Culture, Spirituality

CHINNAJAMIYAR – THE THURAVI OF TANJAVUR

“Chinnajamiyar” is a colloquialism for “Chinna Samiyar” as Sri Chinnaswami Iyengar was known. He was what one would call a “Muttrina Thuravi” (a highly advanced ascetic in Tamizh). He led a fairly normal life well into his thirties and in fact was a government servant in British India.

One day a strange feeling overwhelmed him while working in his office. He got up from his chair and started walking as if in a daze. Even as he walked, he first unfurled his turban and dropped it on the floor, then his shirt, followed by his dhoti, and then even his undergarments – all the while walking in a trance-like state. Stark naked he kept walking. His friends and colleagues from the office rushed after him and tried to stop him but to no avail, then his relatives who brought with them doctors but nothing would shake Chinna Jamiyar – he had crossed over to the other side… forever…

In a sense the dropping of the clothes was a symbolic though totally unplanned expression of the dropping away of all worldly attachments. For the rest of his life, Chinna Jamiyar lived like this oblivious to and of the world but totally absorbed in the self. He wandered about for a year sleeping on any Thinnai (the concrete bench laid out in the open courtyard of traditional houses) he felt like. Since he was a local, no one objected – it was after a year that he seemed to come back a little to the plane of normal existence (only a little) and allowed himself the luxury of a Kaupina (loin cloth).

Slowly, people started seeing him for what he was and had become now and started calling him “Sami” then “Samiyar” and then later “Chinna Jamiyar”

He never taught anything but anybody who came into his presence was known to be caught up in the power he exuded. Those that came to him with problems were either tongue tied or realized later that their problems had disappeared. Children were particularly attracted to him because they saw what many did not see and he too related to them and their innocence…

Shri Chinna Swamigal

Chinna Jamiyar was another one of those great “mauna-munis” the silent Dakshinamurthi swarupa who’s silence was louder than their words.

And, as he said:

There are parents to teach life…
There is a teacher for learning alphabets and numbers. 
There are artists to teach arts. 
There is a guru to impart works of philosophy.
There is God to grant divinity. 
But there is only the self for enlightenment.

Chinna Jamiyar is one of some of the great unknown munis. I first read about Chinna Jamiyar in the online edition of Sri Sivan Sir’s (the purva-ashrama brother of the Kanchi Paramacharya) book: “Yeni Padigalil Mandargal” (Human Beings on the ladder of Spiritual Evolution). Unfortunately, the online link seems broken now…

Sivan Sir’s Yeni Padigalil Mandargalsivan
Sivan Sir with the Kanchi Paramacharya

Source Credits for the Photos: http://mahaperiyavapuranam.org/maha-periyava-sri-sivan-sar/

Chinna Samiyar Photo: https://columbuslost.com/temples/Sri-Sivan-Sir-Life-History-Books-and-articles/info

2 thoughts on “CHINNAJAMIYAR – THE THURAVI OF TANJAVUR”

    1. He finds mention and a short biography is included in ‘Sivan Sirs” book “yenipadigallil Mandaragal” I have not found it anywhere else. The book is in tamizh but and English translation is also available. I have been trying to get that book too. If you live in Chennai, try out Giri traders.

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