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Gerald Njoora
Gerald Njoora

12 Alwars And Their Literary Works


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12 Alwars And Their Literary Works


The word alvar means the one who dives deep into the ocean of the countless attributes of god.[3][citation needed] The Alvars are considered the twelve supreme devotees of Vishnu who were instrumental in popularising Vaishnavism. The religious works of these saints in Tamil, songs of love and devotion, are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham containing 4000 verses and the 108 temples revered in their songs are classified as Divya Desam.[4][5] The saints had different origins and belonged to different castes. As per history, the first three alvars, Poigai Alvar, Bhoothath Alvar and Pey Alvar were born miraculously. Thirumalisai Alvar was the son of a sage, Thondaradippodi Alvar, Madhurakavi Alvar, Periyalvar and Andal were from the Brahmin community, Kulashekhara Alwar was a kshatriya, Nammalvar was a Vellala, Thiruppaan Alvar was a paanar and Thirumangai Alvar was a kallar. The Divya Suri Charitra by Garuda-Vahana Pandita (11th century), Guruparamparaprabhavam by Pinbaragiya Perumal Jiyar, Periya tiru mudi adaivu by Anbillai Kandadiappan, Yatindra Pranava Prabavam by Pillai Lokacharya, commentaries on Divya Prabandam, Guru Parampara (lineage of Gurus) texts, temple records and inscriptions give a detailed account of the alvars and their works. According to these texts, the saints were considered incarnations of some form of Vishnu. Poigai is considered an incarnation of Panchajanya (Krishna's conch), Bhoothath of Kaumodakee (Vishnu's Mace/Club), Pey of Nandaka (Vishnu's sword), Thirumalisai ofSudarshanam (Vishnu's discus), Namm of Vishvaksena (Vishnu's commander), Madhurakavi ofVainatheya (Vishnu's eagle, Garuda), Kulasekhara ofKaustubha (Vishnu's necklace), Periya of Garuda (Vishnu's eagle), Andal of Bhoodevi (Vishnu's wife, Lakshmi, in her form as Bhudevi), Thondaradippodi of Vanamaalai (Vishnu's garland), Thiruppaan of Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Vishnu's chest) and Thirumangai of Sharanga, Rama's bow. The songs of Prabandam are regularly sung in all the Vishnu temples of South India daily and also during festivals.[5][6]


Priya Sarukkai Chabria is an award-winning translator, poet and writer acclaimed for her radical aesthetics. Her books include works of speculative fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry collections, and translations from Classical Tamil. She has written several books, including Not Springtime Yet, and Generation 14.


Literary forms also change over time. Modern readers often find themselves uncomfortable with forms that were popular in the past, like lyric poetry, epic narratives, plays, and allegorical works. Knowing something about a text's particular literary form helps readers better understand what they read.


For instance, before reading a 17th century lyric poem by Ben Johnson or Edmund Spenser's highly allegorical poem The Faerie Queen, it would help to study the literary forms involved. Simply reading an entry in a literary dictionary or an online literature resource can be enough to teach readers about the characteristics of the form and thereby increase their understanding of the piece.


The Harry Potter series is a prime example of the importance of the context of the reader. Some potential readers judge these books to be evil because of their descriptions of fantasy magic and often refuse to read them at all. Even if they do give the series a try, they are determined not to like or enjoy the books and ready to criticize them to the extreme. Other readers, particularly those who enjoy fantasy literature, love the Harry Potter books and recognize their magic as a successful and meaningful literary and symbolic motif rather than a source of evil influence. The various ways in which the Harry Potter books are interpreted often depend on the context the reader brings to them.


Indic scholars have noted the importance of context in the literary works of India [7]. Kavyas were not secular poem fragments written in a top-down manner for ivory-tower intellec




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