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(7th–8th century ce)

A Tamil Śaiva saint and bhakti poet, and among the most prominent of the 63 Nāyaṉmār, Cuntarar is regarded as one of the founders of the Śaiva Siddhānta tradition in southern India. His songs appear in the Tirumuṟai, notably in the Tēvāram (‘Garland of God’) portion, alongside the works of Appar and Campantar. From the fact that he records the names of the 62 other Nāyaṉmār in his poetry, he appears to have been at the end of this line, and the 12th century hagiographer, Cekkiḻār, uses Cuntarar's life story as a framework to tell the stories of the other 62 Nāyaṉmār in the twelfth and final book of the Tirumuṟai, the Periya Purāṇam. According to the traditional account, Cuntarar was born into a brahmin family at Tirunāvalūr, although he was later married to two low caste women. He was close to Cēramāṉ Perumāḷ, a king who is also numbered among the Nāyaṉmār. Cuntarar's 1 026 poems express a single-minded devotion to Śiva, mixed with a sense of his own deep inadequacy, and the hope of eventual union with the object of his bhakti.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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