Divya-prabandham

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda


Divyaprabandham literally means ‘divine compositions’.

Divyaprabandham also known as Nālāyira Prabandham, is the Tamil work of Āḷvārs.[1] The Āḷvārs were Tamil saints who lived during the period CE 700-900 and their collection of mystical compositions is known as Divyaprabandham. Since these compositions were the spontaneous outpourings of their hearts, deeply immersed in devotional fervor, they are believed to be ‘divya’.

Origin

The Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta is also known as ‘Ubhaya Vedānta’,[2] since it recognizes two kinds of works which are as follows:

  1. Divyaprabandham : It consists of four thousand verses
  2. Prasthānatraya : Prasthānatraya is the sanskrit work and comprises the following:
  • The Upaniṣads
  • The Brahmasūtras
  • The Bhagavadgitā

Deities worshiped by the Āḷvārs

The Prabandhas contain profuse praise of the avatāras like Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. The Āḷvārs followed the path of prapatti than bhakti. They also worshiped the deities in the temples of Śrīrañgam and Tirupati, which are known as arcāvatāras and considered as fully living and conscious. Some of the pāśuras of the prabandhas are chanted in Srīvaiṣṇava temples daily as a part of the worship of the deity.

Divyaprabandham Belief

As per Viśiṣtādvaita Philosophy

The Viśiṣtādvaita Vedānta considers the Divyaprabandham as one of the two cardinal scriptures, hence the philosophy of the latter is same as of the former. It can be briefly expounded as belows:

  • The fundamental three realities known as tattvatraya[3]are:
  1. Īśvara : God
  2. Cit : the conscious soul
  3. Acit : the insentient prakṛti or nature
  • Īśvara is the independent reality whereas the latter two are totally dependent upon him

As per Sāṅkhya philosophy

According to this philosophy, the universe is evolved out of the acit prakṛti through 24 cosmic principles.[4] It can be described as:

  • There are infinite numbers of Jīva. Jīva has trans-migratory existence from ancient times due to karma, either good or bad
  • Īśvara inspires him to try for mokṣa or liberation and the means to achieve mokṣa include:
  1. Bhakti : devotion
  2. Prapatti : total surrender to God
  3. Kaiṅkarya : service to God in his various aspects
  • In this attempt for liberation, the jīva has to rediscover his relationship with īśvara, which are of nine kinds:
  1. father and son
  2. protector and protected
  3. whole and part
  4. husband and wife
  5. known and knower
  6. master and possession
  7. supporter and supported
  8. soul and body
  9. enjoyer and enjoyed

References

  1. An Āḷvār is the one who is deeply immersed in the love of God.
  2. Ubhaya means two.
  3. tattva = realities, traya = three
  4. This is enumerated in the Sāṅkhya philosophy.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore