The god-intoxicated twelve Vaisnava Saints of South India popularly known as Alvars, who lived between fifth and eighth centuries A.D. represent a significant phase of Vaisnava Philosophy and Religion which provided a solid foundation for the development of the system of Visistadvaita Vedanta in the hands of Ramanuja and his illustrious successors. They have bequeathed a rich heritage for the posterity in the form of four thousand devotional Tamil hymns collectively known as Nalayira-Divyaprabandham, replete with philosophical and theological teachings. This book attempts to present these teachings as contained in the original hymns in a systematic manner against the background of the Vedanta as reflected in the Upanisads, Agamas and selected Vaisnava Puranas, without bringing the sectarian and theological views that came to be developed by the commentators in the post-Ramanuja period. Based on the original source material, the Philosophy and Mysticism of the Alvars is discussed, fully supported by textual authority, under six broad headings: Doctrine of the Ultimate Reality (paratattva), Doctrine of God (Isvara), Doctrine of the Individual Self (Jivatman), Doctrine of Sadhana, Doctrine of the Supreme Goal (parama-purusartha) and Theistic Mysticism. This volume makes available for the first time in English a comprehensive and authoritative exposition of the Philosophy and Mysticism of the Alvars. The book will be highly useful for the students of comparative religion for an indepth study of Vaisnavism in general and the Alvars in particular.
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