dr. V. Sadagopan
on Kaala or Time, summarizing the time measures of each Yuga, etc. etc.
as given in Srimad Bhagawatam. In this context, I would like like to
bring up this topic of the Yugas and the date of our Alwars. For the past
several days, I have been reading about the life of our great Alwars, 
and Acharyas from seemingly authoritative texts. For the sake of reference,
I would like to mention two books:
1. The holy lives of the Azhvars or the Dravida Saints
       (by Alkondavilli Govindacharya, Publication: Anantacharya
        Indological Research Institute, Bombay, ed. 1982)
2. Life of Sri Ramanuja
        (by Swami Ramakrishnanada, Translated from Bengali by:
         Swami Budhananda, 1959)
In ref. [1], in the table showing the hierarchy of spiritual pedigree of
saints and sages from God downwards, according to the visishtadwaita
dispensation, we can see that the first of the Azhwars (Poygei, Bhuta,
Pey) took their avataras around 4202 B.C. In the footnote for this 
date reference, the author says, "It has been made out by scholars that
according Aryabhatta, Kali Yuga commenced at midnight corresponding to
17-18 February, 3102 B.C. (Old Style)." We know that the length of the
Dwapara Yuga is 864,000 human years. The year 4202 B.C. was arrived at
by the fact (given in literature elsewhere), that these azhwars took
birth in the 862,900th year of Dwapara Yuga. The calculation thereafter
is straightforward.
In the same table [1], the last of the azhwars Thirumangai Azhwars was
born in 2706 B.C. This falls into the Kali Yuga.
In ref. [2], however the facts are all no where in sink. Pandit M.
Raghava Iyengar, in his book (Alvarkal Kala-nilai), the dates of avatara
of the first three azhwars is between 5th and 6th centuries A.D., and the
date of Thiru Mangai Azhwar is 8th century A.D. Also note that Sriman
Nathamuni's time has been fixed by BOTH THESE REFERENCES as 825 A.D. to
918 A.D.

I see a problem with this whole time measure scheme. My personal opinion:
I believe ref [1] is much much more authoritative owing to the fact that
the dates given in literature about the Azhwars is with reference to the
Dwapara-Kali scheme. And I DO NOT DISTRUST the word of Aryabhatta on his
fixing the date of commencement of the Kali Yuga. Secondly, the
calculations fall into place. Thirdly, there is reason to believe, that
the Nalayira Divya Prabandhams were lost during the big 3500 year gap
between Thirumangai Azhwar and Nathamuni.

About ref [2]: If Thirumangai azhwar is as recent as the 8th century,
and also considering the fact that he is the second most prolific of the
poet saints, having composed over 1000 pasurams, I don't see a possible
chance of the loss of at least this abundant a body of work in the 100
years or less between this azhwar and Nathamuni. Plus, the monarchs of
those days were evidently great admirers of poetry, and would not have
allowed such an extinction to occur, if we believed in the dates given
in ref. [2].

I would lay these facts, that I have gathered, to the readers for their
perusal and also request scholars like Dileepan, and Dr. Sadagopan to
shed more light on this. Do we believe in the Christian era dates of our
Azhwars or our own system.

Adiyen, Murali.