Chronologically, Thirumazhisai-alwar comes fourth in the family tree of the twelve great alwars. Thirumazhisai was born in a temple town called Mahisara, which is located in between Kanchipuram, Mylapore and Mahabalipuram in Chengulpet district of Tamil Nadu.
Mahisara means the essence of the earth or the fertile land and Thirumazhisai-alwar is named after the place in which he was born. According to the sthala-purana of the place, some great sages including Atri, Bhrigu, Vasishta, Bhargava and Angiras approached Lord Brahma and requested him to tell them of the most suitable place for them to stay and to practice their spiritual lives undisturbed.
Lord Brahma thought for a while and asked them to go to Mahisara as that would be the ideal place for all those aspiring to practice their spiritual lives due to its fertility and as it is situated in close proximity to Kanchipuram and other sacred places which were the hotbeds of knowledge in those days. Bhargava Rishi came to Mahisara along with all the other sages and started to happily spend his days in loving contemplation of the Supreme Lord and observing a sacred vow and practicing a ritual called dirga-satra.
According to divya-suri-charitam, Bhargava Rishi’s wife conceived when the sage was practicing his vow and gave birth to a lump of flesh after bearing it for nearly twelve months. Makha star was prevailing in the Taishya month (January–February) in Siddharthi year of Dvapara yuga when the Rishi’s wife gave birth to that lump of flesh. The lump of flesh did not have any features and not even its limbs were defined. As it seemed lifeless and not knowing what to do, Bhargava Rishi took that lump of flesh and abandoned it in a bamboo grove that was located in a thick forest. The shapeless lump of flesh was, however, taken care of by mother earth.
Gradually limbs and other organs of the human body started to appear in the lump of flesh that was abandoned by Bhargava Rishi. The lump developed into a small infant and started to cry due to hunger. As no one heard the wailings of the child, the Lord of Mahisara, Lord Jagannatha, appeared before the child as if to bless it. The wailings of the child stopped briefly when he saw the pleasant form of the Lord and it started to cry again when the Lord disappeared. Thus Thirumazhisai-alwar made an unusual entry into this material world to carry out the divine will of his master, the Supreme Lord Srimannarayana. Thirumazhisai-alwar is said to be the manifestation of the Lord’s Sudarshana, i.e. the discus of the Lord.
Unable to see the Lord, who had appeared before it as soon as it was born, the child started to cry for the vision of the Lord. Hearing the loud cries of the child a group of laborers, who had come to the forest to cut some bamboo, started searching for it. The laborers came across the child and were captivated by the beauty and effulgence that was radiating on the face of the child.
One of the laborers, Thiruvalan, decided to take the child home and handed it to his childless wife, Pankaja-chelvi. It is said that Pankaja-chelvi experienced all the emotions that a mother would experience and milk started to drip from her breasts as soon as she embraced the child. The blessed child did not consume milk like the normal ones but, dwelt on the wonderful form of the Lord that it had beheld at the time of its birth. Though the child did not consume enough milk, the child appeared normal as it was being nurtured by the all merciful Lord. The news of the wonder child started to spread across the region.
Many people started to visit Thiruvalan’s house to have a glimpse of the child. An old childless shudra couple, who were aspiring to have a child, also came to know about this and came to see him one fine morning. The couple was so captivated with the divine radiance of the child that they started to visit him regularly. The couple devotedly brought some milk for Thirumazhisai-alwar regularly and used to feel happy after the young Thirumazhisai-consumed it. Thirumazhisai-alwar gradually began to grow.
One fine day Thirumazhisai-alwar consumed half of the milk brought by the couple and asked them to consume the remaining and told them they would beget a very good male child. As foretold by Thirumazhisai-alwar, the old couple begot a male child and named him Kanni-kannan. Thirumazhisai-alwar, thus, started to display his yogic powers even when he was a child.
Know more about Thirumazhisai-alwar in the next posts.