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Historical Hapening

The Madurai Kingdom, Pontiffs and Historical Happenings

 

In his lifetime, Tiru Jnanasambandar ensured that the lineage established by Paramaśiva was preserved and maintained by His direct heirs and legal representatives – the  lineage of Guru Maha Sannidhanams (Pontiffs) of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham.

 

-Being a witness to the growth of human civilization on the planet, the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham’s rare and sacred lineage of Masters has been carefully, systematically carried over in an unbroken progression from ages. These chosen emissaries of Paramasiva and Devi, the Guru Mahasannidhanams (Pontiffs) of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham are the direct representatives of the Cosmos. They inherit great responsibility in carrying forward the traditions of the Seat. There is no tenure for this position and is a lifetime honor.

 

The spiritual Pontiffs groomed and initiated the Kings

This lineage of Guru Maha Sannidhanams (Pontiffs) were entrusted with the responsibility of training and grooming the Kings in administration, constitution and governance acting as regents. They also performed the spiritual initiations on the Kings and the citizens of the Kingdom, imparting the enlightenment science to them.

 

“Rao Bahadur” Title for Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham Pontiff

The Guru Maha Sannidhanam (Pontiff) of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham was conferred upon with the title of ‘Rao Bahadur’, a title conferred upon Kings by the British.

Pages from book “Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham Varalaaru” showing the conferring of the title “Rao Bahadur” on the Pontiff of Madurai, usually conferred on Kings (Pg 28).

 

1827 – the respect accorded to Madurai Pontiff from the Madurai Magistrate

 

On 12 July 1827, when the Madurai Pontiff was going to travel with his devotees to visit the temples of Salem and Coimbatore districts of South India, the Madurai District Magistrate issued the following notice to all the Police officers and other authorities in the circuit of The Pontiff ordering the ultimate respect, care, comfort  and safety to be accorded to him and the group of devotees. Below is the issued order (Ref,: Book titled “Madurai Aadheenam Varalaaru” meaning “History of Madurai Aadheenam” published by the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, Pg 42).

 

Order issued on 12 July 1827 by the Madurai District Magistrate to Police and other authorities to accord utmost respect, care and safety to the Madurai Pontiff during his visit to the Salem and Coimbatore district temples

 

 

4 Sep 1880 – Governor in Council passes order exempting the Madurai Pontiff from appearance in the Courts of Presidency

 

On 4 Sep 1880, the Governor in Council G. Stokes, passed an order exempting the Pontiff of Madurai from personal judicial court appearances, as a mark of respect to him as the direct  representative of the Cosmic Principle Paramasiva. Following is the issued order essence extracted from the book “Madurai Aadheenam Varalaaru” meaning “History of Madurai Aadheenam: Pg 44.

 

15 Sep 1880 – Order issued by Governor-In-Council exempting the Madurai Pontiff from all personal appearances in judicial courts.

 

The 233rd Pontiff cures King Veeramarthandan’s leprosy

 

The King of Thuraiyoor (Chola country) in Tiruchirapalli, South India, King Veeramarthaandan was suffering from leprosy due to his past karmas (past unfulfilled actions or thought currents that manifest as current physical or mental illnesses). No medicine was able to cure him. He finally visited Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple and after that met the 233rd Pontiff of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, Srilasri Sambandha Charanalaya Sri Jnana Sambandha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal and prostrated at his feet to cure his disease. Understanding what he wanted, the 233rd Pontiff prayed to Paramasiva and to Tiru Jnanasambandhar and chanted “Om Nama Shivaya” mantra (utterance of sacred syllables) and gave the vibhoothi Prasad (sacred ash) to the King and blessed him.

 

The King applied the vibhoothi Prasad all over his body and also ate it. In a few days, his leprosy disease and all the related pain points vanished.

 

So the King went back and bowed down to the 233rd Pontiff of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham and with joy and cheer requested him to visit his country. The Pontiff agreed to visit and gave a warm send off to the King. Later, in a few days, the Pontiff visited Thuraiyoor. The King warmly welcomed him and prostrated at his feet and offered his gratitude as land, gold and other precious items as gifts to the Madurai Kingdom.

 

Madurai Meenakshi amman temple governance under the 270th Pontiff of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

When Srilasri Ponnambala Sri Jnanasambandha Desika Paramaacharya Swamigal was the 270th Pontiff of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, the King Vishwanatha Nayakkar was ruling Madurai. The King and his minister Ariya Nayaka Mudali, as was the tradition, both received Shiva dheeksha (formal initiation into Shaivism) from the Pontiff and became his disciples.

 

During this period, the Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple flourished under the supervision and direct administration and mandate of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham Pontiff. Vehicles and ornaments for the temple were created with overflowing bliss and joy and the Pontiff managed the entire administration.

 

Daily poojas (ritualistic worship) and the yearly festivals were all conducted under his guidance. The daily temple pooja routines and temple administration was under the supervision of the adheenam until the 285th pontiff Sri La Sri Subramanya Sri Jnanasambandha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal’s time.

 

Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar and Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

Muthuramalinga Thevar (30 October 1908 – 30 October 1963) was an active socialist and politician during his period. He was the National Deputy Chairman of the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) from 1952 and elected to the Parliament three times.

 

Born in a place called Pasumpon in Ramanathapuram district, South India,  there was a long and close relationship between him and the Madurai Adheenam. Thevar cherished great devotion towards Tiru Jnanasambandar and all the Pontiffs thereafter of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham.

 

From the year 1940 to the final years of his life i.e. till 1963, this deep relationship continued and Devar made frequent visits to the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham offering his devotion and support to the Pontiffs of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham. The 291st Guru Maha Sannidhanam honoured Devar by conferring upon him the title “Sanmarga Sanda Marutham”.

 

The 292nd Guru Maha Sannidhanam established a charitable trust in the name of Muthuramalingam Thevar for Kamarajar University.

 

Manomaneeyam Sundaram Pillai – famous author and historian in Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

nhManonmaniyam Sundaram Pillai also called Manonmaniyam P. Sundaranar (4 April 1855 – 26 April 1897) was an Indian scholar, noted for the famous Tamil drama “Manonmaniyam” as well as the State song of Tamil Nadu “Tamil Thai Vazhthu”. This song which starts with the words “Niraarum Kadal Udutha” from “Manonmaniyam” was adapted as “Invocation to Goddess Tamil (The sacred language Tamil is worshipped as a Goddess” and approved by the Government of Tamil Nadu as the official Tamil anthem in June 1970. The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu, South India, spanning 50 acres, was named after him. Sundaranar became a Member of Fellow of Royal Historical Society (FRHS). To honor his accomplishments, South Indian historical research, the Madras Government gave him the title of ‘Rao Bahadur’ in 1896. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by a German university as well.

 

He authored the book “The age of Tiru Jnanasambandha” In 1895, he stayed for one week in the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, engaged in extended conversations with the 290th Pontiff of the Adheenam Sri La Sri Swaminatha Sri Jnanasambandha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal and published the book. Manonmaniam Sundaranar records in a letter that the 290th Pontiff as per the tradition of respecting scholars, showered him with the appropriate comforts, bestowed on him the “Shiva deeksha” – formal spiritual initiation into Shaivism, felicitated him with a grand silk shawl, and conferred upon him the title “Tamil Samaya Karuvoolam”.

 

A few renowned disciples, followers of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeethamwith its roots firmly grounded on the highest vedic tenets, and its unequaled glory has merited name and fame from recorded history of 6th century onwards. A historic center for the authentic growth of Saiva Siddhanta in Madurai and surrounding areas, it also anchored the growth of the Tamil language, preserved and transmitted the golden gems of Tamil literature from the Tamil Sangam period (period of confluence of Tamil scholars in a Tamil language Academy founded by Prince Pandi Thurai Devar in the 19th century for promoting the sacred language of Tamil).

 

Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham has had its own disciples, devotees, and admirers synthesizing from all cultures, social backgrounds, and geographies, spreading across from foreign soils to its Mother land of Tamilnadu. This is the true testimony to its all-encompassing Vedic Principles that are universally honored, and adopted.

 

Some of the famous disciples ofShyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham are:

 

 

Vadalur Vallal Ramalinga Adigal
(5 October 1823 – 30 January 1874), a great Tamil Poet Saint known as Jnana Siddhar (Enlightened Sage)
Bhasakara Sethupathy Thevar
(3 November 1868 – 27 December 1903), Raja of Ramnad (Southern tip of India).
Nindra Seer Nedumaran alias Koon Pandiyan
Pandiya King of the 7th century
King Koon Pandiyan’s wife Queen Mangayarkkarasi, a highly evolved saint and one among the 63 Nayanmars, enlightened devotees of Paramasiva Pasum Pon Muthu Ramalinga Thevar
(30 October 1908 – 30 October 1963), active Socialist and Politician in Tamilnadu.
King Vishwanatha Venthen Nayak

Founder of the Nayak Dynasty in Madurai and Ruled Madurai in the 16th century.

Chief Minister Ariyanayaka Mudali Chennai Pachiappa College founder Pachaippa Mudali Chief Minister Kulachiraiyaar
R.S. Naidu Bar At La Thuraiyur Veera Maarthaanda King Pandithurai Thevar
Governor Generals who ruled India “Adli, Dauberin“ Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai  

 

The devotion of Ramalinga Adigalar towards Tiru Jnanasambandar

 

Vadalur Vallal Ramalinga Adigalar  performed special worship to Tiru Jnanasambandar every Thursday in his Sathiya Dharma Chaalai. Melting in deep devotion to Tiru Jnanasambandar and deeply experiencing his physical presence in that very place, he placed a silk mattress with silk pillows and silk bolsters in it, with flowers spread on it like how he would if Tiru Jnanasambandar was present in person there.

 

Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham has established the following Trusts to serve in the areas of literature, art, culture and education:

 

  1. A Trust for the house in Sirkazhi in which Sri Jnanasambandar was born
  2. A Trust for Sabanayaga Mudaliar High School at Sirkazhi (fostering education)
  3. A Trust for the Arts College belonging to Dharmapuram Adheenam (another Shaivite monastery)  (fostering education)
  4. A Trust for Guru Jnanasambandar Matriculation School in Vaitheeswaran Temple, run by the Dharmapuram Adheenam (another Shaivite monastery fostering education)
  5. A Trust in the name of Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar in Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai
  6. A Trust for the Sentamizh College in the name of Philanthropist Pandithurai Thevar under the Madurai Tamil Sangam (fostering the Tamil language)
  7. A Trust for the Madurai Satguru Sangeeta Samaj (fostering traditional classical music)
  8. A Trust for the Panniru Tirumurai Mandram in Madurai (fostering Tamil Poetry)
  9. A Trust for Madurai Yadava College (fostering education)
  10. A Trust for Gandhi Niketan Educational Centre at T. Kallupatti, near Madurai (fostering education)
  11. A Trust for V.P.M.M Educational Institutions at Srivilliputhur (fostering education)
  12. A Trust for Kaveri Arts College for Women at Trichy (fostering education)
  13. A Trust for Lalgudi High School for Girls, near Trichy (fostering education)

 

Many more such trusts have been established for many educational institutions and temples by Madurai Adheenam.

 

Visit of Tipu Sultan  to Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

King Tipu Sultan (lived from 1750 to 1799) called the Tiger of Mysore during his rule of Mysore visited the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham in the years 1786, 1790. He prostrated at the feet of the 282nd ruling Pontiff Sri La Sri Pambaninatha Sri Jnanasambandha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal and had a very amicable communication with him. It is recorded that he gifted the following items to the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham as endowments:

 

  • Silver plates
  • Town crier drums made of leather (used to gather people when wanting to communicate official messages to them from the rulers)
  • The “Tiru” symbol made in silver
  • Punugu (gel secreted by the gland of an Indian Civet that is used in temple rituals)
  • Javvaathu, an expensive natural perfume made of sandal oil as base and other herbs
  • High quality Athar (natural perfume oil made from flowers, herbs, spices and barks) from Arabia
  • Silver Sword
  • One male elephant

Tipu Sultan’s prestigious legacy was aggrandized soon after his death in the year 1839.

 

King of Chettinad, Sir Annamalai Chettiar’s Visit to Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

From Kanadukathan, a village in a region called Chettinad in South India, ruled by the regent Kings called the Nattukottai Nagarathars, Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar (30 September 1881 – 15 June 1948), an industrialist, banker, educationist and philanthropist from Tamil Nadu, the then King of Chettinad visited the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham’s  289th Pontiff ‘Rao Bahadur’ Srila Sri Swaminatha Sri Jnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal. Raja Sir was also the founder of the famous Annamalai University in Chidambaram, South India.

 

Both of them participated in the Maheshwara Pooja and later, the Chettinad King asked the Sannidhanam, “Pray Sanndianam, what service must I offer to the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham? Please give your orders. I am waiting for Sannidhanam’s orders. Now I have brought a small Pathakanikkai (offering to be placed at the feet of the Sannidhanam). Please accept it and bless me.”

 

The offering he had brought comprised:

 

  • 100 sovereign gold coins in a silk bag placed on a heavy silver plate
  • 2 silver vibhooti madalgal – sacred ash containers – inside another silk bag
  • 1 silver Sengol (ruling staff) in a third silk bag
  • 1 Spatika Lingam (Shivalinga made of crystal) in a fourth silk bag

 

The Mahasannidhanam on seeing all the items was extremely pleased and asked the Chettinad King, “When did you get all these items done?” The Chettinad King humbly replied, “I decided to have your darshan (divine audience) one month earlier. I ordered for artisans from Karaikudi (place in Chettinad) and made these silver items. You have told us to follow the Saiva tradition when we visit the Aadheenam, therefore I did all this.

 

Even after he left the Aadheenam, the Chettinad King surprised everybody in the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham the following day afternoon with further gifts:

 

Without informing the Sannidhanam (Pontiff), the King chose two of the Madurai Kingdom’s functionaries, and through them organised 200 sacks of rice, 2 sacks of Moong Dal, two sacks of coconut, and one big bag containing cashewnuts packed in imported packing covers, and ordered the functionaries to place the offerings at the feet of the Pontiff and get his blessings.

 

Such was the deep respect, affection and relationship the Chettinad Kings had with the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham.

 

Maruthu Pandya brothers offer silver chariot to Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

The Maruthu Pandya brothers (named Periya Marudhu, born 1748  and Chinna Marudhu, born 1753) were chieftains of the Sivagangai district, Tamil Nadu, South India, towards the end of the 18th century. They were known for fighting against the invading Britishers. They were most ruthlessly hung by the British for trying to protect the region.

 

The annual Guru Puja festival for Guru Maha Sannidhanam Sri Tiru Jnanasambandar the reviver of Madurai Aadheenam in the 7th century, happens during the peak of the Vedic star “Moola” in the Vedic month of “Vaikasi” every year.

 

The Utsava murthy (procession deity) of Sri Tiru Jnanasambandar at the Meenakshi Amman temple is placed in a silver chariot for the annual procession to pass through the four Avani Moola streets around the temple till the chariot reaches the entrance of Madurai Adheenam where the “Tirukkann” ritual is performed every year. The silver chariot was arranged exclusively by the Maruthu Pandiya brothers exquisitely designed and dedicated to Tiru Jnanasambandar. This silver chariot is kept secured in a lofty place chariot house in the Meenakshi Amman temple and is traditionally taken out every year only for this festival.

 

 

 

Silver chariot made by the Maruthupandian brothers for taking the deity of Tiru Jnanasambandar in procession on the streets, during the annual Guru Pooja festival (month of May-June)

 

Visit of Veerama Munivar to Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

Veerama Munivar was born on 8th November, 1680 A.D. in Castiglione Delle Stiviere, Mantova, Italy. Earlier known as Constanzo Joseph Beschi, an Italian missionary, he wrote the book “Thembavani” (the unfading garland) on the life of Joseph, father of Jesus Christ. He came to Tamilnadu with the initial idea of spreading Catholicism in the year 1709, but instead became a great Tamil scholar of Shaiva Siddhanta.

 

He became a master of Tamil literature and he has been immortalized by the Tamil community reverentially as Veerama Munivar and his statue stands at the famous Marina Beach at Chennai as one of the 20 Tamil savants. His contributions to Tamil are multifold.

 

He visited Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham in the year 1710 and prostrated at the feet of the 279th Pontiff Sri La Sri Sri Sivajnana Sri Jnanasambandha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal. He had not only felt the richness of the Tamil language and greatness of the Tamil people but also the greatness of Saiva Siddhanta. He learnt the Tamil language with great interest. He also wished that people all over the world should come to know the greatness of Tamil language.

He gained deep knowledge of Saiva Siddhanta. When he was asked to bring it before the world, he wrote ‘Chathuragaradi’ in Tamil, as a substitute to the Sanskrit language. He also wrote a book “Thonnool Vilakkam” detailing the five parts of Tamil grammar namely ‘letter’, the ‘word’, ‘subject’, ‘prosody’ and ‘figures of speech’. He also translated into the Latin language, the sections of “aram” – virtues and “porul” – polity, of the famous Tamil work “Tirukkural”.

 

He wrote Prose books such as:

 

  • Veda Vilakkam
  • Vediyar Ozhukkam
  • Jnana Kannadi
  • Sentamizh Ilakkanam
  • Stories of Paramartha Guru – a humorous literature

 

All his above works, Veera Munivar placed at the feet of 279th Guru Mahasannidhanam Sri La Sri Sivajnana Swamigal, who placed them before Paramasiva, saying with great happiness that it is for Him, Lord Paramasiva to go through the writings and bless them.

 

Rev. Dr. George Uglow Pope visits Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, earns the title ‘Saiva Siddhanta Maharathi‘

 

Rev. Dr. G.U.Pope was born in America on 4th April, 1820. He came to Tamilnadu in the year 1839. He learnt Tamil and Sanskrit language with great academia interest which soon developed into a devotion towards the study of the Tamil language. He visited the then Pontiffs of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, the 287th Guru Mahasannidhanam Sri La Sri Saravana Sri Jnana Sambandha Desika Paramacharya Swamigal and the 288th Guru Maha Sannidhanam Sri La Sri Arumuga Sri Jnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal during the subsequent years of 1840, 1841 and 1842 and felt greatly happy discussing with them ‘Shaiva Siddhanta’ and the greatness of the Tamil language.

 

The Pope was astounded by the extraordinary Tamil masterpieces with their poetic beauty, scintillating sacred emotions pouring out divine devotion, and by the linguistic genius itself. He was interested in Shaivism and wished to translate into English, the Tamil literature par-excellence namely:

 

  • Tirukkural (1330 rhyming Tamil couplets) by Poet Saint Thiruvalluvar
  • Tiruvasagam (lit. sacred utterances, hymns) by Poet Saint Manickavasagar
  • Naladiyaar (Tamil poetic work) by Jain monks

 

When Dr. Pope expressed his desire to the Guru Maha Sannidhanam to translate the above works for the Western world to understand these works adn benefit from them, the Guru Mahasannidanam was extremely pleased and gave him great inspiration, support and blessings to start the sacred work immediately.

 

The Pope completed his translation of Tirukkural on September 1, 1886. His Sacred Kural contains introduction, grammar, translation, notes, lexicon and concordance. He had, by February 1893, translated Naaladiyaar (நாலடியார்), a didactic work of moral sayings in quatrains, 400 in number in 40 chapters, each by a Jain ascetic, according to a Tamil tradition.

 

Accordingly, when Rev. Dr. G.U. Pope submitted the 3 translations to the Guru Maha Sannidhanam, he jubilantly praised Pope for his great work and honoured him with the title “Saiva Siddhanta Maharathi” and felicitated him with a shawl, as per the tradition of the Aadheenam.

 

Sirkazhi Munsif, Vedanayagam Pillai

 

Vedanayagam Pillai was the Munsif of the place Sirkazhi (official who handles and tries to dispose civil matters pertaining to the district before it is taken to any higher court of Justice). Additionally, he was a Tamil Pundit and a good writer and orator. Pillai, who was born on 14th Oct 1826 in Kulathur, Trichy district. He served as Munsif in two other places namely Mayuram and Tharangampadi.

 

He visited Madurai Aadheenam in 1860 and engaged in discussion with the 289th Pontiff ‘Rao Bahadur’ Srila Sri Swaminatha Sri Jnana Sambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal. They discussed the greatness of the reviver of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, the King of Saivism, Tiru Jnanasambandhar’s history and also about the “Thevaram” – songs composed by Tiru Jnanasambandhar, and about the greatness of ‘Saiva Siddhanta’.

 

Greatly inspired by Shaivism, and driven by his deep interest in the Tamil language, he authored some great books, among which the popular small spiritual literature books are:

 

  • Veda matha Anthathi
  • Periyanayagi Ambal Pathigam

 

He was also well-versed and interested in traditional music. As evidence to this, his books as below are titled with the work ‘keertana’ meaning ‘devotional songs:

 

  • Sarva Samaya Keertana
  • Satya Veda Keertana

 

He was also a great thinker. He used to say, “money is needed to run life, but we cannot achieve all with money alone.” He would exclaim, “Oh money! What is your character? It is enough if we get the basic necessities like food, clothes and shelter without any obstacles”. He also insisted that man should feel content with these bare necessities. His fame will ever remain in the Tamil world.

 

292nd Pontiff of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham – immediate predecessor to His Divine Holiness

The unbroken lineage of Pontiffs begins from Paramasiva Himself existing till date, with the previous pontiff being the 292nd Guru Maha Sannidhanam (seen in the picture), “His Highness Loka Guru Śrīla Śrī Arunagirinatha Śrī Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swamigal”, who is from Sirkazhi, Thanjavur Dt (Tamil Nadu, South India). On 27-05-1975, He was coronated as the prince (Perarasar) of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham and was crowned as the Great King on 14-03-1980.

 

Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham existed all over the world

Seen in this picture is an invitation printed in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 1969 by the Jaffna branch of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, inviting one and all to the traditional musical rendition of the great Hindu epic “Kamba Ramayana” by the Head of the Jaffna branch of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham, Srimad Swaminatha Thambiran Swamigal. Thus, from time immemorial, Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham and the Gurus of the branch monasteries functioned in various parts of the world keeping alive the enlightenment eco system for the benefit of humanity.