The Sage Thayumanavar -
by Dr. B. Natarajan of Chennai (Madras), India (1978)
The Copyright of this publication rests with the Himalayan
A Guiding Light
The World was my open book and Inner quest my deep study.
Who am I in the vastness of cosmic phenomenon?
The Mystery Car of Time takes me round changeful seasons;
Destiny leads the play of Life blind-folding me in
" Who am l? What am I? Whence am I ?
What is beyond the entry and exit in this amphitheatre of
Who feels in the senses and thinks in the mind and dreams in
Such were my self-reflections during my school days. I
kept aloof from home, society, and noisy crowds taking
delight in inner communion. Home and school resented my
dreamy mood and crazy solitude. One day I was treated
harshly by my kith and kin. I ran for refuge to the temple
and there hugged the feet of God. I surrendered my life into
the hands of the Divine Grace. '0 Grace, I take refuge at
Thy feet. Lead me to Light from this dark vale of tears.
Reveal to me the mystery of life and its mission. Keep me
here to fulfil that mission and call me back to be with
Thee". I sobbed in a frenzy of spontaneous fervour. I felt a
warm current traversing my heart and brain and a descent
from above which continues to this day. I was reborn in the
Grace and could now understand the meaning of life and the
language of the soul.
I sat in a dark corner of the temple forgetting body and
world when a song attracted me to the lotus tank nearby
There, in the bright moon light, some monks were singing
together a song that touched my soul.
"The Silent One possessed me in Silence
and poured into me a speechless word
that was the seed of wisdom.
That word, O friend. had a magic effect on my life.
It hushed up the mind and opened my heart to silent embrace
of the Divine ".
So on went the song which brought me peace and joy. I
learnt from the monks the song and for the first time knew
about its author, Sage Thayumanavar. I secured a copy of his
works and treasured it in my bosom. The Hymns of Sage
Thayumanavar became the guiding light of my life. I still
believe that the Divine Grace gave a silent friend to my
The hymns of Thayumanavar removed my gloom and solved my
mental problems. It unravelled the riddle of existence. Each
line was a message and each message a vision of Truth. Each
truth was a spark of intuition and each intuition had a
transforming force. The style of Thayumanavar was limpid,
simple, straight, bright, profound and sweet. It flowed from
the abundance of Soul's delight in rapturous union with the
Beloved. Every hymn is a gem of divinity. It is an
enchanting flute-voice of the soul that touches all souls.
The poet was song and the song the poet. This is the message
of the Seer Poet:
The unique One pervades all beings. All are one in that.
It is the Life of lives, the One that moves in many names
It is beyond the mental conceptions of caste, creed and
Ascetic or householder, all have a right to live in its
Come collectively to enjoy the bliss of life in the Divine
Call with deep love; the Grace shall pour itself from
Now let us see the evolution of his life towards Divinity.
Who is this Boy ?
The rock temple at Trisirapuram is a marvel of lndian
architecture. It enshrines the image of Thayumanavar - the
God of Mother love. The temple is busy with crowds of
devotees singing devotional songs and dancing in ecstasy.
Among them we see a brilliant boy, fair in colour, tall in
stature, with rosy cheeks, lotus face and phosphorescent
eyes beaming with grace and rays of knowledge. The boy
contemplates upon the Divine for a while and then leaves the
crowd. He quickly gets up to the topmost temple of the hill.
There Ganesa stands. The boy sits self immersed, meditates a
while, and then sings:
"Rare is human birth.
While yet I live on this earth, in this body, with heart and
I must revel in the ecstasy of Divine Grace."
The boy seeks a spiritual teacher to initiate him in the
secret of the divine art. He stands again before Lord
Thayumanavar and pours out his soul's aspirations into
He becomes silent in meditation, tears gushing out of his
eyes in pearl drops of ecstasy.
The Pious Parents
A tall stately man comes in haste. He looks here and there
and catches hold of the boy saying, "Come home; how long are
you to be here? Come !" That is his father, Kediliappa.
Kediliappa ' literally means immortal Father. Born to this
mortal father. the boy sought Father, the immortal. This
saintly boy is our Thayumanavar. He was named after the
Deity of the Rock-Temple. Kediliappa Pillai, a Chola Vellala
was an administrative officer of the Naik Kingdom.
Kediliappa originally lived at Vedaranyam, a famous pilgrim
centre. He was the trustee of the local temple. He was a
learned man high in intellect and wide in heart. His wife
Gajavalli was a pious lady humming devotional songs while
attending to house-keeping. Their home was surrounded by a
divine aureole. The liberality of their hearts expressed
itself in charity and hospitality. There was a royal dignity
in the personality of Kediliappa, and a remarkable sweetness
in his words. His elder brother, Vedaranyam, a great scholar
well placed in life, had no children. Kediliappa offered his
own boy Siva Chidambaram in adoption to the elder brother.
The brother's face glowed with joy and there was sunlight
again in his life.
The King's Favour
Those were days of the Naik kings. The Pandyann dynasty had
declined. The Naik chiefs of Vijayanagar possessed the
Madurai Kingdom ( 1559-1736). Visvanatha, Tirumalai, and
Mangammal were noteworthy rulers of Madurai. They were great
patrons of art and poetry. The grandson of Mangammal was
Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha. He set up his residence at
Thrisirapuram. He was a pious man, but not a statesman. He
ruled for twenty-seven years (1704-1731 ).
His kingdom was often attacked by the Maharattas and the
Mussalmans. He wanted strong assistants. His minister
Govindappa one day came to Vedaranyam. Kediliappa received
the august guest with temple honours and entertained him
under his hospitable roof. Both of them spoke on religion
and politics. The Minister said, "Kedili, you are a scholar,
a devotee, an astute statesman, a clever diplomat and a keen
accountant. You are just the man that we are seeking. Come
with me and serve the King".
Kediliappa shifted his family to Trisirapuram. King
Chokkanatha, pleased even at the firstsight, took Kedili
into his council and gave him a free hand in the management
of his household. Kedili was faithful to the king, alert to
his duty and timely in advising him against enemies.
Chokkanatha treated him like a brother. Kedili's fame and
fortune flourished day by day. There was only one gloomy
spot in his life; that was the absence of a child to cheer
He and his wife went daily to the rock-temple and prayed
to Swami Thayumanavar for a child. They fed saints and made
gifts to scholars. Kedili chanted holy songs. He also
arranged for Vedic recitals before the sanctum of
While the atmosphere was thus charged with holy
vibrations, his wife Gajavalli became enceinte. Gajavalli
spent her days in prayer and holy hearing. One day devotees
were chanting the soul-thrilling psalms of Maniccavachakar
when Gajavalli delivered the gifted child. That child was
named Thayuamavar, for it was born by the grace of
Thayumanavar Swami. Kedili was overjoyed at the sight of his
luminous son, radiant in beauty. Temple bells rang in
Learning and Yearning
Everyone was attracted to this lovely child. King
Chokkanatha admired the boy and marked him for his service.
The father brought up the son with high hopes. He taught him
Tamil and Sanskrit, spiritual lore and statecraft. The king
was satisfied with his progress. He was the cynosure of
saints and scholars. He was an adept in Vedanta and
Siddhanta. He read with rapture the hymns of Saints like
Maniccavachakar, Appar, Sambandhar and Sundarar. He mastered
the Meikanda Sastras. These are holy books in Tamil.
He studied the Upanishads, side by side with
Tiruvachakam. He was a clever logician and none could rival
him in discussions. But, he was not satisfied with
book-lore. Books did not reveal the Blessed One cradled in
his heart. Words did not quench his thirst. From sunrise to
sunset, he was seeking for something within, for somebody
that can lead him to the fount of Self-Conscious Bliss. He
had a rich home. He had free access to the King's palace. He
was welcomed in royal circles. But the born sage preferred
solitude to company, reflection to reading and introspection
to speaking. Words were loads to him, and books burdens. He
went often to the rock-temple and spent his time in
meditation and prayer.
In the bosom of purified calmness, in the silent
seclusion of inner peace, he sought Self-reality with all
the fervour of his faith. His eyes flowed with tears of
yearning. His lips throbbed with songs of spiritual
He had the sage-mind of Pattinattar, the contemplation of
the Buddha, the inspiration of Vedic seers, the fervour of
Maniccavachakar, the humility of
Appar and the faith of
Sambandhar. Nuggets of golden truth, cast in brilliant
couplets, came out of the inner mine. Then longer poems
flowed out spontaneously. Showering tear-pearls gushing out
of his lotus eyes, the boy saluted and contemplated upon the
Supreme. Learning yielded to yearning.
Thayumanavar saw the Hata-yogins controlling breath and
twisting their bodies. He saw religionists in hot
discussion; he saw verbomaniacs quarrelling about the God
whom they cannot even imagine. He sought solace in the
Unique One who is all and all in all.
He invoked His grace day and night for a Guiding Light.
Kediliappa did not live to see the brilliant manhood of his
son. He joined the majority while yet Thayumanavar was in
his teens. His father's death intensified his yearning for
spiritual freedom. "With this body, I must attain liberation
", This was his resolution. But the King would not leave him
to himself. " Dear Thayumanavar, serve me in your father's
place" said he. Thayumanavar had to obey the King. He became
the Chancellor of exchequer of the Naik Kingdom. He
fulfilled his state duties to the entire satisfaction of the
King who loved him more and more.
His Rani Meenakshi, fondled him. She was ready to do
anything for him. People liked his gentle manners and
benevolent heart. He did his duty for duty's sake; but his
heart was aloof from the distractions of state affairs. He
saw what the world was and took lessons from what he saw.
Those were troubled times. Trisirapuram was a field of
conflicting forces. The throne was shaken by invasions and
revolutions. Political butchery, local treachery, social
animosity, royal indolence and religious pretence disrupted
the harmony of life everywhere. The marauding Maharatta
hordes and the invading Nawab's forces were lurking in
ambush in the vicinity. The clatter of enemy swords
enervated the Naik forces. Thayumanavar saw with open eyes
the danger of royal courts disrupting by flippant pleasures.
The kingdom was a web of spies and a trap of enemies. The
friends of today became the foes of to-morrow. None can play
with fire without being scorched. Thayumanavar did not like
to be caught in this political turmoil. He witnessed a
thousand golden hypocrisies and pitied humanity caught in
the coils of temptation.
Thayumanavar despised the mere life of carnal desires and
sex indulgence. Yoga was his deep aspiration. A Master
sought the Seeker.
One day Thayumanavar went up the rock-temple for his daily
worship. There he met a Sage who belonged to the order of
St. Tiru Mula. The Master and the disciple discovered each
other. The disciple fell at the feet of the Master, shedding
tears of joy and poured out his heart in sublime hymns.
The Master blessed him graciously, took him alone, and
accepted his devotion.
"Master" said the disciple, "I shall follow Thee, renouncing
home and royal service."
"Wait. good soul! " admonished the Teacher,
"Be a householder until you beget a child.
Then I shall come to initiate you in meditation.
Be silent. Rest in peace; keep quiet; have faith.
You will reach the supreme state of Bliss".
Having said this, the Master went away.
Thayumanavar shed tears of joy and gratitude at the love of
his gracious Master
who opened his inner eye and followed his teachings
The free soul, hungering for the inner delight, cannot live
in the limitations of a royal court. Its proud pleasures are
flimsy shows of sanity. It is a place for flatterers and not
for sages and seer-poets. Thayumanavar would make his life a
song-offering to the Divine of his heart. He would live in
the Divine, for the Divine. He lived in tune with the
Infinite and would not seek the lightning smile of royal
favour. He would be the king of the Spirit's kingdom and
never a slave of worldly empires. He would enjoy the soul's
birth-right. He remembered God in all the changing phases of
life. He aspired for grace and never for gold.
As knowledge dawned upon the aspirant, he rose above the
mythic imagination of mental poets, coloured exaggerations,
fads, creeds, cults and dogmas. Faith in the inner reality
gave him force. Force fructified into grace and grace into
knowledge. He drew the mind from the wandering senses into
inner recollection, and contemplated upon the pure reality
which he was. He discriminated the Spirit from the body of
nature. He internalised his attention, intensified his
concentration, controlled his thoughts and lulled his mind
to meditation. A dynamic peace possessed him. His heart
widened into a deep compassion for all. His equal vision saw
one Soul in the king and in the subject. Life in harmony
with the Divine was eternal springtime; life in separation
was cyclonic winter. His brain thought, his heart loved, his
vital liked nothing but the Divine.
The invincible Grace heard his heart-beat. It influenced the
king. Chokkanatha was a devotee of Siva and lover of saints.
He saw a holy saint in his secretary, Thayumanavar.
"Thayumanavar," said the king one day. "your Pilgrim Soul
seeks the inner temple. I see the hidden light flaring up in
your emotional symphony. We see the world with a
thousand-eyed mind and arc deluded. You see the spirit of
things with the one-eyed heart. Can the myriad-eyed night
equal the one-eyed day ? Your soul hungers after the Supreme
Reality. State service is a hindrance to your aspirations.
Waste not your days in politics and diplomacy's. You are no
more the king's servant; the king is your servant. Come, I
shall raise a peaceful Ashram for you, and you can fix
yourself in yoga there".
"I am grateful to you. O king; God has heard my prayer from
your heart. I am liberated; thanks " said the saint, and he
repaired to the banks of the Kaveri to continue his
meditation. The king raised a fine hermitage on the river
bank and served the saint devoutly.
That is Mother
The saint was self-absorbed. The mind was nullified like a
burnt camphor, in the flames of self-consciousness.
Body-consciousness was lost in the Infinite Spirit. The body
changes and falls like the petals of a flower. The immortal
Spirit rises up at the magic touch of the Divine Energy
generated by meditation. The saint realised the self of all
throbbing in his heart. He felt the pinch of hunger when any
one was hungry. He shivered when a poor man had no clothes
for the winter.
One day the king offered him a rich shawl. At that
moment, a poor old lady passed by shivering in cold.
Thayumanavar gave the shawl to the lady, saying " Mother,
you need this more than I". The king felt insulted and
demanded an explanation.
King: Swami, I gave a fine shawl for your use
and you have presented it to the old hag of low caste. Why
Thayumanavar: No caste, no hag !
I gave the shawl to the Universal Mother !
It is She who has received back what belonged to Her.
Silence Meets Silence
The great silent sage, Sadasiva Firahmam, sanctified the
atmosphere of India in those days. He moved steeped in
trance. The sky was his roof and earth his home. To see him
was to know the Real. His songs were already popular among
the learned. On his way to Pudukottah, Sage Sadasiva met
Thayumanavar (1738). Their meeting was like the meeting of
Vedanta and Siddhanta.
"Silence is Peace; Silence is Bliss; Silence is Knowledge"
wrote the sage. Thayumanavar already a lover of Silence,
became yet more silent.
The King Dies
The time was troubled by plots of enemy chiefs and by open
skirmishes. Now the Maharatta cannon thundered and now the
Musalman powder exploded. The foreigners became aggressive.
Peace was in exile and war shook the land with terror.
Traitors betrayed masters. Enemy spies created divisions in
the camp. King Chokkanatha was a good man but not a good
ruler. He called to his help, anybody and everybody. The
only true helper was the Tondaman of Pudukottah, a brave
hero who guarded the Trisirapuram fort with the help of his
Marava heroes. But a double-dealing Iago sent a secret spy
to the sabre-rattling Maharattas. The Maharattas had
politics in their brain and courage in their heart. One
night when everything seemed quiet, the fort entrance
opened; the main door swang aside; trumpets were heard, guns
reported; cannons boomed; the Maharattas were in the heart
of the city.
Chokkanatlla was choked with grief. He must either become
his enemy's prisoner or die, shedding blood in fighting an
overwhelming force. Chokkallatlla would do neither. He
shouted aloud the name of God: " Siva, Siva, how false is
the world! How dangerous sovereignty and how heavy the
crown! Man has a treacherous tiger in him. How can I trust
human nature? I take refuge at Thy feet, Siva ! Siva ! " The
king died of broken heart. The pathetic scene inspired the
Naik army with new courage. Raghu natha Raya Tondaman, the
famous king of Pudukottah, took charge of the task of
guarding the fort: vigilant swords and cannons kept the
Maharatta hordes at hay. The Tondaman crushed the enemies
whose plots were leading to a conflagration. The dread of
war being over, Rani Meenakshi, the widow of Chokkanatha,
assumed sovereignty (1731-1736).
The Love Noose
The first man to attract the queen was Saint Thayumanavar.
"Holy Sir" implored Queen Meenakshi. "I am helpless and
alone. You are the only wise man whom I can trust. Your head
and heart alone can save the Kingdom. Its welfare depends
upon you. Come and help me, in the name of my husband who
loved you so much !"
The saint took pity upon the helpless queen; he felt obliged
to do his best to maintain peace and restore order in the
realm. Under his influence, treachery was knocked down like
an uprooted tree. The den of misrule became a heaven of
order and discipline, under the control of Thayumanavar. The
Rani was all regard for him. But her regard carried passion
into her youthful heart. His beauty of person his strong
will, wisdom, sagacity, political acumen, religious fervour,
austerity and sweet words, worked like magic upon her
imagination. Regard turned into affection, affection into
love, love into lust, and lust inflamed hidden passions in
the uncontrolled mind. She treated him like her close
companion. The friendship ripened into love; and she
approached him alone one night with a pining heart, with
passion-lost modesty. She stood before the meditating saint
like an image of love-lorn beauty. The saint knew her wiles.
Thayumanavar: What has brought you here, Queen, at this hour
Queen: My heart has brought me to you, sir. I offer myself
to you in surrender. I love you.
Thayumanavar: But I love none but the Divine in my heart.
Queen: Sir, consider me as your wife.
Thayumanavar: I consider you as my Mother. Mother, do not
test me. I am your simple child.
Queen: My lord, I dedicate my life to you; embrace me now,
or I shall embrace death.
Thayumanavar: That shall not be, Mother. O God, save me from
the noose of lust. Divine Force, save me from this flashing
sword of lustful eyes. Let not my purity be killed by its
Queen: My beloved sir, I shall give you all my wealth; love
Thayumanavar: Woman. your wealth is filth.
Queen: I surrender my kingdom to you.
Thayumanavar: Your kingdom is wardom. Leave me in peace.
Queen: My man, it is the Queen's order. Obey me.
Thayumanavar: I obey only the King's order. The King of my
soul is God.
The Rani cast a lust-lit look and departed like stormdriven
lightning. Her love changed into wounded pride; she meant
harm and the saint knew it.
Next day, she was determined to force him to her will.
She ordered one of her ministers, Narayanappa, to bring the
saint to her private apartment. The minister went, saw, came
back and reported that the saint escaped; his whereabouts
not known ! She sent spies abroad. But before she could
avenge herself, civil war raged in the kingdom; Chanda Saheb
assailed her capital; conspirators and opportunists
shattered her peace and the minister himself rebelled
against this woman of intolerable pride and suspicious
conduct. We shall see the result of these political
upheavals later on.
How did he Escape ?
Where was Thayumanavar ? How did he escape the guards and
the spies? Silent, aloof, meditative, Thayumanavar had
watched the play of the egoistic forces in the royal court
since the sudden death of the king. Opportunists and
sycophants thought the honest saint a stumbling block on
their way to power. How can the blind know the sun? They
knew that the queen loved him. They made her believe that
Thayumanavar was an impostor. Influential talebearers,
wicked slanderers, double-tongued flatterers, who won her
favour, poured gentle venom into her ears. " O Queen, I
sounded his heart today; it is flaming with passion for you.
He closes his eyes just to adore your image installed in his
soul. Meet him alone; He will fall at your feet; he is your
slave; see that today !" Thus the cunning courtiers
calumniated the saint and induced the queen.
The saint knew the nature of the worldly; he heeded not
the dagger-look of jealousy, the frown of insolence and the
nuisance of talebearers. With a calm self-gathered inner
strength, he was prepared for the coming events. Daily he
was making himself ready to leave the capital. He had two
trusted disciples. Arulayya, the first disciple, had the
gift of clairvoyance: " Master, the talebearers are working
out a plot that would cost you either your sainthood or your
life. So, I am removing the family property to Vedaranyam.
It is under the Maharatta king of Tanjore. These people
cannot go there." The saint nodded his assent. Arulayya
quietly removed all valuables to Vedaranyam along with a
Everything was kept ready for the saint outside the fort.
That particular night, the saint dressed himself as a Naik
soldier and escaped watching eyes. The horse was ready;
Arulayya was there to do everything. They quickly crossed
the boundary of the kingdom. And then, Thayumanavar, in the
robes of a wandering sanyasi, joined a party of monks bound
for Rameswaram. In those days, the Maravas of Sivaganga and
Ramnad raised the standard of national Independence against
alien powers that usurped the throne of the Tamil Nadu. Even
to the end of the eighteenth century, the brave Maravas
fought for national freedom and gave shelter to political
refugees. It so happened that the party which opposed Rani
Minakshi, hatched its plot in the Marava territory, from
Sivaganga and Ramnad. So Thayumanavar made haste to reach
Ramnad where he could live unmolested by the Rani's men. The
king of Ramnad received the saint with due reverence and
gave him a garden home for the practice of his yoga.
The Silent Sage
Thayumanavar went to Rameswaram and there dedicated
thrilling psalms to the Universal Mother who saved him from
the dangerous lust of the Rani. Any how he had to guard
himself from spies and traitors.
Thayumanavar remembered the words of Sadasiva Brahman and
he practised inner Silence as well as outer. The mouth would
not open for words and his mind for thoughts. At this
juncture he met another (1743 ) time near Mana Madurai the
Silent Brahman and received his blessings. The Brahman wrote
a famous book called Atmavilas which pleaded for perfect
silence and solitude and aloofness in utter renunciation.
This book was explained to Thayumanavar. Thayumanavar wrote
many poems in the light of Atmavilas. Sadasiva said in it,
"Live not in the crowd of men; run away to solitude.
Shun the lure of the opposite sex as if you were eunuch.
Treat sense pleasures as poison.
Seek lonely places for self reflection.
Wander freely in the Hall of God, sky-roofed.
Thayumanavar steeped himself in meditation and in writing
his spontaneous hymns which Arulayya copied and gave to the
world. Silence opened the psychic centres and meditation
absorbed cosmic energy and awakened Divine knowledge so that
the Sage lived in tune with the Self and wove his
realisations into sublime verses.
He scarcely saw the people. The few that sought him were
satisfied with hearing his hymns sung by Arulayya every
evening. The garden where Thayumanavar lived is marked today
by a small temple where his image is adored. There too an
offer came to him from the Royal court, but he refused it.
"I have seen enough of this political and social drama. I
have watched the world and I prefer silence all the more.
Silence is my book of Knowledge." wrote the saint. He forgot
the past in self-immersion. He opened his heart to divine
love. He entered inner solitude, plunged into inner silence,
and settled in the deeper Self. He kept his self-level, even
like the ocean which overflows not by the inflow of rivers
and which dries not by evaporation.
The Sage as a Householder
In meantime, the political turmoil in Madura and
Trisirapuram ended in a tragedy for the Queen. Rivals joined
the Nawab and brought about her downfall. Chanda Sahib
ravaged her kingdom and imprisoned her. She drank poison and
died. Thayumanavar saw the tragedy of selfish pride, greed,
vanity, ambition and treachery that made a hell of human
life. He saw the fate of passion. He saw how rival forces
endangered kingdoms. His way was now free from the queen's
Just at this time, his elder brother, Siva Chidambaram,
came to Ramnad and persuaded him to return to Vedaranyam,
where he could live conveniently and carry on his yoga.
Thayumanavar started with Arulayya, visited Madura and other
pilgrim centres on the way and reached Vedaranyam. The
village received its sage with temple honours. Thayumanavar
entered his ancestral home. A bride awaited his arrival. His
relatives entreated him to marry her and to show the world
how one can be yogin and a householder at the same time.
There was the word of his Master too. The Brahmacharya life
of Thayumanavar was so disciplined, he was physically and
spiritually so strong that he could live in communion with
God, wherever he might be. So, the saint married the chosen
bride, the fair and chaste Mattuvarkuzhali meaning 'lady of
flowing fragrant tresses'. Both lived together like life and
body. They got a child who was named Kanakasabhapati.
Thayumanavar initiated his wife in Yoga and meditation,
after the birth of the child.
Man is the same Divine essence as the woman. The difference
lies only in the body and the mind of emotions. Otherwise,
both are equal spirits. The spirit of both is god. Mind,
life and body are garments of the god in the spirit. Get in;
gather in the mind; Plunge into the heart. Go deeper and
deeper and touch the spirit; then open your eyes and see.
You can see the same spirit that you yourself are throbbing
in the other sex too. You will then enjoy beauty of the sex
just as you enjoy the beauty of a fresh lotus floating like
cups of the divine smile on waters. All vital emotions come
from outside and attack the mind. Close the door against all
evil influences; then, the mind and heart can rest in the
peace of the soul.
This is done by purity of thought, of word, of deed, of
companionship, of food, of drink and of sleep. In all these
necessary functions, keep to the ideal of holiness and
purity. Then the soul will be crystal-pure. Keep the
witness-attitude towards thoughts that move the mind. Do not
wander with them. Watch the breath coming in and going out.
The thought centre is the same as the breath-centre. To
control the thought, breath-control is a great help. Do ten
pranayamas in open air before the rosy dawn and meditate for
half an hour. Do likewise before the rosy eve. This will
tame the mind and emotions and restore perfect peace. The
concentration is developed by self-fixity and that by
studying and listening to holy books and by keeping holy
company. Pure, sweet and substantial vegetable food twice a
day at the call of hunger, will do to keep the body strong
enough for a disciplined life. You must be very careful
about your diet, its purity, quality and measure. Do not
give room for constipation and irritation. Peace and holy
thoughts are as good for the mind as milk and fruits for the
The sex energy is meant mainly for the propagation of the
race for which a little would suffice; the energy must never
be wasted. The sex function must be carefully limited to the
getting of progeny and must not be indulged in for its own
sake. Sex can be controlled day by day, by family men, by
means of meditation and worship. Let the wife regard her
husband as shiva. Let them worship each other in that
attitude of mind and meditate together for half an hour at
dawn and dusk. Then, day by day, they will learn to live in
pure spiritual devotion and forget vital passions that spoil
their health and disturb their thoughts and distract their
Thayumanavar and his wife lived such a life of purity and
meditation. He read to her ancient books of wisdom. He
dedicated song-flowers to the divine every day and explained
them to his companion in life. They lived a simple life and
gave liberally to the needy. Thayumanavar, like his father,
supervised the local temple. He made it thrill with the
songs of saints and vedic hymns.
But unfortunately, Thayumanavar's wife passed away saying,
"Lord, renounce the world after educating my boy and placing
him well in life and not before let my soul rest in Thee !"
The sage Thayumanavar was faithful to his duty as a father.
He educated his son, placed him with his elder brother and
waited for the next command from his Master.
Thus Spake the Master
Thayumanavar was now soul-free; he kept himself aloof from
home affairs. He gave away a part of his wealth to his son
and another part to charitable endeavours and a third part
to the temple, keeping for himself the wealth of divine
Grace. The time was ripe; the Master came one day when he
was meditating before the vast sea near Vedaranyam.
Thayumanavar fell at his feet crying:
"Master, by Thy Grace, I am free to follow Thee. Bless me
with Thy Grace. Let me enter the high plane of
superconscious trance. Let my being thrill with the nectar
The words uttered by the Master were woven into hymns and
became the Philosophy of the Silent Sage.
The Master graciously looked at the ripe soul and said,
"My darling, your psychic being is ripe enough to receive
"My son, hear from me the ancient wisdom taught by Sri Mula
and Satyadarsi and sing it to humanity.
The world of manifold appearances is the multiplicity of one
It is a play in five acts,
creation, preservation, destruction, self-absorption and
The play is kept going on by the Cosmic-Force,
at the Will of the Witnessing Lord God is All-in-all,
all-blissful, allcontaining and impersonal.
Grace is His personality.
He is omnipotent, omnipresent.
He is the Life of lives,
the Thinker in the brain,
the Feeler in the heart,
the Seer in the eye,
the Hearer in the ear,
the Breather in the lungs
and the Speaker in the tongue.
He does everything through His Grace
and remains an unattached Witness,
far beyond the world of modes and dualities.
He is as He is.
Just as rays spread from the Sun and give light and warmth
to the world,
Grace radiates from the Divine and plays as the world.
There is no language without the first vowel A;
there is no world without God's Grace.
He is the unique One;
there is nothing to be compared with him.
He has no birth, no death.
His Grace descends into purified souls.
Such souls, are lights that lead us godward.
Embodied creatures have the taint of egoism, lust and
They are tied to the results of good and bad acts.
The mundane world emanates from the Divine Will
and evolves from the lowest inertia
to the highest superconsciousness
according to the results of acts.
The sower reaps the fruit of his seed.
The field is as it is.
Just like husk which covers rice,
dirt which stains copper,
salt which is in the sea water,
the three stains of egoism, delusion and action are in the
These form an impression in the mind
and the soul departs with it to another birth.
Freedom means freedom from these triple stains.
The body is the mechanism of the Mayashakti, the illusive
Force of multiplicity.
The Divine Grace, holds the Soul like a magnet which holds a
piece of iron.
The soul which is conscious of the Divine Grace, enjoys
peace, bliss and freedom.
The soul identifying itself with the mental-vital-material
suffers bondage and the pangs of birth and death.
The mirror cannot reflect forms without light.
The soul cannot act without Grace.
The soul by the force of the Grace behind it,
rules as a king over the body,
with the mind, intellect, emotive mind and egoism as its
Waking, dream, deep sleep, trance, supertrance
are the five states of soul-consciousness.
In the superconscious trance, the soul feels its identity
with the Divine and attains divinity.
The Jiva then enjoys Shivahood.
The sun causes seasons, day and night;
but it is quite separate from them.
Even so Atman is separate from the mind and its
The soul must feel this
and be conscious of its eternal unity with the Divine.
This conscious living in the Divine is Life Divine.
The Divine Grace transforms life into love and love into
That Grace descends in the form of Consciousness.
The ordinary physical eye cannot see the Divine.
The inner eye alone can subtly feel the Divine presence in
The mind is internalised and concentrated in meditation,
With unflagging patience, forbearance, faith and constancy
the aspirant must practise meditation.
Purity of the heart and one-pointed fixity of the mind
As the soul detaches itself from mental modifications, it
approaches the Divine Centre.
Then Grace takes possession of the pure soul and reveals the
The soul must become red-hot in the Divine flame.
Then it becomes a shining gold
and at last a crown of divinity.
The first step is mental purification and concentrated
The next is constant meditation and inner fixity.
By this the soul feels its at-one-ment with the Divine, the
Quintessence of its being.
Then it sees the same Divine essence in the universe of
From self-consciousness, the soul widens into cosmic
"Dear one, keep these in mind and renounce everything for
the sake of Divinity.
Take a pearl-diver-s plunge into the heart.
Be centre in and there is the Divine Light to lead you on.
Go hence to Chidambaram:
Meditate upon Lord Nataraja, the symbol of perfect Divine
Worship Him daily, with hymns and he will lead you on !
The Divine Master, then initiated the faithful disciple in
superconscious trance, poured his energy into him and
watched his progress for a few days before he disappeared.
Thayumanavar received the words of the Guru with all the
sincere devotion of a true seeker. expressing his deep
gratitude in sublime verses. Then he went to
The heart feels joyful as
one thinks of Chidambaram,
sanctified by holy saints. Thayumanavar stood there in the
entrancing presence of Lord Nataraja. He was bathed in tears
of emotion. He forgot himself in trance. He poured his
heart's fervour into hymns of sublime wisdom.
"There is no treasure higher than Thy Grace.
I am full in Thy fullness.
Thou art the Ocean into which countless religious streams
O beginningless, endless Vastness,
rare for the Vedas, rare for the different warring creeds,
rare for thought and word,
Thou art felt only in Silence.
Hail Light, Hail Purity,
Power that movest all beings" !
"Every religion hails Thee as its God
Thou art beyond religious creeds
that speak in terms of I and mine.
Thou art known only when all these are silenced in the peace
Having found Thee, one finds no more religious difference.
For everything is Thy fullness and nothing exists without
All differences in the world are born of the Ego 'I'.
This ' I ' must be burnt away like a camphor hill in the
flame of Thy Grace.
Then nothing shall be left in me except Thyself.
Thou hast made me realise that I am not the body,
the senses, the mind, the intellect, the modes of nature,
but that I am a crystal Consciousness.
Thy Consciousness allows no more occasion for the insurgence
of any other entity.
It has left nothing behind.
It has consumed all, as fire consumes camphor.
There is neither knower nor known nor knowledge;
the trinity of separateness is no more.
Thee I love, In Thee I live
and into Thee I disappear !
Hail, Truth-Light !
Hail Supreme Grace ! "
Thayumanavar was steeped in trance for a month or two at
Chidambaram and then went on a pilgrimage to Arunagiri,
Kanchipuram, Tiruvotriyur, Tiruvarur,
Madura and other places before he finally reached
The world's life depends upon rain. Rains failed and famine
raged fearfully. Thayumanavar meditated before Lord
Ramanatha at Rameshwaram for the good of the land. He looked
up and prayed. "Pour down O Blessed heavens if it is true
that God is one and His blissful path is path "
Heavens heard his prayer. The clouds gathered; lightnings
flashed; thunder roared; and rains poured and poured until
the tanks were full and the fields were green and famine was
no more. The Raja of Ramnad and his subjects worshipped the
Sage and brought him to Ramnad in a palanquin. It is said he
mobilised the Marava Chiefs to ward off foreign impacts.
Thayumanavar rejected all royal honours and preferred to
spend his life in a garden hut in Lakshmipuram .
Thayumanavar entered into deep trance. From that highest
state of divinity, he poured out his spiritual intuitions in
sublime verses. He wrote them on palm leaves. His disciples
Arulayaya and Kodikkarai Jnani copied and sang them to the
The songs spread like wild fire. The sage did not like
publicity. He wrote in silence, lived in silence and steeped
himself in Divine Silence. His mission was fulfilled. The
purpose of his embodiment was over. He prayed for a strong
body only for self realisation. He was now in perfect union
with the Divine, immersed in That consciousness. The body
was dead to him. So he willed to shed it off. He entered
into his samadhi-room and closed the door, leaving a note
outside on which these words were written:
withdraw the mind from the senses
and fix it in meditation.
Control the thought-current.
Find out the thought-centre and fix yourself there.
Then you will be conscious of the Divine Self;
you will see it dancing in ecstasy.
Live in that delight.
That Delight-Consciousness, is the God in you.
He is in every heart.
You need not go anywhere to find Him.
Find your own core and feel Him there.
Peace, bliss, felicity, health - everything is in you.
Trust in the Divine in you.
Entrust yourself to His Grace.
Be as you are.
Off with past impressions.
He who lives from within an ingathered soul-life
is a real Sage though he may be a householder.
He who allows his mind to wander with the senses
is an ignoramus, though he is learned.
See as a witness, without the burden of seeing.
See the world just as you see a drama.
See without attachment, Look within.
Look at the inner light unshaken by mental impressions.
Then, floods of conscious bliss
shall come pouring in and around you from all directions.
This is the supreme Knowledge;
realise ! Aum Aum ! "
The disciples read this with great joy and meditated before
the door. There was no stir inside; it was very late for
supper; Arulayya gently called, knocked; no response. He
broke open the door. Ah, what did he see ! The body lay
there; the face was smiling as usual; but the Soul that was
the real sage had flown away like a bird from its cage.
It was on a full moon day in the month of January 1742 that
Thayumanavar entered the final beatitude. 15th January is
this Saint's day. The disciples, the Rajah and the local
worthies adorned the body, took it in procession, paid their
last honours and buried it, singing his hymns.
The real Thayumanavar, His Spirit, still endures and shall
ever live in his soul-thrilling hymns. Hail Thayumanavar !!
The Message of Thayumanavar
Books there are in plenty, perpetually pouring in torrents
from the printing press. Books of Light and Wisdom were
written long before the invention of printing. They were
written in peace and silence. They were the Voice of
Silence. Many books of to day are mere words, words spun
round a few ideas. Some are big in size but poor in
substance. Some are books on books and some merely bookish.
Some are monotonous fads and pet rigmaroles. Scarcely a
hundred can be said to be thoroughly original and of eternal
interest as reliable guides to collective living.
The Gita, The Bible The Light of Asia, Shakespeare,
Dante, Sufi Sadi's Gulistan,
Thirukural of St. Valluvar, Valmiki, Tulasi and
Kamba Ramayanas, Mahabharatam, The Revelations of
Satyadarsi, The Hymns of Thayumanavar,
and the Bharata Sakti are the most precious books of eternal
value in the world literature.
The hymns of Thayumanavar bring high solace to life; to
hear them is to elevate life and soul. To live them is to
enjoy the highest Bliss in spiritual consciousness. They are
dynamic song-thrills that spark out of the Bliss-centre.
Even a song a day will do to elevate human life towards
Thayumanavar, is an out and out scripture for Saints and
Yogins. It covers the entire field of Yoga and Jnana. It
brings high solace to house-holders purifying their mind and
heart. It feeds the flames of inner communion in real
There is not a single Tamilian who does not sing
Thayumanavar and find joy in it. Every home cherishes
it. Every mother puts her child to bed with its sweet
symphony. The hymns of Thayumanavar are sublime music of
the Soul, the song of the inner Spirits, and sparks of
Divine Essence. It is very difficult to render them into
Any how I have ventured to do it during my silent hours
of inner Communion with the immortal Spirit of the Saint.
Now readers, imagine that the Saint is sitting in your heart
while reading these rhythmic lines in deep ingathered
tranquillity. They will exalt your thoughts and emotions to
Supernal heights of peace and bliss.
C.R.Krishnamurthi on ThAyumAnavar (தாயுமானவர்)
in Tamil Literature
One of the striking features of ancient civilizations is that, periodically
during the course of history, sages and philosophers were born who were able to
make profound changes in their society with their thoughts and deeds.
ThAyumAnavar, who lived in the 18th century belonged to this category of
philosophical leaders in the Thamizh region. In the Sangam period there was
religious forbearance (சமயப்பொறை) ; in the post Sangam era
it gradually changed into religious difference
(சமயவேறுபாடுகள்); in the Bhakthi period one saw the onset
of religious strife (சமயப்பூசல்).
(திருமுலர்) laid down the foundation of religious
equanimity (சமயசமரசம்). With the advent of the philosophy
of VEdhAn^tham (வேதாந்தம்) and SitthAn^tham
(சித்தாந்தம்) the situation deteriorated into religious conflicts
(சமயப்போர்)which were in addition fanned by caste differences. At a time
when the religious strife was at the pinnacle and the society was highly
polarized, ThAyumAnavar postulated his hypothesis of "advaitha SitthAn^tham"
(அத்துவைதசித்தாந்தம்). This concept was more universal and aimed at
bridging the gap between VEdhAn^tham and SitthAn^tham.
Born in VEthAraNyam (வேதாரணியம் அல்லது திருமறைக்காடு)
ThAyumAnavar was the treasurer in the service of Visaya Raghun^Atha Chockalinka
n^Ayakkar (விசயரகுநாத சொக்கலிங்க நாயக்கர்). Even as a
civil servant his mind was always preoccupied with spiritual matters. When the
Queen surprised him with romantic advances, he quit his job. He then came under
the tutelage of Mouna Guru DhEsikar (மெளனகுருதேசிகர்) who
taught him to practise the art of being quiet (சும்மா இரு).
After his mother died, ThAyumAnavar became an ascetic and spent all his time in
Salient Features of ThAyumAnavar's Literary Works
Literary objectives (பொருண்மை கோட்பாடு)
a) He had written 1454 poems which were of either pAmAlai
(பாமாலை),(Garland of poems) or kaNNikaL
(கண்ணிகள்) type. KaNNikaL refer to very short poems of two
lines each in a very elementary folk style, in which he was able to squeeze in
profound philosophical concepts. The message itself was in the form an
exclamation addressed to a variety of arbitrary subjects such as a parrot,
(பைங்கிளிக்கண்ணி) or the Absolute Being
(பராபரக்கண்ணி). For example, he said that he did not know
anything else except to wish that everyone shall be happy in the following
parAparak kaNNi (பராபரக்கண்ணி) :
எல்லோரும் இன்ப ற்றிருக்க
அல்லாமல் வேறொன்றறியேன் பராபரமே
His objective was therefore not to display his Thamizh literary skills before
scholars but to use the language to communicate with ordinary people in
spiritual matters, a strategy neglected by the VEdhic system. His use of the
(பாமாலை) and sonmAlai (சொன்மாலை) rather than
to refer to his works is indicative of his aims. The following poem gives
details of his literary works:
விண்ணுறுந்தே வர்கள் முனிவர்
ப கழ்மெளனி வியப்பால் ஞானத்
தண்ணுறு தண் டமிழ்மாலை ஐஞ்ஞூற் றெண்
பத்தேழுந் தாயு மானோன்
என்னறுங்கண் ணிகள் எண்ணூற் றறுபத் தைந்து
அகவல் வண்ணம் இரண்டும்பாடி
மண்ணுறுநால் வகைமாந்தர் தமக்காகப்
பக்குவர்பால் வைத்தான் இன்றே
b) ThAyumAnavar believed that mere bookish knowledge on philosophy was
inadequate for attaining spiritual fulfillment as mentioned in the following
poem. He said that spiritual knowledge acquired from books alone resembled a
person who was planting cotton to make strings to climb to heaven.
நூலேணி விண்ணுற நூற்குப்
போல கருவிநன்னூற் போதம் பராபரமே
c) ThAyumAnavar spelled out the four conventional literary objectives
(அறம் பொருளின்பம் வீடடைதல் நூற்பயனே) but emphasized that
of the four, the most important one for salvation is the spiritual pursuit
(ஞானநெறி) ; (வேதமுடனாகமம் புகலுமதினாலாம் பயன் ஞானநெறி முக்ய நெறி)
(மெளனகுரு 5). His literary works are thus oriented either intellectually
(அறிவு நிலை)or spiritually
d) ThAyumAnavar's spiritual policy
i) Oneness of God
In his religious discussions he gave the least amount of importance to myths
and legends mentioned in the purANams. He conceived Sivam (civmf) as the
Absolute Being, omnipresent and embodiment of eternal bliss and grace
(அங்கு இங்கு எனாதபடி எங்கும் பிரகாசமாய் ஆனந்த பூர்த்தியாகி அருளோடு நிறைந்து).
He conceded that the Divine was beyond any literary description
(சொல்லுக்கடங்காச்சுகப்பொருள்) or mental comprehension
(மனம்வாக்கினில் தட்டாமல் நின்றவன்)
In literary works it is common for authors to describe the physical
expression of the feelings of individuals. In ThAyumAnar's poems, the devotional
feelings are also captured with utmost reality as in the following poem.
உடல்குழைய என்பெலாம் நெக்குருக
ஊற்றென வெதும்பியூ ற்ற
ஊசிகாந் தத்தினைக் கண்டுகல் போலவே
படப்படென நெஞ்சம் பதைத்துள் நடுக்குறப்
பாடியாடி...... (கருணாகரக்கடவுள் 9)
With his astute sense of logic, ThAyumAnavar was able to bridge the gap
between followers of VEdhAn^tham and SitthAn^tham with his theory of universal
(சுத்தாத்துவத சித்தாந்த சமரச சமயம்). He postulated that
VEdhan^tham resembled the path and SitthAn^tham the vehicle to reach Sivam, the
absolute being. His statement, "I do not have any dobts that no matter in what
form you worship, the Divine is only One". (தொழுந்தெய்வமெல்லாம்
ஒன்றே, மருள் எனக்கில்லை) is perhaps more relevant today than at any other
moment in the history of mankind.
ii) Being Quiet (சும்மாஇருத்தல்)
ThAyumAnavar's advice to the serious student of spiritual philosophy is to
discipline the mind, control desires and meditate peacefully. Again this message
is more relevant for people living in affluent conditions, when one is apt to
over indulge in insatiable desires and ultimately get overawed in desperation.
ThAyumAnar was the first to admit that "it is easy to control an elephant, catch
hold of the tiger's tail, grab the snake and dance, dictate the angels,
transmigrate into another body, walk on water or sit on the sea; but it is more
difficult to control the mind and remain quiet".
கட்டலாம், பாம்பையெடுத்தாட்டலாம், விண்ணவரை ஏவலாம், வே§ர் உடல் புகலாம், சலமேல்
நடக்கலாம், கடல்மேல் இருக்கலாம். ஆனால் சிந்தையை அடக்கியே சும்மா இருக்கின்ற
திறமரிது (சேரசோமயானந்தம் 8.)
He condemned excessive desires towards land, gold and woman
(மண், பொன், பெண்) and pleaded to God that his only desire was to remain
in perfect peace within. (சும்மா விருப்பதற்கே அல்லும்
பகலுமெனக்காசை பராபரமே (பராபரக்கண்ணி 8).
A similar thought had been expressed by ThiruvaLLuvar earlier:
பற்றுக பற்றற்ன் பற்றினை அப்பற்றை
பற்றுக பற்று விடற்கு
iii) Self exposition (வெளியீடு)
ThAyumAnavar expressed his feelings following conventional akam and puRam
styles. He used the hero-heroine or the hero-friend dialogue patterns for puRam
purposes; he employed the God-devotee relationship for akam topics. His
repentance for his past actions and self admonition over his human limitations
and weaknesses were depicted clearly in his poems. The following popular lines
are applicable to many of us regardless of our religious affiliation:
"No matter how much or from how many sources I learn I never seem to be
able to control my mind or get rid of my arrogance".
(எத்தனை விதங்கள்தான் கற்கினும்
கேட்கினும் என் இதயம் ஒடுங்கவில்லை, யானெனும் அகந்தை தான் எள்ளளவும்
iv) Format (வடிவம்)
ThAyumAnavar's poems are in the form of Aciriya virutthap pAkkaL
in the 6, 7, 8 or 12 meters. The kaNNikaL are short pieces and are in the
form of Anan^thak kaLippu
(ஆனந்தக்களிப்பு) popularly sung by the paNdAram (p]fdarmf)
on the streets. In these poems the soul (ஆன்மா) is
depicted as the lover and God as the hero with an intermix of Bhakthi
(பக்தியோகம்) and spirituality
The similes and metaphors in ThAyumAnavar's works are considered to be a
fusion of reality, spirituality and humor. In describing the wandering mind, he
compares it to a monkey, not an ordinary monkey but a huge one ; not merely a
huge monkey but one which has been stung by a scorpion
கொள்ளத் தேள் கொட்டிக் குதிக்கின்ற
கள்ளமனந் துள்ளுவதென் கண்டோ பராபரமே
ThAyumAnavar's literary objective was not to impress the elite but to convey
his message and share his own spiritual experiences with the common man.
(யான்பெற்ற இன்பம்பெறுக இவ்வையகம்). The popularity of ThAyumAnavar's works
may be ascribed to their simple literary format set to folk type melodies. His
liberal spiritual philosophy (அத்துவைத சித்தாந்தசமரசம்) is
proof of his vision of a universal religion in which semantics, rituals, fixed
dogmas are considered less important than the recognition of the Absolute Being
as omnipresent, graceful and full of love. By avoiding over indulgence in
sensual desires and maintaining peace within (சும்மா இரு),
people leading a fast life would be able to achieve the same spiritual
fulfillment that he himself enjoyed.