Thiruvadhavur / Manikkavasagar was born to a pious Brahmin couple lived in the Kingdom of Pandya. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva from a young age, he was mastered all the scriptures and attained profound knowledge in Veda Sastra. He earned the hearts of saintly people and scholars with his virtues and extraordinary intelligence. He gained lots of admiration from the people of the Pandya Kingdom. The King Arimardhana Pandya of Madurai who was on the search of an efficient administrative person to manage his ministerial affairs was heard of the wisdom and charming personality of Thiruvadhavur. Eventually Thiruvadhavur was appointed as chief of ministerial affairs. Thiruvadhavur proved his immense capability to perform the duties and responsibilities in an ideal manner; this added the honor to Thiruvadhur with the titile ‘Thennavan Paramarayar’. His dispassion grew towards the material life and realized the eternal truth that birth, illness, death are inevitable and painful. He felt the urgency of a spiritual master who can lead him to perfection and get rid of all the miseries and attain liberty from the cycles of birth and death. He was perfect at his duties, also found time in the discussion with the Vedic scholars to learn the intricate quintessence of the same.
In the meantime, Thiruvadhavur was assigned with the task of buying new horses to train the soldiers to fight on horseback. He was proficient in all the subjects and ministerial works was entrusted with adequate wealth to buy horses from the right place. Thiruvadhavur was extremely happy at the new project with the hope that this journey would help him to find an ideal master. He sincerely offered prayers to the Lord of Lords, smeared ashes all over the body and with the holy Panchakshara Manthras on lips proceeded to Thiruperumthurai.
Thiruvadhavur arrived at Thiruperumthurai with his men. He was mesmerized at the tranquility of this place and the grandeur of the temple of Avudaiyar at Thiruperumthurai. There he found a pious Brahmin giving lecture on the ultimate knowledge about Lord Siva and Saiva Siddhantha, he was surrounded by a few disciples. In a moment, Thiruvadhavur was immersed at the divinity of the Brahmin who was sitting under the Kuruntha tree in the vicinity of the temple of Avudaiyar. Thiruvadhavur entered the sanctum sanctorum of the temple and absorbed in prayers and shed tears in ecstasy. The vibrant voice of chanting the names of Lord took all his attention; he was passionately drawn near the Brahmin, who was none other than Lord Siva himself and the disciples were the Ganas of Lord. Thiruvadhur was fervently rushed to his feet towards the Brahmin and prostrated before him. He earnestly prayed to Lord to accept him as his disciple, Thiruvadhavur attained eternal wisdom from the Supreme Lord, he immersed in the eternal bliss, he sung praising the glories of Lord in a state of absolute transcendental, words flew out of his mouth were like gems came to known as Thiruvasagam. Thiruvadhavur revealed his firm devotion and dedication towards Lord through his compositions; Lord was highly pleased at him and fondly addressed him ‘Manikkavasagar’. Lord instructed him to reside in Thiruperumthurai to continue his services and vanished. The separation from his spiritual master/ supreme Lord caused intense pain and distress to Manikkavasagar, he was completely withdrawn himself from the material affairs, led a secluded life and completely absorbed in meditation, he failed to remember his responsibility as a minister to King Arimardhana Pandiya. The King’s men were startled at the sudden changes in Thiruvadhavur, they were reminded him about their mission. Thiruvadhavur politely answered them that their mission of buying horses will be completed in a month and will be delivered to Madurai. The messengers informed the mental state of Thiruvadhavur to the King. King Arimardhana Pandya was disturbed at the irresponsible behavior of Thiruvadhavur, he decided to wait patiently for a month as informed by Thiruvadhavur.
Manikkavasagar immersed at the service of Lord of Thiruperumthurai and contributed the whole wealth for the construction and modification of the temple. After a month, the messengers of the King arrived with an urgent notice and it was clearly mentioned that Thiruvadhavur should be present before the King immediately otherwise he may have to face dire consequences. Manikkavasagar was distressed and earnestly prayed to Lord. On that night Lord appeared in his dream and calmed him saying that the required horses will be delivered before the King on the day of Avani Moolam and blessed him with a diamond and instructed Manikkavasagar to proceed to Madurai.
Thiruvadhavur arrived at Madurai in his ministerial attire and reverentially greeted the King. He informed the King that the horses purchased were already on their way to Madurai will be reached on the propitious day of Avani Moolam and presented the diamond before the King. For a moment, the King felt apologetic for his impression towards Thiruvadhavur and ordered to build a stable for the horses. The entire Kingdom anxiously waited for that promising day.
Manikkavasagar was already renounced the material comforts which causes fear and pain. He lived a life of ascetic; he mystically turned out fearless and surrendered at the feet of Lord. He was worried about nothing; his mind was fixed upon the eternal bliss. He had no attachments towards his body or not even to the necessities of life. His attachment was only towards the Supreme Lord, destroyer of the sins and protector from all the evils. He was not worried about the wealth he had spent for the construction of the temple. He was totally surrendered himself at the Lotus feet of Lord, holy ashes were the perfume for him to purify his mind and soul, holy rudrakshas were the shield for him that destroys the sins of previous and present life.
The King’s men were quite skeptical about the attitude of Thiruvadhavur. They informed the King that whatever told by Thiruvadhavur was not true and the wealth provided were already spent for the construction of temple at Thiruperumthurai. This added the suspicion of the King, he sent men to confirm the same. Soon the King’s men were returned with the message that the information was true and Thiruvadhavur was proved to be wrong. King Arimardhana Pandya was furiously ordered his men to carry out physical torture for the breach of contract; Thiruvadhavur without uttering a single word underwent the severe punishment focusing his thoughts upon the Lotus feet of Lord of Lords. The King’s men were surprised to see the endurance of Thiruvadhavur.
As promised by Thiruvadhavur, exceptional horses were brought to the Kingdom of Madurai by a trader on an Avani Moolam day. The King and his men were astonished to see excellent horses and the men on horseback were majestically displayed. King Arimardhana Pandya was felt terribly unhappy about his irrational verdict to punish Thiruvadhavur. King graciously apologized to Thiruvadhavur and both of them were returned to oversee the horses. Kingly was extremely happy to see fine horses and the charming trader. Thiruvadhavur instantly realized that the trader was none other than Lord Siva, he closed his eyes and mentally prostrated before the Lord.
On that night, the place where the horses were stationed was turned into mayhem. All the fine horses were assumed their original form as jackals and created a huge disarray, some of the real horses were injured and some of them were ran off and some of the old jackals remained in the stable itself. King was terribly hurt and irritated at the untrustworthy act of Thiruvadhavur, he ordered his men to put him into severe punishments. As ordered by the King, Thiruvadhavur was forced to stand on the extreme hot sand as punishment. Soon, the entire atmosphere was turned gloomy and started raining heavily, the crowds witnessed were ran off to different the places and soon the whole city was flooded with water. Manikkavasagar (Thiruvadhavur) hurried to the temple of Lord Siva and completely absorbed in meditation. King Arimadharna Pandya was alarmed at the unusual torrential rain that engulfed the city. An order was released to meet the emergency crisis, according to the announcement every citizen should engage in the work of construction of barricade on the river bank.
There was an old lady Vanthi, a passionate devotee of Lord Siva was lived in this village. She sells sweetened pudding/ cooked dessert for livelihood. It was her habit to offer sweet pudding to Lord before sale. She was totally devastated at the present situation and worried about her inability to follow the order of the King. Soon there appeared a handsome young well-built adult offering his helping hand to her. Vanthi wholeheartedly thanked the adult and offered him with sweetened pudding as wage for his work. The boy was gracefully accepted the offerings of Vanthi. He enthusiastically carried out his work, singing to the tunes and filling the sands in a basket, throwing them forcefully on the river bank and relaxes for some time. In this way, he spread cheeriness in the environment and endless pleasure in the heart of Vanthi as well. The King arrived at the sight and carried out the supervision, he found the boy relaxing, and King frustratingly hit the adult hardly with a stick. He threw a basket full of mud that fell on the barrier with a knock and it was perfectly closed entire water flow and the strike on the young adult was experienced by everyone. Suddenly, there was a mysterious voice addressed the King and narrated that Manikkavasagar was earned intrinsic worth for the King by his good deeds by donating wealth for the construction of temple and for the service of devotees of Lord. But the King was failed to admire his devotion and dedication instead of that tortured him mentally and physically. The supernatural act of horse turning into Jackal and a torrential rain was the test of Lord to save his devotee Manikkavasagar. The mysterious voice instructed the King to change his attitude and learn from the lessons.
Manikkavasagar who was in rapt meditation opened his eyes immediately after a sudden strike. King Arimardhana Pandya hurried to the temple Thiru Alavai where Manikkavasagar was settled. On his way, he watched the old woman Vanthi left her mortal coil and moved to the abode of Lord. King Arimardhana Pandya prostrated before Manikkavasagar and requests him to accept the regime of Pandya Kingdom. Manikkavasagar graciously refused to accept the same and requested permission to leave to Thiruperumthurai. Manikkavasagar proceeded to Thiruperumthurai, shortly King Arimardhana Pandya renounced the royal life and attained the abode of Lord.
Manikkavasagar arrived at the temple of Thiruperumthurai and passionately sung praising the glories of Lord. He earnestly prayed to Lord to reveal his form as spiritual master to him once again. The compassionate Lord appeared before him as desired by Manikkavasagar and instructed him to visit Chidambaram. Manikkavasagar visited many shrines on his way to Chidambaram and sung praising the eternal glories of Lord with a request to appear before him in the form of spiritual master as he was enchanted at the first sight in Thiruperumthurai. At Utharakosa Mangai his request to Lord was not fulfilled, he wept bitterly like a child; finally Lord has to yield to the desire of his ardent devotee. Finally Manikkavasagar arrived at Chidambaram; the mere sight of this sacred temple took him to a state of bliss. He fervently rolled on the ground in ecstasy. He settled in the garden of Thillai temple and composed beautiful verses ‘Thiruvasagam’ praising the splendor of Lord.
An ardent devotee of Lord Siva lived in Ela Nadu (Sri Lanka) who used to repeat chanting of Vazhka Ponnambalam , the Buddha King ruled in this city was anxious to know about the meaning of the same. The ascetic was invited to the palace and the King demanded him to explain what he was reciting all the time. The ascetic narrated the glorious temple of Lord Nataraja of Thillai located in Chola Kingdom. He described the enthralling beauty of Lord Nataraja in his cosmic dance form and the significance of Siva Gangai Theertham that has the capabilities to cure all the illnesses and sins, and the holy dip in this pond provides abundance devoutness and salvation to the devotees. He narrated the story of son of Manu, King Hiranyavarman who underwent severe austerities and took holy dip in this pond and eventually got rid of his leprosy. The ascetic highly praised the glories of Thillai to the Buddhist King. The Buddhist spiritual master who was present in the assembly of the King was displeased at the explanation of the devotee of Lord Siva. He decided to confront the Saivite of Thillai and overpower the philosophies and faith in Lord Siva. Buddhist King and his dumb daughter along with their spiritual master left to Thillai. The message of visit of Buddhist King of Ela Nadu along with his spiritual master and the purpose of their visit to have a debate with the Sivaites was duly informed to the Brahmins of Thillai. The Brahmins of Thillai were sincerely prayed to Lord shower his blessings to win over the debate with the Buddhist monk. On that night all the Brahmins of Thillai had a dream in that Lord Siva instructed them to assign the task to Manikkavasagar who was the only one intellectual capable to win the debate. Manikkavasagar enthusiastically agreed for the debate, he offered sincere prayers to Lord Nataraja and the fiery debate was initiated in the grand hall of Thillai. Manikkavasagar sat behind a curtain and readily answered the queries of the Buddhist Monk. The Buddhist monk poured with wary questions; Manikkavasagar mellifluously answered with simplicity, authenticity and ultimate conviction about the Saiva Siddhantha and the principles and philosophies of Sivaism. The Buddhist monk realized his stupidity to question an authoritative faith of Saivism and its principles; eventually he was defeated in the argument and turned into dumb. The Buddhist King appreciated the intelligence of Manikkavasagar and approached him with great admiration. King revealed an opinion that if his dumb daughter turns into normal with speaking abilities he would embrace Saivism. Manikkavasagar earnestly prayed to Lord to bless the daughter of Buddhist King with speech. As everyone was witnessing, the girl started to speak like any normal person and finally the entire dumb Buddhist monk also regained their speeches and realized the supremacy of Saiva Siddhantha and the beliefs in Lord Siva.
Lord Siva had a desire to listen to Thiruvasagam from Manikkavasagar. Lord disguised into a Brahmin and approached Manikkavasagar, the Brahmin was reverentially received by Manikkavasagar and enquired him the reason for his visit. The Brahmin graciously replied that he would like to listen to Thiruvasagam and would be lettering them on a palm leaves simultaneously. Manikkavasagar enthusiastically sang praising the eternal glories of Lord and it was written in palm leaves by the Brahmin. Suddenly the Brahmin vanished from the sight; Manikkavasagar realized that the Brahmin was none other than Lord Siva; he was distressed for not recognizing the presence of Lord. On the very next day, the entire villagers assembled at the sanctum were witnessed the palm leaves on the Panchakshara steps of Chit Sabha in this glorious temple of Thillai. It was mentioned at the end of the verses that it was written by Manikkavasagar. The Brahmins gathered were requested Manikkavasagar to explain the essence of the same, but Manikkavasagar graciously took them to the sanctum sanctorum and declared that these verses were belonged to the Supreme Lord and merged at the feet of Lord of Lords.