Thayumanavar - தாயுமானவர்

தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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CONTENTS OF
THIS SECTION

Last updated
12/08/08

Sage Thayumanavar - Biographical Introduction
by Dr. B. Natarajan of Chennai (Madras), India (1978)
Acharya Palaniswami on Thayumanavar
Thayumanavar in Tamil Literature - Professor C.R.Krishnamurthi
Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi and Thayumanavar -  Robert Butler, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman
தாயுமான சுவாமிகளின் திருப்பாடற்றிரட்டு at Project Madurai
தாயுமானவர் பாடல்கள் - Hymns of Thayumanavar

Index of Hymns of Thayumanavar - English Translation

Canto [1] - Adoration to Omnipresent God - The Presence of Holy Grace
Canto [2] - Bliss That Is Perfect Full
Canto [3] - Prayer to the Being - Let us Contemplate
Canto [4] - Adoration to the God-Guru Who Is Knowledge-Bliss
Canto [5] - Obeisance to Mauna Guru
Canto [6] - God of Compassion-Fullness-Fullness
Canto [7] - The Siddha Elite
Canto [8] - The Pervasiveness that is Bliss
Canto [9] - Ocean of Bliss
Canto [10] - The Pervasive Being
Canto [11] - Siva That is Truth-Knowledge-Bliss
Canto [12] - Refulgent Bliss
Canto [13] - Beauty of Knowledge Bliss-Dawn
Canto [14] - Pervasive Cosmic Form - Secret of the Intelligence of the Infinite Space
Canto [15] - Nectar Squirting
Canto [16] - Many the Garlands
Canto [17] - One Thought
Canto [18] - Of Gold and Women
Canto [19] - Veda
Canto [20] - The Indescribable
Canto [21] - The Impudent "I"
Canto [22] - Siva's Will
Canto [23] - The Unique He
Canto [24] - Desire that is so Known
Canto [25] - No Doing is My Own
Canto [26] - The Magic Act on the Ground
Canto [27] - Leaping Leopard
Canto [28] - Unreal Attachment to the Body
Canto [29] - That Regretful State
Canto [30] - Forest and Plain
Canto [31] - Thayumanavar of Sivagiri Hills - Body Incarnated
Canto [32] - Face Entire
Canto [33] - In Firmness "Being Pervasive"
Canto [34] - Of The Self
Canto [35] - Life-Eternal That is Truth-Knowledge-Bliss
Canto [36] - Life-Eternal That is Perfection-Bliss
Canto [37] - The Loved Damsel That Flourisheth in the Mountain
Canto [38] - The Lady of the Universes
Canto [39] - The Lady Great
Canto [40] - Father, Mother
Canto [41] - Only To Her That Gave Birth
Canto [42] - Of The Wild Banyan
Canto [43] - Wreath: Pervasive Supreme
Canto [44] - Green Parrot Wreath
Canto [45] - Wreath: When is the Day to be?
Canto [46] - The Wreath: Will I See?
Canto [47] - Wreath: "Will it Not Befit Thee?"
Canto [48] - The Wreath: Is There Not
Canto [49] - The Wreath: Should Thou Not
Canto [50] - The Wreath: Goodly Wisdom
Canto [51] - The Wreath: Mixed
Canto [52] - In the Stance That I Am
Canto [53] - Book of Songs
Canto [54] - Rejoicing in Bliss
Canto [55] - Ahaval
Canto [56] - Vannam
 
Pete Brown, Mountain Man Graphics, Australia
Publications of Peace and Of Great Souls

In the Southern Winter of 1998

" My acknowledgements concerning this publication extends to the
Himalayan Academy, the organisation which has been primarily responsible for
the English translations of the 1400 Hymns of Thayumanavar. The following e-mail text provides some further information ...

Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997
From: Acharya Palaniswami
To: mtm@mountainman.com.au
Subject: Aloha, Peter!

I also have an unused work on disc of equally profound thought. It is the 1400 of Saint Thayumanivar, a famed Tamil poet and mystic whose works are FULLY MEMORIZED still today in Madras! I have seen people recite the whole thing (some of the “verses” are a full page. Anyway, we have never placed this on the Web simply because of time. If you are willing to run it through the html process, I could place it along with some simple graphics on our FTP site.

It is a classic, worthy of your page and of people’s access.

It occurs to me that it may be a feather in your cap to let visitors know that this translation, made over many years in India, has not been published anywhere yet, though major plans are underway and Thayumanivar has just had two literary analyses released by Motilal and others. Yours is the VERY FIRST PLACE ON THE PLANET where this masterpiece can be seen and enjoyed.

Om shanti, Acharya Palaniswami
Editor, “Hinduism Today”

The path of acknowledgement must therefore lead back through the support I have received from the Himalayan Academy, to those parties who firstly translated these Hymns of Thayumanavar, to those who maintained the originally collected works down through the lifetimes of two and a half centuries, and finally to his disciples Arulayaya and Kodikkarai Jnani, who gathered and copied the palm leaves upon which the sage wrote this work.

As for the foundational acknowledgement which Thayumanavar would ascribe to the appearance of these works, one might determine this in its reading and contemplation. May the Spirit of Life burn bright in its students.

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Thayumanavar  - தாயுமானவர்
 a Tamil Saivayogi - devotional mystic and poet saint (1706-1744)

"Silence is the ocean in which all the rivers of all the religions discharge themselves"

"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 another language..." Sage Thayumanavar - Biographical Introduction by Dr. B. Natarajan of Chennai (Madras), India (1978)


Pete Brown, Mountain Man Graphics, Australia, in co-operation with the Himalayan Academy, has placed on the world wide web 1400+ Hymns of Thayumanavar - The Silent Sage - (1706 - 1744) in English, together with a short biography of the sage by Dr.B.Natarajan of Chennai.  In his introduction to the website, Pete Brown says:

"To whom are the students (and the children) of today and tomorrow to turn, for any semblance of specifications concerning the nature of the inner world of man? It would appear that such information will not be forthcoming from the western scientific tradition, it very busily pursuing its successes in the outer domains of natural phenomena which, by current convention, are external to, and independent of, the nature of the observer, and are also very much material or physical in content....

 .... Those who are keen to see themselves as the students of life, will perceive that the understanding of the nature of the inner world of the observer, is a prized possession. In understanding the nature of the inner world of man it will become quite apparent that although outwardly different in form and code, the planetary religions are unified at a foundational level - at the level of their mystic founders.

Thus, some day hopefully, it will become apparent to the western intellect, that there exists a wealth of resource information in the recorded publications of the ancient east. For if the scientific of the west examine the outer world, the metaphysical seers and sages of the east examined, through the practices of yoga and meditation, the nature of the inner world. The content of such eastern writings extend back millennia before anything comparable was recorded in the history of European literature....

....Those who know themselves to be the students of life should allow sufficient time for themselves to become acquainted with the ancient observations of the eastern sages, in addition to the sages of their own lands, under the one sun and sky. Indeed, this is one of the primary reasons that I decided to place this publication on the net.

 These Hymns of Thayumanavar are by no means ancient, in fact it will soon be only three centuries since they were first sung, but then again, there are many who hear them as echoes of the same hymns which were sung three millennia beforehand, on the pristine planetary surface of the land of the Indian Sun...[Full Text]


Acharya Palaniswami, Editor, Hinduism Today - On the life and work of Saint Thayumanavar:

"This work (the Hymns of Thayumanavar)  is the life work of a realized sage who, in keeping with his Tamil traditions and his family’s lineage, worshipped Lord Siva. More than that, the sage ultimately knew Him in the inner recesses of his being. Yet, his poems transcend all sectarian boundaries. His first three songs were sung 250 years ago before a crowd at the Congress of Religions in Trichinopoly, south of Chennai, where varied faiths had gathered. His poems follow his own mystical experience, but they also outline the philosophy of South Indian Hinduism (and more specifically of the lineage of Saint Tirumular, ca 2,000BCE) in its highest form, one that is at once devotional and nondual, one that sees God as both immanent and transcendent.

Thayumanavar is one of the great articulators of Saiva Siddhanta, the path followed today by 60 million Tamils, the path taught by Himalayan Academy and its founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. We can also stress that these poems are yet alive today in the hearts of millions. They are sung lovingly in satsang, they are memorized, in fact each year at the very active Yogasana Alayam in chennai, South India, hundreds of teenagaers and elders vie in a contest to see who can recite, from memory, the most verses. And each year a few still succeed in being able to recite all 1,400 verses. So loved and revered are these spiritual poems. That’s just to give a few thoughts..... "


 
The Sage Thayumanavar - Biographical Introduction
by Dr. B. Natarajan of Chennai (Madras), India (1978)

The Copyright of this publication rests with the Himalayan Academy

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 self-oblivion.

" Who am l? What am I? Whence am I ?
What is beyond the entry and exit in this amphitheatre of Existence?
Who feels in the senses and thinks in the mind and dreams in my fancy?"

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 Pilgrim Soul.

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 and forms.
It is beyond the mental conceptions of caste, creed and religion.
Ascetic or householder, all have a right to live in its consciousness.
Come collectively to enjoy the bliss of life in the Divine Grace.
Call with deep love; the Grace shall pour itself from above."
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 soul,
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 songs.

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 his home.

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 Thayumanavar.

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 blessings.

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 melancholy.

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.

Royal Service

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.

The Master

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 faithfully.

Liberation

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 so ?
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 venomed edge.

Queen: My beloved sir, I shall give you all my wealth; love me.
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 merchandise.

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 spies.

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 hu