Sambanthar
(c. 570–670 C.E.)
   Tamil Shaivite poet-saint
   Sambanthar (he connected to God through divine wisdom) is among the trio of most prominent Tamil SHAIVITE saints whose hymns appear in the central liturgical and literary text of the Tamil Shaivas, the TEVARAM.
   Born to a BRAHMIN family in Cirkali, Tamil Nadu, near the famous Shaivite shrine of CHID-AMBARAM, Sambanthar was a child prodigy; it was said that he began composing hymns in praise of SHIVA when he was just a child. He is said to have mastered Vedic learning at age three and received by a miracle the ability to compose sacred poetry from Shiva himself.
   While still quite young Sambanthar com-pleted four great pilgrimages to shrines of the Tamil region, accompanied by other devotees. A minstrel who accompanied him on these jour-neys set his hymns to music—or, most likely, simply recorded the melodies that the young saint spontaneously sang; they are still sung by devotees today.
   Sambanthar’s hymns frequently condemn the Buddhists and Jains (see JAINISM). He is said to have converted the Pandyan king of Madurai from JAINISM to Shaivism. Many miracles are associated with his life. Legend says that when his parents, at last, arranged his marriage, Shiva appeared as a great blaze of light and invited the saint to merge with him. The wedding party and bride joined the saint in final union with God, before his marriage could be finalized.
   Further reading: A. Kandiah, Mystic Love in the Tevaram (Colombo: A. Kaniah, 1987); Indira Viswanathan Peter-son, Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989); P. S. Somasundaram, Tirujnanasambandhar: Philosophy and Religion (Madras: Vani Patippakam, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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