Article

Āḻvār

Archana Venkatesan

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online January 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0063
Āḻvār

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Āḻvār refers to a group of twelve Vaishnava poet-saints from Tamil-speaking South India who lived between the 6th and 9th centuries. The term Alvar (singular) is derived from the Tamil root āḻ, “to dive,” and in the noun form means “those who dive deep.” Thus Alvar, which is both a title and a designation, emphasizes the experiential and emotive dimension of the poets’ roles in the formation of Tamil Vaishnavism. Nāthamuni (c. 10th century), the first preceptor of the sect of Srivaishnavism, is credited with compiling the poems of the Alvars into a collection known as the Nālāyira Divya Prabandham (The divine collection of four thousand). This article focuses on primary sources of the Alvars that are available in translation and select primary sources about the Alvars (such as hagiographies) that are important in understanding their significance to the formation of Tamil Vaishnavism. The hagiographies are, however, not available in English translation. In addition, this article covers the commentarial traditions associated with the Alvars in general and some Alvars in particular. Translations of Alvar poets are listed twice, first under Translations and again under Individual Alvar Poets.

Article.  5386 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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