A divine incarnation is the descent of God to earth for protecting the good and destroying evil and establishing His dharma among the people. At times when His auspicious aspects or traits are manifest in human form for a particular reason, it is known as Amsa avatar.

Sekkizhar’s description of Sambandar’s birth, life and departure from this earth only proves the sacred will of God that this saint should bring about a far-reaching influence on Tamil culture and faith that had fallen a prey to evil forces, said Sri B. Damodhara Dikshitar in a lecture. It was a time when lack of faith in Siva prevailed and the sway of propaganda by alien religions cast doubts and confusion among people. The sanctity of the Vedas was accepted but the concept of God was disregarded. The promise of bliss through performance of yagas gained currency to such an extent that it eclipsed the supremacy of the Lord.

A childless man usually prays to beget a son who would do the samskaras and final rites for the father according to the Sastras. Some pray for a son who would take care of them in old age. But the devout Sivapadahridayar wished for a son for a unique reason. He prayed to Siva for the boon of a worthy son who would re-establish the glory of Saivism. Sekkizhar states that he did austerities and worship to get a son who would bring about a change in the hearts of people immersed in doubt and despair.

As a child of three, Sambandar received the true knowledge as a revelation from the Divine Couple. It is said that Parvati fed him with the milk of Jnana and he was named Gnanasambandar. Siva presented this child a pearl-decked palanquin, a gem-studded umbrella and trumpets.

Gnanasambandar’s faith in the Lord was transmitted not only to the Sivan Adiyars but also to the common people. His hymns are effulgent with the highest wisdom and spell out the purpose of human existence — to attain freedom from Samsara which is a disease that makes you experience endless joy and sorrow. The way to gain this freedom is to meditate on the divine Panchakshara mantra of Siva, lead a pure life and serve the people with compassion.

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