Who is Avvaiyar - Sangam Myth

Who is Avvai or Avvaiyar. If you search for Avvaiyar you will come with more than six Avvaiyars in history right upto the modern times. What we are interested in is the Avvaiyar mentioned in Tamil sangam literature. Chiefly our discussion comes to two persons. There is a Avvaiyar belonging to Chalukya Chola Kulothunga III reign. There is a Sangam Literature Auvaiyar belonging to Athiyaman reign. Is this Auvaiyar of kulothunga times same as Sangam age Auvaiyar. That is the question we are looking into.

Avvai is corruption in tamil of the term avve or avva (both Meaning Mother) in Kannada/Tulu not native to Tamil, indicating origin of legend of Avvaiyar to Karnataka.

Avvai Murugan
Avvai and Muruga (Subramanya) have lot of legendary stories. But we are not able to select a date for these stories. Auvaiyar is shown here as saivite and great devotee of Muruga. Another place Vinayaka (Ganesha) is the god of Avvai and she gets sainthood at the young age by praying to him. Another place Avvai is called a jain. So there is no clear identification here and each sect seems to claim as their own.

Avvai Kural.
The Athichudi is called avvai kural by some. Meaning that Thiruvalluvar and Auvaiyar lived during same period. But today Tamil scholars say that Atticudi was composed by avvaiyar of Kulothunga Period.

Kulothunga III (1178 to 1218AD)
Ottakuttar(Uttarakandam,Takkayagapparani and Muvarula), Pugazendhi (Nalavenba), Avvaiyar(Atticudi,Konraivendam,Vinayagar Agaval, Mudurai and Nalvazhi) , Iraniyar(Kalaviyal), Kalladanar(Kalladam), Aiyanar(Purapporulvenbamalai), Puttamittiranar(Virachoziam), Divakarar(Diwankaram), Pingalar(Pingalandai) , Pavananti(nannul) and Kuttan(Nalayirakkovai, Parani,Tukkayagapparani, sarasvatiyandadi and Arumbaittollayiram) are all contemproaries in Chalukya Chola Kulothunga III court. Ambarkilan Aruvandai is patron of Divarkar. At the end of his chapter Dirarkarar says his patron was also praised by Avvaiyar, the famous court poet of Adhiyaman Elini. From this it is evident that Divarkar, Kalladar , Avvaiyar and Adhiyaman Elini are contemproaries and They all belong to kulothunga period. Since Divarkar praises Chalukyas, his contemproary Avvaiyar belongs to this kulothunga III period.

Who are Velir?
The Traditional accounts of Velir exactly fits Chalukyas, especially Kapilar description of velir. As the new branch of Chalukyas - Chalukya chola came into being, Chalukya and Chola legends mixed and we have lot of confusion. Velirs are from Kuntala that is chalukya country. In kuntala : Kunta means spear same as vel. Thus people of kuntala becomes velir. As we have already seen Velir is Chalukya and Malaya is Hoysala in Sangam Literature in another article.

Let us go to Sangam Age Avvaiyar. To find the date of this Avvaiyaar, we have to find date of Adhiyamaan.

Adhiyaman Date
Adhiyaman sent Auviyar as Ambassador to Thondaiman to prevent war. In Another instance Malayaman kari arch rival of Adigaman meets Avvaiyar and feeds her. This is Sangam Avvaiyar lived during period of Adigaman, Malayaman Kari and Thondaiman. So if we find the dates of these kings, we will find the date of Auvaiyar.

By 1186–87, Kulothunga Chola III had wound up his expedition against the Pandyan kingdom, but he had to immediately deal with the incursion of the Hoysala Veera Ballala II. Kulothunga Chola III immediately set off for 'Kongu to check the growth of Hoysala power in that quarter. He fought successfully against Veera Ballala II in 1187–88, re-established his suzerainty over Adigaman chiefs of Tagadur, defeated a Chera ruler in battle and performed a virabhisheka in Karuvur in 1193. An Inscription by Kulothunga III in Ranganatha temple in Monolithic cave temple of Namakkal Hills gives detailed description of the campaign and also names Adigaman. 

In another inscription in the Kailasanathaswami temple in Kulothunga Chola III mentions thondaiman. Specifies in his twenty-third year the extent of the devaddana lands below the tanks Sirreri and Periyeri at Arumbar, as fixed by Tondaiman Perumalpillai alias Sedirayadevan. Sedirayadevan looks like Sadaiyan who gave patronage to Kamban. Again same period as Avvaiyar.

So Adhiyaman or Adigaman and Thondaiman are of Kulothunga III Period. We already seen that Malaiyaman are Hoysalas. All three kings are present during the period of Kulothunga III. Since the other Avvaiyar lives in Kulothunga III period. Both the Avvaiyars are same.

There is only one Auvaiyar she lived during period of Kulothunga III. The Sangam Age Avvai is a myth.

A Topographical list of the inscriptions of the Madras presidency

Related Posts
Sangam myth
Chola Origin



  1. Well detailed & very informative :)
    glad am following ur blog :)

  2. Dear Satva,
    Adhiyaman and Tondaiman are clan names and not individual names. The Adiyamans are the Satyaputras referred to in Asokan Inscriptions. Sangam Avvayar is not a myth.

    The biggest hurdle in dating early Tamil literature is the multiplicity of names i.e., multiple poets with the same names. We have two Kabilars, two Paranars, two Perundevanars, three Avvaiyars and 3 (or) 4 Nakeerars. I would be least surprised should it emerge, there was a second Kamban.

    Unless one has a discerning eye, there is a danger of attributing the works of the later poets to the early poet. The uninitiated (out of ignorance) and rabids have already done this and that is how Sangam Period (1-3AD) has more literature than any contemporary language.

    The first one is associated with King Paari, One of the Seven Vallals (Philanthrophers) of Sangam Age and the other is the author of Inna Naarpathu (Bad 40)

    We have one Paranar associated with Cheran Chenguttuvan and the other with King Nannan. To make things worse there is another poet called Vanparanar.

    We have one in Paripadal of Sangam Literature and the other one in 9-10AD who wrote Preface to Buddamitra’s Veera Chozhiyam.

    Kamil Zvelbil establishes three Avvaiyars one from Sangam Literature, One in 9-10AD who wrote Aatichudi, Kondraivendan, Moodurai and Nalvazhi. Yaparungalam quotes Moodurai and so this Avvayar has to be different from the third Avvayiar of 12-13AD (contemporary of Ottakoothar and Pugalendi) who wrote Vinayagar Agaval, Avvai Kural etc.,

    Vaiyapuri Pillai establishes three Nakeerars. The first one wrote Nedunalvadai which is part of Sangam lore. Yaaparungalam c12AD refers to a Adinool written by Nakeerar (a Jain?) Apart from this reference nothing is known either about the author or the work. The third Nakeerar was the author of Thirumurugattrupadai and Irayanar Kalaviyal (7AD). Some consider he authored Naladi Nanooru (4*400) or Naladiyar. This Nakeerar is also supposed to be one of the 63 Naayanmaars referred to as Nakeera Deva Naayanar. It is also possible that these two were different persons. That will take count of Nakeerars to 4.

    There are people who argue “Nakeerar” and “Avvayar” are not names but honorific titles.

    1. If you can't produce proof to justify earlier dates, then say they are from a different period. Good technique.

      I see no evidence for your claims.

  3. Velirs are Chalukyas alone??? Then who were Ay Velir??? You should know more dear friend. U were almost right with samgam cheras, but not with perumals. pls concentrate on a single topic n then shift to other

  4. Ay are are Aihole. Velirs are from Kuntala. Now Aihole is a famous study centre and also one of the cultural cities of Kuntala. Kuntala translate to place of Sharp Instruments. Chalukyas are from Kuntala, so they are velir. Now Ayars are the learned men from Aihole and Ayengars are the ayars who defected back to Karnataka under hoysalas, so they are called Ayengars (gar -karnataka)

    Ay velir is to differentiate between the branches of chalukyas from Aihole and Vengi.

    Sangam cheras, I will respond, if the comment is in that topic


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