Saint Sampanthar’s hymns on Koneswaram

thiruganasambandar

By V.Varathasuntharam

Thirugnana Sampanthar, Thirunavukarasar, Sutharamurthy,and Manicavasakar are four great crusaders of Saivaism, who composed religious hymnology  that  came to be known as Thirumurai.

These great saints of the South India set out on foot on their pilgrimage to the Hindu temples and sang hymns in praise of Lord Siva as aresult of which there are special shrines, where the statues of these saints are installed in a standing pose in most of the temples. The reason for the statues of all these saints being in a standing posture is presumably because of their pilgrimage to the holy places on foot.

Of these four great saints, Sampanthar enjoys significance for he was the first to sing the glory of Lord Siva and the first to have attained godhood. His hymns comprise the first three parts of Saivaite hymnology known as Thirumurai. The Saivaite epic, Periya Puranam writtenin verse by Shekkilar denotes 1256 stanzas and a volumionous  section to narrate the glory of Saint Sampanthar in fact there is abelief that Saint Sampanthar was an avatar of Lord Murugan.

Sampanthar commenced singing the glory of Lord Siva at a very tender age of three for he had been gifted with divine powers at birth and the first line o f the first stanza that he blossomed forth was ‘Thoduudaya  Seviyan’, (தோடுடைய செவியன்) in  reference to Lord Siva. 

His odyssey from Thirukalathy to Rameswaram for dharshan of Siva shrines resulted in his composing 4181 stanzas on 110 sacred shrines of worship.

Although Sampanthar ‘s deep seated longing was for the dharshan of Lord Siva and alighting on His Lotus Feet, he had been a great lover of Tamil language, so much so that he called himself “Thamil Ganasampanthar’.

Saint Sampanthar was the crusader of the Bakthi movement that paved the way for renaissance of Saivaism in South India in the seventh century to preserve the entity of Saiva Siththantha Philosophy.

Having reached Rameswaram and standing on the shores,  Sampanthar sang the glory of two Hindu shrines across the seas in the island of Sri Lanka, namely Thirukoneswaram and Thiruketheeswaram.

Poet Shekilar in his narration in verse reveals that Saint Sampanthar ‘s initial inclination was to sing the glory of Koneswaram.

In his stanzas on Koneswaram, Sampanthar portrays Koneswaram as a densely populated land, economically viable and presided overby Lord Konesar.  The relevant line is “குடிதனை நெருக்கிப் பெருக்கமாய்த் திகழ்ந்த கோணமாமலை அமர்ந்தார்”

He proceeds that in the sea shore of Koneswaram, there was marine wealth such as gems, pearls and sandal wood. He also refers to the onslaughts by alien culture. In addition, there are ample references to Hindu mythology in his stazas. In the last line of each stanza on Koneswaram, he refers to Lord Konesar as “Konamamalai Amarnthare” (கோணமாமலை அமர்ந்தாரே) Here are some references to the stazas in English.

“He who dwelleth on Konamamalai where the roaming ocean replete with the sandle wood that is found on its banks and bits of black akil and precious stones, pearls, splashes- is the peerless one who is accompanied by the sounds of the rows of Kalal and the anklet and half of whose body is shared by the maid of the mountain and who rides a sacred bull”

“Konamalai whose population was vast where the waves were dashing against the shore furiously”

“Konamamalai, where the huge sonorous waves carried on their crest pearls gold and shells from the treasure troves of the sea bed and heaped them on the beach”

“Konamamalai, where a temple with a pond (spring) was surrounded by the sea.”

“ Konamamalai, where in the garden luxuriant creepers tail and spreading  jasmine bush ‘madavy”, “Punnai”, Vengai and Champuk trees interspersed with “Mullai” were in abundance.”

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