The 63 Nayanars, also known as the Tamil Saints or Shaivaite Saints, were a group of devotees of Lord Shiva who lived in Tamil Nadu, India, between the 6th and 8th centuries CE. They were instrumental in spreading the philosophy and practices of Shaivism, a sect of Hinduism that reveres Lord Shiva as the Supreme Being.
The Nayanars were men and women from different castes and backgrounds who were united in their devotion to Lord Shiva. They were poets, scholars, merchants, farmers, and even outcasts. They lived simple lives and devoted themselves to the worship of Lord Shiva through songs, hymns, and other forms of devotion.
The stories and legends of the Nayanars are found in a collection of devotional hymns called the Tevaram, which is part of the Tamil literature known as the Tirumurai. The Tirumurai consists of 12 volumes and contains over 3,000 hymns composed by the Nayanars and other Shaivaite saints.
The Nayanars are revered for their devotion, piety, and the miracles associated with their lives. Some of the most famous Nayanars include Appar, Sundarar, Manikkavacakar, and Tirunavukkarasar. Each Nayanar had a unique story and experience of divine grace, but they all shared a common love and devotion for Lord Shiva.
The Nayanars played an important role in the development of Shaivism in Tamil Nadu and beyond. They spread the teachings of Lord Shiva through their hymns and teachings, and their legacy continues to inspire millions of devotees today. Their lives and teachings are celebrated in temples, festivals, and devotional practices throughout South India.