Esplanade Presents | A Tapestry of Sacred Music
Tevaram: Devotional Songs of Shiva
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In the early seventh and eighth centuries, the Pallava and Chola kingdoms of Southern India were at the height of their power and influence. A movement that cut across the prevalent trends of established Hindu practices emerged, developed by the Tamil-literate poets of the South. This movement, which eventually entered the literature of other languages of the region and the languages of non-literate people, was called bhakti (devotion). It stemmed from Tamil saint-poets’ rejection of hegemonic ritualistic worship, and was developed to provide a more personal encounter with the divine, one that focused on the physical, visual, and thereby visceral presence of a deity.
It was also during this time that the Nyanmars, a group of wandering saint-poets devoted to Shiva, wrote the Tevaram, a collection of poetry that exalted Shiva as the supreme god. The language of these poems departed from the more classical style of earlier Tamil poetry, and were meant to be performed orally. They have been performed in temples and homes ever since.
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