The legend connected with the birth of Pattinathar is as follows : --

The boy was very pious and intelligent, and evinced great interest in learning the Vedas and Sastras. When he was five years old, his father Sivanesar passed away. It was time for Tiruvengadar (Pattinathar) to approach a guru and to be initiated into the worship of Lord Siva. He was very anxious to get a worthy guru.


One day Lord Siva appeared in his dream as a Brahmin and asked him to go over to Tiruvengadu the next day (Monday - Tiruvona Star) where a guru would teach him all he wanted to learn. Accordingly, Tiruvengadar went to Tiruvengadu the next day with very great joy and met the same Brahmin who appeared to him in his dream.


Immediately Tiruvengadar fell at his feet, and stood before him with his head bowed down. The Brahmin then gave him a small casket, saying that a Brahmin who appeared in his dream gave it to him and that it contained a Siva Lingam. He also offered to teach Tiruvengadar what the latter wanted to learn.

As soon as Tiruvengadar touched the casket, the lid automatically opened and a beautifully shining Siva Lingam was found inside. An idol of Vinayaka was also there. Tiruvengadar stayed at Tiruvengadu itself and conducted Siva Pooja daily as he had learned from his guru.

Tiruvengadar was very poor and found it difficult to continue his Siva Pooja. Now Lord Siva appeared to him one day in his dream and asked him to go to his place Kaveripattinam where he would get enough wealth to continue his worship. Tiruvengadar did accordingly and lived a peaceful and contented life.

Soon he married a pious and virtuous lady by name Sivakalai. They had no child for many yearsTiruvengadar attained the age of 35. He started praying to Siva to bless him with a child. Lord Siva took pity on him and wanted to take birth on the earth and go to Tiruvengadu and teach him what is real and how transient is the life on earth.

At last the vessel reached Kaveripattinam. The friends of Marudavanar ran to Tiruvengadu, met his father and narrated all that had happened and expressed their doubt about his son's sanity. Tiruvengadar though at first confused managed somehow or other to open the bags brought by his son.

To the amazement of all, the cow-dung bags were now full of pearls and diamonds, and gold was found in other bags. Overwhelmed with joy, Tiruvengadar ran into the house to see Marudavanar and embrace him. But alas! Marudavanar was to be found nowhere. Then his (Tiru - vengadar's) wife gave him a box stating that their son had given it to her.

The box was opened with great curiosity, but only an eyeless needle and a scroll of palmyrs were found in it. It was written on the scroll that even an eyeless needle would not accompany one to the next world. This simple truth opened the eyes of Tiru - vengadar.


He then understood that everything in this world - father,mother and wife and children-is transient and hence it should be the aim of all to under - stand the nature of God and the way to reach Him. Immediately Tiruvengadar renounced all his earthly possessions and became a Sanyasin. Ever since, then he came to be known as Pattinathar.


Pattinathar wanted to undertake a Sthala Yatra (pilgrimage), but his aged mother was there and he felt it his duty to remain by her side in her old age. Days passed. Pattinathar stayed in a Mandapam in Tiruvengadu and spent his days in meditation.


He used to accept food from all that gave it to him willingly. He had a sister in Kaveripattinam, who felt ashamed of her brother's action in having become a Sanyasin. She thought that her brother had marred the good name of their family and hence decided to put an end to his life.

Once she invited Pattinathar to her house and offered him a poisoned cake. Pattinathar, who came to know about this by the grace of God, threw it on the roof, which immediately caught fire and burnt her house down to ashes. Pattinathar went back to his mandaparn, at Tiruvengadu.

One-day Pattinathar's mother passed away at Kaverippoompattinam. Before Pattinathar could reach there, his relatives removed her body to the cremation ground and started to set fire to it. When Pattinathar arrived at the spot he removed all the firewood placed on his mother's body. He placed plantain leaves instead and sang ten stanzas bewailing her death. To the astonishment of all spectators, the green leaves caught fire at once. He performed all the rituals and ceremonies for the obsequies to his mother and afterwards set out from the place to visit all the shrines of Siva in the country.

At Tiruvarur, Pattinathar restored a dead man back to life. Then he came to a sacred place known as Onsenai Mahalam. At that time a king by name Bhadragiri was ruling that part of the country.

One day, some thieves stole some costly ornaments and articles from the palace and came to the temple of Vinayaka where Pattinathar was doing penance, to share the booty among themselves. They wanted to present something to Vinayaka. They took out one pearl necklace and placed it on the neck of Pattinathar mistaking him for Vinayaka. Pattinathar knew nothing about these incidents, as he was in deep meditation.

Next morning, Pattinathar was arrested by the soldier-, and brought before the King with the pearl necklace. Poor Pattinathar was not able to offer any explanation before the King. Thereupon the King came to the conclusion that he was the culprit and ordered that the man should be sent to the gallows. When Pattinathar was about to be hanged, he prayed to Lord Siva and sang a song. Immediately the gallows caught fire and were burnt to ashes. When the King came to know about this, he was very much afraid, fell at the feet of the Sage and begged him to pardon him. The King soon received Jnanopadesa from Pattinathar and became a saint.

When Pattinathar came to Tiruvidai - marudur, he met his disciple Bhadragiri there. After some time Bhadragiri passed away. Then an invisible voice was heard. Pattinathar was directed to go to Tiru - vottiyur where he would get salvation. He again came to Tiruvengadu. There he saw one of his ex-servants and his wife being imprisoned by the King. He arranged for their release.


He then visited Shiyali, Chidambaram, Tiruvekambaram,Kalahasti, Tiruvalangadu and other places, and at last came to Tiruvottiyur. At Tiruvottiyur he worshipped Lord Siva and composed many songs. He used to amuse urchins by performing some miracles. He would get Into a pit in one place anct come out of the earth in another place.

This he used to do frequently, One day he asked some buys to place over him a big vessel covering his entire body. The boys expected that he would come out of the earth as usual at some other place. As Pattinathar did not come back for a long time, the boys removed the vessel to see whether the Sage was still there. The Sage was not there, but in his place they found a Siva Lingam. Thus Pattinathar got trans - formed into a Lingam and merged with God. He is very well known in Tamilnad as a great saint. A temple has been constructed over the Lingam at Tiruvottiyur, a suburb of Madras City.

These songs were sung by Pattinathaar when his Mother passed away and he had to light her funeral pyre. (Don’t expect an explanation for the songs, I can not find words in English for every word here, nor can I understand everything that’s said here either… if anyone can, please tell me, I will put it here so that others can understand fully. Any normal tamil student should be able to grasp atleast the beauty and overall emotion of the poet, which could be really profound if understood properly)Here's one more song which I really have to explain about.


Pattinathaar once is found accidentally with the King's stolen jewels (some thieves accidentally throw it on him when fleeing) and he's taken to the King, who orders his execution on a Kazhuvu (not exactly sure what it is, but my dad said its a 7 feet Bamboo Stick which is sharp at the top and broad at the bottom. They apply oil over it and make the person sit on the top - pachaak! the next moment the person is at the bottom, with this bamboo stick running through his body from the bottom through his mouth). Pattinathaar, it seems, looks at the Kazhuvu and sings,


(Gross meaning: "Whatever is happening now, my Lord, is not my action; I've realized that it's all your play. I also know that since I entered this worldly birth, I've not done any harm to anyone. What I don't know, my Lord, is what bad I did before my birth, for you to give me this blame of theft and this situation...")

It's said in Legend, that when he sings this song, the Kazhuvu (which's supposed to be made of green Bamboo) just catches fire and burns down to ashes.