The Nalayira Prabandham consists of four thousand verses in praise of Lord Vishnu in what is perhaps the oldest language of
The work is the beginning of the canonization of the 12 Vaishnava poet saints, and these hymns are still sung extensively even today. The shrines in which these divine prabhandhas were sung are known as the Divya Desams. These Prabhandas once thought of being lost were collected and organized in the form of an anthology by Nathamuni. The nalayira divya prabhandam has four major divisions viz: - Mudhalaayiram, Periya thirumozhi, thiruvaimozhi and eyarpa. The major contributions to these compilations are by Thirumangaialvar and Namalvar.
Nathamuni was born in Veera Naarayanapuram (Veeranam) or present day Kaattu Mannaar Koil. There is a lot of gap in time between Thirumangai Alvar (the last alvar) and Nathamuni. In this dark period, nobody knew what happened to the 4000 verses.
Legend has it that once Nathamuni heard some people reciting the decade of 'Aaraavamude' of Nammaazhvaar at Kumbakonam. Captivated by these paasurams, he wanted to know more about them. One of the verses also mentioned 'aayiraththul ippaththu' (Tamil: these 10 out of the 1000). When Nathamuni enquired about the remaining 990, the people who sang the 10 did not know anything about the other verses. But as the song mentioned the name and place of the alvar (kurugoor satakopan), Nathamuni proceeded to Thirukurugoor and asked the people there about Swami Nammazhwar's 1000 verses. The people did not know the 1000 that Nathamuni wanted, but they told him about 11 pasurams of Madhurakavi Alvar, who was the disciple of Nammaazhvaar (Kanninun Siruthaambu). They asked him to go to Thiruppuliaazhwar, the place were Nammaazhvaar lived, and recite these 11 pasurams for 12000 times. Nathamuni did as advised, and pleased with his penance, Nammaazhvaar granted him not only his 1000 pasurams, but the entire 4000 parsurams of all the alvars. In