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Manikkavasakar was born at Thiruvadhavur near Madurai the capital of Pandya king Raja Saundhara Pandiyan, in a sub-caste called amatyars, in the village Vahavoor on the banks of River Vaigai. The exact date of his birth is a subject of controversy.

This great saint who aided the spiritual and religious revival is revered as one of the four samayak kuravar (religious guides).  Thiru Manikkavasakar - Bronze in Chennai Museum: From Settipulam, Tirutturaippundi Taluk, Tanjore District, Tamilnadu, India. Height 59 cm. About 12th Century AD. The details are shown with peculiar delicacy. The usual broad sacred thread is accompanied by another single and more undulating strand - arm without rosary. The band supporting the cloth is accompanied by a thread tied in front of the left leg. Broad circular kesa-bandha at a back of head, flattened behind. Two necklaces but no waist-band, the lower necklace only being of rudraksha beads and hanging low between the breasts.

An ardent believer of Lord Shiva, he mastered  the philosophies and the scriptures by the time he was sixteen years old. The pandiya king Arimardhanan made him the prime minister and gave him title Thennavan biramarayan. He ably guided the just governance of the state.

Hagiography

One day, hearing that some high quality horses are on sale in the coast of the choza kingdom, the King sent thiruvadhavurar for purchasing them. On the way at Thirupperunthurai (Avudaiyar kovil) he heard sweet chanting of hara hara and went in that direction and saw the Lord sitting in the form of a Shaivaite sage under a tree elucidating the pupils. He pleaded to be accepted as a disciple. He then sang the first Thiruvachakam song, Shivapuranam starting Namachchivaya vazka. The Peerless guide heard the songs and blessed him with the name Manikka vachakar (Gem speech). He ordered Manikka vachakar to build an abode and disappeared.

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With the money he had brought to buy horses, to fight kill and die in the battlefields, the devotee built a marvelous temple for the Lord. The king was irked at this and sent the message to vadhavurar ordering him to come with the horses. Manikka vachakar pleaded to Lord Shiva of Thirupperunthurai. The Lord assured him that He would bring the horses on the Avani mulam day (an auspicious festival day) and passed a gem to the king as a mark of assurance. The prime minister Manikka vachakar told the king about the arrival of the horses. The king was happy, but the horses did not arrive till day before the Avani mulam day.

The prime minister was arrested. Vadhavurar appealed to the Lord singing "anre enran". God Somasundara murthi (Shiva) coming in the form of the lead man of the horses handed over them to the king explained the identification guidelines of good horses. The same night the horses became foxes and ran all over the capital. 

The king, enraged, ordered his men to torture Manikka vachakar making him stand loaded with a rock on the hot sand of the vaigai riverbed. With complete trust in God, Manikka vasakar prayed to the Lord for quenching the thirst. The Lord who stopped the furious river ganga in His matted hair and allowed it to flow down as a stream, blessing the penance of Bhagirathan, flooded the river vaigai to grace the devotee.

The flood water entered the streets of the capital. The king ordered the people to stop the deluge by raising its banks. To protect Vandhi, an old woman a true devotee of the place form getting penalized for not following the king's order, the Lord came as a laborer, but instead of raising the banks he spoiled the on going work and slept innocently. The king was annoyed and beat Him with a stick. But the pain was felt by all the creatures including the king. The flooding of the river subdued and the Lord disappeared. The king realized the act of God and the glory of the saint Manikka vasakar. He begged for the saint's pardon. Manikka vasakar forgave the king and relinquished the prime minister ship.

Thiru ManikkavasakarHe went to many abodes of the Lord singing in praise. Finally he reached the holy abode Thillaich chirrambalam. He got what the vedas proclaim, "One gets bliss (amrita) here, even when he/she is alive" on seeing the heart stealing Lord who dances there to the joy of the seeing eyes. He sang many hymns on the Lord there.

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The Buddhist who had come from Sri Lanka challenged him to come for a debate on religions. He took the challenge and answered the blemishes they were trying to put on the Lord, making a dumb girl sing His Greatness. The opponents were dumbfounded and realized the the spiritual supremacy of shaivam.

Lord one day went to the blessed saint Manikka vachakar, asked him to sing the complete Thiruvachakam he had composed and wrote them down and He further asked him to sing the songs of love keeping the Dancing Lord of thillai as the Hero the thirukkovaiyar. He wrote them also in the palm leave book and put His seal as "As Manikka vachakar told the Lord of Thiruchchirrambalam wrote this". He kept the script in the panychakkara steps of the abode and vanished.

The next day the priests of thillai were surprised to find the scripture on the steps of the abode with the Lord's signature. They rushed to Manikka vachakar and appraised him about it. They saluted and asked him to explain them the philosophical explanation of the compositions. He took them to the golden hall abode (Ponnambalam) of the Lord and showed the blissfully Dancing Lord and said He is the meaning of it and immersed himself in the Supreme Luminance and became One in Lord Shiva. (This day was the Ani magam day - his guru pujai day)

The story of this great saint is told in Thiruvadhavurp puranam and Thiruviaiyadal puranam. His compositions are Thiruvachakam and Thirukkovaiyar. These hymns are praised for their simplicity, deep sense of love without losing focus in the description of things.

Saint Manikkavasagar is said to have defeated the Lankan Buddhists in a controversy. Unlike Saint Appar's compositions in Manikkavasakar's compossitions there is no trace of any polemics.

His Contributions: He is the composer of the famous Tiruvachakam, the first song being "Namachchivaya Vazka". Tiruvachakam includes three of his works namely Tiruvembavai, Kuyirpattu and Tirupalliyezhuchi, containing 700 songs. Besides, he is the most important composer of Tevaram in Panns that were passed on orally from one generation to the other. Tiruvachakam was sung in raga Mohanam (a pentatonic scale).

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