Abodes of Vishnu
108 Divya Desams
1000 Names of Vishnu
Vishnu & His Avatars
Worship of Lord Vishnu
Festivals of Vishnu
Vishnu Sahasranamam Stotra Lyrics
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Introduction: This special section features the 108 temples and celestial Abodes of Vishnu revered in the tamil hymns of the Alwars, of the 1st millennium CE.

The Alwars:  Sri Vaishnavism is one of the pre-eminent traditions of Hinduism. An unbroken lineage of teachers, (the Acharyas) and a wealth of literature in Tamil and in Sanskrit and the Vishishtadvaita philosophy form the backbone of  the Sri Vaishnava religion. Twelve saint (poet) devotees  - the great Alwars lived their lives dedicated to expressing their devotion to MahaVishnu - considered to be the supreme manifestation of Divinity in the Vaishnava system of beliefs..  These saints composed verses in chaste tamil, and revitalized the religious spirit of the region, sparking off a renewal of devotional worship in what is generally referred to as the Bhakti movement. The first of the twelve, Peyalwar, Bhootattalwar and Poikaialwar lived in the first half of the first millennium CE.

The Paasurams: Srivilliputtur in southern Tamilnadu, is home to Perialwar, and his foster daughter Andal; the works of Andal are very well known to the tamil world. The Tiruppaavai hymns written by Andal (a manifestation of the mother Goddess) are chanted in congregations throughout Tamilnadu during the cold month of Margazhi, in the cool pre-dawn hours, in temples as well as in the streets that surround temples. The 30 hymns constituting Tiruppavai have been recorded by several artists, and the national radio station All India Radio (used to) broadcast(s) a hymn each day throughout the month of Margazhi. Also composed by Andal is 'Vaaranam Aayiram' (Kanaakkanden Tozhi), describing Andal's dream of her marriage to Narayanan (Vishnu). This work is chanted during Sri Vaishnava weddings. A popular version of Vaaranam Aayiram sung by S. Janaki hit the charts in 1990.

Amalanaadipiraan, a decad of 10 verses composed by Tiruppaanaalwar of Uraiyur, describing his ecstasy upon seeing the image of Ranganathar at Tiruvarangam, is held in great reverence. Tondaradippodialwar has composed several verses in praise of Ranganathar at Srirangam. The most prolific poets of the Alwars were Nammalwar and Tirumangaialwar (8th - 9thcentury CE).

The compilation of these verses is the revered Naalayira Divya Prabandam. Credit for this compilation goes to Nadamuni (923 - 1023 CE), who upon hearing Nammalwar's verse 'Aaraavamude' being chanted at Kumbhakonam, researched into and compiled the works of all of the Alwars. The lineage of spiritual leaders of the Sri Vaishnava way of life, held these works in the highest regard, considering them equivalent to the Vedas. The Alwar paasurams therefore have been chanted in temples for centuries together (in a manner similar to that of chanting the Vedas in sanskrit).

The tradition of Arayar Sevai involving the expressive recitation (enactment) of the paasurams originated during the period of Nadamuni, at Srirangam. This tradition exists even today at Srirangam, and at Srivilliputtur and Alwar Tirunagari (and at Melkote in Karnataka). The descendants of the family of Nadamuni are the torchbearers of this tradition.

Divya Desams:  The verses of the Alwars, speak of the glory of Vishnu, of instances from the puranams. of the devotion of the Alwars and  of the glory of the temples (and locales)  enshrining Vishnu (which they had visited). The entire decad of verses commencing with Amalanaadipiraan praises Ranganathar at Srirangam. Some of these verses only refer to (or address) temples in which Vishnu is enshrined as in the case of Nammalwar's hymns referring to the deity enshrined in Srivaikuntham in two verses in a decad of verses dedicated to Tiruppulinkudi.   Pillaipperumaal Iyengar's work Tirupati Andadi captures 108 of the shrines, mentioned in the works of the Alwars. These shrines are hailed as Divya Desams, hallowed by the hymns of the saints.