Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Othuvar Gnana Sambandhar passes away aged 84

Aasthana Othuvar of Dharmapuram Aathenam
Thiru Gnana Sambandar Othuvar presented the Thevaram Verses at the historical Sattanathan Temple in Sirkazhi for over Five Decades
He refused a lucrative offer from the Annamalai University preferring to serve at the feet of Lord Sattanathan
Till a few years ago, he continued to perform at the annual 'Gnana Paal' Utsavam in Chitrai at Osai Nayaki Thaala Pureeswarar Temple
Othuvar Thiru Gnana Sambandhar, who served at the Dharumapuram Aatheenam administered Thiru Gnana Sambandhar praised Sattanathan temple in Sirkazhi for over five decades, passed away on Tuesday evening on the lap of his son Othuvar Kathiresan. Gnana Sambandar Othuvar was 84. He had last presented the sacred verses at Kachineri Saraikadu ( Thiru Kaalimedu), the Paadal Petral Sthalam in Kanchipuram on the occasion of his 83rd birthday last year. 

Passes away on his son's lap
His health had deteriorated over the last three years. Othuvar Gnana Sambandar had a bout of cold for the last four days following heavy rain in Kanchipuram and he did not recover from the cold. “He died on my lap with me holding him with my hand. It was a quiet and peaceful end. Over the last three years, he has been a child to me. I used to bathe him and feed him every day” his Othuvar son Kathiresan told this writer from Kanchipuram. “All the leading Mutts and temples sent prasadam in honour of his great contribution over the last six decades.”

Born in Thiruvayaru in 1937, Thiru Gnana Sambandhar Othuvar, like Muthu Kandha Desikar Othuvar, was initiated into the sacred verses by Velayutha Othuvar. After completion of his education, he spent a few months at the Thirubhuvanam temple, following which he had the privilege as a young teenager of presenting at the Sattanathan temple where Thiru Gnana Sambandar sang his first verse. And there was no looking back. For the next five decades, he was devotionally attached to this historic temple located at the birth place of Thiru Gnana Sambandar presenting the Pancha Puranam verses during the Saayi Rakshai and Artha Jaama pooja each day. He also was bestowed with the responsibility of presenting Thirumurai on special festive occasions.

He was the Asthana Othuvar of Dharmapuram Aatheenam.

Meagre Salary throughout his life
He started off with a monthly of Rs. 18 way back in the early 1950s and ended up with a meager Rs. 380 when he resigned from the post over 50 years later. In addition he was also given a bag of Paddy. 

When the famous devotional singer Sirkazhi Govindarajan was the Dean of Annamalai University, he was keen to rope in Gnana Sambandar Othuvar as a Professor at the popular music department. He would have received a starting monthly salary of Rs. 18000 from the few hundred rupees he was getting at that time, and yet he was unwilling to move away from serving the Lord at the Sirkazhi temple. Much later, at the beginning of this century, he served as a faculty at the Music School started in Sirkazhi close to the temple.
Presentation Overseas
He has sung in almost all the leading Saivite temples in India and Overseas as well, in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. For decades, he was one of the most preferred Othuvars to participate and present the sacred verses during the Kumbabhishekam festivities in large temples such as the ones in Tiruchendur, Palani, Thiruvannamalai and Swami Malai.  

In 2017, despite finding it difficult to stay on his feet, he gathered the devotional strength to participate and present the Thevaram verses at the Kumbhabhishekam in Pillayarpatti.  Another indication of his devotional commitment was when he presented the significance of the sacred verses at the All India Saiva Siddhantha Conference held in Chennai in February 2018 with two people carrying him up on to the stage.

Till his late 70s, he continued to perform at the annual 'Gnana Paal' Utsavam in Chitrai at Osai Nayaki Thaala Pureeswarar Temple when Lord Sattanathan visits the Osai Nayaki Temple for the Thiru Gnana Sambandar Gnana Paal utsavam (

Devotionally attached to Sirkazhi Sattanathan Temple
For his selfless service at the Sirkazhi temple, he has received prestigious awards from four different Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu. His income through his five decades long service was just sufficient to take care of the family but even the financial challenges in life was not enough to lure him to more lucrative offers “The greatest happiness to me has been of having had the opportunity to present before the Lord at the ancient Sattanathan temple in Sirkazhi for over 50 years and to have been part of the renowned Dharumapuram Aatheenam for such a long period of time.  No amount of money can equal the satisfaction of singing at the same place where the great Saivite Saint Poet Thiru Gnana Sambandar sang his first song”, he told this writer at his home in Kanchipuram in 2018.

His son the 49 year old Othuvar Kathiresan is continuing the Othuvar tradition and is currently the Othuvar at the Sundarar praised Anega Thangaavatham temple near Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram. 

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