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An example of abject surrender to the almighty: Umapathi sivacharya (1250.C.E-1311.C.E)

Siva, sivacharya,umapathi, nataraja

He showed the world that god does not distinguish between rich and poor and the ones from elated and not-so-good social background. His life emphasized the divine timeless truth that simple minded devotion and adherence to truth is the path to god.

Umapathi sivacharya was born into the clan of ancient priests called deekshidars whose only work was serving lord nataraja at Chidambaram. He was a great scholar in Sanskrit and tamil in which he produced several devotional works. His steadfast and flawless devotion to lordsivan made him adopt a rebellious attitude towards the rules of worship followed in the temple through millenniums and was ultimately banned not only from worshipping but also entering the temple precincts. According to him:” Even if a person is slightly unconventional and different in approach to life, he may be bestowed upon by divine grace if he is truthful enough. For god as saviour from evil alone knows whom he shall chose for this honour.”.

Living in period of political confusion and civil war umapathi sivacharya produced works that are profound in meaning. His Sanskrit works like history of Chidambaram are comparable to the sthala mahatmyam(greatness of the place) works in ancient sanskrit compiled several millenniums ago. After hearing about his erudition and piety a local chieftain bestowed honours upon him , to which he replied :” upon considering the fact that servitorship to lordsivan is the ultimate honour, material gifts do not mean anything to me.”. He was an admirer of the servitorship and supreme devotion exhibited by a peasant called meikandar to whom he became a mentor for him. The same person meikandar ultimately goes on to become an erudite scholar who produced some good works singing glory of lord sivan. The works of umapathi sivacharya like nenju vidu doothu( The messenger of the heart),Tiruvarutpayan(The patron of divine grace), vina venpaa(a poem in metre venpaa), sivaprakasam(the effulgence of lord sivan), sivapakkiam(the grace of lord sivan) etc. speak of his flawless devotion.

He lived in constant recollection and contemplation of lord of thillai(lord sivan). In tiruvarutpayan he describes the beatific vision of lord that he had as follows:

List O! sir to the significance of thy dancing pose.
At the sought for holy foot is "NA".
The adjoining 'MA' is the abdomen.
The shoulder of the extended arm is 'CHI'
The famed face is 'VA'.
And see 'YA' in the crown of the head.

This is the interpretation of Na-Ma-chi-vaa-ya, which is a fiveletter invocation to siva meaning I salute lord sivan. The sthoola panchaksharam, meaning a view with lesser concentration.

Tiruarutpayan interprets sookshma panchaksharam or more
focussed (sookshmam) panchaksharam(divine five letters).

"The grasped drum is 'CHI'.

The flung out sweeping hand is "VAA"
Fear dispelling hand is 'YA'.
If one researches on to it,
The fire on the hand of our lord is 'NA'
Note that below the foot
Where muyalakan ( The demon who was killed by lord sivan) rests is 'MA'.

Nevertheless he was a recipient of divine grace for his service as indicated by the lord once, when upon chanting a hymn the temple flag was miraculously hoisted. One does not attain the beatitude of almighty asmuch by mechanical act of worship as by simpleminded devotion , adherence to truth and duties.
Published: 2009-01-06
Author: K Sethu Madhavan

About the author or the publisher
A management professional with eight years experience in telecommunications industry, I have written a lot of articles in subjects related to management and strategic information analysis.

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