10 February 2013

Dakshinamurti and the Alvars


While visiting Siva Sannidhi recently, I noticed two very beautiful new paintings on their wall, one which represents Dakshinamurti and the other, of the four Saiva Samaya Acharyas. Below is a short narrative explaining the significance of the two paintings. 

The acharya (spiritual teacher) has the highest place of honour in Saivism. The Sastras say that Shiva Himself appears as the acharya at the proper moment and directs the bhakta (devotee) on the godward path. 


Dakshinamurti with Rishis


Dakshinamurti is the visual representation of the Supreme Guru. Under the Kallaal (spreading Fiscus tree) in Kailas, Dakshinamurti is seated in the pose of perfect peace and bliss. His form is of a youth of sixteen years and at his feet, sit the four rishis: Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara. The Lord does not utter a word but his very pose gives the Rishis instruction and they depart, enlightened with all their doubts dispelled. 

Shiva (as Dakshinamurti) is the Parama-acharya (Supreme Guru) in Kailas. In the terrestrial plane, are the four famously revered Saiva saints known as Saiva Samaya Acharyas (Naalvar): Tirugnansambandar, Tirunanvukkarasar (Appar), Sundarar and Manikkavasagar




Tirugnansambandar, Tirunanvukkarasar (Appar), Sundarar and Manikkavasagar



The four Saiva Samaya Acharyas lived between the 7th and 9th centuries in Tamil Nadu, and the first three: Sambandar, Appar, and Sundarar toured Saiva shrines and by their songs encouraged people to have greater faith in God and Saivism. 

The principal teachings of the four Saiva Samaya Acharyas is of love and surrender to God; and of service to God and godly men. That love, devotion, and service to God is the only way one can obtain His Grace. God is One and He is Shiva. That man must get over his bonds which keep him in ignorance and obtain inseparable union with Shiva through the Lord's Grace. 

[Reference narrative by Dr. T. Arunachalam]

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