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Basic Teaching Of Alvars Devotees Of Vishnu

Vaishnavism, a vital school of worship in Hinduism, is basically an important aspect of the Bhakti movement propounded by the Alvars of South India and propagated by acharyas, dasas and divine singers. Alvars are those who were deeply immersed in the love of Bhagavan Vishnu; as a pleasant lovely passion. Here are the basic teachings of the 12 Alvars.

  1. Sriman Narayana (Bhagavan Vishnu) is the Supreme Lord.
  2. He is both immanent and transcendent.
  3. Bhagavan Vishnu is the personification of all perfection – Kalyana Guna Kara.
  4. Apart from his incarnations like Rama and Krishna, Srihari Vishnu manifests Himself in the murtis or vigraham that are devoutly worshipped as archa murtis in the temples.
  5. Devotion to Sriman Narayana and servitude to Him and total surrender to Him is called saranagati or prapatti. These are the surest and easiest ways of attaining Him.

Ths Sri Vaishnava tradition recognizes 12 Alvars, who belonged to Tamil Nadu (Dravida Desha). They lived during the Pallava period (7th-9th centuries) though there are different opinions about the exact period.

The 12 Alvars are Poigai, Buta, Pey, Thirumazhisai, Kulasekhara, Periya (Vishnu Chitta), Andal, Thondaradippodi (Vipranarayana), Thiruppan, Thirumangai, Madhurakavi Azhwars and Nammazhwar.

The whole mass of compositions of the Alvars is known as Nalayira Divya Prabandham as equal to the Vedas. Hence the Naalayiram is called Dravida Veda. The Vedas and Divya Prabandham put together are known as Ubhaya Vedanta.

Source - Excerpt from an Article titled 'Divergences and the Convergence' by Dr Chilakapati Vijaya Raghavacharyulu in Ahobilam published by The Hindu.