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Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar - Part- I (Rise of the Sage – From Marunikkiyar to Tirunavukkarasu)

Is there anyone who can describe the life full of limitless love and selfless service of deep determination of the great sage who was given the epithet “The King of the Tongue/Words” (Tirunavukkarasu) by the Lord Himself and who is hailed as Appar by the child prodigy Tirugnanasambandhar with great devotion?

Thirunavukkarachu Nayanar - Part- I (Rise of the Sage)
With the Great Sister, who was a Mother, Rescuer and Guide! 

The kingdom of Tirumunaippadi, situated in the central part of Tamizhagam, is adorned  by nature with the river Tenpennai (South Penna) which rendered the soil fertile and also provided plenty of water. Words fall short of describing the greatness of this kingdom where the “Sage of Service” Tirunavukkarasu and the “Superior Servitor of Devotees” Sundara were born! Among the prosperous towns of that kingdom was Tiruvamur, where the sweet fragrance of Shaivam was spread all over. In that land covered by a cloth of green paddy, there lived a good couple Pukazhan and his wife Mathini who lived by tilling the soil for food - agriculture. That blessed couple gave birth to verily the form of wealth - a girl by the name Tilakavathi. After a few years they begot a son - a sun who was to drive away the darkness of ignorance from the hearts of people by his magic words of complete love - and named him Marunikkiyar (remover of illusion). He grew up with all the rituals (Samaskaras) like the ceremony of tonsure done well. He started learning the arts at the right age and grew up like the waxing moon without the blemishes.

When Tilakavathi attained the age of twelve, the army chief of the Pallava king, Kalippagai, who was a devotee of Lord with Uma on the left side of His form, wanted to marry Tilakavathi. Both the families were happy about the match and arrangements towards the marriage had begun. At that time Kalippagai had to go to war against the King of the north on the request of the Pallava king. So, he left before the wedding. Meanwhile Pukazhan fell sick and passed away and Mathini followed him, unable to bear the shock. By the time the children Tilakavathi and Marunikkiyar were consoled by their relatives, they received the message that the valiant Kalippagai had attained martyrdom on the battlefield. Tilakavathi had already accepted him as her husband when her parents had decided to get her married to him. So, she did not want to live without him.

Marunikkiyar fell at the feet of his sister and cried, “I still live even after our parents' death only because I can bow to you, if you also decide to leave me alone in this world then I would prefer to die first.” That soft-hearted lady full of mercy made up her mind to live for the love of her brother. She led an austere life away from all the lures of the world with pure love for all living beings. Marunikkiyar, trying to come out of the grief, involved himself in performing charities - setting up inns, water shelters and hosting the hungry. He started thinking about the uncertainty of life and started analysing different religions. It’s evident that for realizing the Truth, one should have His grace like for drinking water just thirst is not sufficient, there should be a source of water too. As the Lord did not show him the Truth then, he was attracted by the glitter of non-violence of Jainism even though its philosophy was incomplete and impractical.

He went to a place called Patalipuththiram (Kadalur) which was famous for Jain institutions. He learnt the scriptures of that religion in earnest and was praised for his knowledge by the Jains over there. He was given the title “Dharmasena” by them. He won over the Buddhists in the debates on philosophy. The Jain guilds were happy to have such a superior leader. During this period Tilakavathi stayed away from all relations and led a secluded life with the only kin of all the lives - Lord Shiva in the holy place Tiruvadikai. She served the Lord, who burnt three cities of impurities like a piece of straw, in all humility. That ladyof pure heart prayed to God many times to deliver her younger brother from ignorance and show him His grace. She was more than a mother for Marunikkiyar. She not only brought him up but also prayed day and night for him so that he may realize the Truth in this very life. She thus became his philosopher and guide too. The Light of the Universe appeared in the dream of that great lady and blessed her. He told her He would bring Marunikkiyar, who had done many austerities in the previous births to reach Him, to the right path by giving the disease soolai (a terrible stomach affliction).

Like a mother who chastises the child not to punish but to correct, the Lord gave him the unbearable pain of soolai in his stomach. Dharmasena rolled down and screamed, unable to tolerate the terrible pain. No medicine on the earth was useful to mitigate it because it required a medicine called Mahadeva. Appalled by the severity of the disease, the Jains who torture themselves in the name of attaining liberation, chanted all the mantras they knew and gave the water thus obtained to him. Instead of alleviating the pain, it was amplified. They used the peacock feather on his body but it did not stop him from screaming. Frightened and confused, the Jains gave up their efforts. With rising pain and nobody to help, Marunikkiyar remembered his loving sister. He sent a person to convey his pain to Tilakavathi. She felt pity for her brother but with a strong determination to cure her brother for the better, she conveyed to him that she would not come to the place of Jains.

There was the grace of God for Marunikkiyar to come to a decision that he would leave the company of Jains and submit himself to his sister. He shed all the symbols of Jainism there itself and proceeded to Tiruvadikai. There was darkness outside that night, but it was going to meet a bright morning soon. He dressed himself in a white cloth and reached the hut of Tilakavathi. Like a sawn tree, he fell at her feet with the pricking pain in his stomach. Praising the glory of Lord Shiva, she raised him and said, "It is the grace of that matted haired Lord. Surrender yourself to Him who tears down the painful bonds of those who seek refuge in Him and serve Him". That great lady gave him the Holy ash chanting the Holy five syllables, before taking him into her home in Tiruvadikai. Accepting humbly the Holy ash of the Lord who owns all the wealth in this world, he felt he became prosperous in life.

With the darkness both inside and outside getting wiped out, just before dawn she took him to the temple to participate in the Tirupalliezhuchi (the first worship in a temple). Prostrating to the Lord, who never folds hands in worship, he poured out his feelings in the form of a song, like a spring of water gushing forth. He had finally come to Him, who is the king of all the medicines including those for the illness in the form of bonds and births. He sang the Thevaram “kuttrayinavaru vilakkakilIr”, that should melt even a stone-hearted person. God, who is satisfied very easily when there is devotion, immediately cured his illness. Thrilled, he thanked the Lord, who had just rescued him from the ocean of suffering and the darkness of ignorance. By the grace of the Lord there rose a voice, "As you sang beautiful hymns enriched with nice words of excellent meaning, let your name be praised in the worlds as Navukkarasu " (the king of the tongue).

All the creatures surrounded by Pasam (Bond) are subjected to ignorance, illusion and the effects of the past deeds. There are hardly few exceptions to this. It is the quality of the great, that once they get an opportunity to come out of this bondage, they not only rise to the peak of knowledge and but also stand like the full moon that reflects the light of the Sun (representing God), to the world that is in complete darkness. Just with one song God hailed him as the king of words, so, the great transformation his mind would have undergone can only be imagined. It needs no mention for people who have read this peerless hymn “kuttrayinavaru”, the excellence of his love for the Lord and his humility. Devotees express their gratitude to him for the unparalleled words of devotion he has expressed in his hymns. Great is the Lord who gave us the Holy Vedas! Great is His devotee Tirunavukkarasu Peruman, who brings the Lord to us just by heartfelt singing of his hymns!

Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar - Part II - Establishing the Truth - The Ocean that Floated on a Sea


Guru Pooja : Chithirai / Sathayam or Mesha / Shatabhisha

See also:
1. thirunyanachampandha nayanar
2. chundharar 
3. Thilakavathiyar 


சேக்கிழார் எடுத்துத் தந்த திருநாவுக்கரசர் திருப்பதிகங்கள் 
திருநாவுக்கரசர் திருநாமங்கள் 
திருமுறைகளில் திருநாவுக்கரசர் 

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