Sambandar (8th century)

  • Shiva’s blessed boy

    Sambandar is one of the 63 Nayanmar, “heroes”, who were active between the 7th and 13th centuries in south India. They left an extensive body of poetic work in Tamil which made a major contribution to the popularisation of Hinduism.

    According to the legend, the saint Sambandar lived in the 8th century in the small town of Sirkali, in the very south of India. It is told that he already met Shiva in his childhood. Sambandar is said to have received the gift of seeing Shiva with his own eyes and composing hymns in his honour. With Shiva's help, he also performed many miracles.

    Sambandar's hymns are testimony to profound piety. He venerated Shiva and his female companions with limitless devotion. Sambandar lost himself to Shiva, for Shiva had stolen his heart. At one moment Sambandar could be shaken with fear, at the next in deep ecstasy. He trembled and cried, danced and sang. Such intensely emotional religious devotion is what gives this poet his mystical quality.

    Sambandar's hymns are sung to this day in all the Shaivite temples of south India. They were incorporated into the standard temple liturgy. Through his songs, Sambandar connects people and gods beyond the borders of time and place.