Azhavars – The great 12 Vaisanva Volunteers

Azhavars – The great 12 Vaisanva Volunteers

Azhavars (​Alvars) are considered the twelve supreme devotees of Vishnu, and their counterpart was Nayanmars who were the supreme devotees of Shiva.

Alvars were instrumental in popularising Vaishnavism in the Tamil-speaking regions.

The religious works of these saints in Tamil, songs of love and devotion, are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham containing 4000 verses and the 108 temples revered in their songs are classified as Divya Desam.

The verses of the various azhwars were compiled by Nathamuni (824 – 924 CE), a 10th-century Vaishnavite theologian, who called it the “Dravida Veda or Tamil Veda”.

The songs of Prabandam are regularly sung in all the Vishnu temples of South India daily and also during festivals.

The saints had different origins and belonged to different social levels (caste).

According to traditional account by Manavala Mamunigal, the first three azhwars namely Poigai, Bhoothath and Pey belong to Dwapara Yuga (before 4200 BCE).

It is widely accepted by tradition and historians that the trio is the earliest among the twelve azhwars.

Along with the three Saiva Nayanmars, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings, creating a Bhakti movement that resulted in changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism to these two sects of Hinduism in the region.

Poikai Azhawar

He was discovered in the Poikai (pond) he became known as 'Poikai Alwar'


Aandal was the only female Azhawar among the 12 Azhawars. Imagined Lord Narayana as he fiance
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