Tirunavukkarasar

Appar is one of the four Tamil Samaya Acharyas. He was a contemporary of Sambandhar. He was a Vellala or Tiru Amur in the district of Cuddalore, Tamilnadu. He was born of Pugalenar and Mathiniar. The parents gave the name Marulneekiar (dispeller of darkness or ignorance) to Appar. Appar means father. Sambandhar gave Marulneekiar this name. The name Appar was first used by Sambandhar in addressing him in one of the several meetings between them. Appar’s soul-stirring and sublime odes earned the title Tirunavukkarasar or the Lord of speech. He was a God-inspired soul. He sang devotional odes or Padigams during his pilgrimage to various shrines. He flourished in the middle of the seventh century A.D. He was a mystic and poet.

Tilakavadhiar was the elder sister of Appar. She was betrothed to Kalippahaiyar, a military commander under the Pallava king. Kalippahaiyar had to fight against some invader from the North. He died in the battle-field. Tilakavadhiar’s parents also died. The news of the death of Kalippahaiyar reached the ears of Tilakavadhiar. She made up her mind to enter the funeral pyre. Marulneekiar came to know of the intention of his sister. He ran to his sister, prostrated before her and said: “I am keeping my life on account of your support only, after the death of our parents. If you want to give up your life, I will give up my life before you do so”. The heart of Tilakavadhiar melted. She changed her determination and resolved to lead the ascetic life and bring up her helpless younger brother.

Appar became a convert to Jainism. He studied all the Jain scriptures. He went to Pataliputra itself and became one of the spiritual heads there, as he was an erudite scholar in the Jain scriptures.Appar’s sister was very much afflicted at heart when she came to know that her brother became a convert to Jainism. She left her native village and went to Tiru Atikai, a neighbouring town. She spent her time in meditation and prayer at the Siva’s temple. She prayed to the Lord for his return. Appar fell a victim to a severe colic which could not be cured. He threw off the garb of a Jain, his bowl and went to his sister. She smeared the holy ashes on the forehead of Appar and took him to the temple of Siva and asked him to prostrate before the Lord and worship Him. Appar acted accordingly. The severe colic vanished at once. He praised Lord Siva.

The spiritual head of the Jains at Pataliputra reported to Kadava, the Jain king, about the absconding of Appar. The district of Cuddalore was under the sway of the Pallava king Kadava. The spiritual head induced the king to persecute Appar. Appar proceeded to the Pallava capital and appeared before the king. Appar was persecuted in various ways. He was thrown into a burning lime-kiln. He was compelled to drink poisoned milk. An elephant was sent to kill him. A heavy stone was tied to him and he was thrown into the sea. Lord saved him. He floated alive and reached the shore at Tiruppatirupuliyur. The Pallava king recognised the greatness of Appar and prostrated at his feet. He gave up Jainism and embraced Saivism. He built a magnificent temple of Siva called Gunathara Vicharam at Tirunadhikai. Thereupon, Appar proceeded on a pilgrimage to various sacred places. He visited Chidambaram, Sirkali and other places and sang Tevaram or odes in praise of Lord Siva. Appar met the saint Appudi Adigal at Tingalur. Appar brought to life Appudi’s son, who was bitten by a cobra. Thereupon, Appar visited holy places such as Tiruvanainallur, Tiruvamathur, Tirukoilur and Tirupennakatam and worshipped Lord Siva. He finally reached Tirutunganaimadam and prayed to Lord Siva: “O Siva Sankara! O Ardhanarisvara! O source and end of all beings! I do not wish to keep the body which was in touch with the Jains. Let me have the stamp of Your trident and Nandi on my body”. He sang a Padigam. At once a Sivagana approached Appar through the grace of Lord Siva, and put the stamp of trident and Nandi on the shoulder of Appar. Then Appar proceeded to Sirkali to meet Sambandhar. He fell at the feet of Sambandhar. Sambandhar addressed the Vellala saint: “O my beloved Appar”.

Once, Sambandhar went in a palanquin to Tiruppuntiruti in the district of Tanjore to meet Appar. Appar went in advance and carried the palanquin. Sambandhar asked: “Where is Appar?” Appar replied: “Here am I, carrying the palanquin”. Sambandhar at once got down from the palanquin, embraced Appar and shed tears of love. Appar went to Tiruchattimutram. He sang a Padigam and said: “O Lord, place Thy lotus-feet on my head before I leave this physical body”. He heard an Akasavani or voice in the sky: “Come to Tirunallure”. Appar acted accordingly and went to Tirunallure. Lord Siva placed His feet on the head of Appar. Appar prostrated on the ground. His heart was filled with indescribable delight. Then Appar went to Tiruvambhar, Tirukadavur and Milalai. There was great famine in Milalai. Appar and Sambandhar were very much grieved at heart as the devotees of Lord Siva were starving. Lord Siva appeared in the dream of both and said: “Do not be afflicted, I shall give you gold-pieces”. They found gold-pieces daily in the temple and fed the people sumptuously.

Appar and Sambandhar visited the temple at Vedaranyam in the district of Tanjore. Here, an old temple of Lord Siva had long remained with doors shut. The Vedas themselves had come and worshipped Siva in the temple and they now did not offer their worship, because people neglected the study of Vedas on account of the influence of Jainism. Sambandhar said to Appar: “Come, and sing that these doors may be opened”. Appar sang and the doors opened. Sambandhar sang and the doors shut. On one occasion, Appar was very hungry during his pilgrimage tour. Lord Siva created a tank and garden on, the way and gave him food also.

Appar started on a journey to visit Mount Kailas. He had a tiresome journey. He had severe bruises on his feet. He heard a voice in the sky. It was the voice of Lord Siva. The voice said: “O Appar, wake up. Take a dip in this tank. You will see Me and Mt. Kailas in Tiruvayar”. Appar took a dip in the tank and appeared in a temple in Tiruvayar on the banks of Kaveri. He came outside the tank and saw Siva and Sakti everywhere. He entered the temple and saw Mt. Kailas and the Lord Siva of Mt. Kailas. Appar rejoiced heartily at the marvellous sight and sang Padigams. Finally Appar stayed at Pumpukalar near Tiruvalur and spent here the last years of his life. He was tested here by the Lord, in order to show his greatness to the people. When he was serving in the temple, gold and diamond appeared under his feet. Appar regarded them as stones and threw them away. On another occasion, celestial damsels appeared before him and tempted him in a variety of ways; but Appar remained undisturbed in his meditation. He merged himself in the Light of lights, Lord Siva, when he was much advanced in age. Appar laid the foundation of Saiva Siddhanta school of philosophy, by means of his poems. Appar’s poems are full of imagination, spiritual insight, religious emotion and high spiritual realisation.

Appar was more learned than Sambandhar. He had a very powerful personality. He led an exemplary life as a Siva Bhakta. He put an end to the influence of Jainism. He always praised the five letters, the Panchakshara. He says: “The rare jewel of the Brahmins is the Veda with six Angas; the rare jewel for the Saivites is the Panchakshara”. His exemplary life, mellifluous poetry, vast erudition and profound religious fervour attracted countless people. He had countless admirers and disciples. He had great influence. Appar’s works consist of three hundred poems which form three books out of twelve in the Tamil collection of Saivite poetry known as Tirumurai.

Appar says: “Everything is the manifestation of Lord Siva. Siva is Narayana, Brahma, the four Vedas, the holiest, the oldest, the perfect. Though Siva is all these, He is none of these. He is without name, without birth, death or disease. He is at once the transcendent and immanent. “Love of Lord Siva must be felt and manifested. Sing. Pray. Worship. Weep. Dance. Lord Siva is the music or melody in the song, the sweetness in the fruit, the thought in the mind, the lustre in the eyes. He is neither male nor female. He is without dimensions. “Subdue the senses. Practise regular meditation. Practise Chariyai, Kriyai, Yoga and Jnana. Practise regular meditation. Develop dispassion (Vairagya). Transcend the three bodies. Unite the individual soul with the Supreme Soul or Lord Siva. You will attain eternal bliss and immortality. You can behold Lord Siva if you look for Him with the light of wisdom issuing forth from the wick of life, fed with the ghee of meditation, in the lamp of the mind, within the house of your body.

“Plough with truth. Plant the seed of desire for knowledge. Weed out falsehood. Irrigate the mind with the water of patience. Supervise your work by looking within or introspection and self-analysis. Build the fence of Yama and Niyama or right conduct and right rules. You will soon attain Sivanandam or eternal bliss of Siva. “Regard your body as the temple of Lord Siva, your mind as the worshipper, truth as purity which is necessary for worship, the jewel of the mind as the Linga, love as the ghee, milk, etc. Perform Puja to Lord Siva thus. Lord Siva cannot be obtained without making the mind one-pointed and meditation on the Panchakshara.” May you all follow the precepts and teachings of Appar and attain the Siva-Pada, the immortal abode of eternal bliss!

 

Gnanasambandar

Sambandhar took his birth in a Brahmin family in Sirkali in the district of Tanjore which is also known by the name Brahmapuri. He was born of Bhagavati and Sivapadahridayar. Bhagavati and Sivapadahridayar went to the tank to take their bath. The child also accompanied his parents. They left the child on the bank and proceeded to take bath. The child cried aloud: “O father!” as he did not see his parents. The parents did not hear the cry of the child, but Lord Siva and Parvati heard his cry. They both appeared before the child. Parvati gave milk to the child. The child drank the milk of divine knowledge along with the milk. From that moment he began to sing the praises of Lord Siva in various temples. He sang soul-stirring, sublime Tevarams or odes. This incident occurred when the child was three years old. The parents finished their bath and came near the child. Milk was flowing from his mouth and there were tears in his eyes. The parents asked: “My beloved child, who gave you milk?” The child sang a hymn and narrated everything to his parents. The parents rejoiced heartily and gave to the child the name Tiru-Jnana Sambandhar as he attained divine wisdom through the grace of Lord Siva and Parvati. He was also known by the name Pillayar. Thereupon Sambandhar proceeded to Tirukkolakka. He sang a hymn or ode in the temple. Lord Siva presented him with a gold cymbal.

There was a devotee of Lord Siva in Tiruyerukkattampuliyur. He could play well on the musical instrument Yal. His name was Tirunilakantha Yalpanar. He went to Sirkali to pay his respects to Sambandhar. Sambandhar took him to the temple of Lord Siva and heard his music. Yalpanar prayed to Sambandhar and said: “Let me always live with you playing thy hymns on Yal. Grant me my prayer”. Sambandhar agreed. Thereupon, Sambandhar and his parents and Yalpanar proceeded to Chidambaram and worshipped Nataraja. One day, Sambandhar saw the three thousand Brahmins of Chidambaram as the three thousand Siva Ganas.

Sambandhar wanted to worship the Lord at Aratturai. He walked on foot. He got tired and so he rested on the way in Maranpadi during the night. As he was a small boy, his tender feet were much affected by the long walk. The Lord of Aratturai appeared in the dream of the priests and told them: “Sambandhar is coming to Me. Take the pearl umbrella and the pearl palanquin which are now in the temple and hand them over to him”. The priests woke up and went to the temple. They saw the articles which they saw in their dream there. They took them, went to Maranpadi and gave them to Sambandhar. They informed Sambandhar about the command of the Lord. Sambandhar also knew this already as the Lord informed him also about this, in his dream.

Thereupon, the thread ceremony of Sambandhar was performed by the priests. Sambandhar did not study the Vedas and the Vedangas, but he repeated them and explained them to the priests. The priests were struck with wonder.Appar heard all about the glory of Sambandhar. He came from Chidambaram to Sirkali to pay his respects to Sambandhar. Sambandhar came forward to receive Appar. They both spoke words of affection and love. Appar remained in the house of Sambandhar for some days.

The daughter of the king of Malaya country was suffering from an incurable disease. The king tried all sorts of medicines. Finally, he took her to the temple at Tiruppaccil Acciramam and left her there before the Lord. Sambandhar visited the temple and saw the princess in an unconscious state. His heart melted. He sang a Padigam and worshipped Lord Siva. The last line in every stanza ends: “Is it right for the Lord to cause suffering to this girl?” At once, the princess became all right. She got up and prostrated at the lotus-feet of Sambandhar.

Then Sambandhar proceeded to Tiruppattisvaram temple. It was a very hot day. Lord Siva of Tiruppattisvaram temple sent a pearl palanquin through His Ganas to ward off the heat of the sun. Sambandhar sang a Padigam and received one thousand gold coins from the Lord of Avadutturai. In the Padigam, he asks in every stanza: “Is this the way of Your looking after my interests? If You do not give me anything, is that Your grace?” He gave the gold coins to his father. Sambandhar proceeded to Tirumarugal. There a traveller was bitten by a snake. His wife was bemoaning the death of her husband. Sambandhar sang a Padigam. The traveller was brought back to life. There was severe famine at Tiruvilimilalai. Sambandhar received one measure of gold every day from the Lord at Tiruvilimilala. He purchased provisions for this money and fed all Siva Bhaktas.

Kulaccirai, minister of the Pandian king invited Sambandhar to his place. He was a devotee of Lord Siva. Mangayarkkarasi, the queen was also a devotee of Lord Siva. Sambandhar visited Madurai and worshipped the Lord there. The Jains set fire to the camp of Sambandhar. Sambandhar sang a Padigam. The fire was extinguished, but the Pandian king got severe fever. The doctors and the Jains were not able to cure him. The king requested Sambandhar to cure him. Sambandhar sang a Padigam in praise of the holy ashes and applied them to the king’s body. At once, the king became all right. There upon it was decided that both Sambandhar and the Jains were to put their writings into the fire and that if Sambandhar’s religion was the better one, the palm leaves which he put into the fire should not be burnt. Sambandhar came out successful in the test. Afterwards, there was another test. The Jains said that the palm leaf which contained the writings of a true religion should go against the current of the Vaigai river. The minister said: “What is the punishment for those who are defeated in the test?” The Jains replied: “Those who are defeated will be hanged”. The Jains put a palm leaf in the river. It went along the current of the river. Sambandhar wrote one of his poems and threw it into the Vaigai. It went against the current and reached the place known as Tiruvedangam. Sambandhar sang a Padigam to stop the palm leaf. It stopped. The minister ran, took the leaf and showed it to the king. Then some of the Jains were hanged. The rest embraced Saivism. Sambandhar went with the king and queen to the temple at Madurai and praised the Lord there. Sambandhar wanted to go to Tirukkollampudur to have Darsana of the Lord there, but there was flood in the river. The boatmen gave up the idea of crossing it. They tied the boat somewhere and left the bank. Sambandhar took the boat, sang a Padigam and went over to the other side along with his party.

The devotees of Sambandhar were blowing the trumpet of victory when they were travelling. The Buddhists became very jealous of this. They informed their spiritual head, Buddhanandi. Buddhanandi called Sambandhar for discussion.Sambandhararanalayar, a disciple of Sambandhar who was recording all the songs of his master, sang a Padigam sung by Sambandhar and said: “A thunder will fall on the head of this Buddhanandi”. At once, a thunder fell on the head of Buddhanandi. He died immediately. Some Buddhists ran away. Some others embraced Saivism and applied the holy ashes on their forehead. Thereupon Sambandhar visited Tiruvottur. One man came to Sambandhar and said: “O Swami, all the palmyra seeds have become male palmyras. People are mocking at me. Kindly bless me”. Sambandhar sang a Padigam. The male palmyras were converted into female palmyras.

In Mylapore, there lived a devotee of Siva named Sivanesa Chettiar. A daughter was born to him after doing penance. He gave her the name Poompavai. Sivanesar heard about the glory of Sambandhar and surrendered all his wealth and daughter to the saint. One day, Poompavai was bitten by a cobra, while she was gathering flowers in the garden. She died immediately. Sivanesar kept her bones in a pot and kept the pot in the Kannikaimatam. He decorated the pot with silk cloth. Sivanesar invited Sambandhar to the place. Sambandhar came to Mylapore and had Darsana of Kapalisvarar. The devotees informed Sambandhar about the death of Sivanesar’s daughter. Sambandhar asked Sivanesar to bring the pot which contained the bones of his daughter. Sivanesar brought the pot at once. Sambandhar sang a Padigam. Poompavai came out of the pot just as Lakshmi emerged from the lotus. Sivanesar’s heart was filled with intense delight. There was a rain of flowers from the celestial regions. Then Sambandhar went to Sirkali. The Brahmins approached Sambandhar and said: “O Swami, you will have to marry a girl now in order to perform the sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas”. Sambandhar agreed. The Brahmins and the father of Sambandhar selected the daughter of Nambiandar Nambi as the bride. The marriage ceremony was arranged at Nallur Perumanam. Sambandhar went along with his chosen bride into the temple. When he approached the Lord, he, his bride and his followers got merged in the Jyotis or the effulgence of the Lord. Sambandhar says in one of his Padigams: “O foolish man, do not allow days to pass. Serve Lord Siva who has a blue neck. Hear His praise. Meditate on His form. Repeat always the Panchakshara. Live in the company of devotees of Siva. Serve them. His name will remove all evils and dangers likely to fall on you and your children. Worship Lord Siva. He will confer on you eternal bliss and immortality”.

 

Sundaramoorthy Nayanar

There was a Brahmin by name Sadayanar in Navalur in Tamilnadu. He was very pious and devoted to Lord Siva. He had a pious son named Nambiyarurar or Alala Sundarar. He attained manhood. He was known by the name Sundaramurti Nayanar also. Sundaramurti Nayanar was a great devotee of Lord Siva. He is one of the four Saiva Acharyas. Lord Siva of Tiruvennainallur appeared before Sundaramurti in the form of an aged Brahmin on the eve of his marriage. The Lord said that Sundarar was His bond slave and so ought to work for Him in His house. The name of the Lord is Taduttatkonda Isvar or the Lord who obstructed and saved Sundarar from Samsara. Sundaramurti visited several temples. He went to Adigai Virattanam. Lord Siva appeared before him and placed His sacred feet on his head. Sundarar then went to Tiruvarur. Lord Siva made Sundarar His friend. Kamalini was the maid servant of Umadevi at Kailas. She entertained a desire to marry Alala Sundarar. So she was forced to take birth in the world at Tiruvarur. She was named as Paravai. She came of age. Lord Siva of Tiruvarur appeared in the dream of the devotees and told them: “Arrange for the marriage of Paravai and Sundaramurti”. Lord Siva informed Paravai and Sundarar also. Sundarar married Paravai and both lived happily.  There was a famine in Tiruvarur. Lord Siva appeared before Sundaramurti and gave him heaps of grain. It was impossible to remove this large quantity of grain. Sundaramurti asked Lord Siva to help him. The grain was removed to the house of Paravai by the Ganas, the agents of Lord Siva.

When Sundarar was at Tiruppugalur he asked for gold for his wife. He kept his head on bricks and slept. He woke up and found the bricks converted into gold. He got again gold on his way to Vriddhachalam. He threw the gold in the river Manimukta according to the Lord’s command. He took it again in the tank at Tiruvarur. Lord Siva showed him the way to Tirukkudalaiyarru. Lord Siva gave Sundarar food when he was going to Tirukkarukavur. On another occasion Lord Siva begged food for Sundarar. Sundaramurti went to Tiruvottiyur. He married Sangili, a great devotee of Lord Siva through the grace of Lord Siva. Aninditai, maid servant of Umadevi who lived in Kailas, took her birth as Sangili. Sundaramurti requested Lord Siva to stay under the Magila tree when he was to swear to Sangili that he would not leave her. Sundarar wanted Sangili to go inside the temple, but Lord Siva already informed Sangili that He was under the tree and not inside the temple. Thereupon, Sangili asked Sundaramurti to come to the tree and not inside the temple, to take the oath. Sundaramurti had to give consent to Sangili’s request. Later on, he broke the oath by going to Tiruvarur to see the Utsava leaving Sangili, and became blind.

Sundaramurti said to the Lord: “If it is just that You should make me blind, kindly give me a stick”. Lord Siva gave a stick at Tiruvenpakkam. Sundarar’s left eye became all right when he came to Kanjivaram. When he praised Lord Siva at Tiruvarur his right eye also became all right.  When Sundaramurti was passing through a street in Tiruppukoliyur he saw that some people were crying in a house and some people were rejoicing at the opposite house. He asked the people: “What was the matter in both the houses?” They said: “Two boys aged five took bath in a tank. One boy was devoured by a crocodile and the other boy escaped. The parents of the boy who was killed by the crocodile are bitterly weeping. The parents of the boy who escaped, are celebrating his thread-ceremony and so they are rejoicing.” Sundarar was greatly moved. He sang a Padigam in praise of Lord Siva-Avinasi. The crocodile brought the child to the shore through the order of Lord Yama. The parents of the boy greatly rejoiced and prostrated before Sundarar. During the pilgrimage tour, Sundarar came to the bank of Kaveri. There was flood in the river. He wanted to have Darsana of Lord Siva at Tiruvayur. He sang a Padigam. The river gave way to Sundarar. He reached Tiruvayur and worshipped the Lord.

There was a great devotee of Lord Siva in Tiruperumangalam named Kalikamar. He was a Pillai by birth. He heard the news that Sundarar sent Lord Siva as a messenger to Paravai, and said: “A devotee has ordered the Lord to do some work. He has made the Lord his servant. That too for the sake of a woman. Is this man who has behaved like this, a devotee? I am a great sinner. My life has not yet departed from me as I have heard such news. I have not destroyed my ears, with an iron rod, which heard such news of a so-called devotee”. Sundarar came to know of the condition of Kalikamar Nayanar. He knew already that what he did was a grave error. He prayed to the Lord to pardon him. Lord Siva wanted to unite these two devotees. He caused the disease gastritis in Kalikamar, appeared in his dream and said: “This disease can be cured only by Sundarar”. Kalikamar reflected: “It is better to bear the pains of this disease, than to be cured by Sundarar”. The Lord commanded Sundarar: “Go and cure the disease of Kalikamar”.

Sundarar sent a message to Kalikamar about his coming to him. Kalikamar thought: “Let me give up my life before Sundarar comes to cure me.” He cut open his bowels and gave up his life. The wife of Kalikamar received Sundarar with great honour. Sundarar said to the wife of Kalikamar: “I wish to cure the disease of your husband and live with him for some time”. She kept quiet and asked those who were around her to tell Sundarar that her husband was not suffering from any disease and he was sleeping. Sundarar informed the people that he had a strong desire to see Kalikamar. Then they showed Kalikamar. Sundarar saw the dead body of Kalikamar. He also drew the sword and wanted to kill himself. Kalikamar came back to life through the grace of Lord Siva. He at once caught hold of the hands of Sundarar. Sundarar fell at the feet of Kalikamar. Kalikamar also prostrated at the lotus-feet of Sundarar. They both embraced each other. They both went to the temple of Lord Siva and worshipped Him. Thereupon, they proceeded to Tiruvarur.

Paravai was very much annoyed towards Sundarar for having left her and married Sangili. Sundarar requested Lord Siva to pacify Paravai. Lord Siva went twice to the house of Paravai, pacified her and united them both. The Lord acted the part of a messenger for His devotee. The Lord becomes a perfect slave of His sincere devotees. Sundaramurti became quite disgusted with this worldly existence. He requested Lord Siva to take him back to Kailas. Then Lord Siva sent him a white elephant.  Sundaramurti sang the glories of Siva in different sacred places. These hymns are called Tevaram. They are collected in a book-form. All devotees sing Tevaram even today. The hymns sung by Sundaramurti, Appar or Tirunavukarasar and Tirujnana Sambandhar are called Tevaram. The hymns sung by Manickavasagar are called Tiruvasagam.  Sundaramurti had the Sakhya Bhava with Lord Siva. Therefore, he was quite friendly with the Lord, took any kind of liberty with Him and asked for gold, pearl garland, musk, a garland of precious stones, spectacles, clothes, fragrance, jewels, horses which can go with the swiftness of the wind, golden flowers, palanquins, one-third of the riches of Tiruvarur. He did not ask for these things on account of desire for enjoyment. He had no selfish desires. He did not keep them. He utilised them for those who depended on him. Sundaramurti showed to the world the path of Sakhya Marga or Sakhya Bhava in Bhakti.

 

Manickavasagar

Manickavasagar was a Brahmin by birth. He took his birth in Tiruvadavur seven miles from Madurai on the banks of Vaigai river. He must have lived between 650 and 692 A.D. Some say that he flourished in the tenth or eleventh century. He secured the friendship of the king of Madurai, Arimardana Pandyan, and became his chief minister. He was also known by the name Vadavurar. The Pandya king sent Manickavasagar with a lot of money to purchase horses for the State. Manickavasagar started on his journey. On his way, he heard the Kirtan of Siva in a garden in Tiruperundurai. Lord Siva assumed the form of a Siva Yogi and seated Himself, underneath a tree with His Siva Ganas as disciples. He came here to initiate Manickavasagar in Siva Jnana. Manickavasagar fell at the feet of the Lord and surrendered himself. Lord Siva initiated Manickavasagar into the mysteries of Siva Jnana. Manickavasagar spent away all the money he had brought, in the construction of temples and feeding Siva Bhaktas. He renounced everything, wore a Kowpin and became a Sannyasin. The matter was reported to the king.

The Raja sent a letter to Manickavasagar and ordered him to see him at once. Manickavasagar did not pay any attention. Lord Siva said to Manickavasagar: “I will bring the horses on Avani Mulam. You go in advance. Give this diamond to the Raja”. Manickavasagar proceeded to Madurai, gave the diamond to the Raja and said: “The horses will come here on Avani Mulam”. The Raja became impatient. He did not get any information about the horses two days before Avani Mulam. He thought that Manickavasagar had cheated him. Therefore, he put Manickavasagar in jail and tormented him severely. The horses came in the morning of Avani Mulam. Lord Siva assumed the form of a groom. How merciful is the Lord towards His devotees! The Raja was highly pleased. He released Manickavasagar from jail and made an apology to him. Through the Lila of the Lord, jackals came in the form of horses. All the horses were turned into jackals. The Raja became terribly angry. He again tortured Manickavasagar. He made him stand in the hot sand-bed of Vaigai river at 12 noon. At once the Lord caused flood in the river to cool His devotee. The whole town was inundated.

The ministers told the Raja that this calamity had happened on account of his ill-treatment of the great Mahatma. The Raja at once released Manickavasagar. He prostrated before him and requested him to stop the flood. As soon as Manickavasagar marched on the bank, the flood subsided. The Raja ordered all the subjects to put one basketful of mud on the bank of the river. All the breaches were made all right except that portion of the breach given to an old woman Vandi. She was in distress. Lord Siva Himself out of compassion appeared as a cooly before that old woman and offered His services to her in return for a handful of rice-flour. He was simply playing. He kept the mud in His hands. The Raja came to know that the cooly of Vandi did not do any work. He became very angry and beat the cooly with a stick. The blow was felt by the Raja and everyone in the town. The cooly vanished. The Raja came to know that this was the Lila of the Lord Siva. He recognised the glory of Manickavasagar also. Thereupon Manickavasagar met Lord Siva. The Lord ordered him to visit all places of pilgrimage and then go to Chidambaram. Manickavasagar visited Tiruvannamalai, Kanjivaram and other places, sang his Tiruvasagam and lastly went to Chidambaram. Tirukoovai was written by him here. Then Manickavasagar entered into discussion with a Buddhist teacher and defeated him. Goddess Sarasvati made the Buddhist teacher and his disciples dumb. Then the Buddhistic king approached Manickavasagar and said: “You made my teacher and all his disciples dumb. If you can make my dumb daughter speak, I and my subjects will embrace Saivism”. Manickavasagar then put some questions to the dumb daughter of the king. She began to speak. Then the Buddhistic king and all his subjects became Saivites. Manickavasagar then made the Buddhistic teacher and his disciples speak.  Then Lord Siva approached Manickavasagar in the form of a Brahmin. Manickavasagar repeated the whole Tiruvasagam to the Brahmin. The Brahmin wrote down everything on the palmyra leaves and wrote in the end: “Manickavasagar repeated this, Tiruchittambala Udayar wrote this”. The Brahmin kept this in the step of Panchakshara of the Chitsabhai. Then the Brahmins of Chidambaram showed this to Manickavasagar and requested him to tell the meaning of the verses. Manickavasagar said: “This Tillai Nataraja is the purport of these stanzas”. He at once merged himself in the feet of Nataraja at the age of thirty two. The poems of Manickavasagar are fifty two in number. They are all collected together under the title of Tiruvasagam. They are most beautiful, sublime and inspiring. They contain ornamental poetry. South Indians sing Tiruvasagam daily. The hearts of those who hear these hymns melt at once.