Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

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Avvaiyār (also known as Avvai and Auvaiyār) is revered as a poet, moral philosopher, saint, folkloric heroine, and an embodiment of Tamil culture and identity. Over the centuries, a number of literary works, diverse in both style and content, and spanning several centuries, have been ascribed to her. Therefore it is not surprising that her depiction in mythic narratives, folklore, and popular culture are equally complex.

In 1708 the Lutheran missionary Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg (1682-1719), who was stationed in Tranquebar (now Tharangambadi), Tamil Nadu, transla…

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Little, Layne, “Avvaiyār”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 29 January 2022 <>
First published online: 2018

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