Biography of Saint Pattinathar
Saint Pattinathar Tamil: பட்டினதார் was a Saivaite and a Spiritual leader. He was born to Sivanesa Chettiar and Gnanakalai. His father was a trader in Tiruvidaimarudur, Thanjavur district. His birth name was Swetharanyar after as epithet of Lord Siva of Swetharanyeswarar Temple.
He was also called as Thiruvenkadar by the people. When he was five years old, he lost his father. Like his father he spent money on Siva devotees, and fed them daily. He was a trader and had enough wealth. At sixteen years, he was married to Sivakalai, daughter of another trader by the name of Sivasithamparam Chettiyar and his wife Sivakamy. Even after fifteen years of marriage they had no children. Meantime there was a very poor Saivaite by the name of Sivasarumar who spent all his wealth in feeding the Siva devotees. When all his wealth was spent he sold his wife's nuptial chain (thali) and fed the devotees of Lord Siva. Once in his dream, Lord Siva appeared and told him, he would find him (Siva) as a baby at a certain spot. "Hand over the baby boy to Thiruvenkadar. He would give gold equal to the weight of the baby. The Saivaite devotees found the baby and took him to Pattinathar. He adopted the child and gave the couple, gold and more wealth.
Search for Divinity
The divine child grew up and followed in his father's footsteps. Once the father sent him on a ship with a good lot of merchandise and when he came he brought back sacks full of paddy husks. The father was angry and locked him up in a room and going to the harbor, threw the husks out. What was his surprise to see they were all gold; Every dried piece of the husk turned out to be gold and precious gems. He hurried home to see his son. He was not in the room. His wife gave him a small box the son had given before he disappeared. In it was an Palm-leaf manuscript and a needle without an eyelet. On the script were the following words (in English for understanding):
"Not even an eyeless needle will accompany you in the final journey of life."
Pattinathar(Thiruvenkadar) realized the philosophy and wisdom of the words, and renounced everything - his wife, his wealth, his kith and kin and all other mundane attachments. With only a loin cloth he left. He sang many a philosophical song to enlighten people on the blissful state of renunciation. He sang about the human life and its complex dimensions, made his lyrics more appealing to the common man. He urged repeatedly not to be attached to the body and its pleasures, for the body which perishes and becomes food for animals and worms. Think of God and surrender at God's feet.
Pattinathar worshiped Shiva at the Srikalahasti temple, which has inspired great poetic and musical works. The samadhi of Pattinathar is a historic landmark located on the Ennore Expressway in Tiruvottiyur. It is around 500 years old.
Inside the Nandrudayan Vinayaga temple in Devadhanam, Tiruchirappalli, idol for Pattinathar is found.
In Popular Culture
In 1935, Saint Pattinathar film was released, starring C. S. Sundaramurthy Odhuvaar in the title role. In 1962, a later day version came out with T. M. Soundararajan as the Saint Pattinathar.
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