02 May 2014

The Temples of Divya Prabandham

The Nalayira Divya Prabandham is a collection of 4,000 Tamil verses[Naalayiram in Tamil means 'four thousand'] composed before 8th century AD, by the 12 Alvars, and was compiled in its present form by Nathamuni during the 9th – 10th centuries. The work is the beginning of the canonization of the 12 Vaishnava poet saints, and these hymns are still sung extensively even today. The works were lost before they were collected and organized in the form of an anthology by Nathamuni.

The Prabandha sings the praise of Narayana [or Vishnu] and his many forms. The Alvars sung these songs at various sacred shrines. These shrines are known as the Divya Desams.

The Tamil Vaishnavites are also known as Ubhaya Vedanti [those that follow both vedas]. In many temples, Srirangam, for example, the chanting of the Divya Prabhandham forms a major part of the daily service. Prominent among the 4,000 verses are the 1,100+ verses known as the Thiru Vaaymozhi, composed by Nammalvar [Kaari Maaran, Sadagopan of Thiruk Kurugoor].

The Tiruvaymozhi ["words of the sacred mouth"] is one of the Divya Prabandham, an important liturgical compilation of the Tamil Alvar Bhaktas, collected in the 9th century by Nammalvar. The author self-identifies as a lovelorn Gopi pining for Krishna


These once thought of being lost were collected and organized in the form of an anthology by Nathamuni.
Nathamuni was born in Veera Naarayanapuram [Veeranam] or present day Kaattu Mannaar Koil. There is a lot of gap in time between Thirumangai Alvar(the last alvar) and Nathamuni. In this dark period, nobody knew what happened to the 4000 verses.

Legend has it that once Nathamuni heard some people reciting the decad of Aaraavamude of Nammaazhvaar at Kumbakonam. Captivated by these paasurams [hymns], he wanted to know more about them. One of the verses also mentioned Aayiraththul 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 azhwar [Kurugoor Satakopan], Nathamuni proceeded to Thirukurugoor and asked the people there about Swami Nammazhwar's 1000 verses.

The people did not know the 1000 that Nathamuni wanted, but they told him about 11 pasurams [hymns] of Madhurakavi Alvar, who was the disciple of Nammazhwar Kanninun Siruthaambu. They asked him to go to Thiruppuliaazhwar, the place where Nammazhwar lived, and recite these 11 pasurams [hymns] for 12000 times. Nathamuni did as advised, and pleased with his penance, Nammazhwar granted him not only his 1000 pasurams [hymns], but the entire 4000 pasurams [hymns] of all the alvars.

Details of Pasurams

The following table shows the details of the 4000 pasurams [hymns]:

Sl noName of the prabandhamStarting 
Number of
Sung by
1Periazhvar Thirumozhi1473473Periyalvar
3Nachiar Tirumozhi504646143Aandaal
4Perumal Thirumozhi647751105Kulasekara alvar
5Thiruchchanda Viruththam752871120Thirumalisai alvar
6Thirumalai87291645Thondaradippodi alvar
7Thiruppalliyezhuchchi91792610Thondaradippodi alvar
8Amalanadhi piran92793610Thiruppaan alvar
9Kanni Nun Siruththambu93794711Madhurakavi Alvar
10Peria Thirumozhi94820311084Thirumangai alvar
11Kurun Thandagam2032205120Thirumangai alvar
12Nedum Thandagam2052208130Thirumangai alvar
13Mudhal Thiruvandhadhi20822181100Poigai Alvar
14Irandam Thiruvandhadhi21822281100Bhoothathalvar
15Moonram Thiruvandhadhi22822381100Peyalvar
16Naanmugan Thiruvandhadhi2382247796Thirumalisai alvar
19Peria Thiruvandhadhi2585267187Nammalvar
20Thiruvezhukkurrirukkai267226721Thirumangai alvar
21Siriya Thirumadal267326731Thirumangai alvar
22Peria Thirumadal267426741Thirumangai alvar
23Thiruvay Mozhi267437761102Nammalvar
Total number of pasurams3776

[ Courtesy: Wikipedia]

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