A New Kind of Bhakti in South India: Nayanars and Alvars

From 7th to 9th century many new bhakti movements developed in South India.

These movements were led by Nayanars and Alvars.

Nayanars were saints devoted to Shiva and Alvars were saints devoted to Vishnu.

The bhakti environment created by these poet saints influenced people from all walks of life.

Let us discuss more about Nayanars and Alvars

The Nayanars and Alvars included people from all caste including untouchables like Pulaiyar and Panars.

They were totally opposed to Jainas and Buddhist.

They preached love for Shiva or Vishnu for the salvation.

They mixed ideals of love and heroism from Sangam literature along with the values of bhakti.

Sangam literature was a Tamil literature, composed during the early centuries of the Common Era.

Nayanars and Alvars wander from place to place composing poems in praise of their god.

There were 63 Nayanars. Their songs are in two compilations i.e., Tevaram and Tiruvacakam.

There were 12 Alvars. Their songs are compiled in Divya Prabandham.

Later, Chola and Pandya kings built big temples around the shrines visited by these saint-poets.

This was done to strengthen the link between the bhakti tradition and temple worship.

The poems by these saint-poets were also compiled in different languages.

The religious biographies of Nayanars and Alvars were also written.

These biographies are used today as a source to know about Bhakti tradition.

Now, its time for quick revision

The Nayanars and Alvars includes people from all caste including untouchables like Pulaiyar and Panars.

Nayanars were saints devoted to Shiva and Alvars were saints devoted to Vishnu.

There were 63 Nayanars and 12 Alvars. They did not believe in the teachings of Jainism a.d Buddhism.

They mixed ideal of loves and heroism from Sangam literature with the values of bhakti.

Their teachings focused on Lord Shiva or Vishnu as the path to salvation.

The poems by these saint-poets were compiled in different languages.

Temples were also built Chera and Pandya Kings for strengthening the links between the bhakti tradition and temple worship.

The End