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Tag: Sambandar

The Story Of How Tirugnanasambandar Revived Poompavai

In the present day Mylapore (in Chennai), there lived a merchant by name Shivanesan during the period of Tirugnanasambandar (7th Century AD). Shivanesan was a prosperous merchant who owned ships and traded in gold and precious gems. He was a devotee of Lord Shiva and greatly revered all Shaivite saints, especially  Tirugnanasambandar about whom he had heard a lot. (You can read the story of how  Tirugnanasambandar was blessed by Lord Shiva here.)

Shivanesan had a daughter by name Poompavai. She had been born to him after years of penance and therefore he loved her very dearly. Poompavai was an icon of beauty with eyes of a doe, thick, black and curly hair, a broad forehead and a charming face. Since Shivanesan had heard the greatness of  Tirugnanasambandar so much, he had decided to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to  Tirugnanasambandar only and had also publicly announced so even without meeting Sambandar in person, even once.

One day, Poompavai , when she was twelve years old, had gone to play in the garden with her friends. Unfortunately, there, she was bitten by a poisonous snake, when she was plucking jasmine flowers and the poison caused her to swoon immediately. Her friends rushed in carrying her. Shivanesan immediately summoned the best doctors but his efforts were of no avail. Poompavai died shortly thereafter. Shivanesan and his family were totally shattered by this incident. Shivanesan was so attached to his daughter that even after her death, he announced that if anyone could revive his daughter he would gift all his wealth to them. In the three days following her death, many magicians and reputed physicians came and tried their luck but their efforts bore no fruit.

Then Shivanesan consoled himself that since he had already decided to give her to Tirugnanasambandar, he would mourn no more. So after her cremation, he collected her bones and ashes and placed them in an urn made of clay. He decorated the urn with sandal, jewellery and flowers and silks and placed it on the bed of her room . He offered rice and milk every day to the urn and also kept an attendant in the room for the urn, treating it as his daughter herself.

Years passed and one day Shivanesan heard that Tirugnanasambandar was visiting Tiruvotriyur which is in the north of today’s Chennai. Shivanesan arranged a floral pandal all the way from Tiruvotriyur to Mylapore and went with his assistants to request Tirugnanasambandar to come to Mylapore. Coincidentally, Sambandar was leaving from Tiruvotriyur to visit Mylapore to have darshan of Lord Kapaleeshwara. Shivanesan gladly accompanied the saint to Mylapore.

On the way, some of Shivanesan’s assistants told the saint about the incident that had happened concerning Poompavai. Sambandar smiled but did not say anything. The entourage of Sambandar accompanied by Shivanesan and his men went to the Kapaleeshwara temple and had darshan of the Lord. After that when they came out of the temple, Tirugnanasambandar turned to Shivanesan and said, “ Please bring the urn in which you have placed your daughter’s remains to the entrance of this temple, which is the abode of the Lord who dances in cremation grounds ” .

Shivanesan, was greatly pleased and after bowing to Sambandar, went home, and brought the urn in a palanquin, accompanied by his daughter’s friends and placed it where Sambandar told him to. Meanwhile lot of crowd had gathered in curiosity to see what was going to happen.

Sambandar looked intently at the urn for some time meditating upon the Lord Shiva. Then, he called out her name and started to sing the hymn starting with the words “Mattitta Punnai” . He sang ten hymns and in each hymn, the first three lines would describe the various festivals of Kapaleeshwara temple and the beauty of the Lord and the last line said “Is it fair for you to have gone away without seeing all this, Poompavai?”

The divine hymns had a marvellous effect. As he sang the tenth hymn “Urinchaya Vaazhkai”, the urn broke open and Poompavai appeared, as grown up as she would have been if she would have been alive. She appeared like a goddess, extremely beautiful with no trace of anything having happened.

All the people were overwhelmed and uttered “Hara Hara , Hara Hara” marvelling at the grace of the Lord Kapaleeshwara. Poompavai , walking gracefully came and bowed to Tirugnanasambandar praying to him. Sambandar turned to Shivanesan and told him to take his daughter home. Shivanesan, bowing to the saint said,” Sir, I have vowed to get my daughter married to you and request you to please accept her hand”.  Sambandar looked at him and said, “Your daughter died of a snake bite. Due to the grace of the Lord, she got her life back for which I have been an instrument in the hands of the Lord and it is not proper for me to marry her (for he was like a father to her now) . She is now the daughter of Lord Shiva. Hence, it is not appropriate for you to speak thus”

Shivanesan and his family were not at all convinced and fell at the feet of Sambandar to accept their request. But Sambandar consoled them with quotes and advices from the ancient texts and took leave of them and went his way.

Eventually Shivanesan gave up his idea, but thought that since he had mentally given away his daughter to Sambandar, he could never accept anyone else as his son-in-law. Poompavai also thought exactly the same way and spent her life as a spinster indulging in devotion to Lord Shiva.

This is the story of how Tirugnanasambandar revived Poompavai from death.

Interestingly , the songs sung in this set (Padhigam) about 1300 years ago, (Sambandar’s period is said to be 7th century AD), mentions Aippasi Onam, Karthikai Deepam, Margazhi Tiruvadirai, Thai Poosam, Masi Magam (bathing in sea), Panguni Uthiram, and the Pavitrotsavam and Tirukkalyanam festivals. This, as a form of recorded history, shows how ancient these festivals are which are being still celebrated today in Kapaleeshwara Temple!!

Shambho Mahadeva!!

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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