The Mystic, Messiah Poet of Tamil Nadu

The Mystic, Messiah Poet of Tamil Nadu

The Mystic, Messiah Poet of Tamil Nadu

The soul inspiring and life giving teachings of the celebrated Tamil philosopher-saint Tiruvalluvar are now slowly becoming popular across the country. However, much is not known about the mystic, poet-saint and social reformer par excellence, Sri Ramalinga Swamigal, popularly known as ‘Vallalar’ and acclaimed as the Messiah of Mercy by the masses in Tamil Nadu and parts of South India. While in the north, a radiant constellation of spiritually illuminated souls like Swami Vivekananda and Dayananda Saraswathi inaugurated a momentous upheaval, both in the social and spiritual domains, in the south it was Ramalinga Swamigal, the messenger of ageless spiritual heritage of India, who foreshadowed the dawn of spiritual revival and social ferment. His inspiring gospel of humanism and universal brotherhood based on the mellow Vedic teachings flooded the whole of South with an aura of hope and delight urging the people to give up ignorance, inertia and inaction.

This great humanitarian saint opened his divine eyes on October 5, 1823 at Marudur, a hamlet near the famous, ancient shrine of dancing Shiva (Nataraja) at Chidambaram. At the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, where he was taken before he had attained six months of age for Lord’s benediction, he burst into ecstatic laughter about which incident he made reference when he came of age. “I was blessed with a mystic vision in which Thou hadst revealed Thyself without concealing anything— Thou being my teacher, the embodiment of truth.”

The passing away of his father left him to the care of his elder brother Sabapathy Pillai. Ramalinga Swamigal neither received any formal education nor did he study at the feet of any Guru. He finally turned down the request of his brother to assimilate the bread winning education which Swami Vivekananda had referred to as “the ideas running riot”. But at the entreaties of his sisterin-law, he promised to learn the lessons of wisdom, not through any human medium but through the grace and light of mystic-Guru Muruga. Sitting in front of the idol of Muruga, young Ramalingar prayed for bestowing on him divine knowledge and spiritual illumination.

He bade farewell to his sister-in-law and set out on a pilgrimage to the South Indian shrines. Singing hymns and psalms in adoration of Lord Muruga, he visited many parts of South India on foot. His heart bled at the sight of a society suffering under the tyranny of senseless superstitions, inhuman exploitation of the poor, social atrocities and decadent caste system. To extricate the masses out of the cesspool of ne science, he propagated the doctrine of “One God, one religion, one faith, one humanity and one goal.”

He was an embodiment of boundless compassion and his gospel of “Jeeva Karunya” states that if a soul realizes its ultimate sphere through compassionate service to fellow beings, it will surely experience the union with God. Said Ramalingar;

“All living beings should live in bliss

Compassion on Souls is the real worship of God

For the world to live in peace there should be union of people with compassion

To know yourself you should have Jeeva Karunya discipline.”

As an apostle of harmony—sweet, symphonic harmony—he assiduously propagated the view that behind all the life lay the Supreme One and so nothing is separate. He felt that in unity and co-operation alone lay the keynote of life. His contributions are the creation of a caste-free society, building up of universal, spiritual and material socialism and regeneration of mankind to uphold the teachings of great seers. “What stands in the way,” he observes “of realization of this universal brotherhood is difference among religious sects, religious practices, races, castes and creeds.”

He laid emphasis on reverence to life and service to the downtrodden as the sure means of attaining Godhood. If Gurudev Tagore found God “where there is tilling and where the path maker breaks the stones,” Ramalingaswami visualised the God’s presence in the life of service, purity and devotion.

His luminous spiritual writings, pulsating with a rare literacy grandeur and soulful beauty furthered the resurgence of Tamil literary world. He was indeed a blessed poet with a divine inspiration. Doubtless, Ramalinga Swamigal stands out across the horizon of Tamil literary renaissance as a towering colossus with unsurpassed majesty. His mass of devotional writings, both in prose and poetry, vibrating with spiritual aroma and symphonic harmony, are the immortal gems of Tamil literary heritage.

The three great institutions founded and fostered by him are immortal tribute to his ceaseless aspirations and strivings to elevate the society on three planes—material, social and spiritual. The “Sathya Dharmasalai” set up by him at Vadalore stands out as a shining tribute to the saint’s compassion for the poor and destitutes. Since its inception in 1867, the focus of this institution has been on feeding the hungry, the poor and the needy. Service to the fellow human beings and creature compassion can alone help an individual soul attain divine grace, was the message of Ramalinga Swamigal. In order to bring spiritual wisdom and divine enlightenment to the masses, in 1872 he built a symbolic shrine of worship called “Sathya Gnana Sabhai” wherein he perceived “Arutperunjothi” or effulgence supreme in its pure manifestation. Another institution that Ramalinga Swamigal set up to popularise his philosophy of universal enlightenment based on the oneness of spiritual brotherhood was Sathya Gnana Sabhai. At the Sathya Gnana Sabhai the divine race is represented in the form of light enclosed within the seven veils. By removing this veil of ignorance and darkness, one can perceive the supreme in its effulgent form.

For Ramalinga Swamigal, enhancing compassion to a much higher, platonic level and making humans realize the true, effulgent nature of the soul was the efficacious path to self-realization. Said Swami, “One Who has compassion is equal to God! Divine Oneness in loving of souls is to show love to all living beings, seeing all living beings from ant to elephant as one!” After propagating his divine message till January 30, 1874 he foresaw his end. On that momentous day, he called all his devotees and disciples and said his unfinished mission will be taken forward by worthy persons hailing from U.K. and U.S.A. He then asked his followers to quit the scene. Moments later, he entered the room and locked it from inside. To the awe of his devotees, nothing was found when they opened the room.

By Radhakrisha Rao

Edition: 15 June, 2016 - 14 July, 2016

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