Life of Cuntarar
Cuntarar was born as Nambi Arurar to the parents Sadayanar and Isaignani, an Adi Shaiva Brahmin couple, in the village of Tirunavalur. Both his parents were recognized as Nayanars. Narasingamunaiarayar, the ruler of the local kingdom Thirumunaipadi Nadu, adopted Cuntarar and raised him as his own son. Narasingamunaiarayar was concerned by the splendour of the child who was playing in the street.
Later, Cuntarar travelled across Tamil Nadu, and visited numerous Temples of Lord Shiva in Tamil Nadu. In Tiruvarur, in the district of Thanjavur, Cuntarar fell in love with and married a girl named Paravayar, who belonged to the Rudra Kanyakayar caste of female ascetics. According to Cuntarar himself he had 2 children namely Cinkati and Vanapakai. When he was praying at the Padampakkanathar Temple in Thiruvottriyur in Madras (now Chennai), he met with Sangiliyar, who was the daughter of a farmer and fell in love with her. Cuntarar was later married to Sangiliyar (Cankiliyar).
According to legends, Cuntarar mentioned the names of all sixty three future Nayanaars at Tiruvarur; this recitation is known as Tiruttondar-Tokai. Soon he met with Cheraman Perumal and both of them went on a pilgrimage. Subsequently, Cuntarar became exhausted of life and went to heaven on a white elephant, in Swathi Nakshtra in the Tamil month of Aadi.
Pilgrimage of Cuntarar
Cuntarar visited several temples during his pilgrimage where he sang the hymns of Lord Shiva. These temples include Tirunaavaleswarar Temple at Tirunavalur, Vajranadeswara Temple at Tirumasabadi, Atmanadeswarar Temple at Tiruvalamposil, Panchanadhiswarar Temple at Tiruvaiyaru, Virataneswarar Temple at Tirukkandiyur, Pushpavananadheswarar Temple at Tirupundhuruti, Sithisar Temple at Tiruvalanjusi, Padikalitta Eeswarar Temple at Arisirkarai Putur (Azhagar Puthur), Prakasheswarar Temple at Tirunanilam (nannilam), Brahmapuri Nayagar Temple at Tiruchivapuram, Kolilinathar Temple at Tirukkolili (Tirukuvalai), Amirdhakalayeswarar Temple at Torukalayanalur (Saakkottai), Cuntareswarar Temple at Tirupanaiyur, Turaiyurppesurar Temple at Trurhuraiyur (Tirutarur), Manikkamenivaradhar Temple at Tirumanikusi (Thirumaandakuzhi), Tirundheeswarar Temple at Tirurinainagar (Teerthanagiri), Shenbagaranyeswarar Temple at Tirunageswaram, Mayooranaathar Temple at Mayiladuturai(Maayooram), Kumeswarar Temple at Tirukudamuku (Kumbakonam), Tiruvambar Maakaalam Temple at Tiruvambar (Ambal), Nataraja Temple at Thillai (Chidambaram), Shivaloganaathar Temple at Tirupungur, Tiruvadhigai Veerattaanam Temple at Tiruvadhigai etc.
Poetic Works of Cuntarar
Cuntarar sang numerous devotional songs but only 1026 of them are still available. He usually dressed himself like a bride-groom, relished the bliss of worldly life and exalted the grace of Lord Shiva through his verses. All his songs in Tevaram contain pleasing music and a gratifying rhythm. Cuntarar explained about various shrines in their stunning natural scenic settings. He ostracized and composed hymns against the poets who sang praises of kings for favours. Cuntarar states in several hymns that instead of asking help from kings and noble men for favours, poets should pray to Lord Shiva for his eternal grace. And it is by the grace of Shiva that they would attain that magnitude to enlighten people through their verse, their writing.
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