58. Pusalar Nayanar
Pusalar was a Brahmin of Tiru Ninravur in Thondai Mandalam. He excelled in the mental worship of the Lord. Mental worship is thousands of times better than external ritualistic worship: mental worship soon leads to Samadhi (superconscious state) and Self-realisation. He strongly desired to build a temple for Lord Siva, but he did not have the money for it. So, mentally he gathered the necessary materials for the purpose. He laid the foundation stone on an auspicious day. He raised the temple and had even fixed an auspicious day for the installation of the deity in it.
The Kadava king who was also a great devotee of Lord Siva had built a magnificent temple in Conjeevaram. By chance he had also fixed the date which Pusalar had mentally chosen, for the installation of the Lord in his temple. The Lord wanted to show the king the superiority of Pusalar’s great devotion. So, the Lord appeared in the king’s dream and asked him to postpone the installation ceremony in his temple, as He would be going to the temple constructed by His devotee at Tiru Ninravur. The king woke up from sleep and was intensely eager to have the Darshan of the devotee mentioned by the Lord and also have a look at the great temple he had built, which he thought would be far superior to his temple.
The king came to Tiruninravur and searched all over the place for the temple: he could not find any. Then the king enquired about Pusalar. He found out Pusalar’s house and approached him. Pusalar was stunned when he heard of the king’s dream. Soon, he recovered and was filled with joy. He thought: ‘How kind and merciful is the Lord. I am only a wretched creature and He has accepted my mental shrine as His Abode. I am really blessed.’ He told the king that that temple was only in his mind. The king was greatly surprised to hear this. Admiring Pulasar’s devotion, the king fell at his feet and worshipped him. Pulasar installed the Lord in his mental temple and continued to worship Him till he attained His Abode.
59. Nesa Nayanar
This saint was the native of Kampili. He was a weaver. He was highly devoted to the Lord and His Bhaktas. His mind was well fixed on the lotus feet of the Lord. His lips always uttered the Panchakshara Mantra. His hands were ever busy in the service of His Bhaktas. These three virtues gained the Lord’s grace for him.
Here is another instance of the glory of the Name of God. We have already seen the glory of the Lord’s Name (Vide page 51) while studying the life of Sirapulli Nayanar. Constant repetition of the Mantra enables you to remember Him always, throughout the day and even during sleep! The technique is this: as soon as you wake up in the morning, sit down for half an hour and mentally repeat the Mantra. And keep up the current during your work, too, by withdrawing yourself for a few moments every hour and mentally visualising the presence of the Lord in you and mentally repeating the Mantra. If you are established in this practice, very soon you will find that even when you are talking or are engaged in other activities—nay, even during sleep, the mind goes on repeating the Mantra. You will get God-realisation. In addition to this glorious Japa Yoga, Nesa Nayanar also practised the Yoga of Synthesis. He thought of God, he lived for God, he worked for God, he was highly devoted to God and loved Him.
60. Kochengat Chola Nayanar
In Chandra Tirtha in the Chola kingdom there was a thick grove. In that grove under a Jambul tree there was a Siva Lingam. A white elephant used to come there daily and prostrate before the Lingam. A spider which was also devoted to Him, noticed that dry leaves were falling on Him and to prevent this wove a web above the Lingam.
The next day when the elephant came to worship, he found the web, and, thinking that someone had polluted the place, tore the web, offered his worship and went away. The spider came upon the scene, felt sorry that his web had been destroyed, wove another web and went away. The next day, as the elephant was pulling the web away, the spider which was present there, gave him a sting: the elephant died of the poison on the spot. The spider, too, was caught in the elephant’s trunk, and perished.
Due to His grace, this spider was born as the son of Suba Devan, the Chola king. He and his dutiful wife went to Chidambaram and eagerly prayed to the Lord Nataraja for a son. The Lord granted their wish. Soon Kamalavati conceived the child. The day of delivery arrived. Astrologers foretold that if the child could be delivered a few minutes later, it would rule the three worlds! The queen asked that she should be tied to the roof of the room upside down, with a tight bandage around her waist. When the auspicious time came, she was released and the child was born. This was the spider reborn! The child had red eyes as he had remained in his mother’s womb a little longer. The mother, looking into his eyes, said: ‘Kochekannano’ (the child with red eyes), and expired. Hence, he was named Kochengat Cholan. When he reached the proper age, his father enthroned him king, retired from the world and, after severe penance, reached the Lord’s Abode.
Kochengat Cholan promoted Saivism. In Tiru Anai Ka he built a beautiful temple and installed the Siva Lingam under the same Jambul tree! In Chola Nadu he built many shrines and mansions for the use of the three thousand Brahmins of Tillai. He provided for regular worship at Chidambaran. Finally he reached the Lord’s Abode. His glories were sung by the poet Poygayar in his ‘Kalavazhi Narpathu’.
61. Tiru Neelakanta Yazhpanar
In Tiru Erukattanpuliyur, in the Chola kingdom, there lived an ardent devotee of Lord Siva by name Tiru Neelakanta Yazhpanar. He was an expert in playing the Yazh (Veena, a musical instrument). It was his habit to visit many sacred shrines and sing His glories on the Yazh. He once went to Madura. He was standing at the entrance and singing. The Lord wanted to hear him at close quarters and so asked the devotees in their dream, to bring Yazhpanar into the inner shrine the next day. When the Brahmins took him inside the shrine, Yazhpanar was surprised, but understood it was His Lila and that He wanted to hear him play on the Yazh. As he was singing, a voice was heard in the heaven: ‘If the instrument rests on the wet floor, it will be spoilt: give him a golden seat to occupy.’ At once a golden seat was offered to him. Yazhpanar prostrated to the Lord and sang of His supreme compassion, standing on the golden seat.
Yazhpanar then went to Tiruvarur and, here, too, he remained outside the shrine and sang. And here, too, the Lord wanted him to sing in His immediate presence. So, He created another opening on the northern side of the temple. Yazhpanar understood the Lord’s will and entered through the gate and sang in His Presence. How he joined Sambandar and got Liberation, has been told in Sambandar’s life.
62. Sadaya Nayanar And
In Tirunavalur in Tirumuraipadi there lived an Adi Saivite by name Sadayanar. All his ancestors were ardent devotees of Lord Siva. He was also pious and devoted. Isaijnaniyar was his dutiful wife. She was also devoted to the Lord. Due to their virtuous deeds in their past life, a divine child was born to them. He was no other than Sundaramurthi Nayanar. Narasinga Munaiyar, the king, was attracted by the child’s beauty and wanted to bring it up himself. The king approached the parents and they, without a moment’s hesitation, handed the child over to him. By this action, they showed that they had no attachment at all to anything in this world.
They led the ideal Grihastha (household) life and finally attained His grace.
Worldly attachment is the only chain with which man binds himself to this Samsara. When there is attachment, there is Samsara or bondage: if you are completely detached, you are at once freed, you become a Jivanmukta. You enjoy the Bliss of Brahman here and now, this very moment. This is the unique glory of Hinduism: it promises immediate Liberation here in this world, while yet embodied! Immediately the entire world is transformed into a manifestation of Divine Light. All the paradoxes and mysteries of Creation are understood.
In Tiruvadavur in the Pandya kingdom there lived a pious Brahmin. He and his dutiful wife, due to merit earned in past lives, got a worthy son whom they named Vadavurar, after the native place.
As the child grew, his wisdom increased as well. Soon he had mastered all the scriptures. He also shone as the embodiment of all virtues and won the love and esteem of all. Even learned Pundits and saints were attracted by his personality and wisdom. The king of Madura, Arimardana Pandyan, heard of Vadavurar’s qualities and discovered that he was an all-rounder and was proficient in administration also. The king made him his Prime Minister. Even here Vadavurar shone with extraordinary brilliance and won the title of Tennavan Paramarayar.
As days passed, however, dispassion grew in Vadavurar’s heart. He had realised the unreality of the world. To him everything was painful: birth, disease, death, rebirth, etc. He wanted to enjoy the eternal bliss of Sivanandam. Even while he was administering the affairs of the state, his mind was fixed on the Lotus Feet of the Lord. He would invite learned men and discuss with them the intricate points in the Vedas. Soon, he realised that a Guru was necessary for real spiritual progress. He longed to meet the real Guru. Whenever he went out on duty, he also searched for his Guru.
One day, while the king was holding his Court, the head of his cavalry entered and informed him that the cavalry needed immediate replenishment, as age, death and sickness had greatly depleted its strength. The king immediately ordered the purchase of good horses. The task of buying good horses from the right place was entrusted to Vadavurar. He was extremely happy, as he was sure that he would find his real Guru, during that tour. It was a God-sent opportunity for him. He offered sincere prayer to Lord Somasundarar in His temple and, besmearing His holy ash on his body and with His name on his lips, Vadavurar started on the errand of buying horses, with enough money. He reached Tiru Perunturai.
Lord Siva, Who is the Indweller of all hearts and so knew Vadavurar’s mental condition, had decided to take him to the divine fold. In the guise of a Brahmin and with a copy of the book Siva Jnana Bodam in his hand, the Brahmin was seated under a Kurunta tree near the temple at Tiru Perunturai. He was surrounded by others (the celestial servants in disguise). Vadavurar entered the temple and stood motionless before the Lord, in intense prayer. He shed tears of God-love. Then he went round the temple. Near the tree he heard the holy vibrations of the Lord’s Name (Hara, Hara) which melted his heart. The Brahmin’s magnetic personality attracted him. With overflowing love and devotion, Vadavurar ran to the Brahmin, as a calf to its mother, after a long separation: and he fell at the Brahmin’s feet.
By His grace, Vadavurar was able to recognise him as his real Guru. Holding his feet with his hands Vadavurar prayed: ‘Oh Lord, kindly accept me as your slave and bless me.’ The Lord was waiting for this! He cast a graceful glance on Vadavurar. This at once removed all his sins and purified his heart. Then the Lord initiated him into the divine mysteries of Siva Jnana. This very initiation entranced him. He tasted the divine bliss and was self-forgetfully absorbed in it. Then Vadavurar regained his consciousness and again fell at the Guru’s feet. He prayed: ‘Oh Lord, Who has come to initiate me into the divine mysteries! Oh Lord Who has captivated me by a mere look! Oh Lord Who has melted my mind! Oh Lord Who has made me surrender all wealth, body, mind and soul! Oh my Jewel! Oh Wealth Imperishable! Oh Ocean of Bliss! Oh Nectar of Immortality! Prostrations unto You!’ Singing His glories thus, Vadavurar removed all his belongings and offered all at the Feet of the Guru. He had become a Sanyasi. Smearing his body with sacred ashes, fixing his mind on the lotus feet of the Guru, Vadavurar plunged into deep meditation. When he awoke from this meditation, he was filled with an eagerness to sing the glories of the Lord. With love as the string and his nectarine words as the gems, he made a garland and offered it at the Guru’s feet. The Lord was highly pleased with it, and called him ‘Manickavachagar’ since the hymns sung by him were like gems in wisdom. The Lord asked him to stay on at that place, and disappeared.
Separation from the Lord and Guru, made Manickavachakar suffer intense pain and anguish. Soon, he consoled himself and lived in the remembrance of the Lord and Guru. The king’s servants who had accompanied Vadavurar thought that he had forgotten the mission, and, so, after waiting for a few days, gently reminded him. Manickavachagar sent them back to the king with the message that the horses would reach Madura within one month. When he heard of what had happened to Vadavurar, the king was angry: but, waited patiently for a month.
At Tiruperunturai, Manickavachagar was devoted to the Lord, forgetting the king and the mission: and he spent the money he had brought, in the construction of a temple. After waiting for a month, the king sent him an angry note reminding him that one should be as alert in dealing with the king as one would be when dealing with a cobra, and asking him to appear before the king at once. Manickavachagar was upset. He went to the temple. He prayed for the Lord’s protection. Moved by his sincere prayer, the Lord appeared in his dream that night in the same form of the Guru who initiated him and said: ‘Oh noble soul, fear not. I myself will bring the best horses to Madura. You can go in advance. Tell the king that the horses will arrive there on Avani Moolam.’ The Lord disappeared after placing a very costly diamond in his hands.
The next morning, Manickavachagar took leave of the Lord of Perunturai and donning his ministerial robes started for Madura. He bowed before the king and gave him the diamond. He explained: ‘Your Majesty, I have already purchased the horses for the entire money I had taken. I was waiting for an auspicious day on which to bring the horses here. Avani Moolam is an auspicious day. In the meantime, as commanded by Your Majesty, I have returned. The horses will reach here on the auspicious day.’ The king apologised to him for the rash note he had sent. Manickavachagar built a big stable for the horses.
His relatives, apprehensive of the real state of Manickavachagar’s mind, appealed to him to look after them and not to renounce the world. He laughed and said: ‘Oh friends, the day the Lord initiated me. I have offered everything at His Feet. I have now no relatives except the Lord and His devotees. I have no connection with this body, even. My only attachment is with the Lord Who is the remover of all our sins and bestower of Immortal Bliss. Birth is painful. Death is painful. Everything that is not connected with the Lord is painful. I do not worry about anything in the world now. I will beg happily with my palm as my begging bowl and appease my hunger with the food that is received by chance. When the earth is ready to give me shelter, why should I resort to a special dwelling place? The perfume I smear my body with is the sacred ash. My only belonging is the garland of Rudraksha which destroys the sins of many births. Oh friends, when I am under His protection, why should I fear anybody?’
With his thought fixed on the Lord, Manickavachagar was expecting the auspicious day. In the meantime, one of the ministers had told the king that in truth Manickavachagar had spent all the money in the construction of temples and that Manickavachagar’s statement was false. The king’s suspicion increased. He sent some messengers to Perunturai to see whether the horses were really there. They returned with a negative reply. Only two days remained now. The king did not get any information about the horses. So, he ordered his soldiers to torture Manickavachagar and get the money back. They informed Manickavachagar of all that had happened in the Court. He kept quiet. They tormented him, according to the king’s orders. He bore everything, fixing his mind on the Lord. The Lord Himself bore all the torture, and the Bhakta was relieved. The soldiers could not understand the secret of his endurance. They tortured him further! He prayed to the Lord. The Lord heard His Bhakta’s prayer and wanted to play His Lila. He willed that all the jackals of the place should assume the form of horses. He also sent His celestial servants to act as horsemen. He Himself assumed the form of a trader in horses. He reached Madura. The dust raised by the gallopping horses filled the sky. The people were wonderstruck to see the fine horses. That day was Avani Moolam. The thought that he had unnecessarily tortured Manickavachagar pained the king’s heart. He at once released him and apologised to him. Both of them went to the place where the horses had been stationed. The king was happy to see the good quality of the horses. The merchant was also very handsome. Manickavachagar knew that it was the Lord Himself and so mentally prostrated to Him. The king’s servants led the horses to the stable.
Day passed into night. In accordance with the Lord’s will, the horses assumed their original form of jackals, broke the reins and fled from the stable, howling. Some of them injured even the real horses. A few old jackals remained in the stable. The next morning, the horsemen did not find any of the horses and there were only a few old jackals in the stable. They immediately reported the matter to the king. The king got terribly angry with Manickavachagar who, he thought, had deceived him by magic. The king’s soldiers again began to torture him and Manickavachagar prayed to the Lord for His help. At once the Lord caused a heavy flood in the river Vaigai. There was panic everywhere in the town. The people could not understand the cause of this untimely flood. The soldiers who were guarding Manickavachagar also fled. He went to the temple. He worshipped Lord Somasundarar and was completely absorbed in meditation. The king was puzzled. He wanted to save the city from destruction. So, he ordered everyone in the city to bring one basketful of mud and throw it on the bank of the river to stem the flood. Everyone, except an old woman by name Vandi, did so. She sold Pittu (a sweetmeat) and eked out her livelihood. She was so much devoted to Lord Somasundarar that she would daily offer it to Him first and then sell it. She was in distress.
She prayed to the Lord for help. Lord Siva, out of His compassion, appeared as a labourer before the old woman and offered his services in return for a handful of Pittu. With a dirty cloth around his waist and a basket on his head, he would sing and dance and then put the mud on the bank of the river. He ate her kind offering and threw the mud with such force that it caused new breaches! For some time he would sit idle and again sing and dance. The king’s servants found the breach not closed where the Lord was working and reported the matter to the king. The king who personally supervised the work, noticed the idleness of the labourer, and hit him with a stick. The Lord threw the mud on the breach and it was closed. The blow, however, was felt by all beings in the whole universe. The king at once understood that it was all the Lord’s Lila. He recognised the greatness of Manickavachagar. At that time, he heard an invisible voice: ‘Oh king, your entire wealth was spent on Me and My Bhaktas. By this act Manickavachagar earned for you great merit. Instead of being grateful to him, you have tortured him. The jackals turning into horses, and this sudden flood, were all Lilas performed by Me for the sake of My devotee. At least now open your eyes and learn a lesson for your future.’
In the meantime, Manickavachagar had reached the temple and was absorbed in meditation. He, too, felt the blow that the king gave the Lord. He got up from meditation. The king was in search of him. On the way he learnt that the old woman had been taken to the Lord’s Abode in a celestial car. He came to the temple in Tiru Alavai and prostrated before Manickavachagar. He requested Manickavachagar to accept the rulership of the kingdom. The saint refused this offer but asked to be permitted to go to Perunturai. Both of them came to Madura and worshipped the Lord. Manickavachagar then left for Perunturai. The king also renounced everything soon after this and reached the Lord’s Abode.
At Perunturai, Manickavachagar sang highly inspiring songs and prayed that he should see the Lord in the form of the Guru, as He appeared at first. The Lord fulfilled his wish. He asked him to go to Chidambaram. On the way he visited many shrines. In every shrine, unless the Lord appeared in the original form of the Guru, he would not be satisfied. At Tiru Uttarakosha Mangai, he wept bitterly when he did not see Him as the Guru. The Lord had to accede to his wish! By stages he reached Chidambaram and rolled on the holy ground. He stayed in a garden near the temple and sang the famous Tiruvachagam. The people of Tillai heard the songs and enjoyed its bliss.
In Ezha Nadu (Ceylon) there was an ascetic who was constantly repeating ‘Long Live Ponnambalam’. The king of the place could not understand this, as he was a Buddhist, and had called the ascetic to him. The ascetic went to the palace and sat down in front of the king with the same words! Upon being asked by the king to explain the meaning, the ascetic said: ‘Oh king, Ponnambalam is a sacred place in the Chola kingdom. This place is also called Chidambaram. Here the Formless God takes a Form, of Nataraja, the divine dancer, for the welfare of the world. The object of His dance is to free the souls from the fetters of Maya. Inside the temple there is a tank called Siva Jnana Ganga tank. In this tank Hiranyavarman, the son of Manu, took his bath and got his leprosy cured. Those who take a bath in this sacred tank and then worship Lord Nataraja are purified of all sins. For them there will be no more birth. They will attain Eternal Bliss.’
The Buddhist Guru who heard all this questioned: ‘Oh king, how can there be a God other than Lord Buddha? I will myself go to Chidambaram and defeat the Saivite in argument and convert the temple into a Buddhist shrine.’ So saying he left for Tillai. The king also accompanied him, with his dumb daughter.
The Saivites sent a message to the Chola king asking him to arrange a debate with the Buddhists when the latter had arrived at Chidambaram. The day prior to the appointed day, the Brahmins prayed to Lord Nataraja for success in the debate. That night the Lord appeared in their dream and said: ‘Approach Vadavurar and request him to oppose the Buddhist Guru in argument’. The next morning, the Brahmins approached Vadavurar who readily agreed. He went to the temple, worshipped the Lord, and entered the hall of the debate. He did not like to see the face of the Buddhists: so, he sat behind a curtain. The Buddhists opened the debate. Manickavachagar explained the principles of Saivism. The Buddhists could not offer counter-arguments. They went on repeating their arguments! Manickavachagar prayed to the Lord for help. At His instance, Devi Sarasvathi withdrew Her grace from the Buddhists, and they became dumb. The Buddhists were defeated in argument.
The Buddhist king understood Manickavachagar’s greatness. He said: ‘You have made my teacher and all his disciples dumb. If you can make my dumb daughter speak, I and my subjects will embrace Saivism.’ Manickavachagar asked him to bring his daughter. He prayed to the Lord for His help and then asked the girl to give proper answer to the questions put by the Buddhist Guru on Lord Siva. The dumb daughter not only began to speak but gave fitting answers to those questions. They were all wonder-struck at this miracle. The king and the Buddhists recognised the superiority of Saivism and embraced it. Manickavachagar restored speech to the Buddhists also.
One day Lord Siva desired to hear Tiruvachagam from the lips of Manickavachagar and bestow Moksha on him. He went to Manickavachagar in the disguise of a Brahmin. Manickavachagar welcomed the guest with respect and enquired of his needs. Lord Siva told Manickavachagar: ‘I want to hear Tiruvachagam from your own holy lips. I shall write it down, so that I can learn it and with its help free myself from the shackles of Samsara.’ Manickavachagar recited the Tiruvachagam. The Brahmin (Lord Siva) wrote it down on palm leaves. Then he suddenly disappeared! At once Manickavachagar knew that the Brahmin was the Lord Himself. He felt terrible anguish for not having recognised Him.
The Lord wanted to immortalise Manickavachagar and to spread his glory. So, He kept these songs on the step of Panchakshara of the Chit Sabha. The Brahmins of Tillai were surprised to see them lying there. They opened the leaves and read the contents. In the end it was written ‘Manickavachagar repeated this, Tiru Chitrambalam wrote this.’ The Brahmins wanted to know the meaning of these verses: so they showed this to Manickavachagar who took them to the temple, and, pointing out to the image of Lord Siva, said: ‘This Tillai Nataraja is the purport of these stanzas.’ He at once merged himself at the Feet of Lord Nataraja.
Selections From The Utterances Of Nayanar Saints
Appar Or Tirunavukkarasar
The rare jewel of the Brahmins is the Veda with its six angas (parts). The rare jewel of the Saivite is the Panchakshara.
Everything is the manifestation of Lord Siva. Siva is Narayana, Brahma, the four Vedas, the Holiest, the most Ancient, the Perfect. Though Siva is all these, He is none of these. He is without name, without birth, death or disease. He is at once the transcendent and the immanent.
Love of Lord Siva must be felt and manifested. Sing. Pray. Worship. Weep. Dance. Lord Siva is the music or melody in the song, the sweetness in the fruit, the thought in the mind, the lustre in the eyes. He is neither male, nor female. He is without dimensions.
Subdue the senses. Practise regular meditation. Practise the four-fold Saivite discipline. Develop dispassion (Vairagya). Transcend the three bodies. Unite the individual soul with the supreme soul or Lord Siva. You will attain eternal bliss and immortality. You can behold Lord Siva if you look for Him with the light of wisdom issuing forth from the wick of life, fed with the ghee of meditation in the lamp of the mind within the house of your body.
Plough with truth. Plant the seeds of desire for Self-knowledge. Irrigate the mind with the water of patience. Supervise your work by looking within or introspecting. Build the fence of Yama, Niyama, or right conduct or right living. You will soon attain Sivanandam or eternal bliss of Siva.
Regard your body as the temple of Lord Siva, your mind as the worshipper, Truth as purity which is necessary for worship, the jewel of the mind as the Lingam, love as the ghee, milk, etc. Perform Puja to Lord Siva thus. Lord Siva cannot be obtained without making the mind one-pointed and meditating on the Panchakshara.
Tirumandiram deals with the practical and theoretical aspects of Saivite religion and philosophy. The treatment of Pathi (Lord Siva), Pasu (individual soul), and Pasam (attachment) in the old method is found in this book.
By the practice of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga, the Yogi obtains the blessing of Uma and attains Amarapadavi (Godhood) by the practice of Yama (self-restraint). He attains Siva Padam the (Abode of Siva) by the practice of Niyama (religious canons). He hears Nadam (mystic sound) by the practice of Asana (Yoga posture). He attains the stage, by the practice of Pranayama (restraint of breath) in which all the gods eulogise him. He attains the form of Siva by the practice of Pratyahara (abstraction of the senses) and the gods become confused as they cannot differentiate him from Siva. He can go anywhere including the worlds of Brahma and Vishnu by the practice of Dharana (concentration). He can walk into any place just as one can walk on earth. He attains the Abode of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Indra, by the practice of Dhyana (meditation). He frees himself from all the Upadhis (limiting adjuncts) or fetters and unites with Lord Siva by the practice of Samadhi (superconscious state).
God alone is the Guru or the spiritual teacher. He reveals Siva. Sat Guru is Ambalam or Chidakasa (the divine plane of Consciousness). You will have to search for the Guru in your own heart. Knowledge, devotion, purity, Siddhis (psychic powers) are obtained through the grace of the Guru. The grace descends on the virtuous aspirant who has purity, dispassion, etc.
The thirsting aspirants should get help from the Param Guru. He imparts spiritual instructions to the aspirants. Then Suddha Guru confers upon them divine grace. When the aspirant obtains the divine grace, he gets several powers: purity, the power to know the Mantra, higher psychic powers, etc. Then the Sad Guru reveals him in the Chidakasa (the seat of Consciousness in the ether of the heart), breaks the three bonds, viz., Anava (egoism), Karma (action) and Maya (illusion), and helps him to enter the illimitable domain of Moksha or supreme abode of eternal bliss. Siva Guru presents himself later on and manifests Sat (Reality), Asat (unreality) and Sat-asat (that which is indescribable as either). When the Jiva (individual soul) attains the final knowledge he becomes Sivam Himself. The Guru who presents himself in the earlier stages, too, is Siva Himself.
The devotee attains the grace of the Lord when he meditates on Him in the chambers of his heart; in the space between the two eye-brows and in the head. The holy Feet of the Lord are highly eulogised. The holy Feet of the Lord are Mantra, beauty and truth.
Jneya or that which is to be known is Siva Ananda which is a product of Siva and His grace, Shakti. The Jnata (knower) is the individual soul or Jiva. He knows Siva by abiding in Siva Ananda and obtains Jnanam or Knowledge.
Moksha is the attainment of Siva Ananda. He who attains Moksha will attain supreme knowledge of Siva. He who gets established in Siva Ananda will attain knowledge and Moksha (final emancipation).
The Jiva who knows Siva Ananda dwells for ever in it. He attains Siva and Shakti in Siva Ananda. He is endowed with true knowledge which is really union of Siva and Shakti. Lord Siva shows the path which leads to Moksha, to the aspirant who is endowed with dispassion, non-attachment, and renunciation, and who praises Him always and performs regular worship.
The devotee of Lord Siva gets strength to resist the temptations of the world and Indra, through his Tapas or austerity. He does not care at all for the celestial pleasures offered by Indra. He is quite contented with the Supreme Bliss attained through union with Lord Siva.
Glory Of Lord Siva
OM I bow with folded palms to Lord Siva Who is the Lord of the universe, World Teacher, Who is the Destroyer of Tripuras (three cities of lust, anger and egoism), Who is the Lord of Uma, Gauri, Ganga, Who is full of light, knowledge and bliss, Who is the Lord of Yogis, who is the storehouse of knowledge and Who is known by the various names as Mahadeva, Sankara, Hara, Sambhu, Sadashiva, Rudra, Soolapani, Bhairava, Uma-Maheshwara, Neelakantha, Trilochana, Tryambaka, Viswanatha, Chandrasekhara, Ardhanaareesvara, Maheshwara, Neelalohita, Parama Siva, Digambara, Dakshinamurthi, etc.
How merciful He is! How loving and kind He is! He even wears the skulls of His devotees as a garland around His neck. He is an embodiment of renunciation, mercy, love and wisdom. It is a mistake to say that He is the destroyer. Lord Siva in reality is the regenerator. Whenever one’s physical body becomes unfit for further evolution in this birth, either by disease, old age or other causes, He at once removes this rotten physical sheath and gives a new, healthy, vigorous body for further quick evolution. He wants to take all His children to His Lotus Feet quickly. He desires to give them His glorious ‘Siva-Padam’. It is easier to please Siva than to please Hari. A little Prem and devotion, a little chanting of His Panchakshara (the Mantra OM NAMAH SIVAYA which has five letters) is quite sufficient to infuse delight in Siva. He gives boons to His devotees quite readily. How large is His heart! He gave Pasupatha Astra (a weapon) to Arjuna, without any difficulty, for his little penance. He gave a precious boon to Bhasmasura. In Kalahasthi, near Tirupathi, He gave Darshan to Kannapa Nayanar, the devoted hunter. In Chidambaram, even the untouchable saint Nandan had the Darshan of Lord Siva. He ran with tremendous speed to make the boy Markandeya immortal, when he was in the clutches of the God of Death—Yama. Ravana of Lanka pleased Lord Siva, with his Sama-chantings (Sama is one of the three Vedas). He initiated the Four Divine Youths (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanathana, Sanatkumara) into the mysteries of Jnana, in the form of Dakshinamurthy. In Madura He assumed the form of a boy and carried earth on His head for a devoted lady. Look at His unbounded mercy for His devotees! When Brahma and Vishnu went to find out the Head and Feet of Lord Siva, He assumed the form of an infinite, expansive blaze of light. They were baffled. How magnificent and self-effulgent He is! He lived for several years in the house of Pattinathu Swami of South India, as his adopted son, and disappeared, after giving him the small note: ‘Even the broken needles will not follow you after death.’ The reading of this note was the starting point for attainment of Jnana for the Swami. Why do you all not attempt this very second, with sincerity, to realise God?
Hatha Yogis awaken the Kundalini Shakti that is lying dormant in the Muladhara Chakra, by Asana, Pranayama, Kumbhaka, Mudra and Bandha, taking it up through different Chakras (centres of spiritual energy) viz., Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna, and join it with Lord Siva at the Sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus at the crown of the head. They drink the nectar of Immortality. This is termed Amrita-Srava. When the Shakti is united with Siva, full illumination comes to the Yogi.
Lord Siva represents the destructive aspect of Brahman. That portion of Brahman that is enveloped by Tamo-guna-pradhana-Maya is Lord Siva Who is the all-pervading Iswara, and Who also dwells in Kailasa. He is the storehouse of wisdom. Siva minus Parvathy is pure Infinite Being. With Maya, He becomes Saguna Brahman (personal God) for the purpose of pious devotion of His devotees. Devotees of Lord Rama must worship Siva also. Rama Himself worshipped Lord Siva at the famous Rameshvaram. Lord Siva is the Lord of ascetics and Lord of Yogins robed in space (naked - Digambaras).
His Trisul (trident) that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas—Satva, Rajas and Tamas. That is the emblem of sovereignty. He wields the world through these Gunas. The Damaru (drum) in His left hand represents the Sabda Brahman (OM) from which all languages have been formed. It is He Who formed the Sanskrit language out of the sound of the Damaru. The wearing of the crescent moon on His head indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly. The flow of the Ganga represents the nectar of immortality. Elephant represents, symbolically, the Vritti (mental modification) of pride. Wearing the skin of an elephant denotes that He has controlled pride. The tiger represents lust and his sitting on the skin indicates that He has conquered lust. His holding a deer in one hand indicates that He has removed the tossing or wandering nature of the mind. Deer jumps from one object to another. His wearing of serpents around His neck denotes wisdom and eternity. Serpents live for a large number of years, and represent Time which glides away smoothly! He is Trilochana (Three-eyed), in the centre of whose forehead is the third eye, the eye of wisdom. Nandi, the bull that sits in front of the Siva Lingam represents Pranava (OM). The Lingam represents Adwaita (monism). It points out ‘I am one without a second’ just as a man raises his right hand above his head pointing out his right index finger only.
Kailas hills in Tibet are a huge range with a central, beautiful, naturally carved and decorated shining peak, eternally clad with silvery snow, 22,980 feet above sea-level. Some take the height to be 22,028 feet. This particular peak is in the from of a natural, huge Siva Lingam. This is worshipped as the form of Lord Siva from a distance. There is neither a temple nor a priest, nor daily worship here. I had the fortune to have Darshan of Kailas through the grace of Lord Siva on July 22nd, 1931. I even climbed with panting breath to the foot of Kailas peak where the river Indus takes its origin. It is a picturesque and soul-stirring scene. You will have to ascend from Didipha Guha, the first halting place in the Parikrama (circumambulation) of Kailas which covers 30 miles. It takes three days. On the way comes the famous and sacred Gauri Kund which is eternally covered with snow. You will have to break the snow when you take a bath.
The following are the twelve Jyotir Lingas of Lord Siva:
1. Somnath in Gujerat.
2. Mallikarjun in Sri Saila Parvat near Tirupati.
3. Mahakalam in Ujjain in Gwalior State.
4. Omkareshwar on the banks of the river Narmada in Amaleshwaram.
5. Bhaijnath near Gaya.
6. Naganath in Southern India.
7. Kedarnath in the Himalayas.
8. Tryambak, near the source of the Godavari, in the Nasik district, Bombay.
9. Rameswaram in South India.
10. Bhima Sankar, near Poona.
11. Viswanath in Banares.
12. Grineshwar (Gokarna) in Kharwar district.
Even if people remember these 12 places both morning and evening, the sins of seven births will be destroyed.
The Siva Lingam
You will find in the Linga Purana:
Pradhanam Prakritir Yadahurlingamuttamam Gandhavarnarasairheenam sabda sparshaadi varjitam The foremost Lingam which is primary, and is devoid of smell, colour, taste, hearing, etc., is spoken of as Prakriti—Nature.
Linga means mark in Sanskrit. It is a symbol which points to an inference. When you see a big flood in a river, you infer that there should have been heavy rains the previous day. When you see smoke, you infer that there is fire. This world of countless forms is a Lingam of the Omnipotent Lord. The Siva Lingam is a symbol of Lord Siva. When you look at the Lingam, your mind is at once elevated and you begin to think of the Lord.
Lord Siva is really formless. He has no form of His own; and, yet, all forms are His forms. All forms are pervaded by Lord Siva. Every form is the form or Lingam of Lord Siva.
There is a mysterious power or indescribable Shakti in the Lingam, to induce concentration of the mind. Just as the mind is focussed easily in crystal gazing, the mind of a devotee is easily concentrated when he looks at the Lingam. That is the reason why the ancient Rishis of India and the seers have prescribed Lingam for being installed in the temples of Siva.
Siva Lingam speaks to you in the unmistakable language of silence: ‘I am one without a second. I am formless.’ Pure, pious souls only can understand this language. A curious, passionate, impure foreigner of little understanding or intelligence says: ‘Oh, the Hindus worship the phallus. They are ignorant people. They have no philosophy.’ When a foreigner tries to learn Tamil or Hindustani language, he first tries to pick up some vulgar words. This is his curiosity nature. Even so, the curious foreigner tries to find out some defects in the worship of the symbol. Lingam is only the outward symbol of the formless Being, Lord Siva, Who is the indivisible, all-pervading, eternal, auspicious, ever-pure, immortal essence of this vast universe, Who is the undying soul seated in the chambers of your heart, Who is your Indweller, innermost Self or Atman, one with Brahman.
Sphatikalingam is also a symbol of Lord Siva. This is prescribed for Aradhana or worship of Lord Siva. It is made of quartz. It has no colour of its own, but takes on the colour of the substance which comes in contact with it. It represents the Nirguna Brahman or the attributeless Supreme Self.
For a sincere devotee, the Lingam is not a block of stone. It is all radiant Tejas or Chaitanya (Light or Consciousness). The Lingam talks to him, makes him shed profuse tears, produces horripilation and melting of heart, raises him above body-consciousness, and helps him to commune with the Lord and attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Lord Rama worshipped the Siva Lingam at Rameshwaram. What a great mystic Shakti there should be in the Lingam!
Puja And Ishta Devata
Puja is the common term for ritual worship, of which there are numerous synonyms such as Archana, Vandana, Bhajana, etc., though some of these stress certain aspects of it. The object of worship is the Ishta Devata or the guardian deity or the particular form of the Deity whom the devotee worships.
Whilst all things may be the objects of worship, choice is naturally made of those objects which, by reason of their effect on the mind, are more fitted for it. An image or one of the useful emblems is likely to raise in the mind of the worshipper the thought of God.
In Puja, an image or picture representing some divine form is used as the object of worship. The image is adored. A Lingam represents Siva. All forms are one. All are adoring the same Iswara. The differences are only differences of names due to difference in the temperament of the worshippers, but not in the object of adoration. It is only out of ignorance that different religionists and different sects fight and quarrel amongst themselves.
Regular worship, Puja or other modes of demonstrating our inner feeling of recognition of Divinity in the idol unveil the Divinity latent in it. This is truly a wonder and a miracle. The picture comes to life. The idol speaks. It will answer your questions and solve your problems. The God in you has the power to awaken the latent Divinity in the idol. It is like a powerful lens that focusses the sun’s rays on to a bundle of cotton. The lens is not fire and the cotton is not fire either, nor can the sun’s rays, by themselves, burn cotton. When the three are brought together in a particular manner, fire is generated and the cotton is burnt. Similar is the case with the idol, the power of the devotee’s concentration and faith makes the idol shine with resplendence. God is then enshrined in the idol. From here, He will protect you in a special manner. The idol will perform miracles. The place where it is installed is at once transformed into a temple, nay, a Vaikuntha (abode of Lord Vishnu) or Kailasa (abode of Lord Siva). Those who live in such a place are freed from miseries, from diseases, from failures and from Samsara itself. The awakened Divinity in the idol acts as a guardian angel, blessing all, conferring the highest good on the devotees.
All the Nayanars attained God-realisation through the worship of the Lingam, the image of Lord Siva. A pseudo-Vedantin feels ashamed to bow down or prostrate before an idol. Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar etc., had the highest Adwaitic realisation. They saw Lord Siva everywhere and yet they visited all temples of Siva, prostrated before the idol and sang hymns which are on record now. The Nayanar saints practised Chariyai and Kriyai only and attained God-realisation. They swept the floor of the temple, collected flowers, made garlands for the Lord, and put on lights in the temple. They were illiterate, but attained the highest realisation. They were practical Yogis and their hearts were saturated with pure devotion. They were embodiments of Karma Yoga. All of them practised the Yoga of Synthesis. The idol in the temple was a mass of Consciousness for them.
Lord Krishna gives a description of worship to Uddhava in the eleventh chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam:
‘The sun, fire, earth, or clay, water, a Brahmin, any image of Mine in the concrete, clearly thought of as seated in the heart, may be worshipped in My Name sincerely with such articles as could be obtained by him. The worship should be sincere and whole-hearted and the devotee should imagine Me as his preceptor. The devotee should begin My worship for obtaining My grace and not for any other desire. In ordinary images I should be invoked at every time of worship. I can be pictured in the mind. The worship of My image in the heart should be with accessories pictured in the mind.
‘The image should be washed or bathed, cleaned and adorned with ornaments and marks. The devotee should not rise in the midst of worship to get some articles. Once seated, he must finish it before he rises for anything. He should be seated on Darbha grass or other clean seat. He must put My image facing north or east or must himself sit facing north or east. He must sit facing Me or sideways. He should repeat the mantras for purifying himself. He should clean his body by control of breath. He should sit quiet and meditate on Me for some time.
‘He should fancy Me as in a lotus with eight petals, overflowing with fragrance and radiant with light. Sandal-wood, saffron, camphor, Kumkum and fragrance should be used. Purusha Sukta (a Vedic prayer) and other sacred literature should be recited. My devotee may adorn Me with cloth, gems, sacred thread, sandal, flowers, saffron, and ointments, etc. The devotee should offer water for washing the Feet, Achamanam (for sipping), sandal, words of greeting, invitation, and hospitality. He should also wave incense, light and camphor at My altar. He can sing aloud hymns in My praise. He can sing songs and dance in My altar reciting My various deeds and achievements. He should seek My grace, prostrating himself duly before Me. Putting his head on My Feet, he should ask for My grace to protect him and save him from the wheel of births and deaths.
‘He should adorn himself with the flowers and sandal used in such worship. The devotee may worship Me in any form in all objects or in himself in the manner that appeals most to his mind, and inclinations, as I am immanent in all things. My devotee, worshipping Me thus with rituals, Mantras or both, attains not only bliss and Self-realisation, but also all things he desires. By building temples, altars, etc. devotees attain power over all the worlds. By worship of Me they attain Brahma Loka. By all the acts, they attain My power and immanence.’
Bells are rung in the temples, and while doing Puja, to shut out the external sounds and to make the mind inward and concentrated.
Lights are waved before the Deity. This denotes that the Lord is supreme Light. The devotee says: ‘Oh Lord, Thou art self-effulgent, Light of the universe. Thou art the light in the sun, moon, and fire. Remove the darkness in me by bestowing your divine Light on me. May my intellect be illumined.’ This is the significance of waving lights.
Incense is burnt before the Deity. The smoke spreads through the whole room. It acts as a disinfectant. It denotes that the Lord is all-pervading and fills the whole universe by His living presence. The devotee prays: ‘Oh Lord, let the Vasanas and Samskaras dormant in me vanish like the smoke of this incense and become ashes. Let me become stainless.’
Burning of camphor denotes that the individual ego melts like the camphor and the Jiva becomes one with the Supreme Light of lights.
The pasting of sandal reminds the devotee that he should, in his difficulties, be as patient as the sandal. Sandal emanates sweet odour when it is ground. So also, the devotee should not murmur when difficulties arise, but, on the other hand, remain cheerful and happy and emanate sweetness and gentleness like the sandal. He should not hate even his enemy. This is another precept we learn from this. Though the sandalwood is crushed and ground, it silently wears itself out, emanating only very sweet odour. One should return good for evil.
It is the understanding of this inner meaning of Puja that brings in the higher form of devotion.
Bhakti is of two kinds, viz., higher Bhakti or Para Bhakti, and lower Bhakti or ritualistic Bhakti. Ritualistic Bhakti is formal Bhakti. The mind becomes purer and purer. The aspirant gradually develops love for God through ritualistic worship.
Hinduism leads the aspirants gradually from material images to mental images, and from the diverse mental images to the one Personal God, and from the Personal God to the Impersonal Absolute.
Do Japa of the Panchakshara—Om Namah Sivaya. You can even sing the Panchakshara nicely:
Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namah Sivaya,
Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namah Sivaya.
People used to dance, during my tours, whenever I sang the Siva Tandava Kirtan:
Agad Bhum, Agad Bhum Baje Damaru,
Nache Sadasiva Jajad Guru
Nache Brahma, Nache Vishnu, Nache Mahadev
Kappar Lekey Kali Nache Nache Adidev.
Do Puja regularly with faith and devotion. Always and at the end of your prayers, Puja, meditation or Japa, repeat the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra—
Om Tryambakam Yajaamahe Sugandhim
Pushtivardhanam, Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan-
Mrityor Muksheeya Maamritaat.
for the health, long life, peace and happiness of all. This great Mantra in praise of Lord Siva works wonders, averts accidents, heals diseases and bestows long life. It will also liberate you from Samsara.
Abhishekam — Bathing the image of God.
NOTE: In the case of some proper names, the Tamil tradition of using them in different forms has been adopted: viz., Enadinatha Nayanar is referred to as Enadinathar or Enadiar. These will be obvious. The names of some festivals, viz., Panguni Uttaram, Vasanta Utsavam, Maha Navami, have been retained. There are a number of other proper names, too, with which the reader will become familiar.
Aiswarya — Wealth.
Agama — Scripture dealing with ritualistic worship.
Archana — Worshipping the image with flowers.
Bhasma — The holy ash.
Bhav — Attitude, faith.
Deva — Celestial being.
Jivanmukta — The sage, liberated while living here.
Jnana — Wisdom, relating to God.
Karma — Effect of past action (in past births).
Khanda — Similar to chapter, in the Vedas.
Kowpeenam — Loin cloth.
Mutt — A monastery.
Nitya Karmas — Daily obligatory duties.
Pralaya — Cosmic dissolution.
Rishabha — Bull, the vehicle of Lord Siva.
Rudraksham — A kind of bead used by devotees.
Samsara — Transmigration, round of birth-death.
Samskaras — Subtle mental impressions.
Tapas (Tapaswin) — Austerity (one who does).
Vairagya — Dispassion.
Vaisya — A businessman.
Yajna (Yaga) — Ceremonial sacrifice.