Kalamegaperumal1 (2).jpg
Stucco image of Nammazhwar in Kalamegha Perumal temple
Born3059 BC
PhilosophyVaishnava Bhakti
Religious career
Literary worksThiru Virutham,Thiru Vaasiriyam,Periya Thiru AndaathiThiruvaimozhi
HonorsAlwar saint

Nammalwar (Tamil: Nammāḻwār) is one of the twelve alwar saints of Tamil Nadu, India, who are known for their affiliation to the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. The verses of alwars are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham and the 108 temples revered are classified as Divya Desam. Nammalwar is considered the fifth in the line of the twelve alwars. He is highly regarded as a great mystic of the Vaishnava tradition. He is also considered the greatest among the twelve alwars and his contributions amount to 1352 among the 4000 stanzas in the Nalayira Divya Prabandam.

According to traditional scriptures, Nammalwar was born in 3059 BCE in Alwarthirunagiri.[1] In Hindu legend, Nammalwar remained speechless from his birth sitting in a tamarind tree and he first interacted with Madhurakavi Alvar, who saw a bright light shining to the south, and followed it until he reached the tree where the boy was residing.

The works of Nammalwar were compiled by Madhurakavi as four different works, the Tiruvayumoli (1102 verses), Thiruviruttam (100 verses), Thiruvaasiriam (or Thiru Aasiriyam - 7 verses) andPeriya Thiruvanthadi (87 verses). The works of Nammalwar contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. Along with the three Shaiva Nayanars Appar, Sundarar and Sambandar, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings of South India, changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism to Hinduism.

The Garudasevai festival in Nava Tirupathi, the nine Vishnu temples in Thoothukudi region and the Araiyar Sevai during the Vaikunta Ekadesi festival in Srirangam temple are dedicated to him. The verses of Nammalwar and other alwars are recited as a part of daily prayers and during festive occasions in most Vishnu temples in South India.


Festive image of Nammazhwar

The word alwar means the one who dives deep into the ocean of the countless attributes of god.[2][citation needed] The Alwars are considered the twelve supreme devotees of Vishnu who were instrumental in popularising Vaishnavism. 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.[3][4] The saints had different origins and belonged to different castes. As per tradition, the first three alwars, Poigai Azhwar, Bhoothath Azhwar and Pey Azhwar were born miraculously. Thirumalisai Alvar was the son of a sage, Thondaradippodi Alvar, Madhurakavi Alvar, Periyalvar and Andal were from brahmin community, Kulashekhara Alwar a kshatriya, Nammalwar a Vellala, Thiruppaan Alvar a paanar and Thirumangai Alvar a kallar. The Divya Suri Charitra by Garuda-Vahana Pandita (11th century), Guruparamparaprabhavam by Pinbaragiya Perumal Jiyar, Periya tiru mudi adaivu by Anbillai Kandadiappan, Yatindra Pranava Prabavam by Pillai Lokacharya, commentaries on Divya Prabandam, Guru Parampara (lineage of Gurus) texts, temple records and inscriptions give a detailed account of the alwars and their works. According to these texts, the saints were considered incarnations of some form of Vishnu. Poigai is considered an incarnation of Panchajanya (Krishna's conch), Bhoothath of Kaumodakee (Vishnu's Mace/Club), Pey of Nandaka (Vishnu's sword), Thirumalisai of Sudarshanam (Vishnu's discus), Namm of Vishvaksena (Vishnu's commander), Madhurakavi of Vainatheya (Vishnu's eagle, Garuda), Kulasekhara of Kaustubha (Vishnu's necklace), Periya of Garuda (Vishnu's eagle), Andal of Bhoodevi (Vishnu's wife, Lakshmi, in her form as Bhudevi), Thondaradippodi of Vanamaalai (Vishnu's garland), Thiruppaan of Srivatsa (An auspicious mark on Vishnu's chest) and Thirumangai of Sharanga, Rama's bow. The songs of Prabandam are regularly sung in all the Vishnu temples of South India daily and also during festivals.[4][5]

According to traditional account by Manavala Mamunigal, the first three alwars namely Poigai, Bhoothath and Pey belong to the Dvapara Yuga (before 4200 BC). It is widely accepted by tradition and historians that the trio are the earliest among the twelve alwars.[3][4][6][7][8] Along with the three Shaiva Nayanars, they influenced the ruling Pallava kings, creating a bhakti movement that resulted in changing the religious geography from Buddhism and Jainism to Hinduism. The alwars were also instrumental in promoting the Bhagavatha cult and the two epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.[9] The alwars were instrumental in spreading Vaishnavism throughout the region.[10] The verses of the various alwars were compiled by Nathamuni (824-924 AD), a 10th-century Vaishnava theologian, who called it the "Tamil Veda".[11][12]

Sri nammalvar-Subbiah kumara valai