Author - Virarajendra
The era of the Tamil Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasaka Swamihal
Saint Maanikkavaasaka Swamihal also known as Saint Thiruvaathavoorar was one among the four great Saiva Saints of "Tamil Saivaism", of the pre-medieval and medieval period Tamil Nadu. However he has not been included among the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints listed in the Tamil Saivite religious work "Periyapuraanam" also known as the "Thiruththondar Puraanam", composed by the sage/poet Seakkeelaar.
With him the total number of Tamil Saiva Saints of this period were 64 - in number. The reason for he not being included in the Periyapuraanam by sage/poet Seakkeelaar is yet to be known.
It has been already determined that the approximate period of the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarsu Naayanaar of Tamil Nadu as A.D.568-649. From the fourth and the fifth Tamil "Thirumurai" of this Saint, we note of two references on the miracle of foxes being transformed into horses, that is said to have taken place during the time of Saint Maanikkavaasakar - by the grace of God Siva, which are as follows.
“….Nariyai Kuthirai seivaanum….”
4th Thirumurai, (Pathikam - 4, verse - 2)
and as “…..Nariyinaar Pari yaa(hi) mahilkintrathor Periyanar….”
5th Thirumurai (Pathikam - 12, verse - 9)
(Note: Kuthirai & Pari in Tamil = Horse)
Saint Maanikkavaasaka Swamihal himself makes references to this miracle that occured in his life time in his own Tamil Saiva Religious work named "Thiruvaasakam" as follows:
“……Nariyai Kuthirai Pariyaakki gnalam ellaam nihalviththu Periya Thennan Mathurai ellaam pichcha thetrum Perumthuraiyai…….”
Thiruvaasakam - “Ananthamaalai”, verse - 7
“……Narikal ellaam perum Kuthirai aakkiyava antre un perarulle….”
Thiruvaasakam - “Thiruvesaravu”, verse - 7
“……Nariyai Kuthirai aakkiya nanmaiyum…..”
Thiruvaasakam - “Poatri Thiruahaval”, line - 35/36
“…..Mathurai Perunan maa nahar irunthu
Kuthirai sevahanaakiya kolkaiyum……”
Thiruvaasakam - Poatri Thiruahaval, line - 35/36
Hence it is very clear from the above references of Saint Maanikkavaasakar himself - in his own work "Thiruvaasakam", that the above miracle mentioned by Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarsu Naayanaar in his Thevarem (right above) is in fact correct, and occurred during the time of Saint Maanikkavaasaka Swamihal who lived before the year A.D.568 - the appoximate year of birth of Saint Thirunaavukkarsu Naayanaar.
In the "Thiruvaasakam" of Saint Maanikkavaasakar, even though there are references to the Pandiya king of that period, there is no mention of his actual name in same.
However in his other Tamil Saiva Religious work the "Thiruchitrambalakovaiyaar" (also known as "Thirukkovaiyaar)" there are two references to the Pandiyan king of his time namely the Varaguna Pandiyan - as follows.
“….Varagunanaam thennavan eaththum Chitrambalaththaan…..”
Thirukkovaiyaar - verse 306
“ ……puyaloangalar sadaiyettravan Chitrambalam pugalum mayal oangi irung khaliyaanai Varagunan 'vetpin vaiththa kayal' oangu irung chilai kondu….”
Thirukkovaiyaar - verse 327
Note: The above reference goes to prove Varagunan (the Pandiyan king) referred in Thirukkovaiyaar by Saint Maanikkavaasakar, was different from the Varaguna Pandiyan - 2 of (A.D.862 -880) and the Varaguna Pandiyan - 1 of (A.D.800-830), as the Inscriptions and other historical and literary Documents on the latter two kings have not mentioned of they having carved the Pandiyan emblem the 'kayal fish' on the Himalayan mountain (vetpin - on the mountain).
Hence it is evident that the (earliest) Varagunan being that of Thirukkovaiyaar who possibly went on an expedition towards the north of India, and carved the 'kayal fish' on the Himalayan mountain.
Further though it is not specifically mentioned in Thirukkovaiyaar that the mountain under reference was Himalayas, no Tamil kings be it Chera, Chola or Pandiya would have ever considered it as a 'great pride' to say that they carved their royal emblems on a mountain within Tamil Nadu, instead of the great Himalayas as seen in many Tamil literary works of the Sangam & medieval periods.
The scholar who highlighted this important reference in Thirukkovaiyar 'for the first time', was Dr.Sivapriya in her book titled the 'Maanikkavaasakare koorum Maanikkavaasakarin varalaarum kaalamum'
The fact the “Thirukkovaiyaar" too was composed by Saint Thiruvathavoorar is confirmed by Saint Nambiyaandaar Nambi as follows.
“….varu vaasahaththin muttrunarntha thonai van Thillai mannai
Thiruvaathavoor Siva Paaththiyaan sei Thirucittrambala
porulaar thahu Thirukkovai kande mattra porulai
therulaatha ullaththavar kavi paadi sirippeere….”
11th Thirumurai – Koyil Thiruppanniyar Viruththam by Saint Nambiyaandaar Nambi – verse 58
Hence it is clear the Varaguna Pandiyan refered in the Thiruchitrambalakovaiyaar too like Saint Maanikkavaasaka Swamihal lived before the Saint Thirunaavukkarsu Naayanaar’s year of birth A.D.568.
A Sanskrit poetic work titled "Pandiya Kulothaya" too mentions of the miracle of the foxes being transformed into horses during the time of one "Vaathapuri Naayakar" meaning the Saint of Vaathapuri the region of Thiruvaathavur. It also mentions the Pandiya king Varaguna Pandiyan of that period who lost his kingdom to his brother met the Siva Bakthar the Vaathapuri Naayakar and with his blessings he regained his kingdom and continued to rule. It also states that Vaathapuri Naayaker served later under this Pandiyan as his minister. There is also reference in same to the miracle of foxes being transformed into horses,
(Refer “Aaiyvu Katturaihal”- by Kudanthai N.Sethuraman page 59-60)
Further from the Tamil grammetical work titled "Kuvalayaanantham" we get two further valuable informations as follows in it’s ‘Sirrappu Paayiram’.
“…thinakara meni Sivan upathesam manathinil unarntha Vaathavooraane…..”
“……Kuvalayaanantham enum noolinai seithanan sahala kalayum
therinththu valar Maanikkavaasakan enum gnana
thesika sivayohiye mandalam sol Varaguna Pandiyan
mun gnana maamaraiyor alangara vadasol ahak
kondu iyalaal uraippathanaal Koodal vaalum
Kottravan meena thuvasa kurusil nanpaaith
than Thamilaal vilakkum ena, Vaathavooran
saatrinaan vadamoliyaal thirinthu ulaavum
enthisai en ‘Mimaangisai’ enum noolin
iyalbu anaiththum Kuvalayaaanantham entre….”
“Kuvalayaanantham” – published by Dr.S.V.Subramanian, Ulaha Thamilaratchi Niruvanam, Chennai.
Hence from the Saint Thirunaavukkarasar’s reference to the miracle in his Thevaram, and the references in the Kuvalayaanantham and Pandiya Kulothaya to this same miracle, we can safely conclude the Saint Thiruvaathavoorar (also known as Saint Maanikkavaasakar in Kuvalayaanantham and Vaathapuri Nayakar in Pandiya Kulothaya), and the Varaguna Pandiyan mentioned in latter two references, it is further confirmed that both lived before Saint Thirunaavukkarsu Naayanaar that is before A.D. 568.
The instance when Saint Thiruvathavoorar received a further name as Maanikkavaasagar is clearly stated in the two Tamil works named the "Thiruvilaiyadal Puraanam" and "Thiruvaathavoorar Puraanam”, was at the occasion when he first started singing songs in praise of God Siva composed of “jewel (Maanikkam) like sentences (Vaasakam)". This name Maanikkavaasakar later was shortened and also used as "Vaasakan" or "Vaasakar" to refer him.
We now find two other instances where Saint Maanikkavaasakar has been referred to by his short names, again in the Thevarems of the Saint Thirunaavukkarasar as follows.
“……Kudamula Nanthi easanai Vaasakan aahak kondar…..”
5th Thirumurai - Pathikam - 112, verse - 2
“……Mangala Vaasakar kusaiyum angaiyit kosamum kondavar…..”
5th Thirumurai - Pathikam - 34, verse - 9
The above two references on Saint Maanikkavaasakar mentioned by Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, too takes the period of the former as earlier than A.D.568 the year of birth of the latter.
The "Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam" of Paranjothi Munivar mentions that Saint Thiruvaathavoorar subsequently received the name Maanikkavaasakar, and the ruling king during his time was Arimarthana Pandiyan.
But the same "Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam" relates to a separate event in respect of Varaguna Pandiyan - as a Pandiyan who fought and won a battle with Cholas. This from the history of the medieval Pandiyas we know was the Vargunan - 2 (A.D.862-880). The "Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam" doesnot associate him with Saint Maanikkavaasakar, or with the story of the miracle of foxes being transformed into horses.
Hence the above gives us a hint that the Varaguna Pandiyan who won the Cholas is the latter Varaguna Pandiyan - 2 (A.D.862-880), and the Pandiyan king who was living during the period of Saint Maanikkavaasakar at the time of the miracle of foxes being transformed into horses was a Pandiya king different to the Varaguna Pandiya - 2, whom it mentions as Arimarthana Pandiyan.
Hence from the references in "Pandiya Kulothaya", and "Kuvalayaanantham" both of which - mentions of the miracle and of the Varaguna Pandiyan, and the "Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam" which too mentions of this same miracle but refers to the the king as Arimarthana Pandiyan, we could conclude the Pandiyan of that period as Arimarthanan aana Varaguna Pandiyan (Arimarthanan alias Varaguna Pandiyan) who was no doubt an earlier Pandiyan with the same name Varagunan, and again reaffirm that he was quite different to the Varaguna Pandiyan - 1 (A.D.800-830) and Varaguna Pandiyan - 2 (A.D.862 -880).
Also it should be noted that there are no evidences or inscriptions of Varaguna Pandiyan - 2 (A.D.862 -880) to confirm that the Saint Vathapuri Nayager blessed him to get back his lost kingdom as per the "Pandiya Kulothaya" and that too from his own brother. Hence the reference in "Pandiya Kulothaya" must be to the Aritmarthanan aana Varaguna Pandiyan of the earlier period.
Further we have an interesting information in the Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam, that it was only after "eleven generations" of Pandiyan kings from Arimarthanan (aana Varaguna Paandiyan) came the Koon Pandiyan (also known as Pandiyan Nedumaran) of the Saint Thirugnanasampanthar period. If we take an average of 30 years for each king’s period of rule approximately, we note Arimarthana Pandiyan lived (30 x 11) three hundred and thirty years the before Koon Pandiyan, that is around A.D.312(642 -330).
Now referring to the religious work "Thiruvaasakam" of Saint Maanikkavaasagar, we note that there is hardly any reference to Jain religion in same, as compared to the Tamil "Thirumurai Thevarams" of other three great Saints, which refers to Jainism in many places as opposed to Saivaism. Hence we can be sure that Saint Maanikkavaasakar lived during the period when Jainism has not yet gained much deep roots in Tamil Nadu.
In the year A.D.350 a king from a ruling dynasty of Karnataka by the name Kalabhras (Kalappirar), invaded Tamil Nadu and Kerala and defeated the Chola, Pandiya and Chera kings, and enforced their religion the Jainism that prevailed in a big way in Karnataka, into Tamil Nadu.
(Note: The year of Kalabhra invasion is as per the text “Life and Works of Buddagosha” by K.C.Law, extracted from “Pallavar Varalaaru” by Dr.M.Rasamanikkanar).
This is confirmed by the following references in the Tamil Saiva works titled "Kalladam" and Periyapuraanam.
“……padai naangu udan Panchavan thuranthu Mathurai vaviya Karunaada venthan
Aruhar sarnthu nintru arutpani adaippa…….”
In the above Panchavan is the Pandiyan and "Karunaada venthan" is the Kalabra king, and "Aruhar" are the followers of Jain religion.
Kalaadam – 57, lines 12-13
".....kaanak kadisool Vadukak Karunaadar kavalan
maanap padai mannan valinthu nilam kolvaanaai
yaanai kuthirai karuvippadai veerar thindor
senai kadalung kodu then thisai noakki vanthaan
vanthuttra perum padai man puthaiyap parappi
santhi pothiyil Thamil Ndu udai mannan veeram
sinthi seru ventru than aanai seluththum attralaal
kantha polil sool Mathuraapuri kaaval kondaan....."
Periyapuraanam, Murthi Nayanaar padalam, Verse 11 & 12
This date of Kalabhra invasion looks realistic as we have approximately determined the date of the Arimarthana Pandiyan around A.D.312, and possibly the Kalabhra invasion took place during the rule of his son the Sakanaatha Pandiyan in A.D.350 who is known to us from the "Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam".
The Buddhism and Jainism had already spread to some extent in Tamil Nadu earlier during the 3rd Sangam Period, but it was only after the Kalabhra capture of Tamil Nadu the Jainsm became deeply rooted as a religion of this region with the patronage of this king.
Hence it is clear the period of Saint Maanikkavaasakar earlier determined as before A.D.568 the birth year of Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, could now be pushed forward further to a period before A.D.350.
Further from the early days of Tamil Nadu the “Saivaism religion” having “Siva Agamas” as their principal religious texts - long prevailed, and in the "Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam" we are informed that Saint Maanikkavaasakar too was more interested in learning the "Siva Agamas " in his youth.
This may be the reason why Saint Thirugnanasampanthar, Saint Thirunaavukkarasar and Saint Sundaramoorththy Naayanar have mentioned in many of their Thevaarems to the Vedas & Vedism in addition to Saivaism, while Saint Maanikkavaasakar speaks more on Agamas and Saivaism than the Vedas in his Thiruvaasakam. Vedism though was already in existance in Tamil Nadu from the Sangam period, it became deeply rooted in Tamil Nadu only during the period of Pallavas.
Hence it is clear Saint Maanikkavaasakar lived before the invasion of Tamil Nadu by Kalabhras around A.D.350, long before Jainism & Vedism deeply rooted in Tamil Nadu during Kalabhra and Pallava periods.
Further this conclusion is supported by another reference in the "Thiruvaasakam" by Saint Maanikkavaasakar as follows:
".....Mannan, pari misai vantha
Vallal Perunthurai meya
Thennavan, Cheralan, Cholan,
seer Puyangan vara koovai....."
Thiruvaasakam - 'Kuyit Paththu', verse 7
In the above verse in the 'Kuyit Paththu' composed by Saint Maanikkavaasakar, he is asking the Cuckoo (Kuyil) to 'coo' calling God Siva to (give vision to him), whom he describes as Mannan, Vallal, Thennavan(Pandiyan), Cheralan, Cholan and Puyangan. Since he lived in a period before Kalabhras and Pallavas he has made exemplary note to God Siva only - as the Thennavan, Cheralan, and Cholan.
(Note: Should he have lived during the period of Varaguna Pandiyan - 2 or - 1 then possibly he would have also referred to the Kalabhra or Pallava 'too or instead', who were the leading ruling dynasties of Tamil Nadu of that period)
Now from a Copper Plate Grant that remained among the Christians of Kollam in Kerala State we note the following text..
“…..After the royal punishment implemented against 72 - families of Vellalar of Kaviripoompattinam who believed and joined the Christian faith, they boarded a ship and went to the the place Kurakkeni (Kollam) where the (other) Kurakkeni Christians too lived like relations in the year A.D.293. The Christians from Niranam too (north of Kollam) came to Kurakkeni and saw the Tamils there and followed few Tamil customs and Malayalam customs and lived there.
(During this time) the one who performed miracles (and) by the name Maanikkavaasakar met the Christians who came newly to this region, by his miracles set the God he worshiped on them and caused fever, faintishness, and crippling of limbs, and killing the (domestic) animals and those who became sick thus when they humbly meet him and receive holy ash (thiruneeru) and on applying they get cured (of sickness )and rid off evil spirits.
As it was a country of many Saaviya religion, those who respect him on the sly take them to Maanikkavaasakar, and listen to Panchaakra (mantra), and on the sly give donations to temple, and going and preying at temple festivals, and on the sly listening to the religious stories and Kaaviyaas and Mantras.
During this time the 24 families who came from Cholamandaam and the others who came and met Maannikkavaasagar and the 72 families gave and got brides among their families and lived in unity. During that time the 72 families got together at the instance of the death of the leader who took up the leadership and executed all assignments, 8 families among the 72 families who got absorbed in the miracles of Maanikkavaasakar and 4 families who searched and met him and 20 families who were of this region in all 32 (families) 114 people met with one mind insisted such a respectable leader’s body to be covered with new cloth ans cremated.
While the other 94 families in the Malayala 339 families, the Kurakkeni Christians too from the time embraced the Christianity to this day insisted that the the body of the dead be covered in white cloth and be buried in their (own) places, then the former (group) insisted they liked to hear the Guru Mantara of Panchakkara of their forefathers and intake the Panchakavya of the cow dung, urine, milk, curd, ghee, and if you do not listen to the words of Seedar (Sheeshayas)we 119 people will leave your religion.
And so saying openly approached Maanikkavaasakar and arranged to be made the godly image of Maanikkavaasakar installed it at a region (known) as the Panaiyin Naarukaa and called those families after Mannikkavasakar as “Manigramakkaarar”. Those who did not follow the guru mantra of Mannikkavasakar and apply the holy ash (being) 96 families jointly used white cloth to cover dead bodies and buried within as practice they were called the Christians……”
(Translation into English of the Tamil version of the Copper Plates from Thiruvananthapuram given in the book) - titled….
Maanikkavaasakar Peruman Varalaaru - by K. Subramaniyapillai.
The above Copper Plate text mentions of : one Maanikkavaasakar who performed miracles and who recited Panchaakkara (Panchaatchara) Mantra and offered Holy Ash (thiruneeru) to the people. From same it is clear the Maanikkavasakar mentioned above was a Siva worshipper. Further it is said the people of this country he met were mainly of the “Saaviya” (Saiva) religion. Hence the people of this region kept him in high reference and even made a godly image and worshipped. From the foregoing we can safely conclude he could be no other than the Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasakar.
It is indicated in the Tamil translation that “…..72 - families of Vellalar of Kaviripoompattinam who believed and joined the Christian faith, they boarded a ship and went to the the place Kurakkeni (Kollam) where the (other) Kurakkeni Christians too lived like relations in the year A.D.293……”.
But on my reading of the original Tamil-Granthaha writing of the Copper Plates, I find a date has been omitted in the Tamil translation which when included reads as "….in A.D.315 one who performed miracles (and) by the name Maanikkavaasakar…..” possibly visited (Kurakkeni) Kollam from Pandiya Nadu.
From a Thanippaadal given below we come to know the life period of Saint Maanikkavasakar was 32 years.
".....Apparukku enbaththon(dru) arul Vaathavoorarukku
seppiya naalettinil theiveekam - ippuviyil
Sundararkku moovaaru thon Gnanasampantharkku
antham pathinaaru ari......"
Periyapuraanam - by Seakkeelaar, Thiruppananthaal Sri Kaasi Madam, Sri Vaikuntham, Tamil Nadu.
We could reasonably expect him to have held the position of chief minister of the Pandiya king at an age of 24. He thereafter visited many Saiva sacred places, and possibly towards the latter period of his life time possibly around 30 years (A.D.315), he visted (Kurakkeni) Kollam in Kerala.
Hence we can conclude that the Tamil Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasakar was born in A.D.285 (317-32) and demised in A.D.317 (315+2), before the period of Kalabra invasion around A.D.350 when Jainism has not deeply rooted in TamilNadu, and at a period when Buddhism held a strong position in Tamil Nadu, and during the period of the Arimarthanan alias Varuguna Pandiyan who has been establised as ruling around A.D.312, at a time when Saivaism with Siva Agamas as their principal texts prevailed along with other religions in Tamil Nadu, and at a period when the Christian faith too was gaining grounds in (Kurakkkeni) Kollam Kerala (Chera Nadu) - a period long befor the Pallava rule in Tamil Nadu.