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Thiru Jnanasambandar

Reviver of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham

 

After Devi Mīnākṣi, more than 1500 years ago in the 7th century, the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham was revived once more by the famous child-incarnation, Tiru Jnanasambandar, born in the holy town of Sirkazhi (Sembai) in the Chola region (South India). Named by Śrī Paramaśiva Himself, the name “Jnanasambandar” means the one who has gained contact with the Siva Jñānam, the highest spiritual knowledge, i.e. the knowledge of Paramaśiva. Jnanasambandar’s bio-memory

 

itself was never disconnected from the Cosmic Consciousness from birth. He, even while living in the body, was widely accepted, recognized, revered, worshiped as an incarnation of Paramaśiva Himself. From the ‘64 leelas’, divine plays of Lord Sundareśvar, one of the divine plays, glorifies the acts of Tiru Jnanasambandar for reviving the “Saiva tradition” by restoring the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham. From  Tiru Jnanasambandar the recorded history of this Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham begins. Till the revival of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham by Tiru Jnanasambandar, there was no record of its history, though the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham itself existed much before his time.

 

As an embodiment of supreme love, He radiated a state of intense ecstatic love of God i.e mahabhava – the “Feeling Connection of devotion towards the Divine”, which is the foundational philosophy of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham.

Tiru Jnanasambandar taught and transmitted to the world the 5 sacred syllables “Namaḥ Sivāya” – ‘Na-Ma-Chi-Va-Ya”, and emphasized the glory of the sacred holy ash, Tiru Neeru, as well as the greatness of the Tamil language.

 

Assuming the human body for only 16 years, His mission was to rid the land belonging to Paramaśiva from the persecuting, irreligious Jain tradition that had lost all its sublime spirit, because of the inevitable corruption that ensues after the Living Enlightened Masters leave their body.

 

The purpose of His divine incarnation was to revive, re-establish the pure enlightenment science of Vedic tradition, “Veda Neri”, which He declared as the only philosophy of the Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham. The quintessence of the Vedic tradition is to express and radiate “devotion and gratitude” to Lord Paramaśiva.

 

The Vision of the Divine and the Enlightening Milk

When Jnanasambandar was three years old, his parents took him to Lord Shiva’s temple at Sirkazhi in South india. At the holy temple tank, Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati Devi – Sundareshwara and Meenakshi gave their darshan (divine vision) to Him. The Cosmic Mother Parvati Devi fed him with her enlightening milk. His father saw drops of milk on the child’s mouth and asked who had fed him, whereupon the Jnanasambandar pointed to the sky and responded with the song ‘Todudaya Seviyan’, thus chanting the very first historic verses of the famous “Tevaram“ series of compositions which extol the glory of Paramasiva.

 

Each Enlightened Master or Incarnation radiates the energy of enlightenment in their own unique expressions. Tiru Jnanasambandar, being a great Master, his bio-memory itself was never disconnected from the Cosmic Consciousness. That is why within 3 years he remembered his original state.

 

3 years is usually the time when the child feels the ‘pratyakatma jagrata’ (experience of individual consciousness) happening. The brain becomes capable of experiencing the individual identity. Jnanasambandar’s body was established in enlightenment.

When he started feeling that the individual identity may start happening in him, he felt deeply disturbed. He wanted to remain in cosmic consciousness. He strongly cried out and expressed his suffocation, uncomfortable feeling towards the cosmos. The moment he expressed his suffocation, the cosmos has to respond, the cosmos has to appear, the cosmos expresses itself. That is why the Cosmic Mother, Parvati, Prakriti (Nature) opened up herself to Tiru Jnanasambandar and poured her essence into him. Giving breast milk is a visual presentation of this ultimate truth.

 

That is the story of the famous ‘enlightenment milk’ called as Jnanapaal celebrated in Madurai. When Cosmos poured her essence into Tiru Gnanasambandar, he became enlightened. Overflowing with gratitude in deep samadhi, extraordinary sacred sentiments started expressing itself.

 

There is no philosophy in Jnanansambandar’s expression. Devotion and Gratitude is the center philosophy of Shyamala Peetha Sarvajnapeetham.

 

Reviving the Vedic Tradition – Veda Neri through Pure manifestation of spiritual powers

Jnanasambandar’s overflowing devotion and energy expressed itself in all dimensions, healing people, showering them with boons, and reviving the glorious vedic tradition. Glimpses of some of his divine plays, leelas give us insights into his causeless compassion towards raising the humanity.

– Tiruneelakandayanappar was given the boon by Jnanasambandar to sing his songs with the musical instrument, Yazh.

 

– Tiru Arathurai offered him pearl palakku (palanquin), pearl umbrella and pearl emblems (Seen in picture). He taught the people who were engaged with the Vedas, vedic tradition and the sacredness of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’.

 

– Tirunavakkarasar and Tiru Jnanasambandar worked together to spread the vedic tradition. Tirunavakkarasar was also called ‘Appar’ as this was the name Jnanasambandar called him by.

 

– Tiruppachilachiramam village was ruled by Kolli mazhavan. His daughter was affected by a disease called ‘Muyalagam’. By singing the song ‘Thunivalar Thungal’, Jnanasambandar cured her disease.

 

– People living in Kodimada Sengundrur were affected by a severe fever. By singing ‘Avvinaikkivvinai’, Jnanasambandar saved them all.

 

– At Tiruvavaduthurai, Jnanasambandarsang ‘Edarinum Thalarinum’ in praise of Lord Shiva, upon request of his father, for which he got 1000 gold coins.

 

– At Tirumarugal, a merchant who was bitten by a snake was given rebirth by Jnanasambandar, when he sang ‘Sadaiyayanumal’. Thereafter, he went on a pilgrimage to Tirusengkattangkudi, Thirupugalur and sang songs in praise of the Nayanmar Siru Thondar and Murugar.

 

Later, he went to Tiruvavur along with Appar Swamigal to participate in the Thyagaraja Peruman Tiruvathirai festival. At Thiruveezhimizhalai, he got ‘Paddikaasu’ () and destroyed famines. Later, along with Appar Swamigal, he went to Tirumaraikattu temple and sang ‘Saduram Marai’ to put Tirukappu to the temple. Appar sang to open the Tirukathavam (Divine doors of the shrine).

 

Yatra to Pandya Kingdom and Revival of the Madurai Adheenam

During the reign of the Pandyas, the Samanam (Jain) tradition was overpowering the Saiva tradition. Even the Pandya King was a follower of the Samanam tradition. However, his wives Mangaiyarkkarasi and Kulasiraiyar followed the Saiva tradition. Both the wives were worried about the condition of the Pandya kingdom.

 

At the time, some devotees from the Chola kingdom came to Madurai and met Mangaiyarkkarasi, conveying all the glories of Jnanasambandar. This made her very joyous and she sent a request through Kulasiraiyar to Jnanasambandar, who was in Tirumaraikattu at that time. He accepted, even though Appar did not think it was a good idea to do so, due to the unusual timing of the invitation. Jnanasambandar’s reason for this was that he wanted to spread the glory of the Vedic tradition, the pride and importance of Thiruneer and to impart culture and devotion in them.

 

Mangaiyarkkarasi and Kulasiraiyar received him with the customary rituals  and paid their respects. Jnanasambandar was overwhelmed by their devotion and sang ‘Mangaiyar karasi Valavarkan Parai’ in her praise. Later, Mangaiyarkkarasi, Kulasiraiyar and Sivanadiyarkal (devotees of Shiva) had darshan (divine vision) of the Meenakshi-Sundareshwara temple at Madurai. Jnanasambandar stayed at the Thirumadalayam in Therkkavani Moolastreet.

 

The Three Tests by Samanargals (Jains)

At Madurai, on seeing the number of people visiting Thirumadalayam to meet Jnanasambandar, the Samanargal (Jain mars) became jealous and brought this to the notice of the king, who immediately issued orders to put a stop to this. That night, the Samanargal lit fire to Thirumadalayam. However, nobody inside was affected by the fire. On finding out that this fire was instigated on the king’s orders, Jnanasambandar was upset and cursed the king. With the power of his enlightenment, he changed that same fire into a fever called ‘Veppu’, with which the king was now suffering.

The Samanargal tried everything they could to save the king, but failed. Instead, the fever kept increasing. Koon Pandyan was in deep regret for his actions.

 

Mangaiyarkkarasi and Kulasiraiyar went to the king and told him that the reason for this fever was because of what he did to Tiru Jnanasambandar (also called Sambandar). They requested him to come to the palace and heal the king. Just hearing that Sambandar was coming to the palace caused the king’s fever to decrease. It decreased further on having his darshan (divine sight of him).

After this, Jnanasambandar sat on a throne near the king’s head. By now, the Samanargal had surrounded him and Mangaiyarkkarasi worried that they intended to harm Sambandar. By the power of his intuition, he understood her feelings and said, “The Eternal Blessings of Lord Siva are with us, so nothing can happen to us. Do not fear.” This consoled her.

 

To prove their power, the Samanargal decided to cure the king’s left side and have Sambandar cure his right side. As they began, the fever on the right side dropped drastically, while the left side was still the same. He sang ‘Mandira Mavathu Neeru’ to cure him. The Samanargal were ashamed of their loss.

 

At this stage, Koon Pandyan requested Sambandar to heal him, as he could not bear his fever anymore. Sambandar sang once more, and the king was fully cured.

 

The Samanargal wanted to have another test. They wrote all their mantras on Olai (palm leaves) and put them into the fire. As expected, they were all consumed by the fire. When Jnanasambandar wrote ‘Thalirila Valaroli’ on the palm leaf and put them into the fire, the leaves remained green. Even now, it is called ‘Pacchai Pathigam’.

 

Despite losing their pride a second time, the Samanargal wanted a third test. They wanted ‘Punal Vatham’ or debate. Kulasiraiyar did not intend to oblige, as she felt that the truth had already been proven twice and a third time was unnecessary. To convince everyone, the Samanargal declared that if they lost a third time, the king could punish them in any way he wanted. So, Jnanasambandar accepted. Everyone went to the shore of the Vaigai river and the Samanargal wrote their mantras on palm leaf once more, and put them in the river. The leaves floated away due to the current of the river. Sambandar did the same, but his leaves went against the current (seen in picture).

 

This proved the truth ‘Saiva Samayame Samayam’ meaning Shaiva is the religion. These leaves were brought to Jnanasambandar later and Puja (ritualistic worship) was offered to it.

 

Due to the deep guilt and shyness of losing, all the 8000 Samanargal did not want to live anymore and they committed suicide. Jnanasambandar neither killed nor ordered the king to kill them. But, whoever wanted to live, all of them were blessed and initiated by Tiru Jnanasambhandar and accepted into the fold of Adi Shaivism.

 

 

The Extraordinary Powers of Tiru Jnanasambandar

Tiru Jnanasambandar expressed the highest extraordinary spiritual powers through a beautiful series of poetical renditions called ‘Tevaram’ which immerse one in sacred sentiments of devotion for Paramasiva.

Later, some of his devotees from Sirkali (Tamilnadu, South India) requested him to come to Sirkali. After reaching Sirkazhi, he stayed with his parents for a few days. Then, he moved on to Thondai Nadu (Kancheepuram in South India). At Tiruvoturil, the palm trees never bore any fruits. The people in the village were very worried about this. Jnanasambandar sang  ‘Poondher Thayana’ and turned all the male trees into female trees, which bore fruits!.

 

Revival of the ‘Golden Era’ of the Veda Neri, Vedic tradition

Cotton bags may be millions or billions, but one matchstick is enough. In the same, one being with conscious experience is enough. Tiru Jnanasambandar is such a being, that just with his conscious fire, he burnt all the unconsciousness, destroyed all the negativity, and with his strength he established the Vedic tradition again. As per the tradition of Hinduism, he went around from place to place and expressed the sacred sentiments, glory of the Cosmic father and the Cosmic mother, the Origin, the Source, the Divine, the Causeless auspiciousness, Paramasiva, Mahadeva and energized and installed through the process of Prana Prathishta (process of giving life energy to deities which only incarnations can do) in so many of the temples and revived the Vedic tradition.

 

Bringing Back Poomparai’s ashes to Life

Continuing his journey to revive and spread the sacred vedic tradition, Jnanasambandar went to Chennai, Mylapore. There lived a rich merchant named Sivanesar Chettiyar. Despite being so wealthy, he had realised the truth that the real wealth was ‘Sivaperuman’ (Lord Paramasiva); and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He had heard about Jnanasambandar, and began to spread his glory to all the people. He had no children, and respected the Sivanadiyargal – Devotees of Paramasiva. He arranged all the facilities for them.

 

Due to the grace of Paramasiva, his wife was able to conceive a child and they were blessed with a girl baby. He named her Poomparai and loved her immensely. She grew up to be very beautiful.

 

The merchant’s love for his daughter made him believe that the perfect match and the only person worthy of her hand in marriage is Tiru Jnanasambandar. With this thought, he announced that he would be giving all his wealth to Jnanasambandar.

 

One day, Poomparai was plucking flowers with her friends and a snake bit her. The poison killed her immediately. Even after three days of treatment, they could not cure her and she died. Sivanesar was deeply upset, but decided that since he had already handed his daughter to Jnanasambandar, he would not worry. He cremated her and preserved her bones and ashes in a jar. He treated the jar like how he would treat his daughter, if she was alive.

 

Jnanasambandar came to Mylapore to worship Kapaleeshwar Peruman, the presiding deity in the Mylapore Shiva temple. On hearing this, Sivanesar Chettiar went to receive him. People informed Jnanasambandar of the incident with Poomparai and of Sivanesar’s devotion towards him. He prayed to Kapaleeshwarar and asked Sivanesar to bring Poomparai’s jar of ashes in front of him. Connecting with Oneness to Paramasiva in his heart, Jnanasambandar just gave the jar one look, and from that jar, came the beautiful form of Poomparai. Her hands were folded and she was the same age as she was on the day she had died. She was as beautiful as ever. The heavens and all the Devas showered flowers on her. The entire village celebrated and congratulated her. Sivanesar and Poomparai fell at the feet of Jnanasambandar.

 

With palms folded, Sivanesar humbly requested Sambandar to take Poomparai home and marry her. To this, Sambandar replied, “Your daughter died because of a snake bite. I have given her life once more by Sivaperuman’s (Paramasiva) grace. Now, she is equal to my own daughter. I cannot accept your request.”  This brought peace to Sivanesar’s heart.

 

After that, Tiru Jnanasambandar had a darshan of Kapaleeshwarar. Sivanesar announced that his daughter will not marry anyone and she remained a Sanyasi at a Mutt (monastery). She reached Sivapatham (Paramasiva’s feet). Jnana Sambandar stayed at Mylapore for a few days, and then reached Tiruvanmiyur.

 

There, he sang songs in praise of Sivaperuman. Later, he reached Tiru Edaisuram temple. There he prayed to Sivaperuman with great joy and love. He then reached Tiruvadisulam and dissolved in the beauty of the Sivapatham (feet of Paramasiva) there. Blissfully, he sang the “Sivapathigam”. He stayed at Tiruvadisulam for a few days and left to Tirukazhikundram, Achirupakkam, Arasila and Panang Kattur and had darshan (vision) of Paramasiva at all these places.

 

After visiting many temples, he reached Chidambaram and had darshan of Lord Nataraja. His father Sivapaada Irudayar and other devotees came from Sirkazhi to Chidambaram.

He went to Sirkali on request of his devotees later on, and was received in a grand way. He later went to Thiruthoniappar temple, where he was totally dissolving into Him and went to his place at ‘Eratti Theru’.

 

Marriage of Thiru Gnanasambandhar

Tiru Jnanasambandar was very handsome and attained the age of marriage. His parents requested him to get married. He accepted this and everyone was happy with this decision. Marriage arrangements and rituals were performed in a very grand manner. Marriage rituals were happening in both Sirkali and Tirunallur Perumanam. Jnanasambandar had a bath, wore new clothes and reached Tirunallur.

 

Tiruneelanakka Nayanar performed the rituals. Jnanasambandar held his bride Tothira Poornambikai in his hands and sang the song ‘Kallur Perumanam Venda’.

 

Merging into the Shivajyoti (Light of Paramasiva)

At that time, between Sivaloga Natharukkum, Nangai Umaiammaikkum, above perarul perunjothi (A huge Light), appeared. On seeing the Jyothi (Light), Jnanasambandar spoke thus, “It is this marriage (Union) that we have to attain” and held Tothirapoornambikai’s hand. Then, for the world to rise in a higher state of Consciousness, he sang the “Namashivaya Tirupathigam”, saying, “Whoever wants to raise yourself to this state can join me.” And he and the crowd dissolved into the Sivajyoti (Light of Paramasiva).

Jnanasambandar – a life of pure spiritual powers

 

The great life of Tiru Jnanasambandar was nothing but a flowing expression of pure spiritual powers. His ability to manifest Devi Parvati and drink her breast milk at age 3, his ability to cure any severe disease, his spontaneous devotional verses, his miracles in ousting the Jain monks, his ability to revive the dead and his final dissolution into the Light of Paramasiva, all reveal his pure Oneness with Paramasiva which manifested as a lifetime of manifesting spiritual powers.