CHENNAI: Among the 63 Saivite saints, Saint Gnanasambandhar, during a brief life span of 16 years, went on pilgrimages more often and sang soul-stirring hymns in praise of the deities. It is also true that he is the most prolific among the saints, and that the present number of hymns attributed to him is only a fraction of his total output. The contribution of Saint Gnanasambandhar to the spiritual and cultural life of the people is highlighted in the inspired words of Sekkizhar.

In a lecture, Sri Aranga Ramalingam pointed out that this child-saint’s implicit faith drew the Lord’s response in inspiring him with the spiritual knowledge of scriptures that he was able to effortlessly achieve a fusion of the nuances of music with the richness of the Tamil language in his hymns.

That this saint was gifted with miraculous healing powers is seen when he sang a hymn entreating God’s intervention to cure the illness of the daughter of a king, during the course of his pilgrimage. In another instance, he was able to alleviate the suffering of the people caught in a severe cold wave. He was thus able to solve many problems of the people because he could request God to help people on their behalf. Through these miracles he dispelled the ignorance of the people and instilled faith in God.

Once, Gnanasambandhar met Saint Tirunavukkarasar near Madurai when the former had been requested by Siva devotees (the queen and the minister) to bring back king Nedumaran, who was under the influence of the Jains, to adopt the Saivite fold. Tirunavukkarasar, knowing fully well the fanatical attitude of the Jains with regard to their faith (since he had been tortured by them earlier) tried to dissuade the young Gnanasambandhar from entering Madurai. But Gnanasambandhar had such unshakable faith in Siva that he neither feared the influence of the planets nor the fierce attitude of the Jains. He was confident and faced the Jains in a series of tests so that the king was convinced in the supremacy of Siva. Gnanasambandhar was so realised that he longed for liberation and sang hymns for deliverance.