Arunagirinathar Statue at Venjamakoodalur Temple, near Karur.
|Born||15th Century A.D.
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The Thiruppugazh composed by him, consisted of 16,000 songs, of which only about 1,365 has been traced.This is because he threw many of it into the sea. His poems are known for their lyricism coupled with complex rhymes and rhythmic structures. In Thiruppugazh, the literature and devotion has been blended harmoniously.
Thiruppugazh is one of the major works of medieval Tamil literature, known for its poetical and musical qualities, as well as for its religious, moral and philosophical content.
Arunagiri was born in Thiruvannamalai, a town in Tamil Nadu. His father died soon after his birth and his mother and sister instilled him with their cultural and religious traditions. Legends claim that Arunagiri was attracted to the pleasures of the flesh and spent his youth in pursuing a life of debauchery. His sister always gave whatever she earned to make her brother happy, and he frequented devadasis. It was said since he was enjoying life luxuriously he started to suffer leprosy and which people started avoiding him. There came a time when his sister had no money to meet his demands. She said that he should sell her in order to have money, upon hearing which Arunagirinathar realised how selfish he had been. He decided to end his life, went to a temple and hit his head against the pillars and steps, begging for forgiveness. Then he leapt from the temple tower. He was however miraculously saved from the death by the god Muruga who transformed him into a saint.
Arunagiri sang his first devotional song and thereafter decided to spend the rest of his life writing poetry and singing in praise of God. He was a devotee of Muruga and worshipped him at Vedapureeswarar temple at the sacred place known as Cheyyar.
His fame drew the jealousy of the chief minister of the Kingdom. He accused Arunagirinathar of espousing false beliefs. The king arranged a public gathering of thousands and commanded Arunagiri to prove the existence of Muruga to others. In the Tamil Hindu tradition, it is recorded that Arunagiri began performing his devotional songs for Muruga and soon after, the form of child Muruga appeared before those gathered, saving his life.
Arunagiri, rendered his first song Muthai Tharu after the miraculous escape at Thiruvannamalai. Arunagiri visited temples all over South India and composed 16000 songs - about 2000 alone remained in this earth. The songs show the way to the life of virtue and righteousness and set the tone for a new form of worship, the musical worship.
The other works of Arunagirinathar include Tiruppukal, Thiruvaguppu, Kandar Alankaram, Kandar Anubhuti, Kandar Andhadi, Vel Viruttam, Mayil Viruttam, Seval Viruttam and Tiru Elukūtrirukkai. For Muruga devotees Thiruppugazh is equivalent to Thevaram, Kandar Alankaram is equivalent to Thiruvasagam and Kandar Anubhuti is equivalent to Tirumantiram. In the Kandar Anubhuti it is revealed Arunagirinathar was an exponent of Shaktism, who believed that Devi had incarnated in the Poorna Nakshatra for the benefit of mankind, in many places, extolling the sanctity of these places, had a green complexion, and was the personification of the Vedas. In Tiruppukal, he describes the divine vehicles of Devi. He has shown familiarity with rituals pertaining to Vamachara, though one who worships the Devi internally may not worship her externally. It was seen that the title nātha was normally conferred on one, when he becomes an adept in the worship of Devi..
The Thiruppugazh songs remained in manuscript form for a number of years and was ignored and forgotten. V.T. Subramania Pillai and his son V.S. Chengalvaraya Pillai of Tiruthani understood their value, retrieved and published them.
In 1871 Subramania Pillai, a District Munsif, had the opportunity to hear a rendering of a Tiruppugazh song while he was on a tour of Chidambaram. Captivated by the song, he decided to set out on a mission to search for the entire body of Tiruppugazh songs. He toured all over south India, collected manuscripts, including palm leaves, assembled the texts and published them in two volumes, the first in 1894 and the second in 1901. After his demise, his son Chengalvaraya Pillai brought out a new edition of the songs.
He also went to so many shrines such as Shiva temple and Muruga temples amongst Melakadambur is one of them he wrote a song about this shrine's lord Muruga "kaviri seerumon seeraru soozh kadambooril"-means Muruga is blessing us from the place where the tributary of the river Cauvery is the vadavaru the kadambur lies in the banks of the vadavaru