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Tirugnana Sambandha Nayanar History - Part-I (The Miraculous Milk and the Cymbals)

While children in the world cry to get the attention of their mothers, one child cried and got the attention of the Mother of the universe. While children are completely dependent on their parents, one child elucidated to mankind the independence from worldly bonds. While the prattle of children gives happiness to their parents, the hymns with fascinating words of one child gave bliss to the entire world. While children are guided by elders, one child with Supreme knowledge, guided not only his older contemporaries but also many people over many centuries to meditate on the Luminous Mahesha. He kindled hearts with the Vedic knowledge suffused with Shaivite philosophy driving away many half-baked faiths. He was the container of the unbeknown knowledge of the Truth. He was an outstanding prodigy. Let the Benevolent Lord forgive us for our impertinence in trying to narrate the history of that revered devotee Tirugnana Sambandha Nayanar - the Child of God.

Thirugnana Sambandhar showing the Divine Parents
Thirugnana Sambandhar showing the Divine Parents

In the ancient Chozha kingdom is the town of Sirkazhi which was well known by all its twelve names. Legend has it that the Lord with His consort Gauri came on a boat to bless and reside in this very place during a deluge. In this prosperous land, the Holy ash smeared on the swarming devotees dazzled in the background of the smoke emanating from the fire rituals performed by the Vedic brahmins. It appeared that even nature here was performing a fire ritual with honey dripping from the tips of the mango leaves from the many trees making oblations into ponds filled with red lotuses that looked like leaping flames. In that exquisite town lived the blessed Vedic brahmin, Shivapada Hridaya, in the lineage of Kaundinya, whose great penance benefited the entire humanity. He was married to the chaste Bhagavathi who was well matched in character and love to him. Those were times when religions based on spurious doctrines were on the rise which made Shivapada Hridaya worried for the ignorant people who were forgetting Shaivam and being lured into these religions that did not lead to liberation, enlightenment or even obtaining the grace of God. By the mercy of the Lord for this world, he begot a child, who is the precious pearl of Shaivam. The wonderful child was born to emphasise the truth of Vedas, uphold the discipline of Sanatana Dharma, spread the fragrance of Shaivam, mobilise devotion through music, take the high philosophies of the scriptures to the masses, show the world the grace of the Lord Shiva thus spreading peace and happiness all around. Happy at the good omens that accompanied the time of the birth, the good people of the town welcomed the child. The ceremonies enlisted in the holy scriptures were duly performed in the first ten days for the newly born child. His father, in whose heart lay enshrined the feet of the Lord, felt the insignificance of ornaments and so applied the Holy ash as protection on the child's forehead. The child grew up with the happiness among kith and kin. 

He was three years old when one morning he adamantly cried to accompany his father to the pond where he was going to take bath (Aghamarshana - holy dip) before his worship. Unable to pacify the child, Shivapada Hridaya took him along to the pond. Seating him on one of the banks, he waded into the pond and performed the rituals saluting the Lord of Tiruthonipuram. When he took a dip in the water, the child worried at not seeing his father wailed looking at the tower of the Lord of Sirkazhi "Amme! Appa!" (Oh Mother! Father!). The Mother and Father of the Universe who are love, appeared on the Bull there. Looking to bestow Grace on the weeping child, the compassionate Father told the Mother to feed the child with Her holy breast milk. Blessed by the Lord, the caring Mother who gave birth to the worlds took the milk from Her breast in a golden bowl and fed the child the milk with the knowledge of unfathomable Shiva, wiping away the tears of the child. With the Mother and Father of all creatures thus blessing the child, he became the son of God and the admirable Shivagnana Sambandhar. He was blessed with the knowledge of constant meditation of Lord Ashutosha’s feet, the knowledge of liberation from the cycle of birth and death, the knowledge of art and the knowledge of the Truth that very instant. He rose realising that 'everything is created by Isha only' and the greatness of devotees. 

Thirugnana Sambandha Nayanar
Thirugnana Sambandha Nayanar

Shivapada Hridaya, after completing the rituals saw his young son who appeared luminant like the Sun standing with an exultant look with milk dribbling down. The honest disciplined father angrily questioned, “Who gave you milk?”, and lifted a stick to reprimand him. Raising his leg, with the tears of unlimited joy welling in his eyes, with a hand pointing to the beautiful Lord with the pretty Parvati, beginning with the first vowel (o) of the holy Vedas, starting with the holy ear of the Lord that would hear and bless the hymn, he sang the Tiruppadikam - "todudaiya cheviyan" ("One with ornate ear") stating that, "He is the Lord who did this to me". In this Tiruppadikam he touches upon many aspects of devotion. To indicate that even if devotees make mistakes, when they surrender to God, they would get His Grace - he sang about the blessing of God to the demon Ravana, when the later surrendered and glorified the Lord through music after being held down under Mount Kailash, which he had tried to lift under the cloud of his ego. The Lord blesses those who worship Him – he sang about the inability of Brahma and Vishnu to find the limits of the Limitless Lord, as a bird and boar respectively, when they tried to establish their own strength, but were blessed after their failure and realising the supremacy of Lord they sought His refuge with love. He admonished the ignorant people who converted to religions like Jainism and Buddhism, which without realizing God take a self-centred approach to philosophy that leads only to misery. In the last verse of this Tiruppadikam he enlists the fruit of devotion to the glory of God (tirukadai kappu). 

The Devas and heavenly denizens rained flowers. The sound of Hara reverberated in the sky. The praise of the Lord was heard. The Lord proceeded to His abode at Tiruthonipuram. Seeing the Thief who stole his heart going inside the shrine, the magnificent little child with eagerness and love followed Him. His blessed father, though unable to see the Lord, understood the Grace of God and the events from the meaning of the hymns sung. He followed his wonderful child with excitement and love. The chanters of the Vedas who came there were astonished to hear about the occurrences. Going into the temple where the Lord is with His consort on a boat, the prodigy said that the Lord who blessed him was there with Uma. As he started back from the temple, prostrating the Lord, his father lifted him onto his shoulders. There was an ocean of devotees who praised their boon Tirugnana Sambandhar, who at the age of three having been blessed, recited remarkable songs. With his ruby like lips still wet with the nectar he sipped on, that child, returned home to the tumultuous sound of drums and conch shells. That night he spent reminiscing the Lord. When the sun rose the next day, he went to the temple to salute the Mother and Father of Tiruthonipuram who poured Their love on him. He then went in the eagerness to salute the Lord at the shrine in Tirukolakka. He praised the Essence of the Vedas with the hymn “madaiyil valai paya”. When he was singing the Tirupadikam, clapping with his tiny little hands to keep the beat, the kind Father concerned for the bud like hands of the child bestowed on him a pair of golden cymbals with His holy five letters engraved. Accepting His Grace on his head, the prodigy completed the padikam with the tirukadai kappu. The distinguished celestial musicians like Tumburu and Narada praised the child. All the devotees gathered saluted the blessed beacon in the form of that child. Unable to bear his child’s tender feet walking the distance, while returning to Sirkazhi, the father placed him on his shoulders. On reaching Sirkazhi, he went straight to the temple of Tiruthonipuram to salute the Lord. Then the mother who gave birth to that boon to the world, along with other devotees came forward and saluted her loving son - the saint Tirugnana Sambandhar. The entire town was pleased to see and bow before this superior devotee.


> NEXT >   
part II (Pearl Palanquin)


Guru puja : Vaikasi - Moolam


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