One of the greatest Saints who lived in the 18th century is HH Sri Mouna Guru Swamigal in Kumbakonam. Mouna Guru is a very generic name which has been adopted by numerous Seers. The word Mouna means absolute silence.
The Paramacharya of Kanchi has talked a lot about this Saint in Deivathin Kural Voice of God book(Volume 3). When He describes the state of perfect bliss or Nirvana, He quotes 3 examples - Sri Sadasiva brahmendra , Sri Mouna Guru Swamigal and Sri Ramana Maharishi. While the other two are reasonably well known, Sri Mouna Guru Swamigal was not known except in close circles. The state in which these Saints lived bordered between Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Sahaja samadhi.
Mouna Swamigal is said to have initially stayed at Tirubhuvanam (around 8-10 kms from Kumbakonam) and then moved here. Swami Vivekananda has visited this Saint on three consecutive days when he came to kumbakonam. Annie Beasant, Arundale have visited him and Annie beasant installed the arch on the way to His samadhi, which can be seen even today.
The following is an incomplete translation of Paramacharya's words in Tamil on Mouna swamigal:
"Mouna Guru Swamigal used to stay for hours in Samadhi. The body was still and his eyes would be closed or open but never blink. Even if someone where to take his fingers close to his eye, it would not blink.
Food was forced by His disciples down His mouth. Sometimes it went in and sometimes it just stayed there. Ants would swarm His mouth for the food and they also used to bite him. His skin turned red but the saint would never budge from His samadhi state.
Some devotees applied sugar on His tongue but there was not even saliva getting formed , indicating his complete withdrawal from all his senses."
Source of above: columbuslost.com
One Shri Nalla Pillai was one of the disciples of Mouna Guru Swami in Kumbakonam. He was commissioned by North Arcot Collector to take photographs of prisoners in the district for police files. He came to Arunachala Hills and having been impressed by Bhagavan Ramana, Shri Pillai gifted Maharshi Mouna Swami's portrait!
Kanchi Mahaswamigal once did His Dhanda Namaskaram to the portrait of Mouna Swami at the home of Shri KG Krishamurthy in Thiruvidaimarudhur! Mouna Swamigal had even visited Shri KGK's home in the late 1800s!
In the above picture Kanchi Pudhu Periyava is seen doing Dhanda Namaskarams to Kanchi Swamigal. This is how it is done.
Mouna Guru Swami shed His mortal coil on 22-Apr-1899. Even today His Mahasamadhi attracts numerous devotees. Located near the Kumbeshwara Temple in Kumbakonam (the city gets its name from this temple), this Shrine radiates peace and serenity. There is a small Shiva linga placed on top of His Adhistanam. The address is:
Mouna Guru Swamigal of Kumbakonam,
Valayapettai Agraharam (near Kumbeshwara Temple)
Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu - 612001