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Re: Digest Number 157 - Thirumangai Alvar

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Thu Oct 05 2000 - 11:40:33 PDT

Sri Jai Simman wrote:
> The tendency is that there are some Tamilian elements who for their own
> selfish reasons fault the Alvars and Nayanmars for the countless deaths of
> Jains and Buddhists in Southern India following the revival of the bhakti
> movement.

I am hesitant to label these as "selfish reasons", when there are good
reasons to believe that Jains and Buddhists were persecuted.  There is 
no doubt that there was a great deal of animosity between the Vaishnavas 
and Saivas on the one hand and Buddhists and Jains on the other during 
this period. This is obvious from the poetry of Jnana Sambandhar among 
the Nayanmars and Tondar-adi-podi among the Alvars.  Whether these saints 
were *directly* responsible for the deaths of "countless" Jains and 
Buddhists is doubtful, but it is plausible that many people were persecuted 
in the process. What probably happened is that kings took advantage of the 
religious transition and executed or severely persecuted the leaders of the 
declining religious movements.

The Periya Puranam which documents the lives of the Nayanmars attests
to the great animosity against the Jains, even if it may exaggerate the
happenings and the numbers.

Note that the traditional biographies of the Alvars do not mention any
persecution of members of rival faiths at the hands of the saints. The
story of Tirumangai Alvar which started this discussion mentioned the
killing of fellow bandits, not Buddhists or Jains.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
Mani


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