|Occupation||Poet and Saivite ascetic|
|Period||c. 17th century|
|Notable works||Sakalakalavalli Maalai, Muththukkumaraswami Pillai Tamil, Tiruvarur Nanmani Malai|
|Relatives||Shanmukha Sikhamani Kavirayar and Sivakama-Sundari Ammaiyar|
Kumaraguruparar was born to Shanmukha Sikhamani Kavirayar and Sivakama-Sundari Ammaiyar in Srivaikuntam, Thoothukudi district. Until age five, he was dumb. When they visited Tiruchendur temple, he was blessed with speech. He sang Kandar kalivenba in praise on Murugan. A few years later, he wrote Pillaitamizh in praise of Madurai Meenakshi temple. Soon afterwards, he enrolled at the mutt at Dharmapuram where he began to study Saiva Siddhanta.
kumaraguruparar was born in srIvaikuNTam in thirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. His parents - shaNmuka sikAmaNik kavirAyar, shivakAma sundhari ammaiyAr - did not have child for long. They worshipped their beloved deity Lord murugan of thiruchchendhUr. By the grace Lord muruga, they gave birth to kumaraguruparar. Though they got the son, as a result of their devotion and prayers, the child did not speak until five years. The worried parents again took their pleading to the presence of the Lord of thiruchchendhUr. Astonishingly, the child began to not just speak, but started the speech by singing a composition at that young five years of age on Lord murgan, called kandhar kaliveNpA. The austerities of all the previous births made him into a prodigy !
kumaraguruparar Some time later kumara guruparar left his house in search of a guru who can kindle his spirit in the pursuit of God. In thiruchchendhUr he heard a divine voice that his guru would be the one in whose presence he is unable to speak well. In his way to find a guru, kumaraguruparar came to madhurai, where the renowned thirumalai nAyakkar was ruling. thirumalai nAyakkar honoured kumara guruparar in madhurai. He composed mInAkshi amman piLLaith thamiz and sang the childhood of Goddess mInAkshi one stage a day. One day when he sang varukaip paruvam Goddess mInAkshi Herself came as a young girl and bestowed Her grace by presenting a pearl garland to him. kumaraguruparar sang madhuraik kalambakam, mInAkshi ammai kuRam hailing the God and Goddess at madhurai. On the request of nAyakkar, he also composed a song-book of ethics by name nIthi neRi viLakkam. He was celebrated at madhurai.
He went ahead to thiruvArUr, where he sang thiruvArUr nAnmaNi mAlai rejoicing the grace of Lord thyAgarAjar of that abode.
Meeting the guru
From thiruvArUr kumaraguruparar moved to dharumapuram, reaching where his mind was signaling about a great thing that was going to happen soon. This town hosts the renowned mutt of the shaiva siddhantha tradition called thirukkayilAya paramparai dharumapura AdhInam. The saint who was decorating the presidency of the mutt was mAsilAmaNi dhEsikar. Arriving at the mutt, kumara guruparar paid his obeisance to the saint. dhEsikar asked kumaraguruparar to explain the significance of the song from periya purANam - ain^thu pEraRivum kaNkaLE koLLA. This is the song that describes the state of cundhara mUrthi nAyanAr, as he saw the dance of Lord shiva at thillai. Who can tell the state of that great saint cundharar as he saw to his ecstasy the Blissful dance of his beloved Lord ! cEkkizAr has so beautifully described the union cundharar achieved with the God at that sight. Unless by utter stupidity one tries to talk about that glory beyond any words, how can it be explained at all ?!
kumara guruparar stood stunned. His words stammered. He realized that he is in front of the guru whom he has been searching for so long. He fell down at the feet of dEsikar and pleaded him to initiate him in the renounced life. dEsikar was not just a spiritually oriented person. He also had enough care about the society. When spiritually getting elevated, shouldn't one become full of love for all the lives around ? dEsikar has realized the state in which Hinduism is getting crushed under the moghul empire with its barbaric intolerance towards Hinduism. He realized the need for the spiritually high, well skilled and devoted caliberlike kumaraguruparar to strengthen the shaivite wisdom in the troubled lands. So he agreed to be the guru of kumaraguruparar on the condition that he goes on pilgrimage to kAshi and returns, subsequently he would initiate kumaraguruparar into sanyAsa.
Initiation of kumaraguruparar
kumara guruparar pleaded to dEsikar that it would take long time for him to complete the pilgrimage to kAshi (given the lack of facilities at that point of time). So dEsikar waved off kAshi for the time being and asked him instead to stay at thillai for period of one maNDalam (45 days). Happily kumaraguruparar agreed to that and proceeded to thillaich chiRRAmbalam. On the way divinity called him to vaiththIshvaran kOyil (puLLirukku vELUr). There he sang muththukkumAraswami piLLaith thamiz.
kumaraguruparar enjoyed the stay at thillai worshipping the Dancing Lord. He composed on the God and Goddess chidhambara mummaNik kOvai, chidhambarach cheyyuT kOvai, shivakAmi ammai iraTTai maNi mAlai. On his return dEsikar initiated him to the renounced life with the saffron robe. Having given the initiation, dEsikar stressed him the importance of revitalizing shaivism in the northern part of the country where it was suffering from the oppression by the Muslim rulers. Now kumara guruparar agreed to go to vAraNAsi.
The saint on lion
It was about the year 1658 ACE. dArA shUkO was the ruler of the vAraNAsi province of the moghul empire. aurangazeb the most intolerant of the moghul lineage was ruling at inpdraprastham (delhi). dArA was an exceptional one in the moghuls. He was tolerant enough to seek what the other religions have to say and encouraged discussions among the religions. He dealt with respect the scholars of Hindu religion (to be killed by his own brother aurangazeb !!). He is said to have translated some of the upaniShats into Persian language. For a long time before the successive Muslim invaders and ruined the holy city of kAshi and demolished the abode of Lord vishvanAth. At this point of time there was a critical urge to keep alive the spirituality of the suppressed Hindus.
On reaching at kAshi, kumaragurupara sung sakala kalAvalli mAlai in praise of sarasvathi, praying her to bestow the skill of words. The blessings of vANi came as the boon when he had to convince the opponents about the glory of the Shaivism. He got to know Hindustani language by vANi's grace. kumarguruparar wanted to meet with the bAdusha, in order to establish a mutt in kAshi. Though dArA was fair with other religions, kumarguruparar had to cross many obstacles to meet dArA. The blessed saint, who had the valiance of the spirituality, rode over a lion and went majestically into the court of dArA with all obstacle creators frightened. dArA realized the spiritual power of saint kumaraguruparar.He showed his respect to the saint. dArA had organized an inter-religious conference. He requested the saint to address the same. kumaraguruparar accepted the invitation and he spoke fluently in Hindustani language explaining the greatness of the philosophy of shaiva siddhanta. The audience were thrilled to know the glory of Shaivism. dArA bowed down to the saint and venerated him.
Establishing Kasi Mutt and Services
dArA asked him what he could do for him. What materials would the saint want, for whom only God matters. He asked the king to provide him with the land in kAshi where he can build a mutt and serve Shaivism. The king gave the option of the place to the saint himself. The saint wanted to renovate the kEdhArIshvara swamy temple at the kEdhAr ghat. He said there would be a kite that would fly above the spot, whatever be the area that it circuits in the sky, that should be given to him to build mutt. The kite (garuDan) appeared in the sky and marked the area that included the kEdhArIshvarar temple and the land for building a mutt. dArA happily gave that land.
kumaraguruparar renovated the abode of kEdhArEshvar which was earlier ruined due to the religious intolerants. In the kumAraswamy Mutt he built, he guided the people in the glory of Shaivite philosophy. His inspiring teachings paved way for the restoration of the highly adored Lord vishvanAth and Lord pANDuranga temples subsequently. The devotees offered lots of valuables to the saint. He took them to his guru at dharumapuram. But dEsikar denied to accept them and directed him to spend those for the spiritual development of the people of kAshi. As per that kumaraguruparar spent the materials in spreading the message of Shaivism. He visited dharumapuram four times to pay respect to his guru. It is said that kumaraguruaparar also gave discourses on kamba rAmAyaNam and among those who got inspired by that were the famous Hindi poet tulasi dAs, who wrote rAm charita mAnas. kumaraguruapar stayed in kAshi for thirty years from 1658 to 1688 spreading the glory of Shaivism giving the vital support to the Hinduism that needed support during those troubled periods. He attained samAdhi at kAshi on the third day after fullmoon day in May 1688. His vital services for the sustenance of the Hinduism will be remembered along with his beautiful compositions by the generations of devotees.
Adoption of an ascetic lifestyle
On entering the Dharmapuram mutt, he made a detailed study of the system of Saiva Siddhanta and worked on improving his knowledge of Tamil. Convinced of his deep learning and sincerity towards leading an ascetic lifestyle, the heads of the mutt conferred upon him the title of "Tambiran".
On 27-June-2010, a commemorative postage stamp on him was released by the Indian Postal department.
His contributions are
- Sakalakalavalli Maalai – In praise of Saraswati
- Muththukkumaraswami Pillai Tamil – In praise of Murugan
- Tiruvarur Nanmani Malai
- Madurai Kalambakam and
- Meenakshi Pillai Tamil – In praise of Meenakshi
- Sivakami Ammai Irattai Mani Malai
- Chidhambara Cheyyul Kovai
In all, Kumaraguruparar has composed 14 poems, the best of which, the Nidineri-vilakkam has been translated into English.
- Chitty, Simon Casie (1859). The Tamil Plutarch, containing a summary account of the lives of poets and poetesses of Southern India and Ceylon. Jaffna: Ripley & Strong. p. 46.