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Thiru Jnanasambandar, The Re-establisher of Madurai Aadheenam


The Reviver of the Madurai Aadheenam, Thiru Jnanasambandar was born in Sirkazhi, Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu, South India in 7th century A.D. He was born to the blessed parents – Sivappada Irudhayar and Bhagawathy Amma as the fruit of their deep devotion, intense prayers. He appeared as the son of God, living the path of “sat-putra-margam”. He has been accepted, revered, and loved as the direct incarnation of Lord Shiva. This is beautifully proven by accepting one of Thiru Jnana Sambandar’s divine acts as part of the sacred Thiruvilayadal Puranam, 64 leelas of Lord Sundareshwara by Paranjyoti Munivar.

The purpose of His divine incarnation was to revive, re-establish the pure enlightened science of vedic tradition, “Veda Neri”, which He declared as the only philosophy of Madurai Aadheenam. The quintessence of the Vedic tradition is to express and radiate “devotion and gratitude” for Lord Shiva. He appeared to place an end to the unconscious irreligious negative movements that were impurifying the original spiritual purity of mother of all religions, Veda Neri.

As an embodiment of supreme love, He radiated a state of intense ecstatic love of God i.e mahabhava – the “Feeling Connection”, the philosophy of Madurai Aadheenam. He taught and transmitted to the world the sacred 5 syllables “Namah Sivaya” – ‘Na-Ma-Chi-Va-Ya”, and glory of the sacred holy ash, “Thiru Neeru”, and the greatness of the Tamil language. His appearance was also to protect His surrendered devotees, and to not only awaken, but visibly show by His own living example, how to embody, and radiate the pure love of God.

Keeping Shiva’s feet firmly seated in His loving heart, He traveled far and wide expressing the devotional outpourings of sacred sentiments, singing the glories of the cosmic father and cosmic mother, the origin, causeless auspiciousness – Shiva, Mahadeva. His sacred outpourings of love for Mahadeva have been preserved and gifted to the world in the form of ‘Thevarams”. Just listening to them awakens the innate love every being has for Shiva, the super-consciousness.

Adi Shankara, the great incarnation of Shiva, praises Jnanasambandar as the king among all great poets in his Soundarya Lahari – “Kaveenam proudana majani kamaniya kavayitha” – the king among those great poets, whose works stole one’s mind.”

In only 16 years of his human life, He played the His divine acts, “leelas”. In His exalted state, wherever He went establishing the great vedic tradition, miraculous wonders happened. Just by His overflowing songs of love that poured out from the spiritual depths of His enlightenment, and the devotional peaks of evolved emotions, he overpowered the matter to express as energy, and spontaneously played them as an innocent child.

The dead came back to life; the diseased were healed with just a touch, a look; the poor showered with wealth, the child-less conceived divine children; and wonder of all wonders, they were all showered with the ultimate blessing – the compassionate grace of “Sivaperuman”, Lord Shiva.

At the behest and prayers of the Pandiyan Queen Mangaiyarkarasi, when Thiru Jnanasambandar came to Madurai from Sirkazhi, Chola state, he stayed at Madurai Aadheenam, the vedic institution and revived it back to all its original glory. From this time, ‘Veda Neri’, the vedic tradition has witnessed a new chapter, a “golden era” of Madurai Aadheenam.

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

A golden era of not only restoring, reestablishing, but enlivening, growing, spreading the richest living tradition, the Vedic Tradition, the real wealth of the planet.

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. 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 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 boy pointed to the sky and responded with the song ‘Todudaya Seviyan’, emitting the very the first verses of the “Tevaram“.

Each Enlightened Master or Incarnation radiates the energy of enlightenment in their own unique expressions. Thiru 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, Prakriti, nature opened up herself to Thiru Jnanasambandar and poured her essence into him. Giving breast milk is visual presentation of this ultimate truth.

That is the story of the famous ‘enlightenment milk’ called as Jnanapaal. When cosmos poured her essence into Thiru 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 Madurai Aadheenam.

Reviving the Vedic Tradition – Veda Neri

His 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.

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

– Thirunelvai Arathurai offered him pearl palakku, pearl umbrella and pearl emblems. He taught the people who were engaged with the Vedas, vedic tradition and the sacredness of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’.

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

– Thiruppachilachiramam village was ruled by Kalli mazhavam. His daughter was affected by a disease called ‘Muyalagam’. By singing the song ‘Thunivalar Thungal’, he cured her disease.

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

– At Thiruvaduthurai, he sang ‘Edarinum Thalarinum’ in praise of Lord Shiva, on request of his father, for which he got 1000 gold coins.

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

Later, he went to Thiruvavur along with Appar Swamigal to participate in the Thyagaraja Peruman Thiruvathirai festival. At Thiruveezhimizhalai, he got ‘Paddikassu’ and destroyed famines. Later, along with Appar Swamigal, he went to Thirumaraikattu temple and sang ‘Saduram Marai’ to put Thirukappu to temple. Appar sang to open the Thirukathavam.

Yatra to Pandya Kingdom and Revival of the Madurai Adheenam

During the reign of the Pandyas, the Samanam 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 Gnanasambandar. This made her very joyous and she sent a request through Kulasiraiyar to Gnanasambandar, who was in Thirumaraikattu 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. Gnanasambandar 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. Gnanasambandar stayed at the Thirumadalayam in Therkkavani Moolastreet.

The Three Tests by Samanargals

At Madurai, on seeing the number of people visiting Thirumadalayam to meet Gnanasambandar, 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, Gnanasambandar 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 Thiru Gnanasambandar. 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.

After this, Sambandar 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 Mava Neeru’ to cure him. The Smamnargal 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 Oolai (palm leaves) and put them into the fire. As expected, they were all consumed by the fire. When Gnanasambandar wrote ‘Thalirila Valaroli’ on the Oolai 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 Vathan’ 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 Jain mars 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 Oolai 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.

This proved the truth ‘Saiva Samayame Samayam’. These leaves were brought to Jnanasambandar later and Puja was done to it. Even today, ‘Yettu pooja’ is done at the Adheenam every day.

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 Thiru Jnanasambhandar and accepted into the fold of Thiru Jnanasambhandar. Those few Jain Munis who had become very egoistic and arrogant, without having any experience, just with the words they had started thinking that they know everything, and even at that time, Jnanasambhandar was the young one, and all these guys were established, old and many.

The Extraordinary Powers of Thiru Jnanasambandar

Thiru Jnanasambandar expressed the highest extraordinary powers through the beautiful poetical hymns immersed in the sacred sentiments of his devotion for Lord Shiva.

Later, some of his devotees from Sirkali requested him to come to Sirkali. He obliged, and on the way, some Buddhists were blocking the way of the Adiyargal who was traveling with Jnanasambandar. He sang ‘Panchakkra tenth thirupathigam thirupadal’ and lighting struck the Buddhist’s head and he died.

After reaching Sirkazhi, he stayed with his parents for a few days. Then, he moved on to Thondai Nadu. At Thiruvothuril, the palm trees never bore any fruits. The people in the village were very worried about this. Gnanasambandhar sang  ‘Poondher Thayana’ and turned all the male trees into female trees, which would bear fruits.

He crossed forests, rivers, mountains and reached Kalathi. As he was traveling through the mountains, in his Sivagai (english meaning), he asked his Munnivar where the Kalathi mountain was. At the very sight of the mountain, he was dissolved in love as he remembered Kannappa, a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He sang ‘Vanavargal’ and worshipped ‘Kalathi Nathar’.

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

Cotton bags may be millions or billions, but one matchstick is enough. One being with conscious experience is enough. Thiru Jnanasambhandar is such a being, just with his conscious fire, he burnt all the unconsciousness, destroyed all the negativity, and with his strength he established the Vedic tradition again, revived the Vedic tradition again. As per the customs of those days, he went around from place to place and expressed the sacred sentiments, glory of the Cosmic father and the Cosmic mother, the origin, source, divine, causeless auspiciousness, Shiva, Mahadeva and energized, installed, did Prana Prathishta (process of giving life to deities) in so many of the temples and revived the Vedic tradition.

Bringing Back Ashes to Life of Poomparai

Continuing his journey to revive and spread the sacred vedic tradition, he then 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 Shiva); and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He had heard about Gnanasambandar, and began to spread his glory to all the people. He had no children, and respected the Sivanadiyargal. He arranged all the facilities for them.

Due to the grace of Lord Shiva, his wife was able to conceive a child and they were blessed with a baby girl. 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 Thiru Gnanasambandar. With this thought, he announced that he would be giving all his wealth to Gnanasambandar.

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. Sivanesar was deeply upset, but decided that since he had already handed his daughter to Gnanasambandar, 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.

Gnanasambandar came to Mylapore to worship Kabaleshwar Peruman. On hearing this, Sivanesar went to receive him. People informed Gnanasambandar of the incident with Poomparai and of Sivanesar’s devotion towards him. He prayed to Kabaleshwar and asked Sivanesar to bring Poomparai’s jar of ashes in front of him. Feeling Lord Shiva in his heart, Gnanasambandar 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 died. She was as beautiful as ever. The sound of Shiva resounded till the heavens and all the Devas showered flowers on her. The entire village celebrated and congratulated her. Sivanesar and she fell at the feet of Gnanasambandhar.

With palms folded, Chettiyar 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 grace. Now, she is equal to my own daughter. I cannot accept your request.”  This brought peace to Sivanesar’s heart.

After that, Thiru Gnanasambandar had a darshan of Kabaleshwar. Sivanesar announced that his daughter will not marry anyone and she remained a Sannyasi at a Mutt. She reached Sivapatham. Gnana Sambandhar stayed at Mylapore for a few days, and then reached Thiruvanmiyur.

There, he sang songs in praise of Sivaperuman. Later, he reached Thiru Edaisuram temple. He prayed to Sivaperuman with bundles of love. Thiruvadisulam thalathil Gnanasambandar was dissolving on seeing the beauty of Sivapatham. Blissfully, he sang Sivapathigam. He stayed at Thiruvadisulam for a few days and left to Thirukazhikundram, Achirupakkam, Arasila, Panang Kattur and had darshan (vision) of Siva Peruman at all these places.

After visiting many temples, he reached Thullai and had darshan of Nataraja peruman. His father Sivapaada irudayar and other devotees came from Sirkazhi and reached Chidambaram.

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

 Marriage of Thiru Gnanasambandhar

Thiru Gnanasambandar was very handsome and attained the age of marriage. His parents requested him to get married. He accepted this as it was a part of his duty. Everyone was happy with this decision. Marriage arrangements and rituals were done in a grand manner. Marriage rituals were happening in both Sirkali and Thirunallur perumanam. Gnanasambandar had bath, wore new clothes and reached thirunallur.

Thiruneelanakka nayanar performed the rituals. Gnanasambandar held his Deviyar thothira poornambikai in his hands and sang ‘Kallur Perumanam Venda’.

Merging into the Shivajyoti

At that time, between Sivaloga Natharukkum, Nangai Umaiammaikkum, above perarul perunjothi, appeared. On seeing the Jyothi, Gnanasambandhar said the words, “We have to reach this marriage only,” and held Thothirapernambigai’s hand. For the world to raise in a higher state of consciousness, he gave the Namahshivaya Thirupathigam, saying “whoever wants to raise yourself to this state can join me.” He and the crowd dissolved into the Sivajyoti.