Campantar Analysis

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(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Campantar (sham-PAHN-tar) was born to Bhagavathiyar and her husband, Sivapadahirudayar, a devotee of Lord Śiva who prayed for the eradication of Jainism in India. According to legend, as a baby, Campantar was blessed with the “divine milk” of goddess Pārvatī, Śiva’s consort, and composed his first tiruppatikam in Panniru Tirumurai when he was barely three years old. Explaining Śiva’s act of kindness in chaste Tamil verse, the highly sophisticated poem starts with the first consonant of the vedas (th) and the first vowel of the vedas (o). It also enumerates the five major actions of Śiva: creating, protecting, destroying, hiding, and blessing. The child continued to sing a total of eleven verses. Later, at age seven, when Campantar was blessed with the “sacred thread ceremony” (upanayanam, or initiation), he sang the glory of Pañcāksaram (the five holy syllables) and not the Gāyātri Mantra, which is traditionally taught to the novice. Every major saint in the Saiva Sidhantha tradition has composed a song on the Pañcāksaram, as it forms the core of the Vedas.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Campantar undertook five different tours of all the temples in Tamil Nādu and composed the first three Tirumurai, Tirumuraikkappu. Known to have converted the Pāndya king from Jainism to Hinduism, he contributed remarkably to the revival of Hinduism in India by reestablishing the glory of Śiva. At the age of sixteen, on the day his marriage was arranged, unwilling to enter the bondage of matrimony, along with his bride he is known to have attained divine Samadhi.

Additional Resource

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Peterson, Indira Viswanathan. Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints. Princeton Library of Asian Translations. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989.