Answer in100-150 words
Discuss the ways in which the Alvars, Nayanars and Virashaivas expressed critiques of the caste system.
The early Bhakti Movement was led by Alvars and Nayanars. It was the period of the 6th Century. Alvars are those who were disciples of Vishnu and Nayanars were those who claimed themselves the followers of Lord Shiva. They travelled place to place and would sing devotional songs in Tamil in the name of Shiva or Vishnu as the case may be. Apart from being a religious movement it was a social movement too. Many historians are of the view that Alvars and Nayanars gave a blow to the caste system and Brahminism. This is corroborated by the fact that the movement was open to people from diverse background. The Bhaktas came from the castes of Brahmin to artisans to even those that were considered untouchables.
Virashaivas was a movement of the 12th Century that took place in Karnataka. The movement was led by a Brahmin named Basavanna (1106-68), who was a minister in the court of Chalukya king. The followers of Basavanna are called Virashaivas and they worshipped Shiv. They were also called and perhaps more often Lingayats, which literary means wearer of Lingas. They challenged the caste system and they challenged the idea of any caste being pollutant. This helped them grow support among marginalised sections of the society. Virashaivas also attacked some evil practices supposedly not approved by Shashtras, such as post puberty marriage and remarriage of widows. Further they also questioned the theory of rebirth.