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Life History of Mei-Kanda-Devar (Meikandar)

    The Chola kingdom and Thondai kingdom are separated by a land called Thiru-Munaip
Paadi (Nadu Naadu). In this land, there is a town called Thirup-Penna-Kadam where lived a 
venerable man called Achchutha-Kalappaalar. He was a very pious and true devotee of Lord Civa. 
He bestowed on the devotees of Lord Civa all kinds of help they needed. Though, he was 
well off economically and intellectually, he was not happy because he had no issues for a long time. 
Therefore, he approached his family preceptor and requested him to bestow his blessings 
to get a child. His family preceptor Sri Arul Nandhi Civaa-chaariyaar suggested a process 
known as 'Biblio-mancy' i.e., random opening of the scriptures text by laying a thread and 
accepting the divine revelation found therein (திருமுறையில் கயிறு சாத்திப் பார்த்தல்)

    With all earnestness, he followed the process meticulously according to his preceptor's
advice. He then came across the following poem.

    peyadaiyaa piriveithum pillaiyinodu ulla
    ninaivu aayinavee varam peruvar aiyura veenda ondrum 
    veeyanathool umaipangan venkaatu mukkula neer                        
    thooivinaiyaar avarthammaith thooyaa-vaam thee vinaiyee                    

                    Thiru-Gnana-Sambandar (Thevaaram 1983)

Gist of the Poem:

    Lord Civan, consort of Uma whose shoulders are as soft as bamboo is bestowing grace
on His devotees in the temple situated in Thiru-Ven-Kaadu (near Virudhaachalam). Those who
visit this temple and worship the Lord with full devotion, after taking bath in the three 
tanks called 'Muk-kulam' (முக்குளம்) - (சோம, சூரிய, அக்கினி தீர்த்தங்கள்) would beget a child. 
Also they would be exorcised and relieved from all other problems in their life. 
No one need to doubt about these good effects.

    As per the reading of the above poem, Achchutha-Kalappaalar and his wife went 
to the temple in Thiru-Ven-Kaadu and did the penance and prayer for 48 days very diligently 
and with full devotion.

    Soon thereafter, they begot a boy child. They named the child as 'Thiru-Ven-Kaadar'.
He was also called Suvetha-Vanap-Perumal (சுவேத வனப் பெருமாள்) ,  which is the name of the 
deity in Thiru-Ven-Kaadu Temple. The child was growing well to the admiration of everybody. 
The child's maternal uncle who lived nearby in Thiru-Vennai-Nalloor came to see his sister's
child and was extremely happy to see the child. On his return, he took the child with him 
and nurtured the baby in the divine way of life.

     One day, Thiru-Ven-Kaadar was playing in the street in front of his house in 
Thiru Vennai-Nalloor. He was just two and a half years old then. At that time, 
Paranjothi Munivar was travelling in space from Mount Kailash to meet Saint Agasthiyar 
in Pothigai Hills in South India (Western Ghats)

    This Saint Paranjothi, while travelling in space over Thiru-Vennai-Nalloor, sighted the
boy - Thiru-Ven-Kaadar enwrapped in divine light (halo). Thiru-Ven-Kaadar, a Saamu-Sidhdhar 
(சாமு-சித்தர்) was a devotee of Lord Civan even at this young age with inborn enlightenment 
owing to the influence of his meritorious deeds in his previous births and had the full knowledge
of reality (தத்துவஞானி).

Note: Paranjothi Munivar is the fourth and last link in the Ahach-Chanthaana-Achaaryaas 
(அகச்சந்தான குரவர்கள்) . These four Achaaryaas or Kuravargal received their spiritual instructions 
and got initiated into the mysteries of religion by communication of the manthraas from Lord Civa.

    Geneology of the four Ahach-Chanthaana Kuravargal (Achaaryass)

        Lord Civan
        Nandhi Devar    1
        Sanar-kumaarar    2
        Sathya-gnaana-dharshni    3
        Paranjothi    4

    (These four are celestial preceptors)

    Realizing the high spiritual status of Thiru-Ven-Kaadar, Paranjothi Munivar landed by 
his side. He imparted spiritual initiation to him and explained the Sivagnaanam that was 
acquired by him from his preceptor Saint Sathya Gnaana Dharshni. He also gave him the 
Spiritual Name (Deeksha Name - தீட்சா நாமம்) as Mei-Kandaar (மெய்கண்டார்), which is the Tamil 
version of his preceptor's name. Thereafter, Paranjothi Munivar proceeded on his onward journey.

    The young Mei-Kandaar went to the Ganesh temple nearby known as 'Pollap-Pillaiyaar Kovil'
(பொள்ளாப் பிள்ளையார் கோவில்) and went on a long meditation recollecting the knowledge
which was imparted to him by Paranjothi Munivar. Later on, he brought out a treatise on 
'Sivagnaanam', which we now call as 'Sivagnaana Botham'. This is a treatise on Saiva Siddhanta 
Philosophy which represent the cream of Tamilian thought and Tamilian Self Realisation. 
The philosophical details given therein, are unique in several aspects and go far beyond 
the limits which other well known systems have reached.

    Mei-Kandaar's name and fame started spreading all around. Scholars gathered and 
listened to his philosophical exposition of Saiva Siddhanta.

    In the meantime, the family preceptor (Sakala-Aagama-Pandithar) Arul-Nandhi-Civaa
chaariyaar came to know about the divine qualities of Mei-Kandaar and went to meet him in 
Thiru-Vennai-Nalloor. He had some egoistic feelings in his mind as to why the boy born out of 
his efforts and advice had not been brought to him to get his blessings. When he reached 
Thiru Vennai-Nalloor many of his aspirants greeted him and offered worship to such a great 
scholar of eighty two years old. Even then Mei-Kandaar had not gone to receive and greet him. 

    His egoism rose up further. Then he himself went to the Ganesh temple where Mei-Kandaar 
was preaching. Even on reaching the place, Mei-Kandaar did neither notice him nor went near him 
to prostrate. Arul-Nandhi-Civaa-chaariyaar's egoism reached its climax. With egoistic and 
perturbed condition of his mind, he suddenly addressed Mei-Kandaar and asked him 
'What is the essential nature of Aanava Malam (ஆணவமலம்) ?'.

     Mei-Kandaar then only realized the presence of the old man. Instead of replying 
to his question by words of mouth, Mei-Kandaar pointed his forefinger towards the old man. 
That very moment, the old man's spiritual knowledge sparkled and he prostrated before 
Mei-Kandaar and begged him to take him as his disciple. Thus, Arul-Nandhi-Civaa-chaariyaar 
became the foremost and leading out of forty-nine disciples to whom Mei-Kandaar imparted 
this great philosophical knowledge.

    After some years, Mei-Kandaar reached the lotus Feet of Lord Civan. The fourteen 
Siddhantha Shastras are the authoratative works expounding the Saiva Siddhantha system 
of philosophy. They were codified during the 12th, 13th, and 14th Centuries.

    The most important of the fourteen, is undoubtedly Meikanda Deva's Sivagnana Bodham 
(மெய் கண்ட தேவர் அருளிய சிவஞான போதம்). Meikanda Deva belonged to the first half of the 
thirteenth Century.

    Meikanda Deva stands at the head of the Purach-chanthaana Paramparai (Religious 
teachers - புறச்சந்தான குரவர்கள்).  His preceptor, St. Paranjothi, is the last link in the 
celestial chain (called the Ahachandanam - அகச்சந்தான குரவர்கள்).

    Of these fourteen Shastras, Sivagnana Bodham, Sivagnana Siddhiyar and Civaprakasam
are the three that are mostly studied and referred to, by scholars. They form a class by 
themselves and are respectively called the Primary, Secondary, and the Derivative. It is for 
these three works that we find several commentaries. Of all the commentaries of the Sivagnana Bodham,
the best one is the commentary of Madhava Sivagnana Swamigal (மாதவச் சிவஞான சுவாமிகள்)
of Vickrama-singa-puram, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India.

    These fourteen Shastras divide the Universe into three eternal categories, 
Pati, Pasu, Paasam (பதி, பசு, பாசம்). They co-exist for all times.                     
Pati is God; Pasu is Soul; Paasam is Bondage. Matter.

        Geneology of the four Purach-Chandaana-Kuravargal

            (புறச்சந்தான குரவர்கள்)

            Mei Kanda Deva Nayanaar    1
            Arul Nandi Deva Nayanaar 2
            Marai Gnaana Sambanda Deva Naayanaar 3
            Umapathi Civaach-chaariyaar 4

            (These four are earthly preceptors)                    

These three have no beginning and no end. Of these Pati, or God has two aspects, i.e, the
transcendental and the immanant. He has the following eight attributes:

1. Self control                1. தன் வயத்தனாதல்

2. Free from all impurities        2.தூய உடம்பினன் ஆதல் 

3. Fountain head of wisdom        3. இயற்கை உணர்வினன் ஆதல்

4. Omniscience                 4. முற்றும் உணர்தல்

5. Free from bondage            5. இயல்பாகவே பாசங்களினின்று நீங்குதல்

6. Boundless Grace            6. பேரருள் உடைமை

7. Omnipotence                7. முடிவில்லா ஆற்றல் உடைமை

8. Boundless happiness            8. வரம்பில்லாத இன்பம் உடைமை.

    All these are perfect and absolute in Him. He is the Supreme Lord of the universe and
the Supreme Regulator of the destinies of the Soul. He is the Supreme Director of the five 
great cosmic action:

1. Creation                1. படைத்தல்

2. Protection or Sustentation         2. காத்தல்

3. Dissolution                3. ஒடுக்கல் (அழித்தல்)

4. Veiling or obscuration        4. மறைத்தல்

5. Bestowal of Grace            5. அருளல்

    In all these actions, He is inseparably united to Chakthi (சக்தி). He is the efficient cause;
the Chakthi is the instrumental cause; and Maayaa (மாயா) is the material cause. The soul, too is 
as eternal as God Himself. Similarly Pasu (Soul) and Paasam (Bondage) have no beginning and no end 
like Pati (God). These, and many other concepts about philosophy are found in all the
fourteen Shastras but mainly in the Sivagnana Bodham.

    The first commentary for these 216 words of 'Sivagnaana Botham' by Maadhava 
Sivagnana Munivar** runs to more than 500 pages. A few more books by different scholars are 
appearing in the market now and then giving commentary for Sivagnaana Botham as well for
Saiva Siddhantam John H. Piet in his book 'A Logical Presentation of the Saiva Siddhanta
Philosophy' writes as under:

    'The Saiva Siddhanta means the conclusion of conclusions- that 
    which speaks the last religious - philosophical word. It is the final 
    authority, the terminus of philosophical thought, the capstone of 
    religious beliefs. By its very name, it claims that nothing higher 

**Maadhava Sivagnana Munivar known as Draavida Mahaa Bhaashyakaarar born in a village called 
Vikkramasingapuram situated in the river bed of Tambarabarani in Tamilnadu, South India. 
He attained Pari Pooranam in 1785 in the Tamil Month of Chithirai (April - May) in the star of 
Aailyam (9th Star). His exact birth date is so far not known. He is not only a tutelary deity of     
Thiruvaavaduthurai Aadheenam, but also he is the family deity of every true Saiva Siddhantin.

    Rev. H. W. Schomerus, a German Scholar, have also written about the Saiva Siddhanta 
Philosophy. In the year 1854, Rev. H. R. Hoisington was the first scholar to translate the 
Sivagnaana Botham into English even before it was printed in Tamil. Now, in the year 1948, 
one Rev. Gorden Mathews has brought out a translation of Sivagnaana Botham in such a detailed
manner as to surpass all earlier editions.

    The Thiruvaachakam is verily an illustration of the philosophical concepts immanent in
the 8th aphorism of the Sivagnana Bodham. We, therefore, preferred to reproduce Sivagnana Bodham 
also in this book as to enable children to memorise these forty lines easily. Later in their life, 
they can study the commentary and understand the Philosophy. The twelve aphorisms of Tamil 
Sivagnana Bodham contains only 40 lines of 216 words. In these 216 words, they deal about 
God, Soul, Bondage (Malam), Maayaa, Karma and Liberation.

        Let the Holy Feet of Mei-Kandaar be hallowed for ever

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