Nayanars

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This article is about Shaivite poets of Tamil Nadu. For the ethnic group, see Nayanar (Nair subcaste).
Statues of the three foremost Nayanars with Manikkavacakar – collectively called the Nalvars: (from left) Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar, Manikkavacakar.

The Nayanars (alt. Nayanmars, Tamil: நாயன்மார்கள்), lit. "hounds of Siva", later "teachers of Siva")[1] were a group of 63 saints (also saint poets) in the 6th to 8th century who were devoted to the Hindu god Shiva in Tamil Nadu. They, along with the Alvars, influenced the Bhakti movement in Tamil.[2] The names of the Nayanars were first compiled by Sundarar. The list was expanded by Nambiyandar Nambi during his compilation of material by the poets for the Tirumurai collection, and would include Sundarar himself and Sundarar's parents.

History[edit]

The list of the Nayanars was initially compiled by Sundarar (Sundararmurthi). In his poem, Tiruthonda Thogai, he sings, in eleven verses, the names of the Nayanar saints up to Karaikkal Ammeiyar,[2][3] and refers to himself as "the servant of servants".[4] The list did not go into the detail of the lives of the saints, which were described in detail in works such as Tevaram.[5]

In the 10th century, king Raja Raja Chola I collected Tevaram literature after hearing excerpts of the hymns in his court.[6] His priest Nambiyandar Nambi began compiling the hymns into a series of volumes called the Tirumurai. He arranged the hymns of three saint poets Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar as the first seven books which he called the Tevaram. He compiled Manikkavacakar's Tirukovayar and Tiruvacakam as the eighth book, the 28 hymns of nine other saints as the ninth book, the Tirumandiram of Tirumular and 40 hymns by 12 other poets as the tenth book. In the eleventh book, he created the Tirutotanar Tiruvanthathi (also known as Tirutoṇṭar Antādi, lit. Necklace of Verses on the Lord's Servants), which consisted of 89 verses, with a verse devoted to each of the saints. With the addition of Sundarar and his parents to the sequence, this became the canonical list of the 63 saints.[5] In the 12th century, Sekkizhar added a twelfth volume to the Tirumurai called Periya Puranam in which he expands further on the stories of each of 63 Nayanars.[3][2][1]

The Nayanars were from various backgrounds, including Channars, Vellalas, oilmongers, Brahmins, and nobles.[1] They are sometimes grouped with the twelve Vaishnava Alvars, as South India's 75 Apostles of Bhakti. This is because of their importance in the rise of the Hindu Bhakti movement.

List of Nayanars[edit]

The 63 Nayanmars in a Shiva temple
Kannappa Nayanar

Sundarar's original list of Nayanars did not follow any sequence with regards to chronology or importance. However, some groups have since followed an order for arranging their Nayanar temple images according to Sundarar's poem as well as the information from Nambi and Sekkizhar.[3][7]

List of 63 Nayanars
No.[7] Person Notes
1 Sundarar
2 Tiru Neelakanta
3 Iyarpagaiar
4 Ilayankudi Maranar
5 Meiporul Chettinaqdu king
6 Viralminda
7 Amaraneedi
8 Eripatha
9 Enathinathar
10 Kannappa
11 Kungiliya Kalaya
12 Manakanchara
13 Arivattaya
14 Anaya
15 Murthi
16 Muruga
17 Rudra Pasupathi
18 Nandanar (Thirunalai Povar)
19 Tiru Kurippu Thonda
20 Chandeshvara most earliest Nayanar, who lived in Vedic period
21 Appar (Tirunavukkarasar)
22 Kulachirai
23 Perumizhalai Kurumba
24 Karaikkal Ammeiyar earliest Nayanar, woman saint who lived in the 6th century[8]
25 Atputhi Adigal
26 Tiruneelanakka
27 Nami Nandi Adigal
28 Sambandar
29 Eyarkon Kalikama
30 Tirumular
31 Dandi Adigal
32 Murkha
33 Somasi Mara
34 Sakkiya former Buddhist
35 Sirappuli
36 Siruthondar
37 Cheraman Perumal
38 Gananatha
39 Kootruva former Jain
40 Pugal Chola Chola monarch
41 Narasinga Muniyaraiyar
42 Adipaththar
43 Kalikamba
44 Kalia
45 Satti
46 Aiyadigal Kadavarkon
47 Kanampulla
48 Kari
49 Ninra Seer Nedumaara Pandya king, and former Jain
50 Mangayarkkarasiyar Queen, wife of Ninra Seer Nedumaara
51 Vayilar
52 Munaiyaduvar
53 Kazharsinga
54 Idangazhi
55 Seruthunai
56 Pugazh Thunai Chola commander
57 Kotpuli
58 Pusalar
59 Nesa
60 Sengenar (Kochengat Chola)
61 Tiru Neelakanta Yazhpanar
62 Isaignaniyaar Sundarar's mother
63 Sadaiya Sundarar's father

Other saints[edit]

9th century poet Manikkavacakar was not counted as one of the 63 Nayanars but his works were part of the eighth volume of the Tirumurai.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sadasivan, S.N. (2000). A Social History of India. APH. p. 150-151. ISBN 9788176481700. 
  2. ^ a b c Ramaswamy, Vijaya (2007). Historical Dictionary of the Tamils. Scarecrow Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780810864450. 
  3. ^ a b c Sivananda, Sri Swami (1999). "Sixty-Three Nayanar Saints" (web ed.). Divine Life Society. 
  4. ^ Ten saints of India By T. M. P. Mahadevan, page 35
  5. ^ a b Zvelebil, Kamil (1974). A History of Indian literature Vol. 10 (Tamil Literature). Otto Harrasowitz. p. 130. ISBN 3-447-01582-9. 
  6. ^ Cutler, Norman (1987). Songs of experience: the poetics of Tamil devotion. USA: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication-Data. p. 50. ISBN 0-253-35334-3. 
  7. ^ a b Dehejia, Vidya. "Introduction: The sacred sequence of the Sixty-Three Nayanars". Sixty-Three Nayanars webpage. Skanda Guru Natha. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Das, Sisir Kumar (2005). A History of Indian Literature, 500–1399: From Courtly to the Popular 6. Sahitya Akademi. p. 31. ISBN 9788126021710. 

External links[edit]