Later still, in the
seventh and eighth centuries A. D., this bhakti movement was further strengthened in South
India by the work of Alvars or Tamil saints who seem to have really sounded the depths of
divine love. The traditional number of these saints is twelve. They belong to all castes.
One of them belongs to the depressed classes. And one is a woman-Andal. They were all
wandering singers absolutely dead to the world and intensely absorbed in God. The hymns
that they composed came later on to be called collectively the Nalayira Prabandham-a
series of four thousand.
like the Bhagavatas, were ardent worshippers of Vishnu, whom they call Vasudeva, Narayana,
Bhagavat, etc. 'They accordingly, like their Northern brethren, emphasize the personality
of God and His grace to the worshippers, as seen in His several incarnations. As a result
of this great bhakti movement, the consolations of religion were extended to all people
without distinction of caste or creed or social status. And as a logical conclusion of the
doctrine of bhakti there arose the doctrine of bhakti which we explained in a former
The age of the Alvars was succeeded by the age of the Vaisnava
Acaryas- Natha muni,Yamunacaya and Ramanujacharya - who, being great scholars, were able
to combine the traditions of the Sanskrit Veda and the Tamil Veda and give a philosophical
basis for their theistically beliefs and practices. They combined bhakti with jnana and
karma, and reconciled the Vedas and the Upanisads with the Tamil Prabandha.