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Sivapuranam Of Manickavasagar – Prologue To Tiruvasagam

Sivapuranam is a collection of 51 hymns written by saint-poet Manickavasagar, Sivapuranam is in the kali-venba meter and consists of ninety-five lines. The first line commences with the invocation ‘om namah shivaya’, the personified form of panchakshara (the mystic five letters of na, ma, si, va and ya) which is the mantra for invoking grace.

In line ninety, Perundurai and another temple town, Thillai (Chidambaram), are mentioned. The attributes of Siva are listed and praised in the first fifteen lines of the next. The saint traces the evolution of mankind by the progressive cycle of births of various beings from grass to human beings, from asuras to devas, in lines 26 to 30. He states his weariness of such births and prays to Shiva to grant him release from such rebirths, this is reiterated seven times in Sivapuranam.

Manickavasagar sings in alliterate verses that one who repeats Sivapuranam and assimilates its meaning would reach the feet of Siva. They hymn gives a succinct account of the essence of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. Sivapuranam is chanted daily as a paean to Siva with great fervor and devotion in Saivite homes.

Manickavasagar was born in Tiruvadavur near Madurai in Tamil Nadu and was called Vadavurar. He became chief minister to the Pandya king and proved to be an efficient administrator; however, in his heart he longed to retire and spend his life in spiritual pursuits.

Vadavurar was sent by the king to buy imported horses from the port city of Thiruperundurai. When he arrived there, he was mesmerized by the sound of Vedic chants. He proceeded in the direction of the sound and came to a grove where he saw a teacher seated beneath a kurundai tree, surrounded by devotees. It is said that Shiva assumed a human form in order to save Vadavurar, who recognized his guru immediately and surrendered himself unreservedly to him, forgetting all about the king’s commission.

The gift of poesy overtook Vadavurar and mellifluous verses of rare beauty and charm flowed from his lips in praise of Shiva. The saint’s first rendering was Sivapuranam. Siva was greatly pleased and gave him the title Manickavasagar, meaning ‘he whose words are like rubies’.