Poigai Alwar, Bhoothat Alwar and Pey Alwar are considered the first three among the 12 Alwars and hence they are called Mudal Alwars (mudal in Tamil means first). Mudal Alwars are believed to be born around the same time period in Tamil Nadu.
Poigai Alwar, incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s divine Conch, is believed to be born on a lotus bud in a pond in Thiruvekka, small village near Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu.
Boothath Alwar, incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s divine Mace, is believed to be born on a flower bed at Kadanmallai near Mahabalipuram.
Pey Alwar, incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s sword, was found on top of a flower in a well by Keshavaperumal kovil, Mylapore, Chennai.
Since their childhood, the three Alwars were so devoted to Lord Vishnu and spread the fame of Lord Vishnu. They always sang songs praising the Lord and were so deeply immersed in their devotion that they had no other thoughts in their mind.
As they did not know one another and Lord Vishnu wanted to get them together. So He appeared in their dreams same night asking them to have a darshan of Lord Trivikraman at Thirukovalur (Lord Vishnu appeared as a small boy and took a huge form to measure the universe in one step) on a particular day.
As the three Alwars approached Thirukovalur on a stormy night, they found a small hut part of an ashram that could barely let one person to lay down or two to sit or three persons to stand. Poigai Alwar was the first to get to the hut, followed by Bhoothath Alwar and in short while joined by Pey Alwar. As they began to share their devotional experience of Lord Vishnu, they felt the presence of a fourth person.
Poigai Alwar using the elements of nature as ingredients, making earth as a lamp, the waters of the salty seas as oil and Sun as the wick, lit a glorious lamp that would shine forever and show up with clarity even the tiniest speck of dust. Bhoothath Alwar fashioned a lamp out of his unfathomable love for Lord Vishnu, used his urge to see Lord Vishnu as fuel and his knowledge as the wick. The lamps lit by the two Alwars were so powerful that Pey Alwar was able to see Lord Vishnu and His Consort Lakshmi on His chest, he sang songs. All three Alwars composed beautiful poems and sang in praise of Lord.
From there on, the Mudal Alwars traveled together to various temples singing in praise of Lord and blessing people.