Pillai was taken unawares by the glowing report of his tender brother’s erudition andcommand of words, and his heart overflowed with joy. Success leads to success. The youngRamalingam grew in his
with his years, and devoured Puranas and Ithihasas. Onemight peruse with profit his
Siva Nesa Venba
for an illustration of it. Even when he was nineyears old, his numbers came, and his first verses were in praise of the Lord of Tirutanikai.The fifth Tirumurai consists of poems sung in his praise. The sacred shrine of Tiruvottiyurnext magnetised him. He went thither as often as he could, and on every occasion of his visithe poured out his heart the local deity. His fervent prayers comprise the second and thirdTirumurais. The place had so great an attraction that he felt the higher spiritual life there andtook Thiagaperuman as his guru. Touched by his hearty effusions as tradition would have it,the Guru appeared to him at night when he was down with hunger and lassitude, and fed himwith the manna of divine wisdom. This incident finds reiterated mention in his poems. In
or ‘The Outpourings of the Heart’ occur the lines.
At this holy place he came in contact with the Sthala Ottuvar Tirujnana Sambanda Pillai andmutual love and friendship sprang up, which bore fruit in the persistent cultivation of Siva- jnanam by this youngster whose lips had been touched by the coals from the altar. Nourshiedin this wise, the mind of the young sage ever dwelt upon his Guru and hankered after DivineGrace in order to attain
. The knowledge and wisdom gained by him were noisedabroad, and he was approached by Pandara Arumuga Aiya for lessons in
.The sagely younker took to the role of a spiritual teacher, and, as years rolled on, had abouthim a host of disciples, the most prominent among them being the well-known Tamil ScholarVelayuda Mudaliyar of Tholuvur, and the first classifier of his hymns into Tirumurais.At this stage the young Ramalingam had to be made a
. His brothers,Sabapathi and Vunnmulaiammal were anxious that he should lead a wedded life. Thoughquite averse to it, he was prevailed on by their entreaties and succumbed when his eldestbrother cited the case of St. Jnana Sambandar and his implicit compliance with his parentalwishes. His marriage with a niece was solemnised in due form; and though married, he livesingle, ever bent on his discourses, disputations, and pilgrimages. At Thiruvural he held adisputation with a Brahmo and proved the utility of divine worship with idols or images.When at Karunguli, he overcame a learned swell of an accountant who was a native of Devipattinam, and satisfied a Brahmin Sanyasi with apt answers to his searching queries onVedas and Vedic teachings. Further, he wrote an elaborate commentary on ‘
’ in Olivilodukkam, indited a learned disquisition onThondai mandalam, and also penned the popular ‘Manumurai-Kanda-Vasakam.’In the midst of his glorious career, he suffered the loss of his beloved mother and didhis last duty by her. His second brother followed in her wake, and the last rites for him wereproperly gone through. When he finally settled in his own place, the sad news of his firstbrother’s death flashed upon his mind, but he could not go to Mylapore for the funerals.