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63 நாயன்மார்களின் கதை --- சுந்தரமூர்த்தி நாயனார்

 

63 நாயன்மார்களின் கதை  

சுந்தரமூர்த்தி நாயனார் 


Sundarar (Tamil Sundarar), also known affectionately as Tampiran Tōḻan (Comrade of the Master, meaning friend of Shiva) was an eighth-century poet who was one of the most prominent Nayanars, the Shaiva bhakti (devotional) poets of Tamil Nadu. He was a contemporary of Cheraman Perumal and Kotpuli Nayanar who also figure in the 63 Nayanmars. The songs of praise are called Thiruthondathogai and is the original nucleus around which the Periyapuranam is based. The Periya Puranam, which collects the legends of the Nayanars, starts and ends with him. The hymns of seventh volume of the Tirumurai, the twelve-volume compendium of the poetry of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta, were composed by him.

Life

Family of Sundarar : Sadaya Nayanar (father), Isaignaniyar (mother), Paravai Nachiyar (wife), Sundarar, Sangili Nachiyar (wife), Narasinga Muniyaraiyar (foster-father).

Sundarar is unique among the Nayanars in that both of his parents are also recognized as Nayanars. He was born in Thirunavalur into an Adi Saiva family who worked as temple priests. His original name was Nambi Aroorar. The chieftain ruler of the local kingdom (Thirumunaipadi-Nadu), Narasingamunaiarayar, enthralled by the divine aesthetic possessed by young Sundarar who was playing in the street, adopted him and brought him up as his own son. Sundarar was a contemporary of the great Pallava emperor Rajasimha, who was also a Nayanmar saint as well as the author of many devotional hymns works in Tamil literature. A temple inscription in Tiruvarur states that Sundarar's father, Sadayan Nayanmar, belonged to the same ″gotram″ (lineage) of the renowned sage Bharadwaja. His mother Isaignani, also a Nayanmar saint, belonged to same the ″gotram″ of the great sage Gautama. From epigraphs, it is also inferred that a hagiography on Sundarar named Sva Swami Mitra Prabhandam translated as travelogues of how he got in the good graces of the Lord, Sri Shiva.

After he came of age, his parents wanted him to get married. Sadaiyanar sought Sandakavi Sivachariar’s consent to obtain his daughter’s hand for Sundarar. Sandakavi Sivachariar’s and his daughter Kamalagnana Poongathai were living in Puthur (modern-day Manamthaviznthaputhur) at the time. Sivachariar gladly consented, but the wedding was not to take place. All lavish arrangements had been made in Arulmigu Sokkantheeshwarar Temple at Puthur for the wedding. According to a legend, while Sundarar was being married, the service was interrupted by an old ascetic who asked for Sundarar as his servant, making a namesake claim that Sundarar's grandfather pledged him according to an ancient palm leaf manuscript in his possession. Sundarar and those assembled at the wedding were outraged and belittled the old man as a madman (piththaan: Tamil). Nonetheless, a court of Vedic scholars concluded that the palm leaf was legally valid. Crestfallen, Sundarar resigned himself to servitude in the old man's household and in following him to Thiruvennainallur village, was led to the Thiruvarutturai Shiva temple.

The old man was said to be Shiva (Lord Thyagaraja) himself, who told him "That the document shown was only a namesake reason and he wanted Sundarar to be reminded of his actual form as Alalasundarar, a servitor in the holy abode Kailasam, who had to be born on Earth both due to moments of worldly thoughts that overcame Shiva. The fact that the southern Tamil region that had done great ″thavam″ during a period of the Kali Yuga and needed to be blessed with an account of lives of great Nayanmars called Tiru-Thondar Thokai also contributed to my decision. You will henceforth be known as Vanthondan, the argumentative devotee. Did you not call me a mad man just a short while ago? Begin your hymn addressing me 'O mad man!'".Lord Sivan also advised vanthondar that while on earth he should sing in Tamil. Accordingly, Sundarar began his first poem by addressing Shiva as Pittaa pirai chudi.. meaning O mad man, who has the crescent as his crown...

Sundarar (left) with Paravayar (Paravai Nachiyar).

Subsequently, Sundarar moved around Tamil Nadu, visiting several Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu. In Tiruvarur, in the Thanjavur district, he fell in love with a girl named Paravayar, of the Rudra Kanigayar caste of female ascetics, and married her. Sundarar was held in such a high regard by his contemporary Nayanmar saints like Viranmindar, Kalikamanar etc. that he was offered royal treatment by those rich servitors. One another Nayanmar saint namely Kotpuliyar, a Vellala, praised for some magnificent services also offers sundarar hand of his daughter but the saint politely declines and instantly picks up the girl and puts in his lap and dedicates a hymn to siva in the end of which he says that he considers the girl equivalent to his daughter. The same treatment is accorded by the saint to yet another girl namely singati. In many hymns, Sundarar makes this declaration of love filled, gracious patronage to the children that he accorded.

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