In the tenth century, during the reign of Raja Raja Chola-1, a collection of these songs was found abandoned in the Chidambaram temple, along with other religious literary works, and collated by Nambiyandar Nambi. It is during the Chola dynasty that Tamil Shaivism came of age and Tevaram, with its body of texts on rituals, philosophy and theology, was canonized. The 276 temples revered by these verses are calledpaadal petra sthalam and another 276 places having Shiva temples that are casually mentioned in the verses are classified as vaipu sthalam. It was Tevaram for Shaivism and Nalayira Divya Prabandam for Vaishanvism. There are 796 of these songs with a total of more than 8200 stanzas. The three poets were not only involved in portraying their personal devotion to Shiva but also involved a community of believers through their songs. It is one of the important sources of Tamil Bhakti, a movement that inspired the agricultural community
|The 3 foremost Nayanars with Manikkavasakar - |
collectively called the Nalvars:
[from left] Sambandar, Tirunavukkarasar, Sundarar and Manickavasakar.
The first three Tirumurais [meaning parts] of Tevaram are composed by ThiruGnaana Sambandhar, the next three by Appar, and the seventh one is composed by Sundarar Appar and ThiruGnaanaSambandhar lived around the 7th century, while Sundarar lived in the 8th century. During the Pallava period these three travelled extensively around Tamil Nadu offering discourses and songs characterised by an emotional devotion to Shiva and objections to Vaishnavism, Jainism and Buddhism.
ThiruGnaanaSambanthar is a 7th-century Holy Guru Paramaachariyaar[The great Teacher] born in SeeKaazhi, now wrongly called as Sirkali in Brahmin community and was believed to be breastfed by the goddess Parvathi, whereupon he sang the first hymn. On the request of queen of Pandiya Nadu, ThiruGnaanaSambandhar went on pilgrimage to south, defeated Jains in debate, the Jains' provocation of Sambandhar by burning his house and challenging him to debate, and ThiruGnaanaSambandhar 's eventual victory over them. He was a contemporary of Appar, another Saiva saint. Information about Sambandhar comes mainly from the Periya Puranam, the eleventh-century Tamil book on the Nayanars that forms the last volume of the Tirumurai, along with the earlier Tiruttondartokai, poetry by Cuntarar and Nambiyandar Nambi'sTiru Tondar Tiruvandadi. A Sanskrit hagiography called Brahmapureesa Charitam is now lost. The first volumes of the Tirumurai contain three hundred and eighty-four poems of Campantar [in 4181 stanzas], all that survive out of a reputed more than 10,000 hymns. ThiruGnaanaSambandhar merged with Lord around the age of 16 in 655 CE on the day of his marriage. His verses were set to tune by ThiruNeelaKanda Yaazhp Paanar, who is set to have accompanied the musician on his yal or lute.
Appar's [aka Tirunavukkarasar] was born in the middle of 7th century in Tiruvamur, Tamil Nadu, his childhood name for Marulneekiar. His sister, Thilagavathiar was betrothed to a military commander who died in action. When his sister was about to end her life, he pleaded with her not to leave him alone in the world. She decided to lead an ascetic life and bring up her only brother. During boyhood, Appar was very much interested in Jainism and started studying its scriptures. He went away from home and stayed in their monastery and was renamed Darmasena. Details of Appar's life are found in his own hymns and in Sekkizhar's Periya Puranam[the last book of the Tirumurai]. Appar had travelled to nearby Patalipura to join a Jain monastery where he was given the name Dharmasena. "Seeing the transient, ephemeral world he decided to probe into truth through renunciation. After a while, afflicted by a painful illness, Dharmasena returned home. He prayed for relief at the Siva temple where his sister served and was cured by Lord. Lord gave the name 'ThiruNaavukkuArasar'. He was also involved in converting the Pallava king, Mahendravarman to Saivism. This was also the period of resurrection of the smaller Shiva temples. Appar sanctified all these temples by his verses and was also involved in cleaning of the dilapidated temples called uzhavarapadai. He was called Tirunavukkarasu, meaning the "King of divine speech". He extolled Siva in 49,000 stanzas out of which 3130 are now available and compiled in Tirumurais [4,5,6]. When he met Sambandhar, he called him Appar [meaning father].
He merged with lord around the age of 81 in Tirupugalur. He famously known for his ThiruThandagam[6th Thirumurai]. ThiruThandagam is difficult to compose, He is called as 'Thandagach Chadhurar' [Expert in ThiruThaandagam] Sundarar [aka Sundaramurthi] was born in Tirunavalur in a Brahmin family during the end of 7th century. Sadayanar and IsaiGnanyiaar are his parents. His own name was Nambi Arurar and was prevented from marrying by the divine grace of Siva. He later married a temple girl namely Paravi Naachiyaar and a vellala community girl by name Changili naachiyaar. He is the author of 1026 poems compiled as 7th Tirumurai. He is close friend of KazharitruArivaar Nayanar aka Cheramaan perumaal Nayanar(one among the holy 63 nayanar) and EyarKon KalikKaama Nayanar(also one among the holy 63 nayanar. From ThiruAnjaiKalam [now ThiruVanjikulam], He went to Kaiylaayam in Holy Elephant which have 1000 horns.
- "In the temple where he is throned, who bids us not lose heart
- In the hour when our senses grow confused, the way grows dim,
- Our wisdom fails, and mucus chokes our struggling breath,
- In Tiruvaiyar, where the girls dance around, and the drumbeats sound,
- The monkeys fear the rain, run up the trees, and scan the clouds".
- "மாசில் வீணையும் மாலையும் மதியமும்
- வீசு தென்றலில் வீங்கிள வேணியில்
- மூசு வண்டறை பொய்கையும் போன்றதே
- ஈசன் எந்தை இணையடி நிழலே"
- "My Lord's twin feet are like the sweet-sounding Veena
- like the full-moon of the evening
- like the gently breeze blowing from the South
- like the young spring
- like a bee-humming lake"
- "Thou art half woman. Thyself
- Ganga is in thy long hair
- Full well canst thou comprehend
- Burden of woman so fair".
|The twelve volumes of Tamil Śaiva hymns of the sixty-three Nayanars|