MUDIRAJA & RELATED SAINTS


Click here --> 01. Purandara Das (Karnataka)
Click here --> 02. Subba Rayudu (Andhra Pradesh)
Click here --> 03. Bhakta Shabari (Kerala / Karnataka)
Click here --> 04. Sage Valmiky (Madhya Pradesh)
Click here --> 05. Sant Kabir ( Uttar Pradesh)
Click here --> 06. Bhakta Kannappa (Andhra Pradesh)
Click here --> 07. Matha Amruthanandamayi (Kerala)
Click here --> 08. Sati Kannagi of Cilapathikaram
Click here --> 09. Goddess Valli Amman (Tamilnadu)
Click here --> 10. Kavichakravarty Kamban (Tamilnadu)
Click here --> 11. Ponnar Shankar Tamilnadu)
Click here --> 12. Tamil Saiva Saint Meykanandar


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01. SAINT POET PURANDARA DAS

Purandara das, who was one of the greatest Carnatic singer and saint poet of Karnataka was from Kabbaliga caste. The kabbaligas claim that they are non other than the Mudiraj people of A.P penetrated into Karnataka. Their main profession is fishing and are considered to be bestha / gangaputra by some people. They are supposed to be variant or equivalent of kolis of Karnataka / Maharastra. The story of Purandara Das truly reveals that he migrated from Maharastra to Hampi and also belonged to koli (Naik)community. This proves that Mudiraj, Koli and Kabbaligas are one and the same people at one point of time and still have many similarities in their profession in some areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharastra.

There is no doubt that Naik was a title extensively used by Koli kings in the good olden days and by some community people even today in Maharastra. Several Koli uprisings against the tyrannical Moslem rule were recorded around 1327 AD all over Maharashtra. Naga Nayak, the ruler of the Kolis, puts up a heroic resistance against the moslem hordes from the great hill fastness of Kondanna (Sinhagad of later times, conquered by the great Tanaji. )

There are several records which show that there were many Nayak chieftains in the Vijayanagar kingdom. Damarla Venkatapathy Nayak ruled all the coast country from Pulicat to the Portuguese settlement of San Thome now included within the City of Madras. He had his head-quarters at Wandiwash and his brother Ayyappa Nayak resided at Poonamallee, a few miles to the west of Madras, and looked after the affairs of the coast. Damarla Venkatadri was the local governor of the last ruler of Vijayanager empire and looked after the rajah's property.

Purandara dasa's original name was Srinivasa Nayaka. He had earned the name of Navakoti Narayana, became a devotee of Narayana, the protector of the mankind and started a new life along with his wife and children. Purandara Dasa's wife and children appear to have composed verses like him.

In course of time Purandaradasa came to Hampi and settled down with his wife and children. He had four sons-Varadappa, Gururaya, Abhinavappa and Gurmadhvapathi. Every morning Purandaradasa went into the town wearing bells on his ankels and tulasi mala around his neck. He carried a tamboori in the hand and sang his Hari-keertanas sounding the tamboori with his fingers. The verses he sang were his own compositions. They were on a variety of themes. Some of them described Sri Krishna's adventures in this world. Some others sang about God's kindness to man. A few more verses were simple compositions expounding the philosophy contained in the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavadgita in simple words. In yet other verses Purandaradasa praises Lord Krishna affectionately. In some verses Purandaradasa has even made fun of the Lord. He sang these songs to the accompaniment of tamboori and the bells tied to his ankles and went about the streets of the town. The people admired the listened to his songs. Purandaradasa accepted alms given to him during the wandering and led a life of renunication. He who had been called Navakoti Narayana now had willingly accepted the life of a saint and begged for his food.

Purandara Dasa is famous among the Haridasas of Karnataka; foremost among the talented Karnatic composers. In the early stages, he earned much money and lived only to earn it, but eventually gave away all his wealth because of a strange incident and became a devotee of Sri Hari. He practised the principle contained in the popular saying "we must swim across suffering win victory over it". He earned the well-deserved praise-'Among the devotees of Hari, Purandara Dasa is the greatest'(from his preceptor Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha). His works have earned the name 'Purandaropanishat'.

After Srinivasa Nayaka became the saint-singer celebrating Sri Hari, he sought a teacher for guidance and was received as a disciple by Sri Vyaasaraja. Sri Vyaasaraja who had been accepted as a great saint, had composed verses both in sanskrit and Kannada. He bestwoed the name of 'Purandara Vittala' on the unattached Srinivasa Nayaka and blessed him heartily. Purandaradasa has expressed his gratitude to Sri Vyaasaraja in one of his verses thus: "My only refuge is the feet of Vyaasaraja. I was able to understand Purandara Vittala by his grace".

Story of Purandara das : Purandaradasa lived in Purandaragadha, a small town in present-day Maharashtra (India), but belonging to the then Vijayanagar dynasty. His earlier name was Srinivasa Nayaka. He was engaged in the family business - dealing in precious stones. He was very rich and popularly known as navakOti nArAyaNA. He was a miser by nature, and cared for nothing except money.

Lord Vishnu decided that it was time for Srinivasa Nayaka to give up his love of money, and take his rightful role among saints. So, He took the form of a poor brahmin and approached Srinivasa Nayaka for money in order to perform the thread ceremony of his son. Even though days rolled by, Nayaka did not give anything, but the brahmin too did not relent. He visited Srinivasa Nayaka's shop again and again. Six months passed by in this fashion. Finally, Nayaka decided that he had to do something to get rid of the brahmin. He had a collection of worn-out coins that were more or less worthless. He poured this in front of the brahmin and asked him to take one and never come back. The brahmin went away, seemingly crestfallen.

Saraswathi, Nayaka's wife, was a kind hearted soul who in her own way, tried to make amends for her husband's miserliness. The brahmin, who knew this, went directly from Nayaka's shop to his residence. He told her his story and how her husband had sent him away with nothing.

Saraswathi was appalled by her husband's behaviour. She wanted to help the poor brahmin, but felt helpless since she could not give anything without her husband's permission. When she explained her helplessness, the brahmin asked if she had something given by her parents (which, presumably, she could give without asking for her husband's permission). She agreed and gave him the diamond nose-stud that her parents had given her.

The brahmin took the ornament straight to Srinivasa Nayaka's shop. When Nayaka became angry with the brahmin for coming back, despite his instructions to the contrary, the brahmin clarified that he was there not to beg, but to pledge an ornament and take a loan. Nayaka was skeptical and asked the brahmin to show him the ornament. When he saw the ornament, he was perplexed because he immediately recognized it as the one belonging to his wife. When questioned about the ornament's antecedents, the brahmin told him that it was a gift from a benefactor.

Asking the brahmin to come back the next day, Nayaka safely locked away the ornament in a box and went home. When he saw his wife without her ornament he questioned her about it. She tried to stall him with non-committal answers, but he insisted on seeing it immediately. He was angry because he thought she had given away a valuable ornament to a beggarly brahmin.

Saraswathi felt the ground giving way under her feet. She knew that her husband would punish her if she told him the truth. Unable to think of an alternative, she decided to commit suicide. She poured poison into a cup and lifted it to her lips. Just as she was about to drink the poison, she heard a metallic sound. Lo behold, wonder of wonders, the ornament was right there in the cup. She could not believe her eyes. Her heart filled with gratitude, she prostrated before the idol of Krishna and took the ornament to her husband. Nayaka was astounded as it was the very same ornament that he had safely locked away in his shop. He quickly excused himself and ran back to the shop to check. The box in which he had safely locked away the ornament was empty! He was now completely and totally dumbfounded.

He want back to his house, and pressed his wife to tell him the truth. She told him everything that had transpired. This put his mind into a turmoil. After deep thought, he came to the conclusion that the brahmin was none other than God Himself. He recalled all the incidents that had transpired in the previous six months. He was disgusted with himself, and his miserliness. He felt that his wife had conducted herself far more decently and generously than himself. Since it was his love of money that had made him ill-treat the Lord, he gave away all of his wealth with the Lord's name on his lips.

From that day onwards he became a devotee of Sri Hari. navkOti nArAyANa became a nArAyANa Bhakta; the hands which sported gold and diamond rings now played the tamboora, the neck which used to be resplendent with golden chains now housed the tulasi mAla. The man who had turned away countless people away, now himself went around collecting alms and living the life of a mendicant. The Nayaka who would have lived and died an inconsequential life became PurandaradAsa, loved and revered even centuries after his death. Just as the philosopher's stone turns everything it touches to gold, the Lord took a wretched miser and made him into the doyen of all haridAsas. Such was the magic wrought by the Lord! One of the greatest influences in the development of Carnatic Music was that of Saint Purandara Dasa (1484-1564).

Every morning Purandaradasa went into the town wearing bells on his ankels and tulasi mala around his neck. He carried a tamboori in the hand and sang his Hari-keertanas sounding the tamboori with his fingers. He sang these songs to the accompaniment of tamboori and the bells tied to his ankles and went about the streets of the town. The people admired the listened to his songs. Purandaradasa accepted alms given to him during the wandering and led a life of renunication. He who had been called Navakoti Narayana now had willingly accepted the life of a saint and begged for his food.

In 1525, Purandara Daasa became a disciple of the great Vyaasa Raayaa, who titled him "Purandara ViTThala," which became his signature, which he uses in all his compositions. Vyaasa Raaya praised him, saying "Among the devotees of Hari, Purandara Daasa is the greatest." Purandara Daasa expressed his gratitude by singing "My only refuge is the feet of Vyaasaraja. I was able to understand Purandara Vittala by his grace." The composer was also given the name Purandaropanishat and many other names. The title ViTThala refers to the Lord Vishnu, or Krishna.

Purandara Daasa is said to have composed 475,000 songs in both KannaDa and Sanskrit. PurandaradAsa adopted a simple, lucid KannaDa style with telling phrases and similes. He sang many rare ragas with among the most beautiful lyrics. He identified 84 ragas, including ragas such as kalyani, varali, todi, bhairavi, and saaveri, which are popular in use today. Tyaagaraaja's praise in "Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam" is for him and in fact, some of his famous songs are patterned after those by Purandara Daasa, such as Nanupaalimpa, based on Daasa's Bide ninnayya pada. Purandara Daasa also used a variety of musical types: kritis, keertanas - devotional songs, padams - a dance form using hero-heroine, plus many more rare forms. The verses he sang were his own compositiions on a variety of themes. Some of them described Sri Krishna's adventures in this world. Some others sang about God's kindness to man. A few more verses were simple compositions expounding the philosophy contained in the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavadgita in simple words. In yet other verses Purandaradasa praises Lord Krishna affectionately. In some verses Purandaradasa has even made fun of the Lord. His songs which preached surrender to Vittala have an elusive fragrance, poetic fervour, extraordinary logic and cutting satire.

He made great contributions to both Sacred and Art Music. He is the most prolific of all the South Indian composers. He perfected a systematic approach to train students of Carnatic Music which has since become a standard format. He composed the "Saralevarase" (simple exercises based on the scale), "Alankaras" (exercises based on the seven basic Talas) and "Gitams" (simple melodic compositions in praise of the various deities), songs in Kannada known as "Devarnamas". He was the creator of the musical form "Kriti" which was later perfected by the great composer Tyagaraja.

Saint Purandaradasa also known as Sangeeta Pitamaha(Father of Music) laid the firm foundation for Karnatic Music. He formulated graded music lessons in the form of Varises, Alankaras, Geethas and Thana Varnas which provides excellent foundation to classical music students. His eternal songs are predominantly devotional in character. He has visualized the entire Gokula and written songs depicting Lord Krishna's antics and his relationship with the Vraja dwellers. His songs, even now are a part of the daily rituals of Vaishnava families in Karnataka.

Purandaradasa (c. 1540 A.D) was a great literary figure of Bhakti movement, and revered as the father of Carnatic classical music (a.k.a. Karnataka music or South Indian classical music). Purandaradasa was a great poet, social reformer, and a great composer. He preached the virtues of leading a pious life through his songs, knows as padas. His innumerable compositions render themselves beautifully to music, whether they are lullabies, folk-songs (kol�ta songs), bhajans, or devotional songs. All of Purandaradasa's works are in simple metrical songs, which can be sung on all occasions, and convey devotion in the Bhagavata philosophy.

Purandaradas is one of the foremost saints of India to understand the power of music and its appeal to illiterate common folk. His songs are sung in every village of Karnataka irrespective of the community. He achieved a rare synthesis of music and poetry.

Purandaradas was the originator of the musical scale by which all the rules of Carnatic school are formed. His classification of swaravali, jantivarase, alamkara, and lakshana factors are accepted and practiced throughout south India. Purandaradasa's Pillarigeete (or four compositions) in praise of Lord Ganesh are practiced by students of classical music even today. His musical scheme was followed by all subsequent great composers of south India like Venkatamakhi Kshetrajna, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar etc., Purandaradasa is credited with creation of 75,000 compositions, although only a few hundreds survive till today.

300 years before the advent of the famous musical Trinity of South India, Sri Purandara Dasa had effected a marvellous synthesis of the three traditions of Carnatic, Maharashtrian, and Hindusthani music. While perfecting pure patterns of musical form, he also composed songs of devotion proclaiming that surrender to the Supreme Lord was the best means of deliverance from the ills of existence. Musiri Subramania Iyer said there was no doubt about the genius of Purandara Dasa in conceiving and propagating fine techniques and forms of musical composition; yet, even greater was the spirit of devotion to the Divine which he sought to instil into the minds of the common people.

During his lifetime Purandara Dasa experienced a transformation wrought by divine grace. There was a swing from his purely materialistic preoccupation to a state of desirelessness in material objects, a state of pure, unalloyed devotion to God. The extent to which God responds to the love of His devotees is nowhere so clearly illustrated than in the life of Purandara Dasa.

Fundamental to the concept of Bhakti is the conviction that God will not let His true devotee down, since He has vouched to be responsible for the welfare (Yoga and Kshema) of his devotees. It was this unflinching belief in the protecting power of the Lord that Saint Purandara Dasa had displayed. When, due to his involvement in the service of God, he started neglecting his family obligations, the Lord in His kindness undertook the responsibility of getting his daughter married. It is said that He played the role of an elder brother of his devotee and a father to the daughter.

Purandara Dasa visited Thiruvenkatam (Thirupathi) often and has considered himself blessed to have the darsanam of the Lord here . One time , he accompanied Sarasvathi Devi and had the good fortune to see the Lord breakHis archa samadhi and dance to the Veena music of the Goddessof learning . He broke forth in a song set in Thodi ragam this way : " Ninna Nodi Dhanya Nadeno Hey Srinivasa ! I am truly blessed now to have seen You . O Garuda Vahana ! O Lakshmi Kantha ! O friend of Pandavas ! Please save me , the sinner , who has wandered from place to place enjoying transient worldly plesures " .

He was the Crest Jewel of the Haridasas of Karnataka. Known as the 'Sangita Pitamaha' of Karnatic music, Purandaradasa formulated the basic lessons like the Varisais, Alankaras and the Geethams. He introduced the Mayamalavagowla raga as the first scale to be learnt by a beginner. The magnificent system of Karnatic music has been built on the sound foundations laid by him. He was a prolific composer and a theorist, whose simple and epigrammatically style have served as model to others. He was one of the foremost thinker, poet and philosophers and was a staunch exponent of Madhavacharya's Dvaita philosophy. He is stated to have composed an astounding 4,25,000 songs which include the Gajendramoksham, Draupadi Vastrabharanam, Sudama Charitram and Paratatvasara. His compositions contained varieties like Gita, Thaya, Suladi, Ugabhoga, Devaranamas and Prabhandas. His mudra was 'purandara vittala'.

It was also recorded in Chinnanna's Dwipada that Purandara Dasa, who was 70 years younger to Annamacharya, heard about the miracles of Annamacharya and visited him. Purandara Dasa paid his respects to Annamacharya by calling him the incarnation of Lord Venkateswara and his Sankirtanas as Sacred Hymns. Purandara Dasa (1494 -1564) This saint among the Madhvas is widely renowned as the father of Karnataka music. He was also one of the founders of the Hari-dasa tradition that sought to spread the doctrine of dvaita through music and in the language of the ordinary people. He was a disciple of Vyasatirtha and a contemporary of Vadiraja Tirtha. He is regarded by Madhvas as an outstanding scholar and devotee. Purandara Dasa and his followers, the Hari-dasas, did in Karnataka what the Alvar movement did in Tamil Nadu. Purandara Dasa was a great musician and composer of popular songs that embody the devotional flame lit by Madhva.

His Caste : As Sri Puranadara daasa says. " Daasara nimdhisabeda Manujaa-haridhaasaranu Nimdhisale beda."and further he says that he belonged to Kabbaliga caste and an Avathara of "Thumaru". He may belong to any caste, but is considered as "Shreshta Haradaasa" by all people and is held in high esteem and respect.

His death : Scholars think that Purandara lived for about 80 years (until 1564). On the basis of the verse in the name of Madvapathi, his son, it is held that Purandaradasa must have passed away a year before the fall of Vijaynagar. Taking it as authentic, his death anniversary is celebrated on the New Moon Day, in the second fortnight of Pushya.


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02. KAPILAGIRI YOGANANDA NARASIMHA MAHARSHI

Yogananda Narasimha Maharshi's original name was Kondeboina Subbarayudu and was born to a Mudiraj (Mutharasa) couple by name Kondeboina Gurumurthy and Laxmamma who lived in Thokapalli village which is located about 20 kilometers from Markapur Town in Prakasham (Ongole) District of Andhra Pradesh. Yogananda was one of those few saints who come on to this earth for fulfiling a specific cause of God.

The Mudiraja couple were blessed with a son in 1886 by virtue of their good deeds in their previous lives. They named the boy as Subbarayudu and brought him up with great care and love . When time came for schooling, the boy was sent to a street school in the village. For some reason or the other , the boy did not show much interest in studies at the street school and instead he loved to go to grazing fields along with other friends to look after cows, baffelos and goats. He developed a great love for observing the nature filled with trees, hills,rivers, animals and flying birds.

There in the school of nature, he was like a teacher and his friends were like his disciples. He used to tell his friends a number of divine stories. He used to sing divine songs and used to help his friends also to sing the same. He used to carefuly hear and memorize the stories of Gods, Devotees and Saints from village elders and also from the touring story tellers. While telling or hearing the divine stories, he used to enjoy immensely within himself. From his very childhood, he showed a great interest towards dance and drama. He used to rythematically dance while singing devotional songs and bhajans. He used to show a great interest in seeing Yakshagana and street plays.

After growing a little big, Subbarayudu one day suddenly left his house and went away into unknown places of this expansive world. While going through a village, he happened to see the performance of a dance drama troup. He followed the dance drama troup from village to village because of his deep interest towards dance and drama. He learned dance and drama from them and practically became one of them in course of time. He used to dress up and play the dance dramas. He used to act very well even at such an young age.

One Vaishnava Pandit, who saw the young boy giving a beautiful performace in a dance drama show became fond of him and took him to his house. The Pandit, who treated Subbarayudu like his son brought him up with great love and care. The acharyaji also helped Subbarayudu in learning and byhearting many puranas and their essence. Acharyaji also tought the young boy the vedas and mantras. The young boy learnt the mantras (hymes) with great concentration forgetting the difference between the days and nights. On one day, Subbarayudu once again suddenly took leave from Acharyaji and took his root to the forests.

He used to move in the forests in an aimless way. He used to recite the mantras (hymes) loudly while moving in the thick dark forests. The wild animals on hearing the recitation of his mantras used to move away from him without doing any harm to him. While moving in the forests, he used to feel himself as non other than bhakt prahlada. He used to experience this type of unusual mental state because of his serious performance as bhakt prahlada in a number of plays during the days of his association with touring dance drama troup. While moving in the forests forgetting days and nights, he always used to think of Narasimha Swamy and taken Narasimha as his most favourite God of worship.

In this way, he spent several months moving aimlessly in the forests. One day, while moving in the forests, Subbarayudu came in contact with a Western Forest surveyor. The surveyor became very much impressed with Subbarayudu after seeing a strong devotion and a bright glow in the face of the boy. The Westerner took Subbarayudu to his house and later appointed him as a lower category employee under him to help in the survey jobs. The surveyor used to spend his liesure time and enjoy in seeing dance drama and hearing devotional songs of Subbarayudu. The Westerner use to get astonished to hear the songs from the mouth of Subbarayudu which were filled with phylosophical words of great wisdom. Subbarayudu was a kind person and used to distribute his salary money among the poor and helpless needy. The forest surveyor, who realized the greatness of Subbarayudu, became a devotee to his own small employee. Slowly purity had dawn in the body, mind and soul of Subbarayudu, with the passage of time. What ever he used to say started becoming true and a reality. This made the surveyor also to depend on the words of Subbarayudu in times of good and bad. What Subbrayudu used to say became true one day. Subbarayudu was transferred to Thiruvalluvar.

Thiruvalluvar is a spiritual and piligrim center of Veera Raghava Swamy. Subbarayudu used to daily go to temple and offer his puja to Swamy. He used to do nama japa yagna of Veera Raghava Swamy and in that process he used to forget day and night and also used to forget he himself with deep devotion. The forest surveyor, who saw Subbarayudu to go frequently into deep meditative state forgetting all worldly affairs, worried and transferred him to Chennapattanam expecting some change in his way of life. The surveyor always wanted Subbarayudu to grow in his devotional and spiritual path to great highs, while doing his routine worldly jobs. But often God thinks some thing else which is totally different from what we think. What ever has to happen as per the fate of a man will certainly happen on a destined day.

On the fateful day, when Subbarayudu was moving in the streets of Chennapattanam, he came across an Avadhootha. The Avadhootha was a naked Yogi with long matted hair and who does not move from a place which he used to select to sit like a statue. Subbarayudu took refugee at the feet of this Digambara Yogi. The Avadhootha did not say any thing and remained silent . Hours passed. Days passed. Like that three days and three nights passed. But Subbarayudu who took hold of the feet of Avadhootha did not leave the feet even for a single minute. The Avadhootha, who opened his eyes on the forth day, kept his blessing palm on the head of Subbarayudu. There at the moment of Avadhootha's touch, a wave invisible current flowed from the hand of Avadhootha into the body of Subbarayudu. The face of Subbarayudu became very bright as if it is filled with Sun light. In a moment of time after the touch of Avadhhotha, Subbarayudu became fully conversant with all mantras (hymes), secrets of Yoga, Siddhis. There started a flow of words - " Shree Narasimha ! Shree Hari !!" endlessly from the mouth of Subbarayudu. The Digambarachala Yogi blessed his new disciple with a gentle touch and pumped all his powers into the body of young Subbarayudu transforming him into a yogi. There after that the Avadhootha disappered from that place as if the job assigned to him by God was over. From that day onwards, Subbarayudu came to be known as Yogananda Maharshi.

When the Western Forest Surveyor did not find Subbarayudu for four consequetive days, he started moving in all the streets of Channapattanam in search of Subbarayudu. There at a particular place, the Westerner came across a man who was continuously taking the name of God - "Shree Narasimha ! " without bothering for people around him. He identified the man as Subbarayudu and thought that he became mad. The Surveyor immediately made arrangements with the help of his other assistants, to send Subbarayudu to his native village - Thokapalli.

At first the villagers of Thokapalli also thought that Subbarayudu became mad. But the villagers slowly realized that Subbarayudu became a great Yogi. The villagers observed that whatever Subbarayudu used to say became true in course of time. Even the devils and spirits used to run away on taking the name of Yogananda Maharshi. The name of Yoganandaaharshi and his greatness slowly spread far and wide around Thokapalli. It was a tough time for the villagers to meet Maharshi, when Maharshi used to go into deep meditation and silence. But he was ealily approachable to people when he used to be in waking state. The people used to come to him from far and distant places to get solutions to their personal problems.

Yogananda Maharshi, on one day, suddenly left thokapalli and entered into dark thick Nallamala forests. There he practiced deep meditation for a very long time and got the vision of God. After quite a long time, Maharshi came down to Thokapalli with long grown matted hair and long nails. On his arrival at Thokapalli, he was just wearing a small piece of cloth on his waist and nothing beyond that. While educated people used to call him Yogananda Maharshi, the illiterate villagers used to call him Thokapalli Swamy. When the villages used to face the problems of cholera, plauge and other such fearful epidemics, the villagers used to take Swamiji along with them . Swamiji used to drive away the diseases by performing yagnas, reciting hymes (mantras) and nama japas. The Maharshi used to slowly guide the people to move in right path in their lives. He used to bless some of his devotees by reciting some particular mantra (hyme). On one ocassion, in a village, he entered into fiercely burning Yagna Kundam ( Yagna Vedika) and proved that he himself wasthe God of Fire.

Yoganand Maharshi performed penance for some time with great concentration on the hill of Kapilagiri and got the vision of his favourite God - Laxmi Narasimha Swamy. In memory of his vision of God, he built a temple for Laxmi Narasimha Swamy and installed the statue inside the temple. He also arranged to conduct regular annual Narasimha Jayanthi festivals in addition to daily puja & Aaraadhana.

Once there was an out break of cholera in Markapur town which created a great panic among the people. Many people also died of the deadly epidemic. Yoganana Maharshi went to Markapur and driven away the epidemic within a day. He visited Abburu village also where he cured the wife of rich village head from an incurable wound. After performing many such miracle cures in Abbaru village, the news of Maharshi's miracle powers spread out like wild fire. Gunakayya of Abburu village became devotee of Yogananda Maharshi and established a Mattam and also built a Laxmi Narayana temple in the vicinity of Mattam. The Maharshi also blessed Narayana Swamy, the son of Gunakayya and foretold that Narayana Swamy would become a saint as great as him. He tought Narayana - "Ashtashari Mantram ", yogasanas and named him as Narayana Dasa. Narayana Dasa later became renowned as Gurudattha Brahmarshi Narayana Swamy.

Once when Yogananda Maharshi was performing Sudarshana Maha Mantram in Abburu, there in the puja house, the tongues of fire fiercely rose up. The devotees who saw this miracle of Maharshi became frightened. Maharshi immediately recited another mantra (hyme) and put off the fire. After this miracle , villagers spread the information about Maharshi's miracle powers further far and wide. Yet, another time, in Abburu itself, Swamy initiated yoga yagnam. He kept sandal wood pieces in a yagna kundam and he covered it with a slab of flat stone. He sat on the stone slab in meditative state for nine days . On the ninth day, the sandal wood caught fire because of meditative powers of Maharshi. After this miracle, the Yogananda Maharshi became famous as incornation of Narasimha Swamy. He became extremely pleased with Narayana Swamy who put all his devoted service in making the yagna a great success. Maharshi asked Narayana to come to Kapilagiri and there he tought Narayana with Nrusimha Sudarshana Maha Mantra . Narayana Swamy had taken the full responsibilty of conducting regular annual Nrusimha Jayanthi Festivals. Narayana Dasa learnt all the secrets of Vedanta Yoga branch of education and became as great as his Guru Yogananda Maharshi.

When Yoganandaaharshi realized that time had come for him to leave this world, he had summoned his disciple Narayana Dasa from Abburu. Maharshi instructed his disciple to make necessary arrangements for his entry into permanent samaadhi with living body. Before entering into samadhi, Maharshi declared Narayana Dasa as his hire to further carry on his programmes on this earth for the welfare of people. Thus Kapilagiri Yogananda Narasimha Maharshi got merged with the Universal Soul by entering into live Samadhi on 30/12/1960. From that day onwards, every year, Guru Samaaraadhana takes place at kapilagiri on a grand scale. The samadhi of Yogananda became a pilgrimage for people of all walks of life.


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03. BHAKTA SHABARI

Bhakt Shabari was an Adivasi tribal woman and belonged to bhil community. Sabri was the daughter of a Bhil Raja. She was a disciple of Matanga Maharshi ( Matanga believed to be a harijan by caste) and a devotee of Sri Rama.

The bhils and Saharujas are of Indo-Dravidian origin. The Saharujas claim their descent from Shabari, whose hospitality was accepted by Lord Rama during his wandering in the Chitrakut forests.

The dangs of Dandakaranya forests who live in the region down South of Narmada river, believe that a place called Subir, 33 kilometres from the district headquarters of Ahwa in Gujarat was the ��exact spot�� where Rama and Lakshmana met Shabari. In October 2004, a grand Shabari Mata Mandir was also inaugurated atop a hill near Subir.

The bhils are known as boya in Telugu and Boyar in Tamil of South India. The people belonging to these communities call themselves as people of Valmiky caste. There are also some people who say that they are Mudirajas and belong to subsect of valmiky. This gives rise to a remote fact that some bhil warriors who are believed to be of Indo-Aryan stock might have become the chiefs of muthas long time back during medieval times and thus became part of mutharachas ( mudirajas ).

Some sections of Agarwal community in North India also belong to Bhil Adivasis.

Bhakt Shabari :

In the Ashrama of Matanga,,Shabari used to stay and keep the place clean and tidy. She simply swept the ground but she did it with the spirit of participating in the divine work of God and the Sadguru. It was her way of doing daily bhajan. when even a menial job like sweeping the floor is done for the sake of God, it constitutes Bhajan. Thus sweeping of the floor at the Guru�s ashram by Shabari was Bhajan. Along with that she also performed her japa - repeating the holy name of GOD, did her ritualistic worship by offering flowers etc., and sang many songs in the glory of the Lord. Her chosen ideal was Rama for whose meeting she was waiting for long time.

Years passed by; Rishi Matang became old. When he was on his death-bed, he called Shabari near him and said, "Look, O devotee of Rama, your tapasya - austerities - and spiritual longing for Rama would not go in vain. Sri Rama is sure to visit this ashrama, this I can say on the basis of my spiritual power. Therefore, after my departure, I plead you to wait for Rama's arrival. Hence take charge of this ashrama and live in peace and as a devotee of Rama. Your efforts would be rewarded in due course of time." So saying the rishi passed away.

Simple hearted, poor, and belonging to lower caste, Shabari did not know much about running the ashrama. Soon everyone left her. The birds, the flowers, the shrubs and occasional domesticated animal became her friends. But she had full faith in the words of her Guru Matang. When he had said Sri Rama would come to that ashrama, she could not disbelieve those words.

Hence Shabari used to clean the place early in the morning, collect fruits, and would wait looking at the distant road for her Rama to come. Every day this was her routine. Every day she thought "Rama would definitely come today!" In these days of eager wait and expectation of seeing her Rama, she forgot all about her rituals, worship, japa or songs! She forgot about day and night, month and year as well as the seasons. Rains were replaced by the winter, winter turned into summer of scorching heat, but Shabari had lost her interest in everything. For her the sun rose with the definite hope that her Rama would come that day and she would be able to serve him.

These long years of wait turned Shabari into an old woman. Her eye sight became dim and the hearing was affected. She had no remorse. She continued to keep her tiring body busy in her routine of cleaning the ashrama and collecting fruits for Rama.

One day, at last, Sri Rama arrived in the ashrama. Pleasure of Shabari knew no bounds. The long awaited desire was fulfilled. Falling at the feet of Rama she said, "O Rama, I cannot describe your kindness in words. When so many great sadhakas (rishis and munis and yogis), cannot seek your Grace even in many births, you have come to me so soon."

So saying she washed the holy feet of her chosen ideal and offered him berries which she had collected from the forest that morning. And the beauty of the relation between the true Bhakta and the Lord was such that Rama was happy in eating the same fruit that had been tasted by Shabari herself, lest the fruit should be bitter!

Laxmana, with tears rolling down his cheeks, was silently observing the pure love between God and the devotee. Until now he used to think that there was nobody on the earth or heaven who loved Rama as dearly as he did. But today Shabari proved him wrong. When tears dried down in the eyes of Shabari, when her voice was not choking, when she lifted her eyes from the holy feet of Rama then Laxmana bowed down at the feet of Shabari and said, "O mother, your love for Rama will be remembered for ever in this world. I bow down in reverence to the great devotee of Sri Rama."

Then Shabari inquires about the purpose of their such hard journey. Rama recounts the sad tell of kidnapping of Sita, etc. Reflecting upon the facts, Shabari directs them to go further southwards to Pampa lake and to Kishkindha where the monkey king Sugreeva and the great Rama devotee monkey Hanuman would be of great help in their search of Sita.

A rustic, uneducated woman from the community of hunters, Sabari attained to the highest through Guru Bhakti! The association of a Sadhu (Satsang) turned a crude woman born in a hunters family into a great tapasvini for whom Lord Rama came searching. Lord Rama who never permitted any woman but Sita to touch Him, permitted Sabari to perform �Pada puja� to Him and Lakshmana.

From the story of Bhakta Shabari we all must remember one thing always that Sabari�s immense patience is a very important requisite in the path of a Bhakta (devotee). One has to pray, have the faith and patience and God comes when he feels that the time is right.

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04. SAGE VALMIKI :

Valmiki belonged to koli / bhill community. Bhills are known as boya in Andhra Pradesh. Vadderas of AP also recognise themselves as people belonging to valmiki community. Some sections of Vedderas call themselves as Vadde Rajulu.

The kolis (fishing community) of Maharastra claim that Valmiki belonged to koli community. They even call Ramayana as Koli Valmiki Ramayana. As explained under "bhills page", the kolis and Mudirajas belong to one and the same block of Indo_Aryan / Dravidian race.

Almost eight decades later, the 1961 Census report explains that 'Valmiki was a Bhil, a race of mountaineers.

The most ancient and revered sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana belonged to this tribe. Even today Ramayana is referred to as Koli Valmiki Ramayan in Maharashtra State. Teachings from Ramayan form the basis of Indian culture. Mahadev Koli sources claim their descent from the first Sanskrit poet. Valmiki, who wrote the famous epic Ramayana.

Some scholars have said that Valmiki, who chronicled the Ramayana was actually a Bhil, Valia. The great Valmiki, originally named Ratnakar, was from a Kirata Bhil community. Bhil tribes ruled over the Chhota Udaipur, Rajpipla and Sagbara region of Ratanmal in the Panchamahals district, the Danta region in the Banaskantha district and over principalities around Idar.

From the above information, it becomes clear that valmiki belonged to a dravidian community of Kirata Bhil / Valaya kolis, who were both hunters and also fishermen. Mudiraj people are also belong to hunter-fishermen community. The valayar subsect of Tamil Muthuraja ( Mudiraj) community precisely represent this particular valya kolis. Further, Telugu Valmikis and Tamil Kannappa Kula of South India are also a subcaste of Mudiraja / Muthuraja community. This is a clear evidence that Valmiki was a Bhil- Koli and thus this great saint belongs to Mudiraj community.

Valaya = Net = Fishermen Net
Valaya => Valya = Valia = Walia



Some believe that the chief ( Mukhya) of valya koli ( fishing )tribe of his village in remote jungle. He used to stop the trespassers of the village and check them before they go through their village. He was only doing the job of a Chief or Mukhya of a village. It is thus believed that he got his name VALMIKI as he was VALYA MUKHYA.

Valya Mukhya => Valya Mukhia => Valia Mukhia -> Valimukhia
Valimukhia => Valimukhi => Valmukhi => Valmuki => Valmiki

Maharishi Valmiki was born as Ratnakara to sage Prachetasa. At a very young age, Ratnakara went into the forest and got lost. A hunter, who was passing by, saw Ratnakara and took him under his own care. Under the love and care of his foster parents, Ratnakara forgot his original parents. Under his father's guidance, Ratnakara turned out to be an excellent hunter. As he approached marriageable age, Ratnakara was married to a beautiful girl from hunter's family.

One day, the great sage Narada, while passing through the jungle, was attacked by Ratnakara. As Narada played his Veena and sang praises of the Lord, he saw a transformation coming over Ratnakara. Narada taught him the sacred name of 'Rama' and asked him to sit in meditation, chanting the name of Rama, till the time Narada came back.

Ratnakara followed the instructions and kept sitting in a meditative posture for years, during which his body got completely covered by an anthill. At last, Narada came to see him and removed all the anthills from his body. Then, he told Ratnakara that his tapasya (meditation) paid off and the God was pleased with him. Ratnakara was bestowed with the honor of a Brahmarshi and given the name of Valmiki, since he was reborn from the Valmika (the ant-hill). Sage Valmiki founded his ashram at the banks of River Ganga.

It is said that Valmiki's original name was Ratnakara Walia. The Ramayana written by him is known as Valmiki Ramayan. Kolis call this Ramayan as Koli Valmiki Ramayan. Valmiki was originally a Bhil koli belonging to dravidian blood. In North India also, he was considered a brave fighter of Dravidian family who fought against the Aryans. Some say that he was the son of a Dravidian chieftain and opposed the invasion of his country by Aryans. Narada was an Aryan and this could be one of the reasons why Valmiki attacked Narada.

Historians and scholars find that Koli tribe, a ruling Kshtria Caste, was spread far and wide all over India. Their heroic exploits and learned reputation and relationships with the most powerful of those times regarded them with awe and respect. The most ancient and revered sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana belonged to this tribe.Even today Ramayana is referred to as Koli Valmiki Ramayan in Maharashtra State. Teachings from Ramayan form the basis of Indian culture.

It is said that the Ramayana was written in the 4th Century B.C. by saint Valmiki. The Valmiki Ramayana seems to be a replication of a Dravidian Bhil Ramayana, which was originally narrated by bhil ballads among their community even before the birth of Valmiki himself. Most of the characters in the story belong to Dravidian race and it could be a complete bhil dravidian story. It seems that it was the Valmiki who first trascripted the story in Sanskrit. Being a bhil, he understood the sensitivities of the whole story and put the entire story into sanskrit poetry form. It was perhaps the first unparallel epic in Hindu religion that captivated the masses to worship Ram and Hanuman as Gods. Valmiki's 'Ramayana' is the very first such poem in Sanskrit. Therefore, it is also called the 'Adikavya' or -the First Poem; Valmiki is also known as the 'Adikavi', which means the First Poet.

Here Rama is also said to be the descendant of emperor Mandhata, who was a Koli by birth. Even Hanuman, the great devotee of Sriram was known as Bantu. Bantus are a subsect of Telugu Mudiraja and they are closely related to Teluva Bunts. Hanuman was a Vanara and vanaras were Dravidians. Some historians believed that the Ramayana told the story of the extension of the Aryan civilisation to the south as far as Sri Lanka. It seemed that the King of Ayodhaya (Kosala) existed and Hanuman was in reality a chief of a Dravidian tribe which had been the Aryan king's ally.

Valmiki, supposedly means anthill. The story of Valmiki the writer of the great hindu epic, the Ramayana, is steeped in legends.

Valmiky belonged to a Bhil fishing community. He was a brave and warrior fighter of Dravidian family who fought against the intruding Aryans. The Histro-anthropological context always remains a debatable issue. However, in the Aitareya Brahman we find the reference of Palinda who are perhaps Bhils. The direct reference of Bhil is found in the classical era in the context of Anhilvada war of mythological days.

While delving into the subject concerning the origin of Bhils of Indian subcontinent, the celebrated writer Kamladevi chattopadhyaya made an interesting reference. She pointed out that Valmiki, the author of the great epic Ramayana was a Bhil named Ratnakara walia. Indians should be proud to have a great saint like Valmiki, who was a writer, philosopher ,spiritual leader and in some ways a scientist Valmiki was an example of beings who enjoyed God's Grace through their devotion and not because of their birth, wealth, scholarship or any other accomplishment. He got the blessings of saints and goddess Saraswati which subsequently transformed the 'Bandit' into a Saint who wrote the masterpiece epic --Ramayana.

Saint Valmiki gave to the Dravidians (or Bheels, native peoples of Bharat - India) divine and best knowledge to rise. He was a man of compassionate heart, full of mercy for the poor people even for the birds. This was known from the fact that in his ashram lion and deer drink water in the same river together without any fear. He felt remose when a hunter shot an arrow and killed one of the crane couple. He had too much for the community. He had three lac disciples in Satyuga and in Treta yug they increased to four lac. And from ancient time he was worshipped as God. In seventh century's evidences were found in the manuscripts that in Hind-China in Champa state - a Valmiki Mandir was found where his statue was installed. According to Pandit Krishna Dev Prasad Gaud, Rishi Valmiki was not a common man but a great scholar and scientist.

(comment : One should not feel too much exegarated, if said that mudirajas and kolis belong to the same block of people to which the great saint Valmiky belonged. Ratnakara Walia belonged to a bhil fishing community. A large population of kolis of Gujarat and Maharstra are known for their fishing activities while some kolis took to agriculture in some regions. The Mudirajas of telangana districts in Andhra Pradesh too are known for their large scale dependency on fishing profession in addition to agricultural farming.)

There is another legend behind his writing the Ramayana.

One day Valmiki was in the forest when a hunter shot a bird, he was so touched by the pain of the bird that he burst into song, Brahma, the God of Creation, was greatly moved by the touching song. Brahma came before sage Valmiki and asked him to compose the life of Sri Rama in similar verse.Bhagvan Brahma gave the gift of insight of Sri Rama's life to Valmiki. Valmiki began to compose the Great eternal song and poem of The Ramayana, the life of Sri Rama.

It was Valmiki who gave refuge to Sita the queen of Lord Rama the King of Ayodhya when she was banished from the kingdom, and it was in his hermitage in the forest that Rama and Sita's twin sons; Luv and Kush were born and brought up.

For the past two thousand years the Ramayana has been among the most important literary and oral texts of South Asia. It is one of the most popular dramas played in Muslim Indonesea even today. This epic poem provides insights into many aspects of Indian culture and continues to influence the politics, religion and art of modern India.

Sage Narada with all his compassion blessed him with initiation of Rama Mantra. . He was so completely absorbed in chanting the name, he was oblivious to the ant hill that had grown over him. While chanting the name of Rama, he was also meditating on the form of Rama. Ratnakara experienced the feeling of oneness with Rama and acquired the effulgence of Rama. It was by forgetting his body completely while chanting the Name of lord Rama, Ratnakara, supreme poet

Valmiki means anthill. And Valmiki who came out of that kind of accumulated dust or clay or earth, and wrote the epic "Ramayana" before the birth of Sri Rama. This is the real clue of Sri Rama's life and story. Those who desire to have grace of Sri Rama, they should turn themselves in dust, means should become humble, egoless and simple like dust.

Osho adds: It is said that before Rama was born, a great poet, Valmiki, wrote Rama's whole life; before he was born! And then Rama was born; he had to follow Valmiki, because when such a great poet writes something, it has to be followed. What else can you do? It may not have been so, but the story is beautiful. It says that life is a drama: as if it has been written already and it is only unfolding.


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05. SANT KABIR

Sant Kabir (1398 - 1518): conflicting legends abound about his birth. The most commonly held view is that he was born in a Hindu family but adopted and raised in a Muslim household. A weaver by trade, he was one of India greatest mystic-poet, who counted both Hindus and Muslims as his followers.

Sant Kabir, a weaver by trade, ended several of his �bhajans� as �kahet kabir kori� was a self-confessed Koli. Bhaktaraj Bhadurdas and Bhaktaraj Valram from Saurastra, Girnari Sant Velnathji from Junagadh, Bhaktaraj Jobanpagi, Sant Sri Koya Bhagat, Sant Dhudhalinath, Madan Bhagat, Sany Kanji Swami of 17th and 18th Century all belonged to the Koli tribe. Their life and reputation were described in books of their life and in articles published in Mumbai Samachar, Nutan Gujarat, Parmarth etc.

Kabir is one of the most revered saints in India. Kabir was born a Shudra (lowest caste) and therefore never had access to Sanskrit and was most probably an illiterate. He was also born at a time when Hinduism and Muslim religion had been degraded to superstitions and mere rituals. As has been the tradition of Hinduism, whenever the religion looses its significance, great saints are born to put back the religion in the perspective. In fact Sikh religion was also founded at this time.

Nowhere does Kabir seek an escape from his caste identity, there is no attempt to deny that he is a julaha or kori. He is acutely aware of the vileness and idiocy attributed to his caste, he even uses this awareness with pungent irony at many places � a fact which makes his insistence on being a julaha even more significant. He categorically rejects the "normal" attribution of vileness and idiocy to julahas or for that matter to any social group.

To Hindus Kabir was a Vaisnava -- bhakta, to Muslims a pir, to Sikhs a bhagat and to the followers of Kabir ( kabir-panthis) an avatar of the supreme Being.

Guru Nanak claims Kabir as his own guru, and the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures of the Sikh religion, contains over 500 verses of Kabir's mystical poetry.


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06. BOYA KANNAPPA :

Boya Kannappa was born as the son of a Tribal Chief / Tribal Leader living in the hills near Kalahasti which is very near to the famous pilgrimage centre Tirupati. Kannappa was well trained in the arts of hunting and took over the leadership of his tribe when his father became old. These Boyas most probably belonged to telugu speaking tribal hunter community. Kannappa is known as Bedara Kannappa in Karnataka. He is also known as Bhakta Kannappa for his strong proven devotion towards Lord Shiva.

Kannappa was a tribal hunter and he belonged to Boya caste. The people of Boyas, Bhills and Billawa are one and the same. Some sections of Muthiriyas in Andhra, Tamilnadu & Srilanka which form a part of Muthuraja caste are known to belong to hunters background. Valmiky and Ekalaya also belonged to bhill / Boya community. Some sections of bhills / boyas in North India and as well as South India call themselves as Valmikis. Some sections of these people in South India call themselves as people of Kannappa Kula. The people of Kannappa Kula form one of the subcastes of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu. These people are also known as Vedars, Vetars, Vetans, Vedans, Vettuvans, Vettuvars and Vettuvas. In Telugu language, Veta means Hunting.

Veta = Hunting
Vetavaadu = Hunter (singular)
Vetavaandru = Hunters (plural)

Veta => Vetan => Vedan = Hunter
Veta => Vetar => Vedar => Bedar = Hunter
Veta => Vetavaandru => Vetavaan => Vetuvan => Vettuvan = Hunter
Veta => Vetavaandru => Vetavaar => Vetuvar => Vettuvar = Hunter
Vettuvar => Vettuvan => Vettuva = Hunter

ankBhakta Kannappa

There is some connection between Ambalakkarans, Muttiriyans, Mutrachas, Uralis, Vedans, Valaiyans, and Vettuvans. It seems likely that all of them are descended from one common parent stock. Ambalakkarans claim to be descended from Kan- nappa Nayanar, one of the sixty-three Saivite saints, who was a Vedan or hunter by caste. In Tanjore the Valaiyans declare themselves to have a similar origin, and in that district Ambalakkaran and Muttiriyan seem to be synonymous with Valaiyan. [Some Valaiyans have Ambalakkaran as a title.] Moreover, the statistics of the distribution of the Valaiyans show that they are numerous in the districts where Ambalakkarans are few, and vice versa, which looks as though certain sections of them had taken to calling themselves Ambalakkarans. The upper section of the Ambalakkarans style themselves Pillai, which is a title properly belonging to Vellalas, but the others are usually called MOppan in Tanjore, and Ambalakkaran, Muttiriyan, and Servaigaran in Trichinopoly. The headman of the caste panchayat (council) is called the Kariyakkaran, and his office is hereditary in particular families. Each headman has a peon called the Kudi-pillai, whose duty it is to summon the panchayat when necessary, and to carry messages. For this he gets an annual fee of four annas from each family of the caste in his village. The caste has certain.

The original name of Kannappa was Thinna / Thinnappa / Thinnadu. It is said that he was the son of a tribal couple, Naga, and Dutta, in the village called Vudumuru in Pothappinad. Nagan was the king of hunters at Uduppur in Pottapi Nadu. His wife was Tattai. They were great devotees of Lord Subramanya. They were childless for a long time. By the grace of Lord Subrahmanya, a son, Tinna, was born to them. He was very heavy: so, they named him Tinnanar. He learnt archery from his father.

Tinnanar was Arjuna in the previous birth, according to Tiru Kalahasthi Puranam. When he went to worship Siva, to get Pasupatha Astra, and when the Lord came to him as a hunter, Arjuna did not recognise Him. So, he had to be born as a hunter again and adore the Lord, before attaining Final Liberation.

It is also said that hunter and tribal King Thinna listens to this story of the spiders, snakes and elephants struggle against one another to please the Lord the most, from a sage. He is deeply moved and inspired to surrender himself completely to the Lord.

It is understood that Thinna was drawn towards a Shiva temple at the top of the hill once when he, along with his friends, Nama and Kama, went hunting for boar, he accidentally had darshan of Sri Kalahastheeswara and attained Mukti (became liberated).

Kanna was a modified word for Kannu. In Telugu language, KANNU means EYE. The Boya hunter Thinna who gave his eyes to Lord Shiva became famous as Bhakta Kannappa.

Bhakta Kannappa = Bhakta + Kanna + Appa
Bhakta = Devotee
Kanna => Kannu = Eye
Appa = Ayya = Sir
Bhakta Kannappa = Devotee Kannappa

It is a fact that some sections of Mudiraj / Muthiriyas eat pork (pig meat). The Bandars, descendants of Vanjaras in North India too eat pork with great liking. Some sections of Vadderas of South India who call themselves as valmikis, not only eat pig meat but also rear pigs as part of their full time profession. Valmikis are a separate caste in some regions and they are a subsect of Mudiraj / Muthuraj in some other regions in South India.

Webmaster
Kokolu Anka Rao
02/10/2006

BHAKTA KANNAPPA :

There is an interesting story that describes how Boya Kannappa became Bhakta Kannappa. Kannapa was a devoted follower of Lord Siva and one of the 63 Nayanars. The unique feature of this temple is that there is a bronze figure of the hunter saint, Kannappa, who removed his own eye as an offering to the Lord.

Kalahasti is a holy Saivite (worshippers of Lord Siva) place and an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated in Chittoor district of Andra Pradesh in the state. The river Suvarnamukhi takes a northerly course at Kalahasthi almost washing the west wall of the famous Kalahasthi temple. Inside this very large temple situated between two steep hills-Sripuram and Mummidicholapuram-is the Siva Linga said to represent the element Vayu (air or wind), whose presence is evidenced by a continuous flame which flickers though there is no loophole for air to enter the temple.

There are five temples of Lord Siva in five different places representing the five elements, viz. fire, water, air, ether, and earth. This holy shrine represents air (vaayu). Lord Sri Kalahastheeswara is also worshipped as Vayulingeswara. The purana (history) of this place says that a spider worshipped Kalahasthinathar, the presiding deity. The holy river Swarna Mukhi runs in this place. Atop the mountain in this holy place there is a Siva temple. Devotees throng the temple town in good numbers from Venkatagiri and Sullurpet areas of Nellore district and Tiruvallur and Tiruttani taluks of Tamil Nadu on Shiva related festivals.

Shiva here was worshipped by a spider,snake & elephant as in Tiruvanaikkaval. Kannappa Nayanar a hunter is also associated with Kudumidevar-Shiva atop the adjacent hill.

In the ages gone by a Tribal Hunter lived in this mountain forest. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva of this temple. After spending the whole day in hunting, at nights he used to visit this temple to worship Siva. Having seen a priest perform worship to the Linga on an earlier occasion, Thinnan also started doing so with great love, but with offerings considered sacrilegious.

A deep desire developed in him to do pooja and abhishekha to Siva. But he did not have in his possession any pot to carry water, any basket to carry flowers or any vessel to cook food for offering to Lord Siva. So, he would place the flowers on the matted locks of his hair, carry as much as water as possible in his mouth and the meat of the animals hunted during the day in his hands. Arriving at the temple he would just spit all the water onto the Siva Linga, shake the flowers off his hair onto the Linga and offer the meat as Naivedya. At day-break he would leave the temple.

In the mornings when the priest of the temple came up to do pooja and abhishekha he found that someone had offered fresh flowers and meat for God every night. This upset him greatly. He would clean the whole place, do pooja and abhishekha and leave the temple sorrowfully. Since this strange night worship continued, the priest not knowing how to stop this , prayed intensely to Lord Shiva to give him an answer. That night the Lord appeared in his dream and instructed him to hide himself in the temple the next night and watch all that would take place. The priest hid himself in the temple and anxiously awaited the night happenings.

The hunter arrived at the temple as usual and conducted the abhishekha and pooja. Suddenly one of the eyes of the Linga started bleeding. Immediately, without a second thought, the hunter plucked out one of his own eyes with the help of his arrow and fixed it onto the Linga. He was happy to find that the bleeding stopped. However, blood started oozing out of the other eye. Immediately he decided to fix his other eye there but stopped a while wondering how he would be able to locate the right spot to fix it as with both eyes gone he would be blinded. The idea then struck him to place his foot on the bleeding eye. He plucked out his other eye and fixed it on this spot.

The priest was totally awe-struck and broke down witnessing the deep devotion of the hunter. He realized that his own devotion to the Lord was only superfluous compared to the hunter's. Just then Lord Siva appeared on the Rishaba (bull) and blessed the hunter. The priest felt a sense of fulfillment of his life being blessed with Lord Siva's darshan. The hunter was none other than Kannappa Nayanar, one of the sixty-three Nayanmars (Saivite Saints) who are worshipped by all.

Among the 63 Saiva saints whose lives have been chronicled in the Periapuranam by Sekkhizhar, Kannappa Nayanar occupies a unique position as his action has won universal acclaim. Sekkhizhar does not mince words while portraying Kannappas parentage and traditional occupation of hunting and killing for livelihood. Born to an aboriginal hunter-chief he was named Thinnan at birth. His pastimes included roaming in the wild and as for training he knew only to wield the bow and arrow. There was no inkling about the destiny in store for him till his youth.

n her discourse, Smt. Jaya Srinivasan said the Supreme Being who was an adept at redeeming His devotees came in the guise of a hunter just as He had had before Arjuna, when He had an altercation over a boar when the Pandava was engaged in penance to obtain the Pasupatastra from Him. Similarly, He lured Thinnan to His shrine at the top of the hill at Kalahasti by using a boar as a decoy. Thinnan along with his friends chased a boar and felled it and when he went in search of a stream for quenching his thirst in the hill to which the animal had led him, he found to his astonishment that a change came over him as the vibrations around the shrine of Lord Siva there affected him in a strange manner.

According to Swami Sivananda's book, Sixty-Three Nayanar Saints, pg. 44, some Saivite traditions believe that Kannappa was the reincarnation of Arjuna. Arjuna, worshipped Siva for seeking the Pasupatha Astra and failed to recognize Him in the form of a hunter. Thus, according to this tradition, Arjuna had to be born as a hunter and adore the Lord before attaining final liberation. This belief is not adopted by all Hindus.

Boya Kannappa thus drew near to the three-eyed god and became beatified. Purity of heart is the root of all acceptable worship. Devotion to Shiva had been expressed in all sorts of ways by His devotees. The Lord sees only the sincerity and intention behind the expression. This is amply proved by the story of Kannappa.

What prayer did this hunter know? What sort of worship did he perform? The Lord was bound by the devotion of a hunter who knew no prayer but had only affection. It is only love that binds God.

It is not necessary to learn all the rules and sasthras of an eloborate pooja before performing one. As an example, an illiterate hunter, Sri Kannappa Nayanar saw the Divine after three days of prayer.

According to the Nayanar tradition, true devotion is all what God wants. For example, Kannappa, the hunter, illustrated this ideal. He was totally ignorant of Saiva doctrine, philosophy or worship, but attained within six days, the highest place possible for devotees of Siva through the intensity of his devotion. The nature of Kannappa�s devotion was quite different from that of the ordinary worshippers of Siva. Adi Sankara names him as the role model for all devotees, in his Sivananda-lahari.

Kannappar was about to sacrifice his second eye also when the Lord appeared on the scene and hailed him 'Kannappa!' (that dear devotee who gave his eyes to replace the Lord's bleeding eyes!) . Till then, this hunter-devotee was known as 'Thinnan' only and the Lingam-Lord as 'Kudumitthevar'

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SRIKALAHASTI:

In a pattern typical for many of the great temples, Kalahasthi was built in many stages over a period of centuries. The initial structure was built by the Pallava Kings and added to by Tondaman Chakravarti. The Chola kings later renovated the shrine and built the main temple around the 10th century. In the 12th century King Veeranarasimha Yadavaraya built the present outer prakaras (massive hallways) and four gopurams. Vijayanagar rulers developed the mandapams inside the temple, and from an inscription of Krishnadevaraya, we find that he built in 1516 the hundredpillared mandapam and the galigopuram. Finally, the Natukootai Chettiars of Devakottai, famous for their charity, gave the final shape to the temple in 1912, at a cost of nearly US$1 million.

The most prominent festival in the temple is that of Mahasivaratri, which lasts for ten days in February/March. The fifth day corresponds to Sivaratri proper, when pilgrims bathe in the river and keep vigil all through the night. Another major festival is during the third day of Sankranti, when the deity is taken in procession 'round the hills on a circuit of nearly 20 miles.

Srikalahasthi is an ancient place mentioned extensively in the Puranas, and which today attracts thousands of devotees of Siva. It is located only 30 miles from Tirupati.

Here is an interesting story about Srikalahasti.

As the legend goes, the Siva Linga which is in Srikalahasti, actually belongs to Vali ( Sugreeva's brother) of Ramayana. Once, on his way to some place (being an ardent devotee of Siva, he carried the linga wherever he went), Vali stopped near a lake for morning obulations. He placed the Linga on the ground and went to take bath in the lake, before worshipping the Linga. After the pooja, when Vali tried to lift the Linga to proceed with his journey, he could not budge it from its place, however hard he tried. He came to the conclusion that Lord Siva was enamoured by the beautiful big lake and hence did not want to leave. He spotted a mountain nearby, uprooted it and dumped it in the lake, which flowed as the present Swarnamukhi river. Even then the Linga would not budge. So Vali had to give up his efforts and proceed, leaving the Linga there.

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BEDARA KANNAPPA & BEDARS

Boya Kannapa is known as Bedara Kannappa in Karnataka. Bedars were Boya poligars who looked after village / palayam administration under Vijayanager empire in South India. This system of village level administration was a well established one deep rooted Rayalaseema, parts of Karnataka,and Tamilnadu which formed a major part of Vijayanagar kingdom.

Palayam was a group of villages which was under administrative control of Palayakar / palayakarar / poligar. Palayam administration is just parallel to that of Mutha system of administration.

Mutha => Palayam

Muthas were administered by Mutharachas who inherit their rights of administration by hirarchy of the family tree and acquired through heriditory rights. In case of Palayam system, the palayakars were appointed by the king at his sweet will but generally they too continue on hirachy basis as long as king was pleased with them.

Palayakars <=> bedars <=> mutharachas

The Nayakas were also called Bedars. The bedars were also known as Beydurs. Some times they are also known as Berads.

The bedars might be a gradual corrupted form for �Boya Doras�. The Bhills of North India are known as Boyas in Telugu speaking areas Andhra Pradesh.

Donra = Lord = Chief (singular)
Doras = Lords = Chiefs (plural)
Boya Doras=> Boydoras => Beydoras => Beydurs

The fall of Vijayanagara empire caused the emergence of splinter states in South India and Deccan. These states were collectively known as Poligars (Palegars). They dominated the political scenario of the South India. These Poligar states were founded by the warrior tribes of South India.

One such Poligar state known as Surapura Samsthana was founded by the Bedars and ruled between 1650 and 1858 AD in Sagara-nadu or Shorapur Doab (Gulbarga Dist. Karnataka).

Raidurga was originally a stronghold of 'Bedars' ('Boya Palegars') who were very turbulent during the Vijayanagar rule. The emperor deputed an officer driving them out and ruled place himself and the hill was thus called "Bhupatirayakonda".

After the battle of 'Rakshasa Tangadi', the Bedars regained the place, but were again driven out after some time by 'Koneti Nayak'. His son 'Venkatapathi Nayak' who had differences with the 'Palegar' of Chittaldurg greatly strengthened the fortifications. Tipu captured the fort and made it a part of his Gooty province.

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07. MATHA AMRUTANANDAMAYI

Her Holiness Mata Amritananda Mayi's first name was Sudhamani. She was born in a fisherman's family in the tiny coastal village of Parayakadavu, near Vallikkavu, of Quilon (Kollam) district in Kerala on the 27th of September 1953. Vallikavu is a small strip of land between the Arabian Sea and Kerala's famous backwaters. Parayakadavu in Vallikavu, is inhabited by fishermen community.

Ezhavas, Nairs, Arayas, Vishwakarma - all these populations are from Kollam district of Kerala in South India and speak Malayalam, an Indo-Dravidian language. Alappad, a narrow stretch of land in between the sea and lake has always been awe-inspiring for visitors to the Vallikavu, Amruthanandamayi Math. The fisher people mostly belong to one community called the Arayas, they are culturally rich. This place has a history of its own, unique and diverse from the rest of the fishing community�s habitats. They are a homogenous community and their livelihood has been fishing with men going into the sea whereas women The Arayas / arayars are a subcaste of MUTHURAJA in Tamilnadu. They are associated with Vishnavite religious path of Hinduism and most probably had their links to Arayans / Indo-Aryans from North India.

Even when Sudhamani was a smalll child, she could be found in trance or meditation. At the age of five she used to compose devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna. At nine she withdrew from the school when her mother fell ill. In the course of the discharge of her domestic responsibilities, she had many an occasion to realise how selfish is worldly love. As she found that people who really suffered never got the love and care they needed, she grew more and more divine and compassionate.

Once she had the glorious experience of the vision of the Divine Mother. She was found ecstatic and intoxicated with the divine vision with which she experienced becoming one. Thereafter her own people rejected her.

Sudhamani became Mata Amritananda Mayi.Devi or Amma, the Divine Mother. The unending stream of devotees started. To reach out to the suffering people, she began a programe of touring as many places as possible. In 1987 Amma began travelling abroad to give darshan to her devotees there.

In 1993 she was elected a president of the assembly of world religions at Chicago. She was also a speaker at the inter-religion meeting of the UN in New York in 1995.

Today Vallikavu is the residence and head quarters of Matha Amrithanandamayi one of India's great Gurus, and is situated at Amrithapuri near Vallikavu. Vallikavu is a pilgrim centre near Kayamkulam. The house she was born developed into the ashram. It is today the headquarters of Mata Amritananda Mayi Trust. Huge buildings have come up to accommodate thronging Indian and foreign devotees. The place has been renamed Amritapuri. Accommodation and food are available for those coming from distant places. Free vegetarian meals are served three times a day. There is a cloak room, library, charitable dispensary, phone booth, post office etc. No drugs, alcohol, smoking, non-vegetarian food etc are allowed in the premises. Residing as well as visiting devotees do all the work in the ashram.

The tiny hamlet has become a center of silent spiritual revolution that accommodates more than 3000 devotees at any time. The Ashram has its own canteens, computer centers and printing presses. It is a self-contained township which includes post office, banks and a vehicle booking office. Accommodation and food are available for those coming from distant places with moderate charges. Vegetarian meals are served thrice a day. Non-vegetarian food, alcohol and cigarettes are strictly prohibited in the premises. Residents as well as visiting devotees do all the work in the ashram.

Special boats are available for hire from DTPC boat jetty in Ashramam near the Government Guest House. There are frequent buses from Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram to Kayamkulam from where there are local buses to Vallikavu.

ARYANS / ARYAS / ARAYAS / ARYARS :

The penetration of the South and Kerala by the Aryans began only during the Buddhist and Jainist times. It was a slow, gradual process which was accomplished in a gentle, subtle manner by the missionaries. It was a conquest, all right; but it was accomplished by the arts of peace and not by the force of arms. Though the Buddhists came at the wake of Emperor Ashoka's evangelizing missions, most of the Vedic Brahmins came only in the seventh and eighth centuries by way of the West Coast from Tulu Nadu. It is true that the Tamil Sangam works of Shilappadikaram and Patittupattu of the third century A.D. talk about Brahmins' literary activities in the land of the Cheras in the South; these Cheras, however, had their kingdom not on the west Coast but in the eastern plains; the Cheras started moving toward present-day Kerala only in the fifth century A.D.

The Aryans of Cochin believe in a large number of spirits like Kuttichathan, Karumkutty, Pookutty and Kalladimuthan. For instance, the Aryans of Elangkunnapuzha propitiated on all important occasions Kadutha the spirit of a dead Nair sorcerer of the village. The spirit is housed in a shrine. This Nair sorcerer is believed to be a great devotee of Lord Ayyappan, whose shrine is at Sabarimala Kerala. Thus, Kadutha is worshipped by the Aryans for getting bumper catches and warding off diseases. Special propitiatory rites are performed in Kadutha�s honour. The oracle of Kadutha dances before the shrine and predicts whether or not there will be good catches and about the recovery of the sick.

The Aryans of Elangkunnapuzha believe that Marutha, the spirit of a Pulaya woman sorcerer, has supernatural powers in curing incurable diseases and preventing capsizing of boats at sea and getting bumper catches. Sometimes the Aryans worship her by making special offerings of liquor and meat ostensibly for getting ownership in fishing units. During the Mandalam (fast days from first of Vrichikam to the tenth of Dhanu), Marutha is offered beaten rice, puffed rice, molasses, plantains and camphor. It is interesting to note that although Marutha is the spirit of the Pulaya woman (scheduled caste), she is housed in a special shrine by the Aryans and propitiated on all important occasions, besides offering special worship.

The Aryans of Elangkunnapuzha say that the spirit Kotha possesses miraculous powers in curing illnesses and saving the fishermen from hazards of the sea. Kotha is the spirit of a departed woman sorcerer who belonged to the Pulaya caste (agrestic serf). She is believed to be the sister of Marutha. The spirit is frequently worshipped by the Aryans by offering liquor and meat. A shrine has been built in her honour in the village for offering worship to her. During the Mandalam period only vegetarian dishes are offered to gods and goblins.

The spirits of the ancestors are propitiated by Hindu fishermen on all important festive occasions. The Aryans of the Elangkunnapuzha village have installed three unhewn stones in a shrine representing three ancestors, namely, Chemban Muthappan, Unnikka Muthappan, and Suranat Kaimal. Chemban Muthappan and Unnikka Muthappan belonged to the Arya caste whereas Suranat Kaimal was a Nair. These three spirits are propitiated for 41 days during the Mandalam days by making an offer of vegetarian dishes.

The Aryans of the Kanjirachera village, Alleppey district, perform an annual festival called Ponkala in honour of Kadalamma (mother or Goddess of sea). It is reported that this ceremony is also conducted by the fishermen of Trivandrum Quilon and southern parts of Ernakulam. Ponkala (pongal or pongali) the cooking of rice or pudding in the open air by women is an offering to Kadalamma, who is worshipped daily. A mandapam (open shed) is erected for this. The offerings consist of flattened rice, puffed rice, jaggery and navadhanyam (nine pulses), ghee, camphor, benzoin, sugarcane and coconuts.



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08. SATI KANNAGI OF CILAPATHIKARAM

Kannagi was a fisher woman belonging to Arayar community, a subcaste of Muthuraja and the central character of epical poem Cilappathikaram. She is worshiped as goddess Pathini in Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese Buddhists as well as, as Kannaki Amman by the Sri lanka Tamils Hindus. She is much worshipped heroine of Sillappathikaram, an Epic in Tamil, and still a role model of an ideal Indian women. She lived in 2nd Century A.D

Sillappathikaram : The Tamil epics, Chilappathikaram was written in Kerala in the township of Trikkanavail Kottam. It is not clear whether this township was Thrikkanamathilakam near Kodungalur or Trikkanarvattom, the 45th division of Kochi City.

There is a little fishing village of Cheriazheekal, in veneration to the Divinity resting on its oceanfront in Kerala. Two small temples stand close to each other,one dedicated to Devi and one ofthe concept of Sankara narayanan. On many counts they merit mention being temples belong to the fishing community, their age old acceptance on the religious graph of conservative worship is of extreme significance.

This fishing community was originally known as 'Arasan's clearly indicating that they would have held at least chieftain status, if not regal status in their clans (Arasans literally translates as king or lord). With the passage of time the term became 'Arayan' and this lebel of identification continues to this day. Though fundamentally fisherfolk, some of them diverted to agriculture and commerce a few centuries ago, while the majority continued to earn their livelihood from the bounty of the ocean.

The ancient Devi Temple faces the east and has the sea close behind it. Narrations handed down by word of mouth put the idol's age at approximately 1800 years. She is made of Krishnashila or black granite and is in standing posture with one hand holding a sword and other a pot; perhaps Amritha Kalasam or pot of nectar. They could be pointers to Her power of punishment and preservation Vethalan, her attendant is also present. Worship is done by Brahmins in the orthodox manner. The annual ten day festival of the temple is kept up with much merry making and fanfare in the Malayalam month of Medam (April/May).

It is said that faith can work miracles. This Devi temple is a standing proof of it as the funds came from the poor villages. We see it today as a beautiful little granite structure complete with the copper tiled sanctum and containing within it all the mandatory features of orthodox Kerala temples, using only the accepted building materials.

While the idol is of undoubted antiquity, the physical structure was renovated in 1994 at a considerable cost of Rs.12 lakhs, with the required money being raised by this community itself, though most of its members carry on a hand to mouth existence. Though devoid of carvings and murals, it stands as a beautiful example of indigenous temple architecture of this state.

While poverty is not stranger to these villagers, they are rich in their devotion and dedication and offer an example for others of emulate. In turn the surcharge of divine benevolence they receive from these temples is a living experience for them. (Arayars are unique in their culture and they were initially attached to Jain / Buddhist shrines and later on to Hindu Vishnavite Temples.)

The seafront stretching from Chavara to Azheekal near Ochira is inhabited by fisherfolk professing Hinduism . Their antecedents go back to the Sangam Age and to the period of the famed Sangam classic Tamil work, the 'Silappathikaram'. Legend has it that the coastal people of Thanjavur raised there voice of protest against the Pandyan king who unjustly executed the innocent Kovilan. The subsequent uncontrolled fury of his chaste wife Kannagi, her curse on the king and his kingdom and its immediate destruction in the flames that flared as a result of her consuming rage are all too well known to necessitate elaboration here Kannagi letter left the burning city behind and becoming one with Parashakti (the Supreme Goddess) came to reside in Chera country, in Kodungalloor, in Kerala. The temple that rose in her honour there is one of the acclaimed centres of Devi worship in India.

The poor fisherfolk fled Madurai fearing royal retribution and finally came to the coasts of Kerala. One group reached Karunagappally and settled down there on the shores of the Arabian Sea.They had brought with them an idol of Kannagi Devi which they installed in a small temple on the beach. An important aspect has to be understood in this context Despite the existence of the caste system and its many vunfortunate taboos regarding religion, hundreds of years ago these fishermen enjoyed the privilege of traditional temple worship. It has to be considered with all seriousness as a great social landmark as well.

Kannagi was a legendary Tamil woman, and the central character of the South Indian epic Silapathikaram. Legend has it that Kannagi took revenge on the king of Madurai, for a mistaken death penalty imposed on her husband Kovalan, by cursing the city with Disaster.

Story : The story begins in the great east-coast seaport of Poompuhar. Poompuhar was the capital of Chola land and home of mighty King Karikala Valavan. This is the same King Karikala who, early in his reign, had led a victorious expedition to the Himalayas. ( Valavans just like Arayans are belong to a subcaste of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu. Both Valavans and Arayans are basiocally from fishing community of Tamilnadu & Kerala)

There in Poompuhar, Kovalan, the son of a wealthy merchant in Kavirippattinam, married Kannagi, a young woman of legendary beauty and a lovely daughter of another merchant. They lived together happily in the city of Kaveripoompattinam, until, at a festival at the royal court of Karikala, Kovalan met the dancer Madhavi and fell in love with her. In his infatuation he forgot Kannagi and his home. He gradually spent all his wealth on the dancer. At last, penniless, Kovalan realised his mistake, and returned back repentantly to his uncomplaining wife Kannagi. Their only asset was a precious pair of anklets (cilambu--- hence the name of the epic), filled with gems, which she gave to him willingly. With these as their capital they went to the great city of Madurai, where Kovalan hoped to recoup his fortunes by trade.

The city of Madurai was ruled by the Pandya king Neduncheziyan. Kovalan's objective was to sell the anklets in this kingdom so that he and his wife would be able to start their lives over. Unfortunately, around the time he set out to sell the anklets, one anklet (out of a pair) was stolen from the queen, by a greedy court member. This anklet looked very similar to Kannagi's. The only difference was that Kannagi's were filled with jewels and the queen's very filled with pearls, but this was not a visible fact. When Kovalan went to the market, he was accused of having stolen the anklket. He was immediately beheaded by the king's guards, without trial. When Kannagi was informed of this, she became furious, and set out to prove her husband's innocence to the king.

Kannagi came to the king's court, broke open the anklet seized from Kovalan and showed that it contained gems, as opposed to the queen's anklets which contained pearls. Realizing their fault, the King and the Queen die of shame. Unsatisfied, Kannagi went Outside. She had then circumambulated the city three times. She cursed the city at each of its four gates. Then she tore off her left breast and dashed it to the ground. She commanded Agni, god of Fire, to burn Madurai, permitting only the good to escape. Due to her utmost chastity, her curse became a reality. Madurai burned.

The city was set ablaze resulting in huge human and economic losses. However, after the request from the goddess of the city, she withdrew her curse. She then came to Chenkunnu ( Chenkuntoor hill) in Kerala and did penance under a tree. Kovalan appeared before her in a vimana and took her to heaven. Thus she attained her salvation. Deeming her to be an incarnation of Kali or Mother Goddess, Senkuttuvan, a Chera king, went north and brought a stone from the Himalayas to be set up as her image. It was consecrated as "ChengamalavaIli" with great pomp and ceremony. Thus Chengannur finds mention in Silappadikaram composed by Ilango Adikal, the prince who turned a monk and was none other than the brother of Senkuttuvan. 'This mythological story was composed by the poet Ilango Adigal. A fascinating, but ironic, fact about this epic is that it portrays Madhavi, Kovalan's amorous lover, as an equally chaste woman. Manimekalai, another epic, is written in praise of her.

The king of the western Tamil land had a stone image of Kannagi installed in a specially built temple at the spot where Kannagi left her mortal body, and he ordered that worship of Kannagi, including the singing of her praise and the placing of flowers before her image, occur on a daily basis.

Perceptions of Kannagi : Kannagi or Kannaki Amman is eulogized as the epitome of chastity and is still being worshiped as its goddess. She is praised for her extreme devotion to her husband, in spite of his adulterous behaviour.

She is worshiped as goddess Pathini in Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese Buddhists as well as, as Kannaki Amman by the Sri lanka Tamils Hindus. (See Hinduism in Sri Lanka.)

However, a section of the society does not approve her submissive attitude towards her husband's amorous activity and brand her as a symbol of female oppression. In fact, a statue of Kannagi, an important landmark in Chennai, was removed during the regim of the ex - chief minister of Tamilnadu, J Jayalalithaa in December 2001 during a mid night-the exact reason for the removal is not known.

The statue has been reinstalled by M. Karunanidhi on 03.06.2006

Cilapathikaram : The beautiful tragic story of Jewelled Anklets, is rooted in the ordinary lives of the early Tamils of the Pandyan Kingdom in the first century A.D. and is regarded by many as the national epic of the Tamil people. The epical poem Cilappathikaram, which by its 'baroque splendour', and by the charm and magic of its lyrical parts belongs to the epic masterpieces of the world.

Silappathikaram, the classical text of the Epic of The Anklet, attributed to Price Ilango Adigal. Ilango Atikal was a Jain monk. It contains 3 chapters and a total of 5270 lines.

Through linguistic analysis, it has been estimated that the text was written between 1300 and 1700 years ago. Unlike other Thamizh classics, there is less confusion regarding the age of Silappathikaram which is reckoned as the middle of the fifth century. This being so, it is highly creditable that Ilango Atikal had the originality at the time to compose a work which had the literary merit and emotional appeal of contemporary fictions in the world.

The classical text of the Epic of The Anklet, attributed to Price Ilango Adigal, is written in sen-Tamil, which, even in Tamil Nadu, is decipherable only to a small number of scholars. Through linguistic analysis, it has been estimated that the text was written between 1300 and 1700 years ago. A brief summary of this written text follows:

It is said that Senkuttuvan, a Chera King, accompanied by his brother, ILango and his friend, the poet Mathuraik Kulavanikan Satthanar went to see the scenic beauty of the country side near the river, Periyaru. He then heard a story from neighbouring villages of a woman with a single breast who sat down in penance under a vengai tree without food or water for 15 days and then died. Intrigued and moved by the story, Cheran Senkuttuvan yearned to know more about the details. His friend, SAtthanAr, the poet, responded by saying that the name of the woman was Kannaki worshipped as the Goddess of Chastity in the villages. He narrated the story that led to the tragedy. Ilango Atikal was then asked by the King to write the story of Kannaki so that her name will be perpetuated for the benefit of mankind.

Professor A.L. Basham writes in 'The Wonder that was India' that Cilapathikaram has '' a grim force and splendour unparalled elsewhere in Indian literature - it is imbued with both the ferocity of the early Tamils and their stern respect for justice, and incidentally, it throws light on early Tamil political ideas''. Today, some quarters may regard Kannagi as a suicide killer and a terrorist.

Chenganoor temple : Kannaki ,the heroine of Tamil classic "Chilappathykaram" after destroying Mathurapuri reached Chenkuntoor hill and staged thapasya there. After her elivation to heaven the Chera King constructed a temple there. Devotees believe that Kannaki was the human incarnation of Parvathy and they worship her.

Kannaki's Caste : There are different versions of information regarding the caste which Kannagi belonged about 1700 years agao. In spite of difference, one thing become quite evident that Kovalan's father was a marchent and that of Kannag's father was a captain / sailer / mariner. Some people say that Kvalan's father was a Fish marchent, some others say that he was a cloth marchent and another group say that he was a grain marchent.

An impartial analysis of their names indicate that they both belonged to one and the same caste and they were related to a community that is connected with Sea oriented business. It was most probably fish that Kovalan's father used to get from Kannagi's father who was a ship owner / mariner / captain. The wealthy fisherfolk own their own fishing boats / ships to go deep into the sea to catch fish and sell the fish to fish marchents on the sea shore. The Kovalan's father who belongs to fishing community was a wealthy fishing marchent. It was perhaps due to this professional relation that they came close to each other and lead the matrimonial allioance between their families.

Further analysis of the name of Kovalan's father MAASAATTUVAN and that of Kannagi's father MAANAAYAKAN too reveal their connection to fishing community which at present is a subcaste of Muthuraja of Tamilnadu.

Maasaattuvan : It is the name of Kovalan's father.
Maanaayakan : It is the name of Kannagi's father.

The Mudiraj people of Andhra Pradesh are known as MAARAACHA and Goddess Ankamma worshipped by them is very specifically known as MAARAASAPU ANKAMMA.

Here we must observe that there is one letter "MAA" which is comman in Maaraacha, Maanaayakan and Maasaattuvan. This MAA stands for MAHA and it can be explained as shown below:

Maha + Raacha => Maharaacha => Ma(h)araacha => Maaraacha
Maha + Raasa => Maharaasa => Ma(h)araasa => Maaraasa
Maaraasapu Ankamma = Ankamma belonging to people of Maaraasa or Maaraacha.
Similarly :
Maha + Naayakan => Mahanaayakan => Ma(h)anaayakan => Maanaayakan
Maha + Saattuvan => Mahasaattuvan => Ma(h)asaattuvan => Maasaattuvan

The Maharaayars, the Muthuraachas, the Mahaaraachas, and the Mahanaayakaas are all one and the same community people. As we have already seen that Mudiraj / Muthuraj people had their origins in the fishing community of North Indian Kolis and who were the water management experts and also sea faring coomunity.

Kovalan and Kannagi most probably belonged to Arayar sea fishing community which is a subcaste of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu at present. This can also be concluded from the following facts. They could also be from Valayar, an other fishing community, which is also a subcaste of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu & Kerala.

1. Legend has it that the coastal people of Thanjavur raised there voice of protest against the Pandyan king who unjustly executed the innocent Kovilan. The majority of coastal people are normally from fishing communities.

2. The poor fisherfolk fled Madurai fearing royal retribution and finally came to the coasts of Kerala. One group reached Karunagappally and settled down there on the shores of the Arabian Sea.They had brought with them an idol of Kannagi Devi which they installed in a small temple on the beach. Fishing communities normally reside near sea coasts due to their fishing profession.

The fishing communities of the then Pandyan kingdom revolted against Pandyan king due to the fact that Kovalan and Kannagi belonged to their own fishing community.

3. The king Karikala, in whose Royal court Kovalan & Kannagi saw the Madhavi's dance, was from Chola dynasty and a Valavan (Valayar). Today Valayar is a subcaste of Muthuraja and they also widely used the title HAMA. The famous Queen Maha Devi Sembiyan of Cholas was often reffered as Madevi Sembiyan.

3. Chilapathikaram also talks about Vettuva Vari - the dance of the Vettuva community. The vettuva vari section of CilappatikAram deals with the worship of the Goddess. The Vettuvas of Tamilnadu and Vadderas of Andhra Pradesh are one and the same. Veddaras also known as Valmikis in some parts of A.P. Vettuvas belong to a subcaste of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu and Kerala. Chilapathikaram was written by a Jain monk and Jainism was widely accepted by the people of Muthuraja related subcastes in those day. Mostly the heo and heroines of the epic belonged to Muthuraja or allied subcastes.

Another point to be noted here is that " Kannagi tore off her left breast and dashed it to the ground". Such an extreme violent action of tearing her own breast could be expected to be done only by a woman belonging to a warrior class community such as Arayars.

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Kokolu Anka Rao
Year : 2005

EMAIL OF M.B. SHIVAKUMAR FROM KERALA CONFIRMS THAT KANNAGI WAS AN ARAYAR BORN

M.B.Shivakumar
Gen: secretary, Araya samajam state committee.
(Founder, A.C.E.Trust and Sree kannaki central school).

The thiru chengannur shivarathry and parisam vaippu is completing 1808 years on 10th march 2013.This holy devotional ritual is performing by the Araya community of karunagappally who are known as Alappattu Arayans.Alappadu is a coastal region of karunagappally in kollam district. The word Arayan is derived from Arasan. (Arasan is literally known as king or Lord).

Araya community reserves top priority to the traditional values based on the ancient Mutharasan kings and their capital Kaveryppattanam( Thanchavoor) of Chola kingdom which they have been migrated from. It is believed that the Goddess Sree Parvathy Devi has been incarnating in Araya Community in every thousands of years.

Kannaki, Thiraisar madantha and Sree Matha Amrithananthamayi Devi are supposed to be the incarnations of Sree Parvathy Devi.

Kannaki was the most powerful incarnation in the ancient time. She was born as the daughter of araya chief Manaikkan in the Kaveryppattanam.

She was wonderfully gifted with beauty and loftiness of character. She got married to Kovalan, a scion of a wealthy family of traders. Kovalan lost all his wealth and valued possessions due to his misconduct. He felt sorry for the bitter things happened in their life. He woke up from a deep slumber to realities and decided to go to Madurai to begin a new life.

Kannaki offered one of her anklets (The Chilambu) to Kovalan to meet their immediate needs. It was not life but, the death that was awaited him in the Pantya capital. For a goldsmith working for the queen implicates Kovalan in theft of queens own chilambu and the Pantya king ordered Kovalan to be killed for the theft. (It was the goldsmith who had stolen the chilambu).

Kannaki learns of the terrible fate of her husband and roused to fury. She went to the kings presence demanding justice. The king tried to justify his action but, the irate Kannaki throws down her remaining chilambu in the royal court, proving beyond a doubt from the gem stones that shot out of it that what Kovalan had with him was not the stolen chilambu of the queen which had pearls in it. The king falls down dead at this demonstration of the injustice he had dealt out and burnt the city of Madurai with the fire of chastity.

The people of that area was scattered to different areas, then migrated along the banks of Vaigai River to the coastal line of Chengannur of Chera kingdom. When new land is formed in the western part of Chengannur coast the people migrated accordingly to the costal line and some people reached in the coastal region of Karunagappally, who are believed to be the ancestors of the present Arayans.

The King Chenkuttuva had constructed a temple in memory of Sree Kannaki at Chengannur during A.D.205. since, then the Alappattu Aryans are performing Thiru Chengannur Sivarathry and Parisam Vaippu. As far as the Arayan community is concerned, the parisam vaippu is not only a traditional ritual but also a grand marriage of their daughter sree parvathy Devi with the Lord Shiva.

Parisam vaippu is the most ancient Hindu devotional ritual in the world which shows the Araya community is closely related with the God. The Tamil word parisam means dowry. The ritual Parisam vaippu is performing on the day of Shivarathry at Chengannur temple by the arayans by means of the father of kannaki. It is a traditional right of Arayans givingparisam to their daughter during their marriage.

The ritual Parisam Vaippu and shivarathry celebration have been registering in record book by the administrator of the Chengannur temple since A.D 205.

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09. GODDESS VALLI AMMAN - VALLI MALAI (TAMILNADU)

Goddess Valli is said to be the consort of Lord Muruga and the daughter od Vedda king Nambi Raj. Valli Malai is the birth place of Valli Amman and is located in Vellore district of Tamilnadu and very close to the borders of Andhra Pradesh. The devotees believe that the wedding of Valli and Murukan took place at Valli Malai near to Tiruttani (Vellore district), a version of the myth that is widespread amongst South Indians. The ancient Subramanyar temple at Vallimalai is associated with colorful legends and it has been revered by the Tiruppukazh hymns of Arunagiri Nathar. Vallimalai is located near Vellore, 16 km north of the Shivastalam Tiruvallam, on the Chennai Bangalore highway.

ankGoddess Valli Amman


Veddas belong to one of the subcastes of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu. They are known as Vadderas in Andhra Pradesh. They are also known as Valmikis in some part of Andhra Pradesh and North India. These Veddas are known as Vetans, Vetars, Vettuvas, Vettuvans, Vettuvars, Vedans, Veddans, Vedars, Veddars in Tamilnadu and Kerala. The original abode of Vetans is Sri Kalahasti and Tirupati hills located in Andhra Pradesh. In Telugu VETA means HUNTING.

Veta = Hunting
Vetar = Vetan = Vedan = Vedar = Hunter
Vetan => Vettuvan => Vettuvar => Vettuva = Hunter

These are the same Vetars who are known as Bedars or Berads in Karnataka and Maharastra states of India. The Bedars are also spread into other North Indian states. These Bedars were the poligars or Palayakars in Karnataka and Tamilnadu prior to British rule in India. So these Bedars ( hunters) also came to be known as chieftains or chiefs or lords in these states.

Veta => Vetar => Vedar => Bedar = Hunter

Valli and Devayanai are said to be the daughters of Maha Visnu. They wanted to have a husband who will never get angry. They performed penance and Lord Muruga appeared before them. Both of them wanted to get married to him. He said that Devayanai will be married as daughter of Indra and Valli to Veddas and then he will marry them.

After destroying Surapadma, Lord Muruga restored the Indra Loka to Indra. As a gift Indra gave his daughter Devayanai to Lord Murugan in wedlock. Valli was born on Valli Malai and brought up by Vedda king Nambi Raj. Valli and Lord Muruga played a lot of leelas for nearly twelve years and ultimately married. This hillock where Valli was born therefore gets the name Valli Malai.

Mythology has it that Lord Subrahmanya swamy came in various forms such as a hunter and a old man to test the perseverance of Valli, a girl from the hunter community who undertook a penance to attain oneness with Lord Thanigesan. Vinayaka, his big brother helped Skanda in his efforts to marry Valli, by donning the form of a mad elephant, which scared Valli who scurried for refuge to the old man, none other than Subramanyar himself.

Valli Malai is known to be the birth place of Valli Amma according to tradition and it is located in Vellore district near Andhra Pradesh border. The whole of Valli Malai appears designed to please the goddess of Valli Malai, Valli Amma or Pongi (literally 'bubbling over', i.e. with joy). Pongi is the spirit of a twelve-year old girl, just as Murugan always remains a kumara or youth. Valli Malai was the birthplace in prehistoric times of Lord Murugan's sweetheart Valli and to this day her spirit remains here and in the hearts of her devotees.

The power and beauty of this sakti peetam (Seat of Goddess) are among the better-known secrets known to Murugan bhaktars. Indeed, Valli Malai remains as Valli Amma's own playground where She and Bala Murugan romp and play Hide-and-Seek with each other and with their devotees to this day. The stunning beauty of Valli Malai with its pools, fresh greenery, caves and unusual rock formations stands as mute testimony to the continuing presence of the ever-youthful Goddess Herself.

In front of Valli Amman temple on top of the Valli Malai rock hillock are eight natural waterholes in the rock. One of these is referred to as Caravana Poikai; all are said to have been sunk during the Vanniyar rule. The entire hillock is said to have 32 natural waterholes, from which pilgrims traditionally draw theertham water and pour it over themselves to obtain the blessings of goddess Valli who is believed to bath in the same pools, not only in ancient times but to this very day.

Legend :

The age-old story of Valli and Murugan fairly bursts with archaic motifs that identify it unmistakably as the product of these prehistoric people. We learn from the story as it has been handed down that Valli, the heroine or talaivi, is found in the jungle as an infant and raised by Vedars, indigenous hunter-gatherers who already worship Murugan 'the Tender Youth' as their ancestral hunting god even before he enters the story in person as its hero or talaivan. This also suggests a cyclic view of time wherein archetypal events or motifs perpetually recur in fresh guises.

Smitten with love for-the unseen god, Valli makes a vrata or solemn vow to marry no mortal man but only the great god himself. When Valli is twelve, her family sends her according to the Vedar custom to guard their small field of millet in a jungle clearing against marauding birds and beasts. Fully aware of the girl's pure intention, the god slyly incorporates himself as a handsome young hunter and enters the scene to court the winsome lass. But Valli does not recognize the god in disguise and, intent on her vow, indignantly orders the stranger to be gone.

When Valli's kinfolk suddenly appear, the shape-shifting god first transforms himself into a venkai tree and then assumes the form of an aged ascetic in order to win the confidence of the Vedars even while stealthily drawing ever closer to the innocent yet wary maiden. Yet even despite the god's cunning disguise, Valli holds fast to her vow and will not allow him even to touch her.

Finally, Velan teams up with his rival elder brother, the wily elephant-faced god Ganapati, to startle Valli and trick her into promising to marry the old ascetic Murugan. The moment she gives her consent, he reveals his divine form and together they consummate their love for one another. Their passionate romance continues daily until at last the millet ripens and Valli must return to her parental hamlet at the foot of Valli Malai where the story takes place.

Their clandestine love affair (kalavu) at an end, Valli returns home with a heavy heart. Her mother notices Valli's unhappiness and calls a soothsaying woman who diagnoses Valli's love-sickness (kama noy) as a case of possession by a cur (evil spirit) and recommends that a velan or shaman-priest be called to perform a veri dance ceremony to appease Murugan and dispel the cur.

Meanwhile, Murugan returns to the millet field and, failing to find Valli there, criss-crosses Valli Malai in anguish searching for his beloved. In his Kantaranuputi, Arunagiri touchingly describes the pathetic scene of the great god held in the throes of love-anguish for Valli as he wanders among the mountain pools, waterfalls, and green fields of millet dotted with watcher's platforms (paran). Evidently, whatever may be the attraction of heavenly absorption in non-duality. Lord Murugan evidently prefers this earthly realm of duality with its pains of separation and joys of reunion.

Finally, Murugan traces Valli to her home and enters at midnight to 'steal' Valli and elope with her to the wilderness of Valli Malai. The Vedars, awakening to find that the pious stranger was really a rogue in disguise, follow in hot pursuit but are all struck dead when Murugan's cock-emblem crows. However, by her mere touch, Valli restores her beloved kinsmen to life. All marvel at this revelation of divinity in their midst and joyously prepare to celebrate the divine wedding in customary Vedar fashion with a feast of honey, millet, fruit and venison.

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10. KAVICHAKRAVARTY KAMBAN (Tamilnadu)

Kavi Chakravarty Kamban was born in the 9th Century (some say 11th Century ) in Therazhundur, a village in the culturally rich Tanjavur district in the modern state of Tamil Nadu in South India. He is also known as "Kamba Nattalvar", as he revived the greatness of Tamil language through his work during the medieval period. The poet belongs to a family who had Lord Narasimha (another avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, Who emerged from Kamba / pillar to save the child devotee Prahlada) as their family deity. His devoted parents named him as Kamban. Kambar is populary known for authoring Ramavatharam, (popularly known as Kambaramayanam), the tamil version of Ramayana, or the Story of Rama, one of the oldest epics in human history insprired by the Sanskrit epic.

ankKavi Chakravarty Kamban


Nattalvar is one of the subcastes ( or surnames ) of Muthuraja community in Tamilnadu. Kavichakravarti Kamban is known as "Kamba Nattalvar", as he revived the greatness of Tamil language through his work during the medieval period. No body knows for certain about his caste and creed. While some say that he was son of a priest of Kali Temple and some others say that he was son of a temple drummer. Kamban was a person of drummer caste which regularly functioned as Kali temple priests. He is quite far from being a brahmin - Kali temples accepted meat and liquor as offering. He was known to be associated with one Sadayappa Mudaliar. The Mudaliars are known to be a variant of warrior Muthariyars. Mudaliars are mostly the vellala branch of Mutharayars.

Muthariyar => Muthaliyar => Mudhaliyar = > Mudaliar

In the final part of Kamba Ramayanam, Kambar shows his gratitude to Sadaiyappa Vallal, who patronised Kambar financially by writing that "During Coronation, the ancestors of Sadaiyappa Vallal took the crown and gave to Vashista Maharishi, who placed it on Rama's head and crowned him" (Poem no. 38, Yuddha Kanda). Kambar manages to dignify the lineage of Sadaiyappa Vallal by associating them with Rama's coronation.

Fanciful legends are in vogue regarding the great poets Kalidasa, Kamban and Valluvar. But one thing is clear from these legends, that almost all the major poets starting from Valmiki onwards, are traced to very humble origins. Valmiki was a hunter, Kalidasa was an illiterate, Valluvar was a sentry in a field guarding the millet, and Kamban was a drummer. Except Ilango, the author of Silappadhikaram, most of the poets in Tamil belonged to the lower class in the social order.

The original version was written by Sage Valmiki (c.250 BC). This epic of 24,000 verses tells of a Raghuvamsa prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, a mighty emperor. In Hindu mythology Rama is considered to be the Seventh incarnation of God Vishnu, one of the Hindu holy trinity (Brahma and Shiva completing the trinity).

Kamban was a great scholar of India's two ancient and rich languages, Sanskrit (Indo-European) and Tamil (Dravidian). The "Ramavataram" of Kamban is an epic of 10,000 odd verses, of 4-lines each. Kamba Ramayana is not a translation of the Sanskrit epic by Adikavi Valmiki, but an original retelling of the story of Sri Rama, as the incarnation of Lord Tirumal (Mahavishnu). The lyrical beauty, brilliant use of rhyme, simile and the astonishing variety of his poetry yet still conforming to the strict classification of verses in classical poems in Tamil language earned him the title, Kavicakravarti (Emperor among poets). He is also known as "Kamba Nattalvar", as he revived the greatness of Tamil language through his work during the medieval period.

Legend has it that the entire episode was written in one night by Lord Ganesha. Ganesha is said to have written the poems that Kambar dictated to him during the night, as Kambar procrastinated the work till the day before the deadline set by the King. There is a saying that Kamban veetu kattu thariyum kavi paadum, loosesly meaning, Even Kamban's loom can pen a poem.

BIODATA :

As to the biodata of this foremost of epic poets, we have the choice between fantasy and uncertainty. As with the lives of many of the great ones of India's rich past, we remember Kamban by the words and books he has left behind. What little we know about him is largely lore and legend. Thus, there are at least five versions of who this extraordinary man was. His name means man with a stick. Kamba means pillar.

Kamba = pillar

Kamba => Kambar => Kamban

Some say he was the posthumous child of the king of Kamban?, others that he belonged to the kamban caste. It is said that when he was a lad, who was adopted by a wealthy man named Sadayappa Mudaliar whom he unconventionally mentions in his grand epic. The poet belonged to a family who had Lord Narasimha (another avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, Who emerged from Kamba / pillar to save the child devotee Prahlada) as their family deity. His devoted parents named his as Kamban.He is believed to be the son of a temple drummer and became reputed to have had an impressive mastery of Tamil and Sanskrit classics. Legend says he was blessed with poetic gift by Goddess Kali, and that once, by means of poems he uttered he caused the death and the resurrection of a horse. What can almost equal the India's rishis and poets in creativity are the stories spun around their names.

Tradition also tells us that when he was commissioned by his patron to translate Valmiki, Kamban agreed but kept postponing the task. The job was then entrusted to Ottakk?: a poet of much talent, but not exactly a genius. Then Kamban started to compose, writing some seven hundred stanzas a day. Even if Kamban had written but ten stanzas a day, his work would still be just as glorious. But to some people, the greatness of a great one is enhanced by the attribution of miraculous powers. Original in similes, profuse in descriptions, rich in hyperboles, insightful in observations, masterful in command of words, passionate in narration, moving in pathos, always reverential to the hero, Kamban's epic is unsurpassed in majesty and poetic grandeur. The mere awareness of the existence of a work of such caliber should add to one's appreciation of Indic culture.

Court Poet of Chola king Kulottunga Chola III : The reign of the Chozha Kings extended approximately till the end of the 13th century. With their headquarters located in and around Thanjavur they ruled the fertile delta formed by the river kaviri and its tributaries, a rich rice growing area. In this fertile Chozha Kingdom was born Kampan who made Thamizh literary history with his epic, Ramayanam. In spite of his fame and glory as the author of a great Thamizh literatury piece, all other aspects of his personal life including his real name, the place and date of his birth and his religion are topics of controversy. Kampan is believed to be the son of a priestin a KALI temple.

He was the greatest of the court poets of Kulottunga Chola III (1178-1218 AD). He adapted Valmiki's Ramayana in Tamil in his Ramakatai or Kamba Ramayanam, which is very unique in its style and technique. He also composed other works like Erelupadu and Sathakoparandali.

Periodic conferences of scholars had been held to discuss Kampan's dates exclusively. Critically analyzing all the available evidence, wading through inconsistencies and discrepancies in the dates of contemporary Kings, patrons and poets and sorting out interpolations from the main text based on their style, Zvelebil (1995) has suggested two probable dates for Kampan, 855 or 1185 A.D. This will correspond to the reign of utthama Chozhan or Kulothunka Chozhan III .

An anonymous poem states that Kampan presented his Ramavatharam in the Thamizh month of Pankuni in the year 807 of the Saka calendar. This is equivalent to 895 A.D. in the Christian calendar. According to the following anonymous poem, Kampan made his presentation in Thiruvarangam in the presence of his patron, Satayappa Vallal of Thiruvennai nallur.

Other works attributed to Kampan are Sarasvathi anthathi , Satakopar anthathi , Erezhupathu and Thirukkai Vazhakkam . His extraordinary skill in the epic narration type poems and devotion to Thirumal have earned him the prestigious titles of Kampa nattazhvar, kampa nadudaiya Vallal and the 'learned Kampan' .

It is said that even inanimate objects in Kampan's house are capable of composing poems. In recent times, Subramaniya Bharathiyar paid the highest complement possible by saying that to the best of his knowledge, poets like Kampan, Valluvar or Ilango have not been born anywhere in the whole world.

Srirangam : History has recorded that the saint poet, Kamban (Azhwar) offered Kamba Ramayanam from this temple. It is a lovely mandapam and one will be fascinated to see how much space has been provided for the viewers / listeners and the imposing pedestal on which the poet sat during his offering.

The arangetram (Inagural public rendering) of Kamban's 'Ramavataram' was done at the Great Temple of Srirangam, to an assembly of eminent poets, under the auspices of the philanthropist, Sadayappan of Tiruvennainallur of the Chola Kingdom in the Tamil Country on the day of the Uttara star, in the month of Panguni, in the eight hundred and seventh year of Salivahana saka.

Kamban Vizha : Karaikudi, in Chettinad, is closely connected to Tamil as this is the venue of a festival conducted for the great Tamil poet Kamban. Every year during the month of March (Panguni), the Kamban Vizha is celebrated for four days and there is no orator or Tamil pundit who has not participated in this popular festival. The idea to worship the language as God and to build a Temple for it, was born in the mind of Kamban Adipodi S.Ganesan, who had established the Kamban Kazhagam in Karaikudi. The result is the Thamizh Thai temple in Karaikudi, which stands tall and regal. This temple lies south of Kamban Mani Mandapa Valagam, near Karaikudi Periyar statue in Sivaganga District of Tamil Nadu. Alagappa University, founded by the benevolent Azhagappar, lies one km east of this temple.

Kamban Mani Mandapam - It is believed that the great Tamil poet and writer of the Ramayana in Tamil, Kavi Chakravarthy Kamban spent a large part of his life in Karaikudi & Chettinad. Kamban Mani Mandapam was built in his honor by Nagarathars. Programmes on Tamil literature are conducted annually.

ThiruVazhundhur : The temple is located near Maayavaram. The Moolavar is Devaadirajan seen in standing posture with a gadhai (mace) in his left hand facing east. There are idols of Garudalwar, Mother Cauvery on the left & Prahalaadhan on the right. This is the birth place of the great Tamil poet Kamban. There are the idols of Kambar & his wife in the temple. Kamban Vizha is celebrated here every year.

Kamban's Saraswathi

TEMPLES DEDICATED to Saraswathi are few. The temple of Saraswathi inside the fort of Padmanabhapuram in Kanyakumari district is one among them. According to local tradition, the deity was worshipped by Kamban.

Epigraphical evidence reveals that Kanyakumari was under the rule of Raja Raja Chola. On the basis of the relationship between Nanchilnadu and Cholanadu for a long period, it is quite likely that Kamban, who was born at Therazhndur in Cholanadu, might have come to Nanchilnadu during his exile.

In the Ramaswamy temple at Padmanabhapuram, the complete story of Ramayana has been depicted dramatically around the prakara in wooden panels. This is an influence of Kamban's Ramayana not of Valmiki.

The impact of Kambaramayana can be seen in Malayalam literature also. The history of Malayalam literature, written by Govinda Pillai and Thunchen Prabandham says that Kambaramayana verses are used in puppet shows held in the temples of Kerala. Here, they follow the practice of enacting and singing puranic stories. Kambaramayana again plays a major role in their performances. Ullur Parameswar Iyer says in his Kerala Sahitya Charithram that Kamban came to Kerala and recited his Ramayana to people. A temple record of Ettumanur refers to the recitation of Kambaramayana in the temple. These facts confirm that Kamban had visited Padmanabhapuram fort. And he might have brought with him his personal bronze idol of Saraswathi, which he worshipped daily. The same idol is now worshipped in the temple at Padmanabhapuram.

In ancient days, when Padmanabhapuram was the capital of Venadu rulers, a Navarathri mandapam was built in Tamil Nadu style inside the palace. After the capital was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram, the people of Kerala took the image of Saraswathi to the Navarathri mandapam in front of Padmanabha Swamy temple there and celebrated Navarathri in a grand manner.

The idol of Saraswathi, in a procession, on the back of an elephant, is received by the people enroute Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram with pomp and pageantry.

Thus, the idol of Saraswathi, which was worshipped by Kamban, occupies the main altar in the Navarathri festival celebrated by Keralites at Thiruvananthapuram every year.

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11. PONNAR SHANKAR (TAMILNADU)

The story is said to be that of two war heroes of Kongumandalam - Ponnar and Shankar who are worshipped even today in parts of Tamil Nadu as " kaaval deivams". Ponnar Shankar is about two war heroes of Kongumandalam - Ponnar and Shankar, who are worshipped even today in parts of Tamilnadu as 'Gods'. Ponnar-Shankar story was highly celebrated in Tamilnadu for its literary values.

Kongu is derived from kanga meaning Ganga. Warrior people of Kongu are Gounders and they are the people related to Western Ganga Muttarasa kings. A major sect of Muthurajas are believed to be Vellalas who could be the descendants of North Indian Bhilalas and the central Indian Bhallalas. Valanadu could be the land of valayars and valayars are one of the subsects of Tamil Muthuraja community today.

Ganga => Kanga => Konga => Kongu

Email No. 32 received from Poovarasan , Malaysia and published under webpage "UREMAILS" in this website indicates that Malaysian Muthurajas worship Ponnar Shankar as their community heroes and dieties.

" .. .. .. My Father Mr.Ramachandran s/o Maruthamuthu ever told me about Shankar Ponnar & Thangga Periyakka stories that related with Muthurajah. Please let me know, the information that given in web, come out as a Book. If so I would like to get one. Please reply me "

Email No. 33 received from Singamuni, Singapore further confirms that Ponnar & Shankar, who attained Demi-God status are our Muthuraja ancestors and adds....

" I have also received a message from our brother Mr. Poovarasan from Selangor , Malaysia and I have also read his message in the e-mail section and regarding his quiry about Shankar Ponnar and Thangga Periyakka. Both are are our ancestors and now accorded Demi-god status and you can get more information from the Sellayee Kovil Managing Committee at Rajampalayam Village , Manachannalur via, Trichy District, Tamil Nadu. You can contact my uncle Mr. Dorairaj to assist you."

The story of brothers used to be one of the greatest folklores of the Kongu region. Local bards used to sing the story for a period of thirteen days. At the end of the story they used to perform ritual death of the brothers and the soldiers and their resurrection.

It is said that the great Chola warriors expanded into the Kongu region, cleared the forests and established agricultural settlements. Certain clans soon distinguished themselves in local battles fought to win the land and to establish agricultural settlements. As a result, the Chola king rewarded them by giving them rights to fine tracks of land. The clans which are named are among the prosperous Gounder caste in Kongu today.

The Story of two Brothers Ponnar & Shankar is a well known folklore in the Kongu region depicting the migration of the Gounders to the Kongu region and their eventual victory over the land. Statues of Brothers is a familiar sight in the Kongu region. Ironically the people who take great interest in the story are not Gounders. They are from Kongu Chettiars and Marmeri Natars.

Basically, the stories are a condensation of 500 years of Kongu history. They span three generations: the first were the farmers who settled down in the region; the second, where they become rulers of a small kingdom, and their connection with the Chola kings becomes strong; and the third, where two sons (part of a triplet set) become warriors to guard the kingdom. The stories revolve around these brothers Ponnar and Shankar, and are set on the banks of the Cauvery. Sometimes, the brothers are also referred to as Periyannan and Chinnannan. Though their sister Tangal is not discussed at length, she too has a vital role in the stories.

Periyannan = Peddanna = Big Brother
Chinnanan = Chinnanna = Small Brother

Ponnar and Sankar are two sons of the couples Kunnadaiyaa Gounder and Thaamaraiya Goundachi. They belong to Vaangal Perungudi kottam. Both ruled Ponni Valanadu. Now they are workshiped as god by Kongu Vella Gounders.

Ponnar Sankar is the story of siblings, Ponnar and Sankar, set in Palayankottai, who fight both British invasion of their territory and another local rival faction where their sister has been given in marriage.

The historical characters Ponnar and Shankar belong to the Gounder community found in modern day Coimbatore, Erode and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu and several parts of Karnataka.

Absence of authentic document often makes it difficult to trace history of any ancient structure. One such place in the Temple City is the Ponnar Shankar Temple at Vadivelkarai. But as is the case with every other place, the story that revolves around the temple is that of two valourous princes Ponnar and Shankar.

Interestingly, the story of the brothers, who lived in Kongumandalam, is spread through word-of-mouth among the villagers of Vadivelkarai to ascertain their roots. People here worship them even today as their family deity for the brothers' sheer hardship and perseverance which fetched an identity for their community.

The small temple, located at Vadivelkarai on the banks of Nilayur Channel, is filled with mythological stories about the heroism of the brothers.Measuring 10x10 feet, temple got its structure only in 1987. It has a mandap in front guarded by 'dwarabalakas' while 'Periyakandiamman' (a form of Goddess Parvathi) is the main deity. "Though there is no proper evidence, it is said that Ponnar-Shankar came to this place every year to worship their family deity (kula deivam),"

Chera Chieftains
According to him, the brothers were the Chera chieftains of Valanadu and were well received and honoured by the Vijaya Renga Chokkanathar, who ruled Madurai between 1706 and 1732 A.D. In remembrance of the brothers, even now people from Kongu region especially from Verappur, Coimbatore and Valanadu visit the temple to offer prayers.

Ponnar Shankar ruled Verappur
Verappur is a place of pilgrimage connected with the history of Ponner-Sankar those who ruled this region. There are Temples for Ponner- Sankar & Periyakandi Amman. Ponnar-Sankar are said to have lived at Valanadu and Veerapur.The Neeli Valanadu Fort is rectangular in shape (460 feet x 295 feet). There was a moat around the palace. Ichi tree, the basement of the entire fortification, some remains of the moat are existing.

The flower garden for the sister Arukkani, a well are now called Sadayandi Thoppu. At Gowndanpatti, Nellipatti, Velankulathur temples for Ponner Sanakar are existing, At Usilampatti Oorani (Kulam) near Manaparai a temple for Thangal is existing.

Thangal = Thangga Periyakka

There are stories that at Veeramalai now (Veerapur ) Sankar along with his friend Sambhuvan died in the war with Thalaiyur Kali King. His brother after fulfilling the religious vow, learnt the death of his brother and ended his life. Their sister Thangal also prayed the Periya Kandi Amman at Veerapur and went west. From 15th century the people of this region are praying Ponner, Sankar, Periyakandi Amman, Thangal and Arukkani. Veerapur is 45 kms from Tiruchirappalli, 12 kms from Manaparai, 20 kms from Vaiyampatti. The annual festival at Veerapur takes place during Masi.

The myth
According to mythology, Ponnar and Shankar were born to Periyakaralanaka Mannudaiyak Kounden and Thamaraiyal of Manamadurai. After a series of hardship, the brothers established themselves as chieftains with the help of the King of Uraiyur.

Irked by the popularity of the brothers, 'Thalaiyur Kali,' a Vaettuva (hunter) king, hatched a conspiracy to kill the brothers with a help of a goldsmith Sembakulan, wherein Ponnar was separated from his brother and taken away to prove his innocence in a deal.

Here, there is a reference to "Thalaiyari Kali" king who is said to be a vettuva. Vettuvas are Vetars or Betars or Bedars. Thalari and Kali are known surnames of Telugu Mudiraj people today. These vettuvas are non other than valmiki nayakas with hunting background. These vetars are the people of Kannappakula who are again one of the subsects of Tamil Muthuraja community. Finally, Valayars ( Koli fishermen ) and Vettuvas ( Bedar valmiki hunters) are all the descendats of Bhil Valmiki race.

This is how the Muthuraja community acquired its name as a caste of all " The Great kings of India". The Great kings = The Ancient Kings

Unable to bear the loss of his brother Shankar, who preferred death of bravery by falling on the sword following divine intervention, Ponnar followed suit. Their sister Thangal with the help of Goddess Periyakandiamman resurrected her brothers. But citing reason that their duties as human beings were over, the Goddess sent them back to the land of the Lord. "The spot, 'Padu kalam', where Shankar committed suicide can be seen even now near Veerappur. As Goddess Periyakandiamman resurrected the brothers, she was made the presiding deity of the temple as per the request of the brothers.

Locals perform pujas on Tuesdays and Fridays at the temple.

Webmaster
Kokolu Anka Rao
Date :23/12/2008
Nagpur, Maharastra, India

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12. TAMIL SAIVA SAINT MEYKANNDAR

Meykanda was 13th century a Tamil Saint and devotional writer. He was the son of a chieftain named Acchyuta Kalappalar or Achchuthak kalappalar. He was born at thiruppennakadam in thirumunaippadi state / pennadam.(Cuddalore Dist) in the tradition of shaiva peasant in 12th - 13th century A.D. He wrote Sivagnana Bhodham. He built "Meykandadeva Iswaram" and Meykanda putteri in Mathur near Thiruvannamalai. His book - The Realization of Knowledge of Saiva, played a crucial role in the development of Saivism. Kalappalars are said to be the kalabhras, the ancestors of Tamil Mutharayars.

To say about 'Mey Kanda Devar', he was a three year old child when he scripted these 12 verses! It might be hard to believe or even to imagine! But this is history - it's not a myth. He was born in 1225 BC in a place by name Thiruvennainallur in Tamil Nadu. He had 49 scholars as his disciples. He left the world at an young age.

A number of Kalappalar besides the father of Meyganda Devar has been traced in Tamil literature. One Nerkunram Kilan, a Kalappala Raja has been brought to our notice by S. Semasundara Desigar in an insciption which he discovered. Kurruva Nayanar, one of the sixty three Saiva saints is called a Kalappalan by Nambiyandar Nambi ( 10th Century) in his Tiruttondar Tiruvandadi. This person is called Kalandai Mudalvandar, lord of Kalandai by Sekkilar, and Kalandai Vendar, King of Kalandai and Kalandai in Umapati Shivam's Tiruttondar Purana Saram. From this we may infer that the Kalappalar originally belonged to Kalandai, a well known Shaiva shrine in the Tanjore district.

Kalappalars - Kalabhras - Mutharayars
Kalappira Invasion 300 AD : The classical Pandiyan kingdom was destroyed and weakened by the invading Kalappiras who were otherwise called kalappala in the 3rd century A.D. The Kalappira / Kalappalas were from northern Karnataka or central India. The Sangha age and learning came to an abrupt end. The Kalappalar Kings were called Muthariyars and the Aristorcracy and soldiers were called Kalappalars. The Kalappalars ruled most of the presentday Tamil Nadu and Kerala hence called Mutharaiyar. The Pandiyan kingdom was eclipsed from 300-600 A.D. All the classical books were destroyed.

The classical Pandiyan kingdom was destroyed and weakened by the invading Kalappiras in the 3rd century a.d. While the kings were called Mutharaiyars or Mudhiraju the soldiers and commoners were called kalappala or Kalava or kalavar along with Servai and Servaikkarar The Kalappalas conquered and ruled all three states,the Chera,Chola and Pandiyan kingdoms.

Krishnaswami Iyengar has given his support to the theory that the Kalabhras were the Kallar of old Tamil poetry. Kallar has an alternative form Kalvar and subsequently Kalvarbecame Kalavar, which turned into Kalabar, Kalabara, Kalabhara and ultimately into Kalabhra. The word Kalappalar is a variant of the word Kalappa which became Kalabbha in Pali and Kalabra in Sanskrit. Kalavars were mostly pretty chieftains in olden times.

Kallar => Kalvar => Kalavar => Kalabar => Kalabara => Kalabhara => Kalabhra

The actual relation between the words Kallar and Kalabhra seems to be just opposite to what Iyengar thought to be. The Kalabhras were the descendants of Kalchuris or Kala Chedis or Kalaveeras. Kala means Black.

Kalaveera => Kalabeera => Kalabera => Kalabara
Kalabara =>Kalabra => Kalabhra
Kalabara => Kalabhra => Kalabba

Kalabara => Kalabhra => Kalabba => Kalappa => Kalappala
Kalabara => Kalbara => Kalbar => Kallar
Kalabara => Kalavara => Kalavar => Kalvar

Some regard kalabhras as kalappalars of Vellala community. Kalappalas were Buddhist and Jain Kannada speaking people. Some identify kalabhras with kalvar chieftains of Tiraiyan tribefrom Tirupati. The Kalappalas were Tamil chieftains, as is proved by the fact that the three Kajas sang to them in Tamil. They were completely Aryanized because they encouraged Aryan cults.

Accuda Kalappala and Accuta Kalabbha could be one and the same person. The Velvikkudi grant tells us that a cruel king, called Kalabra of the Kalabhra clan defeated many Adhirajas, original Tamil monarchs and established his sway over Madura, among other Tamil districts. Since the Pali Kalabba will invariably become Kalabhra in Sanskrit, it follows that the Kalabhra king of Velvikudi charter is identical with Accuta Kalabbha and Accuda Kalappala.

We have little information about the Kalabhra rule in the Tamil country. The Tamil grammar Yapperunkalam refers to a Kalabhra king, namely Achutha Kalappalan. It appeared that he ruled the Tamil country from Uraiyur. He had also patronised the Tamil poets. A Buddhist scholar namely Buddhadatta lived in his kingdom. According to traditions, he imprisoned the Chera, Chola and Pandyan rulers. He had extended patronage to Buddhism and Buddhist monasteries.

Meykandar- composer of Saiva Siddhantha
Meykandar is the composer of the very renowned text of Tamil Shaiva Sidhdhantha - Sivajnana Bodham and its succinct analysis called vartikam. He is also known as the first among the four linear preceptors of Saiva Siddhanta tradition in South India. He gave the logical basis to the school of thought of Saiva Siddhanta, that prevailed in South India.. He was born at thirup pennakadam in thirumunaippadi state in the tradition of shaiva peasant.

A divergent school within Saiva Siddhanta evolved out of the dualistic interpretations made by the philosopher Meykanda Devar in the Sivajnana Bodham and its commentary, Vartika, one thousand three-hundred years after the original postulations of Saint Tirumular were put forth. This school is also known as Saiva Siddhanta. After the Saintly Four and after the days of Saiva Siddhanta tradition at the hands of Saint Meykanda Deva and his disciples, came the Muhamedan invasion and rule and that of the Nayaks of Vijayanakar and Madurai.

The Meykandar Sastras are fourteen Tamil treatises written over a long period during the Middle Ages by six authors. They are scholarly texts presenting in detail the metaphysics of pluralism and refutations of systems of thought. The fourth of these is Sivajnanabodham, composed by Saint Meykandar around 1200 CE, fourteen centuries after the Tirumantiram. Sivajnanabodham means "Knowledge of Siva realization" or "Compendium of Siva Knowledge". It is considered by most Siddhantins as the authoritative summation of pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, containing in forty lines all that is amplified in the larger commentaries and texts that comprise the balance of the Meykandar Sastras.

Meykanda Devar and Tamil Pillais
Today, Pennagadam, the ancestral town of Meykandar is one of the important centre where the Karkathar live in large numbers. Meykandar came of the Kalappala gotra there. Some believe that the Kalappalars are quite different from Kalabhras. The town is situated in the South Arcot district; there is a large temple built by the Chola King in the 5th century A.D. this has been sanctified in the hymns of Appar and Sambandhar in the 7th century.

The term Karalar means, those engaged in agriculture; it has had the same connotation through the centuries even upto the present day. he Karkathar living in all the areas of Tamilnadu are known as Pillai.There is considerable significance in their use of this term as a surname. Pillai means son; because the Karaikkattar inherited the duty of performing all the thirty two dharmas on earth from Sakti Parvati the Supreme Mother, they stand in the relationship of a son to Her. Tamil Pillais are closely related to Muthurajas.

Meykandar is famous as the author of the Tamil Sivajnana bodham and its succinct analysis called vartikam. He is also known as the first among the four linear preceptors of Saiva Siddhanta tradition in South India. He gave the logical basis to the school of thought of Saiva Siddhanta, that prevailed in South India. He was of the early 13th Century, if not earlier. It is widely accepted that he was well known in the year 1235 from epigraphical evidence. The story of his birth and initiation is very interesting.

The story of saint Meykanandar
There, in Tiruppennakatam, lived a chieftain named Acchyuta Kalappalar. He was gifted with all material blessings of this world, but not a child. One day he went to Turaiyur where his religious teacher, Sakala agama panditar lived, to receive his blessings. The teacher worshipped at the feet of Lord Siva and asked the disciple to place a thread in between the palm leaves of a book which had on its pages impressed the Thevaram hymns. The purpose of the teacher was toknow the will of God from the meanings of the stanza of Tevaram that made its appearance before him.

So did the kalappalar many times singing that glorious song of thirunyana chambandhar. One day the Lord appeared in his dreams and said that appreciating his determined devotion on the Lord and sambandhar dhevaram, he would be blessed with a splendid son like sambandhar. Very soon his wife delivered a son. They named him as svethavanap perumal, in the name of God at thiruvenkadu.

Immediately the Teacher asked his disciple to go to Tiruvenkatu with his spouse and carry out the worship. While the Kalappalar was performing the worship, the Lord of Tiruvenkatu told him in his dream that though he had not the good fortune to have a child in that birth, because of his implicit faith in the utterings of Sambandar, he would be granted a child even like the saint himself. The chieftain finished his vow of worship and returned to his native place. In course of time a male child was born to him and it was being reared with unique care and endearment by the family, the relatives and the citizens alike.

Soon the maternal uncle of the child took him to Tiruvennainallur along with his mother and reared him there. One day when the child was playing in the open, a certain Saint Parancoti from Mount Kailas came down and imparted the divine wisdom which he inherited from Lord Siva and named the child Meykandan after his master Satyajnana darsini and left the place. .

Enlightened prodigy meykanda shivam composed the essence of that sacred knowledge in the form of sutras (aphorisms) in thamiz. This is the shiva jnana bodham available to us. This is a base text for many of the later compositions on shaiva sidhdhantha done by other santhana kuravargal. He also did a varthikam (elaboration) for the same.

His fame started spreading and many became his disciples. Hearing this the guru of their family sagalagama pandidhar came to thiruvenney nallur to see the child. While the whole town went to salute him, meykandar was sitting with his students explaining the nature of anava impurity. So sagalagama pandidhar came himself to the place of meykandar. Standing with pride he questioned meykandar, "What is the form of Anava impurity ?" meykandar without speaking a word pointed his finger towards sagalagama pandidhar. That great scholar petrified for a moment realized at that moment the superior knowledge ! He saluted the prodigy and asked him to accept him as a disciple. The kulaguru was becoming the disciple of the child ! meykandar gave him diksha name as arunandhi shivam and accepted him as one of the prime students.

Apart from arnandhi shivam, some of the other renowned disciples of meykandar were thiruvadhikai manavachakan kadandhar and chirrambala nadigal. Totally there were forty-nine students for meykandar. He period was 1232 ACE. He reached the Divine Feet of God in aippachi swathi.

Webmaster
Kokolu Anka Rao
Date : 09 / 01/ 2009
Nagpur, Maharastra, India

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