Sattainathar Temple, Sirkazhi – Association with Thirugnana Sambandar
Tirugnana Sampanthar (also rendered as Sambandar, Champantar, Sambandar, Jnanasambandar, and Gnanasambandar) was a young Saiva poet-saint of Tamil Nadu who lived around the 7th century CE. He is one of the most prominent of the sixty-three Nayanars, Tamil Saiva bhakti saints who lived between the sixth and the tenth centuries CE. Sambandar’s hymns to Shiva were later collected to form the first three volumes of Thirumurai, the religious canon of Tamil Saiva Siddhanta. He was a contemporary of Appar, another Saiva saint.
Sampanthar was born to Sivapaada Hrudayar and his wife Bhagavathiar who lived in Sirkazhi in Tamilnadu. They were a Saivite Brahmins who at that point of time professed Rig Veda. The group of servitors wore tuft on top of their head with a tilt towards right, as seen in all murals and statues of Sambandar and also finds mention in the related hagiographies of that period and also of the later periods like that of Arunagirinathar. According to legend, when Sampanthar was three years old his parents took him to the Shiva temple where Shiva and his consort Parvati appeared before the child.
The goddess nursed him at her breast. His father saw drops of milk on the child's mouth and asked who had fed him, whereupon the boy pointed to the sky and responded with the song Todudaya Seviyan - the first verse of the Tevaram. At his investiture with the sacred thread, at the age of seven, he is said to have expounded the Vedas with great clarity. Sri Sankaracharya who lived in the subsequent century has also referred to Sambandar in one hymn of Soundarya Lahari, praising him as a gifted Tamil child (Dravida Sishu) who was fed with milk of divine gnosis by goddess Uma.