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The Alwars (also spelled Azhwars) are a group of 12 ancient Vaishnava saints who lived in Tamil Nadu and are famous for their poetry in praise of Vishnu. The collection of their 4000 poems, known as the Naalayira Divya Prabhandam, is considered by many to be the "Dravida Veda", or South Indian Veda. The Alwars are crucially important figures in the history of Vaishnavism; it is the beliefs and principles embodied in the Alwars' poems that ultimately gave rise to the Sri Vaishnava sect (of which I'm a member).

Now Western historians place the Alwars in the 6th century AD through 9th century AD, but traditional Sri Vaishnava accounts assign them far more ancient dates. For instance, as I discuss in this question the first four Alwars are said to have been born in 4203 BC, almost a thousand years before the birth of Yudhishthira! But there's another Alwar who is apparently believed to have been born in the Dwapara Yuga, Madhurakavi Alwar.

Madhurakavi Alwar was a disciple of Nammalwar, the famous Alwar who spent his life under a Tamarind tree in the town of Kurugur. (The Sri Vaishnava practice of the Sadagopam is based on him, as I discuss here.) Now as I discuss in this answer, Nammalwar is said to have been born just 45 days after Krishna departed the Earth. And since Madhurakavi Alwar was an old man and Nammalwar was a child when they met, that would place Madhurakavi Alwar's birth in the Dwapara Yuga.

The Carnatic singer and lecturer Vishakha Hari seems to confirm this in a story she tells in the first minute and a half of this video. It's in Tamil, but here's my translation of it:

If you look at the Alwars' time period, even before Krishna, Madhurakavi Alwar was born. They were all Yogis, people who were meant to do the work of Siddhas, Yogis who were meant to be in meditation all the time. People had that much concentration in that Yuga, more than 5000 years back. He thought to himself, "I want to experience Krishna avataram, but Kannan hasn't been born yet, so let me go on a Tirtha Yatra." So he came to Ayodhya. On the bank of the Sarayu river, closing his eyes he thought to himself "The story of prince Rama has just gotten over, so let me meditate on him." To meditate he closed his eyes, and when he opened his eyes he saw someone and asked "Has Krishna avataram happened yet?" In what sense did he say "has the avataram happened"? He asked in the sense of "Has Kannan been born yet?"

"Has Krishna avataram happened?" "Krishna avataram has happened." What answer did that man give? "It has completely taken place. Not only has it finished, but Kannan has already gone to Vaikuntha." For that many years he was continuously in meditation, in Dhyana! Those people had that kind of power, that level of concentration! Having asked "Has Krishna avataram happened?" and gotten the response "Krishna avataram has happened," he began to cry, "O! I wanted to always be with Kannan, to be with him from the time the avataram happened to the end, but now he's gone!" But the Lord never abandons his devotees.

It is then that Madhurakavi Alwar sees a star in the sky (similar to the story of Jesus) and follows it to the town of Kurugur, where he sees Nammalwar sitting under a tree.

The story of Madhurakavi Alwar following a star from Ayodhya is well-known, but my question is, are there any sources that give this story about Madhurakavi Alwar meditating in Ayodhya while Krishna avataram was going on?

Is this mentioned in the works of any Sri Vaishnava Acharya? Unfortunately, we can't rely on the work of Madhurakavi Alwar himself, because all we have of his is a single poem in praise of his guru Nammalwar, known as "Kanninun Sirithambu".

By the way, why does this Wikipedia article list Madhurakavi Alwar's traditional birth year as 3102 BC, i.e. the beginning of the Kali Yuga? I think this is due to some confusion over whether Nammalwar was born 45 days after Krishna departed the Earth or 45 years after. If it was 45 years after then Madhurakavi Alwar's life could have happened entirely in the Kali Yuga, but if it was 45 days after then he would have to have been born in the Dwapara Yuga.

  • I think Madhurakavi alwars date is exaggerated how could he live through 4 mahayuga cycles without anyone noticing him on the bank of Sarayu? – Yogi Jul 26 '16 at 18:42
  • @Yogi No, Madhurakavi Alwar was not meditating on the bank of the Sarayu from the time of Rama. Rather, right before Krishna was born he went to Ayodhya and started meditating upon Rama, and then when he woke up Krishna had departed the earth. So he would have meditated for about 125 years, not four Mahayugas. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 26 '16 at 19:10
  • wow this seems to be an interesting question , devotee of vishnu kept on meditating and one avatar passed away :) – Friendy Apr 26 '17 at 10:32

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