Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921 visited Narayana Guru and said, "During my travels throughout the world, I have had the good fortune to come in contact with several saints and maharishis. But I have frankly to admit that I have never come across one who is spiritually greater than Swami Narayana Guru or a person who is at par with him in spiritual attainment." To attain such spiritual status in the evaluation of Tagore, Narayana Guru wandered in Tamil soil and had been to Pondicherry, which stands proven by his Tamil devotional poems on Vedhapuriswarar Temple of Pondicherry.
Narayana Guru left his home and his forays into Tamil soil inspired him to write devotional songs in Tamil, thus his quest gave Tamil literature few outstanding books. The most outstanding work in Tamil is " Thevara Pathikankal " Each pathiham is composed of ten songs. "The poem is unique for its devotional appeal, philosophical greatness, literary beauty as well as musical style" opines Suresh Kumar Pillai." Thevara Pathikankal" is believed to have been written in 1887 on the occasion of renovation of a Nayanar temple near Arumanoor. "Thevara pathikangal " has been recently published by Dr. T. Bhaskaran of the Malayalam Department of the Kerala University making it easier for research scholars
Narayana Guru had lived in Chidambaram which stands proven by his Chidambarastakam in Sanskrit believed to have been written along the style of Adi Sankaracharya's Lingastakam. This is composed of 8 songs of four lines each like Venba meter in Tamil. Though it is written in Sanskrit, the poem is extremely popular.
Narayana Guru knew Tamil even in his boyhood days. Before going to Marutvamalai and even after settling down in Aruvipuram, he was in close contact with several Tamil mutts and adheenams in Tamilnadu like Karaikudy, Madurai, Kumbhakonam and Tiruchendur .Narayana Guru was very thorough with Sivapuranam and all the works of Pattanathu Pillayar, Manicka Vachakar, Appar, Sundaramurti, and Tirujnana Sambantar. He even translated part of Tiruvalluvar's TiruKural.
"Vallalar Ramalinga Swamikal an advocate of integral vision and social equality was like an elder brother to Narayana Guru. Narayana Guru was not in the habit of writing compositions in his own hand. He always sung them for his devotees and only very few of such compositions were recorded by people Among these are three Tamil works, which have been recovered from the fast disappearing records of those days. To understand the Malayalam compositions of Narayana Guru, one should have a fairly good familiarity with the myths and legends popularly sung in Tamilnadu and also should know some of the basic terms used by the followers of Saiva Siddhanta .says Dr.S.Omana in his doctoral thesis to the University of Kerala.
It was in such wanderings Narayana Guru visited Pondicherry, Chidambaram and Vadalur. He was attracted by Vallalar Ramalinga Samy. Thus Pondicherry’s Vedhapurieaswarar was immortalized by his poetic works and Chidambarastakam placed in Sanskrit the greatness of Chidambaram.
It is generally believed that the Guru had his awakening during his solitary penance in the cave of Marutvamalai. His reference of mystical experiences given in the Atmopadesa Satakam must have direct bearing on what he had experienced in Marutvamalai. " The great awakening bestowed upon the Guru an all-inclusive vision of unity. A man who is seeing the one Absolute that transcends the phenomenal may feel tempted to withdraw himself from the maddening crowd of humanity into the silence of a cloister. But Narayana Guru experienced the vision of unity in a very different manner. The hunger of a simple villager who came to visit him became a matter of greater concern to him than theological disputation or the establishment of a new religion. He began to live in a present which was the result of an endless and pure experience of the past and the most far-reaching expectation of the future. The result was that his duties became clear as daylight to him at every step. Philanthropy became a natural hobby to him. Philosophy gave his actions a detached motive, and poetry gave him the means of natural expression. His life and ambitions were simplified and the foundations of a career of benevolence and prosperity were laid in his personality" says Dr.S.Omana. Pondicherry has yet to awaken to the Narayana Guru’s connection. Many saints and seers have set their foot here but few are known and let the history stand corrected recording every great mans visit.
Courtesy : New Indian Express : 13 th August 2005 ]