Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi tells the story of How The Tiruvachakam Was Written  (Read 2844 times)


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MANIKKAVACHAKKAR WAS GOING from one place to another until he came to Chidambaram. While witnessing Nataraja’s dance he started singing heart-melting songs and stayed in that place itself. Then one day Nataraja, with a view to make people know the greatness of Manikkavachakar and to bless the people with an excellent collection of hymns, went to the house of Manikkavachakar in the night, in the guise of a brahmin. He was received cordially and when asked the purpose of the visit, the Lord smilingly and with great familiarity asked,“It seems you have been singing hymns during your visit to sacred places of pilgrimage and that you are doing it here also. May I hear them? I have been thinking of coming and listening to you for a very long time but could not find the required leisure. That is why I have come here at night. I suppose you don’t mind. Can you sing? Do you remember them all?” “There is no need to worry about sleep. I shall sing all the songs I remember. Please listen.” So saying Manikkavachakar began singing in ecstasy. The Lord in the guise of a brahmin sat down there writing the songs on palm leaves. As Manikkavachakar was in ecstasy he hardly noticed the brahmin who was taking down the songs. Singing on and on, he completely forgot himself in the thought of God and ultimately became silent. The old brahmin quietly disappeared.

At daybreak, the dikshitar (priest) came to the Nataraja temple as usual to perform the morning puja and as he opened the doors he found in front of the Nataraja image, on the doorstep, a palm-leaf book. When the book was opened, and scrutinised the words Tiruvachakam were written as well as an explanation that the book was written, as dictated by Manikkavachakar. It was signed below Tiruchitrambalam, i.e. Chidambaram. The stamp of Sri Nataraja was also there below the signature. Thereupon, all the temple priests gathered in great surprise and sent word to Manikkavachakar, showed him the Tiruvachakam, and the signature of Nataraja and asked him to tell them about the genesis of the hymns.Manikkavachakar did not say anything but asked them to accompany him, went to the temple of Nataraja and standing opposite the Lord said, “Sirs, the Lord in front of us is the only answer to your question. He is the answer.” After having said that, he merged into the Lord.

As he narrated the story, Bhagavan’s voice got choked.Unable to speak any more he remained in ecstatic silence.



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Dear prasanth,

It is a heart melting story.  Bhagavan Ramana who is soaked in
bhakti and blossomed into a mango fruit of Jnana cried while telling
this story.  Saint Manikkavachagar wrote his poems [of Tiruvachakam]  only in about 5 or 6 places.  He did not visit many
temples like Saint Tiru Jnana Sambandhar and Saint Tirunavukkarasar.  His works were only two: 658 poems of Tiruvachakam and 400 poems of Tiru Kovaiyar.  In Tiruvachakam,
about 10 or so poems are missing.  He visited only Tiruperundurai,
Uttarakosa Mangai, Sirkazhi, Tiruvannamalai, Tiru Kazhu Kunram,
and Chidambaram (Thillai). Many songs were composed only in
Tiruperundurai and Thillai.  Nataraja came as a brahmin in disguise
and asked him to re-tell the songs and then wrote them, during the poet's last days.  The palmyra leaves contain the following legend
at the end:

Manikkavachagar solla Azhagia Tiru Chitrambalam udaiyan ezhutiathu.  "As Manikkavachagar said, the handsome owner
of Tiruchitrambalam, Hall of Consciousness, wrote!

The king later asked Manikkavachagar and with Chidambaram
dikshitars [priests] received him into the Temple with Poorna
Kumbha and other respectful homages.  Then the King politely
asked the saint to tell the meaning of these songs. The saint
gave a small smile and pointed out Nataraja and said:  The meaning of this is He!  He disappeared as a huge flame into
Nataraja.  The crowd was aghast.

The king then arranged to write these poems on golden plates
and kept them underneath the three steps [through which one enters the temple even today].  These steps are called Tiru KaLitru Padiyar.  The Holy Steps.

Saint Manikkavachagar's poems are grouped as Book 8 under 12
Siva Canons.  Surprisingly, the saint is not one among the 63 Saints told in Periya Puranam.  It is a historical mystery.  Either he might have lived several centuries earlier [say 3 C.A.D] about 400 years
before Jnana Sambandhar or much later than Periya Puranam date i.e 10th C. A.D.  Swami Marai Malai Adigalar supports the first theory in his book The Age of Manikkavachagar.

Arunachala Siva.