- (Tirunavakkarasu)(c. 570–670 C.E.)Tamil Shaivite poet and saintAPPAR was one of the three most prominent Tamil Shaivite saints (see SHAIVISM, NAYANARS), whose hymns appear in the central liturgical and literary text of the the Tamil Shaivites, the TEVARAM.Appar was born under the name Marunaikkiyar to a Vellala (agricultural class) family in Tiruvamur. His family were Shaivite but he converted to JAIN-ISM as a youth, taking on the name Dharmasena. Afflicted by a painful abdominal disease, the young Jain monk turned to his sister, a Shaivite, for help. At her request he put his faith in Shiva, and was miraculously cured. He immediately converted back to the faith of his birth. He began to sing passionate hymns to Lord Shiva, which angered his former Jain associates. It was said that he was persecuted and even tortured by the angry Jains but by the grace of Shiva was unharmed.Appar is said to have led the Pallava king, who had also converted to Jainism, back to Shiva. He was recognized as a saint and spent his time travel-ing from one shrine to the next singing hymns at each sacred location. Iconographically, Appar is often showing holding a hoe, for he was known for clearing the temple grounds of weeds and grass in service to Lord Shiva. His beautiful lyrics and speech earned him the name Tirunavakkarasu, “He who is the king of eloquence.” It is said that he was first called Appar (my father) by his younger con-temporary SAMBANTHAR, who addressed him thus.Further reading: Appar: A Sketch of His Life and Teach-ings (Madras: G. A. Natesa, n.d.); Ratna Ma Navarat-nam, The Vision of Periyapuranam (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1987); Indira Viswanathan Peterson, Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989); J. M. Nallas-wami Pillai, trans., Periyapuranam (the Lives of the Saiva Saints) (Madras: Rajan, 1955); T. N. Ramachandran, trans., St. Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam (Thanjavur: Tamil University, 1990); Dorai Rangaswamy, The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Madras: University of Madras, 1958–59); G. G. Vanmikanathan, Appar (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1983); ———, Periyapuranam, a Tamil Classic on the Great Saiva Saints of South India by Sekkizhar (Madras: Shri Ramakrishna Math, 1985); R. Vijayalakshmy, An Introduction to Religion and Phi-losophy—Tevaram and Tivviyappirapantam (Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies, 2001).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.