(From the Indian Magazine and Review)
The Sage whose name is probably dearest to the whole Tamil people is known by the title of Thiru Gnana Sambandhar. His reputed poetical effusions have all the authority and sanctity of Vedas. His history fills the Second Kandam of the 'Great Legendary History,' and is given in 1,256 quatrains or 5,000 lines. (See Indian Magazine and Review, May 1896.)
In the collection of the Devaram (hymns composed by the three great devotees) 384 are ascribed to him. These consist of eleven quatrains each, the eleventh always containing the poet's name. More will be said of these hereafter.
He seems to have been, though a mere boy, nearly the greatest leader in the 2nd Saiva revival, and from his days the Buddhists and Jains disappear from South Indian history. The legends are very remarkable, and illustrate many phases of Hindu thought and feeling. His date is a matter of dispute; but it can hardly be later than the ninth century A.D. (See articles by Professor P. Sundaram Pillai in Madras Christian College Magazine, November 1891, &c.)
Thiru Gnana Sambandhar was born in Sri-Kari (Sheally), or Brahmapuram, a celebrated old city about thirty-eight miles north east of Kumbakonam, in the Tanjore district. His parents were of ancient Brahmanical race, rigid Saivites, holding aloof from every other worship and system, of which it seems there were at that time many actively propagated around them. The wonders of his history begin with his third year. Having come to earth direct from Siva's presence, though born a human child, he had vague reminiscences of his ancient home, and not unfrequently sobbed and wept with an instinctive longing for his divine Master. One day his human father went to the Temple to perform his duties as usual, and the child, with an unconscious yearning for his divine Father's presence, rushed after him, and could not be induced to return to the house. So the father perforce took him to the Temple, and left the little boy on the steps of the tank while he performed the daily ceremonies. When he had gone down into the water, the child, missing him, tottered back into the shrine sobbing and looking towards the image which was that of Siva, joined with Uma, seated on the sacred bull, and cried, 'O father! O mother!' The God heard the feeble words, came down to the child, and bade Uma give him some milk from her breast in a golden cup. This the goddess did, and – as she is the manifested energy of Sivan's transcendental Being – his Satti, fountain and source of action, grace and knowledge – mingled supernal wisdom with the draught; wiped away his tears, and with soothing words gave him the cup. The child drank of it, and became at once an inspired sage, absolutely and for ever consecrated to Siva, in consequence of which he received the epithet of Aludaiya Pillaiyar ('the gods' own child'), and Thiru Gnana Sambandhar ('he who is conjoined with divine wisdom'). As many legends show, Manicka Vachakar and Suntharara had their calls, being miraculously – each in a different manner – made the absolute servants of the god; and this was Sambandhar's call, like Samuel's! The legend points to a peculiar temperament and great precocity in the child, and has its foundation in this wonderful genius. Meanwhile, the father, having finished his ablutions, came up out of the tank, and perceived the child with radiant face, and lips bearing traces of the food of which he had partaken. 'Who has polluted you,' asked he, 'with impure food' and threatened to beat the child, who with sobs pointed up to where in the firmament he saw the receding form of the god, and for answer burst out into a sacred lyric, still extant, of praise. The father could not see the vision, but recognized its reality; and with ecstasies of gladness embraced the child, who continued to sing his wondrous hymn. From that time he lisped in numbers, and his father carried him as a prodigy from shrine to shrine while he sang, at each, appropriate stanzas. The fame of the miraculous endowments of the wonderful child spread throughout the whole country, and deputations were sent to ask him to visit each holy place. His songs are preserved, but the legends connected with their genuineness. The next great incident, however, took place on the day following this wonderful visitation, when as he was singing and beating time with his hand, by the grace of Siva, cymbals of gold inscribed with the mystic five letters were miraculously given into his hand, and with them he kept time to his song. Soon after this he set out on his first circuit, embracing all the neighboring towns, and on the way was met as he was borne on his father's shoulders, by a musician with a lute carried by a young maiden vocalist. The name is celebrated in these legends, though it is only an epithet. Tiru Nila-Kanda-Perum-Pinar ('Sivan's great minstrel'). From that time forth this musician, with the young songstress, accompanied him in all his journeying's, and we are to picture to ourselves an assembly in the Courts of each of hundreds of temples which he visited, consisting of the youthful bard (for at his fabled assumption he cannot have been more than twenty years of age), his father, a band of Brahmans in the full equipment of Siva devotees, with his minstrel playing on the lute, while the chorus is sung by the young maiden. These hymns and the music had a profound and permanent effect upon the Tamil people; though, as far as a foreigner can judge, his hymns are by no means of a high order – far inferior to those of Manicka Vachakar, who seems to have live about a century earlier.
His second journey was to Chidambaram, where he was altogether overwhelmed by the place and its associations. He is said on one occasion to have beheld in mystic vision the three thousand devotees of sacred Tillai, in their transfigured state as the glorified hosts of Siva. From thence he went on his way, visiting the Siva shrines and towns on the bank of the river, and in this his second journey would not allow his father to carry him on his shoulder as before, but performed the journey of foot, surrounded by Brahmans, and singing his Master's praise, the result of which was that on one occasion at nightfall, weary and footsore, but promoting ever the five mystic syllables, he arrived at a village called Marran Padi, where he passed the night. Meanwhile Sivan had noted these sufferings of his sacred son, and in the night sent a vision to each one of the Brahmans in a neighboring temple, bidding them repair instantly to their shrine where they would find a litter inlaid with pearls, with an umbrella or canopy of state similarly adorned, and the conch shells on which the greatness of the Devotee might be sounded forth, and with all the other ornaments belonging to the stately progress of a Siva Devotee of the very highest order. These they were to convey to the young poet, and present them to him in the name of the God. The divinity appeared in vision to Gnana Sambandhar himself also, telling him to receive and use the litter and paraphernalia which would arrive in the morning. This may be looked upon as the inauguration of the child, then six or seven years old, as the great guru of the Siva faith. When for the first time he was borne aloft in state at Thiru-Aratturrai, there was the usual commotion on earth and in heaven; flowers were showered down, celestial music was heard, and proclamation was made that the flawless gem of the Siva faith had come; that he was the Sage who had been fed with the milk of wisdom by the goddess Uma, who fills the universe with her light and glory; and that his mission was to teach the Agamas and all divine knowledge in the Tamil tongue. It was this (on the whole successful) cultivation of the vernacular that gave to these poets of the Tamil Renaissance their great and permanent influence.
He now returned home to Sri Kari from his second tour, and was met by the whole population of the city, and received with more than royal honors, while his mother Bhagavati (the blessed Lady) came and padi him reverence, to which he responded lovingly, and was received once more into his home. And now he was of the age to receive the investiture of the sacred cord, the second birth of the higher castes. On that occasion the ministering Brahmans uttered the mystic formula, 'We give thee authority over the four Vedas,' and were proceeding to reveal to him the sacred mysteries; but he opened his mouth and unprompted chanted forth the text of the Vedas with their subsidiary sciences, and every species of mystical and sacred lore. They bowed in astonished joy before the inspired youth, who graciously quieted their excitement, and sang some sacred verses of which we shall give an abstract in the sequel.
Next comes a renowned visitation paid him by one whose history is given in the same Purana, and who is scarcely less famous than our hero: Thiru Navukkarachu Nayanar, or, as he is generally called, Appar Murtti. Appa Murti must, at that time, have been in the prime of life, with an established reputation; but the deference he ever, without a tough of jealousy, paid to his boyish teacher, is very remarkable. He now came attracted by the reputation of the youthful prodigy, and soon afterwards they set out together on a visitation which was intended to include all the Siva shrines in the Tamil country. On this occasion he begged his father to remain at home, to which he replied, 'You are my only and most precious son, and for some days yet I need not separate from you' – and so accompanied them. And, now, in a certain town on the northern bank of the River Kaveri, there was a yeoman whose daughter was afflicted by what seems to be described as demoniac possession. They brought her to the shrine and left her there, while the father hastened to throw himself at the feet of the Saint, imploring assistance. Our hero descended from his litter, raised the suppliant from the ground, went into the temple, walked round it, entered the shrine, saw the maiden lying there, and was told of her grievous suffering. Full of compassion, he worshipped the God, and, in a very touching, simple hymn, implored him to heal the child. Immediately the maiden's disease was removed, and she, arising, clang to her father's side. Great was their gladness. The youthful Saint now proceeded to the regions south of the Kaveri. The rains were over, and it was the time of heavy dews, while fever and ague were rife. His attendants came and represented this to him. He immediately sang a sacred hymn, and the fever left the whole country side. The sage then went southward.
During the same year, he went through a large number of villages adjacent to the banks of the Kaveri, and in the month of June and July, when the temperature is often terrifically hot, the youthful devotee suffered exceedingly, and the legend relates that Siva, feeling pity for his beloved son, sent down from Mount Kailas a canopy of pearls, which was brought by a heavenly messenger with the words, 'The Lord hath sent this unto thee.' The youthful Saint fell on his face and adored, while his attendants bore over him the canopy thus miraculously supplied, and, under the refreshing shade, he went on his way to play his homage at the shrine in the neighborhood. The poet says the sacred teacher henceforth abode happily under the shadow of the sacred feet of the Lord of all the worlds.
The next incident is connected with his father, who so far had accompanied him, and now wished to return to offer a solemn sacrifice in Sri Kari, for which a large sum of money was needed. Gnana Sambandhar, as was his wont, hastened to the temple, and there sang one of his most renowned hymns. It begins: -
'In trouble and in weakness, and when pain
Afflicts, I seek thy feet, and worship there.'
The result was that a divine messenger arrives with what seems to have been a golden chain of many links, which renewed itself as the links were broken off – and was thus an unfailing treasure, like the widow's cruise of oil. This he gave to his father, bidding him first offer a sumptuous sacrifice to Siva, and then to supply the needs of all the devout inhabitants of Sr Kavi. The father went home rejoicing, and the young devotee proceeded on his way, worshipping and singing sacred hymns, to the accompaniment of the minstrel's lute, at every shrine. These hymns are rhythmical praises of the God, under all the name and with all the attributes and forms recognized in the Saiva books; but they rarely contain anything worthy of special notice. The next incident of interest is connected with the town of Dharmapuram, where his minstrel's mother and other relatives dwelt. There, surrounded by his admiring kindered, the minstrel played his choicest tunes, and sang over all the lyrics that his master had composed, while they exclaimed that his melody would for ever sound throughout the world. Now the Tamil word that signifies 'melody' bears also, the signification of renown." Hearing their praises, and fearing to appropriate to himself the glory that belonged only to his youthful master and to the god, he went and threw himself at the poet's feet, begging him to compose some verses which should be so sublime that it would be out of his power to fit them with an accompaniment. The poet instantly sang a lyric in very irregular metre, to which when the minstrel tried to play an accompaniment he failed utterly, and was so overwhelmed with humiliation that he was about to break his lute on the ground; but Sambandhar took the lute and said to him; 'O Brahman, why should'st thou break thy lute? Can the praises of Siva the Supreme, and of Parvathi the mother, be measured by the strings of this instrument? Can the greatness of their glory be measure by the execution of thy hand? Take thy lute, and play thy simple melodies with contended mind, praising as best thou art able.' The humbled minstrel took his lute, bowed his head, and retired.
Perhaps he needed a lesson in that sweet unconscious humility that seemed to be not the least of the youthful devotee's admirable qualities. And now the poet is brought into closer connexion with several of the Siva devotees, of whom there seems to have been a succession from the time of Manicka Vachakar. These all seem to have regarded him with the profoundest reverence and affection. It is a sweet picture – the child among the doctors. We have seen it elsewhere!
Almost this time he is said to have raised a Brahman merchant from the dead. One day, came there to meet him a devotee called Muruga Nayagar, who was renowned for his devotion to the temples of Siva, which he always supplied with four species of flowers – those from trees, those from creepers, those from the water, and those from the ground – weaving them into choice garlands. (The Siva system affords scope for men of all tastes in the performance of their devotions!). He then came to Arur, where the great teacher, Appa Murtti, again joined him, and they made a prolonged tour, and were met on the way by another devotee – whose history we may recount by and by – whose specialty it was to spend all his substances in providing incense for Siva's altars.
At this time a deputation from home arrived, imploring him to return and give his own people the advantage of his presence. He hesitated, longing to behold his master's glory, as he had seen it in that much loved shrine; but the god appeared to him in a dream, coming from Kailasam in a heavenly chariot, and showed him all his glory as he had seen it when a little child. The next morning he dismissed the messengers, telling them that the god revealed his glory everywhere.
Now came a famine, and the whole country was desolate. But the god appeared to Sambandhar and Appa Murti, bidding them go to the temple – the one to the eastern altar, the other to the western each day – when they would find coins sufficient for the day. They did this, and established themselves in two separate monasteries in the east and west and fed daily all that came to them. At length the rains fell, the fields were covered with crops, and all living things again rejoiced! And now comes the famous episode of the gates of Vetharanyam.* [* A famous shrine six miles from Point Kalimere.] These temple gates had been closed so that none could open them, from the time that in the most ancient days the last verse of the Vedas had been sung there. None had ever succeeded in opening them. Appa Murti now sang a verse which had the effect of opening them, and afterwards Sambandhar sang another which shut them. So from that time forward there verses have always been sung for the opening and shutting of the principal gates of this temple.
We come now to something nearer to authentic history.
While the two Siva apostles remained in Vetharanyam, an embassy arrived from Madura.* [*This forms the theme of the 62nd and 63rd 'Sacred Sports,' where our Saint is not however mentioned by name.] There the Jains had obtained absolute away. The king known in history at first as Kun Pandiyan, or the Humpbacked, and afterwards as Suntharam (the beautiful, had become a convert to that system; and, as the legend says, 'like king, like people,' so the country was overrun with devotees, described as men with heads from which every hair had been plucked, whose mouths were defiled, who carried an eating vessel in a noose, who wore a bunch of peacock feathers in their hands, whose garment was a mat, whose bodies like their minds, were impure, who ate their food standing, and whose loins were ungirt. This is an enemy's picture of them, but probably not quite unfaithful. But the apostate King's wife was a daughter of the Sora king, who remained faithful to her ancestral religion. Her name was Mangaikkarasi, 'the Queen of Women.' She is canonized as a Siva saint. The prime minister of the kingdom also was a Saiva saint, whose name was 'The Bond of the Clan' (Kula-sirraiyar). These two secretly performed the rites of the Saiva faith and anxious for the reconversion of the kingdom, dispatched trustworthy messengers, unknown to the King, to invite Sambandhar to visit their city.
The youthful Saint received the envoys courteously, and at once determined to accompany them; but Appa Murti represented the danger of the expedition, and tried to dissuade his colleague from undertaking it. Sambandhar answered him by a poem which so impressed him that he declared his intention of accompanying the saint. 'No,' said Sambandhar, 'your province is in Sora land. Here remain, while I am called to a mission in the Pandian kingdom.' So Appa Murtti unwillingly remained behind, and the young apostle with the pompous paraphernalia of a Siva guru, chanting ever the mystic five syllables, set out on his progress – the greatest expedition of his life – to Madura. The heretics on all their eight hills were terrified by evil omens and frightful dreams, and came together to Madura to tell one another of the dread that overwhelmed them. At the approach of him whose name was afterwards to be renowned as destroyer of Jains, they warned the Kind and, prepared for the contest. The Queen and the prime minister on the other hand, were cheered with good omens and encouraging dreams, and foreseeing the destruction of the heretics and the revival of the true faith, were exceedingly glad. Hearing of the Saint's approach, the prime minister went forth to meet him, and conducted him to the great but now neglected shrine of Siva, where the Queen awaited his arrival. He entered with an amazing pomp of attending devotees, while the sacred shells resounded his praises, and proclaimed that the destroyer of heresies had arrived. By the care of the Queen he was accommodated with a fitting pavilion; and thence went forth to survey the city and all its edifices once so sacred, and at eventide returned in state to his pavilion.
The Jain devotees could endure it no longer, but presented themselves before the King with sad countenances. 'Why are you sad?' said he, 'Your majesty, this day into your royal city of Madura the Saiva Brahmans have come.' 'So have I heard,' replied he, 'but wherefore have they come?' 'Your majesty, a Brahman child from Sri Kari in the Sora land, reputed to have received divine wisdom, has arrived, borne aloft in a litter inlaid with pearls, with is attendant devotees, to conquer us in argument; and we are resolved by our magic incantations to burn him in his pavilion. He shall either flee or be consumed.' 'So do,' said the bewildered King, and, in great perturbation, sought his chamber. The Queen saw his distress, inquired its cause, and was told the whole affair. She replied: 'Lord of my life, be not angry; if both parties hold a disputation, we will listen, and join ourselves, as is fitting, to the conquering side.' The King assented, and his excitement was calmed. The Jain devotees were not idle. By their machinations the Saint's pavilion was set on fire. But can any evil charms prevail against those who devoutly chant the mystic 'five syllables?' The fire refused to burn. The Jains, confounded and in despair, now set fire to the building on all sides. Sambandhar, of course, was unharmed by the flames, which he quenched with sacred verses but thinking that the king was the author of the treachery, he prayed and sent a burning plague into the frame of the king, who was soon in extreme agony from a consuming fever. The Queen and prime minister hastened to him, the court physicians came and administered remedies, but the fever increased until the Kind lay at the point of death. The Jain devotees now gathered around, stroked the patient, with their peacock feathers, muttered charms, and exhausted all their arts; but the holy water they sprinkled fell upon the agonized patient as flames of fire, till he cried, 'All of you bygone,' and fell senseless. The prime minister, remembering that the Lord Siva had in the old time burnt the three towns of the guilty Asurar, and had therefore doubtless in like manner sent this fever to avenge his servant, caused the holy strangers to be sent for; and when the name of Sambandhar was pronounced in the King's ear, his faintness left him and thinking by a holy inspiration that the Saint alone could relieve his sufferings, he exclaimed, 'Call the sacred Gnana Sambandhar hither, I will become the adherent of him who shall heal my disease' The Queen was overjoyed, and with all her ladies, attended by the prime minister and nobles, repaired to the Saint's lodging, and implored him to come to their aid, telling him the whole story. Sambandhar came forth and saying, I must first know the will of the God,' repaired to the shrine of Chokkanathar,* [* Siva's name as worshipped in the Madura temple.] and singing a sacred lyric, received permission to go forth to silence and destroy the heretics and glorify the name of Siva. Then, ascending his litter with solemn pomp, the loud voices of the heralds sounding out, he proceeded towards the palace, while the Queen in her royal chariot came behind and the faithful prime minister led the way to the presence of the afflicted King. The Jains also came, and the king repeated his resolve that he would become the adherent of the party that healed him. It was now arranged that the Jains should take one side of the Kind, and Sambandhar the other, and exert their skill to quench the fire of the fever. It is recorded that at this juncture the Queen's faith for a moment failed her, and she exclaimed. 'The Saint is but a child, these Jains are an innumerable company; let us leave to God Himself the healing of the King! But the King persisted in the experiment, and the Saint replied: 'Great Queen, fear not because I am but a child; while the God of Madura's shrine lives, I shall not fall beneath the power of these heretics.' And he added a lyric addressed to her, which is both simple and touching.
The Buddhists took the left side; but the more diligently they manipulated, the more fiercely raged the fever, till the agonized King turned to the Saint, who sang his celebrated 'Ashes Song,' † [† A translation is given, but it merits are not very manifest.] and, with his sacred hand, stroked the King's right side, which at once became cool as the sacred waters of the temple. The Jains now stood aloof, leaving the King's left side still suffering, when the Saint, at the King's desire, sprinkled it also with the sacred ashes – and the King was entirely healed, rose up from his couch, and, with worshipping hands lifted above his head, prostrated himself, crying, 'In the presence of these Jains, saved by the grace of Thiru Gnana Sambandhar, I bow at his sacred feet.' But the Jain gurus required that he should overcome them in argument also, and it was resolved, at their request, that their respective systems should be tested by fire and by water. Each party threw into the fire a palm leaf scroll, inscribed with the assertion of the fundamental tenet of its faith. The Jain scroll was at once consumed to ashes; the Saiva scroll came forth – a fresh green leaf, with every letter clearer than before. They then repaired to the banks of the Vaigai, and threw their scrolls into the stream. The Jain scroll was carried away so swiftly towards the sea that they were unable to recover it, while the Saint's leaf swam up against the stream, cutting through the water, and when the King, at length convinced, reiterated the words inscribed on it – SIVAN IS SUPREME' – his hump disappeared, and he was afterwards known as Sundara Pandian (the beautiful Pandi). And now came the punishment of the Jains. They had contrived mischief against the Saint, had been the cause of the King's suffering, and now stood forth convicted impostors. They were sentenced to be impaled, and, through the zeal of the faithful prime minister, 8,000 of them suffered that terrible punishment. Some such slaughter on a very large scale doubtless took place, and the fact is still commemorated in Madura. The result of all this was, that the King and all his people returned to the Saiva faith; and the youthful Saint departed from the city amidst the acclamations of the multitude. Before he left Madura, his father arrived from Sri Kari, to witness and share his son's triumph. He now made a progress through the South, as far as Rameswaram. As he was returning, the floods had so risen on one occasion that it seemed impossible for him to cross, but he fearlessly embarked, with all his attendants, in the boat, which by the power of his word carried them safely across. Before he finally left the southern land, he received a promise from the King that he would ever uphold and maintain the Saiva faith. In one of his journeys he came to Tellicherry, and there encountered some Jains (or, it may be Buddhists), when his attendants, with shell and trumpet and loud acclamations, proclaimed that the lion like destroyer of heresy was at hand. The leader of the heretics, who was a renowned scholar, hearing this proclamation, was exceedingly wrath, and made his way into the presence of the Saint, exclaiming: 'You should first overcome us in argument, and then make a proclamation in this sort.' A great conflict arose, in the midst of which the legend says that, at the recitation of the mystic 'Five Syllables,' the head of the opposing champion fell from his body, and his adherents fled, after which the Saint sent for their other leaders and held a dispute with them, in the course of which they were convinced, acknowledged the falsity of their system, and became good devotees of Siva. The agent in this discussion is represented to have been one of the writers or transcribers of the Saint's verses. He now returned and was met on his way by his old friend and companion, Appa Murtti, who hearing of his approach, mingled with the throng, and humbly assisted in bearing the litter. When the procession neared the village, Sambandhar inquired where Appa Murtti was, upon which the latter Saint came forth, and fell at his feet. Instantly alighting from his litter, Sambandhar embraced him, and with great joy they entered the shrine together – the other telling how he had gone from village to village in the Tondai land. From thence the youthful Saint went home to Sri Kari, but did not remain there long. His next expedition was a tour throughout the Tondai land. There a devotee met him who complained that all the Palmyra trees he planted were sterile, and that the heretics around ridiculed him as a faithful worshipper of Siva; whereupon, Sambandhar sang a lyric, which had the effect of converting the Palmyra forest into a fruitful one. In this expedition he visited the neighborhood of Karaikal; but it is said that, fearing to plant his feet where the Lady of Karaikal had formerly walked on her head, he turned aside, and passed on to Kalastri – renowned in the history of Kannappa Nayanar – and worshipped before the shrine where that worthy is installed on the right hand of the Divinity whom he so honored and loved. The histories of those two have bene given (See Indian
Magazine and Review May 1895 and Jan 1896). They evidently belonged to a generation or two preceding this period. He then returned to Mylapore, now St. Thome, the traditional home of several great poets. There dwelt at that time a wealthy merchant called Siva-necar (Friend
of Siva) who had heard much of the Sage, and might and day was occupied in his praises. This wealthy person had but one child, a daughter of incomparable beauty, then just twelve years old, who had been given to him as the reward of much prayer and devotion. The father was so full of admiration for the Saint that he had often declared to his family that he himself, his daughter, and his illimitable wealth all belonged to the Saint, and that to give her in marriage to him was the great desire of his soul. Meanwhile, at the very time when the Saint was in Kalastri, a venomous serpent bit the poor girl as she was disporting herself in the flower garden near her chamber. Physicians in vain tried to cure her and the beautiful Pum-Pavai (Flower-maiden) died. The father at first inconsolable flung himself upon her corpse, but recollecting that by his vow she belonged to the sacred servant of the god, he took a strange idea into his head. He cremated her body, put the ashes into an earthen pot which he placed in her chamber, covered with her rich garments and jewels, and sprinkled with perfumes, and awaited there the expected visit of the Saint. His neighbors – friends and foes, Saivas and heretics – waited and wondered. When the Saint at length arrived at the neighboring shrine of Tiruvottiyur, the bereaved father repaired thither, fell at his feet, and told him the whole story. Sambandhar was deeply affected, and promised at once to visit his town. The father caused a covered way to be constructed between the two towns, strewing the entire way with garments and adorning the whole with choice flowers and jewels. The Saint worshipped at the shrine, and then, surrounded with his company of devotees, in his usual state, arrived at Mylapore, and bade the father bring the vessel containing the maiden's ashes to the door of the temple, which was a very renowned one. He then, regarding the urn, addressed the maiden as follows: 'If it be true, O Pum-Pavai, that they who have served Siva faithfully behold his presence in bliss, return thou now and make thyself visible to the children of earth.' He then sang one of his most beautiful lyrics, the burden of each verse of which is: 'Hast thou gone, O Pum-Pavai, so that thou seest the solemn feast of the God no more?' In the ten verses of which it consists, all the great festivals of the temple are cleverly interwoven. Like many other of these songs, if translated it would requires so much illustration to make it intelligible to English readers that I refrain from attempting it here. It is a touching elegy, but contains no intimation of any miraculous occurrence. It is now said, however, that on the recitation of the first verse the dust in the vessel gathered itself together; at the second it assumed the form of the maiden; during the next eight verses, it grew to the stature of a maiden of twelve years old, but still remained concealed in its enclosure. The Saint then added the closing the verse, when she thrust her hand forth, broke the vessel, and arose. There was the usual assemblage of gods and heavenly beings, with showering down of flowers, and strains of celestial music, while the faithful devotees of Sivan shouted aloud their joy, and Buddhists fled discomfited. The father took her by the hand, and, with her, bowed before Siva and before the Saint, and said to him: "I give thee in marriage her whom thou hast brought back to life.' Nay, said the Saint, 'that cannot be; since she has been restored to life by instrumentality she is my daughter, and can never be my wife.' The Father sadly acquiesced, and the maiden was reconducted to her virgin home, where the story says 'she gained the heaven of Siva,' but the time and manner of her death are not given.
He now returned for the last time to Chidambaram, where his father met him with a troop of Brahmans from Sri Kari with whom he returned thither. There was a great gathering there of Saiva Saints of all orders, to whom the father said, 'It is now the time prescribed in the law for the marriage of my son.' To which they assented, but the Saint steadfastly refused to be bound by any earthly bod. It was then represented to him that it was his duty to submit to the ordinances of his caste, at least as an example to others, and he gave way. A Brahman in the neighboring town of Nallur, had a daughter whom with delight he consented to unite in marriage to the Saint. The arrangements for the marriage were made at once, and at the appointed auspicious time he proceeded in triumphant state as a bridegroom to the temple in Nallur, which ever afterwards bore the name of Tiru-manam (The Sacred Wedding). It would be wearisome to recount the glories of the scene. A Saint called Tiru-nila-nakka-nayanar performed the ceremony, and the young bridegroom tied the tali, took his bride's hand, performed every prescribed ceremony, and entered with her into the innermost shrine where he sang his last song.
He then, before the image, addressed his assembled family and Saints in these words: 'Enter ye with me into this incomparable splendor, that the sorrows of mundane existence ye may know no more.' Obedient to his command they passed onwards – the Saints, the father, the relatives, with wives and kindered, all those who had borne his litter and swelled the pomp of his progresses, men of all the six Saiva sects, the Saivite of the Vedic rule, the Saivite of the perfect school, all of them – into the splendor of the infinite blessedness; and closing the procession, the Saint and his bride were lost to mortal sight. Those who had beheld the glorious ascension from afar returned to their homes sorrowing that they were left behind.
G. U. POPE, M. A., D. D.