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Guhai Namasivaya – Saint Who Lived In Tiruvannamalai In 16th Century

Guhai Namasivaya (also known as Guhai Namacivayar) was a Virashaiva saint who lived in the Tiruvannamalai hills in the 16th century CE. He was born in 1548 CE to a pious couple in Karnataka. Guhai Namasivaya showed his spiritual inclinations at a very tender age. He left home and became a disciple of Sivananda Desikar of Srisailam, who belonged to the Veerashaiva sect.

According to the Veerashaiva sect, the attainment of oneness with Shiva is the goal, and the disciple should serve a guru who had already attained that oneness. Guhai Namasivaya served his guru with selfless devotion. He was proficient in studies and was virtuous, and practiced this type of Yoga for many years.

The presiding deity of Srisailam, Bhagvan Mallikarjuna, appeared in the dream of Guhai Namasivaya and commanded him to go to Arunachala (Tiruvannamalai). He told his Guru about his dream and was permitted to go.

On his way to Tiruvannamalai, Guhai Namasivaya was invited to a wedding celebration in a village. At the end of the puja everyone received vibhuti (holy ash) from Guhai Namasivaya. But the house caught fire and Guhai Namasivaya was blamed for this. Guhai Namasivaya was deeply hurt and meditated on Mahadev Shiva and resurrected the house from the ashes.

In Tiruvannamalai, Guhai Namasivaya lived in public halls, gardens and in the surrounding forest. He devoted himself to the practice of meditation and spent long periods in Samadhi. But somehow he never entered the Tiruvannamalai temple.

One day his Guru, Sivananda Desikar, unexpectedly appeared and entered the Tiruvannamalai temple to worship Bhagavan. The disciple realized that the appearance of his guru had been the play of Bhagavan and interpreted his vision to mean that he now had permission to enter the temple.

Guhai Namasivaya then decided to take up his residence at the entrance of Tiruvannamalai temple. Each day he composed a verse in praise of Arunachala and supported himself by begging for his food and was content with his ascetic existence. Once again Bhagavan appeared in the dream of Namasivaya and commanded him to remain in a cave on the mountain. The devotee accepted and moved into a cave on the lower slopes of the eastern side of the hill and spent the remainder of his life there, thus acquiring the title ‘Guhai’ (meaning cave in Tamil). In this cave Namasivaya was interred.

Although Guhai Namasivaya was a native of Karnataka, he mastered the Tamil language and composed over 100o four line verses. Only two of his poems are extant today, which are the Arunagiri Antadi (hundred verses) and Tiruvarunai Tanivenba (thirty six verses).