From the ancient period onwards many saints were born in India in different periods. Many literatures are also available about them but we should remember them time to time so that young generations and children know about their teachings and activities One famous saint who was not only popular in India but also in the world is Arutprakasa Vallalar Chidambaram Ramalingam born on Sunday, 5 October 1823, at Marudhur village near Chidambaram, present Tamil Nadu. Vallalar was the fifth child of Sri Ramayya and Smt Chinnammai. On 30 January 1874 i.e. exactly 147 years ago he left for heavenly abode.
His pre-monastic name was Ramalinga, but popularly known in India and across the world as Vallalar, also known as Ramalinga Vallalar/ Ramalinga Adigal. He was not only a famous Saint and also one of the renowned Tamil poets of the 19th Century. From childhood and even while he was infant endowed with many events which depict he was a saint. During infancy while praying with parents at Thillai temple, a priest saw Vallalar mesmerised with God and was smiling. He loved privacy and spent most of his time in the temple.
Important teachings of Vallalar inter alia are:
1. Form of God is Arutperunjothi (Supreme grace of light).
2. Love is the master key to spirituality.
3. Religious ceremony has no meaning.
4. Meditation is the form of prayer.
5. Realisation of truth in all religions.
6. Caste and other social divisions have no meaning.
He was a great human being and was against the Caste system as he severely condemned the rituals and caste beliefs. He endorsed the widespread love and brotherhood. According to him hunger and poverty are the two main enemies of the society and till across the world mainly in developing countries hunger and poverty are considered as curses for the human beings. As an academician and worked as a rural development functionary I have observed ‘Absolute Poverty’ in some countries in Asia and Africa. For the benefit of readers, I wish to mention that ‘Absolute Poverty’ means the people do not have minimum income to lead normal lives and to meet basic needs.
Anyway Vallalar was a righteous person and his motto was service to human beings that is why in order to conduct prayer constructed a Sathyagnana Sabha. According to him, “This sabha is a common place for everyone, who follows San maargam (good way)”. He also founded Sathya Dharmasala at Vadalur to feed the poor people, indicating his feelings for the poor echelons of the society. It is pertinent to mention that the Sathya Dharmasala provides food to everyone, irrespective of caste and religion throughout the year, undoubtedly a praiseworthy initiative. Vallalar showed his love and mercy not only to human beings but also on plants, insects, birds and animals. This is called “Jeeva Karunya” (Mercy to life). Also it is noteworthy to mention that, one of the primary teachings of Vallalar is ‘Service to mankind is the path of Moksha’ and per Collins dictionary ‘Moksha means freedom from the endless cycle of transmigration into a state of bliss’. The path of compassion and mercy are the only path to God. Keeping this in mind, in 1872, he established ‘Sathya Gnana Sabai’, i.e. ‘Hall of True wisdom Forum’. It is pertinent to mention that his devotional songs have been compiled in a volume called ‘Thiru Arutpa’.
Pronam to the great saint on this date of his death anniversary on 30 January 2021 as he made an indelible mark in the history of India by teaching us love and compassion to human beings without considering caste, and other social issues and also taught us to serve the needy and poor who are in distress.
The following websites have been consulted while writing the article:
(The author extends his thanks to Dr. P. Natarajamurthy, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu for his support by providing necessary information)
Dr Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad