Selections from the Poetry of Andal and Nammalvar

How to Cite

Vasudha Narayanan. (2022). Selections from the Poetry of Andal and Nammalvar: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 12(1), 35–44. Retrieved from


In their devotional outpourings to Vishnu, the alvars (poet-saints who lived between the seventh-ninth centuries CE) speak frequently of their desire to be united with him. They describe this union in several ways as serving him in one of the sacred temples where he is enshrined, as being wedded to him, as having a total, complete union with him with every part of their bodies and with their souls, and as being with him in heaven with other celestial beings. The poets saw themselves as being related to him in a number of ways. Male and female poets portrayed themselves as a woman in love with a loving, teasing, gracious, powerful man; yet, at other times they saw him as a vulnerable child who was yet capable of astonishing feats of power. Vishnu was the dazzling lord of Vaikuntha and the entire uni­verse and yet, he was one's lover, one's husband, one's caring mother. Eleven of the alvars were male, one female, and they came from various castes of society.

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