What is the Difference Between Nayanars and Alvars? 

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difference between Nayanars and Alvars

Nayanars and Alvars were actually the Tamil poet-saints who made significant contributions in promoting the Bhakti Movement in the Southern part of India during the 5th-10th centuries. The term Nayanars was used for a group of 63 saints who were devotees of Lord Shiva. They lived somewhere around the 6th to 8th centuries CE. On the other hand, the Alvars were Tamil poet-saints of South India. They worshipped Lord Vishnu and his avatar Lord Krishna. But this is not it. In this blog, we will explore more about the difference between Nayanars and Alvars. 

Also Read: What is the Difference Between Ramayana and Ramcharitmanas?

Difference Between Nayanars and Alvars

Now that we have a basic idea of who Alvars and Nayanars were, let’s explore the significant differences between them. 

Parameters Nayanars Alvars 
Time period They were active somewhere around the 6th and 8th centuries AD. Although some believe that Alvars were active between the 5th and 10th centuries AD, others believe that they lived between 4200 BCE – 2700 BCE.
Deity of worship They were devoted to Lord Shiva and his avatars.They worshipped Lord Vishnu and his avatars. 
Number of saintsOriginally there were 63 as listed by Sundarar but Nambiyandar Nambi expanded the total.There were 12 Alvars.
Origins Nayanars belonged to different origins including Brahmins, Harijan, farmers, and nobles. Alvars belonged to lower castes.
Important Scholars ViralmindaMeiporul, Tiru Neelakanta, Karaikkal Ammaiyar (women)Thiruppan Alvar, Thirumazhisai Alvar, Kulasekara Alvar, Andal (only female Alvar saint and is also referred to as “Meera of the South”
Popular literary works Nambiyandar Nambi, the high priest of Raja Raja Chola I compiled the hymns of Nayanars into a series of volumes called the Tirumurai. The hymns of Alvars were later consolidated into a single volume called Divya Prabandha. 
Major impactRevival of ShaivismRevival of Vaishnavism and Bhakti movement across India. 
Chaitanya MahaprabhuGoswami Tulsidas
Gautam BuddhaSwami Vivekananda
Types of VedasGurukul Education System


How many Alvars and Nayanars were there?

There were 63 Nayanars and 12 Alvars who came from different backgrounds of the society. 

Who were alvars and nayanars?

The Alvars and Nayanars were two prominent groups of poet-saints who are believed to exist between the 5th and 10th centuries CE. They were ardent devotees who spent their lives travelling from one place to another, wrote beautiful poetry, and composed hymns for their deities. 

What did the Nayanars and Alvars do from place to place?

The Nayanars and Alvars went from one place to another and wrote exceptionally amazing literary works in praise of their deities in the villages they visited. Apart from poetry, they also composed music in the honor of their deities. 

That’s all about the difference between Nayanars and Alvars! If you want to know more about topics like this, then visit our general knowledge page! Alternatively, you can also read our blog on general knowledge for competitive exams!

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