Arumuga Navalar’s contribution to Hinduism and Tamil Language | Daily News

Arumuga Navalar’s contribution to Hinduism and Tamil Language

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has declared 2022 as the Navalar Year in honour of Srilasri Arumuga Navalar for his contribution to Tamil and Hinduism. The Prime minister has declared the year 2022 as Navalar Year, to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Srilasri Arumuga Navalar.

Arumuga Navalar was born on December 18, 1822 during the colonial era. He started his educational career at a native Tamil medium school. His brothers who noticed his outstanding qualities decided to send him to an English medium school. At the age of 12, he was first admitted to a Methodist school. At that time it was administered by Rev. Peter Percival. He identified Arumuga Navalar’s extraordinary talents and a keen interest in education. With time, he appointed him as a Tamil teacher for the upper school and an English teacher for the lower school. At the age of 19, he was assigned to translate the Bible into Tamil. He studied the Bible and made a comparative study with Hindu traditional Vedas, Agamas and Puranas. His approach revealed that he had studied both religions in depth.

He made numerous reforms in Hindu traditional practices in his early years. He also introduced the Tamil word ‘Samaya’ for religion. Meanwhile, he defended Hinduism in numerous ways for the rulers.

He took numerous measures to protect the ancient Hindu religious Sastras. He searched the Hindu palm manuscripts and preserved and released them in printed form for the benefit of everybody. He was a social reformer, thinker and an exceptional scholar in English, Tamil, Hinduism and Christianity. He raised his voice against numerous Hindu practices followed blindly by the people.


Navalar was born and bred in his native town Nallur. His father’s name was Kandiahpillai, a Tamil poet who had established a foundation for Tamil literature. Later the foundation facilitated Arumuga Navalar to do his research in Tamil and Hindu religious activities. During his period, he worked closely with Rev. Peter Percival. Although he was born into an orthodox Hindu family, his contribution to the Tamil language and Hinduism has been recognized in Sri Lanka and South India as well. Because of his exceptional contribution, he was honoured with the title Navalar.

He helped the local Tamil Christian population to understand the theological values imparted by the missionaries of the ruling authorities. He declined to accept a high posting from the ruling authorities.

He started a weekly Hindu sermon at Vanarpanai Vaitheswara temple in Jaffna. He not only imparted the in-depth meaning of Agama Sastras and Vedas but also suggested many reforms and rituals on Hindu traditions. He explained and initiated numerous reforms for the Hindu religious practices.

The word ‘Navalar’ means proficiency to express your knowledge through speech. The word, ‘Na’ means tongue, ‘Valar’ means the person who has exceptional skills.

Despite foreign rulers, Hinduism survived until the emergence of Arumga Navalar. He renounced his worldly life and dedicated himself to the well-being of the Tamil language and Hindu culture. Navalar later became a Hindu evangelist.

Contribution to Thiruketheeswaram

Jaffna-based Srila Sri Arumuga Navalar was mentioned for the first time in 1872 in relation to the famed Thiruketheeswaram temple. He started his mission about Thiruketheeswaram and created public vigilance especially among Saiva devotees of Sri Lanka. At that time the ancient Thiruketheeswaram was covered by sand. The total extent of the land was 40 acres. Navalar took a keen interest in rebuilding the temple and restoring the daily Kiriyas (such as Nithya and Nimithiya rituals) of the temple. Unfortunately, all the efforts of Navalar failed due to opposition by a particular section of the community and the lack of interest on the part of the Hindu community. Unfortunately, during his life span, Arumuganavalar’s efforts did not materialize. Anyway, after about 21 years of his demise, his dream was materialized. On 13th December 1893, in front of the Northern Government Agent Sir William Twynam, an auction took place at Thirukeetheswaram. People from many walks of life attended the auction. Saiva devotees and many other religious dignitaries gathered at the premises of the Jaffna Kachcheri. Sir William Twynam auctioned the 40 acres.

The Saiva devotees decided to purchase the land. An ardent devotee named Palani Appa Chediyar on behalf of the Sri Lankan Hindu community purchased the land for Rs 3,100 on the 13th of December 1893. The Saiva devotees raised the money and bought the land from the Palani Appa Chediyar. The major portion of the funds was given by the Jaffna-based Saiva devotees. The former Government Agent of Jaffna, Sir William Twynam had mentioned the ancient glory of Thiruketheeswaram in his administrative annual report. Thus the dream of Srilasri Arumuga Navalar was realized after 14 years of his death.

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