sri santhalingar swamigal
Great-men who had taken refuge at the sacred feet of the Almighty-imbibing. His sweet grace, are free from all the pains of the incessant births and deaths. They with due compassion, extend to the posterity, in the form of Scriptures, their divine experiences, the ways and means for human salvation. Such scriptures are abundant in Tamil language -the language of divine grace. St.Santhalinga Adigalar was one such great soul.
About 300 years ago St.Santhalingar lived in Perur, otherwise known as Chidambaram west. (the chidambaram east is in South Arcot Dt.) Perur is sacred not only because it is one of the ‘sivasthalams’ of Kongunadu, but also because the Divine grace of Lord Siva is so immanent and perceptible that when Sundaramoorthy Nayanar, one of the four preceptors of Saivism, went to chidambaram to worship Lord Nataraja, he found there but the deity of Perur. Siva is so immanent and perceptible that when Sundaramoorthy Nayanar, one of the four preceptors of Saivism, went to chidambaram to worship Lord Nataraja, he found there but the deity of Perur.
He says in his Thillaikkoil hymn
Hence it is no wonder that our St.Santhalinga Swamigal was also attracted by this holy city.
It is believed that he should have been born either in the “Nadu Nadu” or “Thondai Nadu” where the ‘Vira Saiva’ religion, to which he was allegiant, was popular. From his very childhood he developed love to serve the Siva ascetics, to respect and revere the symbols of Siva, namely Vibuthi and Rudraksha. His company with holy people inducted him to perceive the vanity of the worldly things. He abhored the idea of birth and rebirth. Like a man, who rushes to a cool shadow, being tortured by the scorching sun, he decided to end this vicious cycle. He under took a pilgirmage to all the holy cities where Lord Siva reigns supreme in search of a Guru who could initiate him in this birth ridding process.
At Thiruvannamalai he chanced to meet St.Sivaprakasa Swamigal of Thuraiyur, a great seer. St.Santhalinga Swamigal enjoyed the company of St.Sivaprakasa Swamigal, who was also happy to see his mental ripeness. At a proper time St.Santhalinga Swamigal gave vent to his long cherished desire to be initiated in the noble venture of the realisation of God. Observing the ‘upadesa’, he was enjoying the divine bliss in the presence of his Guru. Sometime later, his Guru ordered him to settle in a place he liked and work for the salvation of the humanity. Obeying the order, St.Santhalinga Swamigal settled at Perur, the holy city where his favourite deity Lord Nataraja reigns supreme and continued his religious pursuits.
Swamygal at the Temple
His fame began to spread far and wide around Perur. His retinue began to swell in the form of followers and well-wishers. Except the time he spent for bathing, dieting and teaching, almost the whole of the day was devoted in meditation. One day when he opened his eyes after meditation, Lord Nataraja with his consort Maragathabikai., -seated on Nandhi, appeared before him. St.Santhalinga Swamigal enjoyed the vision of God with devouring look. He, with down pouring eyes, hands folded on his head with reverence, with melting heart, prostrated before the God numberless times. His hymns bear many references vouching for this incident (Vairakkiya Catakam Devotional part) when the vision disappeared his languish was undescribable. He craved to have the ‘darshan’ once again as can be seen in his works.
Sri-la-Sri. Sivagnana Balaya Swamigal II, the Head of the Bommaiya Adheenami was his contemporary, whose miraculous feats and wealth of -Sivagnanam- possesed wide popularity. St.Santhalinga Swamigal desired to see him and so he went and stayed at Bommaiyapuram. During his sojourn there, he got the acquaintance of Thuraimangalam Sivaprakasa Swamigal, a Virasaiva saint, scholar and poet. He had a sister by name Gnanamabikai. With the blessings of St Sivagnana Balaysswamigal. St. Santhalingaswamigal married Gnanambikai.
His family life was in conformity with the maxim “If a man fulfilleth aright the duties of the house-holder, where is the need for him to take up other duties?” His family life never stood in the way of his endeavors in realisation of Truth. By undaunted perseverance he rose to perfection. Pupils flocked around him to partake his teachings. One day when he spoke on total renunciation, condemning the love for transient worldly things, some of his reactionary students began to indulge in scandalising the verity of his speech. “Could it be possible for a man living with his wife to preach total renunciation, unless he be a hypocrite?” they doubted. Sensing their feelings, St.Santhalingar, seated his wife on his lap and continued his teaching. To their utter bewilderment they saw Lord Neelkanta with his consort Gowri in the place of St.Santhalingar and his wife Gnanambikai. The pupils fell down instantaneously before Swamigal and appologised fervently for their mistake. Swamigal took pity on them and loved them more than before.
After this incident he resolved to renoumce the world thoroughly in its entirety and declared that he would set out for alms next day and that if he was served rice with milk at the very first house he approached, he would become a complete ascetic thenceforth. He was served rice with milk at the very first house he resorted to. From that moment he broke all his worldly attachement and renounced the world utterly. He sent away his wife Gnanambikai to her brother and nothing was known about her afterwards. The power of his ‘Tapas’ was so strong that when-ever he set out for alms, the womenfolk hurriedly rushed to cover their sons and men folk, fearing that his very sight would infuse in them ‘Vairakkiya’ and render them renounce the world immediately.
Of his numerous pupils, Kumara Deva-was a prince of Kannada Desa and also, the author of many Vedantha works in Tamil. Perur Chidambara Swamigal, the commentator of St.Santhalinga Swamigal’s works, was his disciple.
St.Santhaling Swamigal entered into eternal bliss on ‘Makam’ day in the month of masi whose body was laid in Samadhi in perur, around, which the present shrine and other institutions have grown up.
To enamor those who crave to avoid future in-carnations, he had left four unparrelleled Works. They are ‘Kolaki Maruttal’ (Taboo of Killing); Vairakkiya Catakam, Vairakkiya Deepam, and Aviroda Undiyar. Learning and adhering to his teachings would certainly close the path that leadeath us again to this sorrow ridden world.
Glory be to the sacred feet of St.Santhalinga Swamigal!.