I learnt this habit of reading a few pages of the sacred scriptures before falling asleep from My grandfather. He used to go to sleep at midnight, but even at that time, he would sit and chant Tirujnanasambandhar’s Thevaram before sleeping. He couldn’t read English; he could read only Tamil books. He was not a great pundit, but he would chant the few mantras, stotras (devotional songs) and shaastras (Hindu scriptures) he knew. Sometimes it would be in Sanskrit; sometimes it would be in Tamil. For half an hour or one hour he would chant and nobody else in the room could sleep! He used to sleep in the hall. And he would be sitting and chanting so beautifully, just lost in himself, reciting the verses on Mahadeva! I was very close to him. I would sleep next to him only. He was My favorite, and I used to be his pet, because I had been given his name: My pre-monastic name is his name.
He had a beautiful voice. He would chantTirujnanasambandhar’s Thevaram and Manikkavasagar’s Thiruvasagam, the sacred sentiment verses. The last few years before his passing away, he lost his eyesight. He could not read. So he trained two of his sons to read these verses out to him. One nice thing is that My uncles also learnt how to recite these verses properly for him, and every night they would sit and recite at least one hour for him.
Tirujnanasambandhar is one of the sixty-three nayanmars, who are the greatest devotees of Sadashiva. He contributed greatly to the volumes of poems that make up the composition – Thevaram. Along with him, the saints Thiruvanavukkarasar, Manikkavasagar and Sundarar contributed to the Thevaram. These verses, which first reverberated in their inner space, are now recited on the lips of every Shaivite, yearning for the same deep reverence and devotion.
Glimpses of AVATARA LEELA – The Autobiography of The Avatar Vol. 1
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