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

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, that is, 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 compendium begins with the Tirupallantu, a benedictory hymn written by Periyalvar, wishing long life to Vishnu.[7]



The hymns or songs sung by the Alvars dedicated to Vishnu are specifically designated the term pasuram in Tamil.[8]


The works that make up the Naalayira Divya Prabandham are usually preceded by a taniyan. A taniyan refers to a stray verse,[9] also referred to as a laudatory verse, that offers a brief synopsis of the life of the Alvar poet, a summary of the themes of the hymns, and emphasises the merit gained from the recitation, listening, or reading of the given text. It serves to glorify both the hymns as well as the composer of the hymns.[10] Six taniyans precede the Tiruvaymoli, the most of any text in the compendium.[11]

Vāḻi Tirunamam

Following the customary recitation of the hymns of the work, a vāḻi tirunamam is chanted. This refers to a hymn that serves to commemorate or exalt the poet-saint who composed a given work. For instance, such a verse may hope for the poet-saint to live long, or for their names to be remembered for a millennium.[12][13]


The collection, once thought to have been lost, was organised in the form of an anthology by Nathamuni.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

List of Pasurams

Topics in Tamil literature
Sangam Literature
Five Great Epics
Cilappatikaram Manimekalai
Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi Valayapathi
Bhakti Literature
Tevaram Tirumuṟai
Naalayira Divya Prabandham
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).[17]

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 Amalanatipiran 927 936 10 Thiruppaan Alvar
9 Kanninun Cirutampu 937 947 11 Madhurakavi Alvar
10 Periya Tirumoli 948 2031 1084 Thirumangai Alvar
11 Tirukkuruntantakam 2032 2051 20 Thirumangai Alvar
12 Tirunetuntantakam 2052 2081 30 Thirumangai Alvar
13 Mutal Tiruvantati 2082 2181 100 Poigai Alvar
14 Irantam Tiruvantati 2182 2281 100 Bhoothathalvar
15 Munram Tiruvantati 2282 2381 100 Peyalvar
16 Nanmukan Tiruvantati 2382 2477 96 Thirumalisai Alvar
17 Tiruviruttam 2478 2577 100 Nammalvar
18 Tiruvaciriyam 2578 2584 7 Nammalvar
19 Periya Tiruvantati 2585 2671 87 Nammalvar
20 Tiruvelukkutrirukkai 2672 2672 1 Thirumangai Alvar
21 Ciriya Tirumatal 2673 2712 40 Thirumangai Alvar
22 Periya Tirumatal 2713 2790 78 Thirumangai Alvar
23 Tiruvaymoli 2791 3892 1102 Nammalvar
24 Ramanuja Nutrantati 3893 4000 108 Periya Koil Nambi
Total number of pasurams 4000 4000 4000

See also


  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. ^ Venkatacharya, T. (1999). Śrīveṅkaṭeśasuprabhātam. Adyar Library and Research Centre. p. 66. ISBN 978-81-85141-28-2.
  8. ^ Pārttacārati, Intirā (2008). Ramanujar: The Life and Ideas of Ramanuja. Oxford University Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-19-569161-0.
  9. ^ Nayar, Nancy Ann (1992). Poetry as Theology: The Śrīvaiṣṇava Stotra in the Age of Rāmānuja. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 95. ISBN 978-3-447-03255-1.
  10. ^ Venkatesan, Archana (10 January 2016). The Secret Garland: Andal's Tiruppavai and Nacciyar Tirumoli. Harper Perennial India. p. 5. ISBN 978-93-5177-577-5.
  11. ^ Nammalvar (17 February 2020). Endless Song. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. p. 297. ISBN 978-93-5305-779-4.
  12. ^ Viraraghavacharya, T. K. T. (1979). History of Tirupati: The Thiruvengadam Temple. Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams. p. 65.
  13. ^ MPS2G2Db4xAC. p. 196.
  14. ^ Bruce M. Sullivan (1997). Historical Dictionary of Hinduism. Scarecrow Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780810833272.
  15. ^ "thoo nilA mutRam". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  16. ^ "Tribute to Sriman Naatha Muni". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  17. ^ "Table showing details of 4000 pasurams". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
Naalayiram Text in different formats and languages
Nalayiram with Meaning or Vyakyanam (detailed commentary)
Nalayiram Pasurangal – Audio
Sites Relevant to Nalayiram Divya Prabandham