Unearthing the ‘wisdom’ at Kambar’s ‘samadhi’
It is the fourth generation of the family that is maintaining the ‘samadhi’ now
‘Kavichakravarthi Kambar’, the great Tamil poet is worshiped as a ‘God of Wisdom’ at his ‘samadhi’ here and the soil from the place where he was believed to have been laid to rest is revered by one and all.
Local villagers place a drop of this soil mixed with milk in the mouth of newborn babies wishing that this would help the children get the great poet’s poetic gift.
Children who visited the temple with their parents were also given ‘Kambar man’ as ‘prasadam’ so that they can have it mixed with water or milk to gain wisdom. This unique practice is being followed for nearly a century.
The ‘samadhi,’ in the midst of a wooded ten-acre site on the outskirts of the town panchayat, is being maintained by the family of Avichi Chettiyar or Kambar Chettiyar belonging to the local Nagarathar community. As of now, it is the fourth generation of the family that is maintaining the ‘samadhi’ and a priest has been appointed to conduct a one-time pooja in the temple.
Legend has it that Kamban, who was in despair after his son, Ambikapathy, was put to death by King Kulothunga Chola for falling in love with his daughter, princess Amaravathy, reached the village and spent his last days here.
Recalling the history, Mr. Pala.Palaniappan, secretary, Kamban Kazhagam in Karaikudi said the ‘samadhi’ was first spotted in 1939 by Tamil scholar and Kazhagam founder Sa.Ganesan after seeing people reverently taking soil from the spot and giving it to their children. “People had been removing the earth for several years but it seemed to replenish itself and this was seen as a miracle,” he said.
He and Avichi Chettiyar then built a temple over the spot though there was no historic evidence to prove that the poet was laid to rest here, Mr. Palaniappan told The Hindu . A group believes that Kamban lived in the 9th century while the other says that he lived in the 12th century. “Unfortunately, none of the songs of Kamban had any reference to any king to determine the period,” he said.
Besides the daily pooja at the ‘samadhi’ by the Chettiyar family, the Kamban Kazhagam organises an annual four-day festival, three days at Karaikudi and the final day at the ‘samadhi’ on Panguni Astham, a day when the poet was honoured with the title ‘Kavichakravarthy’, he said.
“We consider it as a great privilege and our family will continue to maintain the ‘samadhi,’ says Ms. K.N.Visalatchi of the Chettiyar family. Her father-in-law Ramanatha Chettiyar was fondly called ‘Kambar Chettiyar’ and the family would like to be identified with the great poet, she says.