This essay explores the relationship between gender, power, and mysticism through an examination of the Tamil Vaiṣṇava Ālvārs and how two scholars, Friedhelm Hardy and S.M. Srinivasa Chari, interrelate Ālvār mysticism, female voice, and the one female Ālvār, Āṇṭāḷ. Although both Hardy and Chari define Ālvār mysticism through female voice and uphold Āṇṭāḷ as mystic par excellence, they miss important nuances of Āṇṭāḷ's poetry that radicalise female voice and frustrate gendered expectations. Āṇṭāḷ's mysticism proves to be socially and theologically subversive, laying claim to authority even over the divine.
Tracy Sayuki Tiemeier, Engendering the ‘Mysticism’ of the Ālvārs, The Journal of Hindu Studies, Volume 3, Issue 3, October 2010, Pages 337–353, doi: 10.1093/jhs/hiq027