By Swami Harshananda
Rāmaliñgar lived in A.D. 1823-1874. Rāmaliṅgar was also known as Rāma-liṅgasvāmī. He was a great Tamil devotional poet of the recent times whose poems are quite popular. He was the second son of Rāmayyapillai and Cinnammāi, in the village Marudur near Cidambaram in Tamil Nadu. He lost his father early and was brought up by his elder brother Sabhāpati. Being endowed with a prodigious memory and intellect, he was well-educated by his brother.
Intensely devoted towards God right from his early age, he is said to have been blessed with a high mystical or spiritual experience at the Tyāgarāja temple in Tiruvoṭṭiyur. Since then he cultivated on attitude of filial devotion towards God. Subrahmaṇya was his favorite deity of prayer and worship. Though married, he lived like a monk, unattached to the affairs of the world. He toured widely in Tamil Nadu, visited many places of pilgrimage and established an institution at Vadalur which provides free food and lodging to itinerant monks and poor people. He also established a pāṭhaśālā for the benefit of indigent students.
He is famous for his compositions in the Tirumurai form of Tamil poetry. He composed more than a thousand verses in the ancient vṛtta meter. They are highly devotional and are addressed to both Śiva and Viṣṇu. Some of his poems are also in the style of folk poetry. All his poems are compiled into one work called Arulpā. His two works in prose are:
- Manumurai Kandavacakam
- Jivakārunya Olukkam
The sentiment of devotion is palpable in all his works. He advised people to lead a pure life according to dharma, avoid wasting one’s life in sensual pleasures, not harm any living being and look upon all with an equal eye. Total surrender to God was his main teaching.
- Tyāgarāja is the Śiva temple.
- Pāṭhaśālā means traditional school.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore