Saint Tirunavukkarasar – The Lord of Speech


Saint Tirunavukkarasar
– The Lord of Speech

One of the greatest Saivite saints, Tirunavukkarasar is credited with the reestablishment of Hinduism in South India following the rise of nastika traditions. Popularly known as Appar, he was one of the most prolific Tamil Saiva poets and a great exponent of Saiva Siddhanta, visiting hundreds of temples and composing hymns in honor of Shiva. Appar’s message of service to God and fellow humans has timeless appeal among the faithful, and his impact on the religious and social life of the Tamil people is remarkable.
Tirunavukkarasar was born in the 7th century, possibly in the year 610, in Thiruvamur near present day Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu which was under Pallava rule at the time. His parents, Pugazhanar and Mathiniyar, were peasants of the Vellalar caste and named him Marul Neekiyar, ‘remover of ignorance.’ He had an elder sister, Tilakavathi, who would have a great influence in the life of Marul Neekiyar, and who herself was a great devotee of Shiva. Marul Neekiyar would learn the Hindu scriptures at a very early age, mastering various branches of knowledge.

Ancient bronze sculpture of Appar at the Chennai Museum, Tamil Nadu

Ancient bronze sculpture of Appar at the Chennai Museum, Tamil Nadu

Marul Neekiyar’s parents died suddenly one after the other when he was still young, leaving him and his sister desolate orphans. Then Tilakavathi, who had been betrothed to a soldier in the Pallava army, received news that he had died in war, further sending the siblings into grief. Tilakavathi would never marry, devoting her life to the service of Shiva and to raising her brother. Her glorious devotion would be the subject of several hymns by Sekkhizar who compiled the Periya Puranam……Read More