While researching Siddha medicine, Rick Weiss a researcher from New Zealand fascinated by Tamil Shaivite mystic Ramalinga Adigal, who lived in the 19th century and worshipped lord Shaiva in the form of fire rather than ‘lingam’. Adigal was known for “Tiruvarutpa”, a book of verses sung by him praising the lord, which was published in 1867 by his students. To know more about the book and the saint, Weiss said he went in search of its publisher, Asiatic Press, 292, on Linghi Chetty Street, Madras. But what he saw there was a small temple bearing the same plot number. A detailed inquiry, however, revealed some basic information about the publication of the book and how it altered the religious graph of Tamil Nadu, said Weiss while talking on the publication of Ramalinga Adigal’s “Tiruvarutpa” at the Roja Muthiah Research Library. “Tiruvarutpa” records Adigal’s reflections on god, devotion, contemporary religious practices and Shaiva literary traditions. “The publication of it was a landmark event. The book consolidated Adigal’s place among great modern Hindu saints. At the same time, it also prompted the beginning of a long religious dispute between Adigal’s followers and a group of orthodox Shaivas led by Arumuga Navalar,” said Weiss, who is a senior lecturer of South Asian Religions at the Victoria University at Wellington. He is currently working on a book on Ramalinga Adigal’s writings. Born in 1823 in Marudur near Chidambaram, Adigal moved to Madras in 1940. However, he left Madras in 1857, migrating south in search of a quiet village life. “Adigal first went to Karunguli and later shifted to Vadalore. He had a traditional Tamil education. He wrote down verses throughout his life. He wrote on palm leaves, paper, and on notebooks. For the most part, he wrote on palm leaves when he was in Madras, and on paper after he left in 1857,” said Weiss. However, many of Adigal’s verses ended up in the possession of his followers.
Source : The Times Of India