From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Periyapurāṇam literally means ‘the great purāṇa, mythological work’.

The sixty-three Nāyanmārs or Nāyanārs are the Śaiva saints of Tamil Nadu who spread the sect of devotion to Lord Śiva,[1] brought about a social revolution that made all devotees of Lord Śiva feel equal to one another and also contributed to the disappearance of Jainism from the Tamil land. Their lives were found in a sketchy form loosely distributed among the various works. However, it was Sekkizhār[2] who brought together all the available information about these Nāyanmārs in one place and wrote the well-known classic the Periyapurāṇam. He based his work on Tiru Tondattokai of Sundaramurti[3] and the Tirutondar Tiruvandādi of Nambiandar Nambi.[4]

The Periyapurānam is a remarkable composite work of hagiology dealing with all the 63 lives. It is in 72 cantos and has 4286 verses. The biographies of the four most well-known saints are dealt with in great details. These four saints are:

  1. Sundarar
  2. Tirujñāna Sambandhar
  3. Appar
  4. Tirumular

This work is also a literary masterpiece. Good English translations of the works have been published in the recent past.


  1. He is as an aspect of Brahman, the Absolute.
  2. He lived in 11th cent. A. D.
  3. He lived in 8th cent. A. D.
  4. He lived in 10th cent. A. D.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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