Author Topic: the 64 Divine Acts of Somasundara Peruman (Lord Shiva) of Madurai  (Read 10634 times)


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the 64 Divine Acts of Somasundara Peruman (Lord Shiva) of Madurai
« on: September 29, 2011, 12:37:34 PM »
The epic work of Thiruvilayadal Puranam was written in mind pleasing Tamil by Paranjyothi Munivar. Beautiful in its verses, song structure as well as extremely appreciable in its composition, Thiruvilayadal Puranam is considered to be a great work of art in Tamil.

Paranjyothyaar was an extremely versatile and well learned Shivacharyar. Born to a staunch Shaiva, Meenakshi Sundara Desikar, in the Shiva Sthala of Vedaranyam in the 16th century, Paranjyothiyaar was a blessed child right from the time of birth. It is believed that he lived on for 350 years singing the praises of the lord.

Within a few short years following his birth, Paranjyotiyaar had mastered the art of singing and used to sing both Tamil and Sanskrit songs with explicit clarity. With his age also grew his devotion towards the serpent-clad lord.

His father acted as his Guru and taught him the Shivagamas, Thevaram, Thiruvasagam as also Bharatham, Law, Palmistry etc. Paranjyothi was an equally bright student and grasped everything at the go. In his leisure time, he used to experience immense bliss through japa, thapa, dhyana and yoga. Soon he finished his education and totally immersed himself in the service of lord Shiva.

Wanting to visit as many Shivasthalas as he could, Paranjyothi started on a theertha yatra to all the temples. He went from place to place, worshipping Shiva and Ambal, praising them with his flawless Tamil verses. And so he proceeded, with his followers until he entered the holy city of Thiru Aalavay. There he went into hysterics of bliss on having darshan of Somasundara Perumal and Angayarkanni. He sang a number of songs on them and worshipped them with tear-filled eyes. Such was his devotion.

Having no desire to leave the city of Madurai, he stayed on, worshipping Sundareshwaran and Meenakshi with whole hearted devotion. He lost himself before the emerald idol of Meenakshi and used to sit there for hours together. It was during one such long period of self experienced bliss did Shiva himself come to Paranjyothiyar as a Shiva Yogi. Paranjyothiyaar welcomed him with respect as any other Shiva devotee and offered him a seat. The Shiva Yogi blessed Paranjyothi, gave him Deeksha, Gnyanopadesam and went his way.

With the blessings of Shiva himself, the glory of Paranjyothi spread far and wide. People flocked to hear him speak and loved to hear him sing. Highly impressed by his knowledge, the pundits of Madurai asked him to translate the Sanskrit work Aalasiya Maanmiyam into Tamil. Aalasiyamaanmiyam is a work based on the Shankara Sangithai part of the Skandha Purana. It talks in detail about the greatness of Madurai, its glorious history and sacred legends. Paranjyothiyar gladly accepted the proposal, promising to give them his very best. He started reading the Sanskrit work day and night, with a never diminishing zeal.

One night, when Paranjyothi was in deep sleep, Meenakshi herself appeared in his dream and gave darshan to Paranjyothi.

Paranjyothi, she said, her face illuminated by her bright smile, Sing the Sixty Four divine acts of our lord, Somasundara Peruman, in pure and sweet Tamil. It is my very desire to see this work come to fruition. I give you my complete blessings.

Paranjyothi immediately woke up from his dream, sweating vigorously. He was ecstatic about the words of Meenakshi. He was not able to sleep anymore that night. When it dawned, he hurried to the temple and sang praises of the Lord and Goddess to his heart’s content and thanked them for the trust that they had placed on him.

On an auspicious day, he worshipped the palm leaves and his pen. Then invoking the blessings of Somasundarar he began his work on the epic with an opening verse praising Ganesha, requesting him to provide his complete blessings for the successful completion of the work.

Thus did Thiruvilayadal Puranam come into existence. Just as Periyapuranam sings the glory of the 63 Nayanmars, so does Thiruvilayadal Puranam praise the 64 divine acts that were staged by Somasundara Peruman in the prosperous city of Madurai.

The epic of Thiruvilayadal Puranam is divided into three parts- Madurai Kaandam, Koodar Kaandam and Thiruaalavaay Kaandam. Before the start of Madurai Kaandam, there are 343 verses in beautiful Tamil which describe in detail the glory of the Pandya Empire, the sheen attraction of the city of Madurai, the greatness of Kailasha, the sanctity of the Sthala (When Brahma put all the holy places on earth, including Kailasha, on one pan of a weighing scale and Madurai alone on the other pan, the plate containing Madurai was always found to be a bit heavier), the purity of the Pottramarai Kulam, the golden lotus tank, (to view it is Dharma, to touch it bestows wealth and to bathe in it grants liberation) and ofcourse the grace of the presiding deity. The 344th stanza which serves as the starting of the main epic is considered to be the crowning glory of the whole work.

The Arangetram (first reading) of the Thiruvilayadal Puranam was done amidst much fanfare by the townsfolk. The whole city wore a festive look with beautiful garlands and colourful Kolams. Every person wore his best to go to the temple where the Arangetram was taking place. Paranjyothiyaar performed the first reading of the epic in the famous Thousand Pillared Hall to a packed audience including the Sanga Pulavars (The great Tamil Pundits of yore). Paranjyothi was greatly praised for his Magnum Opus, but he deferred them all to the boundless grace of Meenakshi and Aalavayappan. He was honored by the king and the people alike for giving them this great work of literature.

After completing the epic, not having the heart to leave Thiru Aalavaay, he continued to live at Madurai, singing the glories of the deities, setting up institutions and madas to continue his services to the lord and after having lived to a ripe old age, he left the material world and merged into the cosmic bliss that is Shiva. However, he continues to live in the form of his works, delighting the devotees to no end.


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Re: the 64 Divine Acts of Somasundara Peruman (Lord Shiva) of Madurai
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2011, 12:52:57 PM »

Dear Krishnan,

All the stories of TiruviLaiyadal Puranam, takes place only in Madurai.  It is out and out Somasundara's story.  There are at least 4 stories in regard to Siva's sports with Saint Manikkavavchagar. Saint Manikkavachagar describes them briefly in his Tiruvachakam. I got the original verse version of TiruviLaiyadal Puranam by Paramjothi Munivar, from Sri Ramanasramam!
It is not a publication of Sri Ramanasramam, but they were selling a few copies from Kasi
Matham, TirupanandaL.

It contains the famous invocatory verse on Sri Dakshinamurti, where he sits under the banyan
tree and shows the true I am ness in silence, with his chinmudra.

Arunachala Siva.