Lineage of Paramasiva
THE LINEAGE OF PARAMASHIVA IN TIRUVANNAMALAI
From Arunagiri Yogisvara, in the lineage of Paramasiva in Tiruvannamalai, the following great enlightened beings are recorded in the history of Tiruvannamalai. These great ‘Siddhars’ (mystical beings) are reported to be still wandering in this “Hill of Light”. Siddhars are enlightened masters indulging in continuous practice. They have developed, among other branches of a vast enlightened-based knowledge-system, what is now known as the Siddha medicine system of healing through herbs. Rare herbs grow in this hill known only to the Siddhars. They also developed the ancient healing system of Pulse reading-Ayurveda and the system of self defence called Verma art. The Siddhars are said to be continuously wandering inside the hill performing penance and other fire rituals for world peace.
A BREIF HISTORY OF A FEW SIDDHARS IN THE LINEAGE
1. IDAIKADAR SIDDHAR
Out of the many the Siddhars who lived on this hill, eighteen Siddhars are considered to be very important. ‘Idaikadar’ is considered to be the first of these and he is also known as Tiruvannamalai Siddhar. Siddhars used to wander in pursuit of the Truth and their history is not recorded. Idaikadar is believed to be from a remote village called ‘Idayanthittu’ in Tiruvannamalai. He was born to Thandha Konar and Yasodharai who earned their livelihood from dairy farming.
He was the disciple of Konganavar. He is also known as the student of the renowned Bhogar Siddhar. Idaikadar learnt astrology from him and prepared an Almanac based on his own scientific calculations. Using his intelligence, he was able to help counter famine and help the people. He has written many books on Siddha medicine and cured many diseases with herbs.
His Jīva Samādhi (final resting place of mortal remains) is in Tiruvannamalai and it is very difficult to reach it as it is protected by wild animals and insects. That part of the hill is very green and blessed with several herbs. All the Tiruvannamalai masters have their samadhi in the foothills, but only Idaikadar’s samadhi is on the hill itself.
2. THAVATIRU VEERAVAIRKKIY GURU MOORTHY SWAMIGAL
Swamigal belongs to Polur of Tiruvannamalai which is also known as Paruvathamalai. There is a 1400 year-old Monastery called the Athisivalingacharya Gurumagan peetam in this village. After Shrilashri Sadhashivam Niraishivam, the 7th Pontiff of this Peetam, Thavathiru Veeravairaakkiya Swamigal took charge of it as the next pontiff. He had wide knowledge of the Agamas and literature. He attained the highest state in spirituality by doing Shivalinga pooja three times a day. At the time in Tiruvannamalai, Hindu pontiffs of various mutts would solve all major issues related to the main temple in the town. The Muslim kings in the South would threaten to shut down the temple if the pontiffs did not prove their authenticity to the kings. Once, one such a king butchered the temple cow into two pieces and challenged the temple priests to give it life. They couldn’t, despite using all the mantras that they knew and when they prayed to Arunachala, He answered them. He said that if they called Veeravairakkiya Swamigal, it would be possible to give the cow life. He was called and once he arrived, he used his Yogic powers to give the cow life. However, the King didn’t trust him and demanded that a lump of meat be offered as prasadha (sacred food offering to the temple deities) to the temple deity. Veeravairaakkiya Swamigal agreed and offered a cloth-covered plate in front of the deity. Upon removing the cloth, the King was shocked to see that the lump of meat had turned into flowers. Then, the cruel King demanded that Veeravaikkiya Swamigal make the Nandi deity (Hindu deity found in Shiva temples which is in the form of a sitting bull) get up from its sitting position. Veeravaikkiya Swamigal replied, “If you wish so, let it happen by God’s grace”, and the King was shocked to see that the deity stood up. Thus the temple was saved, and Veeravaikkiya Swamigal served the people of Tiruvannamalai with all the yogic powers and abilities that he had, until he attained liberation and left his body. From that day on, Guru puja for him is done in a grand manner in the month of Vaigasi (May).
3. SIVATHIRU YIRAI SWAMIGAL
His birth place is unknown. He used to serve in the Annamalaiyar temple. He would chant the Shiva mantra and circumambulate around the sacred hill in Tiruvannamalai called Arunachala on foot. Arunachala hill is considered to be the body of Paramashiva Himself, where he descended as a shaft of light, as per Hindu history. Sivathiru Yirai Swamigal was determined to go around the hill in remembrance of Paramashiva. Knowing there are 1008 shiva lingas at every step on the path around the hill, he chanted the Shiva mantra 1008 times each time he took one step forward. Seeing his determination, he began to be worshipped by the people of Tiruvannamalai. He used to beg and eat. A few devotees from a nearby place called Avalurpettai took care of him and ensured that he was fed and took care of his health. At any given moment, he would only chant the Shiva mantra as his life breath. Finally, when it was time for him to leave his body, he informed a few of his loved ones and while chanting Paramashiva’s name, left his body. His Samadhi (final resting place of enlightened beings) is still there in Avalurpettai.
4. PUNNAAKU SIDDHAR
Punnaaku Siddhar lived 300 years ago in total devotion to Annamalaiyaar (presiding deity of the Arunachaleshwara temple in Tiruvannamalai). His birthplace is not known. During meditation, he heard a divine voice asking him to go towards the South of India and the spot where he feels hungry will be the place of his enlightenment. He had walked for a 100 kms and didn’t get tired. When he reached Bagavathimalai near Vellore, he suddenly felt hungry. He asked for some hay to eat instead of food. Those nearby laughed at his behavior and asked him to work a grinding machine to earn the food. Using his yogic powers, he had the grinding machine operate itself. On seeing this, everyone fell at his feet and he was given a comfortable place to stay, and the owner served him. He trained young children of the village to develop these powers, and they all became his disciples. When the time came for him to leave body, he asked these children to cover him with cloth and he disappeared. He was also worshipped by the name Amirthalinga Swamigal. A unique 9-leaf stemmed Bilva tree at his final resting place is worshipped by the nearby village people even today.
5. SIDHARS WHO WERE KNOWN BY WORD OF MOUTH COMMUNICATION
This Sidhar had long Jataas (dreadlocks) like Lord Paramashiva and rudrakshas around his neck. He erected an ashram at Thirukovilur near the Thenpennai river. He used to walk from to Tiruvannamalai to have a glimpse of the temple deity and it was said that he attained liberation there.
This Sidhar used to treat people with medications for their diseases on the sacred path around the Arunachala hill. To test him, Lord Arunachala came in disguise and asked to cure his wild hunger. After examining him, the Sidhar said that once he eats food from a person who has offered Annadaan (distribution of free food to the public) to many people his hunger will disappear, which pleased Lord Arunachala. It is said that he attained liberation at Tiruvannamalai.
Konippai Kovana Sidhar:
This Sidhar used to cover his body using a sack and hence he got the name as konippai (which means sack in Tamil) Sidhar. He also attained liberation on the hills of Thiruvannamalai on the path around Arunachala Hill.
Sabtha Kantha Linga Sithar:
This Sidhar circumambulated around the Arunachala hill 7 times. This Sidhar ate only 7 times in a month and fasted for the remaining days. His body radiated divine fragrance. Few of his hair strands would be gold in color and wherever those fell, a Shiva linga would emerge. Totally 7 lingas appeared in a day as he walked around the Arunachala hill, where they are still worshipped.
Once, a king had arranged for annadaan (free distribution of food to the public) during Shivaratri at Tiruvannamalai. During the event an injured deer appeared, fighting for its life. The king was worried that he may have to stop the annadaan if the animal dies. A Sidhar, on witnessing this, left his body and entered into the deer, and ran off from the place. Thus, the event continued. Once he re-entered his own body, the deer’s body fell to the ground. As this miracle occured on Shivaratri, he is known as Shivarathiri Sidhar. After his liberation on Shivaratri day, it is said that he visits the hill every Shivaratri in his subtle body, which only a few blessed people can see.
6. SIVATHIRU SIVA SWAMIGAL
Siva Swamigal’s ashram is on the sacred path around the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai. He was known as an ardent devotee of Paramashiva, with a graceful face. He would always add the word “Siva” at the end of his sentences, and thus came to be known as Siva Swamigal. After that, at the beginning of the 20th century, he disappeared without a trace.
7. SIVATHIRU MANGAIYARKARASIYAR
It is known from sculptures, that in 1202 BC, Tiruvannamalai was known as Annathur. A female devotee named Mangaiyarkarasiyar was known for her compassion and devotion to Paramashiva. Hailing from a rich family, she spent all her wealth in serving Him, and in social service. She spread the principles and teachings of Paramashiva, especially to females.During a severe drought she developed a water saving mechanism at the time of heavy rains. She sacrificed even her personal jewels for building a dam for the people. Huge quantities of drinking water were stored there for many days. Sculptures describe that she and her brothers, along with 48,000 devotees, donated their properties just for this social cause. Today the Sathanur Dam in Tamil Nadu stands tall, as a symbol of her care for her people. She has also built the Panchamurthy Dharshan Mandapam at the Arunachaleshwara Temple.
8. DAIVASIKHAMANI DESIKAR
Daivasikhamani Desikar was the founder of Thiruvannamalai Aadeenam. He.was born in 1250. He was a Saiva saint, fortunate to have performed worship by touching the body of the Saint of Annamalai. He took birth among the Aadi Saivas. He went to the Thiruvannamalai temple along with his father in the year 1266.He forgot himself there and with great surrender and weeping eyes sang songs; Annamalayaar appeared and he got enlightenment.There he got the divine command, and went to Nandideva for instructions. Nandideva came to him in a dream, it is believed.
By the year 1290 he had acquired all the divine powers; he was forty then. He prayed for the Lord to manifest as Swayambhu. “Come to Kaalathee” commanded the Lord. He went; found a Siva Linga amidst an anthill. That Linga, known as Kaalathee Appan, is still there in the temple, as a separate entity.
Between 1291 and 1342, the king came to Bhavanai. His horse died and the king was terrified. Daiva Sikhaamanni Desikar sprinkled water on the horse and uttered the words “THEERUVAITEZHUTTHU”. The snake that bit the horse appeared and sucked the venom back out of the horse, bringing the horse back to life.
It was the year 1310, and the sage was sixty, when the Aadeenam was founded. He was the first pontiff of the Aadeenam. He had enormous spiritual powers; a tiger and cow could interact with each other together in his presence.
He stayed at the junction of the streets on the west and the north of the temple, at the foot of the hill. It was here that the devotees saw him, and were overwhelmed with devotion.When he was seventy five he handed over the charge of the Mutt to one Thandavaraaya Desikar.
On the day Pururattaadi star, in the month of Aavani, in the year 1325, Daivasikhaamani Desikar, the first pontiff of the Mutt, attained “Jeeva Samaadhi”.
9. THAVATHIRU PANIPATHIRA SWAMIGAL
Few mutts at Thiruvannamalai has no proper maintenance and few other mutts are being taken care of the concerned people who are living there . Few of such mutts which followed the great Saiva tradition is Panipathira Devar mutt, Jalikantha Gurudevar mutt, Nedumara mudi devar mutt, Sithiramammutti Devar mutt. Swamigal belongs to Kannada Sivacharya aarathiya tradition. His guru belonged to Gumlapuram, place near Krishnagiri. In 1259 BC, One Giri Devar belonging to Gumlapuram mutt tradition came to be known later as Panipathira swamigal. He used to chant Shiva mantra all time and do Siva linga pooja. He blessed people with basma ash and blessed them with shiva mantra. He used to bring items for shiva pooja after taking bath. One day he dint have jug to fetch water and worried since it was time for pooja. At that time lord Annamalai voice was heard saying that the water wil become vessel and items wil be there in it. On fetching water in hand the water itself became vessel and hence he got that name. Once he prayed to Lord Annamalaiyar, that he want to serve food to his devotes who visit him. He used to keep that vessel in Pooja room and asked his wife to count the number of heads who are there. On knowing he would go and ask the lord. And the gold coins required to serve the devotees who have arrived on that day would just appear on that vessel. On handing over it to his wife for buying the food items, the vessel would disappear. Similarly daily he would come with new vessels with pooja items(thirumanjan). Like this after living many years he attained liberation one day. His birth and death is not known. Shiva linga which he had worshipped is kept at the back of Kumarar temple even today.
10. SIVATHIRU JNANAPRAKASHA SWAMIGAL
Sivathiru Arumuga Navalar – Swami Vibulanantha Adigal were the key divine beings who imparted Saivam and Tamil language among Yarzhpanai tamilians of Yeezha Desam. Before their period, Jnyanaprakasar, a divine poet was well known at Tirunelveli, a small town of Yazhpanai city. He was adept in Tamil grammar and literature at his young age itself. On his arrival to Tamil Nadu, he got initiated into Shiva Deeksha from Annamalai Sivachariyar, a temple priest. Then he went to Thillai, sang songs on Lord Natrajar and got His blessings. Then he took sanyas from Gurumurthy of Thiruvannamalai Adheenam and learnt Siva agamas. He lived in a small hut in Thiruvannamalai and had many experiences by moving and learning from other shiva saints. Then he travelled to Chidambaram in his middle age and translated many shastra books to north languages. From the wealth he got from the treasure under the mutt he lived, he established a water pool and Jnyanaprakasam mutt. He gave commentaries on Shivajnyana Sithiyar. He was also known as Thiruvannamalai Jnyanaprakasar. His birth and death is not known. He spent his last days in Chidambaram and attained liberation.
Arunagirinathar is an important Saint who has authored the famous ‘Tiruppugazh’. He was born in 1397 AD in the Devadasi (ancient temple dancers) community of Sengunthar tradition. His mother Muthammai was a famous devadasi and his father Chandramouli was from Mullanpuram near Arani in South India. He was a rich trader. He learnt all the arts and was well supported by his mother. His house was in East street, now called as Kosa mutt street lane. He lost his grandmother and mother early in life and was brought up by his sister. In his youth, he spent his time and money on prostitutes and lost everything, including his health. He was frustrated at the age of 38 and decided to commit suicide from the Vallala Gopuram. However, he was protected by Lord Muruga and also gained his health. In his previous birth, he was a dacoit but worshiped Murugan. Lord Muruga assured him that He would save him in his next birth. Then, Muruga asked him to go to Vayalur. He visited 139 temples and recited the Thiruppugazh from 1425-48 AD. Out of 16000 hymns only 1367 are available. These are available in Bangalore museum and in Germany.
In another incident, there was a poet named Villiputhurar from Tamil Nadu who was known to be highly egoistic. He would often challenge other poets and if they lost in the competition he would cut their ears off. It was Arunagirinathar’s turn and Villiputhurar sung ‘Azhagarandadhi’. Arunagirinathar gave the song’s meaning beautifully and won the competition. Now, it was Arunagiri’s turn and he sung ‘Sundarandadhi’. When he sung 54th hymn which was very difficult, Villiputhurar lost the competition and Arunagiri was revered ever since.
Sambandhandan was the court poet of the king Prabuda Devarayan. The poet was jealous of Arunagirinathar and he convinced the king to hold a competition. He was to bring the Goddess Ambal to the King’s court and Arunagirinathar was to bring Lord Murugan to the court by singing songs. When Sambandhandan sang, Amba appeared to him only. When Arunagirinathar’s turn came, Sambandhandan asked Ambal to keep Murugan in her lap. Listening to the song, a peacock danced and Murugan appeared and blessed all those in court, winning Arunagirinathar the competition.
After some time the king was suffering from a severe disease which could only be cured by the divine flower ‘Manonmaniam’. Sambandhandan planned to take revenge on Arunagirinathar. At the request of the king, Arunagirinathar left his body in the Gopurathuilayanar temple and entered the body of parrot and brought the flower, saving the king. However, before he could re-enter his own body, Sambandhan burnt it. In parrot form, Arunagirinathar sang ‘Kandar anuboothi’ and merged in Oneness with Paramashiva at the age of 61 in the year 1448 AD.
Even now, his sannidhi (shrine) is in the Annamalai temple.
12. GUHAI NAMASHIVAYAR (SAGE NAMASSIVAAYAR OF THE CAVE.)
Was born Sreesailam region, was the disciple of Sivaananda Desikar. He was a Kannadiga, and belonged to the Veerasaivas. Annamalayaar came to Namassivaayar in a dream, and gave him sermons. When he was coming to Thiruvannamalai on horse, enroute there was a wedding at a house. After giving sacred ashes to everybody, he started on his journey. Suddenly the house caught fire and turned into cinders. Terrified Namassivaayar revived the whole thing. The people called him Lord Siva.
It was here that he took the vow not to stay in anybody’s house. He came to Tiruvannamalai, but did not stay at any house, but sat at a public place; performed Ashtalinga Pooja and went into meditation. Every day he used to stand before the temple of Annamalaayaar, but would never bow to the deity; he would ask, by gesture, “are you okay?”. This was a sign of complete devotion and love. A yogi, Sivaagraha Yogi by name, saw this, and hit him with a cane. Namassivaayar changed and the Yogi repented for what he had done.
Sivaanana Desikar was his Guru. Aannamayalaar appeared in the form of Sivaanandan Yogi. The Yogi took Namassivaayar into the temple along with his other disciples.Namassivaayar bowed down to the deity and the yogi disappeared. From that day onwards Namassivaayar offered flower garlands to the deity and sang songs in praise of the Lord. All this was the result of the blessings of Annamayalar.
Then he stayed in the temple entrance, at Nandavanam on the circumambulation route of the hill. Annamalayaar invited him to the cave at the foot of the hill. He stayed in the cave and became the Namassivaayar of the cave.
There was a Peepal tree of stone near the cave, and he did penance on a swing tied to that tree.He stayed there as the personification of spiritual knowledge. He had two disciples, who were his personal attendants. The disciple saw, by inner vision, the curtains of the inner temple catching fire. Immediately he took his hands off the Guru’s leg, which he was massaging, and crushed his clothes with his hands, as if putting out the fire.
Once a shepherd came to Namassivaayar with his dead goat, and the sage revived the goat by sprinkling sacred ashes on it. Some people who saw this, made one of their own, act like dead, and brought the “dead” one to the sage with request to revive him. The sage told them the truth, that the dead cannot come back to life. That person was indeed dead. There are umpteen instances connected with Guhai Namassivaayar.
He wrote a hymn in praise of Annamalayaar; performed many ‘Siddhis’; initiated many families; had vision of Annamalayaar on many occasions.
When Guhai Namassivaayar wanted to take Jeeva samaadhi, Annamalayaar forbade him and granted him two hundred years more. After living for two centuries, on the day of Pooraatam, in the month of Kaartikai, one day prior to Kaarthikai Deepam celebrations,Guhai Namassivaayar took Jeeva samaadhi.
13. THAVATHIRU SONACHALA THEVAR
Sonachala Thevar was from the Veera Saiva tradition and a disciple of Chidambara Swamy who built Thiruporur Murugan temple. In the Chidambarasamy Varalaru it is mentioned that Sonachala Thevar stayed in Tiruvannamalai and had the vigour to walk around the Arunachala Hill till the age of 90.
A man named Tiripurandaha Mudaliar Of Poonamallee near Chennai was a rich, but after his marriage he did not have a child for a long time. By the grace of Lord Murugan, he had a child but the child was born dumb. His name was Sivasankaran and his father took him to Chidambara swamy of Thiruporur and by the grace of Murugan he started speaking. They stayed there for some time and performed pujas and aradhana to Murugan.
Some time later, Chidambara swamy was not well and Annamalaiyar (Paramashiva) appeared as a Sivachariar before Sonachala Thevar and informed him about his Guru. Immediately he left to Thiruporur and met Chidambara Swamy. During worship to Lord Murugan, Chidambaraswamy disappeared in the Sanctum. Sonachala Thevar convinced Tiripurandaha Mudaliar and initiated his son Sivasankaran as the next pontiff, even though he was the first disciple of Chidamaraswamy. Then, he left for Tiruvannamalai and continued circumambulating around the hill till the age of 90 and finally left his body there.
14. SIVATIRU AMMANI AMMAIYAAR
Ammani Amman was born in 1735, in Arasangamani, to the west of Tiruvannamalai. She was the reincarnation of Goddess Chennammaal (a form of Devi, the divine consort of Paramashiva), of Chennasamudram. She was a true seeker, and despite marrying, she stayed celibate her whole life. One day, Paramashiva appeared to her in a dream and said, “The work on the northern Gopuram (tower) of my temple has stopped; come.”
Ammani Amman began the work and sought donationsfor it. She would approach every household and say, “Ammani Amman has come. The work on the Gopuram should be done. Give me one thirtieth portion of the money you have kept in the sixth mud-pot of your house”. People were surprised.
For collecting funds, she went to the king of Mysore. The sentry at the gate refused her entry. Through her yogic abilities and powers, she appeared before the king and pleaded for funds. The king was astonished, and gives her pearl necklaces, money, silken clothes, elephants, horses etc.
The work on the Gopuram continued. When the eighth stage was being constructed, there came an issue – there were no materials, no donations.
Ammani Amman was distressed, and prayed to Paramashiva, who said that all would be well. Work started. The accountant questioned her as to how they would manage. Finally, workers lined up for wages. Ammani Amman give each of them sacred ashes. To the amazement of every one the ashes had turned into money, and that too equal to their respective wages! Those who worked honestly got plenty, and those who cheated, got fake money. Work having been completed, Ammani Amman performed the Kumbhaabhishekam – the first to be performed by a woman.
To supervise the work she stayed nearby. A Siva Linga was also installed there, which is worshipped till date. At Sengam, the rock, on which Ammani Amman did penance, is known as Ammani Ammian-rock.
The North Gopuram of the temple in Tiruvannamalai is called Ammani Amman Gopuram. At the age of fifty, on the day Thai Poosam, in the year 1785, Amani Amman attained Jeeva Samaadhi.
15. THAVATHIRU DHATCHINAMURTHY SWAMIGAL
Siva Chidambaram pillai and Meenatchi Ammal of Keezhalathur near Tiruchirapalli had a son many years after their marriage by the grace of Annamalaiyar. He was named Arunachalam who became Datchinamurthy Swamigal subsequently. After two years he had a brother named Namachivayam. Till his age of five Arunachalam was not speaking and the parents were worried much thinking that he is dumb. One day Arunachala came to their house in disguise as a sadhu. The parents expressed their difficulties to the sadhu. Sadhu wanted to see the boy. He was in meditation and the sadhu said that he is born tol make his house and country great. The sadhu asked him why he is not speaking and the boy replied that he is keeping quiet. Then the sadhu asked him “who are you?” He replied,” You are me-Me is you” and the sadhu said,”This is Truth-Truth” and disappeared. The parents who have witnessed this understood that Arunachala himself has come and graced them and they took care of this Divine child with care.
The boy had ‘Wak sakthi’ and whatever he said became reality and made precise predictions. Both the boys were admitted in school and they were good in studies. Arunachalam was very fast understanding the lesson and he also did many precise predictions in the school. So the teachers got fear and they gave respect to him. So Arunachalam did not wanted to disturb the teachers and stopped going to the school. Namachivayam also discontinued his studies and serving his parents.
One day Namachivayam went to the garden to fetch flowers. He saw a mango fruit on the garden sand and ate it despite remembering his elder brother’s advice against doing so. Arunachalam instructed him not to fetch flowers for puja and to atone his sin asked him to go on pilgrimage. Namachivayam went for Kasi Yatra without informing others. When the parents were worried, he informed them that he is on pilgrimage to Kasi and even after return he will not marry and it will do only good for them. As he said, on return from Kasi Yatra, Namachivayam went to Keezh velur, served Nilabadi Gnaniar and as per his fate took sanyas. Like this he made several predictions and miracles and healed people directly and also fro distance.
After his parents passed away, Swami performed his final rites and then during wandering reached Vaitheeswaran koil and caused a miracle in the temple administration. Those who have caused problem to Swami have faced many problems in their life.When he was in Viralimalai he was hungry and Murugan gave him food. He ate the food and gave the balance to a Tahsildar to eat. His Tuberculosis disease disappeared. These are all few examples only. In one such miracle Thillai Thirukoothan asked a devotee to go to Thiruvarur and get healed by Dakshinamurthy. Again he appeared in his dream to go to Arunachalasamy and he gave him some food from his plate and the disease was healed. Thereafter he was called as Dakshinamurthy Swami.
As per records Esana Desikar aka Kandappar went to Tiruvarur and got initiated by Dakshinamurthy Swami. Since Esana Desikar lived in 18th century it can be safely assumed that he belongs to 18th century.
16. THAVATHIRU SADGURU SWAMIGAL
He was born in the year 1808 in a beautiful village, Villapuram in Ernakulam district and his original name was Anantha Narayanan. He was initiated by Kannanur Mouna Guru. He led a married life and reported to have taken sanyas in his middle age. Then he went on a pilgrimage to Servarayan hills and Kalladi in Salem district and meditated there. He later went to Himalayas and did penance in places like Kedarnath and Badrinath and then worshipped Kasi, Gaya and Thriveni and finally chose Tiruvannamalai. After worshipping Annamalaiyar he went to the Banyan tree cave in the hills and sat in meditation. His disciple Yogiswara Swami served him. One day he blessed Bala Ramana. When Yogiswara swami went for begging in a midnight on the advise of his guru a miracle happened. Shanmugam pillai of nearby Kanalapadi village started visiting this cave and they developed friendship. He used to take him to Kanalapadi and host him. He became popular in Tamilnadu and finally he settled in Kanalapadi in the year 2004 at the request of Shanmugam pillai.
There was no rain continuously for 12 years and the villagers requested him for rain. Then he sang about Annamalai and there was heavy rain filling the lakes and tanks. Swamigal who was staying in the top of the hill wanted a cottage on the foot of the hill. When they were searching for a place he suggested a place near the Narayana Desikar madalayam. He stayed in that cottage with his disciple and blessed the people and in the year 1923 at the age of 115 he merged into the lotus feet of Annamalaiyar. Then Yogiswarar with other devotees constructed a big samadhi temple and it was renovated in the year 1981. Now samadhi of his disciples are also there and it is being maintained. Those who visit Annamalai can also visit Kanalapadi and worship the Swamigal.
17. SIVATHIRU GNANIYAR ADIGALAR
He was born on 17.05.1873 In Thirunageswaram near Kumbakonam to Annamalaiyar and Parvathi Ammaiyar . His original name was Palaniyandi and his father was guru to Veera Saivar community. On the instruction of Tirupadiripuliyur Mutt’s fourth Gurumurthy Thavathiru Sivashanmuga Paramasiva Meignana Sivachariya Swamigal Palaniyandi was handed over to him as a six months old child. With the Guru’s brought up he was well educated and excelled in character. He became scholar in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. At the age of 17 he was given Mantra Deeksha and Achariar Abhishekam by his Guru and and nominated him as the 5th guru And Madathipathi of the Mutt and his name was changed to Sivathiru Sivashanmuga Meignana Sivacharya Swamigal. Shortly he was called as Gnaniyar Swamigal/Gnaniar Adigal.
After the demise of his Guru, he learnt Tamil literature and Grammar from Chidambaram Swaminatha Iyer and mastered it. In the year 1900 when Palanatham Jamindar Pandithurai Thevar met him, Adigalar asked him to bring back the glory of Tamil language. Thevar asked his brother Bhaskara Sethupathi to establish Tamil Sangam in Madurai and the Sangam was established on 24.05.1901. Adigalar was a Tamil scholar and a great orator. He have Tamil discourses all over Tamilnadu in the programs organised by the Madurai Tamil Sangam and the language started growing. He has established “Vani Vilasa Sabha” and Tamil and Saivam started growing. He has joined with other scholars of Tamil and Saivam and established several organisations and Tamil Schools and colleges. Due to his efforts many Tamil pandits became Tamil teachers and were working in Schools and colleges.
He was attracted by Annamalaiyar and used to visit Annamalai regularly and he was associated with ‘Sakthi Vilasa Mandapam’ and gave lectures on Deepam festivals. He had a fracure in his leg and at the age of 68 He performed Girivalam on a Deepam festival day with Devara group and then he wanted to worship Palani Andavar and reached there. On 31.01.1942 on Thai Poosam day he merged with Palaniyandi.
18. SIVATIRU PALANI SWAMIGAL
He was born in the year 1851 in Panaiyur village near Madurai in a Pandithar family who were devotees of Siva. He lost his parents in his early life and no one supported him. So he went to Palani and helped his community people in their profession. With the grace of Palani Murugan he wanted to go to Tiruvannamalai at the age of 13. He reached Tiruvannamalai by walk and he cleaned the temple in sadhu dress. Reddiar Swamy of Ilayanar koil in the temple admired him because of his brisk service in the temple. Reddiar Swamy had a plan to organise the sadhus who were lazy, by providing food and utilise their service to renovate the temple premises and maintain it beautifully. He handed over the savings to Palaniyandi and asked him to fulfill his vision and passed away.
With the blessings of Annamalaiyar he digged a well with the help of devotees and with the copious supply of water he developed the temple garden – Nandavanam. They got plenty of flowers and decorated the deities with flower garlands. Everybody admired Palaniyandi for his organising capacity and he become very popular in the temple. Devotees from nearby village temples sought his help and he organised people there and renovated many temples. He spent his life in renovating and constructing many temples in the surrounding places. After he became old he returned to Annamalaiyar temple and one day he saw Bala Ramana in the Padhala linga temple and noticed that he was tired. With the help of some devotees he brought him out gave bath, new dress and food and saved him. He also predicted that the Bala Ramana is the future Mahan of Tiruvannamalai.
In the year 1929 at the age of 78 he reached the lotus feet Shiva and his samadhi is located by the side of Avalurpettai Santhai Medu Mottai pillaiyar temple which was renovated by him at the request of the villagers. At his request Palaniandavar deity is erected on his samadhi and worshipped. Panditha community people of this place have built Palanisamy Thirumadam and they worship him and continue temple service.
19. ADIMUDI SIDDHAR
He was born in a village near Chennai in the year 1835. Till the age of 40, he was living with his wife and children as a householder. By the grace of Lord Annamalaiyar, and in the year 1875, he came to Tiruvannamalai.
Gowthama Munivar, who was responsible for the formation of the river Godavari in Maharashtra, was instructed by Paramashiva to come to Tiruvannamalai. Adimudi Siddhar was fortunate to perform puja in his Ashram. He was helped maintain this ashram. He was majestic, with 108 long dreadlocks like Paramashiva. He never accepted any food from others, and survived on fruits and roots that he collected from the forest.
He was responsible for the formation of a sacred path around Arunachala hill. Even though his original name was Ramasamy, he earned the name of ‘Adimudi Siddhar’. He also performed many miracles. Finally, in the year 1904, on Chitra pournami day he announced that he would be leaving his body and entered Jeevasamadhi. His Jeeva samadhi is in Gowthamar ashram.
20. TAVATIRU SHRI SHESHADRI SWAMIGAL
Seshadri Swami was born in Vazhur, on the 22nd January, 1870. He lived in Kancheepuram, and held miraculous powers at a young age. Perched on his mother’s hip, Seshaadri went to see the festival celebration of ‘Vaikaasi Vishaakha’. There, he bought a doll of baby Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), after which the seller of that doll was able to sell his entire stock of dolls on the same day. From that day on, he was called Seshadri of Golden Hand.
He would spend much of his time in cremation grounds, immersed in the remembrance of Arunachala. Sheshadri Swami came to Thiruvannamalai in the year 1889, where he realised himself and settled for the remainder of his life.
Once he was walking as part of a funeral procession. Suddenly, he entered a house where a wedding was taking place, to the chagrin of the wedding party. He went to the kitchen, and broke the vessel in which Sambar was being prepared, and took out a dead snake out of it, and walked away.
21. BHAGAWAN RAMANA MAHARSHI.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshiwas a well-known enlightened Guru, who raised the question, “who am I?” He tied the world, at a time where information, connectivity and means were in short supply.
Venkataraman, as he was first called, was born on 29th December 1887. His father died when he was twelve. This was the turning point in his life. He spent months in penance, and was guided by Seshadri Swamigal. The famous Kaavyakanda Ganapathi Muni, praised him. It was he who first called him Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
On Friday, April 14, 1950, the Bhagavan merged with the Ultimate.
22. TAVATIRU SHRI AZHAGHAANANDA SWAMIGAL
He was born in the year 1882 in Karaiyavur village near Salem to Nallan and Maraiammal. He was devoted to God from his childhood and at the age of 36 in the year 1918, he renounced society and became an ascetic. He became a disciple of Guruvanandar of Indra Peetam and was initiated by him.
He walked continuously for ten years, visiting holy sites such as Thillai and Tiruvannamalai. Due to his dedication, many devotees joined him. He spread the lifestyle of vegetarianism in the Salem and Dharmapuri districts, and he was called Dark Vivekananda. His devotees were guided to form mutts (monasteries), which are still functioning as important Shaivite monasteries, which contribute to society through free distribution of food and other activities. He meditated on many hill tops and established a monastery in Tiruvannamala. On 20th August, 1984, at the age of 103, he merged in Oneness with Paramashiva. His samadhi (final resting place) is in Thammanampatti Manickavasagar Madalayam near Dharmapuri and the Siva devotees can worship him and earn his grace.
23. TAVATIRU SHRI AZHAGHAANANDA SWAMIGAL
He was born on 28.09.1898 in Chithirapatnam village near Thuraiyur in Trichy district to Sabapathy Udayar and Vishalatchi ammal. From his early childhood he was devoted to God and possessed good character. Even before he was 16 he learnt literature and grammar from a learned teacher. As per his family tradition he led his cows to a land for grazing and he was engrossed in Thiruvasagam. The cows damaged the crops of neighbour and they reported this to his father. His father got angry and scolded him. He apologized for his mistake. In the year 1944 at the age of 16 he renounced everything and left the house with a few books and by foot he reached Thiruvannamalai.
He was supported by an elderly person and he also helped him make flower garlands for deities. Thiruvannamalai Esanya Mutt sadhus were attracted by his service to Divine and his good qualities and introduced Natesar to their guru who was the seventh Madathipathi of Esanya Mutt. He accepted him as his disciple. Here he learnt literature, grammar,shastras etc.. and also learnt Sanskrit and became a great scholar. He became a poet and also translated many Sanskrit books into Tamil. At the age of 23 he was coronated as the 8th Madathipathi. He was blessed by Ramana Mahan and Kanchi periyava Chandrasekara Saraswathi Swamigal when he was managing the mutt with grace and lead the Sadhu sangha effectively for a long period.
From 1927 to 1947, he led the Mutt in a grand way and then he left it and on 28.01.1949 arrived at Kariyanur village in Perambalur district. Udayar community saiva devotees of the village provided a Thabovanam on the banks of Vellar river and requested him to do penance there. Swamiji stayed in that naturally beautiful Thabovanam and named it as Shanthi Ashram and blessed the devotees with grace. He taught the people of the place and freed them from quarrel and jealousy and also healed them from many diseases. On 23.02.1960, Swamiji attained Videha Mukti.Every year Jayanthi and Guru puja are conducted by the villagers with love and affection.
24. SIVATIRU SONACHALA BHARATIYAAR
He was born in the year 1858 AD in Puthalipulivai village near Kanchi town to Arunagirinatha Mudaliar and Amirtham ammal. His family was devoted to Annamalaiyar and as per the family tradition all the children were named after Annamalaiyar and Unnamalai Amman. Arunagirinatha Mudaliar and his predecessors were learned and poets. He renounced his family and reached Thiruvannamalai. He wrote many books and poems on Annamalaiyar.
Sonachalam was brought up by his grandparents and became a great scholar and poet. He married Rasambal – daughter of Saidapet Shanmuga Mudaliar. Sona chalam was a great orator and he earned many titles like “Sonachala Kavirayar”, “Bharathi” etc.. He became very popular because of his oration and books. He earned lot of money and spent it on renovating temples. He has written fourteen books singing the glory of Annamalaiyar and Unnamalai Amman and in the year 1925 attained the lotus feet of Annamalaiyar in Kanchi. His samadhi (final resting place) is in agni theertham area of the temple.
25. SIVATHIRU SADACHI AMMAIYAR
Shanmugam Ammal was born in Sivagiri village in Pandiya kingdom in Thondai mandala Saiva vellala family in the early part of 20th century. She was not interested in married life and one night Shiva appeared in her dream and instructed her to come to Tiruvannamalai. She immediately woke up and found that her long hair had become dreadlocks. She started her pilgrimage towards Tiruvannamalai and due to visited many temples before she reached Tiruvannamalai. She stayed in a mutt (monastery) and did seva (offering service) to Shiva by offering flower garlands to him daily and also performed Girivalam. Because of her appearance, people called her Sadachi Ammaiyar. She eventually merged with Annamalaiyar.
26. TAVATIRU ISAKKI SWAMIGAL
He was born in Vittilapuram village in Tuticorin District on 02.05.1917 to his parents Sellaperumal and Muthammal. Even when he was studying in school he had divine powers and at the age of 13 he came to Tiruvannamalai with his parents to see Karthigai Deepam. While performing Girivalam with his parents, he worshiped Nruti Lingam and sat in deep meditation. When they continued the Girivalam, he was in ecstasy after worshipping Pancha mugam. He was attached to the place till his last day. Subsequently, he was called ‘Pancha muga Samiar’. After worshiping Karthigai Deepam they went on pilgrimage by foot and train for three months and visited several temples. After this pilgrimage he visited Tiruvannamalai frequently and stayed in Apparswamy mutt and went around the hill and meditated in Panchamuga.
Even though he was married he always remembered Annamalai and so he returned to the place with his wife. He was a Siddha doctor and earned well and had two children. But he wanted to lead an ascetic life and went on the Girivalam and performed Angapradakshinam every day. He later renounced family life and lead an ascetic life. He became very popular and many devotees approached him for mental and physical health issues. To devotees asked them to perform Girivalam for a number of days. He himself performed 1008 Girivalams. Those who trusted his words and performed Girivalam saw their wishes fulfilled. He installed five lingas in Panchamuga and sat in deep meditation.At the age of 74 on 09.01.1991 , he merged into the lotus feet of Annamalaiyar. His Jeeva Samadhi is in Panchamuga area and worshiped by his devotees.
Let the devotees be benefited by performing Girivalam and get the grace of Annamalaiyar.
27. SIVATIRU ANGA PRADAKSHINA ANNAMALAI SWAMIGAL
He lived in the early 20th century and his service is of the higher order. He performed Angapradakshinam in the old days when the roads were rough. This would inflict severe wounds on his body but he persisted in performing with the wounds. He used to chant ‘Shivaya nama ,Ohm Namah Shivaya’. He was devoted to 63 Nayanmars and he was always thinking about them and offered free food to the devotees.
28. TAVATIRU YOGIRAMSURATKUMAR SWAMIGAL
He was born on 1st December, 1918 in Nardherar village, Ballial District, Uttar Pradesh on the banks of holy river Ganges to Kunvargu Sumalini and Devi Nardara. He was not interested in academics and liked to converse with saints. At the age of 16, he left the house and reached Kasi and was meditating at the viswanathar temple. He was in search of a master but got married to satisfy his parents desires. Even though he had two children, his mind was always fixed on spirituality. Every year in November he visited Aurobindo and sought his blessings. Based on the suggestion of a saint in the ashram, he went to Annamalai and met Ramana Maharishi, a great enlightened master from Tiruvannamalai, in the year 1948. He understood that he is a great master and has more knowledge than Ramadoss swamigal of Karnataka.He stayed there for some time and when Ramana’s eye fell on him he understood its power. That was the turning point in his Ascetic life. He went to Rishikesh and stayed there for some years and then returned to Tamilnadu. As both Aravinder and Ramanar had left their bodies, he went to Karnataka in 1950 and got initiated by Ramadoss Swamigal.
From 1952 to 1960 he was wandering like a vagabond from Himalayas to Cape Komarin. Finally he has decided that Tiruvannamalai is the best place for his enlightenment and settled there in 1960. He was seen everywhere in Tiruvannamalai and nearby villages. He always held a coconut shell in one hand and palm leaf fan in the other. Hence he was called as ‘Visiri Samiyar’. He stayed in a house in Sannadhi street donated by a wealthy person man and fulfilled the wishes of his devotees. Devotees from all over the Tamilnadu came to see him and get his blessings. He was a chain smoker of cigarettes and the devotees offered him cigarettes, fruits and tea. He used to drink the tea from the coconut shell. From the funds offered by an industrialist from Coimbatore and other devotees he built a big ashram on a 10 acre plot in Tiruvannamalai. Due to the effect of past lives karma he fell ill and due to chain smoking he contracted cancer and left his body on 20.02.2001.
29. SIVATIRU MOOPANAAR SWAMIGAL
He was born in Seithunganallur village near Tirunelveli to his parents Villu Muthu Moopanar and Ayyanammal on 16.03.1922. His name was S.V.Arunachalam. He was not interested in going to school and so he joined his father in doing agriculture. He was interested in doing service and admired Gandhiji for fighting for the freedom of the country. He gave free food to 32 students of his village school. Chief Minister Kamaraj visited the school, tasted the food and appreciated him for his service. This was the beginning of the Mid day meal scheme for school children in Tamil Nadu State.
His community was devoted to Annamalaiyar and they followed the tradition of Kungiliya kalaya nayanar and he offered Kungiliya seva to Siva temples. In the year 1968 he went to Annamalai and started serving there. While doing Girivalam he observed that Ashta linga temples are not well maintained and that the temple lands were illegally encroached. In the year 1972 , he fought for the legal rights of the temple lands and brought them back. Swami along with a few devotees formed a ‘Ashta linga trust’ and continued the service. He renovated the temples, built Mandapam, appointed Brahmacharis (Thuravi) to perform daily puja as a service to devotees. Swami began to be addressed as Ashta Linga Siddhar. On 10.04.1999 at the age of 77 he merged with Shiva. All the devotees who visit the Asta Lingam Temples can worship his photos.
30. TAVATIRU NARAYANA GURU SWAMIGAL
Sri Manikam was born in Palkulam near Kanimadam Yogi Ramsuratkumar Mantralayam. His wife’s name was Bhagyalakshmi and their daughter’s name was Krishnamani . He is reported to have been born in the year 1936. He was a devotee of Yogi Ramsuratkumar and was working as a labourer in Tuticorin port. He always wore red colour ‘Namam’ on his forehead and chest. He left home in the year 1985 and after wandering many places he reached Annamalai in 1988. He was in silence and settled in Thirumanjana temple gate side. As lots of devotees were attracted by him he left the place and went to the top of the hill.
Some devotees were offering fruits and milk to him. He was always in silence and very rarely replied to some devotees. He was unaffected by the sun, rain, storm and cold. As he always wore a big red ‘Namam’ on his forehead, he was addressed as Narayana Guru.It is reported that only after he reached the top of the hills he attained yogic power . After he achieved this power, word about Annamalaiyar power started spreading all over the world and started attracting more devotees and wealth. Tiruvannamalai has developed well and the devotees requests are fulfilled. He was seen blessing devotees till 2002 and thereafter his location wasn’t known.
31. TAVATIRU GYANATHAAI UMADEVI AMMAIYAAR
Wealthy and influential Shiva devotee, Sri Shanmuga Mudaliar lived with his wife Gnanambal in Tondiarpet in Chennai. As they did not have a child even after eight years of married life they went on a pilgrimage and worshiped Nagore Andavar. Pirmohamed swamigal took a lemon floating in the sea and gave it to her and also blessed her. He also looked at a small boy who was related to them and smiled and left. They went to Tiruvannamalai and stayed overnight in their relatives house not knowing that the child in the womb was blessed by Annamalaiyar. On 12 th May, 1942 she gave birth to a female child in CMC hospital, Vellore. They named her Umadevi. Even though Umadevi was studying in a english medium school she learnt all spiritual songs. She also learnt singing and dancing and married Muhukumarasami of Thiruvannamalai on 09.09.0964. He was a lawyer and born to a wealthy man Ramu mudaliar ( from the tradition of Arunagirinathar) and Viruthambigai. The boy was blessed by Pirmohamed in Nagore. She gave birth to two girls and thereafter she started living an ascetic life and used to subtly converse with many Masters.
When the husband and wife were on a pilgrimage, a saint asked her to go back to Tiruvannamalai and blessed her that Annamalaiyar will bless her spiritual life. One day she met Isakki swamiyar and as per his blessing she was initiated on a Sivarathri day. Then she did penance for 48 days before ‘Panchamukha linga form’ . Isakkiyar said that she is born for penance and she has the capacity to talk to many enlightened masters and cause many miracles. Then she talked to Sri Sadguru Seshadri swamigal in a subtle way and achieved ‘Waksiddhi’ and blessed many people with this power. Then the Seshadri ashram became busy and famous. Seshadri devotees called her ‘ Gnana thai ‘. On 11th January, 2004 she attained Mahasamadhi and her temple is in the Seshadri ashram. Even now devotees are blessed by her and their problems are solved.
32. ARUNAI MAHAMUNIVAR
Arunai mamuni, vidwan A.Pandurangan was born in Tiruvannamalai to his parents Arunadri and Thayammal in the year 05.06.0916. He was a Tamil scholar and a devotee of Shiva from his boyhood. He studied vidwan course in Annamalai University and came first in college. He worked in Danish mission school, Tiruvannamalai as a teacher and also he was visiting the Annamalaiyar Temple daily and started ‘Thirumurai kazhagam’ in the temple. He involved himself in the Tamil festivals and ‘Saiva samaya’ festivals and became a ‘Arunai mamunivar’.
He was a great Tamil orator and gave lectures during temple festivals and also encouraged many Tamil and saiva scholars to participate in the functions. He has organised many scholars in Saiva scriptures like ‘Devaram’ , Thirukkural etc and the hymns were sung by them in the temple. He has also organised service groups and performed ‘ Uzhavara pani in the temple.
He has also published many saiva literature books and was bedridden at the ripe age of 93 and finally merged with Shiva on 19.09.2009.
33. AZHUKKU SIDHAR
Many siddhas are living in the hill and some of them appear in the hill and temple and some walk around the hill and bless the devotees. One such Siddha was seen by many devotees in the temple. He was dark in complexion and he never takes bath and so he was called ‘ Azhukku siddhar’. He used to walk in the limited portion of the temple only but he would walk very fast. He used to walk at least 40 kilometers in the temple. But he never went beyond the ‘Kili gopuram’.
Except for exceptional cases, he never spoke or accepted anything from others. He had dread locked hair and sometimes after repeated requests would tonsure his head. But he never took bath and always wore a dirty towel on his waist. He used to accept offering from some people and buy some food and eat. But he used to throw away the excess.
A devotee once introduced the Siddhar to a person in the year 1990 and asked him to offer some money to the siddha and whenever possible offer food and dress to him.Further he said by doing so his family problems will be solved . Thereafter he used to offer one or two rupees to him. If he forgets to give some days, the siddha will come and stand before him till he gave money. Sometimes he used to offer new cloth and food and he used to wear it for three days. On some occasions the Siddhar would refuse to accept his offerings and on that day there would be some problems in his house. This devotee has recorded seeing some miracles done by the Siddhar like appearing in two places at a time. For sixteen years he has accepted offerings from him. Then he was in a position to offer Rs 5 or Rs 10 a day. But the Siddhar was not accepting the money but there was no problem in his home. But he was disturbed and on that night his Guru appeared in his dream and said that his account with the Siddhar is settled. Thereafter he was not offering any thing to him and just used to bow down before him and the Siddhar used to smile and leave. On 7th December, 2009 he fell down when he was going around the hill and merged with Shiva.
34. EESAANYAJNAANA DESIKAR
Neelakanta and his wife Uma, of Velur, had no children . They prayed to Lord Murugan and they had a child in the year 1750. He was named Kanthappan. He was a master of Saiva songs, from childhood; he would sing even before being taught, and immediately immerse himself in meditation. When he was seven, he was anointed as Acharya (a teacher), and he came to be called Kandappa Desikar.
He travelled in the Eesanya direction (North-East), and meditated under a Banyan tree. His matted hair grew long. He was sixty. Lord Annamalayaar (Paramashiva) Himself came in the form of a tiger and stood guard for him. Desikar patted the tiger, calling it “Annamalai, my Lord.” He was now addressed as Eesaanya Desikar. Seeing the tiger, other tigers began to gather there as well.
When approached, he miraculously cured the district collector of his Asthma. After that incident, the collector addressed him as grandfather. Soon after this, the River Pennar was overflowing, and the Collector who had come on a horse thought of the Desikar and asked his horse to cross the river. The water parted ways and the horse walked across.
When Desikar’s end was near, he wrote on a palm leaf the date of his death. This is what he wrote: merging with the Lord, Kaliyuga 4930, equal to Chalihaasana Sakaabdham1751, 26 of Markazhi month, Mrugasheersha star, on Thursday, in year 1751.
He sat in Padmaasana (a yogic pose with legs crossed), facing north, with a smiling face and hands folded, and merged himself with the Ultimate. That year was 1829. He attained Jeeva Samadhi at the age of seventy nine.
35. SIVATHIRU BADRASALA SWAMIGAL
He was seen in Tiruvannamalai theradi street in the early part of 20th century. He always carried a bundle of dirty clothes in one hand and wearing a copper bangle on his one leg. He was always drawing some lines on the floor. He was always in silence and unknown to all. He never accepted any offering from anyone. He wandered the streets of Tiruvannamalai for many years and was never seen eating any food. This Sivayogi disappeared suddenly and after many years re appeared in Agni theertha area. He was wandering there for some time and left his body. His samadhi is located beside Seshadri ashram.