Alvars the Tamil Saints:
Alvars were the famous Tamil Poet Saints of Tamilnadu and also called as Azhwars. They praised the Hindu Supreme God Vishnu and his Avatar Krishna with their own composed songs. The Alwars had the belief that Vaishnavism and Lord Vishnu were the supreme beings and look after the devotees with compassion. The modern Historians believe that Alvars had been lived between 5 to 10th century CE. However, the followers of Vaishnavism believe that they lived between 4200 BCE to 2700 BCE. The Orthodox devotees believe 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 the 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 praising of ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. They believe that one can immerse into the ecstasy of devotion through love towards the supreme God Vishnu. They composed hundreds of poems through love and depth feeling towards Lord Vishnu and his incarnations. The composition of their hymns collectively called as Divya Prabandha. Their Bhakti literature contributed to vanish the cultural broke among the society and helped to establish the ritual oriented Vedic religion and brought 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 three Azhwars, who traditionally belonged to Dwaparayuga, before 4200 years before the Christ. Later the 12 Saints and Saiva Nayanmars influenced the Pallava kings to bring the awareness of Hinduism. Before the 7th century Buddhism and Jainism spread all over India, Hinduism lost its presence in the society. However, the Saints and Nayanmars succeeded to bring back the glory of Hinduism in India.
About 12 Alwars
There are 12 Alwars in Number, among them Sri Andal is only a woman. Here is the details of each Alwar and the contribution to spread Vishnavism.
Mudhal Alwars are the group of Poigal Alwar, Bhoodath Alwar and Pei Alwar, there three belonged to same period.
Thirumazhisai Alwar: he believed that the Perumal was his own friend and sang many Mangalasasanam on God Perumal.
Thirumangai Alwar : At his early years, he was a great king and ruled the people at great administrating skills. However, he later followed the austere life and dedicated the life for the Perumal and his devotees.
Thondaradippodi Alwar : He is also famous as ‘Vipra Narayanar’. He completely dedicated his life for Perumal and daily dedicate Him with Garlands.
Thiruppaan Alwar: He belonged to Paanar family and wrote many beautiful songs to praise Perumal. Even he praise Perumal with Paasurams, which were written by him only.
Periyalwar : Periyalwar also known as the Father for Sri Andal and Father-in-Law to Perumal. He praised Perumal with Mangalasasanam.
Sri Andal: She is only woman Alwar in Alwar tree. She also known as ‘Soodikkodutha Sudar Kodi’. She was brought up of Periyalwar.
Nammalwar : Before getting Gnana, Nammalwar slept under the Tamarind tree without food and sleep. He had been 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.