Stories of the 63 Nayanmar saints, legendary Shaiva Bhaktas:
Born in Adanur on the banks of the river Kolleedam as an untouchable, Nandanar could not enter the temples nearby because of his caste. As a great devotee of Shiva he prayed and yearned to be able to visit Thiruppankoor, a Shiva temple about an hour away from Chidambaram. When he inquired about making the trip, the landlord Nandanar worked for refused to allow him to go without tilling 40 acres of land in one day. Nandanar prayed to Lord Shiva that night and pleaded with him to help fulfill his dream of visiting Shiva’s temple. By the next day, Shiva himself tilled all 40 acres and Nandanar’s landlord realized he was no ordinary devotee of Shiva.
At Thiruppankoor, Nandanar realized he could not go inside because of his caste, so he prayed every day to see a vision of the Shivalingam inside the temple. But Nandanar could not see the lingam because Nandi, Shiva’s vahana, was blocking it. Praying to Shiva again, Nandanar asked that Nandi move aside so that he could see the lingam. Amazingly, the Nandi moved aside, and even today, he remains a few feet from the center!
Overwhelmed with gratitude and love, Nandanar built Thiruppankoor its own temple tank.
During a public discourse, he heard about the wonderous shrine at Chidambaram, regarded as one of the most important Shivalayams. Passionately, he desired to see Chidambaram, but let the days go by out of fear of rejection. He kept saying he would begin the journey the next day. The villagers nearby thus named him Thirunalaipovaar (in Tamil, “he’ll go tomorrow”).
Finally, Nandanar set off for Chidambaram. He stood outside the gates of the Nataraja temple and cried—even other devotees prayed to Nataraja to have mercy on him. Because of his caste, he was unable to cross the gates. Seeing His devotee’s anguish, Nataraja came into all of the Chidambaram priests’ dreams one night. He told the priests to walk Nandanar through a sacrificial fire the next morning, after bathing. Nandanar entered the fire and was bathed by the flames until he became golden. He emerged a Brahmin, wearing a yajnopavitam (sacredthread). The Tillai Brahmins carried him on a palanquin toward the Nataraja. He placed his foot on the first step leading up to the temple and, in front of everyone’s eye, he disappeared!
Unsu...Lets not forget the very first Bhaktas (devotees) to Sri Mahadeva, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu who in their own delusions thought themselves the source of all things. After the two experienced Lord Shiva they recited a prayer of devotion to him but I don't have my Shiva Purana on me at the moment. I'll post the prayer tomorrow though. Bom Shankar!
Unsu...My mistake in the above post, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu prayed this prayer to Sri Mahadeva after his explanation of the Omkara mantra and his five-fold function:
Brahma and Vishnu said:
28-31. (The Prayer): - "Obeisance to Thee of the bodiless form. Obeisance to Thee of the formless lustre. Obeisance to Thee the lord of everything. Obeisance to Thee the soul of everything or of the embodied form. Obeisance to Thee stated by the Pranava. Obeisance to Thee having Pranava as Thy symbol. Obeisance to Thee the author of creation. Obeisance to Thee of five faces. Obeisance to Thee identical with Pancabrahma form. Obeisance to Thee of five-fold functions. Obeisance to Thee the Atman, the Brahman, of endless attributes and power. Obeisance to Siva the preceptor, possessed of both embodied and bodiless forms."
Thirunavukkarasar was a great Siva devotee whose greatness spread through the Indian subcontinent even in his own time. As such, he, though always a pinnacle of humility, had numerous devotees, who worshiped him as a form of Shiva, himself. One of the more ardent devotees of Thirunavukkarasar was Appudi.
Appudi had become a great devotee of Thirunavukkarasar long before even meeting him. He assumed Thirunavukkarasar as his guru and began worshipping Thirunavukkarasar. Thirunavukkarasar was on his mind always, and if someone asked him anything, he would invariably answer “Thirunavukkarasar” – as a result his children and all the watersheds he put up for pilgrims were named after Thirunavukkarasar.
On the other hand, upon seeing his children, the watersheds he had erected or upon seeing anything else named after his guru, Appudi would invariable remember that it was through the grace of his guru that these things have come to be, and big disciple that he was, melt a little bit every time and possibly, even spend countless hours in tears just because he walked by a watershed.
One day Thirunavukkarasar walked into Thingalur and was a little surprised at seeing his name everywhere; saint that he was he decided not to sue. Instead he inquired whose idea it was and was informed that Appudi, a local Shiva bhakta, named them thus. Thirunavukkarasar further inquired where Appudi lived and decided to pay him a visit. Thirunavukkarasar was not quite sure why anything would be named after him, so he thought maybe he will have a word with Appudi.
Appudi, though a big Thirunavukkarasar devotee, did not recognize Thirunavukkarasar when he came to beg for food. However, seeing that it was a Shiva bhakta, he immediately made preparations to offer him the best. Thirunavukkarasar said that he wanted to personally pay his respects to Appudi, indicating that he had heard stories about him. He also asked why Appudi had not named the watersheds after himself and instead named them after some other Shiva bhakta.
Appudi was a little offended at his guru, Thirunavukkarasar, being referred to as ‘some other Shiva bhakta.’ Sad though he was, he held back his tears, and said, “Though a Shiva bhakta, you don’t seem to know anything about the great Thirunavukkarasar Swamigal, who through the grace of the Lord withstood successfully all the persecutions of the Pallava king and re-established Saivism. Have you not heard how the king tied him to a stone and threw him into the sea, and how he floated back to the shore? Who are you?” –or something to that effect.
Thirunavukkarasar, truly moved, replied, “I am that humble soul who fell victim to severe colic and then took shelter under the Lord’s Feet. I am that humble soul who, due to the grace of Lord Shiva, got cured of that disease and returned to Saivism.”
It is not sure if Thirunavukkarasar called himself a ‘humble soul’ because that’s not exactly what a humble soul would call himself, but the exact wording may have been lost over the centuries. More importantly though, is, of course, the fact that Thirunavukkarasar seemed to focus more on how Shiva saved him, rather than how he himself performed miracles, thereby showing his true humility and his utter surrender to Shiva.
Appudi immediately realized that it was in fact Thirunavukkarasar in front of him and not just some guy trying to run a Thirunavukkarasar scam, whatever that may be. He fell at Thirunavukkarasar’s feet, tears flowing, his heart skipping several beats, his tongue speechless and his nose breathless.
Afterwards, Appudi and his wife worshiped Thirunavukkarasar’s holy feet and asked him to kindly accept the meager food that they could provide him with.
Appudi’s son was sent to fetch a clean and fresh banana leaf to serve as a plate for Appar. In the backyard, Appudi’s son was bit by a cobra. Son of a Nayanmar, he used his last ounce of will power to return the banana leaf to his mother, before dropping dead in front of her.
Appudi did not want Thirunavukkarasar to feel any discomfort, so he invited him in and continued serving him food, making sure that the corpse would not be noticed. Appar blessed Appudi and his wife with bhasma and then asked to see the son. Appudi replied that his son was not in a position to come. Appar looked at him and asked Appudi to tell the truth. Appudi explained the situation.
Appar asked Appudi to take the corpse and lay it down in front of the Shiva temple. Appudi obliged, and Appar sang a song. This revived the boy and woke him as if from a deep slumber. Everyone was happy, except Appudi, who felt shame and sadness to have discomforted and disturbed Appar with personal matters. Such was the devotion of Appudi. Thirunavukkarasar remained with Appudi for some time and Appudi received Shiva’s grace.
The story presents some elements worth further consideration: first, Appar raising the dead; second, faith in a guru in the absence of a guru. Surely, there are more elements as these stories are filled with metaphoric elements.
It seems a common element from Jesus, to Shankara to Appar, that the sign of an accomplished devotee, is the ability to raise the dead. Not only do they raise the dead, but they do it with humility, simplicity and without great fanfare. However, in this case, it may be construed that Appar engineered the entire event. Appar, though humble, is no fool. He surely did not wander into Thingalur entirely by accident, and surely an evolved soul such as Appar should notice the recent death in the household.
Furthermore, aren’t there some sort of restrictions about eating in the home of one who has a recently deceased person in the family? This can be better understood by looking at the second point–faith in a guru in the absence of a guru. Appudi had accepted Thirunavukkarasar as a guru, but it is in this episode that we see that Thirunavukkarasar had simultaneously accepted Appudi as a disciple.
It might be even considered that it was Thirunavukkarasar that sneaked this idea into Appudi’s mind. Appar had not come out of the blue, but sincere guru that he was, he had come to Appudi to visit his disciple. Here we see another important link: though faith in one’s guru may be mental or spiritual, there is some type of grace that can only flow through the physical body and it was necessary that Appar saw his disciple in person–at least once.
Now, to the question of engineering an event: If Appudi’s son had been stung by a cobra in a backyard in New York, then everyone would be suspicious– however, a cobra may be construed as a common enough element in India. Nonetheless, the cobra is a symbol of Shiva, and that should not be forgotten. After all a scorpion, or some other poisonous animal could have also done the trick. What would Appar have accomplished by doing all this?
Firstly, he would have given Appudi, Appudi’s wife and Appudi’s son an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of their faith. It is not Appar who needs this demonstration–but Appudi himself. He needs to feel it in him; one can go around naming stuff after one’s guru all day long, but the real question is do you think kindly and lovingly of your guru when things go horribly wrong? This question can only be experienced, and Appar had come to give this opportunity to his disciple.
Appudi did one thing right, which was to think of Appar in a good light, though Appar’s appearance coincided with his son’s death. He did, however, make a slight mistake by assuming that he could prevent Appar from noticing and that Appar may even be offended by such bad news. A close love to one’s guru, where one can freely and without hesitation spill one’s heart out, can only come through proximity and genuine love of one’s guru.
For that, the disciple needs to be in the presence of the guru. This is another reason Appar had decided to pay a visit. Appudi had immense faith and devotion, but he was lacking the personal closeness to his guru, which can never be obtained by naming watersheds. Lastly, Appar revived the boy–granting to Appar the personal experience that a guru will never feel inconvenienced when helping an honest disciple. Moreover, Appudi received the personal knowledge that not even death can stand between a guru and his disciple.
It can be seen that this small story is a beautiful account of the depths a guru will go to in order to help a disciple, even if the guru has never met the disciple. All that is required is that the attempts at faith from the disciple are genuine, and the guru will appear and take the disciple through the difficult passages that transform faith into knowledge, and belief into realization.
Kootruvar was not your average saint. He did not walk around barefoot (he might have I don’t know for sure that he didn’t) in a dhoti, spreading the word of the lord and performing miracles here and there– bringing people to life, making them get stung by cobras etc.–that sort of thing, was not his thing. He was a chieftain who conquered swathes of land in southern India, cutting into the Chola kingdom. (As such, he must have killed quiet a few people, but probably didn’t bring any of them back to life…).
On the other hand for a chieftain with a group of followers to defeat Cholas on their own soil, at a time when Cholas dominated southern India, required, for lack of a better word, a miracle on its own.
Kootruvar kept defeating his adversaries and made it as far into the Chola kingdom as Thillai. There he desired that the 3000 priests of Thillai should crown him king. However, the priests, being politically affiliated to the Chola king and fearing reprisals, refused saying that they would only perform that rite to those stemming from the Chola lineage.
After all, the Chola kingdom had been in place for centuries, and this guy with his hairy bunch of followers, would probably not last too long. As priests who have little faith in god often do, it is best to side with the one who has the dough and the muscle to provide the dough for the longest time– back then it was the Chola kings, not Kootruvar. Despondent, he left Thillai and went to Kerala, which was part of the Chera kingdom.
Kootruvar was not a politically vain chieftain. He was aware that all the glory and bounty he had won came as the lord’s prasadam. Kootruvar was a devout Shiva bhakta who chanted the pancaksharam continuously, especially on the battlefield. In turn he used his bounty to make life more pleasant to Shiva bhaktas, by providing them with necessities and land. When he wished to be crowned in Thillai, not just some city, but Thillai, he had other motives than vain glory.
The priests were not aware of that, but the Lord who dwelled in his heart was fully aware. He appeared in a dream to the despondent Kootruvar, and placed his glorious feet as a crown on Kootruvar’s head. This is what Kootruvar wanted when he had tried to convince the priest’s to crown him. He was now certain that he had conquered the one thing that mattered–a place under Shiva’s feet.
Unsu...Tinnanar, known as Kannappar, was born of Nagan, the king of the Vyadhas (hunters), in
Uduppur, in South India. King Nagan was a great Bhakta of Lord Subrahmanya. From his boyhood,
Tinnanar was well trained in the skill of a hunter and archery and in his prime age, he had to assume
the reins of government which his old father bestowed on him. One day, Tinnanar went out for a
hunt with some of his followers. While wandering in the forest they came across a hog, escaping
from a net. They, at once chased the hog for a long time, up and down the hills. After a long time,
Tinnanar killed the hog and as they were much tired due to the long chasing, they at once arranged
to cook the flesh of the animal and it was removed to another place in the Kalahasti Hill which was
nearby. While walking towards the hill one of the followers of Tinnanar suggested to him to pay a
visit to Kudumi Thevar, the presiding deity of the hills, and they proceeded to have Darsana of the
Lord on the hill.
While climbing up the hill Tinnanar felt as if some great burden which was on him uptill
now, was gradually diminishing and he decided now to go to the temple nearby, have Darsana of the
Lord there and then to take their meals. As soon as he came near the temple, to his great joy he saw a
Siva Linga. At the very sight of Isvara, he was transformed to an embodiment of love and devotion
and extreme joy. Like a mother who met her child that was missing for long, Tinnanar was merged
in deep feeling of divine ecstasy and Prem. Ha! What a boundless and inexpressible and illimitable
joy and exhilaration he had at the very sight of Lord Siva! He began to cry, weep and shed tears of
joy and love towards the Lord. He forgot everything about his meals and his followers and even his
He felt very much for the loneliness of the Lord on the hills without being protected against
the animals and others that might do harm to Him, and he decided to keep watch over the temple
throughout the night against any danger from animals or evil-doers. On seeing that the Lord was
hungry, he at once ran out to prepare meals for the Lord out of the meat he had got by killing the
hog. He carefully took the flesh, tasted it and thus selected the pieces which were palatable and
roasted them. The remaining portion he threw away as bad. Then he proceeded towards the river to
fetch water for the Abhisheka and. he got the water in his mouth. On the way, he plucked some
flowers and kept them in the locks of his hair. With these preparations he entered the temple,
removed the old flowers that were lying on the Lord by shoe, did Abhisheka with the water in his
mouth and decorated Him with the flowers he had on his locks of hair. Then he offered the Prasad of
meat to the Lord. Finishing all these, with bow and arrow in his hand he kept a keen watch over the
temple by standing in front of the temple throughout the night. Early in the morning, he went out for
hunt to bring Prasad for the Lord.
When Tinnanar left for hunting, the temple priest, Sivakasariar, an earnest and sincere
devotee of Lord Sankara, came to the temple and to his great surprise and disappointment, saw
bones and flesh all round the Lord and the decorations have been spoiled. But he could not identify
the man who has done such an act, and meddled with the sanctity of the place. So uttering the
necessary Mantras, he cleaned the place and performed his usual Puja for the Lord and recited the
prayers. After the Puja he closed the temple and went out.
Tinnanar now returned with the Prasad of meat and flesh and as before, he removed the old
decorations done by the priest, decorated in his own way as usual, and offered Prasad. At night, he
kept vigil and keen watch over the temple. Early in the morning, he went out to bring Prasad. Thus
he was with the Lord serving Him for five days and in spite of the entreaties of his parents to come
home, he persisted in remaining with the Lord and Lord alone.
Sivakasariar, who was vexed with the incident being repeated day by day, complained to the
Lord and requested Him to put an end to these mishappenings. Lord Siva appeared in the priest’s
dream and narrated to him what was happening in the temple during the absence of the priest and
told him also that what all actions Tinnanar was doing was only out of pure, unsophisticated love
that he bore towards the Lord. Further, the Lord said: “I welcome, and rather I am immensely
pleased with the mouthful of water by which he is doing my Abhisheka. This has greater value to
Me than by the Tirthas of the Ganga. Whatever action that is performed out of pure and deep love
and faith, I merit it with greater value than those rituals and austerities done by the Vedic
injunctions”. Then Lord Gangadhar asked the priest to come to the temple next day and hide
himself behind the Mufti and witness what Tinnanar does.
Tinnanar, after bringing the Prasad, arranged in his own usual way for the Abhisheka and
decoration of the Lord. Now Lord Siva willed that the priest, Sivakasariar should see and feel the
degree of devotion and faith that Tinnanar was having for Him. So, while Tinnanar was doing the
Puja and offering the Prasad of meat, to his great astonishment, he saw the Lord shedding tears of
blood, in the right eye. He got perplexed and was at a loss to know what to do. He ran hither and
thither to bring some leaves for stopping the bleeding but found they were of no use. He wept
bitterly, cursed himself for being unable to stop the bleeding from the eye. At last, a plan came to
him. He at once plucked out his right eye with his arrow and fixed it on the right eye of the Lord. To
his great joy and ecstasy, he saw the bleeding stopped. While he was dancing in divine ecstasy for
having cured the bleeding, all on a sudden, he perceived that the left eye also was bleeding. Though
he was overtaken by surprise and sorrow, the previous plan came to him and he decided to pierce his
left eye with his arrow with the intention of plucking it out and fixing it on the left eye of the Lord.
But when his both eyes were gone, how could he see the bleeding on the left eye of the Lord so as to
stop it by fixing his own eye? Hence, in order to identify the left eye of the Lord, he first fixed it up
with the shoe on his right foot, and began to pierce his own left eye with the arrow in his hand. But
Isvara will not be so cruel as to see His Bhaktas suffer so much. On the spot, the Lord appeared and
addressed Tinnanar as ‘Kannappa’ and stopped him from plucking out the left eye. He was much
pleased with the filial devotion and staunch faith that Kannappar had for Him and kept him by His
The above story of Kannappar is illustrative of the highest degree of devotion and faith that
was evinced by the Bhakta towards Lord Siva, even though he was a hunter by caste and never
cared for the rituals and austerities by which the Lord should be worshipped. It was only mere love
and intense devotion to the Lord that bestowed on him the greatest boon from the Lord, i.e.,
Self-realisation. It is only a matter of six days that he performed the Puja ceremonies to the Lord in
his own way, but the amount of devotion and love he had to the Lord, was boundless.
May the blessings of Kannappar be upon you all! May you all attain the highest goal of
human life by following the example of Kannappa Nayanar, the great South Indian Bhakta of Lord
Thiruneelakanthan is a common name for Lord Shiva, who having drunk the poison, ended up with a blue (neela) throat (kanthan). Whatever the esoteric meaning of that story, we do learn and understand that Lord Shiva separated the poison from ambrosia in a fluid that contained both—and maybe that he can do similar things for us.
Once there lived a devotee of Lord Shiva in Chidambaram who always kept Lord Shiva in his heart. He was a potter by profession and as a service to Lord Shiva he would offer his services freely for all those who bowed down to Lord Shiva. He was gifted with an exceedingly beautiful wife, whose physical beauty was only exceeded by her kindness and her love for Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva forever abided in her heart and her mind forever dwelled on the feet of the Lord. The potter devotee lived a happy life with his wife. His wife being exceedingly beautiful, and the potter being quite virile, they enjoyed the sensual side of married life.
One day the potter devotee glanced upon a prostitute who, for whatever reason enticed him and though he had a much more beautiful wife at home, he wondered if maybe he could not try his luck here also. His wife in the moment of ecstatic pleasure would call him “Thiruneelakanthan” –that loving remark going to his head, he convinced himself that he too could separate the poison and enjoy the prostitute without any real negative effects.
Going home, having a loving truthful relationship with his wife, he saw no real reason to keep it from her. His wife was understandably extremely disappointed. Moreover, the potter devotee thought it would even be possible to visit the prostitute again—which his wife immediately forbade. He tried to bring down her anger with kind words and gestures but she held on to her anger and disappointment—after all she was a loyal and loving wife, who happily did all her duties.
As he approached her to hug her, in an effort to calm her and convince her she said, “How dare you touch us! Thiruneelakanthan!” He knew that Lord Shiva abided in her heart and that at that moment she had said “us” as supposed to “me,” he felt that Lord Shiva himself had send him this message. He looked at her and immediately took a new resolve. He promised that from this day forward, a female would not be able to entice him even in his dreams. He promised that he would put away his lust and touch no other female, including his wife.
Having taken that resolve he did not consider the difficulties involved, considering that his wife was still very young and beautiful and his emotions had in the past always drawn him near her. He took this resolve with steady fate in the Lord and his wife accepted this promise.
From that day on they lived a loving platonic relationship, with love flowing from their hearts and minds, but never extending as far as physical sensuality. The years based by, and their skins wrinkled, their bodies tired but their resolve never wavered.
Many years later, the potter devotee having gown quite old saw a sage very near his home. He walked over and asked the sage what service he could provide him. The sage looked at the devotee and simply said the he should hold onto this special begging bowl of his until he would retrieve it from him at a later time. The devotee, not suspecting anything, took the bowl and promised that he would keep it safe. It had been Lord Shiva who had come in this manner but the devotee did not even imagine that Lord Shiva would have come to him in person. At night Lord Shiva came back as a robber and stealthily stole away the bowl. In the morning Lord Shiva returned as the sage and asked for his begging bowl back.
The devotee looked in the place where he had put it, and not finding it there looked through his entire house and the surrounding area. However, he could not find the bowl. He came back and told the old sage that he did not know what had happened and that he would replace the bowl with a new one, even if it has to be a golden one. The sage refused all such offers, demanding that he should have his original bowl returned to him. The sage took this whole thing to the priest of Chidambaram, for he said only they could pass proper judgment.
The priest heard the case, and the pleadings of the devotee, but decided that the sage was right and he needed his bowl returned. The devotee did not have the bowl and had no idea what to do. The sage, who was of course Lord Shiva in disguise, offered a compromise. He told the potter to take his first born and jump into a well. The devotee explained that he had no offspring, but did not elaborate on why. The sage then said he should take his wife’s hand and jump and if he was telling the truth surely nothing will happen.
The devotee now felt that there was a slight problem as he had made the promise never to touch any female, including his wife. Nonetheless, he thought that to clear his name he should have faith in the Lord and jump with his wife. All these years he did not tell anyone of the promise he had made so many years ago, and he felt only troubled by breaking that promise and not by the fact that he
had to jump into a well.
He went home contemplating the whole thing and returned with his wife; instead of holding her hand they both held a stick of bamboo. Once in front of the priest of Thillai he explained to all the promise he had taken many years ago and jumped into the well, expecting to die.
However, the very moment he jumped, the water rose and lifted him up, transforming him and his wife to a youthful age. The very same time the sage disappeared and the Lord of Thillai appeared near the horizon, sitting on his bull and accompanied by his loving consort. The Lord proclaimed that the potter couple was truly great for conquering the five senses with a single resolve and holding on steadily to that resolve all the way until the end. The Lord took them with him to his abode where they lived in heavenly happiness with eternal youth.
Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar
In the land fed by the river Kaveri, there once lived a devotee of Shiva who was overjoyed at burning incense (kungiliyam) in praise of the lord. This nayanmar, having heard the Lord described as one of pleasant odor, decided that it would be his duty to burn incense at the temple so that sweet odor may permeate the area. He himself would then sit and inhale the essence of the Lord, satisfied that as the incense was burning, not only he, but all who passed would also experience the Lord.
Fascinated with worshiping the lord in this manner, he spent every dime in his pocket to buy kungiliyam, and every moment he had on burning it and sitting in meditation while the sweet fragrance would rise and spread throughout the temple.
Soon his family would run out of money for food, as every time he had money he would spend it all on kungiliyam. Eventually, he no longer had any money to buy anything, and was sitting a little disappointed at home. Neither he nor anyone in his family had eaten for some time and the children began to cry. Nayanar of course was not aware of all that; although hungry, his mind was focused on the fact that he could not purchase any kungiliyam for the Lord. His wife, however, seeing the crying children, took off her mangalyam, and told him to sell if for rice, so that they may eat and live. She explained to him several times, that he should go straight to the grocer and buy rice, and return. Nayanar nodded his head in agreement and went off.
On the way to the grocer Nayanar spotted a traveling kungiliyam salesman. Unable to imagine how lucky he must be, he bought all the kungiliyam he could afford and carried a whole bag to the temple, joyous at the amount of kungiliyam he could burn in praise of the Lord. He had long forgotten his starving wife and children and ran to the Lord, overjoyed like a little child would run to his mother.
At home his wife sat and waited, while the children cried. Shiva decided that this won’t do, and called Kubera and explained to him that he should go to this nayanmar’s house and give him all the wealth that would fit into that house, as well as food. Shiva then also went to the wife and let her understand that it was through nayanmar’s dedicated devotion that he was moved to give her all this wealth. It was then that nayanmar’s wife understood the strength of her husband’s devotion and that it was not just some crazed fancy. Afterwards, the Lord told nayanar to get up and go home to eat. Nayanar, heeding the Lord’s word, ended his meditations, and went home, where he was surprised to see all the wealth and the freshly cooked food.
Kungiliya kalaya nayanar later was sent by the Lord to Thiruppanandhal; there the king was trying to straighten the Shivalingam that was uneven. All sorts of attempts at raising him back failed. Kungiliya decided to participate in this event to honor Lord Shiva who sent him there. He made a garland of flowers and lovingly tugged at the Shivalingam. To his and everyone else’s surprise the lingam straightened and the king himself fell at Kungiliya kalaya’s feet. Kungiliya kalaya, happy for having done a service Lord Shiva, went back home and eventually gained moksha at the lotus feet of his Lord.
Originally posted by "Unsubscribed" (went by the name Ganesha, I think) in another tribe:
from: LORD SIVA AND HIS WORSHIP; By SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
Lord Siva’s Mother:
In ancient days, there lived a rich merchant named Dhanadatta in Karikal in South India. He
had no child. He worshipped Lord Siva. He had a daughter through the grace of the Lord. The child
was called by the name Punitavati. Punitavati came to be later on called by the name Karikal
Ammaiar also. She is counted as one amongst Nayanars (the famous Siva Bhaktas of South India).
Punitavati was very intelligent, beautiful, pious. She chanted the names and praise of Lord
Siva. She applied holy ash to her forehead.
She married Paramadatta, the son of a rich merchant at Nagapattam. Paramadatta also was
beautiful and intelligent. He possessed good character. He lived in his father-in-law’s place with the
permission of his father.
Punitavati used to feed with intense devotion and joy, the Bhaktas day and night and hear
them singing the names of Lord Siva. She always remembered the utterance of the Vedas: “Let the
guest be a God unto you—Atithi devo bhava”. She and her husband took the food that remained
after serving the devotees, as if it were nectar.
One day, a wandering mendicant came and gave two ripe mangoes to Paramadatta.
Paramadatta gave them to his wife and attended to his business. A devotee came and asked
Punitavati to give him something to eat as he was very hungry. The food was not ready. So she gave
him one of the mangoes and some milk.
Paramadatta returned home and took his food. Punitavati served him with mango fruit that
remained. Paramadatta found it very delicious. He asked her to bring the other fruit also. She prayed
to Lord Siva. Immediately, a mango fell into her hands. It looked exactly like the one served before.
She gave it to her husband. He found it a thousand times more palatable than the first one. He asked
Punitavati: “My beloved Punitavati, where did you get it from?” She narrated everything.
Paramadatta said: “Get me another”. Punitavati got another mango in the twinkling of an eye.
Paramadatta was struck with awe and wonder. He understood that his wife was a beloved
devotee of Lord Siva. He reflected within himself: “I am a great sinner. I have treated a great
devotee of Lord Siva as my servant. I cannot consider her as my wife any longer. It will be a great
sin to leave her alone. But what to do now?”
He was in a dilemma. Finally, he resolved to part from her. He told his wife that he was
going out on professional business. He obtained her permission and proceeded to Madurai. He
settled there and married another wife. The second wife gave birth to a daughter. Paramadatta
named her Punitavati.
Punitavati was anxiously awaiting the return of her husband at the promised time. She had
no news of him. She became very miserable and unhappy. After some time, she came to know about
the whereabouts of her husband. She proceeded to Madurai and met her husband.
Paramadatta welcomed her with intense joy and prostrated at her feet. He said to his wife: “I
am a worldly man. I am passionate and greedy. You are a goddess. I cannot take you now as my
wife. Pray, pardon me”.
Punitavati replied: “My lord, I have preserved my youth and beauty for your sake only. As
you do not want me, I shall seek my Lord Siva now.”
She distributed all the jewels to those assembled around. She worshiped the pious
Brahmins and shook off all the flesh by the power of Yoga and looked as a mere skeleton. She
She came to Mount Kailas. She thought it a sin to walk with one’s feet in the holy
Himalayas. She moved on her head through the power of her austerities.
Parvati asked Lord Siva: “Who is that person, O Lord, who is coming towards us?” Lord
Siva replied: “That pious woman is My Mother, who nourished My devotees”.
Lord Siva got up, moved a few steps forward, welcomed Punitavati and said: “My dear
Mother, are you keeping fit?”
Punitavati fed the devotees like a mother. The Lord makes no distinction between Himself
and His devotees. He has said: “The devotees form My heart and I, theirs. They do not think of
anyone other than Me and I other than them”.
The supreme Lord abides in the hearts of all beings. Therefore, the guests deserve worship.
The Srutis declare: “Atithi devo bhava—Let the guest be your God”.
One of the ancient cities of the world which was the capital of the early Choza kings, the city in which the river Kaveri enters into the sea, that famous town was called Kavirippumpattinam or Pukar . That being the capital on the shore was a very big trade center.
The leading businessman of that town, owner of boundless properties, but slave for the people who do true slavery to the crescent ornated God with matted hair, who never says "no" to the devotees who asked for something but gives much before they ask for, called Iyarpakaiyar (contradictor to the normal behavior (of the world)). While Iyarpakaiyar was leading the married life serving the Lord, God came in the form of a devotee who chants the holy vEdas in order to exhibit that the dedication of Iyarpakaiyar never derails. With a face like the blossomed lotus he gave Him a warm welcome. He told Iyarpakaiyar that if he is ready to give whatever he is going to ask for He will tell what He wants. Immediately Iyarpakaiyar replied, "If I have anything that you ask for, that is yours. No doubt in it. Please ask". The Lord who had concealed Himself in the form of devotee asked for his wife.
Iyarpakaiyar replied, "I am glad that I have the thing you asked for" He told his wife, who was the form of chaste and had a never downgoing love for her husband, that he gave her to the devotee. She was petrified with shock. She was worried but consoled herself and told him, "If that be your wish I consider that as my duty" and bowed down. Iyarpakaiyar admiring her love and chaste heart bowed down in response. She excelled anything else by her deed.
Iyarpakaiyar bowed to the Lord and asked what else he can do for Him. The Lord asked him to escort Him (!) so that He is not attacked by His relatives. Nayanar told I should have done it even before you told me. He took his sword and shield and went with the devotee and his wife like the royal lion that goes out for hunting. The relatives of Iyarpakaiyar and his wife were irked by the act of Iyarpakaiyar and decided "Iyarpakai has become crazy and somebody is taking away the girl. We won't allow it to happen". They all set out with their weapons and besieged them in the outskirts of the town. The Lord shivered as if He was scared, but the girl of great deed said, "Don't worry, Iyarpakai will win". Iyarpakaiyar warned them to run away and get spared. But they scolded him for bringing bad name to the entire family by sending his wife with a third person. They tried to attack the God in the devotee form. Angered by their intention to attack the devotee Iyarpakaiyar raised his sword against his own relatives and the entire group was killed by him and he, whose head had the crown of the holy feet of Lord Shiva, went around without anybody to oppose.
Iyarpakaiyar told the devotee that there is no need to be afraid. The chaste hearted lady and he followed the holy feet of the Lord which were unseen by even Brahma and Vishnu. As they approached the place Chaykkadu , He told Iyarpakaiyar to return. Nayanar bowed down and returned without turning back. The Lord pleased by his true devotion shouted loud, "Oh! Iyarpakai, who did the deed which is unimaginable ! come immediately!!". Iyarpakaiyar rushed back in a moment to see if anybody else escaped and give trouble to the devotee. He didn't see the devotee and saw only the lady. He saw the Lord Shiva who and whose devotees are of greatness which is beyond the limit of expression. The Lord appeared on the Holy bull with Parvati like a creeper of maragatham to His side. Nayanar didn't stand, fell down and praised that Honey with the words the competes with his love. The Lord told, "Your love is faultless and so are you. You and your flawless wife stay in our abode". With the flower rain of devas, praise of all good thinking sages, they both got the boon of staying with and worshiping the God of Lords. Their relatives also entered the Heaven. Let the fame of Iyarpakaiyar of giving away even the wife, who is in fact more than one's own life stay in the mind.
iLaiyAnkudi illuminated itself in the history by having a slave of slaves of sha.nkara known as iLaiyAnkudimARanAr . Ceded the his whole heart to the Lord who robs the hearts of the saluters. He got the widening wealth out of the hard work in the farm fields and the wide heart that tries to reach the infinite in the selfless service to the worshippers of the warrier who destroyed the three cities of three impurities. He had an enjoyable life with this wealth. Whoever came at his house with the love for the wet matted haired Supreme, were given a appealing welcome with his folded hands on the head, blossomed face showering flowers of nice words and his humble deeds making the red carpet. He would clean their feet with the scented water, give them the comfortable seat and then serve the food which is rich in all the six tastes for those devotees who love the taste of Holy five letters than anything else. He lived like the kupEra who was given limitless wealth by the Lord.
To show to the human kind n^AyanAr's real service motto which was so strong that even the absence of wealth would not be able to shake, the God apraised by vEdas slowly changed his wealth to poverty. The wealth shrunk, but his broad mind never shrunk. He sold his belongings, borrowed from proper means possible to continue the service that was at no time second in quality. The Lord whose characters even the creater and protector of the world do not know compoletely came to his house in this situation in the form that His loving devotees have. It was the dark night in the mansoon season. So what ? There is enough light in the hearts of the iLaiyAnkudi mARanAr couple, the person who arrives in the house is also the form of light.
n^AyanAr happily welcomed Him. Gave enough cloths to change the wet cloths for Him who does not wear anything. He gave to that refuge giving Lord a nice place to relax. With the enthusiasm to host the devotee he asked his equally devotional wife what can they do to quench the hunger of the sage. He was worried that it was not so bad that they did not have food for themselves but they had to serve somehow the devotee of Lord nice food. His loving wife replied that there is nobody in the village who would lend something for them and the time was also quite late in the night, but suggested that if he could bring the rice grain seeds that they sewed in the noon, she could make food out of that. For the farmers the grain seeds that are kept seperate for growing next time are very valuable and whatever comes they do not consume that grains. But for this excellent devotee this suggestion appeared to be a great gift as he was more worried about how to feed the devotee.
In that darkness and rain only his love for the Lord showing the way he went to the fields. The whole village all the creatures were sleeping. The rain poured in torents. Visibility was very less. But nothing shook the determination of the devotee. Sensing the path through his legs he went inside the farm land. He gathered the seeds that had been pushed to the corners by the rain along with the mud. He filled the basket he had brought and rushed back. His wife washed the mud off from the seeds. To cook the food there was no fire wood. That great man who had cut down the strong beam of ego cut the wooden beam of his house to burn ! After cooking the rice, that chaste wife worried what could she do for the side dish. He went immediately to the land where spinach is cultivated. He plucked the plants like plucking out the plant of pAcham . She cooked different varieties of dishes out of that spinach, showed them to her husband. They decided to wake up the devotee, who is beyond th ereach of thoughts, for having food.
"Please bless me my Lord, by having this simple food that we made out of the love", they saluted Him. To the surprise of the great servant and his matched wife, He arose as the flame of beautiful light. For those devotees who were shocked by that Light, which was unexplorable for vishNu and brahma , the Doer of good, the sha.nkara appeared blissfully on the Holy Bull with the pretty plaited parvati . He blessed them, "Oh loving minds! You who worshipped the devotees come to our great world to live blissfully with the lord of wealth serving you". Salutations to that shiva who is above all. Let the determined service of the n^AyanAr for the devotees stay in the mind.
chEthi n^Adu was one of the ancient kingdoms with the town thirukkovalUr - where Lord shiva destroyed the demon an^dhakAsuran, the form of ignorance - as it's capital. That kingdom made its fame indelible in the history when the king meypporuL n^AyanAr, whose life was an example of tolerance and doing good even to enemy, ruled it.
He had his heart engaged in hailing hara and hands in helping His devotees. He served them as the way they required, ruled the country with law and justice bringing peace to the country and devotion bringing peace to the minds of the people. His valour allowed no enemy to raise against the kingdom. He considered the wealth of loving the luminant feet of Lord shiva to be the greatest of all. The graceful form of the devotees made him do anything for them.
muththa n^Athan was the king who made all futile efforts to win meypporuLAr in the battle-field. He finally realised that fox can't beat the elephant in the fight. As the sin of taking revenge went high in his mind, he started enjoying the rotton smell of crooked ways. He knew that the meypporuLAr salutes and serves the devotees smeared with holy ash and other great symbols of Lord shankara. That spineless coward called muththan^Athan wanted to exploit this superior quality of that devotee.
He covered his body with the holy form of devotees smearing ash, with matted hair, covered a knife in a book he held in hand, as the darkness coming in the shadow of light. He arrived in the dark night in the palace of meypporuLAr with his mind darker than the one outside. Thinking him as a devotee of the Lord, the guards at many doors on the way permitted him with salutations. When he arrived at the room where the king was sleeping with dreams too of serving the devotees, the personal guard of the king by name thaththan told him that the king is taking rest and requested him to wait. But muththa n^Athan went ahead saying that he was coming from himAlayam to meet the king. thaththan couldn't stop him as he was in the form of devotee. The queen who saw him immediately woke up the king. The king pleased instead of getting angry for being disturbed at his private place, bowed down as soon as he saw the form of a devotee. muththa nAthan told him "I have got a rare Agama given by your God. I came to explain you that. So ask your wife to leave and we should be alone". The king with untainted heart asked his wife to leave, gave him a nice seat, sat over the ground and bowed down, to raise up in our hearts. The crooked enemy like opening the book took the knife and pierced the body of the king and pierced himself into the gloom stricken Hell. Who won ? Even if he lost his life, it was meypporuLAr who had a firm belief that the holy form of devotees is the Truth and winning his place under the Graceful feet of God and won the hearts of the devotees inspiring them.
thaththan who doubted muththa nAthan from the beginning leaped immediately into the room and raised his sword to kill the crooked. But meypporuLAr stopped him saying "thaththA! He is one among us". thaththan cried and asked him to order his duty. meypporuLAr asked him to guard the devotee of the Lord from others till he crosses the frontier. Unable to go against the word of his loving king thaththan guarded the wicked to the frontier. meypporuLAr held his breath till thaththan came back saying that muththa n^Athan crossed the frontier without any trouble. He praised thaththan for his action and advised his courtmen to uphold the good deed of loving the devotees and respecting the holy symbols of the Lord. The truthfulness of his love for the form of devotees led him to the Truth that dances in the great golden hall of thillai. Let the greatness of meypporuLAr who guarded even the enemy who took his life in a crooked way, just because he was in the holy form of devotees, stay in the mind.