Thirumalisai Alvar, also known as Tirumalisai Azhwar, was a Poet saint from the ancient Tamil country who existed during the period between 4th century CE and 9th century CE. He composed the Prabandhams, titled Naanmugan Thiruvandhadhi (96 hymns) and Thiruchchanda Viruththam (120 hymns), included in Divya Prabandham, also known as Nalayira Divya Prabandham. Divya Prabandham
is an anthology of 4,000 verses in Tamil
composed by the 12 Alvars before 8th century AD and compiled by Nathamuni during the 9th century- 10th century. Thirumalisai Alvar was a Tamil mendicant poet saint who is much venerated in the Sri Vaishnavism School of southern India, during the period between the 4th century CE and 9th century CE, in Tondai Nadu, which now forms the present districts of Tiruvallur
. There only a few historical records available for Thirumalisai Alvar.
According to the devotees of Sri Vaishnavism
, legends related to the poet saint state that Thirumalisai Alvar was the incarnation of Sudarshana, the divine disc of Lord Vishnu. He was of Paraiyar caste; and as he was considered as an untouchable and casteless person (known as Avarna), Thirumalisai Alvar, in one of his verses, publicly declared that he did not belong to the 4 castes, namely Brahmin
and Shudra. According to his hymns and couplets, Thirumalisai had the access and resources to study about different religions. His verses mention that he considered himself fortunate to be blessed by Narayana
(Lord Vishnu) and find refuge at the Lotus feet of Sri Devi (Goddess Lakshmi
). It is due the blessings of the Lord he has been able to break out of all misfortunes and problems. The hymns of Thirumalisai Alvar also mention that earlier he had attempted to attain knowledge about the supreme principle through Buddhism and Jainism.
Further more, his devotional hymns provide further evidence that he urged Lord Vishnu to help disclose their ignorance to them. Legend has it that when Thirumalisai Alvar disappointed the Pallava
king, he was expelled and banished. Then he requested Lord Yathotkari, the presiding deity of the local temple, to go with him and leave the temple and the kingdom. It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu folded up Sesha
Nag (the divine snake) similar to a mattress and went away with the exiled Thirumalisai Alvar.
The poet saint composed 216 paasurams or hymns for Divya Prabandham (Nalayira Divya Prabandham), collection which had 4,000 Tamil verses. His first Prabandham named Thiruchchanda Viruththam contains 120 hymns and starts from 752 paasuram and ends at 871 paasuram. The second Prabandham of Thirumalisai Alvar is titled Naanmugan Thiruvandhadhi and it contains 96 verses. The work of Naanmugan Thiruvandhadhi starts from 2382 paasuram and ends at 2477 paasuram.