Manikkavacakar was a Tamil poet who wrote Tiruvasakam, a book of Shaiva hymns. Manikkavasakar was one of the main authors of saivite tirumurai: his work forms one volume of the Tirumurai, the key religious text of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta. A minister to the Pandya king 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.


The twelve volumes of Tamil Śaiva hymns of the sixty-three Nayanars
Parts Name Author
1,2,3 Tirukadaikkappu Sambandar
4,5,6 Tevaram Tirunavukkarasar
7 Tirupaatu Sundarar
8 Tiruvacakam &
9 Tiruvisaippa &
10 Tirumandhiram Tirumular
11 Various
12 Periya Puranam Sekkizhar
Paadal Petra Sthalam
Paadal Petra Sthalam
Raja Raja Chola I
Nambiyandar Nambi

Manikkavasakar is said to have born in Vadhavoor (Thiruvadhavoor, near by melur [madurai Dt]), seven miles from Madurai on the banks of river Vaigai. He belonged to Brahmin saiva fold. The group wore a top tilted knot to denote servitorship to Lord Siva like sambandar, etc. A mural and statuette of manikkavasagar with head knot is seen in Tirupperunturai near Pudukkotai. A poetic and elaborate hagiography of Manikkavasagar 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 Manikkavasagar 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. Manikkavasakar received enlightenment, realised that material things are transitory and built the temple of Siva in Tirupperunturai with the money.[1] King Varaguna also was preached with knowledge of reality and blessed with mukthi after Lord Siva made him realize his small worldly mistake. Varaguana maharaja immediately gave up his throne and attained muthi at feet of Lord Sivan.

Manikkavasakar's birth name is unclear, but he was known as Vadhavoorar after his birth place. He was later called as what we know him as Manikkavasakar, the man with words as precious as manikam.

Literary work

Thereafter Manikkavasakar moved from one place to other, singing and composing devotional songs. Finally, he settled in Chidambaram. His Tiruvasakam is placed near the idol of Shiva there.several verses of tiruvasagam including the accho patikam after singing which he attained mukti at thillai nataraja's feet are also engraved in the walls of the chidambaram temple. The tiruchazhal hymn after singing which the communal buddists were exposed is also engraved in one of the prakarams. The work tiruchitrambalakkovaiyar was sung entirely in thillai chidambaram. Throughout his work manikkavasagar discusses how important it is to forego attachments and cultivate dispassionate, devoted, sincere and simple hearted love to lord siva inorder to attain his beatitude and also that the fiveletters of namasivaya alone give one mukti.

Manikkavasakar'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).

Manickavasagar is believed to have won intellectual arguments with Buddhists of Ceylon at Chidambaram.[2] His festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aani (June - July). Manikkavasakar's hagiography is found in the Thiruvilaiyadar Puranam (16th century AD).

Associated temples

Manickavasagar visited various temples in Thanjavur, North Arcot, Chengalpattu, Madras, Tirunelveli and Madurai districts and revered the deities.[3]

  • Sculptures illustrating his life are found in the Minakshi-Sundaresvara temple at Madurai.[4]
  • Manikkavasakar is said to have built the temple of Siva in Tirupperunturai.♥
  • He is closely associated with Tiru Uthirakosamangai.

Tiruvembavai is sung along with Andal's Tiruppavai widely across the temples in Tamil Nadu during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December - January).[5]



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