The era of the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar

Thread started by virarajendra on 22nd June 2008 12:57 PM



Author - Virarajendra

The era of the Tamil Saiva Saints Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar and Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar

(1) Introduction

Among the sixty three (63) - Tamil Saiva Saints (Thiruththondar) of the pre-medieval and medieval period Tamil Nadu, the Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, the Saint Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar, and the Saint Suntharamoorththy Naayanaar are the three principal Saints- as gleaned from the Tamil Saiva religious work "Periyapuraanam" (also known as the Thiruththondar Puraanam), composed by the sage/poet Seakkeelaar.

The above three along with the Maanikkavaasaka Swamihal are considered as the four great Saints of "Tamil Saivaism" of that period.

(2) Period of the Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1

From an Inscription on a pillar at the "hill fort" of Thirutchiraappalli (in Tamil Nadu) we are made aware that the Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1 (A.D.575 - 630) (date as per "Pallankoil Jaina Copper Plate Grant" by T.N Subramanian) who ruled the northern region of the Tamil Nadu from his capital at Kanchipuram, also bore the title "Gunabaran" among his many other titles. Also in an Inscription at Kapotesvara temple at Chezarla in Guntur district (Karnataka), there is a reference that 'Mahendravikrama Maharaja' who bore the birudus "Gunabara" and "Avanibhajana" ruled from Kanchi situated on the banks of the river Vegavathi'.

In the "Periyapuraanam" under the narration of the life and times of Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, there is a reference that a Pallava king of his period built a Siva temple at "Thiruvathihai" and named it as "Gunabara-eechcharam"(eechcharam = eswaram) after his title "Gunabaran".

Hence it is very clear that the Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar lived during the period of the Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1. It was during this time the Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar embraced Jainism from Saivaism, and later again re-embraced Saivaism. It was after this eventthe Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1 greatly influenced by this Saint also embraced Saivaism from Jainism.

http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections...22_1628488.jpg http://www.mamandram.org/magazine/im...2008/appar.jpg
Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar of Tamil Nadu

(3) Period of the Pallava king Narasimhavarman - 1

Further from the Velurpaalayam Copper Plates from Tamil Nadu we are made aware that the Pallava king Narasimhavarman - 1 (A.D.630 - 668) son of Mahendravarman - 1 defeatedthe Western Chalukiya king Pulikesin - 2 at Vaathaapi the (present Badami in the Karnataka State), and planted there in a pillar of victory.

A stone inscription of Narasimhavarman - 1 found on a pillar closer to Dakkina Eerappan Templeat the present Badhami of his 13th year equivalent to Saka 565, which confirms his capture of Vathaapi in the year (565 + 78) A.D.643, was probably that pillar of victory.

Under the narration of the life and times of Saint Siruthonder in the same composition Periyapuranam, it is said that before he became a full time devotee of God Siva, he was an army commander (Anukkan) of a Pallava king and bore the name "Paramjothi", and on whose behalf he went on a war expedition to Vaathaapi in the north (defeated the Western Chalukiya king) and captured this ancient city.

Hence it is very clear from the above two references that it was Paramjothi who led the war expedition to Vaathaapi on behalf of the Pallava king referred in the Periyapuraanam in the year A.D.643, was no other than the king Narasimhavarman - 1 son of Mahendravarman - 1.

Also again from the narration of the life and times of the Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar in the Periyapuranam we note after he re-embraced Saivaism, on an occasion met the Tamil Saiva Saint Siruthondar. This could have been only at a time after the Vaathaapi have been captured by Paramjothi in the year A.D.643, and subsequent to which he became a full time devotee of God Siva with his new name "Siruthondar" (Siruthonda Naayanaar).

During this same period lived the other great Tamil Saiva Saint Thirugnanasampanthar of Tamil Nadu, who was much younger to the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar. From the narration of the life and times of the Saint Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar in the Periyapuranam, we note soon after his "Upanayanam" (sacred thread ceremony), performed traditionally to mark the point at which the boys of that period began their formal education at 5 years, he visited many sacred Saivite religious places in Tamil Nadu.

http://ts3.mm.bing.net/th?id=HN.6080...6&pid=15.1&P=0

This list of 95 Saivite religious places he visted would have taken 2 -years (if we take very approximately, that it took 1 - week to visit each religious place in the days where there had been no faster mode of transport like the present days), and finally he came to Thirusengaattaankudi where he met the Saint Siruthondar. That means Saint Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar would have been 7 years (5 + 2) when he met Saint Siruthondar.

But we also note from the Periyapuraanam that immediately after the Vathapi war in A.D.643 Siruthondar became a full time devotee of God Siva and also got married. At a time he met Saint Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar, he already had a 5 - year old son who just started his elementary studies ("Upanayanam") as gleaned from Periyapuraanam). That means it was in A.D.648 (643 + 5) Saint Siruthondar met Saint Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar who was by that time 7 - years of age.

Further from a collection of Thanippaadalhal (collection of individul Poems), we find a poem (as seen below), states the life period of Saint Thirugnanasampantha Nayanar was 16 years.

".....Apparukku enbaththon(dru) arul Vaathavoorarukku
seppiya naalettinil theiveekam - ippuviyil
Sundararkku moovaaru thon Gnanasampantharkku
antham pathinaaru ari......"

Periyapuraanam - by Seakkeelaar, Thiruppananthaal Sri Kaasi Madam, Sri Vaikuntham, Tamil Nadu
.

Hence we can conclude that Saint Thirugnanasampanthar was born in A.D.641 (648 – 7) and demised in the year A.D.657 (641+16).

Further from the Periyapuranam under the narration of the life and times of Saint Thirugnanasampanthar we note, after meeting Saint Siruthondar he has visited 36 – Saivite religious places before coming to Mathurai to cure the Pandiyan king Seer Nedumaran from his "Veppu Noi" (stomach ailment from heat) and his"hunched back"(due to an illness), and to re-convert him back to Saivaism from Jainism at the request of his queen Mangaiyarkkarasiyar and the chief minister Kulasiraiyaar.

This visit would have taken three quarter of an year - say one year approximately - after he leaving Saint Siruthondar (if we take very approximately, that it took 1 - week to visit each religious place )which would have been in the year A.D.649 (648 + 1). Immediately after these events he was met by the Saint Thirunaavukkarasar who also visted Mathurai. That is the last we know of Saint Thirunaavukaraser in the narration of the life and times of Saint Thirugnanasampanthar.

We also note from the narration of life and times of Saint Thirunaavukarasar, he visted further 4 - Saivite religious places after meeting Saint Thirugnsnasampanthar, Pandiya king Seer Nedumaran, his queen Mangaiyarkkarasiyar, the chief minister Kulasiraiyaar in A.D.649, and demised in the same year at Thiruppuhalur as gleaned from Periyapuraanam.

This would have been the probable reason while all others Saints were at the wedding ceremony of Saint Thirugnanasampanthar at his 16 years of age in A.D.657, but Saint Thirunaavukkarasar who adored him as a great Fellow Saint was not present at the ceremony along with the other Tamil Saivite Saints of this period, namely the Neela Nakkar, and Muruga Naayanaar.

Further from the same poem in the collection of Thanippaadalhal (collection of individul Poems) mentioned above we come to know the life period of Saint Thirunaavukarasu Nayanar was 81 - years.

Hence we can conclude that Saint Thirunaavukkarasar was born in A.D.568 (649 – 81) and demised in the year A.D.649.

We are now certain at the time of his birth in A.D.568, the ruling Pallava king had been the Simhavishnu (A.D.550 – 575) father of Mahendravarman - 1 (date as per "Pallankoil Jaina Copper Plate Grant" by T.N Subramanian))

(4) Period of the Pandiyan king Seer Nedumaran

Further we are aware the Vaihaikarai Kalvettu was issued in he 50th year of Sendan Maran (Maran the son of Sendan). If we assume that Saint Maran changed to Jainism about 5 years after his accession to Pandiya throne and possibly after 2 years he was re-converted back to Saivaism by Saint Thirugnanasampanthar in the year A.D.649 it is clear Sendan Maran (Seer Nedumaran of Periyapuraanam) succeeded to the Pandiyan throne in A.D.642 (649 - 7) and ruled up to A.D.692 (642 + 50)

It was during the latter half of the eighty one years life time of Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Nayanaar - approximately from A.D.608 (568 + 40) the other principal Tamil Saiva Saint Thirugnanasampantha Nayanaar, and few other Saints among the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints - namely the Siruthonder, Appoothi Adigal, Muruga Nayanar, Neela Nakkar, Kunguliyakkalayanar, the Manghaiyarkkarasiyar, the Nedumaranar (the Pandiyan king of this period) and Kulasiraiyar all lived, and are celebrated in the Tamil Saiva religious work Periyapuraanam by the sage/poet Seakkeelaar.

(5) Summary

Period of Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar – A.D.568 - 649
Period of Thirugnana Sampanthar – A.D.641 - 657
Period of Pallava king Simhavishnu – A.D.550 - 575
Period of Pallava king Mahendravarman – 1 A.D.575 - 630
Period of Pallava king Narasimhavarman – 1 A.D.630 - 668
Period of Pallava king Narasimhavarman – 2 A.D.668 - 669
Period of Pallava king Parameshwaravarman-1 A.D.669- 690
Period of Pandiya king Nedumaran – A.D.642 - 692
Other Saints (mentioned above): A.D.608 - 692





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