How do Sri Vaishnavas know that the Alwars were incarnations of Nitya Suris?

Nitya Suris are the eternally inhabitants of Vaikunta who have never entered samsara.

The Alwars were ancient Tamil saints who sang the Naalayira Divya Prabhandham, which are considered equivalent to the Vedas according to Sri Vaishnavas.

My question is, how do Sri Vaishnavas know that these saints were incarnations of Nitya Suris?

Now there is a scriptural prophecy for at least one of the Alwars, namely Nammalwar, which says that he will be an incarnation of Vishvaksena (a nitya suri), but what about the other Alwars? Are there scriptural prophecies for them?

  • Forget Alwars, how do we know that there exists a concept called Nitya Suris ?
    – ram
    Oct 1, 2020 at 0:58
  • 2
    @ram The "tad vishnoh paramam padam sadA pashyanti sUrayah" mantra is cited by Ramanujacharya as proof of nitya suris.
    – Ikshvaku
    Oct 1, 2020 at 0:59
  • It’s mentioned in the Divya Suri Charitam as told by someone
    – Adiyarkku
    Jun 20, 2021 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


Azhvars, by themselves, have no where mentioned that they are manifestations of Nitya suris. In fact, they look upon themselves as souls which have been tormented in samsaram from time immemorial. As an example, Nammazhvar says in Thiruvaimozhi (2.6.8): "mARi mARip pala piRappum piRanthu" (I have been born time after time), but how they are special lies in the very next few words of the same pasuram: "aDiyai aDaindhu uLLandhERi IRilinbaththiruveLLam yAn mUzhginan" (I reached your feet and gained clarity of mind, submerged in an endless flood of bliss). It is to be undertood that they are special; they need not attain the Lord's feet after attaining a clear vision of their self, but they have attained His feet and have understood their real nature (i.e. being subservient to Him). Svami Nampillai says : "No one, be it a Nityasuri or a Samsari can be deemed to be equal to (Nam)Azhvar", and the same applies to other Azhvars too. They have been handpicked by The Lord to preach His glories for the upliftment of mankind, by being bestowed with faultless knowledge with which they can comprehend The Lord AS HE IS (Thiruvaimozhi 1.1.1: "mayarvaRa madhinalam aruLinan"). But, for people like us to understand atleast a miniscule of their glories, they have been compared with Nityasuris, since they also possess some of their attributes ("some", because they are far more superior than Nityasuris), like Nammazhvar being a manifestation of Vishvaksena et all. The only concrete evidence of a prophetic incarnation can be seen in Eedu vyakhyanam for Thiruvaimozhi 5.5.1, wherein Nampillai states that it is well-known that Nammazhvar had appeared because of the grace of Thirukurungudi Nambi to Udaiyanangaiyar, Azhvar's blessed mother.

  • Thanks for this answer. So it looks like the Alwars weren't nitya suris, and it was a myth developed later.
    – Ikshvaku
    Jun 26, 2021 at 18:45
  • 1
    Well, not a myth, but a "belief", to be precise. Jun 28, 2021 at 16:12

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