The Story of Gnana Sambandar’s Enlightenment
Sadhguru tells us the story of Sambandar, one of the Nayanmars, who created a situation at his wedding where all the guests attained to the ultimate!
Sadhguru: Sambandar was an enlightened being, a bala yogi who lived over a thousand years ago. At the age of six he began to express his spiritual dimension in a very beautiful way. He couldn’t teach since he was a child, so he sang wonderfully to express his enlightenment. Most of it has gone unrecorded, but what little was recorded is of such immense beauty.
He came from a royal lineage so when he became a young man, he was obligated to get married because his family and kingdom were compelling him in that direction though he himself had no such longing. Then, he recognized a particular girl and said if it is this one girl, maybe… It wasn’t that he thought this girl was the prettiest or whatever, it was just that he saw her as a tool to do something else.
This girl happened to be of royal lineage too, but her kingdom and Sambandar’s kingdom didn’t get along. When she was just five or six years of age, she had turned so intensely spiritual that her parents were unable to contain her in the house. So, when she was just eight, she somehow compelled her parents to send her to Varanasi in North India. This was quite an impossible thing in India that time – even now it is difficult! But she managed this, and spent time with her guru till she was fourteen years old.
Then, her guru saw that destiny was moving in a certain direction, and realizing that her parents would anyway be looking to get her married at this age, told her to move towards Sambandar. The guru revealed Sambandar’s plan to the girl – something he would not have done under usual circumstances – and she willingly agreed to it. She too had not been thinking of marriage in her life, but now that she knew this was a special person and he had different ideas for the wedding, she accepted. The two families somehow reconciled with each other because these two people were such extraordinary beings. Everyone could see that, and Sambandar already had a large following by this time. So the marriage fixed.
Many of the important people in southern India were invited. Over 3000 people assembled for the wedding. Usually, in the Indian wedding ceremony, the priest is uttering certain things that most people don’t pay any attention to. What he is saying is that something has drawn these two people together – maybe just hormones – but may this union lead to ultimate union. That’s what the whole ceremony is about – may this simple attraction of male and female become a longing and a method for you to reach enlightenment.
That’s how the wedding ceremony in the Hindu way of life is. Most people don’t get beyond hormones or emotions. If they have reasonably pleasant emotions, it is considered a successful marriage. But the very wedding process is looking forward to an ultimate union, not just for emotional union or hormonal satisfaction.
Sambandar had this idea for the wedding – he wanted this to become an ultimate union, not just for him and his bride, but for all the guests who would come. He was a generous man! He created an atmosphere where the wedding guests were no longer guests, they had become intense spiritual seekers in those few hours there. When the moment came, all of them found their ultimate and shed their bodies right there. He and his bride left too. Over 3000 people shed their bodies in full consciousness.
Many centuries later, another poet saint came, and we hear more about Sambandar from him. Vallalar lamented very poetically, “Oh, why didn’t I get the opportunity to be at that wedding? Why was I not an invitee? Now I have to slog for my spirituality like this!”
Editor’s Note: What does it really mean to know yourself? How does it feel to have no more questions about life – its meaning, its purpose, and its glaring inequalities? What does it really mean to be enlightened? Sadhguru explains karma, yoga and mukti or liberation in Enlightenment: What It Is. Download now.