Manikkavacakar or MaanikkaVaasagar was a 9th-century Tamil poet who
wrote Tiruvasakam, a book of
Shaiva hymns. He was one of the main
authors of Saivite Tirumurai, his work forms one volume of the
Tirumurai, the key religious text of
A minister to the
Varagunavarman II (c. 862 C.E. – 885
C.E.) (also called Arimarthana Pandiyan), he lived in Madurai. His
work is a poetic expression of the joy of God-experience, the anguish
of being separated from God. Although he is a prominent saint in
Southern India, he is not counted among the sixty-three nayanars.
2 Literary work
3 Associated temples
Manikkavachakar statue in tribhanga holding Palm leaf written "Om
Namah Shivaya" in Tamizh script on it. Statue is in AP State
The twelve volumes of Tamil Śaiva hymns of the sixty-three Nayanars
Paadal Petra Sthalam
Paadal Petra Sthalam
Raja Raja Chola I
Manikkavacakar is said to have born in Vadhavoor (Thiruvadhavoor, near
by Melur in
Madurai district), seven miles from
Madurai on the banks
of river Vaigai. He belonged to the Pandithar saivite temple priest
guild. His father was a temple priest. The group wore a top tilted
knot to denote servitorship to Lord Siva like sambandar, etc. A mural
and statuette of
Manikkavacakar with head knot is seen in
Tirupperunturai near Pudukkottai. A poetic and elaborate hagiography
Manikkavacakar and his works was written in the 16th century and is
called Tiruvilayadal puranam, meaning "An account of divine deeds".
The same is not available now in its original form. Another called
Vadhavoorar puranam and yet another
Sanskrit work of the 12th century
CE on the same saint is now missing.
According to accounts the king of Pandyan dynasty had selected
Manikkavacakar as a part of his legion after seeing his military
acumen and had once entrusted him with a large amount of money to
purchase horses for his cavalry. On his way he met an ascetic devotee
of Siva, who in fact was Siva himself.
enlightenment, realised that material things are transitory and built
the temple of Shiva in
Tirupperunturai with the money. King
Varaguna also was preached with knowledge of reality and blessed with
mukthi after Lord Shiva made him realize his small worldly mistake.
Varaguana maharaja immediately gave up his throne and attained mukthi
at the feet of Lord Shiva.
Manikkavacakar's birth name is unclear, but he was known as
Vadhavoorar after his birthplace.
Manikkavacakar means 'man with words
as precious as Manikam'.
According to Ramana Maharshi, it is said that when Manikkavacakar
died, his body dissolved in a blinding light without leaving a corpse
Manickavackar (Wooden Image), ASI Museum, Vellore
Manikkavacakar moved from one place to other, singing and
composing devotional songs. Finally, he settled in Chidambaram. His
Tiruvasakam is placed near the murti of Shiva there. Several verses of
Tiruvasagam including the accho patikam after singing which he
attained mukti at Thillai Natarajar's feet are also engraved in the
walls of the chidambaram temple. The tiruchazhal hymn after singing
which the communal Buddhists were exposed is also engraved in one of
the prakarams. The work tiruchitrambalakkovaiyar was sung entirely in
thillai chidambaram. Throughout his work he discusses how important it
is to forego attachments and cultivate dispassionate, devoted, sincere
and simple hearted love to lord Shiva in order to attain his beatitude
and also that the five letters of na ma si va ya alone give one mukti.
Manikkavacakar's work has several parts. The Tiruvembavai, a
collection of twenty hymns in which he has imagined himself as a woman
following the Paavai Nonbu and praising Shiva. The twenty songs of
Tiruvembavai and ten songs of Tiruppalliezhuchi on the Tirupperunturai
Lord are sung all over
Tamil Nadu in the holy month of
Margazhi ( The
9th month of the Tamil calendar, December and January).
Manikkavacakar is believed to have won intellectual arguments with
Ceylon at Chidambaram. His festival is celebrated in
the Tamil month of Aani (June - July). Manikkavacakar's hagiography is
found in the Thiruvilaiyadar Puranam (16th century AD).
In 1921, an English translation of Manikkavacakar's hymns was done by
Francis Kingsbury and GE Phillips, both of United Theological College,
Bangalore (Edited by Fred Goodwill) and published in a book as Hymns
of the Tamil Śaivite Saints, by the Oxford University Press 
Manikkavacagar visited various temples in Thanjavur, North Arcot,
Chengalpattu, Madras, Tirunelveli and
Madurai districts and revered
Sculptures illustrating his life are found in the
Minakshi-Sundaresvara temple at Madurai.
Manikkavacakar is said to have built the temple of Siva in
He is said to have lived at
Chidambaram Tamil Nadu.
He is closely associated with Tiru Uthirakosamangai.
Tiruvembavai is sung along with Andal's
Tiruppavai widely across the
Tamil Nadu during the Tamil month of
Margazhi (December -
^ B.S. 2011, p. 77
^ Talks with Ramana Maharshi- chapter 215
^ B.S. 2011, p. 162
^ Kingsbury, F (1921). Hymns of the Tamil Saivite Saints (1921) (PDF).
Oxford University Press. pp. 84–127. Retrieved 8 July
^ B.S. 2011, p. 36
^ R.K.K., Rajarajan (2006). Art of the Vijayanagara-Nayakas:
Architecture and Iconography. Delhi: Sharada Publications.
^ B.S. 2011, p. 74
B.S., Chandrababu; S., Ganeshram; C., Bhavani (2011). History of
People and Their Environs. Bharathi Puthakalayam.
Dallapiccola, Anna. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend.
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