Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Thiruchendur Murugan Temple - Kumaraguruparar Swamigal’s Kandar Kalivenba

Thiruchendur Murugan Temple - Kumaraguruparar Swamigal’s Kandar Kalivenba
A 17th century classic in praise of the glory of Thiruchendur is Kandar Kalivenba by Kumaraguruparar Swamigal, a Saiva ascetic. The author was born in 1625 A.D. of a Saiva Vellala family at Srivaikundam on the northern bank of the Thambaraparani, nineteen miles from Thiruchendur. His parents Shanmukha Sikhamani Kavirayar and Sivakami Ammaiyar were blessed with this child after a long penance to Muruga of Thiruchendur. The boy grew of age and until his fifth year showed no signs of speech. The parents were pained at this and resorted to Thiruchendur penance again. Weary of waiting for months and seeing signs of approaching speech, the parents determined to drown themselves in the sea along with the child if he would not speak by a particular day.
The day dawned, and yet there were no signs. At last, both the parents and the child entered the foamy waves. Deeper and deeper they went from knee to neck and, as they were about to sink with the waves over their heads a human form appeared with a flower in his hand and asked the child what it was; the moment, child broke out in praise of the Lord with the words of the lines.
"Pumevu cenkamalap putteLunterriya
Pamevu teyvap pazhamaRaiyum…."
This poem, the Kantarakalivempa of 244 lines is a delightful piece of the Lord's praise and the truths of Saiva Siddhanta. And it is considered even now with great propriety that its recitation with warmth and fervour wards off many an evil attending on man.
Having studied Tamil at the feet of his father Sanmukacikamani Kavirayar, and attained in it great proficiency by divine grace, he grew up to manhood, took to an austere way of life, left home, and wandered throughout the Tamil country visiting famous places of pilgrimage and composing poems on the presiding deities.
When he was at Dharmapuram, he was drawn to the monastery's head Macilamani Tecikar, and begged him to be admitted as his disciple and initiated into the sannyasa asrama. Macilamani asked the young poet to visit important pilgrim centers including Benares, and return to him then. Kumaraguruparar felt incapable of such undertaking, arduous and dangerous in those days. He was directed to stay at least in Chidambaram for some time and then apply. He complied with this condition and afterwards took the holy orders.
While he was a court-poet of Thirumalai Nayaka at Madurai, one day as he was inaugurating his devotional poem in praise of goddess Meenatchi at the royal court, the goddess appeared herself as a young maiden and sat on the lap of the Nayaka king, and taking a necklace of pearls, put it on the neck of the poet and vanished.
Finally, Kumaraguruparar left for Benares. His fame reached even the Mughal court at Delhi. Emperor Aurangzeb expressed a desire to see him, and the poet-saint (who had in the meantime mastered Urdu) rode to the Mughal court on the back of a lion, the symbol of courage and pride. The emperor was so much impressed by the poet's holiness and learning that he bestowed on him a plot of land in Benares near the Kedar Ghat, and there Kumaraguruparar built the Kumaraswami monastery which became soon the heart of religious activities.
He lived in Benares till the end of his days except for a short visit to the South to pay his respects to his guru. The tradition also says that Kumaraguruparar who was very fond of Kampar's Tamil Ramayana lectured on it in Benares and that Tulsidas, the great Hindi poet of Ramcaritmanas, heard these talks and became indebted to Kamban through the lectures of Kumaraguruparar.
Amongst Kumaraguruparar other literary works, Meenakshi Pillai-Tamil, Meenakshi-kurram, Neethineri-Vilakkami Madhuraikkalampakam and others are ever popular and widely read.

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