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Meivazhi (Tamil: மெய்வழி) is a syncretic monotheistic religion based in Tamil Nadu, India. Its focus is spiritual enlightenment and the conquering of death, through the teachings and example of its founder and leader, Brahma Prakasa Salai Andavargal, believed to be the incarnation of God expected by all religious holy scriptures, and said to be over 120 years old. Meivazhi has its own holy scriptures that runs over 7 volumes and its own prayer system and spiritual festivals.
Although it draws strongly on Hindu religious practices, its founder was born to a Muslim family, and Mevaizhi preaches the "oneness of essence" message of all the previous major scriptures, particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity and allows membership regardless of creed.
Meivazhi maintains an ashram, Meivazhi Salai, in Pudukkottai district, Tamil Nadu. Its official liturgical language is Tamil. Male followers wear a turban, and the Meivazhi flag is an upward-pointing crescent.
Meivazhi was founded by Salai Aandavargal, who was born in a small village called Markampatty in Dindugal district in 1857. He was a disciple of Pattaiyar, who was also the teacher of Ramalinga Swamigal. Salai Aandavargal first started his Ashram in Madurai district in Tamil Nadu which was later taken over by the British Government (during World War II) when India was ruled by British. Later he founded his Ashram in Pudukkottai district.
Biography of Salai Aandavargal
The religion states that Aandavargal was born in 1857 at Margampatti, a village in Palani taluk, Madurai district in Tamil Nadu. He was then named Khader Badsha Rowther by his parents - his father being Jamal Hussain Rowther and mother Periya Thayi. He had his primary education in the village elementary school and followed the profession of his father as an agriculturist. Even as a youth he had a keen interest in spirituality, and disillusioned by false gurus he enountered he concluded that only through hata yoga could one achieve high spiritual realisation. His followers believe his realisation was so developed that he could raise his body a foot above the ground. After his marriage, he migrated to Kasukkaranpalayam and worked as a wholesale paddy merchant. He met his satguru Shri Thanigai Mani Vallal Piran who baptized him through Bramhopadesam, the spiritual rebirth, at Kasukkaranpalayam. Aandavargal followed his master around southern India, renouncing his profession.
The first meeting of Salai Andavargal and his guru is celebrated as a festival during pournami day of the pangunai month (April), known as “Piravaa Naat Prapputh Thirunaal” Thiruvizha.
When Aandavargal had finished his travels with his guru, he tended a flock of sheep at Reddiyapatti village for one year year. This is annually celebrated as a festival “Aaadumeyippu Thirukkola katchi” .
Thereafter he was directed to observe severe Thapas in the cave on the western side of Thirupparankunram hill (near Madurai) which he carried out for many years the wakefulness and near starvation diet on Prickly pear (Kathali). Thereby he acquired divine symbols (sannadams) in his sacred hand – such us Udukkai, Vel, Shanku, Sakkaram etc. as well as “Khill Namam - the ultimate divine symbol” which is now used by his followers as a their religions righteous symbol. His holiness acquiring the holy symbol is commemorated by celebrating the festival of “Kodaayudha Sannathath Thirukkappu Kangganath Thirunall“ in the month of Vaikasi(June) He was then christened “Maarganadhar” by his Guru. The savant then understood that his disciple Salai Andavargal is fully endowed with wit and power to commence his holy mission “Meivazhi”(True Path), and departed from him after persuading Salai Andavargal to proceed forward in his holy mission alone. Cladding himself in saffron robe, Andavargal first preached to sanyasis, but failed to turn them to true faith. Thereupon he understood that most of the sanyasis were impostors not because of their ignorance but deliberation to loot innocent people’s money for satisfying their lust and hunger. Andavargal then gave up the garb of sanyasi and took to preaching family people engaged in worldly occupations. Later at Thirupathur he married Panimathi Nachiyar as per his Guru’s wish.
Salai Aandavargal's activities
The first Meivazhi Ashram was founded at Rajagambiram, and the next at Thirupathur where the Saba was registered in 1933. From small beginnings, the number of followers gradually increased, year by year. In 1939 he built the Ponnaranga Devalayam at Madurai (Aruppukkottai Road) and the saba was shifted Madurai. In 1942 the then British Government acquired the place by paying Rs.1,37,750.00 as compensation. Consequently Andavargal moved to the present site at Pappancahivaval (Meivazhi Salai) in 1942, purchasing the land for about Rs.6,000.00 and clearing the jungle land for habitation. Here he married Elya Nachiyar, younger sister of Panimathi Nachiyar. The saba was re-registered in 1944 (in the then Pudukkottai State) where it has been functioning ever since.
Religious attributes of Salai Aandavargal
He endowed with all the Divine Symbols such as the Conch, the Chakra (the Wheel), the Vel, the Crescent - like kilnamam etc., on his holy palms [revealed to the realized ones, spiritually uplifted], in token of the Heavenly Titles conferred on Him by the Supreme God for carrying out His Great Mission. The distinctive signs, besides the Heavenly Tokens, that distinguish Him from the mushrooms of impostors, masquerading as master all over the world, and identify Him as the only True Master of the Age, are:- He has Conquered Slumber and Sleep. The Breath never Passes out of His Nostrils. He has Practically overcome the Need of Food. His mission, unparalleled in the history of spiritual hierarchy, consists, among many other spiritual values, in bringing home to man the Lost Truth that the very purpose of religion is to rescue him from the death-throes eradicating the falsehoods and half-truths about religions, baptizing with the spirit, thereby enlightening and expanding the dark and constricted heart and opening the vistas of soul, a series of eternal revelations warning against the impending disaster and destruction, the whole universe is facing. offering mankind a helping hand to escape the 'sting of death' and to win the 'victory of the grave', and resurrecting the dead which is evident even now from the fact that mere water taken at the word of His Command from His August Presence, passes through the gullet, as in live state, when administered to His true disciples, even many days after their final departure from the mortal coil to reach their rendezvous(heavenly destination), which is the Abode of Bliss.
Claims of incorruptibility
Followers of Meivazhi not only believe but also can show to the whole world that a person's attainment of Heaven or Hell can be ascertained by their body, by observing 10 signs:
1. NO bad stench of the body showing only pleasant aroma of the body. NO discharge of foul-smelling liquid.
2. No stiffening of the body, THUS showing signs of FLEXIBILITY of parts.
3. The body will be LIGHT in weight like a flower-basket.
4. The body SWEATS as the time passes.
5. The complete body exhibits WARMNESS.
6. The natural conditions of the THROAT PATH. Hence the body TAKES IN the HOLY WATER when given.
7. The knuckles giving out sound when cracked, all continuing in the LIVING STATE.
8. The DISAPPEARANCE of DEFORMITIES such as hunch-back, with which they may have been afflicted.
9. The PURE and PLEASANT state of the body reflecting YOUTHFULNESS and CHEERINESS BLOOMING on the FACE.
10. The body DOES NOT DECAY after death. Also the earth DOES NOT AFFECT the body. These great IMMORTAL PROOFS OF SALVATION at the time of death, are TRUE REALITIES of Meivazhi's achievements showing real majestic VICTORY OVER the FORCE OF DEATH at the CRUCIAL “Need of the hour".
Dress code for entering the Ashram
Meivazhi followers have a mandatory dress code for entering the ashram. Men who have received the upadhesam, the highest level of spiritual teaching (known as anandars), wear saffron shirts and traditional Hindu panchakacham trousers. Males who have not received it wear white turbans and clothes other than saffron, and in dark colors. Women who have received upadhesam wear sarees and cover their head with a saffron scarf, while other women cover their head with the end of the sarees.