Monday, August 11, 2014

Arutprakasa Vallalar Ramalinga Adigal

Arutprakasa Vallalar Chidambaram Ramalingam (Tamil: அருட்பிரகாச வள்ளலார் சிதம்பரம் இராமலிங்க அடிகள்) (5 October 1823 – disappeared on 30 January 1874 (Presumed not dead)), whose pre-monastic name was Ramalingam, is commonly known in India and across the world as Vallalar (Tamil: வள்ளலார்).

He was one of the most famous Tamil Saints and also one of the greatest Tamil poets of the 19th century and belongs to a line of Tamil saints known as "gnana siddhars" (gnana means higher wisdom). The Samarasa Suddha Sanmarga Sathiya Sangam (Common, pure, good and true way of life) was spread and passed on by him not only in theory but mainly in practice by his own way of living which was itself inspiration for his followers. Through the notion of Suddha Sanmarga Sangam, the saint endeavored to eliminate the caste system. According to Suddha Sanmarga, the prime aspects of human life should be love connected with charity and divine practice leading to achievement of pure knowledge.

Ramalinga Adigal was the youngest child of Ramiah Pillai and his sixth wife Chinnamaiar, born on Sunday October 5, 1823, at 5:54 PM. in Marudur in South Arcot district, a small village 15 km north-west of Chidambaram.  
Ramaiah Pillai, a Saiva faith and Chinnammai were the couple who were blessed with this embodiment of God. Ramalinga was the fifth child of Ramaiah who had remained childless after losing five wives in succession and then married Chinnammai as his sixth wife.

Chinnamaiar, however, bore him five children; the older ones were two sons, Sabhapati and Parasuraman, and two daughters, Sundarammal and Unnamali. They named their youngest child Ramalingam. When Ramalinga was six months old, his father died, and his mother moved to her native village Ponneri, where from they shifted to Chennai after two years.
Ramalinga was exposed to a spiritual experience at Chidambaram Nataraja Temple when he was barely five months old. The parents took the baby boy to the sacred shrine of Nataraja for worshiping the deity. When the priest drew aside the veil, the child experienced the formless aspect of God. In later years he said of this experience

In tender age when, with my mother,
I came to You in Chidambaram,
and the screen being lifted,
the Divine revealed the vacant space behind,
You admitted me to the secret which is as clear as the void space
O Lord, my Joy, You ripened me at once, without bitterness in my heart.

Ramalinga Vallalar’s elder brother, the earning member of the family, tried to educate Vallalar in traditional way, but his efforts went in vain. Vallalar, unlike the other children of his age, was totally disinterested in the usual pleasures of childhood. He had unparalleled proficiency in Tamil language and his inclination was totally towards God. He could compose wonderful devotional songs at a very early age. Later his elder brother realized the greatness of Ramalinga Vallalar and has allowed him to live in his own style. However, due to compulsion of relatives, Vallalar had to get married. But he did not lead an active marital life.

Vallalar had himself reported that he was took over by the Almighty at the age of nine and that his spiritual life began at the age of twelve. In the initial stages, he used to visit many temples and shrines nearby and worshipped the deities. Later on, his orientation shifted towards higher realms and his focus was the supreme power beyond all forms.

In 1858, Vallalar moved from Chennai and started staying at Karunguzhi, a hamlet near his birth place, There he had performed several miracles including burning light with water, bringing up an everflowing spring (which is still there) by digging with his hand, etc. In 1865, he formed the ‘Sanmarga Sangh’ to advocate his principles of One God, Compassion upon beings, Avoidance of killing animals and non-intake of Non Vegetarian food, feeding the hungry people etc. In 1867, Vallalar established Dharmasala at Vadalur wherein the hunger of poor people was satiated.

As time went, he realized many of his devotees were not ready to follow his principles as per his expectations. Also people started thronging the place at Vadalur. So in search of solitude, Vallalar chose Mettukuppam, a village 5 kms from Vadalur and started residing there. The house where he stayed was named by him rightfully as ‘Siddhi Valagam’ which means ‘Place of Attainment’.

Vallalar’s spiritual efforts matured and he could achieve immortality by changing his physical coil into embodiment of light. He could reach the highest point by Grace of the Almighty. He has expressed his way, life and the truths that he found in various forms of songs, at every stage. He created ‘Sathya Gnana Sabha’ at Vadalur to indicate the inner experience.

Finally, on 30.01.1874, he merged with the Great Light of Grace at his room in Siddhivalagam. He remains a beacon and as well a guiding Master for those in the search of God.

He came to uplift the whole humanity towards perfect bliss without hunger, disease, thirst, desire, poverty, fear, death, with full self existent delight or bliss through true knowledge, true love, true compassion accompanied by common wealth activities without disparities of dogmatic rituals pertaining to any religion, philosophy, caste, creed, color, sex or nationality.