Contributed by EUGENIO & SOBHANÃwww.ramalinga.com(Please visit this wonderful website on Sri Ramalinga Swamy, a Siddhar saint who attained Light in the near recent history!)
A brief biography of Saiva Siddhar Saint Manickavasagar :
Near Nayanmars period, in Tiruvadavur (near Madurai) lived a pious Brahmin. He and his dutiful wife got a worthy son whom they named Vadavurar. As the child grew, his wisdom increased as well. The king of Madurai, having heard of his qualities, made him his Prime Minister. As days passed, however, dispassion grew in Vadavurars heart. Even while he was administering the affairs of the state, his mind was fixed on the Lotus Feet of the Lord.
He longed to meet the real Guru. One day Tiruvadavur was directed by the king to proceed to the east coast and procure quality horses that were being traded there. The minister proceeded with a vast sum of money, and on his way, as he approached Tirupperunturai, he heard the sound of Vedic hymns. Lord Siva, in the guise of a Brahmin, was seated under a tree near the temple. The Brahmins magnetic personality attracted Vadavurar. With overflowing love and devotion, he fell at the Brahmins feet. By His grace, Vadavurar was able to recognize him as his real Guru and prayed: Oh Lord, kindly accept me as your slave and bless me. The Lord cast a graceful glance on Vadavurar. This at once removed all his sins and purified his heart. Then the Lord initiated him into the divine mysteries of Siva Jnana. This very initiation entranced him. With love as the string and his nectarine words as the gems, he made a garland and offered it at the Gurus feet. The Lord was highly pleased with it, and called him Manikavasagar since the hymns sung by him were like gems in Wisdom. The Lord asked him to stay on at that place, and disappeared. Separation from the Lord and Guru, made Manikavasagar suffer intense pain and anguish. Soon, he consoled himself and lived in the remembrance of the Lord and Guru.
Manikavasagar adopted the life of a mendicant, and spent all his wealth renovating the temple at Tirupperunturai dedicated to Shiva. The king, upon seeing no sign of the promised horses or his esteemed chief minister, sent out emissaries in search and was enraged to hear of what had happened. Manikavasagar was admonished and condemned to be tortured. He prayed to the Lord. The Lord heard him and willed that all the jackals of the place should assume the form of horses. He also sent His celestial servants to act as horsemen. He Himself assumed the form of a trader in horses and reached Madura on Avani Moolam. The thought that he had unnecessarily tortured Manikavasagar pained the kings heart. He at once apologized to him. But day passed into night and, in accordance with the Lords will, the horses assumed their original form of jackals. The king got terribly angry with Manikavasagar and he prayed to the Lord for His help again. At once the Lord caused a heavy flood in the river Vagai. There was panic everywhere in the town and the soldiers who were guarding Manikavasagar also fled. He went to the temple to worship the Lord. The king finally understood that it was all the Lords Lila, recognizing the greatness of Manikavasagar.
The king requested Manikavasagar to accept the rulership of the kingdom, but the saint refused this offer. At Perunturai, Manikavasagar sang highly inspiring songs and prayed that he should see the Lord in the form of the Guru, as He appeared at first. He asked him to go to Chidambaram. On the way he visited many shrines. In every shrine, unless the Lord appeared in the original form of the Guru, he would not be satisfied. At Tiru Uttarakosha Mangai, he wept bitterly when he did not see Him as the Guru. By stages he reached Chidambaram and, residing there, he composed the Tiruvacagam hymns. One day Lord Siva went to Manikavasagar in the disguise of a Brahmin and told him: I want to hear Tiruvacagam from your own holy lips. I shall write it down, so that I can learn it and with its help free myself from the shackles of Samsara. Manikavasagar agreed to do it and the Brahmin (Lord Siva) wrote down the hymns on palm leaves. Then he suddenly disappeared and at once Manikavasagar knew that the Brahmin was the Lord Himself. The Lord left the hymns lying on the temple steps, where was discovered by the Brahmins of Tillai. In the end was written Manikavasagar repeated this, Tiru Chitrambalam wrote this. The Brahmins wanted to know the meaning, so they showed these verses to Manikavasagar who took them into the temple and, pointing to the image of blissfully Dancing Lord, said: This Tillai Nataraja is the purport of these stanzas. He is the meaning of them. Then Manikavasagar immersed himself in the Supreme Light and become One with Lord Siva.
Sri Ramalinga Swami's Experience!
The following verses are part of a song of praise on the saint Manikavasagar composed by Sri Ramalinga, also in his early age.
Devotees madly seeking after Peru Veli, the Vastness of the Truth-World which is beyond mind and all the instrumentation that arise from out of the womb of the Darkness (Karu Veli, the subconscient and inconscient darkness) got stuck up in Guru Veli, the Space of Heaven. But Oh you! Who hail from Vathavur, got unified in that very pure and supreme Space of Universal Form which is praised by the Vedas
People who have been doing Tapas for a long time absorbed in mind in that well-known chakra of Ajna (at the middle of eye brows) and thereby becoming lean in body with a bony frame have been disappointed not finding the Goal. But, Oh Lord of beautiful Vathavur! You attained successively a form of Love, a form of Grace and finally a form of Bliss.