Hinduism And Hindu Theology - Who Were The Alvars?

Between the seventh and tenth centuries, a group of twelve poet-saints dedicated to the deity Vishnu flourished in southern India. 

  • The Alvars led the revival of Hindu religion in relation to Buddhists and Jains in collaboration with the Nayanars, who were dedicated to the deity Shiva. 
  • Both the Alvars and the Nayanars placed a strong emphasis on ardent devotion (bhakti) to a personal deity, which they expressed via Tamil hymns. 
  • The first Alvars were a group of three seventh-century contemporaries named Poygai, Pey, and Bhutam, who were said to have sparked the devotional flame after a fortunate encounter on a wet night. 
  • The ninth-century group includes Tiruppan, Tirumalisai, Tondaradippodi, Kulashekhara, Periyalvar, Andal, and Tirumangai. 
  • They were followed by Nammalvar and his pupil Mathurakavi, who may be roughly dated to the beginning of the tenth century, as well as Nathamuni, who compiled the Nalayira Prabandham, which contains all of the Alvars' songs. 

Although the Alvars identified themselves simply as human followers (bhakta), the Shrivaishnava religious group saw them as anshavatars, or manifestations of Vishnu's qualities or associates, by the eleventh century. 

The Tamil Veda was (and still is) a common name for their collection of hymns, which formed an important component of subsequent Vaishnava devotion in southern India. 

This is especially true in the Shrivaishnava tradition, where Nathamuni himself was a prominent figure.

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