Alvars the Tamil Saints:
Alvars were the famous Tamil Poet Saints of Tamilnadu and also called Azhwars. They praised the Hindu Supreme God Vishnu and his Avatar Krishna with their own composed songs. The Alwars believed Vaishnavism and Lord Vishnu were supreme beings and looked compassionately after the devotees. Modern Historians believe that Alvars had been lived between the 5 to 10th centuries CE. However, Vaishnavism’s followers believe they lived between 4200 BCE to 2700 BCE. The Orthodox devotees think there are only ten Alvars, but some references included Madhurakavi Alvar and Andal as Alvars. So the total Alvars twelve.
Contribution to Vaishnavism:
The twelve Alvars composed songs about praising Lord Vishnu. They wrote during the early medieval period of Tamil History. Their efforts boosted the Bhakti movement during the 14th century. Their hymns gave the praise of ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. They believe one can immerse into the ecstasy of devotion through love towards the supreme God, Vishnu. They composed hundreds of poems through love and depth of feeling towards Lord Vishnu and his incarnations. The composition of their hymns is collectively called Divya Prabandha. Their Bhakti literature contributed to the vanishing of the cultural broke in the society, helped establish the ritual-oriented Vedic religion, and brought a new salvation path for the devotees.
Bringing Glory of Hinduism in South India:
Here the meaning of Alvar is ‘one who rules and Azhvar means ‘one who immersed into deep devotion’. They influenced the people by popularizing Vaishnavism in the Tamil-speaking regions. They narrated the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharatha and popularized these two Hindu epics in South India. Poigai, Bhoothath and Pey Alvars were the earliest among the Azhwars, traditionally belonging to Dwaparayuga, 4200 years before Christ. Later the 12 Saints and Saiva Nayanmars influenced the Pallava kings to bring awareness of Hinduism. Before the 7th century, Buddhism and Jainism spread throughout India, and Hinduism lost its presence in society. However, the Saints and Nayanmars succeeded in bringing back the glory of Hinduism in India.
About 12 Alwars
There are 12 Alwars in Number; Sri Andal is the only woman among them. Here are the details of each Alwar and their contribution to spreading Vishnavism.
Mudhal Alwars are the group of Poigal Alwar, Bhoodath Alwar and Pei Alwar; three belonged to the same period.
Thirumazhisai Alwar believed that the Perumal was his friend and sang many Mangalasasanam on God Perumal.
Thirumangai Alwar: In his early years, he was a great king and ruled the people with excellent administrating skills. However, he later followed the austere life and dedicated his life to the Perumal and his devotees.
Thondaradippodi Alwar: He is also famous as ‘Vipra Narayanar’. He dedicated his life to Perumal and saved Him daily in the Garlands.
Thiruppaan Alwar: He belonged to the Paanar family and wrote many beautiful songs to praise Perumal. Even he praised Perumal with Paasurams, which were written by him only.
Periyalwar: Periyalwar is also known as the Father of Sri Andal and Father-in-Law to Perumal. He praised Perumal with Mangalasasanam.
Sri Andal: She is the only woman Alwar in the Alwar tree. She is also known as ‘Soodikkodutha Sudar Kodi’. She was brought up in Periyalwar.
Nammalwar: Before getting Gnana, Nammalwar slept under the Tamarind tree without food and sleep. He had sung the Mangalasasanam on Perumal and worked hard to spread the great Sri Vaishnavam.
Madhurakavi Alwar: he was the great disciple of Nammalwar.
Kulasekara Alwar : he has done mangalasasanam on the Perumal.