Naalayira Divya Prabandham

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Modern book cover of volume two of the text
Nammalvar, considered the most prominent of the twelve Alvars whose works are compiled as Prabandam
Naalayira Divya Prabandam - Pronunciation guide

The Naalayira Divya Prabandham (Tamil: நாலாயிரத் திவ்வியப் பிரபந்தம், romanized: Nālāyira Divya Prabandham, lit.'Four Thousand Divine Hymns') is a collection of 4,000 Tamil verses composed[1] by the 12 Alvars. It was compiled in its present form by Nathamuni during the 9th – 10th centuries. The work, an important liturgical compilation of the Tamil Alvars, marks the beginning of the canonisation of 12 Vaishnava poet saints, and these hymns are still sung extensively today. The works were lost before they were collected and organised in the form of an anthology by Nathamuni.

The Divya Prabandham sings the praises of Narayana (Vishnu) and his many forms. The Alvars sang these songs at various sacred shrines known as the Divya Desams.[2] The Tamil Vaishnavites are also known as Ubhaya Vedanti (those that follow both Vedas, i.e., the Sanskrit Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda, as well as the Tamil-language Tiruvaymoli, a work which devotees of Sri Vaishnavism regard as the Tamil Veda.[3] In many temples — Srirangam, for example — the chanting of the Divya Prabandham forms a major part of the daily service. It is also recited in some North Indian Vaishnavite temples, such as Badrinath.[4] The Divya Prabandham is recited along with the Vedas,[5] and it is given equal status to the Vedas in the Tenkalai denomination of Sri Vaishnavism, largely due to the efforts of Ramanuja who enshrined the Divya Prabandham on the same pedestal as the Vedas.[6]

Prominent among its 4,000 verses are the over 1,100 verses known as the Tiruvaymoli ("verses of the sacred mouth"), composed by Nammalvar (Kaari Maaran, Sadagopan of Alvarthirunagari Temple) and which forms the third portion of the overall Divya Prabandham. Nammalvar self-identifies as a lovelorn gopi pining for Krishna.[3]


The collection, once thought to have been lost, was organised in the form of an anthology by Nathamuni.[7]

Nathamuni was born in Veera Naarayanapuram (Veeranam) or present-day Kaattu Mannaar Koil. There is a long time gap between Thirumangai Alvar (the last Alvar) and Nathamuni. In this dark period, nobody knew what happened to the 4,000 verses of the text.

Legend has it that once Nathamuni heard some people reciting the cantos of Āravāmude of Nammalvar at Kumbakonam. Captivated by these pasurams (hymns), he wanted to know more about them. One of the verses also mentioned Āyiraththul Ippaththu (Tamil: these 10 out of the 1000). When Nathamuni enquired about the remaining 990, the people who sang the 10 did not know anything about the other verses. But as the song mentioned the name and place of the Alvar (Kurugoor Satakopan), Nathamuni proceeded to Thirukurugoor and asked the people there about Nammalvar's 1,000 verses.[8]

The people did not know the 1,000 verses that Nathamuni wanted, but they told him about 11 pasurams (hymns) of Madhurakavi Alvar, a disciple of Nammalvar, and the Kanninun Cirutampu. They asked him to go to Thiruppulialvar, the place where Nammalvar lived, and recite these 11 pasurams 12,000 times. Nathamuni did as advised, and pleased with his penance, Nammalvar granted him not only his 1,000 pasurams, but the entire 4,000-pasuram collection of all the Alvars.[9]

The Thiruppavai is among the most celebrated of the Divya Prabandhams, where the poet Andal entreats her friends to join her in her pursuit of attaining the love of God Himself:

In this month of Marghaḻi,

On this day filled with the light of moon,

Come for bathing,

Oh ladies who are richly dressed,

Oh ladies in rich homes of cowherds,

For he with the sharp spear,

He who kills his enemies without mercy,

He who is the son of Nanda gopa,

He who is the darling son of Yasodha,

Who wears fragrant flower garlands,

He who is a lion cub,

He who is handsome in dark hues,

He who has small red eyes,

He who has a face like the well-lit moon,

He, who is our Lord Narayana,

Is going to give us protection,

So that we bathe and that is our practice,

In a way that the whole world sings about.

— Andal, Thiruppavai, hymn I, Naalayira Divya Prabandham

List of Pasurams[edit]

Topics in Tamil literature
Sangam Literature
Five Great Epics
Cilappatikaram Manimekalai
Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi Valayapathi
Bhakthi Literature
Tevaram Divya Prabandha
Tamil people
Sangam Sangam landscape
Tamil history from Sangam literature Ancient Tamil music

The following table shows the details of the 4,000 pasurams (hymns).[10]

Sl no Name of the prabandham Starting from Ending with Number of pasurams Sung by
1 Periyalvar Tirumoli 1 473 473 Periyalvar
2 Thiruppavai 474 503 30 Andal
3 Nachiyar Tirumoli 504 646 143 Andal
4 Perumal Tirumoli 647 751 105 Kulasekara Alvar
5 Tiruchanda Viruttam 752 871 120 Thirumalisai Alvar
6 Tirumālai 872 916 45 Thondaradippodi Alvar
7 Tirupalliyeḻuchi 917 926 10 Thondaradippodi Alvar
8 Amalanadhipiran 927 936 10 Thiruppaan Alvar
9 Kanninun Cirutampu 937 947 11 Madhurakavi Alvar
10 Periya Tirumoli 948 2031 1084 Thirumangai Alvar
11 Kurun Thandagam 2032 2051 20 Thirumangai Alvar
12 Nedum Thandagam 2052 2081 30 Thirumangai Alvar
13 Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi 2082 2181 100 Poigai Alvar
14 Irandam Thiruvandhadhi 2182 2281 100 Bhoothathalvar
15 Moonram Thiruvandhadhi 2282 2381 100 Peyalvar
16 Naanmugan Thiruvandhadhi 2382 2477 96 Thirumalisai Alvar
17 Tiruviruttam 2478 2577 100 Nammalvar
18 Thiruvasiriyam 2578 2584 7 Nammalvar
19 Peria Thiruvandhadhi 2585 2671 87 Nammalvar
20 Thiruvelukkurrirukkai 2672 2672 1 Thirumangai Alvar
21 Siriya Thirumadal 2673 2712 40 Thirumangai Alvar
22 Peria Thirumadal 2713 2790 78 Thirumangai Alvar
23 Tiruvaymoli 2791 3892 1102 Nammalvar
24 Ramanuja Nootrantati 3893 4000 108 Thiruvarangathu Amudhanaar
Total number of pasurams 4000 4000 4000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Divya Prabandham – An introduction". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  2. ^ Rajarajan, R.K.K. (2013). "Historical sequence of the Vaiṣṇava Divyadeśas. Sacred venues of Viṣṇism". Acta Orientalia, Societates Orientales Danica Fennica Norvegia Svecia. 74: 37–90.
  3. ^ a b Carman, John (1989). The Tamil Veda: Pillan's Interpretation of the Tiruvaymoli. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 4.
  4. ^ Prabhu, S. (8 August 2013). "Dance of Devotion". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  5. ^ Ramesh, M. S. (1992). 108 Vaishnavite Divya Desams: Divya desams in Chola Nadu. T.T. Devasthanams. p. 42.
  6. ^ Gupta, Sonika; Padmanabhan, Sudarsan (19 September 2017). Politics and Cosmopolitanism in a Global Age. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-34132-1.
  7. ^ Bruce M. Sullivan (1997). Historical Dictionary of Hinduism. Scarecrow Press. p. 217.
  8. ^ "thoo nilA mutRam". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  9. ^ "Tribute to Sriman Naatha Muni". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  10. ^ "Table showing details of 4000 pasurams". Retrieved 20 June 2007.

External links[edit]

Naalayiram Text in different formats and languages
Nalayiram with Meaning or Vyakyanam (detailed commentary)
Nalayiram Pasurangal – Audio
Sites Relevant to Nalayiram Divya Prabandham