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Isanya Jnana Desikar – Tirvuannamalai

Isanya Jnana Desikar was a great yogi who resided at Tiruvannamalai and was an ardent devotee Arunachaleswara. The name Isanya Jnana Desikar is derived from the place where he performed sadhana intense meditation. The pond close by is known as Isanya Tirtham.

Isanya Jnana Desikar was born in 1750 CE at Rayavelur in Tamil Nadu. His childhood name was Kandappan, one among the numerous names of Bhagavan Murugan. It is said it his parents, Tiru Neelakanta Desikar and Uma Parvati, had offered prayers to Murugan for the birth of a child. When they were blessed with a son they named him after the deity that fulfilled their desire.

When he became a teenager and his parents started looking for a bride form him, he decided to leave home for his intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

His spiritual  journey took him to Chidambaram and here he received  deeksha (initiation), followed by sannyasa from his guru, Mouna Swamigal.

Later he studied Vedanta under Ugandalinga Jnana Desika at Sikkal near Nagapattinam. From here he moved to Pakkam near Vettavalam and performed penance (nirvikalpa Samadhi) in a cave here. Later he reached Tiruvannamalai.

Here he did penance under a banyan tree. He came to be known as Isanya Swamigal or Isanya Jnana Desikar. He established the Isanya Mutt (monastery) near the banyan tree where he did penance.

Isanya Jnana Desikar was a Baupinadhari, who used to wear only a loin cloth. He never aspired anything but bhakti (devotion) and jnana (knowledge). He attained Samadhi in 1829 CE. His Samadhi near the Isanya Mutt is worshipped by thousands of people.

His popular literary work is Svanubhava Stotra Pamalai (Garland of Hymns of Self-Experience) numbering 117 verses.