Siva Puranam – Introduction
(Life of the author Maanicka Vaasagar)
Maanicka Vaasagar belongs to 3rd century. He was born in a place, ThiruVaadha Voor. He hailed from Brahmin community. He had been very pious and intelligent. He was very serious about attaining salvation; so he kept on searching for a spiritual master. The king Arimardhana Pandian comes to know about the noble virtues and merits of Maanicka Vaasagar and invites him to his court to serve as the chief minister of Paandiya Naadu. Maanicka Vaasagar accepts the king’s invitation. He used to worship Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi everyday in Madurai, the capital of Paandiya Naadu. Maanicka Vaasagar’s truthfulness, devotion and sincerity made him a reputed and trusted personality. The king and the people were greatly benefited by his service.
In the mean time, the king decides to send Maanicka Vaasagar to purchase new horses for his military force, as the existing ones got older and sicker. The king hands over a lump sum amount to Maanicka Vaasagar and asks him to buy new horses for the country.
Maanicka Vaasagar leaves Madurai for buying healthy horses. As ever, he is looking for his spiritual master all along the way. In a place called Thirupperum Thurai, he sees a Siva Yogi with his disciples. Maanicka Vaasagar is attracted by the sage’s grandeur. He becomes a disciple of the Siva Yogi and takes Upadesa Dheeksha from him. After giving the spiritual initiation, the sage disappears. As far as Maanicka Vaasagar is concerned, Sivapuranam by Manickavasagar the sage is none other than God Himself. Out of spiritual bliss and opulence, he started to sing devotional songs on the Lord of the universe. It is in this place that Maanicka Vaasagar recited Siva Puranam. The godly minister spends all the money that the king had handed over to him in devotional activities. He built a temple in Thirupperum Thurai. The king came to know about this unpermitted expenditure done by the minister. He sends persons to bring Maanicka Vaasagar to the courtyard. Maanicka Vaasagar asks for God’s mercy. He is given answer by God that the horses will come on the Moola Nakshatra day of the Tamil Aavani month. Then Maanicka Vaasagar goes to Madhurai and tells the king that the horses would come to the city on so and so date. The ‘horses’ came on a little latter day. The king was happy about it. But, during the mid hour of the night all the horses had become foxes and had run away to the forest.
The chief minister was taken for a toll. He was mercilessly tortured by the king over the ‘misdeed’ done by him. To rescue Maanicka Vaasagar, God sends heavy rain falls and the river Vaigai gets flooded. The mud walls in the river side break up and the water gushed into the Madurai city. The king orders his citizens to employ themselves in patching the damaged shore of the river. One resident of each home should work in the repair works – this is the order of the king. An aged lonely lady by name Vandhi employs a Coolie to accomplish the repair work allotted for her. But the servant was lazy and adamant. The king saw the obdurate servant and gave a beat on his back through his (king’s) stick. Everyone, including the king experienced that beat. The servant disappeared and the Asareeri voiced, ‘Release Maanicka Vaasagar and indulge yourself in service activities’. Then the king releases the minister and begs for pardon. He requests Maanicka Vaasagar to continue his chief ministerial services. But Maanicka Vaasagar refuses, leaves Madurai and starts visiting holy places.
He visits and praises the Lord in Uthira Kosa Mangai, Thiruvannamalai and Thirukkazhukundram. Then he comes to Chidambaram and settles down in penance. During his stay in Chidambaram, the king of Ezha (in the border of Sri Lanka) with his Buddhist monks, comes to South India to destroy Saivism and to spread Budhism. Maanicka Vaasagar wins them in debate and makes a dumb girl speak. The Saivism got stabilized again in the south through Maanicka Vaasagar.
He sings Thirukkovaiyar in Thillai and places the palm leaves in Pon Ambalam of the temple. (There are five Ambalams (stages) for Lord Nataraja in Tamil Nadu. The one in Chidambaram is made up of gold. The stage in Madurai temple is made up of silver. The stage is Thiruvaalangaadu is made of Rathinam (gems). The dancing stage in the temple of Nellayappar is made of copper. The stage in Kuttraalam is made up of wood paintings.) The priests of the temple, after reading the hymns, request Maanicka Vaasagar to explain the meaning therein. Maanicka Vaasagar replies pointing to the idol of the Cosmic Dancer (Lord Natarajar), ‘He is the meaning of these verses’. Then he gets absorbed in the Light and becomes one with the Lord.