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 Meivazhi Salai Andavargal, believed to be the final incarnation of God expected by all religious holy scriptures, and said to be over 120 years old.
Meivazhi has its own set of holy scriptures that runs up to four volumes, along with a unique prayer system and festivals. Although it draws strongly from Hinduism, its founder was born to a Muslim family. Mevaizhi preaches the message, "oneness of essence" of all the previous major scriptures like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, etc. and allows membership irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion. Moreover, the first step towards being a follower of Meivazhi, is to be a believer of God.
Meivazhi has an ashram in Pudukkottai district, Tamil Nadu called as the Meivazhi Salai. Its official liturgical language is Tamil. Its male followers wear a turban, and the followers who have received uphadesam directly from Salai Aandavargal, additionally have an upward-pointing crescent on their turban. The religion forbids smoking, alcohol, gambling, and theft, and practices vegetarianism.
Meivazhi Salai Aandavargal is the founder of The Meivazhi Salai.
Biography of Salai Aandavargal
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"Aadhi Maanmiyam", one of the scriptures of Meivazhi, narrates Salai Andavargal's early life and experiences.
According to the scripture, Aandavargal was born in 1857 at Markampatti, a village in Oddanchatram Taluk, Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu. He was 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. He met many false gurus and initially believed that hatha yoga was the only way to achieve the highest spiritual realization. But he realized later that people were pretending to be saints for the sake of earning money and their own selfish purposes.
He migrated to Kasukkaranpalayam, a village in Perundurai taluk, Erode district in Tamil Nadu after his marriage to Suleka Bivi and worked as a wholesale paddy merchant. He had a daughter named Aisuamma and he almost gave up on spirituality. But It was during this period, that he met his satguru Shri Thanigai Mani Piran (real name is not known and also known as Pattaiyar).
Shri Thanigai Mani Piran is believed to be the teacher of Ramalinga Swamigal. He baptized Salai Aandavargal through Bramhopadesam, the spiritual rebirth, at Kasukkaranpalayam. Salai Aandavargal followed his master all over south India, renouncing his profession, wife, children and everything to attain the highest spiritual realization.
The first meeting of Salai Andavargal and his guru is celebrated as a festival during pournami day of the Panguni month (April), known as “பிறவா நாள் பிறப்பு திருநாள் (Piṟavā nāḷ piṟappu tirunāḷ)" festival.
When Aandavargal finished his travels with his guru, he tended a flock of sheep at Reddiyapatti village in Dindigul district for a year as per the orders of his Guru. This is celebrated annually as the “ஆடுமேய்ப்பு திருக்கோலக் காட்சி (Āṭumēyppu tirukkōlak kāṭci)” festival .
Thereafter he was directed to observe severe Tapas in the cave on the western side of Thiruparankundram hill (near Madurai) which he carried out for many years the wakefulness and near starvation diet of Prickly pear. Thereby he acquired divine symbols (sannadams) in his sacred hand – such us Udukai, Trishula, Shankha, Sudarshana Chakra, Villu, Vaal, Gada (mace), Angusam, Paasam, Modhagam, Vel and finally the “Khill Namam" (meaning crescent moon). The Crescent moon is the ultimate divine symbol, which is now used by his followers as a their religion's 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).
When the savant understood that his disciple Salai Andavargal is fully endowed with wit and power to commence his holy mission “Meivazhi”(True Path), he christened him “Maarganadhar” and departed from him after persuading Salai Andavargal to proceed forward alone in his holy mission.
Cladding himself in saffron robe, Andavargal first preached to sanyasis and Saints, but 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. Finally, Andavargal gave up the garb of sanyasi and took to preaching family people engaged in worldly occupations. Later at Tiruppattur in Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu he married Panimathi Nachiyar as per his Guru’s wish.
Religious attributes of Salai Aandavargal
It is said that 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:
- that he has conquered slumber and sleep.
- that his Breath never passes out of His nostrils.
- that he has practically overcome the need of food.
- His mission, unparalleled in the history of spiritual hierarchy, consists of 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 among many other spiritual values.
- 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 even many days after their final departure from the mortal coil to reach their rendezvous (heavenly destination), which is the Abode of Bliss.
According to Meivazhi, the true goal of a Human being is to find and reach back to God. Human beings were originally created in Heaven and were banished to Earth as punishment. After spending a generation on Earth, the Human soul will eventually reach either Heaven or Hell. Those who have successfully repented and reached back to God will reach Heaven. Those who have failed will reach Hell. A sign that a Man has reached heaven is that the person's physical self will become incorruptible. The soul will rest within oneself during death and hence, the person shows signs of incorruptibility.
Most people search for God in lots of places. They search everywhere in the skies, oceans, rocks and everywhere, but they fail to look within themselves. God lies within oneself. When a Man dies without fulfilling this most basic purpose of finding God within his lifetime, his soul leaves his physical self in search of God everywhere else but himself and the body decomposes. The soul will be eventually either enslaved by Yama or if lucky, they will be reborn again on earth.
This process will continue till the end of the world.
Claims of incorruptibility
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". Followers of Meivazhi believe that a person's attainment of Heaven or Hell can be ascertained by their body, by observing 10 signs after death:
- No bad stench of the body showing only pleasant aroma of the body. No discharge of foul-smelling liquid.
- No stiffening of the body, Thus showing signs of Flexibility of parts.
- The body will be light in weight like a flower-basket.
- The body sweats as the time passes.
- The complete body exhibits warmness.
- The natural conditions of the throat path. Hence the body takes in the Holy Water when given.
- The knuckles giving out sound when cracked, all continuing in the living state.
- The Disappearance of deformities such as hunch-back, with which they may have been afflicted.
- The Pure and pleasant state of the body reflecting youthfulness and cheeriness blooming on the face.
- The body does not decay after death and also, the earth does not affect the body.
Meivazhi has its own Holy scriptures running up to four volumes in Tamil language.
- ஆதி மெய் உதய பூரண வேதாந்தம் - /Āti mey utaya pūraṇa vētāntam/
- ஆண்டவர்கள் மான்மியம் - /Āṇṭavarkaḷ māṉmiyam/
- எமன் படர் அடிபடு கொடாயூதக் கூர் - /Emaṉ paṭar aṭipaṭu koṭāyūtak kūr/
- எமன் படர் அடிபடு திரு மெய்ஞ்ஞானக் கொரல் - /Emaṉ paṭar aṭipaṭu tiru meyññāṉak koral/
The first Meivazhi Ashram was founded at Rajagambeeram village in Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu. The second one was started at Tirupathur, a panchayat town in Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu, where the Sabha was initially registered on 19 June 1933. From small beginnings, the number of followers gradually increased, year by year. By 1939, the sabha was shifted to Madurai (Aruppukottai Road). But in 1942, during the Second World War, the British Government acquired the entire place in Madurai and paid a compensation of Rs.1,37,750.00 to Meivazhi Sabha. Consequently, the sabha had to be shifted to a different place. In the same year, the sabha was shifted to a land at Pappancahivayal, Pudukkottai district, Tamil Nadu where Aandavargal purchased a jungle land for about Rs.6,000.00 and cleared it for habitation. The sabha was re-registered on 10 June 1944 in the, then Pudukkottai State, where it has been functioning ever since. This place is the present Meivazhi Salai. The Control of the Sabha was under Meivazhi Salai Aandavargal till 1976, after which he entered a very deep meditative state. The place where he started meditating has become a shrine for the followers of Meivazhi and is called as the "Poṉṉaraṅka tēvālayam" (Tamil: பொன்னரங்க தேவாலயம், meaning Golden Temple). All the Prayers, Rituals and Festivals are held around this Shrine.
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.
Daily rituals at the Ponnaranga Devalayam takes place all over the day.
1. Morning prayer at 4:00 AM and Vanakkam at 4:30 AM;
2. Maha Sangarpa Manthiram at 7:00 AM;
3. Aravala Vanakkam at 12:00 PM;
4. Evening Vanakkam at 6:00 PM;
5. Night Vanakkam at 9:00 PM, 12:00 AM, 1:30 AM, 3:00 AM;
6. Para Vanakkam at 10.00 PM to 12.00 AM, 12.00 AM to 2.00 AM and 2.00 AM to 4.00 AM;
1. Piravanal Pirappu Thirunal (in the month of Panguni)- The day of Spirutual rebirth of Andavargal
2. Vaikaasi Thiruvizha - Tri-festivals
- Aadu meippu Thiruvizha (remembering Andavargal as a good Shepherd)
- Pasubatha Kangana Thiruvizha (acquiring Sannadam and Spiritual powers through continuous Penance)
- Puthadai Punaiseer Thiruvizha (Reciting Pava mannippu, start of Spiritual life through family life)
3. Pichai Andavar Thirukkola Thiruvizha (in the month of Purattaasi)- Bestower of Alms
5. Kolari Salayar Pongal Festival in the month of Thai (Through holy water, disciples prepare sweet pongal around Ponnaranga Devalayam) and Mattu pongal (Cows and Bulls are decorated and fed with sweet pongal. Also there will be Kolattam by young people and Kummy by Adult disciples around Flag post, singing Ponnaranga Kommi song)
6. Karthigai Deepam (Festival of lights in the month of Karthikai)
7. Flag Hoisting: In addition to Pooran kodi, a special flag having 92 bells will be hoisted at Panguni and Vaikaasi festivals. And White flag, having the symbol of Killnaamam is hoisted twice a month, on the full moon day and on the third day of New Moon.
- Kayleigh Robinson "Becoming One with the Divine: Meivazhi Salai Shows the Way", Madurai Messenger, April 2014.
- Meivazhi Sabha releases book, The Hindu April 2, 2012.
- அருணகிரி "தமிழ்நாட்டுக்கு உள்ளே ஒரு தனி நாடு", கீற்று, Nov 2011.
- "மெய்வழி மதம்: பல்வேறு மதங்கள், சாதிகளின் சங்கமம்!". www.vikatan.com (in Tamil). Retrieved 2017-01-29.
- Meivazhi Salai, Village