Identify the relationship between the Alvars and Nayanars of Tamil Nadu with the state from the eighth to the eighteenth century.
The relationship of the Alvars and the Nayanars with the State has been discussed below –
• The Bhakti Movement which began in the 6th Century BCE as a new form of worship in southern India were led by the Alvars and the Nayanars who worshipped specific deities such as Vishnu and Shiva.
• The Bhakti saints, particularly the Nayanars often opposed Buddhism and Jainism in their compositions and hymns. This hostility has often been explained by historians as a form of competition for royal patronage.
• Their opposition was viewed in a positive manner by the royalty who supported Brahmanical traditions.
• Several southern rulers like the Cholas supported Bhakti traditions making land grants and building temples for Vishnu and Shiva. Some of the most magnificent temples at Chidambaram, Tanjavur, and Gangaikondacholapuram were constructed under the patronage of the Chola rulers.
• In order to claim divine support and create a legacy of their power and status, the Chola kings often built temples adorned with the images and visions of the Saints who sang in the language of the commoners.
• This also helped them to garner the support of the Vellala peasants who revered the Nayanars and the Alvars.
• The Nayanars also inspired the artists of this stage which led to the production of some of the most spectacular images of Shiva in bronze during this time.
• The singing of Tamil Shiva hymns in temples under royal patronage was introduced by the kings who also took the initiative to collect and organise them into a text.
Hence, owing to their popularity among the common people, the Alvars and the Nayanars enjoyed an intimate and mutually cooperative relation with the state.