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Thiru Jnana Sambandar

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Tiru Jnana Sambandar

In the seventh century some Jain and Buddhist missionaries had settled in the
Tamil country to spread their religions. In sacred Sirkali lived a pious
Brahmin by name Sivapada Hridayar with his virtuous wife Bhagavathiar. Both of
them were ardent devotees of Lord Siva. Sivapada Hridayar prayed to the Lord
for the boon of a worthy son. The Lord granted this boon and soon was brought
into this world a radiant male child. They brought up this child with great
love and devotion, knowing fully well that it was a purposeful gift from the
Lord. The child, too, would weep for his separation from his divine parents
Lord Siva and Parvathy, though ordinary people mistook it for a baby’s crying

One day Sivapada Hridayar and his wife took the child with them to the temple
tank in which they wanted to bathe. The child had insisted on being taken with
them. They left the child on the bank and went in to bathe. The child looked at
the tower of the temple and began to cry for his parents. This outwardly
appears to be a mere childish action but the Lord, who knew its inner meaning,
wanted to bless the child. Siva and his consort Parvathiappeared before the
child and the goddess nursed the child at her breast, giving the child divine
qualities. From that moment he was known as Aludaiya Pillayar or one who enjoys
the protection of the Lord: and also as Tiru Jnana Sambandar as he attained
divine wisdom through the grace of Lord Siva and Parvathy From that occasion
Sambandar began to sing soul-stirring songs in praise of Lord Siva. The
collection of these songs is called Thevaram.

The next day Pillayar went to Tirukkolakka and sang a song, clapping his hands
to keep time. Lord Siva, pleased with this, presented him with a pair of golden
cymbals. Sambandar began to sing, with the help of the golden cymbals.
Sambandar then went on pilgrimages. During the course of them, many miraculous
events took place. Sambandar demonstrated to possess the nature of those truly
great saints who adore even devotees of the Lord as the Lord Himself and sing
their glories, not regarding that as worship or adoration of a human being, but
of manifest divinity. During the occasion of investiture of sacred thread at
the age of seven, he to the great surprise of the brahmins who came to perform
the ceremony, exponded in flawless manner countless shlokas of vedas, many
ancient sanskrit texts and cleared all their doubts on conducting vedic
rituals. He is regarded as an incarnation of Lord Muruga (karthikeya).

The news on the existence of one young Brahmin alleged to have been blessed
with Divine Knowledge by Lord Siva directly provoqued anxiety among Jains,
whose king gave them permission to burn Sambandar’s camp. The Jains failed to
set fire to Sambandar’s camp. So, they set fire to the camp in which the
devotees were lodged. They got up, ran to Sambandar and told him what had
happened. He sang a Padigam expressing the wish that the fire for which the
king was responsible should proceed towards him. As soon as Sambandar sang the
Padigam, the fire in the camp died out and proceeded towards the king, in the
form of a dreadful disease. The king experienced burning sensation all over the
body. All the endeavours of the doctors and the Jain priests to alleviate the
king’s suffering proved futile. The queen and the ministers understood the real
cause of the king’s ailment and requested him to call Sambandar immediately so
that his grace might relieve him of the distress. Sambandar sang a Padigam in
praise of the sacred Ash (Bhasma) and with his own hand smeared the Ash on the
right side of the king’s body. At once the burning sensation stopped and the
king experienced a cooling sensation. Sambandar applied the holy Ash on the
left side also and the disease vanished completely. The queen and the minister
fell at Sambandar’s feet. The king followed suit and praised him. Equally the
buddhist had oportunity to appreciate the spiritual greatness of Sambandar.

As a wandering minstrel Sambandar sang several hymns and opposed the then
prevalent Jain and buddhist heterodoxy in the Tamil country and is credited
with the conversion of the Pandya king from his Jain faith. The saint was
instrumental in ousting buddhist and jain philosophies from India

In Mylapore there lived a merchant by name Sivanesar. He was a staunch Siva
Bhakta. He had all wealth but had no children. In answer to his sincere prayer,
Lord Siva blessed him with a female child. They named her Poompavai. She was
very beautiful. Sivanesar heard of Sambandar’s greatness and felt that he was
the only suitable match for his daughter. Mentally, he had offered her to
Sambandar. One day when Poompavai was gathering flowers in the garden, she was
bitten by a poisonous snake and she died. Sivanesar at once cremated the body
of the girl, collected the ashes and preserved them in a pot. Daily he would
decorate the pot with flowers, etc., and sit near it meditating on Sambandar.
The news that Sambandar was staying at Tiruvotriyur reached the merchant; at
once he decided going to the encounter of Sambandar. He had heard about
Sivanesar and his worship of the pot which contained the ashes of his daughter,
and he wanted to please Sivanesar by bringing the girl back to life. Having
worshipped the Lord and sang hymns, Sambandar asked Sivanesar to bring the pot
of ashes. Sambandar addressed the pot and sang a Padigam. While he was doing
it, Poompavai got her form and got her life becoming a twelve year old girl.
When Sambandar finished the tenth stanza, she came out of the pot, even as
Lakshmi came out of the Lotus. All were amazed at this miracle. According to
the wishes of Sambandar, Sivanesar built an Ashram for his daughter where she
spent her days in worship of the Lord and attained Him.

After visting a number of shrines, Sambandar returned to Sirkali. He had
reached his sixteenth year. Moved by the wish for getting him married, his
father selected the adecuated woman and welcomed the alliance. The wedding was
to take place at Nallur Perumanam. Sambandar went to the temple, worshipped the
Lord and got His blessings. In a pearl palanquin he came to the place where the
wedding was to take place. Sambandar held his wife’s hand and, accompanied by
many devotees, the couple went into the temple and worshipped the Lord, with
total self-surrender. Sambandar sang a Padigam praying for Liberation. The Lord
granted his wish and said: ‘Oh Sambandar, you, your wife, and all those who
witnessed your marriage will merge in the Siva Jyoti and come to Me. ’ At once,
an effulgent Light emerged from the Lord. Before merging in that Light,
Sambandar sang a Padigam known as the Panchakshara Padigam. Then all those who
were there merged in the Light of Siva.

Tirumurai Title Author
1, 2, 3. Tirukadaikkappu Sambandar
4, 5, 6. Tevaram Appar
7 Tirupaatu Sundarar
8 Tiruvacakam and Tirukkovaiyar Manikkavacakar
9 Tiruvisaippa & Tiruppallaandu Various poets
10 Tirumandhiram Tirumular
11 Prabandham Various poets
12 Periya Puranam Sekkizhar

Kannan Kumaraswamy
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