Nayanmar are the 63 Saints of Saivism who lived between 6th and 8th Century CE in Tamilnadu. They played a very important role in the Bhakti Movement during that time. An initial list of the Nayanmars was first compiled by Sundarar, also one amongst them. Three among the Nayanmars were considered the principal Saivite Saints – Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar and Sundarar. Their contribution to Saivism is in the form of a literature, Thirumurai. This is a collection of Hymns called Thevaram. The three travelled, visited and sung about several temples throughout Southern India and a few in the North. These valuable Hymns in palm leaf inscriptions were kept unattended in the Chidambaram Temple which were recovered by King Raja Raja Chola (985 and 1014 CE) and given to his able priest Nambiandar Nambi, who painstakingly restored and compiled them into the Thirumurai. In the 12th century CE another great Saivite Saint Sekkizhar was identified and encouraged by Kulothunga Chola II (12th Century CE) to research and write the detailed stories of each one of the 63 Nayanmars. This became the classic Periya Puranam which itself was included in the Thirumurai later. The temples sung upon by the three principal saivite saints came to be called the ‘Paadal Petra Sthalangal’ which are 275 in number. The temples which were mentioned by them in their hymns came to be known as the ‘Vaippu Sthalangal’. The 63 Nayanmar’s service, fame and glory continues to inspire and enthrall devotees even today and almost all big Saivite Temples have their deities installed in a long line in one of the Prakarams. The information below is only basic and briefly condensed from the English translation of Sekkizhar’s Periyapuranam, published by Sri Ramanashramam, Thiruvannamalai. Periyapuranam itself has been translated into major languages of the world and is available from several publishers.
1. Sundaramurthi Nayanar
Sundarar was an 8th Century CE poet. Considered to be the Lords attendant in Mount Kailash, he was born in Thiru Navaloor as Nambi Aroorar to a Brahmin couple Sadaiyannar and Isai Gnaniyaar who are also included in the 63 Nayanmars. As a child he was adopted by a King who was overpowered by his radiant and beautiful form, Sundarar! At the right age a bride was identified for him and as the marriage was about to start Lord Shiva in the form an old sagely man came and claimed him as his slave. No challenges and insults by the poet and his supporters worked, as the proof of this was a document written and given following all due statutory requirements by Nambi Aroorar’s grandfather. Regretfully he followed the stubborn old sage leaving his would be bride and everything else behind. As a small group followed them the sage was asked who he was and where he came from. “Don’t you all know me, if not let me show you who I am’ said the holy man and went inside the Thiruarutthurai Temple at Thiruvennainallur and disappeared. The ecstasy of Nambi Aroorar and the people around knew no bounds as the lord reappeared with his consort mounted on the bull and revealed Nambi Aroora’s previous position in Mount Kailash. He sang his first song referring to the Lord as the ‘Mad One’, as he had called him when he was challenged. Pleased, the lord bade him to go on pilgrimage and praise him with songs in other temples too. Thus started the great, devoted and dedicated phase of Nambi Aroor’s life singing the praise of the lord in Navaloor, Thiruturaiyoor and reached Thiruvathigai, where he refused to enter treading on his feet the holy land sanctified by Thirunavukkarasar. He would do the same thing in Sirkazhi where the great Thirugnanasambandar was born and sing the praise of the Lord from outside town. He went on to reach Thillai (Chidambaram) singing in various temples and finally reached Thiru Aroor (Thiruvarur) as the lord had commanded him, where he was given a grand welcome by the people who knew about his glory and were expecting him. In Thiru Aroor cupid struck him with the beauty of Paravaiyaar, the daughter of a local noble man. Paravaiyaar, the hand maiden of Goddess Parvathi in Mount Kailash was besotted with the majestic beauty of Sundarar and the two were married with great pomp and ceremony. Then again Sundarar longed and prayed to the lord asking when he would be one amongst his thronging multitude of unswerving devotees. He always considered himself unworthy of mixing with his Lord’s true devotees. The lord granted him his boon and bade him to go amonst them and sing their praise. The lord gave him the first line of the Hymn – ‘I am the servant of the servants of the blessed Brahmins residing in Thillai’. This songs of praise to the Lord Servants was Thiruthondathogai and forms the nucleus around which Sekkizhars Periyapuranam was written. Sundarar and Paravaiyaar were joined by his earlier would be bride in Mount Kailash after their great journey on Earth.
2. Thiruneelakanta Nayanar
In the ancient city of Thillai (Chidambaram) there lived a potter who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. He lived a righteous, untainted life and used to provide clay begging bowls to devotees of the Lord who he came by. He always used to chant ‘Thiruneelakanta’, refering to the lord with the blue throat, and thus came about his name. An ideal householder, he once had a moral lapse and his beautiful wife swore on the lord that she would never touch him again. Both continued on with life and became old, performing all their duties to each other but never coming in physical contact. The Lord came one day as a sage and gave him a bowl for safe keeping till he returned. The bowl disappeared by the lords act of play and the potter had to apologize when he came back to claim it. The holy man got very angry and accused him of stealing the bowl which he had said is more precious than gold and gems. Upon denial by the potter he asked him to come to the temple tank, immerse himself holding the hands of his son and swear his innocence. When he said he had no son his wife was asked by the holy man to perform the oath. Upon this the potter and his wife prepared to immerse themselves in the holy tank of the adjacent Thirupulichaaram temple (Ilamaiyakkinar temple) holding either ends of a small bamboo stick. The holy man objected to this and insisted that hands be held, making the potter reveal in public about the incidents of the past. He and his wife then immersed themselves into the tank and came up with their lost youth to the surprise of all present. The celestials rained flowers on the couple and Lord Shiva revealing his true form took them to his abode.
3. Iyarpaahai Nayanar
Iyarpaahai (one who performed things against human nature) Naayanar was a generous saint who lived around the Kaviripuhum Pattinam (Poompuhar) area and would never say no to any of the Lord’s devotees. Lord Shiva to test him appeared as a brahmin and boldly asked for his wife. Without any hesitation he asked his wife to go with the brahmin. Shocked for a moment, she immediately realized that this is the play of Lord Shiva and agreed. The brahmin then asked the saint to accompany him and his wife to the safety of the outskirts to avoid the anger of the local kinsmen. Packing a sword he accompanied the lord and as was expected the offended kinsmen of the saint came to take revenge on the brahmin. The saint slew everyone and looked back to see his wife standing alone. The lord with his consort mounted on the bull then appeared and took the saint, his wife and all the slain kinsmen to his Abode.
4. Ilayankudimaara Nayanar
Maaran was a generous rich man living in Ilayankudi in present day Sivaganga District. He used to provide everything he had for the devotees of Lord Shiva and gradually became poor, but his acts of selflessness continued. The Lord appeared in the form of a hungry ascetic one rainy and dark night asking for food and shelter. Maaran and his wife, lacking food for themselves, wondered what to do. The lady reminded him of the paddy seeds sown in their field which would now be floating in the water due to the heavy rain. While she anxiously waited outside the house, he went about with a basket, collected all the seeds in the dark, came back to light a fire with a bamboo rafter from his roof, picked greens from the young plants around and his wife prepared a meal. He then gently woke up the sleeping ascetic and requested him to partake the humble meal. Pleased Lord Shiva revealed his true self and appeared with his consort mounted on the bull and took them to his Abode where Kubera, the lord of wealth, himself waited on Ilayankudimaara Nayanar.
5. Meypporul Nayanar
Meypporul Nayanar was the king of Thirukovilur and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He provided to the needs of his Lords devotees and ensured the right religious practices were performed diligently in all temples in the lands under his rule. A neighboring king envious of him made several attempts to take over and was always thwarted. Finally he decided to take the guise of a Saivite Saint and approach the King of Thirukoviloor in his chamber. He was let in without question by all except the King’s personal attendant Dattan, who was suspicious. The relaxing king asked his wife to leave and be left alone with the treacherous saint on his request. The saint said he has got a hitherto unknown scripture and wanted to instruct the King on the same. With raised arms and bowed head the King sat before the saint who took out the knife hidden in the script and stabbed the King. Dattan rushed in, but was stopped by the King, who uttered that this is Meypporul (the Holy Garb) and requested him to escort the saint safely to the outskirts. Amidst the enraged citizens, Dattan escorted the saint safely out and returned back to the dying King, who had held on only to hear the safe exit of the treacherous enemy. Upon receipt of the good news, Meypporul Nayanar told the gathered ministers and loved ones to continue to provide for the devotees of his Lord, meditated on the feet of the dancing Lord of Thillai, saw his vision with his consort on the mounted bull and attained Holy Abode.
6. Viranminda Nayanar
In the Chera country in Chenkundroor, where people of all walks of life conducted themselves following the scriptures, lived a saint who revered the devotees of Shiva above all and in their company visited many shrines. When he reached Thiru Aroor he confronted Sundarar and said to him that he will have nothing to do with him or with the lord himself who did not mix with his devotees. This itself was the play of the Lord to drive Sundarar to sing the glory of his devotees in Thiruthondathogai. It is also believed that when the Lord himself requested him to come back to Thiri Aroor he cut of his legs. Viranminda Nayanar lived long in the world following the highest path of Saivism and attained the Lord’s Abode to become the Chief of Hosts in Mount Kailash.
7. Amarneedhi Nayanar
In the Chola city of Pazhayarai there lived a tradesman of gold, pearls and precious stones who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and whose pleasure it was to provide shelter, food and most importantly underwear to saivite sages visiting him. Once the lord decided to test him and appeared as a brahmin saint with a staff and underwear garment tied to it amongst other items. He was very happy to welcome the saint who gave him an underwear for safe keeping and dry till he came back after his bath in the nearby Cauvery. When he returned the underwear was not to be found and no apology or replacement by the tradesman was of avail. The sage then gave his second underwear to the tradesman and asked him to match its weight in underwear. Relieved the tradesman, Amarneedhi Nayanar, accepted and placed one after the other even including all his wealth to no avail. Finally as the truth was dawning upon him he stepped on to the balance with his wife and son which then balanced out. The celestials rained flowers and the brahmin sage disappeared to reappear as the the Lord with his consort on the mounted bull making the balance itself to move to heaven as a Vimaana.
8. Eripatha Nayanar
In the Chola city of Karuvoor lived Eripathar who took it upon himself to rid any obstacle in any form in the lives of the Lords Devotees with his ever ready Axe. A brahmin sage Sivakaami Aandar was on his way to the temple with a basket full of lovely flowers he had gathered to serve the lord. The royal elephant was in rut after its triumphant return from campaigns and was on the rampage in the streets goaded on by its mahout. As everyone ran the sage’s basket was seized and thrown by the elephant who ran chasing after the raging beast with his stick in hand and fell of exhaustion crying out loud. This cry of lament was heard by Eripathar who immediately ran after the elephant and chopped off its trunk. Fiery at the sight of the bleeding and strugling elephant on the ground its mahout and soldiers attacked Eripathar who slew them too. The Chola King upon hearing of this outrage against his elephant rushed out with his army only to see a lone man with a battle axe which made him wonder what had happened to infuriate a sage. Pacifying his men he listened to Eripathar and being a devotee of Lord Shiva offered him his sword and asked to be killed for the mistake of his elephant and men. The sage who realized his high handedness towards such a noble ruler took the sword and attempted to kill himself. the king realizing this grabbed him to stop his action and there ensued a struggle. The Lord had now to intervene to prevent further damage to his two devotees and did so with a celestial voice asking them to stop their actions. The slain elephant and men rose up full of life and the celestials rained flowers on this miraculous sight. Eripathar requested the king who had ridden out on his horse to go back atop the royal elephant and all was well. Eripathar continued to spend the rest of his life in the service of the Lord’s devotees and reached his heavenly abode to become leader of hosts at Mount Kailash.
9. Yenaadhi Nayanar
In the country of the Chola’s, in the old walled city of Ainanoor, lived a man called Yenaadhi Naathanar belonging to a lowly tribe but with a great heart and devotion to the Servitors with the holy ash of Lord Shiva. He was a great swordsman, trained many of the King’s men and spent whatever he earned to serve the devotees of his Lord. His popularity grew vastly and invited the envy and wrath of another teacher of the craft, Athisooran. He arrived with his group of men and challenged Yenaadhi Naathanar to prove his superiority. There then ensued a bloody battle as the two clans slaughtered themselves fiercely. Finally it dawned on Athisooran that he cannot win by fighting and retorted to deceit. He smeared the holy ash on his forehead and covering himself with a shield came out to fight one to one with Yenaadhi Naathanar. As the fight started Athisooran revealed his ash smeared forehead and Yenaadhi Naathanar stood transfixed, unable to kill a man with the Lord’s holy symbol on his forehead. Athisooran had no such hangup and plunged the sword deep into Yenaadhi Naathanar who left happily to the Abode of the Merciful Lord.
10. Kannappa Nayanar
Thinnan was borne to the chief of a tribe of fierce huntsmen in the ancient village of Uduppur after his parents performed much penances to Lord Muruga. This area was around the present day Kalahasti where hills, brooks, streams, rivers abounded with forests filled with wild animals and birds. Thinnan grew up rustic, hardy, bold and cherished by all in the tribe. When he became sixteen his father who had become old handed over the command to him. One day when Thinnan and his large band of men went out on the routine hunt driving away hordes of animals and hunting them down systematically, he and his two friends got separated from the main group while chasing a fierce wild boar and was led by one of them to where, there existed a large Shivalingam atop a hill. The Lord’s servant had arrived as expected by him. Struck by the Lords magnetic form, Thinnan stood with his hair standing up in goosebumps. His friend then told him that a brahmin priest bathes the lord and performs pooja everyday. Thinnan not wanting to leave his lord alone stood guard in the night. His friends who were now joined by more men of the tribe were aghast at the sight of their chief in this state of utter surrender to the Lord and hasted back to inform his father about the change. Nothing would influence Thinnan. His parents and people had lost him to the Lord for good. Thinnan then set out to find food for his Lord and came back with meat in a leaf receptacle cooked and tasted by him for perfection, water for bathing the lord in his mouth and flowers carried in his tresses. He used his sandaled leg to remove the flowers already kept by the priest, bathed the lord with water poured out from his mouth and placed the flowers from his tresses upon the Lord. The priest was aghast at the sight of this desecration and set about cleaning and purifying the place and his Lord. Thinnan’s attention and that of the priest alternated for many a day. The priest not knowing what was happening or who was doing this, was greatly disturbed and the Lord appeared one night in his dream to tell him the truth of the happenings and advised him to hide behind the Lingam the next day and watch the events that would unfold. When Thinnan came to the lord the next day with his offerings he saw blood flowing from one of the Lord’s eyes. Taken aback he wondered who would have hurt his lord such, he tried to wipe the blood away to no avail. Realizing flesh for flesh is the right cure he plucked out one of his eye with a sharp arrow and placed on the Lord’s eye. The bleeding stopped, but then the other eye started bleeding. Keeping his feet on the position of the bleeding eye to guide him he started to take out his other eye when the lord called out thrice ‘Hold, Hold, Kannappa’. The hidden priest watched Thinnan’s act and the Lords grace. The celestials rained flowers on them to the loud chanting of the Vedic Hymns. The Lord then bade Kannappa to come to his heavenly abode and stay on his right side forever.
11. Kunkuliya Kalaya Nayanar
In the famous town of Kadavoor in the country of the Cholas, made fertile by the bountiful Cauvery lived a great brahmin devotee of Lord Shiva called Kalaya. As time passed his heart melted more and more for the Lord. And so did his wealth which was spent on the fragrant incense in plenty for the Lord. Once when the pain of hunger could not be borne anymore his wife took off her Mangalsutra, the holy symbol of matrimony, and gave it to him to sell and sustain themselves. On his way he met a seller of incense of the highest quality suitable for the Lord and invested the gold in exchange. Taking the large bundle of incense he went to the temple, kept it in the store room, and lighting up some started his prayer. The Lord was touched and he bade Kubera, the god of wealth, to stock the devotees house with everything required for a bountiful life. He then appeared in the dream of the resting wife and in the divine vision of the praying Kalaya appraising them. Seeing the profusion of wealth all around as he reached home Kunkuliya Kalaya Nayanar rededicated himself to the service of the Lord and his devotees in greater force. The Idol of Lord Shiva at the nearby Thirupananthal temple had leaned over to one side to satisfy the wish of a little girl who wanted to see and worship him heartily. This was attempted to be set right by the local King with his men and elephant to no avail. Kunkuliya Kalaya Nayanar heard of this and wanted to see the Lord in this state. Arriving there he worshiped to his heart’s content and looping the string of a garland around the deity and his neck straightened it without effort to the amazement of the King and all present. Once when the great saivite saints Thirugnanasambandar and Thirunavukkarasar were coming to Kadavoor, Kunkuliya Kalaya Nayanar was in ecstasy and took the opportunity to take them to his humble abode and serve them with a grand feast. He lived long and served happily at the temple before attaining the Lord’s Feet.
12. Maanakanjhaara Nayanar
Maanakanjaarar was born in a noble family of hereditary commanders of the local king in the beautiful town of Kanjaroor. He immersed himself in the service of Lord Shiva and his devotees. He derived great pleasure in spending his growing wealth in understanding and satisfying the needs of devotees even without them asking. He only longed for a child and soon, with the blessings of the Lord, he had a beautiful girl child. When the girl reached the age of matrimony, a deserving and suitable groom was identified and arrangements for the wedding were finalized with the hearty agreement of both sides. On the day of the wedding, to the delight of Maanakanjaarar, a hermit came up to him. He brought forth his bedecked daughter to seek the hermit’s blessings and she fell at his feet. The hermit noticed the thick, black and long hair of the maiden and mentioned that it would be ideal for making his sacred thread. Without a thought or reaction whatsoever, Maanakanjaarar took his sword sheared the girls hair and offered it to the hermit. The Hermit disappeared and in his place Maanakanjaarar saw the Lord with his consort seated on the bull, pleased with the unquestioning devotion of Maanakanjaarar. Flowers rained from the sky, the maiden’s hair reappeared making the dejected groom feel happy again. The wedding took place grandly and the couple lived happily ever after.
13. Aruvaal Taaya Nayanar
In the fertile town of Kannamangalam watered by the bountiful Cauvery lived a wealthy agricultural chief called Taayanar. His daily offering to the Lord of Kailash was the finest quality of cooked red rice, mixed with curd and served with greens along with tender mango pickle (Sekkizhar mentions here that the taste of this can only be appreciated by people used to this simple and wonderful meal!). He did not miss a single day in providing this offering to the Lord and soon whatever wealth he had, eroded and Taayanar and his wife were reduced to subsisting on the coarse grain gathered up from the fields. But his offering to the Lord did not change or reduce in quality as they had taken up jobs as agricultural workers just for this. One day as he carried the basket of offering on his head to the temple, his wife slipped and made him drop the basket, spilling all the food into a large crack in the ground. Aghast and sad he took his sickle and proceeded to cut his throat. The hand of the Lord stopped him there and he heard a loud crunch of teeth on the tender mango pickle coming out of the crack. Taayanar, in devout ecstasy, broke out into a hymn of praise to the Lord and he appeared with his consort on the bull mount, blessed the couple and provided them permanent place in his holy abode.
14. Aanaya Nayanar
In the village of Mangalam in the Chera country there lived a noble man named Aanayar, who loved to smear the holy ash of the Lord on his forehead and body. He was devoted to him in thought, word and deed. He had a large group of herdsmen with him to tender to the vast herds of cattle under his supervision. In his happy, contended and quiet life he longed to play the flute to hymn the sweet melody towards his Lords feet. He made a flute from bamboo to perfection as prescribed in Shastras and played the Panchakshara in the seven notes charming all life, moving and stationary, casting an enchanting spell on them day by day. Inspired, one day he decked himself up with fragrant flowers, ornaments, holy ash and taking his flute went to the shade of a Kondrai tree. The sweet music that flowed was like divine nectar and all life came to a standstill in its spell – animals, birds, natural forces and celestials alike. The lord himself seated on the bull mount with his consort came out to listen and bade Aanaya Nayanar to come with him, as he was, to the golden hall at Chidambaram. Aanaya Nayanar willing went after him.
15. Moorthi Nayanar
In the Pandya capital of Madurai, the home of the Tamizh Sangam, lived Moorthiyar whose devotion to the Lord was expressed in the form of the Sandal Paste he prepared with affection to be smeared the Shiva Lingam every day. Alas, one day the Pandya King was overthrown by a ruler of an adjoining state who was a fanatic of Jainism and wanted to put an end to all Saivite practices. Moorthiyar in spite of being directly affected continued his sandal service to the lord. But one day he found all the shops selling the ingredients closed. In his frustration and desperation he started grinding his elbow on a stone wearing away skin, flesh, bone and marrow. The lord could not bear this act of gore anymore and in his gracious voice said ‘stop this madness borne out of excessive devotion’, and added that he would be King soon. The ruling king passed away the same night and since he had not appointed a heir, the courtiers blindfolded the royal elephant and set it out to identify the next King, as was the custom. The elephant selected Moorthiyar as he was coming out of the temple and taking him up on its back went to the royal palace where he was crowned king. he ruled long justly with great commitment to Saivism and its devotees and finally reached the Abode of Lord Shiva.
16. Muruga Nayanar
In the ancient city of Poompuhar, glorified by Silappadikaram, lived Muruganaar, a descendant of an ancient clan of Brahmins. He would be up each day at the crack of dawn and after a ritual bath in the cool waters of the Cauvery, delicately gather flowers of all types and hues to be made into wreaths and garlands for the Lord. These, he would offer as appropriate for the time and ritual of the day and sing the Panchakshara in his sweet voice to the delight of the Lord. He had the great fortune of the friendship of Thirugnanasambandar and was blessed enough to enter the sacred fire at his marriage along with the great saint and his kins to attain the feet of the Lord forever.
17. Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar
The righteous Pasupatiyaar hailed from a noble family dedicated to vedic learning in Thiruthalaiyur. He would get up before the light of the every day, immerse himself in the cool pool of water and chant the Rudram, in faultless accents, in praise of the Lord everyday. He would repeat this at noon and night too without fail. The Lord greatly delighted at this faultless chant of Mantras decided to raise him up to him. He showered his grace on Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar who then reached his abode forever close to the dancing feet of the Lord.
18. Thirunalai Povar Nayanar
Nandanar, as he was called, was low caste ardent devotee of Lord Shiva who lived in Aadhanur on the banks of the River Kollidam. He supplied skins for drums, the strings to tighten them, strings for Veena and other musical instruments which were used to perform for the Lord in all the temples around. As he was allowed to enter the temples he used to stand at the gateway and listen to the music and chanting, reveling in the sweet sound. Once he visited the Shiva temple at Thirupungoor and stood outside, his view of the lord blocked, as usual, by the Nandi. Miraculously, on the command of the lord, the Nandi moved aside and remains in that position to this day. On his way out he noticed a hollow which he created into a temple tank. His desire to see the lord at Chidambaram overtook him and became an obsession. he used to always tell that he will ‘go tomorrow’, thus his name became Thirunaalai (tomorrow) Povar (he will go) Nayanar. He reached there walking happily and roamed around the huge temple walls as his low caste did not permit him to enter. The Lord came in the dreams of both Nandanar and the high servitors (Dikshitars) of the temple and appraised them about his devotee who will enter into a fire test inside the temple. Upon this command, Nandanar entered the temple gates where the Dikshitars were waiting to take him in. The holy fire was alight and Nandanar with the name of the Lord on his lips entered the fire to come out with a glow like a hallowed sage with a sacred thread and matted tresses to the amazement of all present. Heaven rained flowers to the beating of celestial drums and then he was ceremoniously taken to the chamber of the Lord where he merged with him and disappeared.
19. Thirukurippu Thonda Nayanar
In the holy temple city of Kancheepuram there lived a Washerman who had surrendered his mind, word and act to the feet of Lord Shiva. He could easily divine out the hearts of the Lords devotees and he was hence called Thirukurippu Thondar. Washing the dirty clothes of the Lord’s devotees was his service and one cold day the Lord in the form of an old man came to Kancheepuram. Thondar went to him and offered to wash his cloth, to which the old man replied that he had only one and as the cold would be unbearable in the night, to return it the same day after washing. This, he agreed and happily went to the river to wash clothes when it started raining incessantly and the dry cloth could not be delivered. He proceeded to break his head against the rock in the river when the holy hand of the Lord stopped him. The rain changed to flowers from heaven and the Lord with his consort on the bull mount appeared to take him to his holy abode.
20. Chandesura Nayanar
In the town of Seyngalur, established by Lord Muruga himself, was borne Vichaara Sarman to Ecchadattan as a result of devoted austerities performed by his wife Pavithrai for a good progeny. This boy’s mind, when he was five, was filled with the Vedas and overflowed with devotion to the Lord. When he was seven he was instituted with the sacred thread. At that tender age he amazed everyone with his learning without even being taught. One day he came across a cowherd ill treating a cow and stepped in to take over his job then and there. Under his care the cows flourished as he lovingly took them to places where the best grass grew, to the clearest of pools, to shady groves for resting and made them walk through good paths. The cows started yielding very good milk in copious quantities and even shedding milk from the udders on their own. This milk, Vichaara Sarman would take to perform ablution to the lord and still the cows satisfied the needs of the owners greatly. All were happy until one day when someone noticed what they considered wastage as the boy poured milk over the Shiva Lingam. This was brought to the notice of the father who apologized to the owners and hid in a tree on the banks of the river to catch the boy in the act. In due time Vichaara Sarman came and made a Lingam out of sand and started pouring the milk over it. The angry father came down, mercilessly beat up and cursed the boy, none of which seemed to affect him. The father then kicked down the pot of milk. Vichaara Sarman could not take this sacrilege and immediately seized a stick which, with the Lord’s grace, turned into an axe. With this he struck down the feet of his father who now lay helplessly on the ground and continued his prayer. The Lord now appeared with his consort on the mounted bull and placing a wreath of Kondrai flowers on the young devotee’s head gave him the post of ‘Chandesa’, with the right to enjoy all that was offered to him and also a place in his shrines. Thus you see Chandesura Nayanar, Chandikeswara, facing the lord from the north of the sanctum sanctorum in all Shiva Temples.
21. Thirunavukku Arasar
Marulneekkiyar was born in the fertile lands at Thiruvamoor watered by the River Pennai. He had a elder sister, Thilakavatiyaar. Her marriage was fixed when she was 12 to a deserving groom, when battle broke out and he had to leave for the war front. In the meantime the siblings lost their parents and the groom was also killed in the battle field. Thilakavatiyaar decided to follow him to the heavenly abode when Marulneekkiyar fell at her feet to be with him and take him through. She relented and focused on bringing him up. Marulneekkiyar was drawn towards Jainism much to the consternation of his sister and gradually became their leader with his intelligence and knowledge. Thilakavatiyaar pursued Saivism and departed to the temple of Thiruvathihai and lived there cleaning the temple premises and serving the Lord. As she regretted the path of her younger brother, the Lord appeared in her dream one night and assured her that he will be back soon. The play of the Lord started in the form of a fierce Colic that affected Marulneekkiyar which no one could cure. He remembered his sister now and escaping the Jains he made his way to where she was with great struggle and fell at her feet. She made him raise and gave him the Holy Ash which he smeared all over his body and at the crack of dawn entered the temple along with other devotees. He at once felt that succor was at hand. Without realizing he started singing the Lord’s Praise and the Colic vanished. Tears started streaming from his eyes and he fell on the ground and started rolling, regretting his past detour. The Lords voice he heard pronouncing him as Naavukku Arasar (the king of words) for the Hymns that poured out of him. The news of his disappearance and embrace of Saivism reached the Jains and they made several attempts to get him back and finally resorted to attempting to kill him by locking him up in a Lime Kiln and then letting loose a mad Tusker at him. Every time Thirunavukku Arasar came out on top with the Lord’s grace. Once when they, with the help of the local Pallava King, tied him to a stone and dumped him in the ocean the stone floated and brought him back to shore. The King at once realized his folly and fell at his feet and repaired all damage done to the Saivite faith till then. Thirunavukku Arasar set out on a pilgrimage to Shiva Temples singing his glorious hymns to the Lord and clearing the temple premises with his Hoe at each place. He met the young Thirugnanasambandar of Sirkazhi, who lovingly called him Appar (the father), and both became friends out of great respect to each other. They visited many temples together, singing the praise of the Lord. Thirunavukku Arasar performed many other miracles including bringing back to life the snake bitten son of a staunch follower. The two together sang to open and close the door of the Shiva temple at Vedaranyam. He was drawn to seeing the Lord at Mount Kailash and started his pilgrimage to the Himalayas, visiting many holy places along the way. As he was nearing the destination the Lord’s play started and Thirunavukku Arasar could not carry on. The ordeal of climbing and walking had shorn away the skin of his feet. He started walking with his hand which also bled to the bones and he was reduced to crawling when an old sage appeared and encouraged him to go back south. He would not listen and then the Lord’s voice rose him up, as good as before, and upon his command he plunged into a holy lake at the foot of Mount Kailash to emerge miraculously in the holy tank at Thiruvaiyaaru. His mind ablaze with joy at the Lord’s greatness all that he saw took the form of the Lord at Kailash with his consort on the mighty bull mount. He went on to visit temples in the Madurai region and finally reached Thirupuhalur where he attained the Holy Feet of the Lord.
Kulachirayaar was a chief in the land of the Pandyas in a place called Manamerkudi. He was hailed by Saint Sundarar as Peru Nambi. He was steadfast in the faith towards Lord Shiva and would fall at the feet of any devotee and serve him. The Pandya ruler Nedumaaran, made him his Chief Minister and he enjoyed the trust of his Queen Mangayarkarasi too with his loyalty. He was instrumental in influencing Thirugnanasambandar to visit the Pandya Kingdom and subdue the Jains.
23. Kurumba Nayanar
Kurumba Nayanar was the chief of the Kurumba tribe in the ancient town of Perumizhalai. He would anticipate the Lords devotees and serve their unspoken needs. He ever cherished the golden feet of the Lord. He heard about Saint Sundarar who had written the glory of all the Nayanars at that time and meditated upon him and the Lord acquiring magical powers. When he divined that Saint Sundarar had reached Kodungaloor and was on his way to attain the Lord’s feet soon, he resolved to give up his own life through Yoga and attained the Lords feet ahead, to await Sundarar’s arrival!
24. Karaikal Ammayar
Karaikal Ammayar was borne as Punithavati to the chief of a group of righteous merchants in the flourishing seaport of Karaikal. She grew up always with the names of the Lord in her lips, matured beautiful and soon attained the age of marriage. She was married to Paramadatta, son of a rich and famous merchant of Nagapattinam. The couple continued to live in Karaikal as desired by Punithavati’s father who showered them in riches and a beautiful mansion. One day some visitors presented two ripe mangoes to Paramadatta which he gave to Punithavati to be had with lunch. Before the ordained time for lunch a devotee of Lord Shiva entered the house in a hungry state and Punithavati set about feeding him with rice alone as the other preparations were not yet ready. Suddenly she remembered the mangoes and taking one cut it and served with the plain rice. The devotee left satisfied. When Paramadatta came for lunch he asked for the two mangoes and Punithavati produced the one left. To persistent questions from him about the other one she closed her eyes and meditated on the Lord and a Mango appeared on her outstretched hand. So delicious it was that Paramadatta could easily differentiate between the two and insisted she tell the truth. Upon hearing the miracle he tested her further by asking her to produce one more of equal taste. Lo, the miracle happened again! Disturbed and convinced that his wife is a celestial angel he left Karaikal on the pretext of trade, deciding never to come back. After amassing great wealth he returned to a city in the Pandya Kingdom, married another lady and had a girl child whom he decided to name as Punithavati, out of great respect and adoration to his first wife. This news of his return was soon taken to Punithavati who set out to meet him. Hearing about this Paramadatta with his wife and child went to the outskirts to meet Punitavati and fell at her feet apologizing and explaining the reason for not returning. Punithavati realizing the waste of her beautiful form henceforth, prayed to the Lord to take it away and she was transformed to an ugly skeletal form. With this she, Karaikal Ammayar, traveled all the way to Mount Kailash which she refused to tread with her feet and climbed on her hands. The Lord pleased asked her what boon she wanted. Karaikal Ammayar asked thus, “Firstly let my devotion to you never fade and let me be free from rebirth. If am still borne again let my devotion to you never fade”, and started singing a hymn further requesting the pleasure of singing to the Lord’s dance forever. The Lord bade her to go to Thiruvaalangadu to witness and revel in his dance. She entered the town again on her hands and sang several hymns till finally resting there as her heart had desired.
25. Appoodhi Adigal
Thirunavukkarasar after visiting the Shiva temple at Thirupazhanam was on the way to Thingaloor when he noticed a welcome place where weary travellers were congregating for refreshments served by a noble soul who had given the great saint’s name to the place. Upon enquiring he came to know the greatnes of a brahmin called Appoodhi who was a great devotee of Thirunavukkarasar and had given his name to everything around him, living and otherwise. Eager to meet this man Thirunavukkarasar went to his house nearby and was invited lovingly by Apoodhi. Upon asking him why he had given someone else’s name to the place instead of himself Appoodhi Adigal became angry and severely reprimanded Thirunavukkarasar for speaking of the great saint’s name thus. Thirunavukkarasar revealed his true idently to the unbeleivable and immense joy of Appoodhi Adigal who went about calling every one around and set about preparing a fitting meal. he requested his eldest son, also named Thirunavukkarasar, to cut a banana leaf for serving the meal upon. As he cut the leaf he was bitten by a venomous snake and rushed in, without telling anyone and gave the banana leaf to his parents. Not able to stand after that, crumpled up and fell dead. The horror struck parents not wanting to delay the great saint’s meal set about serving hiding the body of their son in a folded mat and leaving it in the backyard. Thirunavukkarasar upon asking for the eldest son to come forward to receive his blessing, sensed something was amiss with his divine vision and was told the truth reluctantly by the father. He got up from the served leaf and went to the backyard, to the folded mat, to the dead boy and started singing. Thirunavukkarasu, the boy got up as if from sleep and fell at the feet of the great saint. Appodhi Adigal did not show happiness at this as he felt that the meal for the great saint had been disturbed and delayed by this unfortunate event. Thirunavukkarasar stayed here for a few days enjoying the love and affection of Appoodhi Adigal, his family, friends and kinsmen, leaving for Pazhanamoodoor accompanied by Appoodhi Adigal. Upon his return Appoodhi Adigal continued his service to the Lord’s devotees ever reveling the time spent under the gracious feet of the Great Saint Thirunavukkarasar. In this state of devotion he attained the Lord’s feet over time.
In Thiruchathamangai situated on the fertile lands watered by the Cauvery lived Neelanakkar, a scholar and a great devotee of the Blue Throated Lord, who considered the true imports of the Vedas as adoration and service to the him. He worshiped regularly at the prescribed times fully in accordance to the rites specified by the Agamas. He served the visiting devotees of his Lord anticipating their needs. One day he felt the desire to see the Lord at the temple at Ayavanti and went there with his wife. As he sat worshiping the lord, his wife noticed a spider descending upon the Lord’s form and blew it away with her breath. Thiruneelanakkar was aghast and angry at such an act of disrespect and left his wife there and returned home. In his dream the lord appeared with boils all over except where the wife had blown. He got up realizing the truth and started praying, singing and dancing. At dawn he went and fell at the Lord’s feet and returned home with his wife, continuing his service with manifold vigor. Soon after Thirugnanasambandar, the child saint, visited Thiruchathamangai accompanied by a band of singers including the great Neelakanta Perumpaanar. Meeting them with great fanfare, Neelanakkar invited the child saint to his house for a great feast and stay. Thirugnanasambandar requested that the low caste Neelakanta Perumpaanar also be given space in the house. Thiruneelanakkar’s joy knew no bounds as he offered a space right next to the Holy Sacrificial Altar, the flames of which rose up higher with greater lustre. Thirugnanasambandar sang hymns for the Lord of Ayavanti and stayed at Thiruneelanakkar’s home for some days, setting out to visiting other temples, taking the heart of this loving devotee with him. Upon the request of the child saint Thiruneelanakkar continued his service to the lord and his devotees, joining Thirugnanasambandar at his marriage at Thiruperumaanam to attain the gracious feet of the Lord along with the retinue of the great saint.
27. Naminandhi Adigal
In the land of the Cholas fed by the Cauvery was Aemam Peroor where, in a Brahmin community was borne the glorious Naminandhi Adigal. From here he went to Thiruvaarur to see the lord and live there under his gracious feet. One day he felt like lighting lamps in the Araneri Temple but realized it was too late to get oil and it would take too much time to go home and get some. He went to a nearby house and asked for oil. The resident being a Jain replied that he will not give and if he so wanted, to light the lamps with water from the temple tank. Dejected and sad he came to the temple and fell at the Lord’s feet when a divine voice commanded him to attempt the impossible. He rushed to the tank and fetching water poured it in the lamps which miraculously started burning more vividly than before. He continued doing this with more lamps and for many days. One day when the Lord was taken on procession to Thirumanali for the benefit of all class of people, Naminandhi also went along. Coming back he said he will not enter the house and perform prayers as he felt tainted by mixing with low caste people. Before his wife could fetch the water to bath he was overcome by sleep and the Lord appeared in his dream to tell him that all people borne here were his Ganas (attendant hosts) and that Naminandhi will see it for himself. The next day at dawn he went to the temple to see everyone around as the blue throated Lord himself. As he craved for forgivance to the Lord and fell at his feet the spectacle vanished. After this he continued his service to the Lord and all his devotees in such unstinting measure that Appar (Thirunavukkarasar) mentioned him in one of his Hymns as the Aanippon – the axle pin, of all devotees. After witnessing the lord’s procession for many years in Thiruvarur, this great devotee finally reached the shade of the Lord’s Golden Feet.
In the fertile lands, filled with shady groves and flowing waters, in the glorious town of Sirkazhi that withstood the mighty floods, also known by 13 names including Brahmapuram, Venupuram, Puhali, Guruneer, Thonipuram, Poondharaay, Chirapuram, Puravam, Shanbainagar, Kaazhi, Kochchaivayam and Kazhumalam lived a Brahmin chief by name Sivapaada Hridayar. In these times when Saivism was facing threat from Buddhism and Jainism, his wife Bhagavatiyaar conceived after much austerities. As the male child came into this world right from the alignment of the planets everything was auspicious. The child was welcomed by the denizens of the town with great happiness, celebration and for some unknown cause all alike were filled with ineffable joy. At the age of three he followed his father one day to the temple tank where while he was immersed in water the child started to cry with fear. As bid by the lord the child turned his gaze towards the shrine and the miracle happened. The lord of the mounted bull bade his consort to fill a golden cup with the milk of her breast and feed the child with wisdom – he thus became Siva Gnana Sambandar. The father coming from his ablutions looked at the milk around his child’s mouth and questioned him angrily with a stick in his hand. The child gazed towards the temple tower and there was the lord on the bull mount with his consort. His divine wisdom now gushed forward and he rendered a hymn – Thodudaya Seviyan, praising the lords ears and the dangling earring. This he followed with a decad pointing out the Lord’s emblems and told his father that this was Lord responsible for what he was complaining about. As he concluded the hymn with the 11th verse the celestials rained flowers praising the great grace that has been bestowed upon this little child by the Lord. His father let slip the stick in his hand and started dancing with joy. Word spread and everyone joined in and the child led them into the lord’s shrine. The proud and blessed father then lifted his child on his shoulder and carried him home. He would perform this chore and take Thirugnanasambandar to so many temples till he grew up and set foot in the Palanquin gifted to him by the lord himself at Thirunelvayil Arathurai. While he was singing at Thirukolakka golden cymbals flew into his tender hands by the Lord’s grace. His visit to the Thillai Temple (Chidambaram) was a memorable one and fearing to stay in such a holy precinct he would retire to Thiruvetkalam nearby and visit Thillai every day for some time. His pilgrimage continued for long covering many temples where he sang his Hymns in praise of the Lord. When he was back in Sirkazhi, the much older Thirunavukkarasar came to meet him and both embraced and reveled in each others presence and glory and spent time together for some days. He continued his pilgrimage on his father’s shoulders and reached Thirupaasilachramam where he performed a miracle by curing the daughter of Kolli Mazhavan, a local chieftain, of Epilepsy by singing a Hymn to the Lord. He would visit Chenkundroor (Thiruchenkode) and provide relief to the people in the area from the harsh drought and the severe winter through his hymns to the Lord. He continued his pilgrimage visiting numerous temples in the vicinity. Wherever he went he was accorded a royal and enthusiastic welcome by the people. At Thirumarugal, Thirugnanasambandar heard the lament of a girl who had lost her lover, with whom she had eloped, to the bite of a snake. The great saint gave back life to the young man through his Hymn to the Lord and performed their marriage. While at Puhalur he heard about the arrival of Appar, Thirunavukkarasar and rushed out to welcome him with great ecstasy. He then bade Appar farewell and proceeded to Thiruvarur. After a glorious pilgrimage they again came together and went together to many temples singing hymns. A great distress befell the people while the two were in Thiruveezhimizhalai when the rains failed and everything went dry. The Lord came in the dreams of both saints and declared that he will provide a gold coin for each of them on the east and west altars of the temple. This came true, but Thirugnanasambandar realized his gold coin was taken at a discount by the traders whereas the gold coin of Appar were taken at full value. Disturbed he inquired the lord who again came in his dream to explain the reason – Appar had earned the fruit of his labor whereas Thirugnanasambandar was the blessed Son of the Lord. The people were now fed sumptuously with the gold everyday and the period of distress passed. Continuing their pilgrimage together they reached Thirumaraikadu where they learnt that the golden gate of the temple was closed after worship by the Vedas of yore and no attempt including the chanting of the Vedas could open it. Thirugnanasambandar requested Appar to sing a hymn to open the door. At the concluding verse of his hymn the door opened to everyone’s wonder. After worshiping inside Appar now requested Thirugnanasambandar to sing a hymn to make the door function regularly, opening and closing, and the miracle happened again. At this time they heard the Pandya Ruler at Madurai had strayed into the clutches of the Jains and Saivism was on a forced decline. Thirugnanasambandar at the behest of the Queen and Minister started to Madurai. As this news spread great happiness and hope arose in the minds of the people and evil omens harrowed the Jains. The noble minister on the request of the Queen welcomed the great saint and along with the thronging people of Madurai proceeded to the Temple of Thirualavoy where he sang a Hymn and the Queen had by now reached the temple to pay her obeisance to the saint. He then stayed in a Math nearby. In the night the disturbed Jains went to inform and complain to the Pandya King and suggested they burn the Math where Thirugnanasambandar was staying. The king reluctantly agreed but was wrought by strange uneasiness. In the meantime the Jains tried to set fire to the Math with spells which only failed. Gathering twigs they went near and set fire to the place where all were sleeping. Thirugnanasambandar hearing this, protected the residents and sang a hymn, bidding the fire to reach the ruler. This it did in the form of a terrible fever from which the king suffered greatly. Thirugnanasambandar was now brought by the Queen and Minister and he was challenged by the Jains to cure one side of the king whereas they will cure the other side. All efforts by the Jains were futile. The great saint of Sirkazhi now sang a hymn and smeared the side of the Kings body with the holy ash of the Lord. Lo, the fever subsided on that side whereas it raged more on the other side. The King realized the greatness of the Lord now requested the saint to cure him completely and fell at his feet. But the Jains would not give up and challenged the saint with a test of fire and water with their inscriptions on palm leaves. Thirugnanasambandar triumphed in both with the rendering of his beautiful Hymns to the Lord. He also made the ruler’s crooked back straighten up. After this Thirugnanasambandar stayed on in the math for sometime restoring Saivite practices in all the temples in region which were degraded by the Jains. His journey continued with more miracles on the way. He was then challenged by the Budhists in Bodhimangai and a debate was won easily by a follower and rendered of his hymns, Saranalayaar. He traveled, singing hymns, to all parts including Kancheepuram and reached Thiruvaalangadu where he declined to set foot on the land walked by Karaikkal Ammayar with her head and hands, preferring to stand outside the village and rendering his hymn to the Lord. He then reached Thiru Kalahasti and then Thiruvotriyur. At Thirumailai he performed the miracle of raising from the ashes, the dead snake bit daughter of Sivanesan, a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and the saint himself. Later his father thought the age has come for Thirugnanasambandar to get married and made arrangements to wed him to the daughter of Nambiaandar Nambi. The wedding was to be solemnized at Thirunalloor Perumaanam and all arrived in a grand retinue. The great saint knew this was not his foreboding as he had reached the stage to give up all bonds of flesh at that time. The rituals were performed to the satisfaction of all concerned and as Thirugnanasambandar was about to start walking around the fire he went towards the Temple with his newly wedded wife where he sang a hymn and a pillar of fire arose with an opening in the middle through which the Lord bade that all who had come to witness the wedding enter to attain salvation. Finally singing a Hymn Thirugnanasambandar entered with his bride to reach the holy abode of the Lord. The fire and the gateway then disappeared!
29. Kalikaama Nayanar
On the north bank of the Cauvery was the town of Thiruperumangalam, always filled with joy, festivities, pomp and ceremony. Here existed a clan that hereditarily provided commanders to the King’s army. Born in this clan was Kalikaamar, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He started despising Sundarar for whom the Lord served as a lowly errand boy to make up to his consort Paravaiyar. Kalikaamar who could not console himself to this decided he never ever wanted to even set eyes on Sundarar. But the Lord, to make see reason, afflicted him with a severe stomach ailment. To his prayer the Lord came in his dream and said Sundarar alone can cure him. Kalikaama Nayanar preferring death to this, tore out his entrails and lay dying in a pool of blood. Sundarar, as directed by Lord Shiva, made his way to the Nayanar’s house and despite being discouraged from entering came to the side of the Nayanar. At the sight of this bloody scene he reached for a nearby dagger and proceeded to kill himself. Suddenly the Lord made Kalikaama Nayanar rise up from the dead and seize the dagger, his ailment cured. Sundarar fell at Kalikaama Nayanar’s feet and so did the Nayanar at Sundarar’s feet. They became great friends and proceeded together to the Thirupugalur temple where Sundarar rendered a Hymn. They then went to Thiruvarur to praise the lord after which Kalikaama Nayanar bid farewell to Sundarar and returned to his native place. He continued to serve the long, finally attaining the gracious feet of the Lord of Mount Kailash.
30. Thirumoola Nayanar
Moolan, a cowherd, was discovered lying dead with his cows lamenting all around him by a Sage on his way south from Mount Kailash to visit Sage Agastya. Upon this sad sight he used his divine powers to enter inside the dead body and give his life to it. Now, Moolan rose up and went about returning the cows to the respective owners. His wife worried about his delayed return reached out to touch him as he came home. Moolan withdrew hastily and went away. She was aghast at this reaction and requested the neighbors to find out the truth behind her husband’s behavior. They returned to reveal that Moolan is now a Yogi of great glory and will not return to household life. Thirumoola Nayanar went on to Aaduthurai and entered into Siva Yoga sitting under a Peepul Tree. From there he gave forth the Thirumanthiram – 3000 verses of the four paths of salvation. In due course he reached the holy feet of the Lord of Kailash.
31. Dhandi Adigal
Dhandi Adigal, born blind, went around the Thiruvarur shrine of Lord Shiva everyday chanting the Panchaksharam. One day he came to know that the Jains had encroached upon the Temple Tank, making it shallow. He set about excavating the Kamalalayam Tank, tying a rope to guide him up and down as he took out the mud slowly. The Jains, seeing this entered into an argument and chided him on his blindness. They then pulled out the fixtures set up by Dhandi Adigal and threw them out. Sad he cried all the way to his math and fell down asleep crying to the Lord on the Bull Mount. The Lord appeared in the dream of the King and bade him to perform an inquiry. The Jains confirmed the happening. Dhandi Adigal now got into the tank and proclaimed, ‘if I am the bondsman of the Lord, let me regain sight and the Jains lose theirs’, immersing himself in the waters came out with his vision. The Jains had now lost theirs and had to struggle and run out of Thiruvarur, lamenting. The King cleared the encroachments and paid obeisance to Dhandi Adigal, who continued his service to the lord reaching his holy feet in due time.
32. Moorkha Nayanar
In Thiruverkadu, near present day Chennai, lived a devotee of the Lord on the Mounted Bull. He held that the sacred ash of the Lord as the only thing of significance in the world. He fulfilled his daily vow of welcoming and feeding devotees with a hearty meal along with all other things they rightly needed. One day when a large number of devotees came his resources were low and he sold his lands to take good care of them. As time passed he found it very difficult to sustain his vow and he took to gambling and went away to Kumbakonam. Here he gambled and made his fortune daily and continued his vow towards Lord Shiva’s devotees. He carried a dagger which he used without hesitation when somebody cheated him or denied him success. This earned him the name of Moorkha (tough, angry) Nayanar. But he never used the wealth won for his purpose and spent everything on his Lords devotees only, eating last all the time. This service to the lord washed away the sins he earned from his other activity and in due time reached the heavenly abode of the Lord.
33. Somaasi Maara Nayanar
In a town called Ambar in the Chola country lived a man who used to offer food to the devotees of the Lord of Kailash. He believed in the performance of daily rituals adhering to the age old prescriptions for the well being of all life in the universe, chanting the Panchakshara for the purification of his mind. He would consider every devotee of his lord as his master. One day he left for Thiruvarur where he met Sundarar and bonded with him remaining there forever. He triumphed over the five senses and realized that the path to salvation is to serve the feet of the Lord’s comrade. Doing this he reached the lord’s abode to dwell there in blissful peace always.
34. Saakkiya Nayanar
He was born in Thiruchanga Mangai in a noble family and set about finding the supreme truth through extensive study. He reached Kancheepuram and studied the Buddhist tenets. Realizing these did not lead him towards his quest, he decided that Saivism was the right path by the grace of the Lord. He was in appearance a Buddhist but in heart was a Saivite. Seeing a Shivalingam he vowed to eat only after visiting it everyday. In ecstasy one day he accidentally threw a stone at it and the Lord seemed to like it. So he continued this practice everyday. One day he forgot to perform this ritual and rushed to do it when the Lord in his Bull Mount appeared and took him to Sivaloka.
35. Chirapuli Nayanar
In Thiruvakoor lived Brahmins devoted to rituals and sacrifices who were great in their generosity to the poor and needy. In this clan was born Chirapuliyar who excelled above all in his devotion to the Lord and his devotees. He regularly chanted the Panchakshara dedicating the fruits of it back to the lord himself and reached the cool shade of the Lords feet in due time.
36. Siruthonda Nayanar
Paranjothi of Thiruchenkattaankudi was proficient in Ayurveda, arms and training of elephants and horses had devoted himself to the adoration of the feet of Lord Shiva. His service as commander under a Pallava ruler saw many triumphs and he brought back a great booty from Vaataapi. Hearing about the devotion of Paranjothi the king rued his decision to use him to do war deeds and relived him, gave him a large treasure and asked him to go back and continue his service to the Lord. Paranjothi came back married an equally devout maiden of high birth and both continued their service of feeding the lord’s devotees with a kingly meal, taking their food only after this. He considered himself a lowly devotee of his lord and started calling himself Siru (small) Thondar (servant). A son, Seeraaladeva, was born to them who grew up to start school. When Thirugnanasambandar visited his town he mentioned Siruthondar in the Hymn he sang then. One day the Lord, to test and show Siruthondar’s greatness, came dressed as a Bhairava and asked to be served. Siruthondar who had then gone out came back and caught up with the Bhairava under a tree and asked him what food he can provide. He said he eats once in six months and that too only flesh, flesh of a blemishless human child who was an only child from an unmarred family wherein the mother would hold him and the father would cut up the child. Siruthondar agreed that nothing would be impossible and went about informing his wife, who did not object, got his child from the school and performed the deed together cooking up all parts. The Bhairava was brought home and he insisted that Siruthondar should join the feast with his son. The Bhairava asked him to go and call his son and Lo by the Lord’s grace the little boy came from school. Embracing the child joyfully both turned inside the house to see that the visitor had disappeared and instead gave Darshan from the sky with his consort and son Muruga! He then took to his abode Siruthondar, his wife, son and the maid servant too who had assisted them.
37. Cheramaan Perumal Nayanar
In the high and beautiful hills of the Chera country, in Thiruvaanjikkalam was born Perumaakkodhaiyar in the royal family and destined to enhance the glory of Saivism. he was blessed by the Lord to know the tongues of many types of people and was called ‘Kazharitru Arivaar’ – one who can understand whatever is spoken. In due time he was crowned king. He was friendly with the Chola and Pandya rulers and thus existed a peaceful period where Saivism thrived. Every day at the end of his pooja he would hear the tinkling of his Lord’s anklet. One day this did not happen and the king attempted to kill himself with his sword. The lord quickly made him hear the sound of his anklet and to his query said that Sundarar was singing his decad of hymns and he was listening with rapt attention. This made Cheramaan long to see the Lord of Thillai and Sundarar and set out. After seeing the lord at Thillai, he proceeded to Thiruvarur, escorted by Sundarar entered the inner shrine. After this the two together visited many temple all the way till Kutralam and returned back to a grand welcome. Cheraman then desired to return to his country and requested Sundarar to accompany him. On the way the Cauvery was in flood and prevented them from reaching Thiruvaiyaaru. Sundarar sang his Hymns to the Lord and the river parted to make way for them, closing up behind after their passage. At Thiruvaanhikkalam, Sundarar sang a Hymn. After this he was given great honors at the palace and stayed in the loving company of Cheramaan for some days before returning to Thiruvarur. Cheramaan continued his golden rule ever remembering his great friend Sundarar.
38. Gananaatha Nayanar
Gananaathar was engaged in providing a range services to the Lord at Sirkazhi – maintaining the garden, gathering flowers for worship, cleaning the temple keeping the lamps burning always, making copies of the Thirumurai (sacred Tamil scripture) and so on. He was devoted to the child saint Thirugnanasambandar, Thus enabled him to reach the lord’s abode at Mount Kailash and serve there as the chief of his Ganas.
39. Kootruva Nayanar
Kootruva Nayanar was a small chieftain hailing from Thitukalandhai overcame all kings and amassed wealth beyond measure. His desire was to get crowned king at Thillai, which was refused by the Dikshitars who made it clear that only a Chozha dynasty king will be crowned by them. The chieftain prayed to the lord desiring to be crowned by the Lord Himself. This happened in his sleep. Contented he arranged for endowments to be made in all places dedicated to Lord Shiva and ruled justly. In due course he attained the gracious feet of the lord and his consort.
40. Poyyadimai Illadha Nayanar
This refers to a group of about 49 scholars of the last Tamil Sangam including Nakkeerar, Kapilar, Bharanar and Kallaadar who were bonded to get the true knowledge of the Lord alone. they had devoted themselves to the lotus feet of the Lord and would not speak anything other than the glory of the lord – Poyyadimai Illadha Nayanar (scholars not bonded to anything else).
41. Puhazh Chozhan
Puhazh Chozhan ruled from his capital of Uraiyur and went to Karuvoor to receive tributes from other kings and chieftains of the land under his control. Learning that Akhilan a hill chieftain had defied the Chozha supremacy entered into a fierce fight which was followed by a massacre of the hill chieftains army. Along with the plunder the ministers heaped the heads of the defeated soldiers before the king at Karuvoor. One head was with matted tresses indicating a devotee of Lord Shiva. This greatly disturbed the King who gave up the throne to his son. Puhazh Chozhan then bore the head on a golden platter and circling a sacrificial fire entered it thus chanting the Panchakshara. The heavens showered flowers to the beat of the celestial drums as he was taken to the cool shade of the Lords Feet.
42. Narasinga Munaiyaraiya Nayanar
Narasinga Munaiyaraiyar a ruler of Thirumanaipadi had great regard for the devotees of Lord Shiva and used to give away hundred gold coins each for them on the Thiruvaadirai Day. Once, a person in the guise of a devotee came to him on the auspicious day mocked by the onlookers. But the King instead gave him two hundred gold coins and took good care of him. His service to the Lord continued till he attained salvation at his feet.
43. Athipatha Nayanar
Athipathar was the chief of a fishing clan near Nagapattinam and his practice was to always throw back his first catch as an offering to Lord Shiva. For some days successively he caught only one fish and still he threw it back into the sea. He suffered a lot for want and sustained only on the love of the Lord. One day the first catch was a priceless large golden fish which too he threw back as an offering to the Lord. The Lord greatly pleased at this provided his wonderful vision to this great devotee and took him to Shivaloka.
44. Kalikkamba Nayanar
Kalikambar was a merchant devotee who worshiped at the Pennadagan Shrine and regularly provide a feast to devotees, provide them monetary aid all after washing their feet along with his wife. One day among the devotees came a former servant of theirs and his wife hesitated to pour the water. Kalikambar took a sword and cut off her hand continuing with his service himself reaching the Lords feet in due course.
45. Kaliya Nayanar
Kaliya was a devotee born in Thiruvotriyur in a wealthy family of oil mongers. His service to the lord was in the form of providing oil to keep the lamps at the temple burning. His wealth eroded thus, he took up employment to continue his service which too was denied to him soon. He attempted unsuccessfully to sell his own wife. Finally he decided to keep the lamps burning with his blood and when he was about to cut his neck the Lord grasped his hand, giving him Darshan and taking him to live forever in his abode.
46. Sakti Nayanar
He lived in Virinjaiyoor in the Cauvery region under the Cholas sway. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and would pull out the tongue of anyone making fun of his Lord’s devotees and cut off the tip. Because of this power he earned the name Sakti Nayanar. With no one willing to control him he continued his path of devotion to the Lord and finally reached his holy feet.
47. Aiyadigal Nayanar
Kaadavarkone was a Pallava King who ruled righteously and suppressed foes and wrong doers with his valor. The people prospered and Saivism flourished under his rule. One day he decided that power was suppressing his devotion and giving up the throne to his son set out as Aiyadigal Nayanar on a pilgrimage to all temples, singing a song (venba) at each place. He did other services too and finally reached Shivaloka.
48. Kanampulla Nayanar
He was a wealthy and noble person in Irukkuveloor on the south bank of the River Vellar and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He eroded all his wealth in keeping the lamps lit at the temple. He then moved to Chidambaram and resorted to cutting and selling a special grass called Kanampul providing ghee to keep the lamps alight in the temple there. One day since he could not get any buyers he started lighting up the grass itself and along with it his tresses without cutting them off. Just before he could immolate himself thus the Lord intervened and took him to Shivaloka.
49. Kaari Nayanar
Kaari was a learned Brahmin devotee of Lord Shiva and composed Kaari Koavai (Tamil Anthology) to explain the Vedic truths clearly and simply to devotees. He presented this before many Kings and used the gifts received to serve the Lord, attaining salvation in due course.
50. Ninraseer Nedumara Nayanar
This is the Pandya King of Madurai who was brought back to Saivism from Jainism by Thirugnanasambandar through the intervention of his Queen Mangayarkarasi. He shone after that, emerging victorious over all foes and went on to spread the greatness of the Lords Sacred Ash, attaining Shivaloka through the Grace of the Lord mounted on the Bull.
51. Vayilaar Nayanar
Vaayilaar lived in Mylapore and adored the Lord ever in his mind which became the inner sanctum (Manakovil) for the Lord. He passed his days serving the Lord by lighting lamps, providing water for ablution, providing food offering with praise, eventually finding refuge in the cool shade of the Lord’s feet.
52. Munai Aduvaar Nayanar
Munai Aduvar, a Vellala, was born in Thiruneedoor and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He always went to the aid of the distressed triumphing over all evil with his great valor. He used the gains from his wars to sumptuously feed the Lord’s devotees. Following this righteous path he attained Shivaloka with the Lord’s grace.
53. Kazharchinga Nayanar
Kazharchingar was a righteous Pallava King and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He set about visiting all Shiva temples with his queen. While circumambulating at the Thiruvarur temple his queen seeing a flower in the ground, took and smelled it. Angered at this act a devotee, Seruthunaiyaar, seized and cut off her nose. Rushing to her the King understood what had happened and for his part cut off her hand as a punishment. Flowers rained from heaven. His devotion gave the King salvation.
54. Idangazhi Nayanar
In Kodumbaloor lived a chieftain called Idangazhiyaar who owed allegiance to the Chozha Dynasty. He was firmly rooted in Saivism and ensured the rituals were conducted in all temples in accordance with Vedic dharma and Agamic instructions. Once a devotee unable to discharge his service to the lord in the form of feeding a devotee entered the palace store and helped himself to rice. He was caught and brought before Idangazhiyaar who upon inquiry exclaimed that this person was his true granary and from then onward freely gave away all his grains and riches to the devotees of Lord Shiva, thus driving out all want from his lands. He over time attained the lotus feet of the Lord.
55. Seruthunai Nayanar
When the queen, thought to be a Jain, of Kazharchinga Nayanar, a Pallava King mentioned, above took and smelt a flower in the grounds of the Thiruvarur temple, he in his anger seized her by the hair, threw her down and cut off her nose.
56. Puhazh Thunai Nayanar
Puhazh Thunaiyaar was a Sivacharya in Srivilliputhur and a great devotee of the Lord. He was committed to the service of the lord and in the days of famine untiringly went distances to secure water for ablution and flowers. One day when he reached the temple exhausted he let fall the vessel with water over the Shiva Lingam and fell down unconscious. The lord appeared in his dream and said that as long as the famine lasted he would place a gold coin at a pedestal in the temple for succor. Puhazh Thunai Nayanar regained consciousness feeling good with unbound joy reflected on his face. As promised the gold was there and continued to be there to procure needs from nearby regions. Puhazh Thunai Nayanar continued his service even after the famine lifted and the gift of god stopped, reaching the feet of the Lord in due course.
57. Koatpuli Nayanar
Koatpuliyaar, a fiercely principled chief and commander under the King, lived in a town called Thitunattiyathankudi in the land of the Cholas. He used all the presents from the ruler for procuring and storing rice grains to be offered to Lord Shiva in all shrines. Once when he went on a campaign he handed over the responsibility to his kinsmen who misused the grains for their own requirements during a famine, with the hope of replacing during prosperous times. Returning Koatpuliyaar discovered this and invited all Kinsmen to his house who came thinking that he is going to share his treasure from the campaign. He prevented them from leaving and cut down everyone including a baby whom he said had drunk the milk from its mothers breasts who had eaten the Lord’s food. The lord spoke now freeing all the slain people from Karmic bonds and took them all to the celestial world including Koatpuli Nayanar.
58. Poosalar Nayanar
Poosalar lived in Thirunindravur and longed to build a great temple for Lord Shiva. His attempts were futile and he decided to build such a worthy temple in his mind. Accomplishing this over time bit by bit he fixed a day for the installation day. During the same time the King of Kanchi also built a lavish temple and on the night before installation the Lord appeared in his dream and told him to postpone the date as he had to be in the temple built by Poosalar. Intrigued the king came to Thirunindravur and searched for the temple in vain. then asking for Poosalar spoke to him and realized the truth and unmatched excellence of true devotion.
59. Nesa Nayanar
Naesar lived in a prosperous town called Kaampeeli where lived righteous people. He was ceaseless in his devotion to the Lord and his devotees and presented them with clothes, loincloth and waist strings. Through this service to the Lord he attained salvation.
60. Kotchengatchozha Nayanar
His story is related to that of the Thiruvaanaikaval story where the spider and elephant both die. The spider was reborn as King Kotchengatchozhan who went on to build the elevated temples (Maada Kovil) where elephants could not enter. He provided amply to the temples and was finally gathered into the feet of the Dancing Lord of Thillai.
61. Thiruneelakanta Yazhpaanar
He was born in Erukatham Puliyoor and was skilled at playing the Yazh (harp). Once when he was playing the Harp at the Madurai temple a heavy rain started and to prevent any mishap the lord decreed that a golden plank be provided for Thiruneelakanta Yazhpaanar to stand upon. Going on to Thiruvarur and then to Sirkazhi he played the hymns of Thirugnanasambandar on his harp with his consent. After that he kept company with the great saint and finally attained liberation by entering the holy fire at the saint’s wedding along with others.
The father of Sundarar, Sadaiyar is also considered a Nayanar.
63. Isai Jnani
The mother of Sundarar, Isai Gnani is also considered a Nayanar.