Thirumuraikal are Saiva poems composed by 63 saints classified into 12 books. The first 7 volumes are collectively known as Thevaram [garland of gods]. The thevarams belong to the musical form Virutham. They convey great philosophical ideas and are written in simple language so that the common individual can relate to them and understand their significance.
Appar is one of the four Samaya Acharyas was a Vellala of Thiru Amur near Cuddalore. The parents gave the name “Marulneekkiar” (dispeller of darkness or ignorance) to appar. Appar’s soul-stirring and sublime odes earned him the title “Thirunavukkarasar” or “the Lord of Speech”. He flourished in the middle of the seventh century A.D. He was a mystic and a poet. Appar became a Jain and read all its scriptures till one day under the influence of his sister he became a devotee of Lord Shiva.
Appar laid the foundation of the Saiva Siddhanta School of philosophy Appar’s poems are full of imagination, spiritual insight, religious emotion and high spiritual realization. He had a very powerful personality. He led an exemplary life as a Siva bhakta. He put an end to the influence of Jainism.
Appar says: “Everything is the manifestation of Lord Siva. Siva is Narayana, Brahma, and the four Vedas, the holiest, the oldest, 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 the immanent.
“Love of lord Siva must be felt and manifested. Pray. Worship. Lord Siva is the music or melody in the song, the sweetness in the fruit, the thought in the mind, the luster in the eyes. He is neither male nor female. He is without dimensions.
Regard your body as the temple of lord Siva, your mind as the worshipper, Truth as purity that is necessary for worship, the jewel of the mind as the Linga, love as Ghee and milk. Perform Puja to Lord Siva thus. Lord Siva cannot be obtained without meditation on the Panchakshara and without making the mind one-pointed.”
Sadayanar of Navalur in Tamil Nadu had a pious son named Nambiyarurar or Alala Sundarar. Alala Sundarar attained manhood. He was known by the name Sundaramurti Nayanar also.
Lord Siva of Thiruvennainallur 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 was Taduttatkonda Piran or the Lord who obstructed and saved Sundarar from Samsara.
Sunaramurti sang the glories of Siva in different sacred places. They are collected in book form. It is called Thevaram. All devotees sing Thevaram even today. The hymns sung by Sundaramurti, Appar or Thirunavukkarasar and Thiru Jnana Sambandhar are called Thevaram. Sundaramurti showed to the world the path of Sakhya Marga or Sakhya Bhav towards Lord Siva. Therefore he was quite friendly with the Lord, nd asked gold, pearl garland, musk, a garland of precious stones, spectacles, clothes, fragrance, jewels, house for those who depended on him.
Manickavasagar or Vadavurar was a Brahmin from Tiruvadavur, near Madurai. He was Chief Minister of the King of Madurai, Arimardana Pandyan. The king sent Manickavasagar with money to purchase horses for the State. Instead, he built a temple (Avudayar koil). Luckily, he was saved by a miracle.
Manickavasagar started on his journey. He visited all the places of pilgrimage and then ago to Chidambaram. Manickavasagar visited Tiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram and other places, sang his Thiruvachakam, and lastly went to Chidambaram.
Then Manickavasagar entered into discussion with a Buddhist teacher and defeated him. Sarasvati made the Buddhist teacher and his disciples dumb. Then the Buddhist 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 Buddhist king and all his subjects became Saivites. Manickavasagar then made the Buddhist teacher and his disciples speak once again.
The poems of Manickavasagar are fifty-two in number. They are all collected together under the title Thiruvachakam. They are most beautiful, sublime and inspiring. They contain ornamental poetry. South Indians sing Thiruvachakam daily. The hearts of those who hear these hymns melt at once.
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar was the author of the first, second and third ThirumuraikaL. He was born in Sikazhi Nagapattinam district in tamilnadu in the 7th century A.D. He composed his first poem "Todudaiya Seviyan" at the age of three making him the youngest composer ever in the world. He has composed 1600 pathikams (poems which are a group of 10 stanzas) out of which only 384 are now available. He has written a variety of poems e.g., about nature, romance visioning Shiva as the Nayakan and himself as the Nayaki, bhakthi. Thus, he has contributed to the development of Saivism and literature. He was blessed by Goddess Parvathi and from then on began to compose poems. In a short life span of 16 years, he was one of the architects of the Bhakthi movement. He defeated the Jain monks in debate and succeeded in bringing the hunch-backed Pandya King back into the Hindu fold.
Nandanar belonged to the depressed class of South India. He was a Pariah saint. He was an embodiment of humility, patience and sincerity. He was a great devotee of Lord Nataraja of Chidabaram. Nandanar was in great despair. He wanted to attend the yearly festival at Chidambaram. He had to finish the work within two days. He cursed himself and prayed the whole night for Lord Nataraja’s grace and guidance. Lord Nataraja did a miracle to help His Bhakta. The next morning, the entire plot of land of 250 acres was green with paddy plants, with ears just shooting up.
Nandanar was thus able to go to Chidambaram. Here he had to face another trouble. The Brahmin temple priests, the Dikshitars, would not allow Nandanar to enter the temple as he was of low birth. Lord Nataraja appeared to them in their dream and said, “O priests, perform all the necessary purificatory ceremonies for Nandanar. He is My great devotee. Allow him to worship Me inside the temple”.
The Brahmins performed the ceremonies accordingly and allowed Nandanar to enter the inner shrine. Nandanar went into the inner shrine and worshipped Nataraja and was in the height of divine ecstasy. A dazzling, effulgent light was seen Nandanar disappeared. He was nowhere to be seen. He became one with Lord Nataraja.
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