Philosophy of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta: Culture, Legacy and Traditions

Start Date:26-Aug-2023

End Date:27-Aug-2023

Location:Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi


“It is a keen sense of this possibility which has taken different shapes and persisted through the centuries,—the perfectibility of man, the perfectibility of society, the Alwars vision of the descent of Vishnu and the Gods upon earth, the reign of the saints, sādhūnāṁ rājyam, the city of God, the millennium, the new heaven and earth of the Apocalypse.”

-Sri Aurobindo

Institute of Science and Spirituality (ISS) in collaboration with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Central Sanskrit University (CSU) organized a two-day international conference on “Philosophy of Vaiṣṇava vedānta: Culture, Legacy and Traditions” to spread the Indian knowledge systems on 26th-27th of August, 2023.

Dr. Kishor Kumar Tripathy, Member Secretary, AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society attended the conference and presented a paper on the theme “Mediaeval Vaishnava Saints ‘Alvars’

and the Philosophy of Vaishnava Vedanta: Culture, Mysticism, Tradition & Continuity.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Tripathy highlighted the history and legacy of Vaishnava Cult, as one of the major traditions referring Vedic or Hindu spiritual culture. Vaishnavism believe that God is the Supreme all-attractive person and they believe that manifestation of the same Supreme Lord or one supreme divinity.

He emphasized on the Mediaeval Vaishnava saints ‘Alvars’ which provide the rational basis for the Vaishnava Theology. According to the major part of the philosophical ideas of Vaishnavism is found in the Vedanta Theories including realization of the highest spiritual goal. The Mediaeval Vaishnava saints ‘Alvars’ (Tradition reckons twelve Alvars) revitalized the Indian spiritual and Religious milieu, renewed of devotional worship throughout the subcontinent.

They composed beautiful poetry, which are so attractive, philosophical and sculpted a new religious heritage of Bhakti. Poigai Alvar, Bhoothath Alvar, Pey Alvar, Thirumalisai Alvar, Nammalvar, Madhurakavi Alvar, Kulasekhara Alvar (Sthanu Ravi Kulasekhara), Periyalvar, Andal, Thondaradippodi Alvar, Thiruppaan Alvar and Thirumangai Alvar are the twelve Alvars and many of the inscriptions and temple records provide a detailed account of the Alvars as incarnations of some forms of Lord Vishnu. Mutal Tiruvantati, Thiruvasiriyam, Tiruviruttam, Periya Tiruvantati, Kanninun Siruthambu, Perumal Tirumoli, Nachiyar Tirumoli, Thiruppavai, Periya Tirumozhi, Thiru Veḻukootruirukkai and Thiru Kurun are some of the compositions by the Alvars.

We find a strong cultural heritage of the Medieval Vaishnava Alvars depicting Monotheism and the central theme of Vaishnavism is that Vishnu is the Supreme Deity. This refers to the Philosophy of the Ultimate Reality as mentioned in the Vedanta. The Vaishnava Tradition has influenced the Philosophical system through literature, art, music and dance.

He focussed on significant areas related to Mediaeval Vaishnava Bhakti Movement in South India, ‘Alvars’, The Mediaeval Vaishnava Saints and their Contribution: Exploring the Vaishnavism Tradition, Hymns of the ‘Alvars’, Tamil Hymns and the Glory of Divinity, Exploring the Mystical World of the ‘Alvars’: Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism and Intersection of Temple Culture and Philosophy related to the ‘Alvars’: Divine Structures

Despite its ancient roots, Vaishnavism remains relevant today due to its emphasis on devotion, compassion, and spiritual growth. The Alvars left a lasting impact on the Vaishnava tradition and Indian culture as a whole. Their works and ideas continue to be relevant today, inspiring generations of scholars, poets, and devotees.

You are the world.
and everything in the world abides through your grace.
You are the god of gods that one achieves by tapas,
the sacrificial fire, tall mountains,
the eight directions, the bright sun and the moon.

(The Naalayira Divya Prabandham, Thirumazhisai Alvar - Nāmuhan Thiruvandāthi)