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Who were the nayanars and alvars? Write about them in brief

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The Bhakti Movement was basically originated in the seventh-century in Tamil, from South India, now recognised as parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and continued its spread in northwards. This spread over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reached its peak between the 15th and 17th century.

The Alvars and Nayanars of Tamil Nadu

  • The Alvars and Nayanars initiated some of the earliest bhakti movements around the sixth century.
  • Alvars are considered as those who are involved in devotion to Lord Vishnu.
  • Nayanars are the leaders who were devotees of Lord Shiva.
  • These two groups travelled from one place to another singing hymns in Tamil language appreciating their lords
  • These two groups Alvars and Nayanars started a movement of protest against the caste system a major drawback of those times and the dominance or rule of Brahmanas or at least attempted to reform the system.
  • This is supported by the fact that bhaktas or disciples belonged from diverse social backgrounds varying from Brahmanas to artisans and cultivators and even from castes considered ‘untouchable’.
  • The Nalayira Divyaprabandham which means Four Thousand Sacred Compositions as one of the major anthologies of compositions of the 12 Alvars compiled by the 10th Century.
  • It was commonly described as the Tamil Veda, hence claiming that the text was as vital as the four Vedas in Sanskrit and that was cherished by the Brahmanas community.
  • From a composition of an Alvar named as Tondaradippodi a Brahmana mentioned Chaturvedins are considered as the strangers and without faithfulness to the service.
  • Tevaram which is a collection of compiled and categorised in the 10th century on the basis of the music and rhythm of the songs of Appar, Sambandar, and Sundarar.

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