Stories From Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam (3)
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G. Sankaranarayanan Divisional Signal & Telecom Engineer (Retd.) Indian Railways
CONTENTS Episode SL.No.
Introduction - ¶ ¤ x ï D Madurai Kaandam
\ m ç « ï V õ ¦ D 1
The story of how Indiran got rid of his Sin
( Ö Í ] « [ Ã a y ì Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 2
The story of how Airavatham, the white elephant got solvation from the curse.
( Ø k ^ ç á B V ç ª Ä V Ã D y ì Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 3
The Story of the origin of the City of Madurai
( ] ò å ï « D ï õ ¦ Ã ¦ é D ) Printed and released by
Mrs & Mr. S. Gomathinayagam and
The Marriage of Thadaathagai Pirattiar
( ] ò \ ð © Ã ¦ é D )
on the occasion of the
Lord Sivan's dance at Velliambalam
( Ø k ^ ¹ B D Ã é Ý ] ò Â í Ý > V ½ B Ã ¦ é D ) The story of how Gundodharan was fed
( z õ ¼ ¦ V > « Ð Â z ¶ [ ª t â ¦ Ã ¦ é D )
(Shashtiapthapoorthy) of their parents
Shri. G. Sankaranarayanan and Smt. Nachiar
( > ¦ V > ç ï © ¸ « V â ½ B V ì ] ò ¶ k > V « © Ã ¦ é D )
Mrs & Mr. S. Sivanand
On 11th June,2010,
The story of the holy incarnation of Goddess Umadevi as Thadaathagai Pirattiar
The story of appearance of pits full of rice and Vaigai River
( ¶ [ ª Â z a ¥ D ç k ç B ¥ D ¶ ç w Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) The confluence of Seven Seas at Madurai
( ¨ ¿ ï ¦ _ ¶ ç w Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 10 Reincarnation of Malayathu raja Pandian
( \ ç é B Ý m k Ä ç ª ¶ ç w Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 11 The Holy birth of UkkiraPandian
( c Â þ « Ã V õ ½ B « m ] ò ¶ k > V « D Ã ¦ é D ) 12 The story of Ukkirapandian receiving Vel, Valai and Chendu 18
( c Â þ « Ã V õ ½ B ò Â z ¼ k _ , k ç á , Ø Ä [ | Ø ï V | Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 13 The Story of how the sea was dried up by the vel
( ï ¦ _ · k Å ¼ k _ s â ¦ Ã ¦ é D ) 14 The Story of how Indiran's Crown was shattered
( Ö Í ] « [ x ½ ¼ \ _ k ç á ¨ ¤ Í > Ã ¦ é D ) 15 The Story of Ukkirapandiar hitting the Meru with Chendu (For private circulation only. Not for sale)
16 Lord Sivan enlightens the sages on the essence of Vedhas
( ¼ k > Ý m Â z © Ø Ã V ò ^ ¶ ò ¹ ß Ø Ä F > Ã ¦ é D ) ii
( ¼ \ ò ç k ß Ø Ä õ ¦ V _ ¶ ½ > > Ã ¦ é D )
17 The story of Lord Somasundarar selling rubies as a trader.
( \ V è Â ï D s u Å Ã ¦ é D )
34 The story of affixing His Rishabam Seal on the fortress
( s ç ¦ Ö é ß E ç ª Ö â ¦ Ã ¦ é D )
18 The story in which Lord depleted the Ocean set off by Varuran on the city of Madurai
35 Lord Somasundarar providing a water kiosk in the battle field 31
( k ò ð [ s â ¦ ï ¦ ç é k u Å ß Ø Ä F > Ã ¦ é D )
36 Lord becomes an alchemist 37 The story of how Chola King was pushed in to a deep abyss of water ( ¼ ï V w ç ª \ | s _ T â ½ B Ã ¦ é D ) 38 Lord Somasundarar grants an undepletable granary
( í ¦ _ ï V õ ¦ D ) 32
( å V [ \ V ¦ Â í ¦ é V ª Ã ¦ é D ) 20 Lord Somasundarar comes as an Ommipotent Siddhar
( ¨ _ é V D k _ é E Ý > « V ª Ã ¦ é D ) 21 Statue of elephant chews Sugarcane
( Ö « Ä k V > D Ø Ä F > Ã ¦ é D )
Koodal Kaandam 19 The story of how Madurai Came to be known as "Naanmadakoodal)
( > õ § ì © Ã Í > _ ç k Ý > Ã ¦ é D )
Ý ( ï _ é V ç ª Â z Â ï ò D A ¶ ò ] B Ã ¦ é D )
( c é k V Â ¼ ï V â ç ¦ ¶ ò ¹ B Ã ¦ é D ) 39 The story in which Lord appeared as the uncle of a boy in litigation. ( \ V \ ª V ï k Í m k w Â z ç « Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 40. The story of Lord Varaguna Pandian was shown Sivalokam at Madurai
ï V â ½ B ( k « z ð Ð Â z E k ¼ é V ï D Ã ¦ é D )
22 The story of how Lord Somasundarar killed a rogue elephant 35 with arrow ( B V ç ª ¨ F > Ã ¦ é D ) 38 23 Lord Manifests himself as an Old man, Youth as well as a littlebaby boy. ( s ò Ý > , z \ V « Ã V é « V ª Ã ¦ é D ) 24 Lord Natarajar Changes his dancing posture 40
( ï V _ \ V ¤ g ½ ª Ã ¦ é D )
41 Lord Somasundarar comes as a firewood seller
( s Å z s u Å Ã ¦ é D ) 42 Lord Somasundarar's Letter of introduction addressed to Chera King ( ] ò x ï D Ø ï V | Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 43 Lord Somsundarar gifts a golden plank to Paanabhathran
( Ã é ç ï l â ¦ Ã ¦ é D )
25 The Story of how lord helped averting injustice
( Ã a B Þ E ª Ã ¦ é D )
44 Paanabhathrar's wife winning the musical contest
( Ö ç Ä k V m Ø k [ Å Ã ¦ é D )
26 The Story of how the great sins were Neutralised
( \ V Ã V > ï D y ì Ý > Ã ¦ é D )
45 Lord Somasundarar nurses the piglets
( Ã [ ¤ Â z â ½ Â z x ç é Ø ï V | Ý > Ã ¦ é D )
27 The story of dismembering of limbs
( ¶ º ï D Ø k â ½ ª Ã ¦ é D )
46 The Piglets were made ministers of Pandian King
( Ã [ ¤ Â z â ½ ï ç á \ Í ] ö ï ^ g Â þ B Ã ¦ é D )
28 The story of killing of a ferocious Serpent
( å V ï D ¨ F > Ã ¦ é D )
47 Lord Somasundarar gives enlightenment to a Black Drango
( ï ö Â z ò s Â z c Ã ¼ > Ä D Ø Ä F > Ã ¦ é D )
29 The death of the deceitful cow
( \ V B © Ã · ç k k ç > Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 30 Identifying men by pointing at them
( c é k Â þ a ¶ ò ¹ B Ã ¦ é D ) 32 The story of Lord Somasundarar Selling bangles
( å V ç « Â z x Â ] Ø ï V | Ý > Ã ¦ é D )
( Ø \ F Â ï V â ½ â ¦ Ã ¦ é D ) 31 Undepleting pouch of gold given by Lord
48 A stork was bestowed with Mukthi Thiru Alavai Kandam 49 A snake defines the boundaries of Madurai City
( ] ò g é k V B V ª Ã ¦ é D ) 55
( k ç á B _ s u Å Ã ¦ é D )
50 A war was won with the arrows of Lord Sundareswarar
( · Í > « © ¼ Ã « D A ¨ F > Ã ¦ é D )
33. Lord teaches "Ashtamasiddhis"
( ¶ â ¦ V \ V E Ý ] c Ã ¼ > E Ý > Ã ¦ é D )
51 Lord gifts a miraculous seat to Thamizh Sangam
( Ä º ï © Ã é ç ï > Í > Ã ¦ é D )
52 Gifting Dharumi a pouch of gold
u ( > ò t Â z Ø Ã V þ a ¶ ¹ Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 53 Nakkeerar gets rescued from the golden - lotus pond
( ÿ « ç ª Â ï ç « ¼ B u ¤ B Ã ¦ é D ) 54 Nakkeerar was taught Thamizh Grammar
( ÿ « Ð Â z Ö é Â ï ð D c Ã ¼ > E Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 55 Settling of the disputes among the Sangam Poets
( Ä º ï Ý > V ì ï é ï D y ì Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 56 Removing the despair of the poet Idaikkadar
( Ö ç ¦ Â ï V ¦ [ ¸ ð Â z Ý y ì Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 57 Lord Somasundarar manifests as a fisherman
( k ç é T E ª Ã ¦ é D ) 58 Lord Sivaperuman as Teacher enlightens Thiruvathavoorar Spiritually
( k V > Æ « ½ ï Ó Â z c Ã ¼ > E Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 59 Foxes Transformed into Horses
( å ö Ã ö B V Â þ B Ã ¦ é D ) 60 Horses turned into foxes again and the flooding of Vaigai
( Ã ö å ö B V Â þ ç k ç B ¶ ç w Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 61 Lord Somasundarar carries soil on his head
( \ õ · \ Í > Ã ¦ é D ) 62 Curing the mysterious fever of Pandian King
( Ã V õ ½ B [ · « D y ì Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) 63 The execution of Jains
( Ä \ ð ç « Â ï ¿ ¼ k u ¤ B Ã ¦ é D ) 64 Calling Vanni Tree, well and the Lingam to appear as witnesses
( k [ M ¥ D þ ð ® D Ö o º ï x D ¶ ç w Ý > Ã ¦ é D ) Epilogue
Om Namasivaya THIRUVILAIYADAL PURANAM Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam is a magnificent work in Thamizh language written by poet Paranjothi Munivar. It describes the sixty four episodes in which Lord Sivaperuman had exhibited His profound love and affection towards His devotees by donning different roles in order to alleviate their despair and grief. This He did through His limitless powers. The Original work is a treat for those who can read and enjoy the Thamizh language. Here an attempt has been made to present those sixty four stories in simple English for the benefit of the younger generation of our family. Many of this generation do not have the proficiency in Thamizh either due to non-exposure to the beauty of the language or due to a default English-medium education. The narration has been limited to only the story part of the original, leaving aside the enormous details of the literary nuances. Every effort has been made to keep the language simple. Paranjothi Munivar, the author is considered to have lived in the later part of 16th century or early 17th century. Being a devotee of Lord Sivaperuman he had been travelling to various shrines of Lord Sivan to worship Him and during the journey he reached the city of Madurai. There he was instructed by Goddess Meenakshi to write this work for the benefit of the Thamizh literary world. He, with the unfailing support of Lord, did an excellent job of it and his work is graded as one among the three great Puranams in Thamizh. The work is entirely of verses and of three major parts called Kaandams. They are Madurai Kaandam, Koodal Kaandam and Thiruaalavai Kaandam. These stories were said to have been narrated by Sage Agasthiar to a group of sages. Now you are invited to read on please…… Acknowledgments I thank the members of my family for their unflinching support in this effort. I particularly thank my daughters-in-law who assisted me in loading the manuscript into the system.
Madurai Kaandam Episode 1 : The story of how Indiran got rid of his sin One day, Indiran the head of Devas was in his Royal court at Indiralokam. All Devas had assembled there including many sages. Beautiful girls like Ramba, Urvasi and Menaka were presenting a grand performance of songs and dance. The ambience was lovely and enchanting. Every one was thoroughly enjoying it including Indiran. At that time, Brahaspathi the guru of Devas came to Indiran's court. Indiran who was totally lost in the mesmerizing performance of the beauties, failed to take notice of his guru's visit. Resenting his indifferent behavior, Brahaspathi left the place at once. From then on, the beauty and prosperity of the Indiralokam started to decline. It was due to the disrespect shown to one's guru. Realizing his blunder, Indiran went about searching his guru to tender his apology. But he could not locate his guru. Crestfallen, he approached Brahma the Creator. Knowing what was going to unfold, Brahma advised Indiran to go to a demon called Vichuva uruvan (Viswarupan in Sanskrit). Vichuvauruvan was the son of Dhuvatta, a demon priest. Vichuvauruvan always despised Devas. When Indiran approached him, he said that a particular Yaaham had to be performed to restore the past glory of the Indiralokam. Indiran readily agreed and made all arrangements. During the course of the Yaaham, Vichuvauruvan covertly sought the welfare of the demons in his mind but pretended to seek the welfare of the Indiralokam. Realizing this foul- play, Indiran became very angry. In a fit of rage, he killed Vichuvauruvan. From that very moment, Indiran was caught by brahmahathi dhosham (the sin of killing unarmed person). Indiran was haunted by it day and night and he was restless. Meanwhile Dhuvatta got the news about the death of his son at the hands of Indiran. He was very upset and wanted to take revenge. He conducted a big yaaham and from the homagumdam rose a terrifying figure. It was Viruthirasuran a demon of huge size. 1
Dhuvatta ordered this demon to go and kill Indiran. Viruthirasuran declared a war on Indiran. Indiran fought with all his might but could not withstand the onslaught of the demon. He ran to Brahma for advice. Brahma took him to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu said,"Indira! Your weapons are no match to Viruthirasuran. You go to Sage Thatheesi. At the time of churning of the Ocean of milk (Parkkadal), the Devas and Asuras were asked to deposit their weapons with Sage Thatheesi. Subsequently no one claimed them back for long. Fearing the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands, the sage swallowed them all. Those weapons merged with his spinal column. You request the sage to give his spinal column and make a Vajrayutham out of it. He is a great soul who does not turn down anybody's request". Indiran thanked Lord Vishnu and went to Sage Thatheesi. After hearing Indiran, Thatheesi agreed to sacrifice his life for the sake of Indiran and other Devas. Through his yogic powers he separated his soul from his body. He attained moksha leaving behind his mortal remains. Indiran got a strong weapon (Vajrayutham) made out of the spine of the sage. He then challenged Viruthirasuran and fought a bitter battle. After neutralizing the demon's various weapons, Indiran took his Vajrayutham. On seeing that Viruthirasuran lost his nerves and ran for his life. He dived into the ocean and plunged to its unfathomable depths. Indiran pursued him but could not trace him. Indiran sought the help of Brahma again. Brahma advised to seek the help of Sage Agasthiar. Agasthiar listened to Indiran's plight and promised to help him. He shrunk the ocean into a droplet of water and drank it. This exposed Viruthirasuran who was sitting atop a hill and doing penance. Without hesitation Indiran killed the demon with his Vajrayutham. Though he vanquished his enemy, Indiran was caught by the brahmahathi again. It dogged him and haunted him mercilessly. To escape from its torture Indiran hid himself inside the stem of a lotus flower in a pond. Without Indiran the Indiralokam lost its glory . 2
Meanwhile a king called Nakushan became eligible to the throne of Indiran by performing a number of yaahams. He was received by Devas with all festivities at Indiralokam. But the meanminded Nakushan desired to meet first Indirani, the beautiful wife of Indiran-in exile. Lust blinded him. Being the head of Indiralokam, his palanquin was carried by Saptharishis to the palace of Indirani. Unmindful of this he ordered the rishis to go faster. His foolish behavior irked the rishis and he was cursed to become a serpent. Without a king to rule them, Devas were worried and they went to their guru and represented this. Brahaspathi, with his divine insight, understood the whereabouts of Indiran. He took the Devas to the pond where Indiran was hiding inside the lotus and called out. Indiran came out and fell on the feet of his guru, seeking apology for his mistake . Guru magnanimously forgave him and asked him to go to earth and worship Lord Sivaperuman at various shrines to get rid of his brahmahathi. Indiran obeyed and started off on a pilgrimage. After worshipping at various places, he happened to reach Kadambavanam in south. As soon as he entered that forest, his brahmahathi left him. Pleasantly surprised, he consulted his guru and the guru said that it was the place where his brahmahathi was destined to be removed. Kadambavanam was a lovely place where Mother Nature was at her pristine glory. There was greenery everywhere and the birds were chanting Sivanamam. Thrilled by the ambience, Indiran asked his men to explore the area. They came and reported that they had sighted a naturally grown Sivalingam under a kadamba tree adjoining a beautiful pond. Indiran rushed there and was overwhelmed by the scene. He prostrated in front of the lingam and worshipped. He took bath in the pond and looked around to gather the choicest flowers to offer to Lord Sivan. Instantly there appeared numerous golden colored lotus flowers in the pond. He collected them and ordered material from the Indiralokam itself for performing a grand pooja. He asked Viswakarma the craftsman of Devalokam to construct a fabulous vimanam for the lingam. At once, a magnificent vimanam studded with numerous gems and supported by eight elephants, two in each side, descended from the heaven. Then Indiran performed a grand 3
pooja as per the scriptures to the lingam. Pleased with his worship, Lord Sivaperuman appeared in front of him and asked Indiran what he wanted. Gratitude filling his heart, Indiran requested that he be granted the boon of worshipping Lord at kadambavanam forever. Lord said," Worshipping me here on the full moon day of Chitrai month every year (Chitra Pournami day) is equivalent to worshipping me through- out the year. So you come here on that day every year to worship and now you return to your Indiralokam." Then He disappeared. Indiran worshipped again the Golden- lotus pond (Potramaraikkulam) and the vimanam sheltering the lingam. Then he returned to Indiralokam.
Episode 2: The story of how Airavatham, the white elephant got salvation from the curse Sage Dhurvasar was rewarded with a golden lotus flower by Lord Sivan one day. The sage was very happy and carried that flower to Devalokam. At that time, Devalokam was celebrating the victory of Indiran over Asuras. Indiran was sitting atop his royal elephant, the Airavatham, coming as part of a huge procession. Music, dance and other festivities were on. Devas and rishis were there to greet Indiran. Dhurvasar also thought it fit to greet Indiran with the golden lotus flower he got from Lord Sivan. But when he offered the invaluable flower, Indiran received it with one hand, still sitting atop his elephant. As if this was not enough, he placed the flower on the head of the elephant. When Indiran himself did not realize the value of that flower, how elephant could? It took the flower with its trunk, threw it on the ground and trampled over it. Sage Dhurvasar became very angry and he exploded,“ Indira! How dare you showed such a disrespect. That was the flower worn by none other than Lord Parameswaran. He gave it to me and I gave it to you. Your elephant further insulted by trampling over it. You recklessly forgot that the position you enjoy was the boon given to you by Lord Sivan. Let your head be shattered by a Pandian king and your white elephant be turned into a wild elephant!” That curse made everybody to tremble. All Devas pacified the sage and pleaded for mercy. Dhurvasar relented and modified his curse thus: “The danger to Indiran 's head will pass off shattering his crown only and the elephant will regain its status after a hundred years.” Airavatham was turned into a black wild elephant. It wandered here and there for a long time and by chance reached the periphery of Kadambavanam. By then hundred years had passed. At kadambavanam it saw the golden-lotus pond and the magnificent vimanam . Its good senses returned and it took bath in the pond. When it got out of the water, it regained its colour and status. It had turned into Airavatham again. Joy and humility filling its mind, it started to worship Lord Sivan inside the Vimanam. Lord appeared and asked the
elephant what boon it wanted. Airavatham knelt down and pleaded, “ Oh Lord! You have been so much merciful to me. Please permit me to support your vimanam along with the other eight elephants”. Lord smiled and said,” You are the Royal elephant of Indiran. Go and serve him” Airavatham was reluctant to leave the place. But then obeying the orders, it went back to Indiralokam after creating a pond called “Airavatha theertham” at kadambavanam.
Episode 3 : The story of the origin of the city of Madurai The king Kulasekhara Pandian was ruling the Pandian kingdom with Manavoor (situated east to kadambavanam) as his capital. At Manavoor there lived a trader by name Dhananjayan. He was very noble at heart. He was also a devotee of Lord Siva. By virtue of his trade he used to travel a lot. One day at dusk he was returning home. When he reached the fringes of the kadambavanam it had become dark and he was sure that it would not be possible to cross the forest in darkness. At that very moment, he sighted the beautiful vimanam and the golden- lotus pond nearby. He rushed there and to his immense joy, found Lord Sivalingam under the fabulous vimanam. After worshipping the Lord, he decided to spend the night there itself. That was a Monday. At midnight, what unfolded in front of his eyes was stunning. All devas descended at the spot and started performing elaborate sivapooja to Lord Somasundarar. Dhananjayan was so lucky that apart from witnessing that pooja, he was assisting the devas too. It was a great privilege bestowed on him because of his devotion. The pooja went on throughout the night and the devas disappeared at dawn. Dhananjayan returned home and he was desperate to narrate the incident to someone. 6
He decided to share his experience with the king himself. The king Kulasekhara Pandian was astonished and decided to visit the kadambavanam on the following day. But that night itself he had a wonderful dream in which Lord Somasundarar appeared as a siddhar and ordered the king to construct a new city at the site where Dhananjayan witnessed the rare sight. Next morning the king along with his men went to kadambavanam and worshipped Lord Somasundarar. He ordered to clear the forest, level the ground and to prepare the area for the construction of the new city. One day when the king was discussing how to go about establishing the city, Lord Sivan himself came to the king's court as the siddhar. As the king was already familiar with the appearance of the siddhar, he welcomed him and paid tributes. The siddhar then advised the king and others in-detail about planning the city. Then he disappeared. The king followed the siddhar's instructions meticulously. First, a beautiful temple was constructed around the glittering vimanam, with separate sanctum sanctorum for goddess and other deities as per Aagama sastras. Then, around the temple wide streets and lanes were provided to house mandapams, choultries, parks and ponds. There was a beautiful palace for the king also. When all the works were completed, the king prayed Lord Somasundarar to bless the city. The Lord was amused and made a few drops of the nectar (Amudham) be sprinkled from the crescent on His head, over the city. The city was instantly purified and came to be known as “Madhuranagar” (later became Madurai) The king arranged to get Adhisaiva Brahmins from the city of Kaasi, provided them with homes at Maduranagar and directed them to perform daily pooja and rituals at the temple of Somasundarar. The city flourished well and became a symbol of prosperity and divinity. After Kulasekhara pandian, his son Malayathuvaja pandian took the reins of the Pandian kingdom. 7
Episode 4 : The story of the holy incarnation of Goddess Umadevi as Thadaathagai Piraattiar Pandian Malayathuvajan was a great scholar, noble at heart, compassionate towards his subjects and above all a true devotee of Lord Somasundarar of Madurai. His wife, Kaanchanamaalai was the daughter of the Chola king. The Royal couple was happily married. But there was an undercurrent of sorrow in their lives, as they were not blessed with a child. Not having a successor to the throne worried the king very much. So he decided to perform a number of Aswamedhayaahams. He completed ninety nine of them. In the event of him completing one more, that would have made him eligible to become Indiran, the king of Indiralokam. This fact was not palatable to the then incumbent Indiran. He did not want a competitor to his position. So, he appeared in front of Pandian and said, ”Oh King! If you perform Puthrakameshti yaaham you will be blessed with a child.” The king accepted his advice. He abandoned the 100th Aswamedha yaaham and started Puthrakameshti yaaham instead. As the yaaham was in progress, one day there appeared suddenly a very brilliant light in the middle of the fire (agni) in the homagundam. Everyone around including the king and the queen watched in awe. To their utter surprise a beautiful girl of three years stepped out of the flames. She went and sat on the lap of the queen. The royal couple was overwhelmed by emotion. Their prayers had been answered. Goddess Umadevi herself had willingly appeared as a child to alleviate their sorrow. But, then there was a discomfort. The girl child was having three breasts on her bosom instead of two. The king and queen were upset over that. At that time, there arose a divine voice from the sky. It said “ Oh King ! Do not worry. Bring her up and teach her everything befitting an heiress. At the appropriate age, when she meets her husband-to-be, the extra breast will disappear”. The King heaved a sigh of relief and ordered to celebrate the arrival of the child.
his subjects. People were extremely happy. The baby girl was named Thadaathagai and as she grew, she became more and more beautiful. She quickly learnt whatever taught to her. She attained proficiency in Vedhas and other sastras. She could learn all the sixty four art forms very easily. The King arranged to train her in warfare too. She mastered the handling of weapons, horse ride, elephant ride and chariot ride. Thadaathagai's matchless beauty, excellent wisdom, fine character and immense courage were the talk of the Pandian Kingdom and beyond. People were very proud of their princess. Malayathuvaja Pandian was very much pleased by Thadaathagai's achievements and decided to handover the throne to her. All arrangements were underway. The city of Madurai was bedecked so nicely that it resembled Devalokam. Invitees poured in from all directions. On the auspicious day chosen, the princess Thadaathagai was crowned as the Queen of Pandian Kingdom. She ruled the Kingdom admirably. All of the people were very happy. After some time, Malayathuvaja Pandian passed away.
He went to the temple with the queen and the child to worship Lord Somasundarar. He showered gifts lavishly on everybody. He ordered release of prisoners and abolished several taxes levied on 8
Episode 5: The marriage of Thadaathagai Pirattiar Under the rule of Queen Thadaathagai, the kingdom flourished very well. Meanwhile she attained marriageable age. Her mother Kaanchanamaalai, as every mother would, became concerned about finding a suitable bridegroom for her daughter. But Queen Thadaathagai had different plans. She wanted to conquer all other kingdoms in the world. She led a huge army along with her trusted ministers like Sumathi. Unable to withstand the power of her army, the kings of other kingdoms either surrendered voluntarily or conceded defeat after the battle. After defeating the kings on earth, she set her eyes on Indiralokam. But Indiran ran away deserting his kingdom even before the battle. Piratti grabed his riches.
Arrangements were underway for the marriage. Invitations were sent out to various kings and dignitaries in all directions. They were too happy to participate in the wedding and arrived in large numbers. People of Madurai decorated the city in every conceivable manner. They felt as if it was a marriage in their own household. It was the most luxurious wedding arrangements ever made, befitting the divine couple. On the day of marriage, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudran alongwith other devas arrived at Kailash. Nandhidevar announced their arrival to Lord Sivan who was kind enough to welcome them. Kuberan started the work of putting on the 'wedding make-up' for Lord. Afterwards the bridegroom mounted the rishabam. Surrounded by all devas, rishis and boothaganam, He reached the city of Madurai. He was received with much fanfare and taken to the Royal palace. At the door Kaanchanamaalai welcomed Him with a posse of maids carrying auspicious things. Bowing at His feet, she expressed her great desire of offering the hand of Thadaathagai Piratti to Him and requested Him to take over the reins of Pandian kingdom as well.Lord Sivan acknowledged and accompanied the royal staff to the beautifully and tastefully decorated venue of the wedding.
Finally her majestic army reached Mount Kailash. Nandhidevar, the chief of boothganam who guarded Kailash learnt about the arrival of the queen. He ordered boothaganam to engage her army. But the boothaganam could not stand for long against the valour of the queen and her forces. This was conveyed to Lord Sivaperuman. He smiled and said that He Himself would come to the battle field. A little later, he stood there in the peak of his charm, facing Thadaathagai Pirattiar. They looked at each other. Mother Goddess could not take her eyes off Lord Sivan. At that very moment, Piratti's extra breast disappeared. That sensation brought about a sea-change in her attitude. The brave warrior in her gave way to wonderful feminine personality, making her to blush. She blissfully surrendered to romantic feelings. The elderly minister Sumathi who accompanied her, recollected the message of the divine voice that arose at the time of manifestation of Piratti from the homagundam. He informed her that Lord Sivan who was standing in front of her was indeed her would-be –husband. Those sweet words further melted her heart. Lord Sivaperuman addressed her," Thadaathagai, I was closely watching your victories ever since you left Madurai. I will come to Madurai on Monday next, to marry you." Pirattiar reluctantly left His company and returned to Madurai with her forces. Knowing what had happened, Kaanchanamaalai was overjoyed.
As Brahma conducted the marriage proceedings, Lord Vishnu offered the hand of Thadaathagai pirattiar to Lord Sivan. Then Lord Sivan tied the knot and the divine wedding was over, bringing great glory to the city of Madurai, the Pandian kingdom and the people. Lord Sivan took over the charge of Pandian kingdom as Sundarapandiar.
Inside the palace, maids were busy putting on the bridal make –up for Thadaathagai Pirattiar. Exquisite silk garments and fabulous jewellary adorned her. Then she was escorted to the venue by Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswathi. On the wedding dais she sat beside Lord Sivan. The scene of God and Goddess sitting together as bridegroom and bride was a feast to the eyes of all. Words could hardly describe the splendor and grandeur of it.
Episode 6: Lord Siva's dance at Velliambalam (Dais of silver)
Episode 7: The story of how Gundodharan was fed
As soon as his marriage with Thadaathagai Pirattiar was over, Sundara Pandiar invited all those assembled for a grand feast. Everyone took bath in the golden- lotus pond and returned. Among them were the sages Pathanjali and Vyakrapathar. They bowed to Lord and submitted that they were of the habit of taking food only after worshipping Lord Siva's cosmic dance at Chidambaram. Pleased with their devotion, Lord said, that he would perform the dance at Madurai itself for their sake.
Thadaathagai Pirattiar had made elaborate arrangements for the wedding feast. All those who assembled for the marriage were fed to their satisfaction and they departed after greeting the divine couple. However there remained a problem. There was a lot of food- stuff left over even after feeding everybody. The cooks and the attendants brought this to the notice of Thadaathagai Pirattiar. She reassured them and went to her husband SundaraPandiar. She explained to Him the strange incident of mounds of food left unconsumed.
Everyone reached the temple. There appeared a beautiful elevated dais of silver with a platform made of Rubies. On that platform arose the dazzling figure of Lord Sivan. Setting his right leg on the back of Muyalagan and lifting his left leg in air, He performed the divine cosmic dance. People couldn't take their eyes off that wonderful event as they watched.
Sundarapandiar smiled and decided to enact a divine drama. He turned back and glnced at Gundodharan, a bootham who was holding the royal umbrella. From that very moment Gundodharan started feeling great hunger. There was virtually a flame inside his stomach. Unable to bear its intensity, he fell on the feet of Sundarapandiar and prayed to save him from the hunger. Lord addressed Thadaathagai Pirattiar, "Thadaathagai, you may give a handful of the left-over food to this starving Gundodharan." Pirattiar ordered her attendants to take Gundodharan to the kitchen. On the very sight of the food, Gundodharan ran towards it and started to swallow a variety of food items. In no time the cooked items vanished into his stomach. But his hunger did not subside. He then started to eat raw vegetables, fruits, spices, milk, curds and ghee. Every one was astonished. Some of the maids even felt a deep fear inside. They ran to Pirattiar and reported what they witnessed. Pirattiar felt a little uncomfortable and came to Sundarapandiar. He mockingly asked her whether He could order some more boothaganam to consume the food. Pirattiar said,” Sir, even after eating every thing, Gundodharan's hunger is not subsided. There is nothing left for anybody else.” At that time Gundodharan came there and said that hunger was killing him indeed and pleaded for mercy. The poor bootham was exhausted and spent up with his strange predicament.
Both the sages, on whose behalf the great dance was performed, were deeply moved by the boundless mercy of the Lord. They worshipped him singing hymns. The Lord asked them what they wanted. They requested that the divine dance be there forever. Further they pleaded that those witnessed the dance that day be granted the boon of “no rebirth” in the world. The Lord conceded. Everyone was immensly pleased and showered praises on the sages for their matchless love and concern for others.
Episode 8: The Story of appearance of Pits- ful of rice and Vaigai River
Episode 9: The confluence of seven seas at Madurai
Taking pity on the plight of Gundodharan, Sundarapandiar thought of Annapoorani in his mind for a moment. In no time several pits appeared on the ground in all directions. Each pit started to overflow with cooked rice mixed with curds. Sundarapandiar affectionately directed Gundodharan to eat the curds- rice as much as he desired. Gundodharan dipped his huge hands into the pits of rice and ate to his satisfaction. Soon his hunger disappeared but a great thirst for water took over. He ran here and there and drank water from wells, ponds and lakes till they dried out. His thirst was not subsided. He ran back to Sundarapandiar and reported his new problem. Sundarapandiar directed the river Ganges worn by him in his matted hair to come as a new river to Madurai. Obeying him, Ganges immediately started to flow as a great river towards Madurai. She rolled forcefully bringing all wealths alongwith. As the flood reached Madurai, Sundarapandiar asked Gundodharan to quench his thirst. He immediately entered into the river and squated, stretching his hands bothsides to block the flow of the floods. He then opened his huge mouth and drank the water till his thirst was subsided. He, then returned to Sundarapandiar and prayed paying rich tributes to him. Sundarapandiar was pleased and made Gundodharan the chief of boothganam.
Lord Siva himself was thus ruling Pandian Kingdom as Sundarapandiar. Everyday many sages, learned scholars and people of wisdom kept visiting the palace to worship Sundarapandiar. One day, sage Gouthamar visited Madurai. After paying tributes to Sundarapandiar, he went to meet Kanchanamalai the elderly queen. She welcomed him with all devotion and during their conversation, enquired the sage about ways and means to get rid of the cycle of birth and rebirth in this world. The sage replied, “Oh queen, you are so fortunate and you must have performed great penance in your previous births. As a result you have got Mother Goddess herself as your daughter and Lord Sivan, as your son-in-law, in this birth. However I will answer your question. Scriptures speak about of three types of penance (Thavam). The Thavam performed by mind is called “Maanatham”. It involves thinking of doing charity, speaking truth alone, tolerating the wrong doings done to oneself by others, always in union with Lord Sivan mentally and controlling the five senses. The next Thavam is performed by mouth that is using mouth, called “Vaasikam”. It involves chanting Panchaatcharam (Namasivaya), mantras from Vedhas, upanishads and singing hymns and devotional songs. The third is the Thavam done by one's limbs that is physically done. It is called “Kaayikam' which includes performing pooja, going to temples, punya shetrams, taking physical exertion in doing temple renovation and construction. Finally, taking holy dip in Holy rivers. It is much more special to take bath in seas because all rivers finally join the seas”.
The river Ganges which flowed to Madurai was named as Vaigai and was known by various other names such as Sivagangai, Vegavathi, Sivagnana theertham and Kiruthamaalai
On hearing such elaborate explanation from sage Gouthamar, Kanchanamalai became very much interested to take bath in the sea. She conveyed her desire to her daughter, Thadathagai Pirattiar. She inturn requested Sundarapandiar to help fulfilling her mother's desire. The most benevolent Lord said, “Why one sea? All the seven seas will be here at Madurai”. When God himself desires, can anything be held back? The very next moment water of all the seven seas confluenced in a big pond at Madurai. It was a great sight to behold. The multicolored water rising and falling in waves made everyone to be astonished. 14
Episode 10 : Reincarnation of Malayathuvaja Pandian
Episode 11: The holy birth of Ukkirapandian
Sundarapandiar and Thadathagai Pirattiar came to the pond in which all the seven seas had joined. The environment was so much enchanting. The Lord turned to Pirattiar and said, “As per my order all the seven seas have arrived to this place. You may invite your mother to take bath”. She obliged and brought her mother. Kanchanamalai consulted exponents regarding the rules of taking bath in seas. They replied that rules demanded that a woman should take bath in sea holding the hand of either her husband or son. If it was not possible, she must take a dip holding the tail of a calf of cow. On hearing those words, Kanchanamalai's heart sank. She was so sad that she was left with no alternative except holding the calf's tail. She didn't have a son and her husband was already dead. Thadathagai Pirattiar became concerned at her mother's despair. She went and conveyed it to Sundarapandiar. At once Sundarapandiar thought of Malayathuvaja Pandian who was in swargalokam. The moment he understood the Lord's desire, he came down to earth in a divine Ratham. He was extremly happy to meet his son-in-law and daughter. Unable to believe her eyes Kanchanamalai also came nearby. Sundarapandiar advised his father-il-law to take bath in the pond along with his beloved wife. Malayathuvajan and Kanchanamalai took bath together happily. As soon as they took bath, their wordly links were broken and they attained heavenly form with the grace of Lord Sivan. At that moment, a glittering Ratham descended from heavens and landed. Sundarapandiar directed Malayathuvaja Pandian and Kanchanamalai to board the Ratham. As they did so, the Ratham ascended to heavens. Who can match their luck? Thadathagai Pirattiar was very happy at the turn of events. She said with great adoration, “Swami, my mother wanted to take bath in the sea. You have arranged all the seven seas to come to this place. You have fulfilled her desire by bringing back my father to take bath together. Above all, with your grace, you have granted my parents the matchless gift of viewing your Sivasoroopam and finally the moksham.” Lord acknowledged and smiled.
Sundarapandiar's governance of the kingdom was a great boon to all. The graceful Lord took the human form to marry Thadaathagai Pirattiar and remained so to rule the Pandian Kingdom and brought about a great legacy to the dynasty. With abundant benevolence he wished that the dynasty should flourish further. His divine will made Lord Murugan himself to manifest as an embryo within Thadaathagai Pirattiar. Like anyother woman, Mother Goddess also experienced changes in her body as the preganancy advanced. As per Royol customs, everymonth various ceremonies were held. On an auspicious Monday, combined with Thiruvathirai star, a baby boy was born, accompanied by heavenly music and shower of flowers. Thadaathagai Pirattiar embraced her son with great love and handed him to Sundarapandiar.
The baby grew and at the age of five, Sundarapandiar performed “Upanayanam” for the child. As per his order, the Devaguru Brahapathi himself performed the role of the Teacher. He taught the Prince all sastras. He also trained him in handling of weapons, horse ride, Elephant ride and riding of chariots. At the age of eight, Ukkirapandian mastered whatever taught to him. His parents watched happily his progress. As he turned sixteen, he was the most handsome and brave prince, with unblemished character. There was enough indications that one day he would be the greatest emperor, famous for his bravery, benevolence, wisdom and virtues. Sundarapandiar noticed all these with satisfaction. He decided to perform marriage to Ukkirapandian first and then to crown him as the King. He started consultations with his ministers and learned elite.
Vishnu, Brahma and other Devas arrived with their consorts. Kings of various other kingdoms also reached Madurai to have a look at the child. Everyone was stunned at the looks of the beautiful child. They talked among themselves and concluded that it was Murugaperuman himself taken birth as the royal infant. The joy of people of Madurai was boundless. On an auspicious occasion, Sundarapandiar named the child as “Ukkiravarman”.
Episode 12: The story of Ukkirapandiar receiving Vel, Valai and Chendu Sundarapandiar's ministers and statesmen went into a huddle to choose a suitable bride. Their efforts were rewarded when they unanimously concluded that the daughter of King Somasekharan was the right choice. He ruled from Manavoor and his daughter Kanthimathi was known to be very beautiful and a perfect match for Ukkirapandiar in every count. That night Somasekharan had a dream in which Lord Sivan appeared and advised him to get his daughter married to the son of Sundarapandiar. King Somasekharan was extremely happy. After due consultations with his ministers on the following day, he started off to Madurai along with his beloved daughter. He was accompanied by his ministers and Royal staff. At the same time, Sundarapandiar's ministers, men and the representatives of the Pandian family started towards Manavoor. Both the parties met midway. Sundarapandiar's ministers proposed the hand of Princess Kanthimathi to Prince Ukkiravarman. Somasekharan readily agreed stating that he had been instructed by Lord Sivan to do so. His consent was carried by messengers fast to Madurai. Subsequently, Somasekharan and Kanthimathi reached Madurai. Sundarapandiar welcomed them and arranged for their stay in another palace. Scholars worked out the most auspicious day for the marriage. Invitations were sent out to various other kings. People of Madurai started decorating the city enthusiastically.
washed the feet of Ukkirapandiar, showered flower petals and offered his daughtr's hand in marriage to Ukkirapandiar. Then with the chanting of manthras homam was performed. Ukkirapandiar tied the thirumangalyam around the neck of Kanthimathi. Afterwards there was a grand procession of the couple through the streets of the city, to facilitate the public to have a glimpse of the prince and the princess. The couple went to the temple to worship Lord Somasundarar and Goddess Angayarkanni. Sundarapandiar was gracefully present to bid farewell to all the invitees later. One day Sundarapandiar called Ukkirapandian and said, “Dear son, in future, Indiran and sea god will become your enemies. The great Mount Meru also will exhibit arrogance out of pride. At those instances, use this, Valai (a kind of curved ring like weapon) to shatter the crown of Indiran, use this vel(spear) to tease the sea and use this chendu(club like weapon) to hit on the peak of Meru”. He handed over the three weapons and blessed Ukkirapandian. Subsequently, on an auspicious day, He crowned Ukkirapandian as the King of Pandian Kingdom. He instructed the ministers and others to safeguard Ukkirapandian at all times. He also advised his son to follow the advice of his ministers and great persons while ruling his Kingdom. Then he renounced the Royal attire and went into the Temple along with Thadaathagai Pirattiar. Truly following his father's advice, Ukkirapandian was ruling the Kingdom in an exemplary manner.
As the day of marriage approached, kings from all directions were reaching Madurai. Sages, scholars, poets and other exponents arrived. Brahma, Vishnu ,Indiran and other devas came to witness the marriage. Princess Kanthimathi's beauty was further enhanced. Though her beauty was beyond words, Brahaspathi the Devaguru described her beauty from her head to toes. Those who heard him were mesmerised. Meanwhile Ukkirapandiar and Kanthimathi were being adorned by a variety of ornaments, jewellery and clothings. They were then escorted to the marriage dais. King Somasekharan with his wife 18
Episode 13: The story of how the sea was dried up by the Vel
Episode 14: The story of how Indiran's crown was shattered
King Ukkirapandiar's rule was a golden period. He performed many yaahams for the benefit of his subjects. He completed ninety six Aswamwdhayahams. Indiran was upset over this feat out of jealousy. He surmised that it was the prosperity of the Pandian kingdom that facilitated Ukkirapandiar's achievements. He summoned Varunan, the sea-god and ordered him to rise as a deluge to destroy Madurai.
During the rule of Ukkirapandian, once there was severe drought. There was no rain. Not only the Pandian Kingdom but also the Chola and Chera Kingdoms were facing the famine. People suffered a lot. All the three kings decided among themselves to seek the advice of sage Agasthiar. They went to his abode, the Pothigai hills and met him. They explained the conditions prevailing in their Kingdoms due to failure of monsoons. Agasthiar analysed the planetary position obtaining at that period and then said, "Oh Kings, the present position of planets is the root cause for the drought. There will not be any rains for twelve more years. So, the best course for you will be to approach Indiran who controls rains ".
Varunan, without thinking of the consequences, rose as a great tsunami and approached Madurai. It was midnight. People of Madurai were fast asleep. Ukkirapandiar was also sleeping in his palace. Lord Somasundarar appeared as a Siddhamoorthy in his dream and said,”Pandia! The sea water is rising as a mountain and approaching your capital city to destroy it. You go and throw your Vel on it and defeat it.” Ukkirapandiar woke up and thanked Lord. He immediately summoned his ministers and proceeded to face the oncoming flood of sea water. Siddhamoorthy appeared in person there and advised Ukkirapandiar to use his Vel (given by Sundarapandiar) without delay. Ukkirapandiar took his Vel and threw it on the waves. The moment the tip of the Vel touched the water, the water started to recede, shrunk and dried up. The sea lost its power. Indiran's plan met with defeat. At that moment, the Siddhar disappeared. Instead, Lord Siva appeared with Umadeviyar.Ukkirapandian worshipped with great reverence. Lord then entered the temple. Ukkirapandian returned to his palace. He offered a lot of fertile lands as donation to the temple.
The Kings asked the Sage how to go to Indiralokam. The Sage advised them to perform “Somavaara vratham” through which they could get the benevolence of Lord Sivan to help them reach Indiralokam. He also explained in detail the method of performing Somavara vratham. The Kings listened carefully and returned to Madurai duly thanking the Sage for his guidance. They took bath in the Golden- Lotus pond and worshipped Lord Somasundarar and Angayarkanni ammai. Then, with great reverence observed the Somavara vratham and reaped the benefits. It empowered them to travel in space on their way to meet Indiran. Knowing their intentions, Indiran arranged three seats at a lower level than his own in his court. He showed the seats and asked the Kings to be seated. While Cheran and Cholan occupied those seats, Ukkirapandiar climbed the steps and sat by the side of Indiran himself on his throne. Though irked by that action, Indiran covered up his indignation and asked the Kings their purpose of visit. Cheran and Cholan appealed to Indiran for rains, explaining the despair of their subjects due to severe drought. Indiran was quite pleased and promised them copious rains in their Kingdoms. Cheran and Cholan happily returned. After they left Indiran was surprised to note Ukkirapandiar still sitting with pride and not requesting rains in his Kingdom. Indiran
wanted to hurt the pride of Pandian. He ordered a huge garland of pearls. The garland was so heavy that it had to be carried by several musclemen. Indiran asked Ukkirapandian to wear the garland specially made for him. To everybody's surprise, Ukkirapandiar effortlessly took the garland and wore it on his neck. Ignoring the perplexed Indiran, Ukkirapandiar returned to Madurai. As promised, Indiran blessed Chera and Chola Kingdoms with rains. Pandian Kingdom continued to suffer from drought. One day during the course of hunting wild animals on the slopes of Pothigai hills, Ukkirapandian noticed four huge clouds namely Putkalaavartham, Sankaaritham, Dronam and Kalamuki hovering over the hills. They belonged to Indiran. Ukkirapandiar immediately caught hold of them, chained them and brought to Madurai. There he imprisoned them. Learning what happened to his clouds, Indiran became very angry. He was already fuming at the behaviour of Ukkirapandian who sat equally with him, and the way he blunted the Indiran's plot to submerge Madurai in sea water. Further, his mean attempt to cowdown Ukkirapandian with the huge garland of pearls also failed. As if these were not enough, Ukkirapandian had imprisoned the heavenly clouds. Infuriated at these,Indiran decided to wage a war with Ukkirapandian, and ordered his forces to surround Madurai. Spies carried that information to the Pandian king.
Pandian's Valai. Later, Indiran sent a messenger to Pandian to convey his willingness to provide copious rains to Pandian Kingdom but demanded in turn the release of the four clouds. Pandian suspected the genuineness of the offer and declined to release the clouds. At that time, a good samaritan who was also a close friend of Indiran offered himself as a hostage until Indiran provided rains. On that Ukkirapandian agreed to set free the clouds. Indiran also kept his word and sent in rains to fill every pool, pond, lake and river in the Pandian kingdom.Prosperity returned and the people of the kingdom were the happiest lot again.
Episode 15:The story of Ukkirapandiar hitting the Meru with Chendu (club like weapon) Ukkirapandiar continued to observe the Somavara vratham as directed by sage Agasthiar. As a result, Queen Kanthimathi became pregnant and in due course delivered a baby boy. Ukkirapandiar was very happy and named the child, as Veerapandiyan. He arranged to teach his son in proper age, all sasthras including weapon handling, warfare etc. befitting a prince. Veerapandian was very adept in learning everything and Ukkirapandiar was glad to note his son's progress.
Ukkirapandian roared like a teased lion. He led his men of valour against Indiran. A fierce battle followed. There was heavy casualty on either side. Indiran's forces could not face the onslaught of Ukkirapandian and his army. They were forced to retreat. Indiran decided to use divine weapons from his armoury against Pandian. But Ukkirapandian easily neutralised them with his own divine weapons. Finally Indiran threw his Vajrayutham. Pandian took out the Valai given by his father and threw it forcefully on Indiran. The Valai blocked Vajrayutham and went further to shatter the crown of Indiran. Indiran was put to shame and embarrassed. He ran away from the battle field, thanking Lord Sivan for saving his head from
Once again due to unfavourable planetary position, the Pandian kingdom faced drought. The rains failed. All water bodies were dried up. All forms of life were tormented by hunger. Ukkirapandiar consulted the astrologers. They said that rains could
not be expected for another year. The king became so sad and went to the temple to request Lord Somasundarar for his benevolence. He made a tearful appeal to Lord to save his subjects. But Lord remained silent. Crerstfallen, Pandian returned to his palace. That night, he slept on the floor rejecting the comforts of the cot and cushions. In his dream, Lord Sivan appeared as Siddha Moorthy. He addressed the King, “Do not keep worrying about the drought. Rains will not favour in near future. To mitigate the despair and poverty of your citizens, you proceed to the great Mount Meru. A voluminous treasure has been kept hidden in a cave there. Win over Meru by striking at its peaks with your Chendu and ask to show the treasure. Take the treasure as much as you want, close the cave and seal it. Return to Madurai with the treasure”. Ukkirapandiar woke up and recollected the dream. Early in the morning he went to the temple to thank the Lord for his guidance. Then he ordered his forces and set off on his long journey towards Mount Meru. A huge army accompanied him. Enroute, he crossed Chola kingdom, Thondai Naadu, Karunada Naadu, Telugu Naadu etc. and reached Malava Naadu, then Virada Naadu. Going further he reached the city of Kasi, took holy dip in Ganga river and worhsipped Lord Viswanathar. From there he continued his journey and went past Baratha Khandam to reach Himalayas. Travelling past Kimburada Khandam, Yema Koodam, and Arivaruda Khandam, he reached Ilaviruda khandam. Finally, there arose the glorious mountain of Meru in front of him. There the river Sambu was flowing. Ukkirapandiar went alone towards the Meru and called out, “Oh Meru, the King of Mountains! You were the formidable bow in the hands of my father Siva peruman. So great and tall you are, that planets and stars go round your peaks. You are also the abode of devas. Please come”. But Meru did not respond out of its pride and arrogance. Pandian felt embarrassed and angered. He took out his Chendu given by Sundara pandiar and dealt a severe blow with it on the peak of Meru. It made the great mountain to tremble. Its peaks were blown off and golden specs and gems flew in all directions. After receiving such 24
a blow, Meru appeared before Ukkirapandiar as a figure with eight hands, four heads and with a white umbrella above its heads. Its pride and vanity were gone. Ukkirapandiar calmed down and asked why he (Meru) did not respond to his call immediately. The Meru replied, “Oh King, I used to worship Lord Soma sundarar and Angayarkanni ammai everyday. But today, caught in the whirlpool of lust in the company of a woman, I forgot my holy routine. As a punishment, I got beaten by you. Is there anything I can do for you? Please tell”. Pandiar said that his purpose was to get the treasure. Mount Meru pointed to a place where the cave containing the treasure was kept closed by a huge rock. Ukkirapandiar pushed the rock away and collected as much of gold as he desired. He then closed the cave with the rock and inscribed his name and the symbol of fish (royal symbol of Pandian Dynasty) over the rock. He then started his journey back. On the way he was welcomed and greeted by the Kings of other kingdoms, congratulating him for his great achievement. As he approached Madurai, he saw the temple of Somasundarar. Immediately he climbed down from his Chariot and prostrated on the ground. Then he worshipped the Lord thanking Him for His grace. He then distributed the mounds of gold he brought from Meru to his subjects. Everyone was happy. Subsequently, due to re-alignment of planets favourably, there was abundant rainfall restoring the prosperity and glory to Pandian Kingdom. After a few years, Ukkirapandiar crowned his son Veerapandiar as King and then reached the lotus feet of Lord Soma Sundarar.
Episode 16: Lord Sivan enlightens the sages on the essence of Vedhas Once upon a time, there occurred the 'great deluge'. Everything in the world was destroyed. Whatever lifeform that existed before, merged and unified into the Supreme Power.Afterwards, through the divine will of Lord Sivaperuman, the 'creation' started all over again. At that time the mystic sound of 'Om', the Pranavam' took birth from the Lord's mouth. Then, from the pranavam were born the four vedhas. The great Rishis like Kanvar chanted those vedhas religiously but were unable to understand the subtle meaning and the essence of vedhas. That made them sad. One day the Sage Arabathar visited them. He, with his intuition enquired them about the cause of their worried looks. They said, “Oh Sage, we have been chanting the vedhas given by Lord Sivaperuman for quite a long time. But till now we could not find a Guru who would enlighten us on the inner meaning of vedhas”.
almost an year starting from a Karthigai Poornima to next Karthigai poornima, following all rituals.
The rishis proceeded to Madurai, took bath in the GoldenLotus pond and worshipped Lord Somasundarar and Angayarkanni ammai. Then they went to the sannidhi of Lord Dhakshinamoorthy. The Lord was sitting under a cool banyan tree. His appearance was stunning with white marble- like body with pink coral- like feet, lotus coloured lips,and three eyes. He was holding Amudhakumbam (pitcher of nectar), and Rudraksha maalai in his upper hands. With palm leaves containing vedhas in lower left hand, He was displaying the “chinmudra”by His lower right hand. Sitting in front of Him, the rishis started chanting the Medhamanthram taught by Arabathar for
Afterwards, one day the Lord appeared as a boy of sixteen in front of them. No words could describe the handsome Youth. He radiated wisdom and grace. With unbound happiness the Rishis worshipped the young Guru. He, with great affection asked them as to what they wanted. They submitted, “ Oh Lord, please enlighten us as well as others on the essence of vedaas”. The exemplary Guru took them to the sanctum santorum of the Sivalingam, the Somasundarar. He addressed them thus, “Oh Sages, the meaning of the vedhaas is very subtle and secret. Trying hard to understand and disseminate it paves the way to get immense benefits to one in this birth as well as the next stage that is Moksham. This Sivalingam appeared on its own and remaining as the symbol of all Thathvas, is by itself the meaning of vedaas. Infact, it represents the vedaas as well as their meaning or essence. It is He who manifests as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudhran. He creates by becoming Brahma; He sustains whatever created in his role as Vishnu and destroys in his form as Rudhran. Again, He is supreme to all the three of them. In this shape of Sivalingam, its bottom portion represents Brahma the Aanma thathvam, middle portion Vishnu, the vidya thathvam and the top portion the Baanam represents the Rudhran, the Sivathathvam. From among the three, Ahaaram is born from Aanma Thathavam, Uggaram from Vidya Thathavam and Magaaram is born from Siva Thathavam.The confluence of Ahaaram, Ugaaram and Magaaram is the sound of Aum (Om) the Pranavam. The Gaayathri Manthram takes birth from the Pranavam. Gaayathri itself is of two parts, the Samatti and Viyatti. These two parts gave birth to all the four Vedaas. Again, the alphabets of the script was born out of Pranavam. Sivan the Lord has five faces. All the Sivaagamaas appeared from his top face; His eastern face was the source of Rig Vedaa; the southern face was the source of Yajur Vedaa and the Sama Vedaa was born from His northern face.The western face was the source of Adharvana Veda. Since the Vedhas are
The Sage comforted them by saying that the Lord who gave the vedhas would certainly be graceful enough to teach them the meaning also. He further said that it would materialise only after doing relentless penance, that too at a very sacred place. He pointed out that such a sacred a place was Madurai only. He guided Kanvar and other Rishis to proceed to the fabulous temple of Somasundarar at Madurai and to sit in penance in front of Lord Dhakshinamoorthy there. He concluded by assuring them that Dhakshinamoorthy himself would enlighten them on the essence of Vedhas.
four, the Varunams and Aasramams are also four. The Vedaas are the source of Dharmaas and Karmaas. Further, the Vedaas branch into two Kaandams, the Karmakaandam and Gnana Kaandam. The former elaborately deals with the methods of doing puja to this Chokkalingam and the latter the Gnanakaandam elucidates the Sachidhanantha swaroopam of Him. By Sivapooja, Gnanam is achieved. It leads to purity of mind which again gives shanthi. By shanthi one achieves Ashtaanga yogam. The religions which follow the path of Vedhas have Vedhas as their mainstay. I have explained you the essence of Vedhas to remove the misgivings in your minds. Let your minds be clear “. Lord, who came as a young brahmin, thus enlightened the Sages and then disappeared.
ministers decided to crown the prince as the successor to the throne. But alas! When they opened the treasury they found to their dismay the disappearance of the crown and other treasures. There were not enough gems to make a new crown either. Disheartened, the ministers and the young prince went to the temple to plead to God for advice as what to do next. Even as they approached the temple, they found a jewel trader coming in the opposite direction who was none other than Lord Himself in disguise. He was carrying a bundle of precious gems and came towards the prince and the ministers. As if He had read their thoughts, He enquired them of their worries. After hearing them, He volunteered that He had a very precious collection of gems and said He was willing to display them. He then spread a black carpet on the ground and went on to display big rubies, pearls, sapphires, emaralds, cat's eye, diamonds, coral etc. He added that those gems were the body parts of an Asuran called Valan.
King Veerapandiyan happily ruled Pandian Kingdom. Apart from the Queen, he had many other wives. Though many childern were born to his other wives, the Queen was not blessed with one. This was a source of sadness for the royal couple. They worshipped Lord Soma Sundarar and performed several rituals and vrathams. As a result, they were blessed with a son. The King was pleased and he brought up his son with great love and care. One day, during a hunting session in the forest, Veerapandian was attacked by a fierce tiger and was killed.
To the bewildered ministers, the trader told the story of Valan thus:Valan was a demon but an ardent devotee of Lord Sivan. Pleased with his Bhakthi, Lord Sivan appreared in front of him and asked what boon he wanted. The demon requested that he should not be killed in wars; but if happened to die by destiny, his body should turn into various navaratnas (gems). Lord Sivan granted his wish. Immediately, the demon decalred a war against Indiran, the King of devas. Indiran was defeated. Knowing the boon Valan got from Siva Peruman, Indiran hatched a conspiracy in his mind and addressed Valan, “O mighty demon! I congratulate you on your victory. Now ask what you want.” Valan ignored Indiran's compliments and said, “Indira, I received boons from Lord Siva Perman Himself. I do not want anything from you. Instead, I will grant you whatever you want”.
The sudden demise of the king made the royal family and people of the kingdom to plunge into great despair. The king had died and the prince was a young boy. Seizing this opportunity, the sons born to the mistresses of the King plundered the wealth of the palace including the King's crown and invaluable gems. Meanwhile the
Indiran was very happy to note that his trick had worked. He said, “Valan, I'm planning to perform a big Yaaham at Mount Meru. I want you to come there as the sacrificial cow”.Though stunned for a moment, Valan agreed. He even thanked Indiran for giving him a chance to die as the sacrificial cow in the yaaham.
Episode 17: The story of Lord Soma Sundarar selling rubies as a trader
Then Valan crowned his son and turned himself into a beautiful cow to be offered in the yaaham. Indiran and other devas were astonished at Valan's sincerity. Subsequently, that cow was strangulated and offered to yaahagni (the fire of homagundam). Because of the boon he desired, the cow's blood turned into rubies, teeth into pearls, hair into vaidooryams, bones into diamonds, bile juice into emaralds, fat into komedhagam (cat's eye), muscles into corals, eye balls into sapphires and finally the mucus into pushparagam. Lord Soma Sundarar who came as the gems trader concluded the story of Valan. He further enriched the knowledge of his listeners by describing in detail about the nine kinds of gems (Nava rathnams) as to their places of origin, different types among them, their properties and the benefits they bring to the wearer. His listeners were spellbound at the voluminous information they acquired form the trader. The trader then sat facing north, worshipped the gems he had spread out and then gave them to the prince with His blessings. He said, “Make a new crown for the prince using these gems and name him as 'Abhisheka Pandian'”. The ministers agreed and offered to give whatever gold they had as the price. But the trader disappeared and at the same time Lord Siva Peruman appeared on the sky with Goddes Umadevi. Everyone realised that it was Lord who came as the gems trader. The prince and others went inside the temple and worshipped. They were overhelmed by the grace of Lord. Subsequently the prince was crowned as Abhisheka Pandian. He vanquished his enemies and ruled his kindgom to the happiness of his subjects. He traced the childern of the mistresses of his father and got back the treasures looted by them.
Episode 18 : The story in which Lord depleted the Ocean set off by Varunan on the city of Madurai It was customary for Abishekapandian to perform poojai in large scale to Somasundarar. On the day of Chithrai nakshatram in Chithrai month every year. All types of abishegams were conducted that day. On the very same day, Indiran also used to visit Madurai temple to worship Lord Somasundarar. He took his turn after Pandian's poojai was finished. On one suchday, Varunan went to Indiralokam where he found Indiran in not-so-cheerful mood. When enquired, Indiran lamented that his poojai was delayed due to Pandian's poojai to Lord Somasundarar. Varunan wondered why the lingam at Madurai happened to be superior to lingams elsewhere. Indiran clarified, “It was the Chokkalingam at Madurai salvaged me and my Iravatham from the curses. I got rid of my Brahmahathi by the grace of that Lingam “. Varunan questioned whether his own chronic pain in stomach could be cured by the Chokkalingam. Indiran admonished Varunan for doubting the power of Lord Chokkalingam and advised him to understand it by himself. Varunan, driven by his ill-fate, desired to verify the power of Lord. He ordered the sea to destroy the city of Madurai. Varunan being the deity of waters, the sea obeyed him and rose as a great deluge to submerge Madurai. The people of the city were gripped by great fear. The King Abhisheka Pandiyan was also stunned and he decided to seek the mercy of Lord Soma Sundarar. He rushed to the temple and prayed. The Lord appeared and ordered the four clouds worn by Him on his locks of hair, to go and suck the sea water approaching Madurai. They did so immediately. The sea was dried up. The people heaved a sigh of relief and thanked Lord.
Madurai Kaandam Ends
Koodal Kaandam Episode 19: The story of how Madurai came to be known as “Naanmaadakoodal”. Varunan, who was defeated in his attempt to destroy Madurai with sea-water, thought of another way. He called the seven clouds under his control and asked them to suck sea –water and then pour as heavy rains over the city of Madurai to submerge it. They immediately sucked the sea-water and hovered over the city as dark thunder clouds. Heavy lightning flashed across the sky and thunders rolled. Heavy down pour lashed the city. People were frightenend. Abhishekapandian, with his unfailing faith in Lord Somasundarar, worshipped Him along with his subjects. Lord as before asked the four clouds worn on his locks of hair to settle over the city in all four directions as a mega roof. They did so descending over the city as a great roof with the tall buildings of the city supporting them as pillars. The torrential rains unleashed by Varunan became ineffective. Varunan was embarrassed and put to shame. He realised the powers of Lord Chokkalingar and he was gripped by fear. He cursed himself for trying to test His powers. Varunan repented and rushed to the Golden-lotus pond to take bath before worshipping Lord. Good Heavens! Even as he was approaching the pond, his stomach pain vanished. He took bath, wore rudhraksham and vibhoothi and entered the temple. He worshipped Lord several times and performed a grand poojai as per the methods laid down in the Scriptures. Lord was pleased and asked Varunan what was his wish. Varunan was moved to tears. He said,”Oh God, I dared to test your powers as a good-for –nothing fool. But you have showered mercy on me. My severe stomach pain vanished in no time even before I took bath in the golden-lotus pond. Please forgive me; please bear with my audacity”. Lord blessed him. After worshipping again, Varunan left for his place. 32
Madurai came to be known form then on as Naanmaadakoodal because it was protected by the collective efforts of the four clouds in all four directions. Episode 20: Lord Somasundarar comes as an omnipotent Siddhar In order to shower the benefits in this birth as well as the next birth on Abhishekapandian and his subjects, Lord Somasundarar manifested himself as a Siddhar. His appearance was captivating. He wore his long hair into a 'jadamudi'. White sacred vibhoothi and vermilion thilakam adorned his fore head. 'Yagnobaveedham' (poonool), and rudhraakhams were on his chest. He carried a staff similar to a magic wand on his hand. He wore the hide of a tiger on his waist. Wherever he went, people gathered around him. He played unbelievable tricks to amuse people. He made a distant hill to move closer and again made it to move far away. He playfully converted young people to old and then back to young. He cured the disabilities of the disabled. He converted ordinary metals into pure gold. He made Vaigai River to be flooded and then made it to dry up. He threw his magic wand in air, made it to stand still unsupported, put a needle on top of it and then stood on the tip of the needle with one of his big toes. Then, suddenly he would change his position, standing on his head. People watched him, with open mouth and dropped jaws. They were wonderstruck. The news about the magical activities of Siddhamurthy reached the King. Abhishekapandian asked his men to go and escort the Siddhar to Palace. They went but failed to return. They lost themselves watching the activities of Siddhar. Then Pandian sent his Ministers. They begged the Siddhar to grace the palace of the King. But the great Siddhar declined their request stating that he had nothing to gain from the King. The Ministers reported back to the King. The King conceded that great Yogis like Siddhar might not care even Devas and no wonder that he did not honour King's invitation. 33
Episode 21 : Statue of elephant chews Sugarcane The King was restless. He was remorseful for sending word for Siddhar. He thought it was proper for him to go to the Siddhar in person and worship him.
The King was takn aback and realised his mistake. He fell on the feet of Siddhar and prayed,"Please forgive me and my ignorance". Siddhar asked him what was his desire. Pandian requested that he be blessed with a son of all good qualities. Siddhar granted it.
He went to the temple. It was the first day of 'Thai' monthMakarasankranthi. Knowing that the King would come, the great Siddhar was seated at the north- west side of the Vimanam inside the temple. Pandian, after worshipping Lord Somasundarar, came around the Vimanam. His bodyguards, who were a little ahead of him, started persuading the Siddhar to leave the place in view of King's visit. Meanwhile Pandian reached him and addressed, " Oh Sage, which place do you belong and what are you capable of ".
Then Siddhar touched the elephant. It returned the ornament back to the King. At that very moment Siddhar disappeared. The elephant also became a statue again while the body guards got back their life. The King understood that it was none other than Somasundarar who came as Siddhar. As per the words of Siddhar, Pandian was blessed with a male child. He named the child as Vikraman and brought him up as a brave prince. Then he crowned him as the Pandian King. After sometime, Abhishekapandian breathed his last.
Siddhar replied, "I am from Kaasi. Lord Siva's devotees are my kith and kin. I came to exhibit my powers to the people of Madurai. I don't expect anything from you, oh King" .
Episode 22: The story of how Lord Somasundarar killed a rogue elephant with arrow
The King desired to test Siddhar's capability. At that time a farmer presented a well-grown sugarcane to the King. The King took it, turned Siddhar and said, "Oh great Yogi, if you are capable of all arts, will you make this stone statue of elephant to eat this sugarcane ? If you do it, I will reward you handsomely ". Siddhar smiled and set his eyes on the granite statue of elephant neaby. At once, the Statue became alive. It extended its trunk and pulled the sugarcane from the hand of Pandian. Then it started chewing the cane with cane juice dripping from its mouth. Everyone around was wonderstruck.
Vikrama pandian was ruling his Kingdom very well.The Saivism grew from strength to strength during his rule.He built a shrine for Siddhar on the northern side of the Vimanam in the temple and worshipped Him with true devotion. On those days, a Chola king was ruling with Kanchipuram as his capital city. He was jealous of Vikramapandian and disliked him. He was patronising Jainism in his kingdom whereas Vikraman was not allowing Jainism to take root in Pandian kingdom. This had fanned the hatred of Cholan further. Vikraman was very powerful and strong. So Cholan could not wage any war against him. Instead he decided to eliminate Pandian in a clandestine manner.
Then, Siddhar looked at the elephant again. It immediately grabbed an ornament of gems worn by the King on his neck and in no time swallowed it too. This made the King angry and his bodyguards pounced close to the elephant to attack it as well as Siddhar. Siddhar simply said, "stop". The body guards froze and turned into stone statues.
He sent word for religious heads and priests of Jainism living in various parts of the country. All of them, eight thousand in number, congregated at Kanchipuram and Cholan outlined to them their mission. He directed them to perform “Aabisaara homam”, seeking
the end of Pandian. Such a homam was performed in those days with evil intentions. Poisonous materials were used in it and evil spirits were invoked. Jains started the homam with wicked intentions. So there arose a ferocious elephant from the homagundam. It resembled a huge mountain in size. Jains ordered it to proceed to Madurai and kill Vikrama Pandian and destroy his beautiful city. The vicious elephant roared off towards its target. The Jain priests and the soldiers of Cholan followed it. It travelled fast, trampling on every thing on its path. Its huge ears created tempests by their sway. It left a trail of destruction on its way.
remained at the spot as Lord Nasingamurthy for everyone to worship. Sage Uromasar worshipped Him and received His blessings. Prahalathan also came there and did penance.
The news about the charging elephant reached Pandian. He went to the temple and prayed to Lord Somasundarar to get rid of the menace approaching Madurai. At that time a divine voice rang from the sky saying,”Pandia! Do not worry. I will tackle the elephant. You get an attalai mandapam erected just outside the city.” The king did so in no time. Lord Somasundarar manifested himself as a hunter. The youthful hunter was so handsome to look at. He carried a big bow and arrows. A deadly sword hung from his waist. He climbed over the mandapam erected by the king and waited to sight the elephant. On seeing the elephant at a distance, he took his bow and fixed on it a lethal arrow called 'Narasingaasthram”. He pulled the bow string and released the arrow. The arrow travelled with unimaginable speed, hit the elephant on its forehead and pierced through. The elephant trumpeted wildly and fell on the ground like a huge dark cloud. Bleeding profusely from the wound, it died. Vikramapandian was very happy. He ordered his army to engage the soldiers and the Jains who followed the elephant. He saw the brave hunter seated in the mandapam. He went and paid rich tributes to him. He requested the hunter to stay there forever and grace the city. Cholan's soldiers and the Jains were chased away by the Pandian soldiers. Pandian's unfailing faith on Lord resulted in the birth of a male child to him and he named the child as Rajasekharan. The Narasingaasthram which killed the rogue elephant 36
Episode 23 : Lord manifestsHimself as an oldman, youth as well as a little baby boy. During the rule of Vikrama Pandian, there lived a Brahmin by name Virubaakshan at Madurai. His wife was Subavirathai. She was a very virtuous lady. The couple was not blessed with a child. That made them sorrowful. But they did several acts of charity and performed many virathams. As a result, a babygirl was born to them. They were very glad and named the child as “Gouri”. When Gouri was just five years old, she asked her father one day, “Father, which mantra to be chanted to get rid of the cycle of the repeated births?“. Virubaakshan was astonished at her question. Was it a question expected from a child? However, he gladly taught her the Mantra of Paraasakthi. Gouri listened with great attention and then started to chant the mantra regularly. Meanwhile she grew into marriageable age. Virubaakshan started looking for a suitable youth with all virtues including unfailing bakthi on Lord Sivan. One day a young vaishnavite from a distanct place, came to Virubakshan's house, begging for food. On seeing him, Virubakshan decided to give his daughter Gouri in marriage to the youth. His wife and other relatives regretted his hasty decision. He did not bother to enquire about the lineage, antecedents, education and other important aspects of the youth. However enquiries later revealed that all other aspects were good, except that the groom belonged to a Vaishnavite family. This did not deter Virubhakshan and he went ahead with the marriage. The groom was really lucky. The poor youth going from house to house seeking food was married to a beautiful girl of prosperity. After the marriage, Virubhakshan sent his daughter and son-in-law to their place with customary gifts and other things.
daughter-in-law. They harboured hatred towards her and never missed a chance to insult her. One day they had to attend a wedding in another village. All of them left for the wedding leaving the poor Gouri alone in the house. Not only that, but also they locked the house. Gouri's heart wept as she could not see and worship even a single devotee of Lord Sivan that day. She cursed herself for her inability to do service to the devotees of Lord Sivan. His merciful Lord Somasundarar took heart to dispel Gouri's despair. He manifested himself as a very oldman. His hair was very white. He was wearing Rudrakshams on his head, neck, bossom, ears and hands. Sporting the form of an ardent devotee of Lord Sivan, He visited Gouri's house. Gouri's happiness was so great, that she welcomed him with enthusiasm. But at the very next moment her joy vanished, because the house had been locked, disabling her from providing food to the tired and aged visitor. Seeing her predicament, the oldman said, “Gouri, you just touch the lock and it will open “. She did so and the lock gave way. She went to the kitchen and started preparing a full course of meal for the Sivanadiyar. After cooking the food items, she invited the Sivanadiyar, washed his feet, showered flower petals, made him seated and then served the food. The old Sivanadiyar ate with full satisfaction. At that time, a miracle happened.
When the Vaishnavite Brahmin took Gouri to his home, his parents were pleasantly surprised. However, being staunch Vaishnavites, they could not tolerate a Saiva girl becoming their
The oldman turned into a handsome youth. The Rudrakshams turned into golden oranaments and the Vibhuthi turned into sandal paste. Gouri, an embodiment of chastity, was frightened to be infront of an youthful stranger. Her whole body shivered. At that very moment, her mother-in-law and othes returned. Instantly another miracle happened. Lord Somasundarar who was in the form of a handsome youth, turned into an infant. The baby boy was crying and Gouri's mother-in-law was surprised to see a child in the house. She inquired Gouri about it. Gouri replied to save the situation, “Some one by name Devadathan came with his wife and this child. They asked me
to take care of the child (babysit) for sometime “. Her mother-in-law and father-in-law had not taken kind to Gouri's action. They asked her to leave the house along with that child. Driven to the street, Gouri's prayed to Lord Somasundarar. She wept for the child. At that time, the child disappeared and Lord Somasundarar appeared on the sky with Umadeviyar. Gouri was overwhelmed by boundless joy and worshipped her Lord. Gouri who had been chanting the mantra of Parvathi Devi since her childhood was transformed into Umadeviyar's form and Lord Somausundarar took her along and disappeared.
Episode 24: Lord Natarajar changes his dancing posture. After the demise of Vikrama Pandian, Rajesekharan ascended the throne. He learnt and mastered sixty three out of the sixty four arts. He did not attempt to learn 'Bharathanatyam' because he thought only Lord Natarajar was the supreme dancer and it would amount to be disrespect to practice that art form. It was his bhakthi towards Lord Siva made him to think like that. During his rule, the Chola Kingdom was being ruled by Karikaal Cholan. Not only he was a great King but also a lover of all fine arts.he himself had learnt and mastered all the sixty four arts which included Bharathanatyam also. One day a poet from Karikaalan's court visited Rajasekhara Pandian. After paying tributes he said that his King was a master of all sixty four arts where as the Pandian knew one less. His words appeared to be an insult to Pandian. But he quickly realised that it was probably God's will that he must learn Bharathanatyam as well.
physically exhausted. He wondered, “Would it not be tiresome to Lord Natarajar who is dancing since ages that too with his left leg always lifted”. It was his abundant love and boundless bhakthi for the Lord made him to think like that. Normal reasoning power had taken a back seat in his mind. He spent sleepless nights worrying how badly it would hurt the Lord to dance perennially in one posture. One day, he took a firm decision and went to temple. That day happened to be the Sivarathri. He arranged for elaborate poojai for Lord Somasundarar throughout the night. Then he came to the Velliambalam where Lord Natarajar was performing the eternal dance. With a heart melting out of Bhakthi and his eyes welled with tears he submitted, “Oh my beloved Lord, you are dancing since ages with one leg on ground and one leg lifted in air. Will it not hurt you? So, please change your posture by setting left leg on ground and right leg on air. It may bring solace to my heart. If your Merciful do not oblige me, I will kill myself right here in front of you”. With these words, he unsheathed his sword and was about to kill himself with it. At that very instant, merciful Lord Natarajar changed his posture. He set his left leg on ground and lifted his right leg. Pandian found himself in a sea of ecstasy. He was simply overwhelmed by the mercy of Lord. He further requested the Lord to exhibit his changed posture forever at Velliambalam for the benefit of the people. Lord Natarajar granted his wish and remained so. We worship him in that posture at Madurai even today.
Rajasekhara Pandian started to learn Natyasastram through eminent Gurus. Sooner he found that natyam- practice made him 40
Episode 25 : The story of how Lord helped averting injustice After some period, Rajasekhara Pandian crowned his son Kulothungan and left for the heavenly abode of Lord Sivan. Kulothungan had several wives and a large number of children. Among them the eldest was Ananthagunan. He was wise, brave and mastered several arts. He grew well into becoming a prince worthy of a great Kingdom. During the rule of Kulothunga Pandian there lived a Brahmin at Thirupputhur. One day he started off to Madurai with his wife and a very young baby. The poor Brahmin family was travelling on foot and while passing through the jungle near Madurai, the Brahmin's wife was suffering from thirst for water. The Brahmin made her and the child to rest under a very huge banyan tree and went in search of drinking water. Being very tired, his wife slept away lying under the tree. The baby was by her side. The gentle wind which was blowing suddenly grew stronger. Due to the strong winds, an arrow which was stuck up on the branches of the banyan tree in the past, fell right on the stomach of the woman and pierced her. She died instantly. The Brahmin returned with water. To his horror he found his beloved wife dead in a pool of blood. He cried his heart out and started looking for the murderer. At that time an old hunter was sitting on the other side of the banyan tree with bow and arrow on his hands. The Brahmin firmly believed that the hunter must be the murderer. He caught the hunter by hand and yelled, “You are the killer of my innocent wife. By the name of our King, come with me to the King's court”. The pleas of the hunter that he was in no way responsible for the death of the lady fell on deaf ears. The Brahmin lifted his wife's body onto his shoulder and carried the body on his hip. He compelled the hunter to follow and reached the palace of Pandian.
believe his ears as he never dreamt that such a dreadful thing could happen under his rule. He came to the Palace gates and enquired the Brahmin as to what had happened. The Brahmin maintained his earlier allegation that the hunter had killed his wife. The hunter pleaded innocence and said he was under the banyan tree only to take rest. He further said neither he did the offence nor did he see the killer. The Ministers felt that unless punished, the hunter might not tell the truth. The King agreed and the guards took away the hunter. Despite severe torture meted out to him, the hunter continued to plead innocence. The King also started to feel slightly uncomfortable as to whether it was correct to punish, if the hunter was really innocent. The King ordered to imprison the hunter and asked the Brahmin to return after performing the last rites to his dead wife. He gave enough money to do it. The King was restless, being not able to find the truth. He went to the temple and worshiped Lord Natarajar at Velliambalam, “Oh Lord! Who could have killed the Brahmin's wife- the hunter or someone else? I could not get at the truth by any means. I trust your Merciful and I request you to please guide me”. At that time, a divine voice called out,“Pandian, there going to be a wedding ceremony in this city tonight. You be there to witness it along with the brahmin who lost his wife. You will come to know the truth “. The King accordingly went in disguise to that wedding, taking the brahmin with him. The marriage rituals were in progress. The bridegroom was seated on the dais. Suddenly the King and the brahmin heard a conversation between two persons. By the grace of Lord Somasundarar, the King and the brahmin alone could hear the conversation and not anyone else.
The Palace guards reported the King about the arrival of a Brahmin in despair with a dead body and his allegation that the accompanying hunter was the killer of his wife. The Pandian could not
The conversation was among two of the men sent by Yaman there. One said, “We have been ordered to bring the life of this bridegroom now. How to take his life out? He looks healthy”. The other replied, “My friend, today did we not take the life out of the Brahmin lady by forcing the stuck up arrow to fall on her? We just
created a heavy wind which made the stuck up arrow to fall on the lady from the tree. Like wise, we will use the cow tied to a post just outside this house. A short while from now, there will be a lot of noise of drums, trumpets, bells and other things. We will make the cow frightened by the noise. It will break free from the tethers and run amuck. It will kill the bridegroom with its horns.” The king and the brahmin were frozen on hearing that conversation. The king asked the brahmin,” Did you hear?” The brahmin said, “If this bridegroom dies that way, I will believe my wife's death too”. At that time the climax of the marriage was approaching. Several musical instruments were played aloud. That noise made the cow to panic. It struggled and broke the rope it was tied with. It galloped towards the dais and pierced he chest of the bridegroom with its horns. The groom died on the spot. A pandemonium prevailed. People ran here and there. The relatives of the groom cried and wailed. The king and the brahmin left the place quietly. The brahmin was remorseful for blaming the hunter for the death of his wife. The king consoled him, gave him gold coins and advised him to marry again. He the hunter free duly regretting the punishments meted out to him. He gave him gifts and sent him away. Afterwards Pandian went to the temple and prayed,”Oh Merciful Lord! You have saved me from the sin of punishing an innocent man by enlightening me. I will remain thankful to you forever.”
Episode 26: The story of how the great sins were neutralised Kulothunga Pandian was ruling with great efficiency. During his rule, there lived a brahmin in the city of Avanthi. His wife was very beautiful, but she was not of good character. She gave birth to a son. He grew up to an youth. He too did not have good character. He was an embodiment of all evils. Above all he had an uncontrollable lust for women. His lust was so bad that he wanted his mother to share his bed. That lady, as a true mother should have advised her son properly and prevented him from doing such a sin. Instead she yielded to her son's desire and thus committed a grave sin. Her son too became a horrible sinner. His father came to know their treacherous behaviour. Though shocked, he did not do anything out of hatred towards them. This emboldened his son further and one day he decided to kill his father. His mother, with a little wisdom still left in her, advised her son not to multiply his sins by killing his father. But alas! Lust blinded him and he murdered his father. Afterwards, he left the city of Avanthi, taking his mother along. But while passing through a dreadful forest, they were surrounded by robbers. The robbers looted his belongings and took away his mother also. He wandered here and there but wherever he went, the sin of killing his father haunted him. It did not allow him to be peaceful. It did not allow him to seek redressal for his sins. It did not allow him to go to holy places and hear teachings of holymen. He suffered from countless miseries. Then at last the day of salvation for him approached due to the abundant mercy of Lord Somasundarar. Without his knowledge, the worst sinner reached the city of Madurai. At that time, Lord Somasundarar manifested himself as a hunter and Mother Goddess Meenakshi manifested herself as the hunter's wife. Both of them sat beside the temple and playing a game of dice. The sinner from Avanthi came there. The Lord said to Goddess, “Look! The man who committed unthinkable sins is coming. Without controlling his lust, he had been reduced to this state. It is lust which
leads a person to commit all other sins and push that person finally into hell”. Then the Lord asked the sinner as to why he was in so much despair. The very moment Lord's sight fell on him, a portion of his sins disappeared. The wretched brahmin narrated his story of indecent behaviour, the sexual relationship he had with his own mother and of killing of his father. Crying unconsolably he told about the endless suffering he was undergoing due to his sins. The most benevolent Lord Somasundarar advised thus: “Your sins will be wiped out only at this place and nowhere else. Taking pity on you, I will tell you the means of getting rid of your deadly sins. You must go begging for food and eat only once a day. You must do service to Sivanadiyars. You must get up before sun rise and feed the cows with fresh grass. You must go around the temple by rolling on the ground (Angapradakshinam) at least 108 times, daily. You must bath three times a day in the Abhisheka Theertham (the water collected at the tub outside the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Sivan in the temple). If you do all these regularly, then you will get salvation.” On hearing these words of Lord, Goddess who was in the guise of the wife of the hunter asked, “This brahmin's sins should land him in the severest of the hells. But your merciful has shown him the ways for salvation. May I know why?” The Lord replied, “Though he had committed worst sins, now he has no hope and scope of getting himself extricated from the effects of his wrong doings. He is sure to be destroyed. If I let him down, who else can save him?” How loving and merciful the Lord is! The Goddess endorsed the Lord's soothing words and they disappeared. The hopeless sinner followed the Lord's advice with great care and within three months he got rid of his sins. He submitted to Lord Somasundarar several hymns composed in Sanskrit and reached the Lotus feet of Lord subsequently. The Abhisheka Theertham of the Sivan's temple could bring about salvation to a person of grave sins and led him to heavens. If so, 46
will it not relieve people from diseases? It certainly does. This incident of relieving the brahmin of his sins reached the King Kulothungan's ears also. He was overwhelmed by the mercy of the Lord and worshipped him with tearful eyes.
Episode 27: The Story of dismembering of limbs While Kulothunga Pandian was ruling, an old man belonging to another country came to Madurai with his wife. He was good at handling swords at fights. So he set up a school to teach the art of using swords to the youth of Madurai. His school became popular day by day. He was also an ardent devotee of Lord Somasundarar of Madurai. In due course, several of his students became excellent swordsmen. Among them was a youth called Chithan. Becoming an aceswordsman made him to feel proud of himself. Vanity blinded him and he too started a school and became a competitior to his guru. This apart, he frequented the house of his guru and started misbehaving with the wife of his guru whenever she was alone. She hated him and ignored his advances. But one day Chithan crossed all limits and dragged her by hand. She was frightened and somehow pushed him out and shut the door. Out of her modesty she did not disclose it to her husband. But she pleaded to Lord Somasundarar to protect her. Lord Somasundarar decided to punish Chithan for his blunder. He took the form of the old teacher of swordfight. He went to Chithan and said, “Chitha! You are young and I am old. Still let us decide who among us is better. I challenge you for a duel tomorrow morning outside this city.” Chithan accepted the challenge without knowing that the man infront of him was none other than Lord Himself. Rather he was elated with the thought that he could easily defeat his guru and thereby could become more popular and wealthier. Next day Lord Somasundarar was present at the appointed 47
place, in the guise of the guru of Chithan. Chithan also arrived. A fierce duel started. Chithan exhibited all of his skills and Lord Somasundarar matched him in every aspect. Soon a crowd gathered. The people were astonished at the sight of the fight between the guru and his deciple. The sword fight went on for a long time. Finally Lord called out, “Oh Chitha, save your body parts if you can. Save the eyes which looked at the guru's wife with lust. Save your tongue which spoke indecent words to her. Save your hands that touched her”. Speaking these words Lord Somasundarar, cut off the limbs of Chithan and then chopped off his head.The crowd was aghast. There were a few disciples of the teacher. They reached the house of the guru but could not see him. The guru's wife said that he had gone to the temple. Soon the guru returned. His disciples appreciated his valour in the fight with Chithan and complimented him for his victory over Chithan. The guru was speechless. He said that he did not engage Chithan in any fight and did not kill him either. At that moment his wife disclosed to him the indecent words spoken to her by Chithan and also about his misbehaviour. The disciples confirmed by repeating the words of Chithan's opponent while chopping of his limbs. The guru and his wife were by now sure that Chithan's opponent was Lord Somasundarar Himself. They were so much thankful and they went to temple with the disciples and others to offer their profound gratitude to Lord. As the news about the incident reached the King, he was moved by the grace of Lord Somasundarar. He arranged for a grand procession and in that, he made the guru and his wife sit atop a bedecked elephant. The procession took them through the streets of Madurai. King Kulothunga Pandian later crowned his son Ananthaguna Pandian. He adhered to the righteous path of Saivam and reached the holy abode of Lord Sivan.
Episode 28: The story of killing of a ferocious serpent. Ananthaguna Pandian also had great reverence to Lord Somasundarar. Following the foot steps of their King, the people of Pandian Kingdom were also ardent devotees of Lord Sivan. Saivism flourised in their Kingdom. This was not palatable to the Jains whose earlier sinister attempts were met with utter failure. Hence they hatched another plot and accordingly they started a homam with evil intentions. From the homagundam rose a fierce looking demon. He demanded to know what he was expected to do. The Jains ordered him to destroy Pandian along with the city of Madurai. The demon immediately took the form of a ferocious serpent. It had a huge body, blood shot eyes, cave-like mouth and poisonous fangs. Spitting fire, it burnt the crops and vegetation while on its way to Madurai. The people of Madurai were freightened and they ran to the King to report. King Ananthaguna Pandian decided to boldly confront the deadly snake. However, he worshipped Lord Somasundarar and requested Him to grant him the necessary strength to kill the snake. Then he armed himself with bow and arrows. He confronted the huge serpent approaching the city. He shot several arrows on the serpent. But the demon in the shape of the serpent took a bite on those arrows and spat them. Pandian then selected an arrow with the head like a crescent. Praying Lord Sivan, he targeted the serpent and cut its body into pieces. The demon roared, fell on the ground and died. Before dying he spat a flood of deadly poison. That poison spread all over the city of Madurai. People were suffocated by the cloud of venom. It affected their senses and rendered them weak. Pandian was worried and he rushed to the temple and prayed to Lord, “Oh Lord, you have saved this city and the people several times before. Please show your mercy this time too, to protect us from the poisonous cloud engulfing this city”. Lord Somasundarar conceded his request. He spilt a few drops of the Nectar (Amudham) from the moon's crescent he wore on his head. Those drops neutralised the poison and retrieved the city and its people. They also purified the city. The king and his subjects were very happy and worshipped Lord Somasundarar.
Episode 29 : The death of the deceitful cow
Episode 30 : Identifying men by pointing at them
Tasting defeat again, the Jains became restless. They put their heads together and came up with the idea of sending a big cow so that Pandian might not attack and kill a cow. They got into bussiness and performed an evil yaaham. From the homaagni emerged a wicked demon in the form of a raging cow. The Jains ordered that cow to attack the city of Madurai. The ferocious-looking cow did a lot of harm to people as it charged towards Madurai. People ran helter-skelter. The information reached the King. He immediately went to temple along with his men and prayed to Lord Somasundarar. He paid tributes to Lord and Lord's mercy greeted him. Lord Somasundarar ordered Nandikeswarar, “Nandhi, you go and vanquish the cow let loose by the Jains”.
Kulabhooshana Pandian was ruling the kingdom to everyone's happiness. His army commander was a brave man called Soundara Saamanthan, who was by nature a devotee of Lord Sivan. He treated Sivanadiars as Lord Sivan Himself and served them. Those days, there lived a hunter by name Sethiraayan who was the Chieftain of the hunter's community. He was a terror and the victories he earned made him turn arrogant. He even planned to wage a war against Pandian. But Pandian's espionage network sensed this and the word reached the King. The King called Soundara Saamanthan and ordered him to recruit as many new soldiers as possible and gave him the freedom of drawing the required money from the Royal treasury.
As soon as he got the orders from Lord, Nandhi, the bull started off to engage the deceitful cow. It was in hot pursuit of the cow and chased it wherever it went. With its horns the bull lifted the cow up and threw it on the ground. It tortured the cow in several ways and then finally decided not to harm the cow anymore. Instead, it showed its masculine beauty to the cow. The cow at once fell for it and out of sexual desire it lost all its strength and virility. Thus it ended up losing its life and its lifeless body became a hill. The people of Madurai and the King were extremely happy. The vanquished Jains ran away out of shame. The bull too left its body in the form of another hill and reached the Lord's abode. King Ananthaguna Pandian was blessed with a son by name Kulabhooshanan. At the appropriate time, the King handed over the Kindgom to his son and reached heaven.
Due to some strange phenomenon, Soundara Saamanthan's mind was totally absorbed in the service of Lord Sivan and sivanadiars rather than in his duty to the King. So, he started spending the gold and other treasures taken from the King's Treasury in activities dearer to his heart ie., service to Lord Sivan. These activities were promptly reported to the King by the spies. Not to arouse suspicion in the King's mind, Saamanthan put up an act of being busy recruiting men for army. He sent out fake messages to various other kingdoms, encouraging soldiers to come and join Pandian's army. But he knew that those messages would never reach their destinations. As a result no one turned up to join the army. Suddenly one day Pandian called Saamanthan and said, “I want to see the new recruits by tomorrow evening. Call them all to be present”. Soundara Saamanthan felt that he was cornered. Without knowing what to do, he went to temple and fell on the feet of Lord Somasundarar. He pleaded, “Oh Lord, you got me spend the King's treasures in the services of your Merciful and your devotees. Now the King wants to see the recruited soldiers. What am I to do?” At that time arose a voice from heavens,”Saamantha, do not worry. Tomorrow I will appear along with soldiers. You go to the King's court and await 51
my arrival”. Saamanthan was totally relieved. Thanking Lord, he went to bed awaiting the dawn. At the daybreak he went to the temple, took bath in the golden- lotus pond and worshipped Lord Somasundarar. Then he reached the King's court and announced the arrival of the soldiers. There approached Lord Sivan in the guise of a horse-riding knight with a lot of soldiers following him. The soliders were actually Lord Sivan's army at Kailash (Boothaganam). By the will of the Lord, they turned into soldiers. The soldiers were in glittering armour, carrying all sorts of weapons. King Kulabhooshanan came to the front entrance of his palace and from an elevated place he surveyed the huge unit of soldiers approaching. He was very glad and asked Soundara Saamanthan to explain the origin of the new soldiers. Saamanthan grouped the soldiers and explained their nativity, by pointing his finger at every one. He further humbly submitted that it was all possible because of spending a huge fortune from the King's treasury. The King pointed to the lone horse borne knight and asked who he was. He asked to present the knight close to him. Then he gifted the knight gorgeous clothings and ornaments. The knight who was none other than Lord Somasundarar Himself, exhibited his horse- ride in five different speeds such as walk, trot, gallop etc. Then he joined his soldiers. At that time, one of the King's spies came fast and informed the King that Sethiraayan, the Chieftain of the hunters, was killed by a tiger during hunting. Pandian was very happy and advised Saamanthan to direct the new soldiers to go back to their native Kingdoms. Saamanthan pretended to bid farewell to the soldiers. All of a sudden, the horse borne knight and his soldiers disappeared.
Lord Somasundarar could become so merciful towards you, Saamantha, then you are the God to me”. Then the King rewarded Soundara Saamanthan further and ruled the Kingdom without any worries.
Episode 31: Undepleting pouch of gold given by Lord Kulabhooshanan, the Pandian king was a noble person. He was faithfully observing virathams including Somavara viratham. Being proud of himself, he slowly started showing disrespect towards the brahmins who chant Vedaas and perform various yaahams. As a result, there was decline in rain- fall in Pandian kingdom which affected the farming activies. People were in the grip of poverty. The brahmins were no exception. They could not perform the yaaham and rituals. Worried about their livelyhood, they started to migrate to other kingdoms. Pandian was unhappy over these developments. On a Monday, he went to the temple, took bath in the golden-lotus pond, worshipped Siddhi Vinayagar and then prayed to Lord Somasundarar,”Oh my Lord! You are all-pervading; you remain in every form of life. Now all these life forms are suffering from hunger. I have spent all my treasures in your service. It is upto Your Graceful to alleviate our sufferings.”
Pandian was thrilled and quickly understood that it was an act of Lord Somasundarar Himself. Then, learning from Saamanthan whatever happened, he was very much impressed. He expressed, “If
Lord Somasundarar was not ready to over look Pandian's mistake of ignoring the priests who practise Vedaas and perform Vedic rituals. So he did not respond to the king's pleas. With his heart sinking, Pandian returned to his palace. He rejected food and slept on the bare floor. In his dreams Lord appeared as a Siddhar and addressed him,” Pandia! Though you are devoted to me, you did a mistake. You ignored the people who perform yaahams and Vedic rituals. That was the reason for the failure of rains in your kingdom. Vedaas are closer to my
heart. Vedaas enlighten the humans, remove their ignorance and beget salvation. The brahmins who chant vedaas are therefore need to be respected and protected. If you do that, your kingdom will receive copious rains and become prosperous again. Now I will give you a pouch of gold which never gets depleted. With that you drive away the poverty and sufferings of your people.” With those words, Siddhar gave the pouch to Pandian and disappeared. Pandian woke up and to his great surprise found the pouch on his hands. He was thrilled and overwhelmed by the grace of Lord. He showed the pouch of gold to his ministers and others. He kept that pouch on his throne and performed extensive pooja to it. Then he opened it and gave the gold to brahmins, asking them to, resume their vedic activities. He himself got several yaahams performed. He distributed the gold to his subjects. To his astonishment, he found that every time he took gold out of the pouch, it got replenished automatically. He spent the gold in renovating the temple also. Because of his noble deeds, rains favoured his kingdom and prosperity returned multifold. Brahmins, scholars, artists, artizans and general public lived happily ever after.
Episode 32: Story of Lord Somasundarar selling bangles Once upon a time, in the jungles of Dhaarugaavanam, there lived many rishis. They performed several yaahams and rituals. They were ably assisted by their wives in their daily routine. But undesirable pride and vanity ruled their minds. Lord Sivan intended to correct their mind set by uprooting their pride. He took the form of a handsome youth. He was wearing only a piece of cloth on his groin, a thick coat of vibhuthi all over his body and a pair of foot wear on his feet. He, in this form, visited the homes of the rishis. At that time the rishis were away from their homes. Their wives came out and at once were captivated by the enchanting looks of the visitor. Overcome by lust, they rallied around him. The youth was holding a bowl and was seeking food. But the rishipathnis dropped their bangles into it. In fact, out of their emotional meltdown due to Cupid's arrows, their bangles became loose and fell into the begging bowl. Without their knowledge they were at the brink of damage to their chastity. The rishis returned at that time. Though confused to see their wives in that condition, they quickly realised what had happened through “Gnanadhrishti”( power of knowing past,present and future). They were ashamed of the behaviour of their wives. They cursed their wives to take birth in the community of merchants in the city of Madurai. Saddened by the development, their wives demanded to know about the salvation from the curse. The rishis replied,” You will get salvation when touched by Lord Somasundarar”. As per the curse, those women took birth in the community of merchants in the city of Madurai. They grew into beautiful maidens. At that time Kulabhooshana pandian was ruling the Pandian kingdom. The time was ripe for the salvation of the rishipathnis from their curse. So, Lord Somasundarar manifested as a young Bangle-seller. Carrying bundles of bangles of various colours and sizes,he walked down the streets where those maidens lived,as if to return their bangles he acquired from them at Dhaarugaavanam. In a sonorous voice, he called the maidens to come, see and buy the beautiful bangles in his
possession. The maidens almost mobbed him competing with one another in their eagerness to be touched by the young bangle-seller. They stretched their hands in front of him and he deftly slipped the bangles of their choice, on their hands. His touch mesmerised them and melted their hearts. Many of them broke the bangles worn already and came seeking fresh ones only to get his touch again and again . They said that they never had the experience of that sort and invited the bangle-seller to come the next day too. He agreed and disappeared but only to reappear as Lord Somasundarar for every one to see. People realised that it was He who came as bangle-seller. They danced with joy. The girls who were touched by Lord became pregnant and delivered attractive baby-boys in due course. Those boys grew into brave youth. After some time, their mothers who were rishipathnis in their previous birth, reached the lotus feet of Lord Sivan.
said,” You are destined to lie there as rocks for one thousand years. Afterwards I will come there to give you salvation. You will also be taught Ashtamasiddhis at that time.” As aresult, the six women were lying as granite rocks at Pattamangai for long. In due course,they were covered by leaves and foliage. When the time for their salvation approached, Lord Somasundarar of Madurai appeared in front of them. The moment His merciful glance fell on them, the rocks turned into their original form of women. They had shed their ego and arrogance. They fell on the feet of Lord. He blessed them and enlightened them on the Ashtamasiddhis thus:
But alas! The Karthigai women, driven by their ill-fate, neglected Goddess. This blunder enraged Lord Sivan. He cursed them to become rocks and lie under a banyan tree at a place called Pattamangai. Shell-shocked, the women regretted their blunder and requested Lord for salvation from the curse. Taking pity on them, Lord
“ Ashtamasiddhis are Animaa, Mahimaa,Lahimaa,Karimaa,Praathi, Prakaamium,Eesathvam and Vasithuvam. These are gained and practised by enlightened souls (Gnanis) and Yogis. Animaa is the act of becoming the minutest part of even the minutest living organisms. Mahima is the act of encompassing all the 36 Thathvas from the thathva of earth to Sivathathva. Lahimaa is the surprising weightless –ness of the yogi, if he wants to become. Karimaa is the power of making himself heavier than a hillock if the yogi wishes. Praathi is the capacity to hover between various lokams such as Brahma lokam, Paathala lokam etc., Prakaamium is moving the soul from one body to another and to get whatever one wants at the very place where he stays. Eesathvam is the capacity to create,protect and destroy. It also elevates the yogi in such a way that he could command all the nine planets. Vasithuvam is the power to mesmerise and captivate all forms of life like humans, animals, birds etc and also Asuras, and boothams. Yogi can entice even the captains of all the eight directions like Indiran, Varunan, Vaayu, Agni, Kuberan and Yaman. Though gnanis are capable of all these siddhis,their minds rarely
Episode 33: Lord teaches 'Ashtamasiddhis” Once upon a time Lord Sivaperuman was seated under a tree at mount Kailash. Goddess Umadevi was by his side offering 'thaamboolam'. Lord was enlightening the sages viz., Thirunandhidevar, Bhirungi, Mahakaalar, Sanagar, Sanaathanar, Sananthanar and Sanarkumarar on various subjects. At that time, the six Karthigai women who nursed Lord Murugan during his infancy, came to worship Lord Sivan. They requested that they be taught the Ashtamasiddhis, the eight mystic powers. Lord pointed to Goddess Umadevi and advised the karthigai women to worship Her to realise those powers as Ashtamasiddhis were sub-servient to Her.
indulge in using them because their primary objective is to be in union with me.” After imparting the above knowledge to the six women, Lord disappeared. The women then meditated on Goddess umadevi and attained the Ashtamasiddhis.
Episode 34: The story of Lord affixing His Rishabam seal on the fortress Once upon a time, a Chola king was ruling his kingdom with Kanchipuram as his capital. He was called Kadu Vettia Cholan. He got this name because, he cleared thick forests and established the city of Kanchipuram there. He was a faithful devotee of Lord Sivan. He preferred to wear vibhuthi and rudhraksham rather than royal ornaments. He was a learned person, having proficiency in vedaas and puranams. He heard about the various 'Thiruvilaiyadals' performed by Lord Somasundarar at Madurai and developed a great desire to visit Madurai to worship Him. But he was deterred by the old enmity between Cholas and Pandias. One day in his dreams Lord appeared as a Siddhar and said,”Chola! Give up your worry. You disguise yourself and come to Madurai alone. You can worship me and return.” Cholan got up from sleep and decided to leave for Madurai at once. As instructed by Lord, he started off alone and reached the banks of river Vaigai. To his dismay, the river was in spate. He was engulfed by sorrow because his 58
attempt was being thwarted by the swollen river. He could not waste any time, lest he was identified by the Pandian soldiers at the day break. At that instant, Siddhar appeared in front of him. He shot a glance at the river and the river water receded immediately. He led the king to the fort of Madurai. With His divine will he got the northern gate of the fortress opened by itself. He took Cholan to the temple. He made him to take the holy dip in the golden-lotus pond and then led him to the Sanctum sanctorum of Lord Somasundarar and Goddess Angayarkanni. Cholan's bliss was boundless on finding his dream coming true. He was overwhelmed by the mercy of Lord. Siddhar advised Cholan to hurry up so that his presence was not detected by the pandian forces at the dawn. He led him back,crossed the river, blessed him and bade him farewell. He then returned to the fort, closed the northern gate, affixed His Rishabam seal(emblem) on it and entered the temple. In the morning when the guards came to open the northern gate, they were taken aback by the Rishabam seal on the locks instead of the 'Fish' emblem of the Pandian Kingdom. They quickly went to the other three gates and found the 'Fish' emblem in tact. Perplexed by that, they rushed to the Pandian king and informed what they found. Kulabhushana Pandian personally visted the northern gate and found the Rishabam seal. He was at loss to know who might have done it. His mind was restless and that night, he rejected food and slept on the bare floor. In his dreams Lord Sivaperuman appeared and said,”Pandia! Kadu Vettia Cholan is my ardent devotee. Because of his 'bhakthi', he wished to worship me here at Madurai temple. I facilitated him to worship me here by entering through north gate. After worship, I led him back, locked the gates and affixed my Rishaba seal”. Kulabhushanan woke up from sleep and was moved by the benevolence shown by Lord towards His devotees. He conveyed that 59
incident to all and they all were equally moved by His grace.
forces to be ready for the battle the next day.
Subsequently, Kulabhushana Pandian arranged for the coronation of his son Rajendran and then left for the heavenly abode.
Next day Pandian's comparatively smaller army engaged Cholan's army .It was a fierce battle. As it went on, the day was getting hotter and hotter. The soldiers, horses and elephants were unable to bear the scorching sun. All of them suffered from severe thirst for water but there was not enough water to quench their thirst. Without water both the armies became very tired and weak. At that time Lord Somasundarar created a water-dispensing kiosk amidst the Pandian's forces. Lord Himself sat in it in the form of a sage and dispensed cool and sweet water to the forces of Pandian. Once their thirst quenched, the men, horses and elephants regained their strength and attacked Chola forces with renewed vigour and valour. The Chola army could not withstand that onslaught and was defeated. Kadu Vettia Cholan and Rajasingan were taken as prisoners. They were produced in the presence of the Pandian. Pandian took them to the temple and prayed to Lord to indicate the punishment they deserved. Lord responded through a divine voice from heavens,”Rajendra! You know all ethics and the contents of the sciptures. Do as you wish.” Rajendran worshipped Lord and decided to let go Cholan with a small contingent of his men and horses. He confiscated the wealth of his unruly brother and made him to live aside. He continued to rule the kingdom caring for his subjects and was hailed as a very good king.
Episode 35: Lord Somasundarar providing a water kiosk in the battle field While Rajendra Pandian was ruling, Kadu Vettia Cholan wanted to visit Madurai unhindered to worship Lord Somasundarar. He desired to have friendly relationship with Pandian to achieve it. So, he sent fabulous gifts to Pandian and Pandian reciprocated it by sending several other gifts to Cholan. To firm up his relationship further, Cholan offered to give his daughter in marriage to Rajendran. Rajendran had a younger brother by name Rajasingan. He was shrewd and cunning in nature. He crafted a sinister design to marry the daughter of Cholan and through that planned to dethrone his brother Rajendra Pandian. He made a secret visit to meet Cholan and explained his plan. Unfortunately Cholan yielded to Rajasingan's scheme and got his daughter married to him. Subsequently Cholan decided to secure the Pandian kingdom to his son-in-law. He along with Rajasingan declared a war with Pandian king. His huge army reached the outskirts of Madurai. Rajendran went to the temple and prayed,”Oh Lord, Your Merciful helped Kadu Vettia Cholan to worship you here. Then he sought to have my friendship and I readily agreed. Now he became ungrateful and had come with a huge army to attack this city. Will Your Meciful help him this time too?” At that time a divine voice addressed him,” Rajendra! Go to battle field tomorrow and engage your enemy. The victory will be yours.” Pandian was very happy. He ordered his 60
Episode 36: Lord becomes an alchemist Near Madurai, there is a small town called 'Thirupoovanam', on the banks of the river Vaigai. There is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Siva in that village. In olden days, girls from a particular community dedicated their life to the temple-service. They used to sing and dance in praise of the God and Goddess of the temple. At Thirupoovanam also, such girls were there and one among them was by name Ponnanaiyaal. Not only was she extremly beautiful but also was a great exponent in music and dance. Over and above, she was very kind-hearted and she loved to feed and serve sivanadiyars, out of her devotion to Lord Sivan. She was spending all her income in providing sumptuous food to sivanadiyars everyday. She nurtured a desire of getting the image of Lord Sivan cast in pure gold, for the temple. But, that desire to materialise, she required a lot of gold which she did not have. All her earnings went to the service of providing food to sivanadiyars.
and then asked Ponnanaiyaal to put those vessels on fire that night to melt them. He said that all of them would turn into gold. He blessed Ponnanaiyaal and disappeared, stating that He was a Siddhar from Madurai. She realised that the Siddhar was none other than Lord Somasundarar of Madurai. That night she got those vessles of different metals melted and to her great joy, all of them turned into gold. She used the gold and got the statuette of Lord Siva cast. The statuette turned out to be extremly beautiful. On seeing that, she broke into ecstasy and nibbled on the cheek of the statuette and exclaimed, "How beautiful you are, my Lord! ". The mark of her fingernail on the cheek of the Lord's statuette remained for everyone to see as a proof of Ponnanaiyaals boundless love. She then got the image installed in the temple at Thirupoovanam and consecrated it. Even today, this incident remains depicted as a carving on one of the granite pillars of the temple mandapam.
Knowing her desire, Lord Sivan decided to make her devotion and dedication known to the world. Soon, He disguised Himself as a Siddhar and reached the house of Ponnanaiyaal. Without going inside the house where Sivanadiyars were eating, he sat beside the entrance. The maids of Ponnanaiyaal noticed him and reported it to their mistress. By then all other Sivanadiyars had left. Ponnanaiyaal came to the doorway, worshipped Siddhar and requested Him to grace the home and dine. But Siddhar smiled and enquired what bothered her mind which visibly showed on her face. Ponnanaiyaal replied that everything was fine except her heart's desire to cast the Lord's statuette in gold was not fulfilled. She said that she did not have the gold required for the project. Lord smiled again and asked her to bring whatever vessels she had at home, be they made of brass, bronze, copper, silver or lead. She did as she was told. Lord Sivan, in the guise of Siddhar sprinkled vibhuthi on those vessels 62
Episode 37: The story of how Chola king was pushed into a deep abyss of water After Rajendra Pandian, four more kings succeeded him.The fifth one was Sundaresapaatha sekharan. He was a very faithful devotee of Lord Somasundarar. He shrunk his army to a minimum required size and thus curtailed the expenditure. Whatever could be saved by that exercise was earmarked by him for the developmental work at the temple. The then- Chola King came to know about the shrunken army of Pandian and decided to invade Pandian Kingdom. Pandian's spies carried this information to Sundaresa Pathasekharan. Though taken aback, he rushed to the temple to seek help from Lord Sundareswarar. Lord reassured him through a divine voice. Pandian regained his confidence and set off with his small army to engage the Cholan's forces. In the battle field, the small army of Pandian appeared to be very big for Chola's forces by the miracle enacted by Lord Somasundarar. Not only that, but also He manifested Himself as a brave hunter, mounted on a horse and appeared at the leading file of the Pandian army. He confronted the Chola King, and waved his spear left and right. His looks, bravery and the manner in which He handled the deadly spear frightened Cholan, making him to flee from the battle field. At that instant, Lord disappeared. The Pandian King chased the fleeing Cholan. After sometime Cholan looked back and did not find the hunter on his trail. He regained his valour and turned around to chase the Pandian King. To escape from Cholan, Pandian King jumped into a deep abyss of water nearby. The Cholan, riding on his horse also plunged into the abyss. While the Pandian King managed to swim ashore, the Chola King died by drowning. This was the will of Lord. Sundaresa Paathasekhara Pandian emerged victorious and he grabed the remaining forces of Cholan. He then ruled peacefully, continuing his service to Lord Somasundarar.
Episode 38 : Lord Somasundarar grants an undepletable granary In the city of Madurai there lived a farmer by name Adiyaarkku nallan. His wife Dharmaseelai was a very noble lady. Adiyaarkku nallan carried out his farming activities and spent all of his earnings in providing food to sivanadiyars. His sivapunniam grew this way leading to further prosperity. But Lord Somasundarar's will was different. His wish was to show the world that Adiyaarkku nallan would continue to feed sivanadiyars even in abject poverty. So he caused the yield from the fields of Adiyaarkku nallan to dwindle. That made Adiyaarkku nallan to struggle to keep his service going. He raised loans from others and managed to feed sivanadiyars for some time. After a few days, people refused to give him loans knowing his impoverished state. Grieving over his inability to feed sivanadiyars, Adiyaarkku nallan went to the temple along with his wife and pleaded,"Oh Lord! My fields have become barren and I do not find anybody who is willing to give me loan. Unless you show me a way out to continue my service to sivanadiyaars, I do not have any option except ending my life." At that instant, there arose a divine voice. It said,” Do not worry. Today, a granary will appear in your home. You can draw any amount of rice from it and it will never get depleted.” Adiyaarkku nallan was thrilled and overwhelmed. He reached home, found the granary and with the help of it he continued to feed sivanadiyaars and other poor people. By the will of Lord, he then reached the lotus feet of Him.
Episode 39: The story in which Lord appeared as the uncle of a boy in litigation In the great city of Madurai, there lived a wealthy merchant by name Dhanapathi. Suseelai was his wife's name. They were not blessed with a child and were very sad about it. So Dhanapathi adopted his nephew (the son of his younger sister) as his son and brought him up with great affection. Sooner there were skirmishes between his house hold and his sister. Taking sides with his wife, Dhanapathi started quarrelling with his sister often. One day his sister said,” Oh my brother, you are cursed to be childless. It is because of my son you are going to get salvation.” Dhanapathi was hurt by these words. He felt ashamed and decided to renounce everything and do penance so that he would be blessed with a child at least in his next berth. So he made his adopted son as the heir for his huge wealth and left with his wife to far away places. Taking undue advantage of his absence, some of his unscrupulous relatives foisted false litigations and grabbed the wealth from the boy and his mother. As a result the boy and his mother were reduced to penury.
who did not expect him to come there at that time. In the court Sivaperuman in the guise of Dhanapathi comforted the woman and the child. Moved to tears by their state of poverty, He pleaded for justice. He turned towards the direction where the temple stood, and requested God to restore the properties to the child. The learned judges heard both sides and came to the conclusion that the relatives of Dhanapathi were guilty of misappropriation. But those relatives argued that the person present at the court was not Dhanapathi at all. Lord in the guise of Dhanapathi smiled and addressed every one of those relatives by their name, listed their lineage and mentioned the names of their close relatives too. On that the court was convinced that He was real Dhanapathi. The evil- minded relatives realized that their case was lost and they started leaving the court one by one on some pretext or other. The court ruled that the properties of Dhanapathi should be restored back to his adopted son. At that time Lord disappeared. Every one realized that it was Lord Himself who appeared as Dhanapathi and won the case in favour of the child. The king also came to know of this incident and showered a lot of gifts on the child. He also renovated the temple of Madurai.
Being in the grip of poverty, Dhanapathi's sister went to the temple with her son. She worshipped Lord Sundareswarar and wept her heart out, requesting His Merciful to rescue her from her plight. Exhausted both physically and mentally, she fell asleep. In her dream, Lord Somasundarar appeared as a Brahmin and advised her to drag those relatives to the court of justice the next day. He assured her that He too would be present there and win the litigation in her favour. The woman was surprised at the dream but did exactly as she was told. Those relatives initially heckled at her but relented when she invoked the King's name and order. In the court she explained how her son was duped and tricked by those relatives who plundered the wealth of Dhanapathi. At that instant, Lord Somasundarar came to the court in the guise of Dhanapathi. His sudden appearance stunned the tricksters 66
Episode 40: Varaguna pandian was shown Sivalokam at Madurai. King Sundaresa Patha Sekharan performed coronation for his son Varagunan and then reached the lotus feet of Lord Somasundarar. During his regime, Varaguna Pandian went for a hunting expedition in the forests. After hunting several animals, he was returning to the palace in the dusk. He was riding on his horse through the forest. At that time he failed to notice a human form lying on his way. His horse trampled over the person, resulting in his death. He was a Brahmin fainted and fallen on the ground some time back. Unaware of the incident, Pandian reached his palace. The relatives of the Brahmin brought his body to the front gate of the palace. The palace guards informed the king. Varagunan felt very sad on what had happened and he gave a lot of money to the relatives of the Brahmin to get the body cremated in a fitting manner. But the sin of killing the Brahmin(Brahmahathi) caught hold of the king. Varagunan was haunted by the brahmahathi and it did not leave him despite several ritual performed by him as per the scriptures. Some of the learned scholars suggested that the king might be relieved of the sin if he went around the Sanctum sanctorum of the temple 1008 times a day. The king readily accepted and as he was going around the Sanctum Sanctorum, a divine voice called out,” Oh king! I am pleased with your endeavour. Your one step around this Sanctum Sanctorum will yield the benefit of performing an Aswamedha yaaham. Listen now. There is a way to get rid of your brahmahathi. Chola king will try to invade your kingdom. At that time you fight him. He will be defeated. Chase him up to his border and you will reach a place called Thiruvidaimarudhur where I do pooja to myself in the temple. When you enter that temple your sin will leave you.”
temple of Lord Sivan there through its Eastern entrance. At that very instant, the brahmahathi left Varagunan as it could not enter the temple. It waited there to catch Varagunan when he came out. But Lord Marudhavanar , the presiding deity of the temple advised Varagunan to leave the temple after worship through the western entrance so that the brahmahathi might not catch him again. Varagunan did exactly as was told. The brahmahathi is still awaiting him even today at the eastern entrance of Thiruvidaimarudhur. Varagunan renovated the western tower of the temple and then reached Madurai worshipping Lord Sivan at various temples enroute. Overwhelmrd by the mercy of Lord, Varagunan's bhakthi grew day by day and he devoted more and more time hearing the greatness of Lord Sivan. He nurtured a desire to see the Sivalokam in all its grandeur. One day he went to the temple and during his worship he expressed his desire to have the 'dharshan' of Sivalokam. Lord Somasundarar decided to concede the king's request. He ordered Nandhi the chief of Siva's forces to guide through the Sivalokam which appeared instantly at Madurai itself by the will of Lord.
Varagunan was greatly relieved. After sometime, as predicted, the Chola king waged a war. In the battle field, Cholan was defeated and he fled. Pandian chased him and reached Thiruvidaimarudhur on the southern banks of river Kaveri. VaragunaPandian entered the great
Nandhi invited Varagunan and showed him the various locations of Sivalokam. There the divine music filled the air . The ambience was one of beauty laced with serenity. There were glittering golden structures criss-crossed by streets sprinkled with gems. All these were surrounded by a formidable fortress. There were separate places of living for various Devas. Nandhi showed the places of Brahma, Vishnu,Rudhra and that of the guardians of the eight directions. He also showed the places where yogis, sages and sivanadiars lived. Then Nandhi led Varaguna Pandian to the sacred court –yard of Lord Sivaperuman. There Lord was seated with Goddess Umadevi. Lord Ganesh, Lord Subrahmaniar and Veerabhadrar were standing beside. Lord Vishnu and Brahma were in attendance. Pandian was thrilled beyond what words could express. He drank that scene with eyes as much as he could. He was spellbound. He worshipped several times. All of a sudden the Sivalokam
disappeared and the temple of Madurai with Lord Somasundarar and Angayarkkanni ammai remained in front of him. This wonderful episode was narrated by Sage Agasthiar to other sages. They put forwarded a question: While the deadly sins of the Brahmin from Avanthi ( ref. Episode 26) were neutralized at Madurai, why Lord wanted Varagunan to go to Thiruvidaimarudhur to get rid of his brahmahathi ? Agasthiar replied that it was to deter the people of Thiruvidaimarudhur from committing grave sins like murder.
Episode 41: Lord Somasundarar comes as a firewood seller. During the regime of Varaguna Pandian, a famous musician from north visited Madurai. His name was Aemanathan and he show cased his musical prowess in the court yard of the king. Every one including the king was mesmerized by Aemanathan's music and the king gave away a lot of gifts to the musician. Consumed by the wonderful treatment he received from the king, Aemanathan's pride soared and he considered himself very great. He boasted that there could be no one in the Pandian Kingdom to match him. The king learnt about this and he sent word for Paanabhathran, a court musician. He asked whether he could compete with Aemanathan in musical talent as the prestige of the Pandian Kingdom was at stake. Paanabhathran agreed and a competition was fixed next day.
Lord Somasundarar decided to help his devotee Paanabhathran. He took the form an old wood cutter. Draped in rags, His elderly figure stumbled along the streets of Madurai that evening. He was carrying a bundle of fire wood on his head and a battered 'yaazh'( a stringed musical instrument of those days) on his shoulder. He reached the house where Aemanathan was staying. He kept aside the bundle of fire wood and sat outside the house. A little later, he took his yaazh, tuned it and started to sing a melodious song. On hearing that Aemanathan came out of the house. He enquired the wood cutter as to who was he singing so nicely. The old wood cutter said that he was the underdog of Panabhathrar, the great musician of Madurai. He further said that Panabhathrar had considered him unfit to learn music any longer because of the woodcutter's advanced age and that was why he happened to eke out a living as a wood cutter. Aemanathan was totally surprised. He requested the wood cutter to sing again that song he just heard. The wood cutter obliged. That song was set to the tune (Raagam) ' Naivalam'. As Lord Somasundarar in the guise of the wood cutter sang, it captivated not only the human beings but also other forms of life. Even the breeze stopped awhile; waves of the oceans stood still. No wonder the music of Lord moved the heart of Aemanathan. He was stunned. He could not believe his ears. He no longer considered himself great. He thought, if a person who was considered unfit could provide such a divine musical treat, what would be the caliber of Paanabhathrar. It became clear to him that he would be defeated in the competition with Paanabhathrar on the following day. He packed and left Madurai that night itself without telling anybody.
Meanwhile the disciples of Aemanathan roamed the streets of Madurai, displaying their musical skills at crowded public places. On hearing their music, Paanabhathran became a bit nervous. He thought that if the disciples could sing so well, what would be the magnitude of Aemanathan's capacity. He was worried about the outcome of the competition the next day. He went to the temple and pleaded to Lord to come to his rescue and then returned home.
Lord Somasundarar disappeared but narrated the incident to Paanabhathrar in his dream. Paanabhathrar woke up from sleep and was moved to tears by the mercy of Lord. In the morning he went to the temple and worshipped several times. He then went to the king and explained every thing that happened. Pandian counter -checked by sending his men to the house where Aemanathan was staying the
previous day. They returned and reported that Aemanathan indeed had left Mdurai. The king was overwhelmed by the grace of Lord who walked down the streets carrying fire wood on his head for the sake of Paanabhathrar. He felicitated Paanabhathrar in many ways and decreed that Paanabhathrar should serve only Lord Somasundarar with his music thereafter and not to work as a musician of royal court.
Episode 42: Lord Somasundarar's letter of introduction addressed to Chera King. As per the instructions of Varaguna Pandian, Paanabhathrar quit the King's court and devoted his time only in the service of the Temple. As a result his earnings dwindled and soon he was in the grip of poverty. Lord Somasundarar took sympathy on him and made an arrangement. He started giving him gold coins or ornaments or clothings taken surreptitiously from the treasury of the king. Paanabhathrar could mitigate his poverty with that help. But all of a sudden Lord stopped his gesture and Paanabhathrar slipped into poverty again. One day Lord appeared in the dream of Paanabhathrar and said,” Paanabhathra, I was giving you wealth taken from the king's treasury. If I continue, the king will eventually find out one day. With suspicion, He might punish the guards for dereliction of duty. So, I will give an introductory letter addressed to Chera King. Take it to him and he will give you enough wealth.” The letter of Lord was in the form a verse in chaste Thamizh. It introduced Paanabhathrar as a true devotee like Cheran himself and advised Cheran to give ample wealth to Paanabhathrar and send him back to Madurai. Paanabhathrar was extremely happy and set off immediately to Chera kingdom. He reached the city of Thiru vanjaikkalam from where Cheran was ruling. That night, Lord Somasundarar informed Cheran about the arrival of Paanabhathrar with His letter of introduction. The king was very happy and sent his men to locate Paanabhathrar in the following morning. They found him and informed the king. He personally went to the place where Paanabhathrar was staying and greeted him. He received the letter given by Lord with great reverence. After reading it he was overwhelmed by ecstacy. He made Paanabhathrar to sit on the royal elephant and he himself sat behind him. He took his visitor to the palace and fed him with the choicest cuisine. He then got his treasury opened and asked Paanabhathrar to take whatever he wanted. Paanabhathrar politely said that anything the king gave would be
sufficient for him. The king gave him a lot of wealth and saw him off. Paanabhathrar returned to Madurai and worshipped Lord Somasundarar. He distributed the wealth to his kith and kin and lived happily serving Lord at His temple.
Episode 43: Lord Somasundarar gifts a golden plank to Paanabhthrar As seen in the previous episode, Paanabhthrar was regular in attending the temple three times a day to play his 'yaazh' and sing. After receiving a huge fortune from the Chera king at the instant of Lord Somasundarar, his devotion to Him grew multifold and he decided to sing devotional songs at the Arthajama poojai at night as well. He started to attend the temple at nights and sang hymns when Lord was put to sleep with the Goddess. Lord Somasundarar was pleased at his devotion and decided to show the world that Paanabhathrar would adhere to his schedule at any cost. He made heavy rains to lash the city one evening. There was no let up in the rain and the city was getting flooded. As the time for the Arthajama Poojai approached, Paanabhathrar left for the temple unmindful of the down pour. He stood in rear of the Idabadevar in open as usual, and started to play his yaazh. He was drenched in rain and his body shivered. Due to the moisture his yaazh was getting mistuned. However he did not stop singing. His feet were submerged in the slush and mud beneath. At that time a devine voice called out, "Paanabhatra! I will give a plank. You sing standing on it." Instantly a golden plank studded with gems appeared on the ground. Obeying Lord's instructions, Paanabhathrar climbed on it and continued his music and completed it. Then he went home. The sky also cleared and the rains stopped. In the following morning, Varaguna Pandian came to know of this episode. He rushed to Paanabhathrar's house, made him to sit on the golden plank given by Lord and felicitated him. He gave him gold ornaments and fertile lands. After sometime, Varagunan's life came to an end and he reached Sivalokam.
Episode 44: Paanabhathrar's wife wins the musical contest After Varaguna Pandian, his son Rajaraja Pandian ascended the throne. Apart from his queens, he had several other concubines. One among the concubines was very close to the king's heart as she was a great exponent in music too. There was a running feud between her and the wife of Paanabhathrar regarding the supremacy in musical talents. She was nursing hatred towards the wife of Paanabhathrar and was looking for a chance to malign her. She hatched a plan and obtained the consent of the king to invite a lady-musician from the country of Eelam (Srilanka) to be propped against the wife of Paanabhathrar. The woman from Eelam performed in the king's court. The king admired her very much and said,” Oh woman! You challenge the wife of Paanabhathrar to compete with you when I call her here. Do not leave her even if she back tracks”. Then he sent word for the wife of Paanabhathrar. When she arrived, the king said to her,” A woman from Eelam is here throwing a challenge to match her musical talents. Can you accept the challenge?” Paanabhathrar's wife humbly submitted,”Oh great king! Being the blemish –less wife of Paanabhathrar, I accept and hope to win with the grace of Lord Somasundarar.” Next morning the king arranged for a competition among the two women. The lady from Eelam at first reeled out the technical aspects of music and teased the wife of Paanabhathrar by asking whether she knew them at all. The latter responded,”I am here to match your music and not to debate the technicalities.” The king intervened and asked them to start the contest. He also declared that the loser would become the slave of the winner. The contest started. First the lady from Eelam presented her soul-stirring music and song. Then followed the musical treat from the wife of Paanabhathrar. Those present in the court nodded in unison and thougt her music to be supreme. But the king deliberately appreciated the music of the Eelam 76
national. This he did to please his concubine. The audience faithfully endorsed his view taking care not to incur the wrath of the king. However Pandian said that it might not be possible to judge them at one sitting alone. So he asked them to present their talents the next day too and dispersed the court. The woman from Eelam was very much pleased with the king's admiration and her ego soared further whereas the wife of Paanabhathrar was very sad. She went to the temple and pleaded to Lord about the partisan attitude of the king towards her. At that time a divine voice comforted her and assured of her victory the next day. When the contest was in progress the next day, the king and the audience were in favour of the woman from Eelam again. Paanabhathrar's wife was upset and she made a request that the contest be held iin the temple in front of the sanctum sanctorum. She further said that she would accept defeat even if one person in the audience decided in favour of the woman from Eelam. The king agreed and he led every body to the temple of Lord Somasundarar. Lord also was present among the crowd in the guise of a poet, unnoticed by anybody. As before, the woman from Eelam sang first. There was no reaction from the crowd. Then the wife of Paanabhathrar began to sing praising the mercy and grace of Lord, in a blemish-less voice to the accompaniment of the melody of her yaazh. The audience was thrilled including the king. His biased attitude changed and he declared that the wife of Paanabhathrar was the winner. He directed that she must be seated on the shoulders of the woman from Eelam. At that instant, Lord in the guise of the poet shouted,” It is wonderful and marvelous” and he disappeared. Everyone realized that it was none other than Lord Somasundarar who appeared as a poet. Rajarajan gifted a lot of ornaments and clothes to the wife of Paanabhathrar. He also gave some gifts to the woman from Eelam and sent her back. Subsequently, Rajaraja Pandian was blessed with a son called Suguna Pandian.
Episode 45: Lord Somasundarar nurses the piglets. Near Madurai there was a village called Guruvirunthathurai ( Kuruvithurai of today ) south of river Vaigai. There lived a wealthy farmer by name Sugalan. His wife was Sugalai. They were blessed with twelve sons. Out of affection and their wealthy status they pampered their sons very much but failed to bring them up as good children. By fate, Sugalan and Sugalai passed away one after the other. With no one to control them, the behaviour of the sons went from bad to worse. They joined with the children of the hunters and wandered in the forests nearby.
The pigs under the leadership of their king, attacked the hunters ferociously. But they could not withstand the rain of arrows from the men and got killed. At that time the queen of pigs suggested to her husband to run away in order to save their lives. But he refused stating that it would be unbecoming of a warrior like him to run away. He charged upon Pandian himself with renewed energy and killed his elephant and horse. He destroyed the chariot of Pandian. Pandian was infuriated at that and killed the king of pigs with a stout iron club. The queen of pigs was shocked at the loss of her husband but nevertheless attacked Pandian. At that time one of the hunters killed her too. At that time there was a shower of flower petals from the sky on the bodies of the slain king and queen of pigs. They both rose to heavens. Their dead bodies turned into a hill. Several sages and hermits stayed on that hill and did penance in later years.
Oneday they spotted a sage doing penance amidst thick shrubs. He was Guru Bahavan the Devaguru. Being ignorant of good values in life, the sons of Sugalan started teasing the sage by raining stones and pebbles on him. Guru's penance was disturbed and he opened his eyes. With his gnanadhrishti, he identified who they were. He cursed them to take birth as piglets. Repenting and remorseful, Sugalan's sons pleaded to forgive them and requested Guru about the salvation from the curse. Guru took pity on them and said,” The curse willtake effect but you will be nursed by Lord Somasundarar of Madurai. He will make you ministers and at the appropriate time He will give you Mukthi”.
When sage Agasthiar narrated this story to other sages, they asked, why sages preferred to do penance on that hill. Agasthiar said,” Once upon a time Sage Pulasthiar's penance was disturbed by a Vichadharan who was playing music in his yaazh. Pulasthiar cursed him to become a pig. When he asked about his salvation, the sage said that Vichadharan would regain his form when killed by a Pandian king. It happened as told in the above story.Since the hill was the body of the very same pig, sages preferred to do penance there”.
As per the curse the twelve sons of Sugalan took birth as piglets. They were born to the king of pigs lived in the forest. One day the Pandian king went for a hunting expedition in that forest. He entered the forest with hunters, their dogs and a group of soldiers. They killed several animals. As they approached the area where the king of pigs lived, a pig ran and informed their king about the Pandian's foray. The king of pigs jumped to his feet and ordered his army of pigs to get ready to fight Pandian and his men. He asked his Queen pig to take care of their young ones as he might get killed in the fight. But the queen of pigs refused to let go her husband without her. She vowed to fight the men side by side with her husband.
After the death of their parents, the twelve piglets were orphaned. They ran here and there searching for their mother to quench their thirst and hunger. Unable to find her they plunged into despair. On seeing their plight, Lord Somasudarar, with profound sympathy, took the form of their mother-pig and approached them. The piglets were very happy to see their mother again and rushed towards her. Somasundarar in the form of mother-pig, fed them with milk and nursed them to their satisfaction. With his boundless love he enriched their wisdom and knowledge too. All of them turned into human form except for their heads which remained that of pigs with the divine will of Lord.
Episode 46: The piglets were made the ministers of Pandian king. The twelve piglets who turned into human beings except for their pig-like heads became very intelligent and well educated. Oneday Goddess Parvathi asked Lord Sivaperuman as to what was the reason for Him to turn those piglets into human form and impart knowledge and wisdom to them. Lord replied that all living beings were equal in his view and He did not differentiate between them while bestowing His mercy on them. He also said that He nursed those mother-less piglets when they were in the grip of thirst and hunger under scorching sun. He said that they would grow into wise men to be employed by the Pandian and finally were destined to become Sivaganam. That night He advised Pandian king in his dreams to employ those twelve youth as ministers. Pandian gladly accepted them as ministers. He also got the daughters of the other ministers married off to them. All the twelve remained as assets to the king because of their wisdom and efficiency. They were exemplary role-models as ministers performing their duties as laid down in Thirukkural. Finally they reached Sivalokam. Subsequently Rajaraja Pandian also reached the heavenly abode.
Episode 47: Lord Somasundarar gives enlightenment to a Black Drango (Karikkuruvi) During the regime of Suguna Pandian, there lived a frail little karikkuruvi. In its previous birth it was a noble man righteous in many ways but he happened to do a little sin too. That sin made him to take birth as karikkuruvi. That poor bird was haunted by other stronger birds like crows, ravens and eagles. It had to lead a miserable life in the city of Madurai. So it had migrated to the forest near by and was perched on a tree in a sorrowful mood one day. At that time a sivanadiar came there to take rest under th cool shade of that tree. He was on a tour, visiting various shrines of Lord Sivan. There were some more people under the tree. The sivanadiar started explaining to others the greatness of Lord Somasundarar of Madurai. He said that Madurai was considered unparalled in three aspects viz., Lord, the goldenlotus pond and the very location of Madurai. He further said that Lord Somasundarar was the only one to bestow all boons to His devotees then and there. Listening to these words of sivanadiar, the Karikkuruvi got enlightened and it could recollect the details of its previous birth. It became clear in its mind that worshiping Lord Somsundarar alone could relieve one from the endless cycle of births and deaths. It flew back immediately to Madurai. It took bath in the golden-lotus pond and worshipped Lord Somasundarar in the temple. Goddess Angayarkkanni was surprised at the soulful worship of the bird and asked Lord about it. Lord narrated its story and then imparted the Mrithyunjaya manthram to the bird. As soon as it listened to the Mrithyunjaya manthram its wisdom blossomed and it started praising Lord's unfathomable mercy and grace. It then requested two boons from the Lord. First, to make its race, the Karikkuruvis stronger than other birds and the second, to grant the wisdom of chanting the Mrithyunjaya manthram to every Karikkuruvi. Lord granted those boons. From then on, Karikkuruvis
came to be known as 'Valiyans' meaning 'Strong ones'. Is it not wonderful that a small bird could achieve benefit not only to itself but also for its entire race!
Episode 48: A stork was bestowed with mukthi. Once there lived a stork in a village situated in the southern part of the Pandian kingdom. It depended on a pond for its food, the fish. As the time for the salvation of the stork approached, the pond got dried up slowly. The starving stork left that pond searching for food and it reached a fertile area. There was a pond surrounded by thick vegetation. The pond itself was large, full of fresh water and it was the place of stay for several hermits. The stork was very happy to stay there. As it watched, the hermits got into the water to take bath. Every time they took a dip, several fish got entangled in their locks of hair and the fish then jumped back into the water.
thought. It considered it to be improper to eat the fish of the sacred pond and decided to remain hungry rather. At that time Lord Somasundarar appeared in a form as perceived by the stork in its mind and asked what it wanted. The worshipped Him several times and pleaded,”My Lord, please relieve me from this birth and grant me a place in your Sivalokam. I desire another boon too; please make this golden-lotus pond devoid of any fish so that birds of my own race and other races might never eat fish from this pond as it would be a great sin.” Lord granted those boons. The stork was elevated to Sivalokam. The golden-lotus pond also became devoid of not only fish but also of other forms of life that live in water. It remains so even today. How wise that stork happened to be ! It strived for its own salvation and helped for the salvation of other birds as well. After some time Suguna Pandian reached the feet of Lord.
The stork thought that those fish must be very fortunate to touch the body of the hermits. So it considered those fish to be sacred and decided not to eat them. After their bath the hermits sat on the banks of the pond and read passages from the “ Koodal Puraanam”, which eulogized the holy city of Madurai, its golden-lotus pond and Lord Somasundarar. “ Lord was the most benevolent and merciful', the Puraanam hailed. Listening to those sermons , the ignorance of the stork vanished. Its heart swelled with the love for Lord Somasundarar. A great desire rose in its mind to go to Madurai and worship Him. It reached Madurai, took bath in the golden-lotus pond and worshipped Lord. It meticulously followed this ritual daily for fifteen days. Next day when it came to the golden-lotus pond it was very hungry. On seeing the fish in the pond, a thought crossed its mind to catch them and eat. But at the very next moment it felt ashamed of its 82
Koodal Kaandam Ends
Thiru Aalavaai Kaandam Episode 49: A snake defines the boundaries of Madurai city. After SugunaPandian, twenty two kings of Pandian dynasty ascended the throne one after the other. The twenty third king was KeerthiBhushana Pandian. During his regime there occurred a great deluge. All the seas and oceans rose and engulfed the land mass. Every living thing was washed away as well as inanimate things. Those withstood the onslaught of the nature were the the temple of Angayarkanni,the divine Vimanam of Lord Somasundarar, the golden-lotus pond and the hills around Madurai which came into being because of Lord's Thiruvilayadals viz., Idabamalai, Pasumalai,Yaanaimalai,Nagamalai and Pandrimalai (Varahamalai). Lord Sivaperuman started the Creation again. He created all living beings including humans. He also created the three Thamizh Royal dynasties, Chera,Chola and Pandias. The Pandian dynasty saw Vangiasekhara Pandian as the ruler. He established a small city around the temple of Madurai. As the years passed by, the city grew in size because of ever- increasing population. The king oneday went to the temple and prayed to Lord thus: “Oh Lord, this city is too small to accommodate the present size of population. I am unable to know what was the boundaries of the erstwhile city of Madurai. Only you can help me out. Please help me.”
Then it went back to the wrist of Siddhar who disappeared forthwith. The king got a great boundary wall constructed and expanded the city bound by it. The new city came to be known as Thiru Aalavaai. (Aalavaai – a synonym to snake in Thamiz ).
Episode 50: A war was won with the arrows of Lord Sundareswarar. Vangia sekhara Pandian's regime saw all round growth of prosperity in Pandian kingdom. But those peaceful times were disturbed by his contemporary Chola king by name Vikrama Cholan. He decided to wage a war with the Pandian. He mustered the support of a few kings of northern states and approached the Pandian kingdom with a huge army. Pandian learnt about the size of the enemy's army through his spies. He was worried about the miniscule size of his own army which was not a match to enemy's army. He thought that his saviour could be only Lord Somasundarar. He rushed to the temple and pleaded to Lord for help. At that time a divine voice from heaven reassured him and advised him to go and face the enemy. It said that he would get timely help.
Lord, His merciful decided to help. He came as a Siddhar like in previous instances. This time every thing in his person was of snakes. His loin-wear, sacred thread, ear rings,garland,wrist-wear and anklets were all of snakes of different types. He ordered the snake He wore on his wrist to show the boundaries of erstwhile city of Madurai. The snake obeyed but put forth a request. It requested that the new city be named after it. Lord granted its wish. It immediately went to eastern side and laid its body along the periphery of the erstwhile city until its own tail touched its head, thus showing the boundaries to Pandian.
Pandian was happy and he engaged the enemy with his army. A fierce battle started. Simply because of the numbers, the Chola's army out-performed Pandian army. The defeat of the Pandian was imminent. At that time Lord Somasundarar appeared in the battle field as a hunter and assumed the leadership of the Pandian army. He shot an arrow carrying a super-scription of His name “Sundaresan“ on it. It multiplied several hundred times and attacked the Cholan's army. Several hundred men fell at a time. Vikrama Cholan was astonished. He sent for one of those arrows and was stunned to see the the name “Sundaresan” super-scribed on it. He immediately understood that Pandian was being assisted by Lord Sundareswarar Himself. Gripped
by fear, he decided to withdraw from the battle field. But the kings of northern states admonished Vikrama Cholan and boosted his morale. With renewed vigour Cholan fought back. But Lord in the guise of the hunter was too much for Cholan and his forces. Hundreds and thousands of arrows from the hunter's bow totally destroyed Cholan's army. Vikrama Cholan was defeated. Lord also disappeared. Pandian celebrated his victory and arranged a grand pooja for Lord Sundareswarar at the temple. He got a bow and arrow made of gold with the name “Sundaresan” engraved on the arrow. He submitted them to Lord with great reverence and continued to rule the kingdom efficiently.
Episode 51: Lord gifts a miraculous seat to Thamizh Sangam As Vangiasekharan was ruling Madurai, Brahma the Creator Performed ten Aswamedha yaahams at kaasi. At the end of the tenth yaaham, Brahma went for a holy dip at river Ganges with his three wives, Saraswathi, Savithri and Gayathri. On the way, Saraswathi's attention was drawn by the song of a celestial woman passing across the sky. She stayed awhile listening to the song. Others reached the Ganges. Brahma, after waiting for some time, took bath with his other two wives leaving Saraswathi behind. Saraswathi was annoyed at his act when she reached Ganges belatedly. She questioned Brahma as to why he did not wait for her. Saraswathi's anger infuriated Brahma and he cursed Saraswathi to take birth as forty eight humans on the earth. Saraswathi pleaded should it happen to her, his beloved wife. 86
Brahama consoled her stating that those forty eight people would be none other than the forty eight letters of the Sanskrit script. He further said that they would become great poets in Thamizh and Lord Sivan Himself would lead them. Brahma thus modified his curse. (Sarawathi being the very personification of manthras, the Sanskrit letters represent her.) Those forty eight poets, born at various places, achieved great fame for their poetic skills and they congregated at Madurai. They met the Pandian king, who acknowledged their excellence in Thamizh. He founded a Thamizh Sangam and made those poets meet there and pursue their literary endeavour. Driven by jealousy, many other poets and scholars competed with those forty eight but ultimately had to bite the dust. Oneday all the forty eight poets went to the temple and pleaded to Lord thus: “Oh Lord, many poets and scholars challenge us in literary genius and poetic excellence. So, please give us a means of judging their skills”. At that time Lord Somasundarar appeared as a poet in front of them. He gave them a seat of about one foot by one foot and said that it was a miraculous seat which could accommodate poets of real excellance by expanding in size but it would reject people of poor knowledge. The poets were extremely happy. They decorated the divine seat with flowers and performed pooja to it. The great poet Nakkeerar sat first on the seat followed by poet Kabilar and Baranar. Then climbed on it the rest of forty five poets. The miraculous seat accommodated all of them by growing in size. As the days passed by, the fory eight poets wrote several literary works. Being poets of great caliber, sooner it became difficult to tell one's work from that of other due to sheer excellence. At that time Lord again appeared as a poet, segregated their work and compiled them properly. The poets were astonished at that feat and requested Lord in the guise of the poet to climb the miraculous seat. It grew in size and accommodated Him too. He sat in the centre surrounded by the forty eight poets. Thus Lord Himself was a poet in Thamizh Sangam. After sometime Vangiasekhara Pandian conducyed coronation for his son, Vangia Soodamani and then reached heavens. 87
Episode 52: Gifting Dharumi a pouch of gold Vangiasoodamani Pandian got a beautiful garden made where a number of flowering plants were grown. Flowers from there were offered to Lord Somasundarar daily. Lovely Shenbagam flowers from the garden were used in the garlands that adorned Lord. The king was particular in getting Lord adorned with Shenbagam flowers. So he came to be known as Shenbaga Pandian as well. In one spring season, Mother Nature was at her best. The trees and bushes were in full bloom. The people of Madurai were enjoying the beautiful ambience. It was a perfect setting for the young men and women to indulge in romantic escapedes. The king was also enjoying the beauty of Nature with his queen in the palace –garden. At that time he suddenly felt a very sweet fragrance in the gentle breeze. It was hitherto unknown to him. After looking around for the source of that fragrance, he found that it emanated from the hair of the queen sitting beside him. He was fascinated but was confused also. A doubt arose in his mind- “could the tresses of women have natural fragrance or was it the result of various perfumes they use?” He couldn't come to a conclusion. So he decided to pose that question to scholars and elite persons. He ordered to hoist a pouch of one thousand gold coins at the gate of the Thamizh Sangam and got it announced that any one who could dispel the doubt in the king's mind would deserve that pouch of gold. Several scholars and poets including the forty eight poets of Sangam tried their hand but they could not clear the doubt of the king. There lived in Madurai a bachelor Brahmin by name Dharumi. He intended to get married but could not because of his poverty. His parents were also no more. He went to the temple and pleaded to Lord to help him get the pouch of gold. Lord took pity on him and gave him a palm leaf containing a poem in Thamizh written by Lord Himself. Lord asked Dharumi to present it to the king and claim the pouch of gold. Dharumi was extremely happy and carried that poem to the king. The king was very much pleased as the subtle meaning of the poem 88
effectively cleared his doubt. It claimed that the locks of hair of beautiful women did possess natural fragrance. As that idea was appealing to him, the king ordered that Dharumi be awarded the pouch of gold. But alas! Dharumi's happiness was short-lived. Poet Nakkeerar raised an objection. He said that the poem of Dharumi had a flaw in it. Dharumi felt deprived. As he was not a Thamizh scholar, he could not face Nakkeerar. He rushed back to the temple and prayed,” Oh Lord, the fortune which was within my reach had slipped away. Even that did not bother me. But there is some one to find fault with you and criticize your own poem.”Suddenly Lord appeared in front of him in the guise of a poet. Taking Dharumi with Him, He reached Thamizh sangam. There He demanded to know the person who found fault with the poem. Nakkeerar came forward and said fearlessly that he was indeed the person who found the poem unacceptable. Lord asked him what the flaw was. Nakkeerar replied that the purported meaning of the poem was not correct because no woman could have hair of natural fragrance and the fragrance was the result of using various scents, perfumes etc. Lord in the guise of the poet asked,” Is it true with the hair of women of great lineage and that of celestial girls too?” Nakkeerar maintained his stand. Then Lord asked with indignation,” Do you mean that Goddess Parvathi you worship everyday too does not have hair of natural fragrance?” Nakkeerar stuck to his guns and replied that even Goddess Parvathi was no exception. Upon this arrogant reply Lord opened His third eye on His forehead slightly. Nakkeerar realized who was standing in front of him. Neverthe less he did not relent. But unable to bear the heat directed on him by the third eye of Lord, he ran towards the Golden-lotus pond and plunged into the water. Lord too disappeared.
Episode 53: Nakkeerar gets rescued from the Golden-lotus pond Scorched by the third eye of Lord, Nakkeerar suffered much and could not think of coming out of the pond. All other poets and the king felt very sad. The Sangam without Poet Nakkeerar lost its charm. So the poets went and prayed to Lord Somasundarar to forgive Nakkeerar. Lord too took pity on Nakkeerar and appeared on the banks of the Golden-lotus pond along with Goddess Angayarkanni. With His boundless mercy, He extended a helping hand to pull Nakkeerar out of the pond. At that very instant Nakkeerar was relieved of the effects of the third eye of Lord. Repented for his folly of arguing with Lord and showing disrespect to Goddess, Nakkeerar fell on the feet of Lord and asked Him to forgive his action. Praising Lord Somasundarar, Nakkeerar composed a litteray work of verses called “Kailai pathi Kalathi pathi”. Lord was pleased and asked Nakkeerar to be present at the Thamizh Sangam as before. Dharumi who narrowly missed the pouch of gold was later awarded with that by the king.
Episode 54: Nakkeerar was taught Thamizh Grammar Poet Nakkeerar, after the above incident was worshipping Lord Somasundarar with great reverence. Lord with his divine will felt that Nakkeerar's knowledge in Thamizh grammar was wanting in certain aspects. Sensing His thoughts Goddess Parvathi suggested that Poet Nakkeerar be taught Thamizh grammar by Sage Agasthiar. Lord approved Her suggestion. This was because Sage Agasthiar learnt Thamizh and its grammar directly from Lord Sivaperuman. Accordingly Lord directed Sage Agasthiar to go to Madurai. Sage Agasthiar reached Madurai with his wife Lobamuthrai and worshipped Lord Somasundarar at the temple. Poet Nakkeerar was also available by his side at that time.
disciple of Agasthiar and learnt Thamizh grammar in depth. Later Lord conceded to the wish of Agasthiar to return to his place. Goddess was curious to know why Lord Himself did not prefer to teach Nakkeerar. Lord said that it was due to Nakkeerar's jealousy to wards Dharumi. Nakkeerar with his newly acquired knowledge, went through his earlier works and rectified his own mistakes and errors. He was moved by the mercy of Lord and worshipped Him with even more piety and humility.
Episode 55: Settling of the disputes among the sangam poets Many literary works were born at Thamizh Sangam. But every poet considered his or her own work superior. Though the competition was considered healthy, at times it led to disputes, claims and counterclaims. So the poets pleaded to Lord Somasundarar to show them a way out. Lord appeared as a poet in front of them and said,” There is a merchant by name Dhanapathi in this city. His wife is Gunasalini. Lord Murugan has born as a child to them. But the boy is dumb. You read out your works to him. He will decide which of your works are superior.” The poets sought to know how a dumb boy of a merchant could decide about the greatness or otherwise of a literary work. For that Lord replied ,” Whenever the boy feels a particular work is rich in poetry and substance, he will react by nodding his head and showing expression of great delight on his face.” The poets found Dhanapathi and brought his son to the Thamizh Sangam. Every poet read out his/her work in turn to him. The dumb boy expressed great delight while listening to every stanza of the works of poets Nakkeerar, Kabilar and Baranar. So it became clear that the works of those three poets only were superior and thus the dispute was settled once and for all.
Lord directed Agasthiar to teach Nakkeerar the various aspects of Thamizh grammar in detail. Nakkeerar was pleased to be the 90
Episode 56: Removing the despair of the poet Idaikkadar. After Shenbagamara Pandian, several kings of Pandian dynasty ruled the State. During the rule of Kulesa pandian, he was famous for his literary genius. At that time, a poet by name Idaikkadar came visiting Pandian with a literary work he made. He was a friend of Poet Kabilar too. But when Idaikkadar read out his work, Kulesa Pandian did not show any expression of appreciation or delight though the work deserved recognition. This behaviour of the king saddened Idakkadar. His self-respect was hurt. With a heavy heart he went to the temple and prayed to Lord,” Oh Lord, I heard that Kulesa Pandian is a scholarly poet and a member of the Sangam. So I came with great expectations to present my work in front of him. But he disregarded me and my work by putting up an expression-less face. He had not only insulted my work but also insulted you, the very embodiment of words and their meaning.” Idaikkadar's despair echoed as an unbelievable development. Lord Somasundarar who was present as the Sivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum disappeared at night from there and appeared as a new Sivalingam* on the southern banks of river Vaigai. Next morning when the priests opened the Sanctun Santorum, they were stunned by the absence of the Sivalingam. With fear gripping their heart, they rushed to the palace to inform the king. On hearing the incident, Pandian's mind was paralysed. At that time some of the citizens came running and informed the king that a new temple had sprung up on the southern bank of the river with the God and goddess in it. Still confused, Pandian ran towards the new temple and found Lord Chokkanathar and Angayakanni ammai enshrined in it. He fell on the ground and worshipped Lord. He pleaded to know what went wrong to cause Lord to leave the main temple. At that time a divine voice rose in the sky which said,” Pandia! Though there are countless places known as Sivasthalams, sixty four among them are great. Among the sixty four, eight are even more 92
important because the lingams there were worshipped by Devas guarding the eight directions. Among the eight, this lingam was worshipped by Kuberan. I moved into this lingam out of my own will. Still there is a reason for the disappearance of the lingam at the main Temple. It is because you showed disrespect to Idaikkadan.” Pandian realized his blunder. He begged to be pardoned. He invited Idaikkadar and received him with all reverence at his palace. He listened to his work, appreciated it and awarded Idaikkadar sumptuously. Lord reappeared in the santum santorum of the main temple. After Kulesa pandian, Arimarthana pandian ascended the throne. (* This temple is called Aadhi Chokkanathar temple these days and situated at Simmakkal).
Episode 57: Lord Somasundarar manifests as a fisherman One day Lord Sivaperuman was in the process of teaching the substance of Vedhas to Goddess Parvathi in private. For some unknown reasons Goddess could not concentrate Her thoughts on it. Angered by Her indifferent attitude, Lord condemned Her to take birth among the fishing community on earth. Mother Goddess, with great anguish pleaded that She could not live without Lord. His merciful Lord comforted her and said that He would come to Her and marry Her at the appropriate time. Coming to know what happened to his mother, Lord Ganesh was upset. He rushed to the place where lord Sivan was teaching and threw away the manuscripts of Vedhas into the ocean attributing them to be the cause of what befallen his mother. Lord Murugan was equally angry and he snatched the manuscript from the hands of Lord and threw it also into the ocean. Annoyed at their action, Lord summoned Nandhi and admonished him for letting the children 93
into the place where He was teaching Vedhas to Goddess. He cursed Nandhi to become a shark for dereliction of duty. He also cursed Lord Murugan to take birth as a dumb child at Madurai. He spared Lord Ganesh as cursing him would be a backlash on Himself. With the curse taking effect, Goddess Parvathi was found as an infant by the chieftain of fishermen in a coastal village of Pandian Kingdom. The chieftain who was child-less till then, was over joyed to find the beautiful baby-girl and brought her up in his household. She grew up into a lovely maiden and at that time Nandhidevar also reached the sea as a ferocious shark as per Lord's curse. That shark proved to be a menace to the fishermen of the village. It used to attack their boats,toss the boats like toys and cut the fishing nets to pieces. No one was able to catch it. The chieftain announced that he would give his lovely daughter in marriage to any youth who could catch the shark. Lord Somasundarar thought that the time had ripened to keep His word given to Goddess. He appeared as an youthful fisherman. The chieftain asked the youth his antecedents. The youth replied that he was the son of the headman of fishing folk of Madurai. He also claimed that he was capable of catching any type of fish. The chieftain asked him whether he could catch the deadly shark ravaging their seas. The youth agreed. Lord in the guise of fisherman, boarded a boat, went into the deep sea and cast his nets. The notorious shark which evaded other fisherman, was caught by Lord. He brought it ashore to the great astonishment of the fishing folk. The chieftain was extremely happy and kept his word by giving his daughter in marriage to the youth. At that instant, Lord and Goddess appeared in their true form in the sky. The shark was also transformed into Nandhidevar. The chieftain and his folk were overwhelmed at that sight. Lord said,” Taking pity on your agony of being child-less I gave Goddess Herself as your daughter and married Her now. You will enjoy all prosperity and then 94
will reach my abode.” With these words He disappeared. Afterwards Lord taught Goddess all Aagamas at Utharakosamangai. Sixty thousand devotees of Lord were also present to listen to Him at that time.
Episode 58: Lord Sivaperuman as Teacher enlightens Thiruvathavoorar spiritually. There was a beautiful and fertile village called Thiruvathavoor on the banks of river Vaigai. In that village a baby boy was born in the community of Amathya Brahmins. His childhood name was Vathavoorar. He grew up into a very intelligent boy mastering Vedhas and other art forms within his sixteenth year. Learning about this boy the then king, Arimarthana Pandian sent word for him and after witnessing the boy's deep knowledge and wisdom, made him one of his ministers. Soon he was elevated as chief of ministers. The king also conferred on him the title of “Thennavan Brahmarayan”. Thennavan Brahmarayan's performance was to the full satisfaction of the king and king was pleased at his choice. Oneday in the court hall, the official-in –charge of the war horses submitted to the king that the horses in the stables were either very old or sick. The king at once asked Vathavoorar to arrange to buy new horses. He authorized Vathavoorar to take as much gold as required for the purpose. Vathavoorar knew that horses of foreign breed used to arrive at the sea-ports for sales. He set off towards the coast with huge quantity of gold drawn from the king's treasury, guarded by men. Vathavoorar, though holding an envious position, 95
was having a mind set of a hermit. He did not indulge in earthly pleasures. There was a perennial search within him to meet his spiritual Guru who could show him the path for salvation. Lord Sivan was aware of the matured mind of Vathavoorar. He thought that the time had come to transform Vathavoorar into a spiritually elevated person. He manifested Himself as a Brahmin Guru and was sitting under a Kuruntha tree at a small village called Thirupperunthurai. As he was approaching the village Vathavoorar's heart galloped with hitherto unknown glee. Soon he reached the Temple and beside the temple he found that captivating scene of a guru seated with his disciples under the Kuruntha tree. Instantly his inner self realized that He was the guru his heart and mind sought to meet. He rushed towards the guru and fell on His feet. The guru set His lotusfeet on the head of Vathavoorar, gently fondled him and met his eyes with His own eyes, thus granting him Dheekshai (Thiruvadi dheekshai, Sparisa dheekshai and Nayana dheekshai). At that very moment Vathavoorar became a very new person, spiritually elevated, renouncing earthly ties and found himself one with The Supreme Power. Gnanavani gracefully sat on his tongue and he started singing the hymns called 'Thiruvasagam' spontaneously. As if to enjoy his soul-stirring hymns further, the guru advised him to stay on there and then disappeared. Before that Lord christened Vathavoorar as 'Manikkavasagan' a name, eternally became synonymous with his work Thiruvasagam.
appeared in Vathavoorar's dreams and assured him of bringing the horses. He directed Vathavoorar to return to Madurai in advance. Vathavoorar went back and informed the king that the horses would come soon. Vathavoorar's relatives and friends were concerned at his mental make-up of having renounced worldly ties. He comforted them by explaining the balanced attitude he had acquired by the grace of Lord. Episode 59: Foxes transformed into horses. King Arimarthanan wanted to know why the horses did not arrive yet. Manikkavasagr assured him that they would come in three days. But the horses did not arrive even after three days. The king became very angry and ordered his men to punish Manikkavasagar and get back the gold from him. The guards made Manikkavasagar to carry a big stone on his head, tied his hands and legs and tortured him. He silently endured praying Lord Somasundarar. As the night fell Manikkavasagar was thrown into the prison.
Manikkavasagar almost forgot the purpose of his journey from Madurai and was totally absorbed in his prayers at the temple of Lord Sivan. Meanwhile Manikkavasagar sent a message to the king that horses of excellent breed were shortly expected and they would reach Madurai in the month of Aadi. He started spending the huge amount of gold in constructing a fabulous shrine for Lord Sivan at Thirupperunthurai and in feeding Sivanadiyars. As the month of Aadi passed, King Arimarthana Pandian sent a reminder to Manikkavasagar who in turn pleaded to Lord Sivan. That night, Lord
Lord couldn't bear to see His devotee suffer. He called Nandhidevar and asked him to convert the foxes in the jungles into horses and lead them to Madurai. He further said that He too would join them. As per His orders Nandhidevar and his captains of Sivabhoothaganam rode into Madurai with the 'horses' which were actually foxes. King Arimarthanan was very much happy to know that the horses had reached. Lord Somasundarar in the guise of horsetrader was riding a magnificient horse. Lord's appearance was captivating. The citizens of Madurai were indeed rewarded with a great visual treat of the procession of horses. Pandian came out of his palace to receive the horses. The horse-men exhibited the outstanding qualities of the horses to the satisfaction of the king. Pleased to the core, the king asked who among them was the leader. They pointed towards The Lord and He stepped out. He addressed the king “Oh king, your Minister paid us a great fortune of gold and in turn we are
giving you the horses of the best breed. You can take them over and the deal ends with it.” While handing over, Lord described in detail the breed of various horses, their special features and their capabilities. (The author Paranjothi Munivar's in-depth knowledge about the war horses as envisaged in 'Asuwa Sasthram' is sure to enthrall the readers.) At the end, Pandian was extremely pleased and offered Lord in the guise of horse-rider, a white cloth of silk as a mark of respect. Lord got down from His horse, accepted it and wore it on His head. The king felicitated other horse-men too. As Pandian ordered to take the horses to the stables, Lord and His men disappeared. Meanwhile Vathavoorar who was released from the prison, also went home.
Somasundarar. Lord's divine will had other plans. The time was ripe for the salvation of Vanthi, an elderly woman of Madurai. She lived a lonely life and sold rice-pudding to eke out a living. But she was an ardent devotee of Lord Somasundarar. Lord ordered river Vaigai to become flooded. The raging river wrecked the bunds and started to inundate the city of Madurai. The river was rising menacingly and the people ran helter-skelter. The guards who were torturing Vaathavoorar also ran away to save their houses. Vaathavoorar went to the temple and sat meditating on the Lord as if nothing had happened.
Episode 61: Lord Somasundarar carries soil on his head Episode 60: Horses turned into foxes again and the flooding of Vaigai. Recounting the incidents, Vathavoorar was overwhelmed by the Grace of Lord who, as promised, brought excellent horses and handed them over to Pandian. But the divine will of lord was different. That night He turned those horses back into foxes. Those foxes wrecked havoc in the King's stables. They pounced upon the existing horses, killed a few of them and ate their flesh. The howl of the foxes and the terrified neighs of the horses woke up the guards. They found to their dismay that the new horses had become foxes which had killed a few horses too. By then the foxes had sprinted away into the forest.
Arimarthana Pandian learnt about the floods and immediately called his ministers. He ordered them to take urgent steps to control the floods. They rushed to the river and inspected the breaches. They got it announced that every citizen of Madurai should arrange to close the portion of the breach allocated to him/her. The bund was measured and each citizen was allotted a portion to be attended. Being a royal order, people thronged the river side and started to attend the breaches. In the souh-east part of the city, there lived an old lonely woman called Vanthi. She prepared and sold rice-pudding to make a living. Everyday before starting the sales, she used to offer the pudding to Lord Sundareswarar as naivedyam with great affection. On hearing the king's orders, she was worried. She was clue-less about what to do to close the portion of the river bund allotted to her. She prayed to Lord putting forth her plight.
At the day break the guards informed the king. He was infuriated and asked the guards to torture Vaathavoorar again.He was unable to come to terms with what happened. His trusted minister had betrayed him. He was simmering with anger. The guards made Vaathavoorar to stand bare-footed on the hot sands of river Vagai under the scorching sun. He was made to carry bricks on his fore head and hands. The helpless devotee could only pray to Lord
His Merciful Lord's divinity took pity on Vanthi. He manifested Himself as a young labourer. A dirty piece of cloth adorned His waist. He carried a basket on the head and a Mumty (shovel) on His shoulder. He walked down the street where Vanthi lived, calling
out loudly, “Is there anyone to hire me, paying me wages?” His voice was music to the ears of the old woman Vanthi. She rushed out of her house, invited the youth and enquired whether He would attend to the portion of the river bund allocated to her. He agreed but asked what would be paid as wages. The poor woman said that she could give Him only the pudding. The youth requested to feed him first. Vanthi gave Him the pudding. He ate a little and packed the rest in a cloth. He went to the river bund, got enrolled Himself as the representative of Vanthi. But instead of working seriously He indulged in playful activities. He dug the earth, carried the soil and dumped it over the breach for a while. As if He became tired, He sat on the ground to eat the pudding He packed earlier at vanthi's home. Then He left the spot itself, went to Vanthi and asked her to feed Him some more pudding. Thus when everybody's portion of the bund had been attended to, Vanthi's portion alone remained unattended and because of that the flood waters stared to breach the adjacent portions too. The king's men though enraged could not punish the youth as they were mesmerized by the handsome looks of Him. The word soon reached the king. He decided to have a look for himself. As he was inspecting the work done by the citizens he was angered by the unfinished work at the point allotted to Vanthi. To his query his men brought the youth who was supposed to work on behalf of Vanthi.
than the rest of the bund. Thus He fulfilled His commitment of filling the portion of the breach allotted to Vanthi. At the same time, a craft decended from the heavens, occupied by sivaganam (Attendants of lord Sivan). They invited Vanthi to board the craft. Then the craft ascended to heavens with Vanthi. A bewildered King was addressed by a Divine voice,” Oh, Noble King! All of your tresures were earned in proper way. So they were spent in the service of sivanadiyars. But you chose to torture Vaathavoorar. Hence I transformed the foxes into horses and handed over them to you. But they returned to their original self. You punished your minister. To save him I made Vaigai to get flooded. At the same time I came as a labourer on behalf of Vanthi who exhibited motherly love for me and then granted her salvation. Now you might have realized the greatness of Vaathavoorar. Leave him on his way”. Pandian was absolutely stunned. He searched for Vaathvoorar and found him in the temple. He requested Vaathavoorar to forgive him for whatever wrongs done to him. He offered Vaathavoorar the Kingdom of Pandias. Vaathavoorar who had renounced everything, declined his offer and said that whatever the spiritual benefits accrued to him were due to the king's initiative. He requested the king to relieve him to go to Thillai as per the orders of Lord Somasundarar. Arimarthana Pandian bade him farewell half-heartedly. Later Arimarthanan was blessed with a son who subsequently ascended the throne.
In a fit of rage, Pandian took a cane and dealt a blow with it on the back of the youth. The very next moment the youth disappeared after dumping a small quantity of soil at the spot allocated to Vanthi. As a great astonishment, the blow that fell on the back of the youth was indeed felt by everyone! Pandian felt it; his wives felt it; every man, woman and child felt it. It fell on sages, devas, animals, birds and on every living species. It also fell on trees, bushes and grass. It was Lord who received the blow; but He lived in every living-being. So the blow was experienced by every living -being. They were all confused as to who had hit who. It was a miracle of sorts. Not only that, but also the small amount of soil dumped by Lord grew in size and became taller
Vaathavoorar who became popularly known as Maanikkavasagar reached Thillai, worshipping Lord Sivan at various temples enroute. With great devotion, he composed several hymns of Thiruvasagam. During his stay at Thillai, some Bhuddhists from Eelam dragged the three thousand Brahmins of Thillai for a debate on the subject of superiority of the religions—Bhuddhism or Saivism. Lord Natarajar of Thillai appeared in the dreams of the Brahmins and advised them to enlist the support of Maanikkavasagar for them.
Maanikkavasagar defeated the Bhuddhists and established that the Saivism was superior. A Chola king who was ruling Eelam heard about that. His teenaged daughter was dumb from birth. He reached Thillai with his daughter and posed a challenge to the Bhuddists as well as Maanikkavasagar to make his daughter speak. While the Bhuddhists failed, Maanikkavasagar made the girl to speak. He simply posed questions to the girl who replied them spontaneously. Cholan was extremely happy and embraced Saivism. (Maanikkavasagar's querries and the Princess's answers are contained in the Chapter called “Thiruchazhal” of Thiruvasagam.) Maanikkavasagar continued worshipping Lord Natarajar. He composed several other hymns and then became one with Lord himself. Episode 62: Curing the mysterious fever of Pandian King.
One day they both went to the temple and prayed to Lord Somasundarar, requesting Him to root out Jainism from their land. Their fervent plea was the renaissance of Saivism back in the Pandian kingdom. At that time a Brahmin who had come to worship Lord was spotted by the Queen and Kulachiraiyar. As he appeared to be from a different land, they called him and enquired about his nativity. He replied that he belonged to Chola kingdom. Queen further asked whether there was anything new happened in Chola kingdom recently. To that he replied thus: At Sirkazhi, a Brahmin by name Sivapatha Iruthayar was blessed with a son. That child at the age of three, was fed with milk by none other than Goddess Parvathi Herself oneday. By drinking her milk, the child instantly acquired Gnanam and became an exponent in Vedhas, Aagamas, various forms of arts etc., He started composing well-meaning hymns in praise of Lord Sivan and MotherParvathi. ( These hymns became part of Thevaaram later). He was the star of attraction wherever he went and was fondly called “Gnanasambandhar”. He went from temple to temple, singing hymns in praise of Lord Sivan enshrined in those temples. He had a huge following and the saivisim was more vigourously pursued, embraced and practiced in those areas.
After Saghanatha Pandian, several kings ruled Pandian Kingdom. During the regime of Koon Pandian (He got this name because he was hunch-backed), He defeated Cheran and Cholan kings of his time and brought their kingdoms also under his rule. Cheran got back his land by giving Koon pandian a lot of treasures. Cholan gave his dear daughter Mangayarkarasi in marriage to Koon pandian and got back his kingdom. After the marriage he sent voluminous gifts to the couple. He also sent a noble and learned person called Kulachiraiyar to the court of Pandian. Pandian soon acknowledged the exemplary character, deep knowledge and worldly wisdom of Kulachiraiyar. He made kulachiraiyar his minister. Unfortunately Koon Pandian embraced Jainism which had taken root at Tamizhnadu of those days. People also followed suit and took to Jainism which eclipsed matchless Saivism. This saddened Queen Mangayakarasi and Kulachiraiyar. They were devout Saivaites. They were unable to profess their religion openly for the fear of inviting the wrath of the king.
On hearing these anecdotes, the Queen and the minister were very much impressed and were eager to invite Gnanasambandhar to Madurai for reviving Saivisim. They sent a letter through the Brahmin to Gnanasambandhar requesting him to visit Madurai. The letter was delivered by the Brahmin. In that letter, kulachiraiyar had explained that the Pandian Kingdom had been engulfed by the darkness of Jainism and he had requested Gnanasambandhar to come and remove it. He pleaded that Koonpandian be won back to Saivisim. Gnanasambandhar at once decided to proceed to Madurai. But Thirunavukarasar, another Saivaite saint, who was with him, advised Gnanasambandhar not to go citing the unfavourable position of the planets at that time. Gnanasambandhar said that ill effects of the planets would never harm devotees of Lord Sivan and then took leave of Thirunavukarasar.
Gnanasambandhar reached Madurai accompanied by a large group of devotees. On the way he was stopped by some Jain monks who heckled at him. Gnanasambandhar ignored them and went to the temple to workship Lord Somasundarar. He requested Lord to guide him in his efforts to vanquish Jains. That night, the wicked Jains, eight thousand in number, performed a yaham and instructed Agni to destroy the place where Gnanasambandhar was staying. Agni declined. So the Jains went personally and set the place on fire. Gnanasambandhar prayed to Lord and wished that the heat due to the fire be manifest as fever on the King Koonpandian slowly. It Happened. Pandian suffered rising temperature on his body and soon was writhing in unbearable heat. The Queen and the other members of Royal family were aghast. Whatever done to reduce the fever had exactly the opposite effect. A desparate King ordered to summon the Jain monks. They came but could not relieve the king of his agony. They chanted their mantras and tried their medicines but in vain. Their remedies only served to aggravate the King's sufferings. The queen was worried but quickly understood that it was the misdeed of the Jains who set fire to the place of stay of Gnanasambandhar happened to be the cause of the Kings malady. She told the king about Gnanasambandhar and convinced him that he only could cure the disease. The King agreed and Kulachirayar at once went and requested Gnanasambandhar to relieve the King from the cruel fever. Gnanasambandhar aceepted and reached the Palace. The moment Pandian saw Gnanasambandhar, he had an awakening within and he pleaded to cure his problem.
the ashes from the kitchen of the temple of Lord Somasundarar. Guards rushed to the temple and brought it. Gnanasambandhar composed a Thevaram and sang as he applied the Ash on the right side of the King's body. Lo! The fever immediately subsided and the king felt the soothing coolness on his right side, whereas his left was blazing like fire even more. He begged Gnanasambandhar to cure his left side also. As before, Gnanasambandhar meditated on Lord Somasundarar and applied the ash on the Kings left side and gently fondled the body. A miracle happened. Not only the fever was cured but also the Hunch on the King's back vanished. Gnanasambandhar's eye contact, touch and his divine voice bestowed immense benefits both physically and spiritually to Pandian. Koonpandian became Soundarapandian, a term meaning “Handsome Pandian”.
The Jains who were there already intervened and asked the King to allow Gnanasambandhar to cure the right side of the body of the king while they took care of his left side. Gnanasambandhar accepted it with a smile and was about to take Vibhoothi from his pouch. The Jains again intervened saying that it could be some powder of Black magic. Gnanasambandhar took it in his stride and asked for 104
Episode 63: The execution of Jains. Mangayarkkarasiyar the Queen and Kulachiraiyar the minister thanked Gnanasambandhar for curing Pandian's disease and for removing the hunch on his back. They put forth their request of rescuing the Pandian kingdom from the clutches of Jainism. Gnanasambandhar sought the divine help of Lord Somasundarar and he was granted so. Meanwhile all the eight thousand Jain monks gathered at a place and hatched a plan to drag and defeat Gnanasambandhar in a religious war of words. But they were discouraged by their wives. Their women said that they had a bad dream spelling disaster to all of them. They also cited the fate of the earlier Jain- attempts of sending a mad elephant, ferocious serpent and a cow to destroy Madurai. The monks ignored the advice of their wives and went ahead with their plan. They met Gnanasambandhar and said,” Oh young child! Don't be proud because you cured King's disease. Now let us establish whose religion is greater. You write your mantra in a palm-leaf; we will write ours. We shall drop both the leaves in the fire, and find out whose leaf remains unburnt.” Gnanasambandhar accepted the challenge. Every body including the King, Queen and Kulachiraiyar gathered in front of a pit of fire. The jains wrote several of their mantras on fresh green palm leaf and dropped it in the pit of fire. Alas! It was charred and reduced to ashes. Gnanasambandhar took a leaf containing his Thevaaram he sung at Thirunallaru and dropped it in the fire. It remained green unaffected. The King and Queen hailed Gnanasambandhar. The place where this happened was later known as Sambandha Natham( Samanatham of today). Though defeated, the Jains didn't want to concede it. They proposed one more test in which both the parties should drop their palm-leaves in the swirling waters of river Vaigai. The one which was not washed away must be declared supreme and the defeated lot
should become slaves to the winner. But Gnanasambandhar said that if defeated the Jains must voluntarily get executed on the stakes. (A stake is a pole, planted on the ground with its top end sharpened like a spear. In those days criminals were executed on the stake in such a way that the sharp end pierces through the body of the person executed). As their fate had it, the Jains agreed to that condition. But Gnanasambandhar emphathised with them and suggested that they embrace Saivism and live longer. Infuriated at that suggestion, the Jains turned it as cowardice on the part of Gnanasambandhar. They went ahead and left a bunch of palm leaves inscribed with their manthras in the waters of the river Vaigai. Gnanasambandhar wrote a verse invoking Lord Sivan's mercy, on a plam leaf and put it in the river. Good Heavens! That leaf not only withstood the flow of the river but also started to move upstream. The leaves of the Jains were washed away to oblivion. People hailed Gnanasambandhar and there was a shower of flower petals from the Heavens. The Jains stood there with hung heads. Gnanasambandhar advised them again not to lose their lives unnecessarily on false pride and encouraged them to embrace Saivism. But those among them who considered their self-respect dearer than life willfully got up the stakes and lost their lives. Others embraced Saivism. Pandian sought to know what happened to the palm leaf of Gnanasambandhar. Gnanasambandhar led everybody and walked along the river towards west. He prayed to Lord Somasundarar to give back that palm leaf. Lord appeared as a Sivalingam on the banks of the river. Lord came out of that Lingam in the guise of an elderly Brahmin and met Gnanasambandhar who recognized Him instantly. He requested the old Brahmin to give back the palm leaf in case he found it. The Brahmin blessed him, prompting him to compose Thevaram at every other shrine he visited and returned the palm leaf. The king got a beautiful temple constructed at that place which
came to be known as Thiruvedagam. The lingam which appeared there was in fact wosrshipped by Lord Vishnu in Kruthayugam, by Garudan in Thrithayugam and by Adhiseshan in Dwaparayugam. It was worshipped by Pandian in this yugam. Gnanasambandhar took leave of Pandian after establishing Saivism in Pandian kingdom and reached Chola kingdom.
Episode 64: Calling Vanni tree, well and the Lingam to appear as witnesses In a coastal town there lived a rich trader. He was childless for a long time and then was blessed with a girl child. That child grew into a very beautiful girl. The trader wanted to marry off his daughter to his nephew living at Madurai. But his nephew was already married. The trader could not fulfil his wish because of his untimely death. His wife also died subsequently leaving their daughter alone. All this information reached his nephew. He was engulfed by sorrow and despair. He started off immediately and reached the coastal town and through their relatives understood his uncle's desire of giving his daughter's hand in marriage to him (the nephew). In order to fulfil the desire of his departed uncle, he agreed to marry the girl at Madurai in the presence of his own relatives. After settling things at the coastal town he started off to Madurai along with the daughter of his uncle and a few of his people.
couldn't even go and touch the body of her would-be husband. The men and women who accompanied them tried to console her and the word about the unfortunate incident spread. As a coincidence, Thirugnanasambandhar was staying at Thiruppurambayam. The news about the death of the young trader and the misery of the girl reached him. He immediately went to the place accompanied by sivanadiyars and the people of the village. Taking pity on the grieving girl he enquired her about the incident. She narrated the untimely death of her parents and their resolve to get her married to their nephew. He had been robbed by death that night on their way to Madurai, leaving her as an orphan. On hearing her heartrending narration, Gnanasambandhar came near the dead body and set his merciful eyes on it. Good Heavens! The dead man got up as if he was awakened from sleep. The girl's heart jumped with joy. Gnanasambandhar advised the trader to marry the girl then and there. But he hesitated stating that it might not be proper for him to marry her without the presence of his own relatives as witness for the marriage. Gnanasambandhar comforted him by saying that it was well-known to his relatives that the girl was proposed to be his wife. So he advised the trader again to marry her in the presence of the Lingam, the well and the Vanni tree as the witnesses for the marriage. The trader paid tributes to Gnanasambandhar and married the girl accordingly. He then took leave of Gnanasambandhar and went away to Madurai. He lived happily with his first and second wives.
On the way they reached a place called Thiruppurambayam at dusk and decided to spend the night at the temple of Lord Sivan there. They took bath in the well-water there and ate their dinner under a Vanni tree. All of them went to sleep after worshipping the Lingam there. That night, the nephew was bitten by a deadly snake and he died instantly. To the girl, this incident became a bolt from the blues. She was submerged in a sea of despair. Since they were not married yet, she
The trader had sons through his first wife and he was blessed with another son through his second wife also. The children of his first wife were very naughty and one day they started quarrelling with the son of the younger wife. They had beaten him too. The second wife scolded them and that led to a wordly duel between her and the first wife. The first wife abused the second wife and called her a concumbine of her husband and not a legally married wife. Hurt by her words, the second wife said that her husband married her at
Thiruppurambayam in the presence of the Vanni tree, the well and the Lingam. The first wife challenged whether those three things would come to Madurai to prove the marriage. The second wife was very much disturbed and she kept on weeping without food and sleep that night. Next morning, she took bath in the Golden-Lotus pond and pleaded to Lord Somasundarar to save her from the incriminating words of the first wife, questioning her modesty, chastity and selfrespect. She requested Lord to make the witnesses of her marriage to manifest at Madurai in order to prove her legitimate marriage and to shut the blaming mouth of the first wife. His Merciful Lord Somasundarar's divine will made the three things namely, the Lingam, the well and the Vanni tree of Thiruppurambayam to appear at the Northeast corner of the temple. Everybody was astonished. The younger wife took the first wife there and showed her the three witnesses and thus proved her chastity. The first wife faced the wrath of the relatives for her shameful actions and her husband also was ready to shun her relationship. At that time the younger wife intervened and said that but for the first wife, her own chastity would not have been proved by the Lord's mercy. She prayed to her husband not to punish his first wife. Then they all lived happily ever after.
Epilogue I thank you for reading this presentation of the holy Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam. I trust that your experience was one of delight. A word to excite you more. All these Thiruvilaiyadals have been depicted as sculptures on the external walls around the Sanctum Sanctorum of Lord Sundareswarar in the Meenakshi Temple of Madurai. Please do not miss them during your next visit to that temple.
Thus, the Sage Agasthiar narrated all the sixty four episodes in which Lord Sivan exhibited His unbound mercy towards His devotees by manifesting Himself in various roles at Madurai, a matchless city on Earth.
Thiru Aalavaai Kaandam Ends