Tuesday 10 July 2007

How the Tiruvachakam was Written

MANIKKAVACHAKKAR WAS GOING from one place to another until he came to Chidambaram. While witnessing Nataraja’s dance he started singing heart-melting songs and stayed in that place itself. Then one day Nataraja, with a view to make people know the greatness of Manikkavachakar and to bless the people with an excellent collection of hymns, went to the house of Manikkavachakar in the night, in the guise of a brahmin. He was received cordially and when asked the purpose of the visit, the Lord smilingly and with great familiarity asked, “It seems you have been singing hymns during your visit to sacred places of pilgrimage and that you are doing it here also. May I hear them? I have been thinking of coming and listening to you for a very long time but could not find the required leisure. That is why I have come here at night. I suppose you don’t mind. Can you sing? Do you remember them all?

“There is no need to worry about sleep. I shall sing all the songs I remember. Please listen.” So saying Manikkavachakar began singing in ecstasy. The Lord in the guise of a brahmin sat down there writing the songs on palm leaves. As Manikkavachakar was in ecstasy he hardly noticed the brahmin who was taking down the songs. Singing on and on, he completely forgot himself in the thought of God and ultimately became silent. The old brahmin quietly disappeared.

At daybreak, the dikshitar (priest) came to the Nataraja temple as usual to perform the morning puja and as he opened the doors he found in front of the Nataraja image, on the doorstep, a palm-leaf book. When the book was opened, and scrutinised the words Tiruvachakam were written as well as an explanation that the book was written, as dictated by Manikkavachakar. It was signed below Tiruchitrambalam, i.e. Chidambaram. The stamp of Sri Nataraja was also there below the signature. Thereupon, all the temple priests gathered in great surprise and sent word to Manikkavachakar, showed him the Tiruvachakam, and the signature of Nataraja and asked him to tell them about the genesis of the hymns.

Manikkavachakar did not say anything but asked them to accompany him, went to the temple of Nataraja and standing opposite the Lord said, “Sirs, the Lord in front of us is the only answer to your question. He is the answer.” After having said that, he merged into the Lord.

As he narrated the story, Bhagavan’s voice got choked. Unable to speak any more he remained in ecstatic silence.

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