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The Story of Thirugnanasambandar

In the old city of Seerkali in Tamilnadu, lived a brahmin by name Sivapadahrudaya. He and his wife Bhagavathi Ammal were ardent Shiva Devotees and they used to pray to the presiding deity of the town Lord Shiva who was known by the name Thoniyappar.

In course of time Bhagavathi Ammal gave birth to a boy baby who was named Sambandan.  Sambandan was a normal bubbly child as any child would be and was very attached to his father.

One day when his father was going to the temple as usual, little Sambandan who was three years now, was adamant that he would go with his father. The father was reluctant to say ‘no’ to  Sambandan and took him along. When they reached the temple, Sivapadahrudaya wanted to take a dip in the holy pond of the temple, Brahma Teertham. He left Sambandan on the banks and told him to be there until he returned after his holy dip. Young Sambandan nodded his head and was watching his father go into the pond.

The father would dip his head and all in the pond and reappear again. This happened again and again and when once Sivapadahrudaya decided to hold his breath longer under the water young Sambandan panicked as he could not see his father. He cried out “Amma.. Appa” in anguish and Lord Shiva who was doing his celestial rounds with his consort Parvati heard this cry and decided to shower his grace on the little child for he had called them. Amma and Appa mean Mother and Father and when the Mother and Father of the Universe were called they could not resist showering their grace on the boy. Parvati descended to where Sambandan was and fed him milk from a golden cup. Sambandan was very happy and stopped crying for he was seeing the  ‘Jaganmata’ who is the epitome of kindness.

By that time the father had finished his dip and came up. He saw milk drooling from the mouth of Sambandan and got very angry. Angry that his little son had taken milk from somebody . Accepting food from all and sundry was not an acceptable norm those days. It is still not in many households in India.

He asked his son angrily , “Sambanda. who gave you the milk and why did you drink it?” Sambandan did not say anything . He just smiled remembering the kind face of Parvati. The father got very very angry and took a small stick and threatening to beat the child said ,”Tell me. Tell me now. Who gave you the milk?”

Just then Lord Shiva and Parvati appeared in front of Sambandan and he broke into a verse “Thodudaya sevian, vidai eri oar thooven madhi soodi ” meaning ‘He who wears earrings, who rides a bull and wears the moon on his head’. He sang ten verses continuously.  The people and the father were awe-struck that this small child was singing in chaste Tamil. The boy went on to sing many more songs.

People named the gifted child “Gnana Sambandan” that is Sambandan endowed with divine knowledge and with respect he is called Thirugnanasambandar. He lived to sing many songs called Thevarams about the Lord’s glory and also helped the people get Lord Shiva’s grace.

Sambandar lived in the seventh century and is considered the most prominent of the 63 Nayanmars. His hymns are said to be over 10000 but we have lost many of them over time and about few hundreds survive.

Sambandar with the grace of Lord Shiva, performed many miracles and one of them was reviving a girl by name Poompavai. You can read the story here.

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21 Comments

  1. Ram Mohan Narasimhan

    Nice. What a pity we have lost most of his work.

  2. Bhavana

    We must at the least appreciate that we have a few 100’s of his songs still! 😛

  3. vinoth

    pls narate the story of shivanesan and his daughter

  4. Usha

    Very interesting. Awesome vidya

  5. S G V Ramani

    I have been told that Gnana Sambandar was defeated by Thirumangai Alwar in Sirkhazhi and in recognition, he gave him his spear, which is shown with the Alwar everywhere.

    Sri Vaishnava Guruparampara is cited as the authority. Can you please throw some light on this? Were they contemporaries? What are the songs?

    Ramani SGV

    ramanisgv@gmail.com

    • Thank you Sir, for your comment. . Yes Gnana Sambandar and Thirumangai Alwar were indeed contemporaries and it is learnt that when Thirumangai Alwar was coming with his disciples near Kazhiseer Vinnagaram where the Lord is in the form of Trivikrama (Sri Thadalan) and the disciples were announcing the titles of Sri Alwar thereby announcing the arrival.Sri Alwar was a Naal kavi – one who could sing the four types of poetry. Sri Gnanasambandar is said to have asked him to sing at least a Kural which is the shortest poetry in tamil. Sri Alwar started the song with the word ‘Oru Kural’ in it and sung ten paasurams in the most complicated metre . Sri Sambandar was extremely pleased with this and awarded his spear to him it seems.

  6. hajira

    its really useful for my project

  7. Usha

    Hey VIdya, when I googled for stories on Thirugnanasambandar your blog was the first suggestion.Way to go!

  8. very good and informative article…keep up the good work

  9. m.sampanther

    very important article…..thank you for giving us

    • Thank you very much for your comment.

    • Dr Aru

      At what age he passed away

      • I am not very sure if the exact age but he was very young and maybe in his late teens and I would not use the phrase ‘passed away’. It is said that whoever attended his wedding had the good fortune of being transported to Lord Shiva’s abode… And finally he and good wife also went…

  10. Preethi

    Thanks vidya mam

  11. Adv. Sasikumar

    I am a practising advocate from Kerala. During this lock down period, I got enough time for extra reading which led me to read about the great Tamil culture, specially related with Hindu saints and poets. Really thankful for your information about Thirujana Sambandar. I am searching for more information and stories of Manikyavachakar, Sundaramoorthy Nayanar and Appar . Thanking you once again for enlightening others with the stories of great personalities.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words Sir. The stories of other Nayanmars are also there. You can use the search tool on the page and read them. Tirunavukkarasar (Appar) and Manickavasagar are there in my website.
      Thank you and happy reading!!

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