Saint Gangadhara Navalar of Chennai was also a great littérateur

Chennai: The city has many Siddha temples as many saints attained jeeva samadhi here. One such temple is Jaya Vinayagar temple Mahaan Gangadhara Navalar Jeeva Samadhi.

Situated near Harrington Road at Chetpet, Gangadhara Navalar, a saint who lived in the early 20th century attained jeeva samadhi in 1929 and since then it has become a shrine with his family maintaining it.

Speaking to News Today, T Hamsavalli, whose husband is the grandson of the Saint says, “He was from Teynampet and he lived here in the same place with his family. He however was a devotee of Lord Kapaleeswara and went in a religious way and constructed a temple for Lord Vinayaga inside the premises of the house and worshipped it.”

She says that he was also a poet who has sung many hymns on Lord Kapaleeswara of Mylapore. “The procession of the Lord would only move
forward once the Navalar had completed his hymn,” she adds.

“He also had many devotees and delivered spiritual discourses. But on 29 October, 1929, he attained jeeva samadhi here. Even before that, he sought the permission from the then British Government to construct his jeeva samadhi here,” says Hamsavalli.

According to Hamsavalli, saint Gangadhara Navalar had written 13 books about Kapaleeswarar, nine books about Vinayagar and one book  about Subramaniar.

“All these books are now with the British Government as they were written during their rule,” she adds. However, after he attained his Jeeva Samadhi, the saint’s next generation did not give much care to it and it was under poor maintenance.

“It was only in the early 2000s that Guruji Sundar visited us after coming to know about the saint and said that he will build a shrine here. So without even asking any help from us, he built the shrine all by his own and a Shivalinga was installed atop his jeeva samadhi. The first consecration took place in 2006. Last October, the second Kumbhabhishekam also happened in a grand manner,” says Hamsavalli.

The Vinayaka shrine which was inside the premises was also shifted near the entrance of the jeeva samadhi and the idol is kept on the left wall. Upon entering the main mandapa, the samadhi is at the centre. This is one of the very few places where devotees are allowed to sit right next to it and meditate.

“A priest comes every morning and performs abhishekam to Lord Siva. Two important festivals takes place here are – Maha Sivarathri and Guru Poojai. During Maha Sivarathri all the four period poojas are performed. During Guru Pooja, special poojas and abhishekams are held, followed by a grand scale annadhanam,” says Hamsavalli.

“A lot of people from far off places continue to come here and mediate. Even when the shrine is locked, one can worship the Jaya Vinayagar and the portrait of the saint,” she adds.

The temple is open from 5.30 am to 11 am and from 5 pm to 8 pm.

Aaditya Anand M