- (c. end of seventh and beginning of eighth centuries C.E.)Tamil Shaivite poet-saintSundarar (also known as Nambi Arur and Sun-tharamurtti) is among the trio of the most prom-inent Tamil Shaivite saints (NAYANMARS) whose hymns appear in the central liturgical and liter-ary text of the Tamil Shaivites, the TEVARAM.Sundarar, “the Handsome One,” was born a Shaivite BRAHMIN in Tirunavalur. SHIVA claimed Sundarar as his devotee, it is said, on Sundarar’s wedding day, before his marriage could be com-pleted. However, Sundarar later married a temple dancer, Paravai, whom he often mentions in his hymns, and a non-BRAHMIN, upper-caste woman, Cankili.Sundarar lived in the Shaivite city of Tiru-varur, although as the other saints of the Tevaram did, he often traveled to other shrines to sing his devotion of Shiva. He also sang the praises of kings and local chieftains who were his bene-factors. Sundarar, they say, went to heaven on a white elephant (perhaps the white elephant of Indra), accompanied by a Chera king. Sundarar is depicted in iconography with his two wives. His courtly life contrasted with the more austere life of his contemporaries APPAR and SAMBANTHAR, the others of the sacred trio of saints in Tamil Shaivism.Further reading: Indira Viswanathan Peterson, Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989); M. A. Dorai Ran-gaswamy, The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram, with Special Reference to Nampi Arurar (Sundarar) (Madras: University of Madras, 1990).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.