Yamunacharya (IAST: Yamunāchārya), also known as Alavandar[1] and Yamunaithuraivan, was a Vishistadvaita philosopher based in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India.[2] He is best-known for being a preceptor of Ramanuja, one of the leaders of the Sri Vaishnava tradition.[3] He was born in the early 10th century CE, and was the grandson of Nathamuni, a famed yogi, who collected the works of the Tamil Alvars.[4]

Statuette of Yamunacharya
DenominationSri Vaishnavism


Yamunacharya grew up learning Vedic texts from Rama Misra, and was skilled in the concept of mimamsa. According to Sri Vaishnava tradition, as a teenager, he challenged the royal priest of a Pandya king, Akkiyalvan, to a debate. Akkiyalvan, when he saw the age of the youth, sarcastically asked "Alavandara?", meaning "Has he come to rule me?". He defeated Akkiyalvan by logically proving that Akkiyalvan's mother was barren, the king was not righteous, and the queen unchaste. The king and queen, impressed that the boy had understood the shortcomings of logic, adopted him. The queen hailed the boy as "Alavandar". In other versions of the legend, he is given half the kingdom. There is no historical record to show his reign, so it is possible that this happened in a small village, rather than the kingdom of Pandya.[5]

After years of rule, Rama Misra tricked him into visiting the temple of Ranganatha. There, he had an epiphany, and gave up the material duties of a king and became a sanyasin, embracing the convention of saranagati. He is believed to have composed the Chatushloki and Strotra Ratna at that spot. Rama Misra handed over the reins of Nathamuni's school to him, including the collected Naalayira Divya Prabandham, and offered him the epithet of Yamunacharya.

After the demise of Alavandar, Srirangam was led by the latter's son Thiruvarangan. According to a legend, the deity Ranganatha himself instructed Yamunacharya to go to Kanchipuram and invite Ramanuja to Srirangam.[6] He is also regarded to have received the following instructions:


Alavandar, like Ramanuja, focused both on philosophical debates like Dvaita vs. Advaita. The bhakti prayers and the works attributed to him are in Sanskrit, although he codified the heritage of the Tamil Alvars. The works attributed to him are:

  • Chatushloki - a popular prayer in praise of Lakshmi
  • Stotra Ratnam - a prayer in praise of Narayana
  • Siddhitrayam - consisting of (i) Atmasiddhi. (ii) Samvitsiddhi and (iii) Iswarasiddhi which describe the Vishistadvaita school of thought, describing a relation between the soul, God, and the universe
  • Agama Pramanya - stating the authority of Pancharatra agama
  • Maha Purusha Nirnayam - describing that the ultimate reality is the god-goddess pair Sri and Narayana
  • Gitartha Sangraha - a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
  • Nityam
  • Mayavada Khandanam


  1. ^ "Details of Sri Vaishnavism, Guru Krupa Foundation" (PDF). guru-krupa.org. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  2. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (1 May 2022). "History of Theism [Chapter 6]". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  3. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (24 June 2022). "Chapter 1: Introduction". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  4. ^ Jones, Constance (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 490. ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9.
  5. ^ Venkatadriagaram Varadachari (1984), Yamunacharya, Memorial Trust
  6. ^ "Life History of Bhagavad Ramanuja for Children". SriVaishnavam. Retrieved 15 July 2018.

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