29. Eyarkon Kalikama Nayanar
In Tiruperumangalam in Ponni Nadu, there was a Vellala by name Eyarkon Kalikama Nayanar. He belonged to the family called ‘Eyarkudi’ which produced Commanders-in-Chief to Chola kings. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva.
The news that Sundaramurthi Nayanar had used Lord Siva Himself as a messenger to settle the domestic dispute between him and his wife Paravayar, so greatly annoyed devout Kalikamanar that he said to himself: ‘Is this man who behaved like this a devotee? I am a great sinner, too, otherwise my life-breath would have departed on hearing the news.’ Sundarar came to know of Kalikamar’s attitude. He realised his own fault and entreated the Lord to appease Kalikamar’s anger. The Lord caused Kalikamar to suffer from colic and told him in a dream that only Sundarar could cure it. Kalikamar preferred death to being cured by Sundarar! In the meantime, the Lord appeared in Sundarar’s dream and asked him to go to Kalikamar and cure him of the colic. Sundarar at once went to meet Kalikamar. As soon as he heard that Sundarar was coming to cure him, Kalikamar gave up his life by cutting his bowel open.
Sundarar was greeted by Kalikamar’s wife. When he asked for Nayanar, she made her people say that there was nothing wrong with him and that he was asleep. After much persuasion, they showed him the Nayanar’s body. In desperation, Sundarar also wanted to cut his throat. By the grace of Lord Siva, Kalikamar at once came back to life. They embraced each other. Kalikamar spent the rest of his life in the service of the Lord and His devotees and finally reached His Abode.
30. Tiru Mula Nayanar
Tirumula Nayanar was a Saiva Siddha. He was one of the eight students of Tirunandi Devar Who showered His grace on them. They were all Yogis. He was called Tirumular because he entered into the mortal frame of Mulan.
Tirumular desired to see Agastya Rishi in Pothia hills. So he left Kailasa and went southwards. On the way, he visited many Saivite shrines. When he came to Tiruvavaduthurai, he took bath in the river Kaveri and went to the temple. He went round the temple twice and offered prayer to the Lord. When he was walking along the bank of Kaveri, he saw a herd of cows shedding tears. He found out the cause: the cow-herd lay dead. Tirumular wanted to pacify the cows. He entered the body of the cowherd after safely depositing his own body in the trunk of a tree. The cows rejoiced again. This cowherd was known as Mulan, a resident of Sattanur. In the evening, he drove the cows back into the village. Mulan’s wife was eagerly expecting the return of her husband. But, when she approached him that day, he would not allow her to touch him, but said: ‘Oh lady, I am not your husband. Adore Lord Siva and attain Liberation.’ He left her and went away to a near-by Math.
The lady complained to the leaders of the place, about the conduct of her husband. They examined him and came to the conclusion that he had attained great spiritual evolution. So, they asked her to leave him alone. The next day, Tirumular followed the cows, but could not find his body where he had left it. It was the Lord’s Lila. Lord Siva wanted Tirumular to write a book on Saiva Philosophy, containing the essence of all Siva Agamas, in Tamil. Tirumular understood His wish and returned to Tiruvavaduthurai. He worshipped the Lord and sat under the near-by peepul tree in deep meditation. He was in Samadhi for three thousand years. But, every year, he would come down from Samadhi and compose a stanza: thus, in three thousand years he wrote three thousand stanzas. This book is called Tirumandiram.
The Lord’s mission had thus been fulfilled. Then, Tirumular went back to Kailasa.
31. Dandi Adigal Nayanar
In Tiruvarur, in the Chola kingdom, there was a pious Bhakta by name Dandi Adigal. He was born blind. But, he always repeated the Panchaksharam and visualised the Lord with his inner eyes. He would daily go to the temple, do circumambulation, and worship the Lord.
There was a tank on the western side of the temple which was surrounded by Jain dwellings. Dandi Adigal wanted to extend the area of the tank. But, how could he, a man born blind, do it? But, with a determination and complete faith in the Lord, he decided to do it. He erected a post inside the tank where it was to be dug and tied a rope to it. The other end of the rope was tied to the other post which was fixed on the bank. Then guided by the rope he would go to where the digging had to be done. He would dig with a spade, collect the earth in a basket and again with the help of the rope, he would go to the bank and throw the earth away.
The Jains were watching the blind man’s miracle. They were jealous of his achievement, too. So, they wanted to disturb his faith. They put forward a cunning argument. ‘You are blind and you cannot see. While digging, you are killing many insects which is a great sin. So, give up this foolish act.’ Nayanar explained to them the sacredness of the work, which was highly pleasing to the Lord, and also that by His grace, he was sure no insect would be injured. He went on with work. The Jains were insulting in their behaviour now. They said: ‘You were born blind: but now you are deaf, too. Even though we are giving you good counsel, you are not listening.’ Nayanar replied: ‘Oh ignorant people, what do you know of the Lord’s glories? To me He is the sole refuge. I live only to serve Him. Do not mock at His grace. By His grace, if I regained my eye-sight and you lost yours, what will you do?’ This reply greatly annoyed them: they snatched the spade and the basket from his hands.
With a broken heart, Dandi Adigal went to the temple and expressed his grievances to the Lord. The Lord appeared in his dream that night and assured him of His help. He also appeared before the king in his dream and asked him to redress the grievances of Nayanar. The king summoned the Jains. Dandi Adigal was also there. The king addressed Dandi: ‘Oh devotee, you said that by God’s grace you could get your eye-sight back and the Jains would lose theirs. Prove this.’ Dandi Adigal said: ‘Lord Siva is the real God. He is my sole refuge and prop. I am only His slave. If this is true, let me regain my eye-sight and let the Jains lose theirs.’ He then uttered the Panchaksharam and went into the tank. When he came out, his eye-sight had been restored and at the same time, the Jains lost their eye-sight. All were amazed at this. The king banished the Jains from his kingdom and restored people’s faith in the Lord. Dandi Adigal attained God-realisation.
32. Murkha Nayanar
This saint was a Vellala by caste and he belonged to Tiruverkat in Thondai Nadu. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva and was doing Maahesvara Puja by regularly feeding His Bhaktas at any cost. He had spent all his wealth in such feeding.
So, he resorted to a strange way. He used to gamble and use the money for feeding Siva Bhaktas. He went away from his village in search of gamblers! He would not spare anybody: if someone refused to gamble with him, he would resort to violence! (So the name Murkha Nayanar which means wicked Nayanar!) But, he would never utilise the money for his own expenses. It was all for His Bhaktas. So, the Lord, the Indweller, showered His blessings on him.
This is an extraordinary illustration of the nature of supreme devotion or Para Bhakti. It is its own law. The devotee knows nothing but God and is actually oblivious of the world and its manners. He lives in God, for God and he is of God. At such a stage, God Himself takes charge of him! The completeness of the surrender is severely tested before this.
It is the extreme difficulty of this path that made Sage Narada exclaim that even a saint should not violate the canons of morality. Hence, so long as you are aware of your own individuality, stick to the code of right conduct: do not foolishly imitate the sages who dwell in a plane of consciousness, to which you are a complete stranger.
33. Somasira Nayanar
Somasira Nayanar was a Brahmin by caste. He lived in Tiruvambur. He was a great devotee of the Lord and served His Bhaktas, irrespective of their caste. He did Yagas and worshipped the Lord, without expecting any reward. He went to Tiruvarur and lived with Sundaramurthi Nayanar to whom he had totally surrendered himself. Thus he got His grace.
Here is a simple life of saintliness. On the face of it there does not seem to be anything spectacular about this Nayanar. But, we have to bear in mind the conditions that prevailed in South India in the Nayanar’s days. It was almost impossible for a Brahmin in those days to mix with people of other castes, however devoted they might be to God. For a Brahmin to serve them was unthinkably difficult. It required very great will power, determination and devotion to God and His Bhaktas.
Again, in those days no one would even think of performing a Yaga without expectation of a reward. Yagas were performed only with a specific selfish desire. That Nayanar performed them selflessly and desirelessly, shows that he had already reached a high stage of Jnana or spiritual insight. He was a true Jnani and Karma Yogi.
Over and above all these, he was highly devoted to the Guru, Sundaramurthi Nayanar. What cannot Guru Bhakti achieve? And, yet, foolish and arrogant man speaks lightly of it and ridicules Guru Bhakti!
34. Sakkiya Nayanar
This saint was a Vellala born in Tirucchangamangai. He was totally disgusted with worldly life and wanted to attain Liberation. He sought the best way to get this. Due to false propaganda, he fell a victim to Buddhistic influence. He became a Buddhist, but it did not satisfy him for long. He was immediately attracted to Saivism and was convinced that, whatever be the external appearance or conduct of one, if he had intense devotion to the Lord, he would attain Liberation. Though he did not give up his external appearance of a Buddhist, he adored Lord Siva.
One day, as he was sitting in an open Siva temple and meditating on the Lingam, completely absorbed in the divine bliss, he self-forgetfully threw a stone at the Lingam. On the next day, he went to the temple again and recollected the previous day’s action. He felt that it was the Lord s Will, to reveal the profound truth that He would accept anything offered by His Bhakta in devotion. He threw a stone that day too. That was his daily worship, without which he would not take his food! One day, when he was about to take his meal, he remembered that he had not done his usual Puja: and unmindful of the hunger, went to the temple and threw a stone with great devotion. The Lord appeared before him, blessed him and took him to Kailasa.
35. Sirappuli Nayanar
Sirappuli Nayanar was a pious Brahmin. He lived in Tiruvakur in the Chola kingdom. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva and His Bhaktas. He used to worship them and serve them sincerely. He would repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, with Bhav and sincerity, throughout the day and night. He also performed the Vedic sacrifices in honour of Lord Siva. All these earned for him the supreme grace of Siva.
A special spiritual practice of this Nayanar seems to have been the ceaseless repetition of the Panchakshara Mantra (Om Namah Sivaya). This extremely simple practice is capable of bestowing incalculable benefit on man: and yet, ignorant man, full of delusion, refuses to resort to it. The continuous repetition of the Mantra will change the very mind-substance. It contains a divine vibration. Modern science has reached a stage when it no longer believes in mass and quantity. Even the gross and impure intellect of a scientist has come to recognise the superior power in the subtle atom or cell. Great indeed is the foolishness of man if he still refuses to believe that the sound-vibrations (even the subtler thought-vibrations) can bring about a radical change within himself and heal him physically, vitally, mentally, psychically and spiritually.
This is the highest Yoga: to remember God always and constantly to repeat His Name.
36. Siruthonda Nayanar
In Tiruchenkattangudi in the Chola kingdom, there lived a Siva Bhakta by name Paranjyoti. His was a family of army commanders. He himself was the Commander-in-Chief of the Chola king. He realised that devotion to the Feet of Lord Siva was the best means of obtaining Liberation from Samsara and so, he clung to Them.
Once, at the instance of his king, he waged war with a North Indian king, defeated him and returned with a big booty. The king was highly pleased. The minister informed the king that Paranjyotiar was able to achieve the victory because of his intense devotion to Lord Siva. This shocked the king, who was a Siva Bhakta himself: he regretted having compelled a Siva Bhakta to wage a bloody war. He called Paranjyotiar, apologised for having sent him, a Siva Bhakta to war, and, after giving him rich presents, sent him back to his village, with the request that he should henceforth engage himself in His Puja. Paranjyotiar returned to his village and from that time was engaged in the worship of the Lord and His Bhaktas. He would not eat without first feeding a Siva Bhakta. He regarded himself as the lowly servant of the Lord and His Bhaktas: hence the name Siruthondar (small servant).
Lord Siva wanted to bring out the glory of this noble saint. So, one day He appeared in front of Siruthondar’s house, in the guise of a Vairavar (a special class of Siva Yogis). He enquired of Siruthondar’s maid-servant, Sandana Nangaiyar, whether her master was at home. She said: ‘No, he has gone in search of a Siva Bhakta, without feeding whom he would not take his food.’ But, afraid lest this Siva Yogi should go away, she entreated him to come into the house. The mendicant would not: ‘I shall not enter the house in which a woman is alone.’ Siruthondar’s wife Tiruvengattu Nangaiyar heard these words and came out hurriedly and prayed to the Vairavar to stay in the house till the husband returned. The Vairavar repeated his objection and said: ‘When he comes back tell him I am under the tree near the temple.’ The Vairavar went away.
Immediately afterwards, Siruthondar returned. His wife told him all that had happened in his absence. Siruthondar was overjoyed because he was unable to find any other Bhakta that day. At once he ran to the temple and fell at the feet of the Vairavar and invited him to the house for Bhiksha. The Vairavar, however, hesitated and remarked: ‘I doubt whether you will be able to fulfil the exacting conditions I shall demand for accepting your Bhiksha: so, better leave me alone.’ Siruthondar was greatly grieved. He had thought that this mendicant had been specially sent by God to enable him to adhere to his vow and feed a Bhakta every day. He was prepared to meet any demand from the Bhakta, if only he agreed to take the Bhiksha. Now, the mendicant revealed his condition: ‘Oh devotee, it is my habit to eat once in six months the fresh meat of a Pasu. That time has now come. I doubt whether you will satisfy me.’ This word Pasu has two meanings: an animal and a human being. Siruthondar thought that the mendicant only meant animal meat: and readily agreed! To his surprise, however, the mendicant revealed that meant human flesh! He also added: ‘Oh friend, it should be the meat of a child. The child should be five years of age. He must be healthy. He should be the only son of his parents. Such a boy must be held by the mother and cut into pieces by his father. This meat must be cooked nicely and offered to me.’ Without the least hesitation, Siruthondar accepted conditions and took the mendicant home.
How to find a boy of the mendicant’s description? Siruthondar thought of his own son who fitted the description. The noble wife agreed, too, and asked him to get the child from school. As soon as he came the mother held him on her lap. The innocent child was laughing when Siruthondar, with one stroke cut his throat. The head is generally unfit for cooking, and is not fit for being offered to the Lord. So, they gave it away to the maid-servant and began to cook, the rest of the meat. After worshipping the mendicant, Siruthondar was preparing to offer him Bhiksha. The mendicant ascertained the method adopted by them in cooking the meat and Nayanar explained everything (except the fact that it was their own son that they had sacrificed). The mendicant said he would eat the head, too. The maid-servant had anticipated this and had the head cooked and ready.
Once again, Siruthondar requested the Yogi to have his meal. Now, the Yogi wanted another Siva Bhakta to eat with him: and there was no one except the Nayanar himself. So, he sat with the Yogi, ready to eat the flesh of his son, to please the Yogi. Yet, one more condition had to be fulfilled! The Yogi said that unless the host’s son ate with him, he would not eat! Nayanar tactfully explained that his son was not in the house and so could not join with them. But, the Yogi insisted: ‘Go out and call for him: he will come.’ Nayanar wanted to obey the Yogi and did as the Yogi had asked to do. Wonder of wonders: the young boy came running to the father as soon as the father had cried aloud: ‘Sirala, come here: the Yogi wants you to eat with him.’ The parents were astonished to see their child, Siralan come back to life. They entered the kitchen, but could not find the Yogi there. The meat had also disappeared! As they were searching for the Yogi, the Lord appeared before them, blessed them and took them to His Abode.
37. Cheraman Perumal Nayanar
Cheraman Perumal Nayanar was born in Kodunkolur. It was the capital city of Malai Nadu or the present Kerala. He was born in the royal family of Kothayars, otherwise known as the Uthiyan family. The name Cheraman was the common name for all Cheras. Perumal was the title adopted by him after his coronation. His original name was Perum-Ma-Kothayar. He was endowed with good Samskaras. He had great devotion to the Lord even as a child. As he grew, his devotion also grew. He had a remarkable degree of dispassion and discrimination. He did not like to rule the country: and so, when he came of age, he renounced the world and went to Tiru Anchaikalam and engaged himself in the worship of the Lord there. The country was ruled by Sengol Porayan. He, too, soon realised the evanescence of worldly life and renounced the world! He had no issues and the throne was vacant. They went to Tiru Anchaikalam and requested Perum-Ma-Kothayar to ascend the throne. Though he was reluctant, lest it should interfere with his daily worship, he bowed to the divine will. He went to the temple and offered a prayer. The Lord permitted him to accept the rulership. By the Lord’s grace he ascended the throne and ruled the country justly and wisely. He could understand all languages, even the language of the birds. The Lord had bestowed upon him all the Aiswaryas, great strength, royal vehicles, etc.
After the coronation, he went to the temple and after worshipping the Lord he was returning to the palace. On the way, he saw a washerman whose body had been smeared with white sand and mud. The very sight enraptured Cheraman who saw in him the image of Lord Siva with the sacred ash smeared all over the body. He was raised to God-consciousness. He descended from the elephant and fell at the feet of the washerman, in spite of the latter’s protest. All were wonderstruck to witness the supreme devotion of Cheraman.
By his many acts of devotion and piety, he earned the grace of Lord Siva. The Lord sent to him a renowned musician and devotee, Banapatirar, with a palm leaf on which was the Lord’s own song in praise of Cheraman! It read: ‘Oh king who honours great poets with rich presents, who rules his subjects with love! Glory to you! I am very highly pleased with your devotion and charitable nature. The bearer of this message is Banapatirar who is a great devotee like you. He is a great musician and always sings My glories on his favourite instrument, Yazh. He has come to see you. Welcome him with due respect and honour him with plenty of riches.’ Cheraman welcomed the musician with great love and devotion. When he read the song of the Lord, he was overjoyed and rolled on the ground. He said to Banapatirar: ‘Oh noble soul, kindly take possession of all these and accept my kingdom also.’ Banapatirar was astounded to witness the king’s devotion and said: ‘Oh king, I am highly pleased with your Darshan. I shall accept only what is absolutely necessary for me, for that has been the command of the Lord.’ He took what he needed and left Kodunkolur on an elephant. Cheraman escorted him up to the border.
Cheraman was greatly devoted to Lord Nataraja. He had surrendered his body, mind and soul to Him. He would daily worship the Lord: and, by His grace, at the time of his prayer, he would hear the musical sound produced by the Lord’s anklets during His dance. One day, however, at the time of the prayer, he did not hear the usual divine sound. Cheraman was greatly afflicted at heart. He thought that he must have been guilty of a great crime and decided to end his life, with his sword. At once he heard the divine sound and a voice in the sky explained: ‘Oh noble soul, My friend Nambi Arurar has come to Tillai and he was singing sweet Tamil songs. I was completely absorbed in that and hence the delay in blessing you with the musical sound of My anklet.’ The Lord wanted to create a friendship between Sundarar and Cheraman and so spoke highly of Sundarar to Cheraman. Cheraman, desirous of worshipping Lord Nataraja and also of meeting Sundarar, at once started for Tillai. The very sight of the Lord in Tillai entranced him. He sang ‘Pon Vannathu Anthadi’ on Lord Nataraja. In appreciation, the Lord blessed him with the musical sound of His anklets. Cheraman was swimming in divine bliss.
Before Cheraman reached Tillai, Sundarar had already left the place. Cheraman proceeded to Tiruvarur where he met Sundarar. They embraced each other and fell at each other’s feet. They became fast friends. At Tiruvarur Cheraman composed the famous ‘Tiru Mummanikovai’ on Lord Thiagaraja.
Then they went to Vedaranyam. There Cheraman sang his ‘Tiru Anthati’ on the Lord. After visiting many shrines on the way they came to Madura. The Pandyan king welcomed them. The Chola prince who was staying with the Pandyan king also welcomed them. In their company the great saints visited many shrines. Taking leave of the kings, Cheraman and Sundarar returned to Tiruvarur. From there, at the request of Cheraman, Sundarar accompanied him to Kodunkolur. There Cheraman took Sundarar on an elephant and went round the city in procession.
When Sundarar returned to Tiruvarur, he had instructed Cheraman to rule the country justly and wisely. Cheraman obeyed the saint’s commands. On the next occasion when Sundarar visited Kodunkolur one day Sundarar suddenly left the place and went to the sacred shrine at Tiru Anchaikalam where he sought the Lord’s grace and attained Liberation. By intuition, Cheraman learnt of Sundarar’s release and he also attained the Lotus Feet of the Lord, as we have already seen, while dealing with Sundaramurthi Nayanar’s life. In Kailasa, Cheraman became the chief of Lord Siva’s Ganas (servants).
38. Gananatha Nayanar
Gananathar was a pious Brahmin of Sirkali. He was a great Bhakta of Lord Siva. People admired his virtue and devotion and came to him for advice. He invariably gave them some work connected with the temple, according to their ability. They would clean the temple, make garlands, work in the gardens, burn lamps in the temples, etc. Thus he infused devotion in them for the Lord and transformed them into Siva Bhaktas. He was greatly devoted to Jnana Sambandar. All these earned Siva’s grace for him.
Here is another great but simple spiritual practice. Talk to other people about God and the glory of devotion, etc. You will be building up a powerful spiritual fortress around you. You will be able to avoid people wasting your time: you will not indulge in nor allow others to lead you into, gossip which is the spiritual aspirant’s arch-enemy. People who may in the beginning, think that you are strange in your behaviour, will soon understand you and they will, of their own accord, avoid useless talk in your very presence. At the same time, you will be rendering a very great service to humanity, by directing everyone’s mind towards God and Dharma. Here is a wonderful Yoga which helps you and others, too, at the same time. Put it into practice and realise its miraculous effect.
39. Kootruva Nayanar
This saint was a chieftain of Kalandai. He was extremely devoted to Lord Siva. Daily he would repeat the Panchakshara Mantra, and serve the Bhaktas. The Lord made him more powerful, and bestowed on him all wealth and strength. Nayanar captured many places in the Chola and Pandyan kingdoms. He wanted that the three thousand Brahmins of Tillai should crown him king: they refused, because they owed allegiance to the Chola king. All of them even left Tillai fearing his wrath. Only one was left to do the Puja. Even he refused to accede to Nayanar’s request. One day Nayanar prayed to the Lord: and, in answer, the Lord Himself appeared before him and crowned him by placing His Feet on his head. Nayanar continued to worship the Lord and finally attained Him.
The Lord, the Indweller of our hearts knew that, when the Nayanar asked the three thousand Brahmins to crown him, it was only to spiritualise the coronation and to enable him to feel that the crown was but a symbol of the Feet of the Lord. When the Brahmins feared political repercussions, the Lord Himself fulfilled the devotee’s wish.
40. Pugal Chola Nayanar
Pugal Chola Nayanar was a king. He was living in Uraiyur in the Chola kingdom. He was greatly devoted to Lord Siva and His Bhaktas. He was an ideal king and people loved him and followed in his footsteps.
Once he went to Karur to collect tributes due to him from the kings of Kuda Nadu. All of them paid at once: but the ministers reported that a petty king named Adigan had not. He ordered his troops to invade Adigan’s fort. In the meantime, the king’s elephant was killed by Eripatha Nayanar for a Siva Aparadham (as we have already seen in Eripatha Nayanar’s life). Ultimately, both Eripathar and the king had the Lord’s Darshan. As this drama was being enacted, elsewhere, the king’s troops had demolished Adigan’s fort, killing many of his men, and Adigan himself had run away. Pugal Cholar’s troops returned with a lot of wealth and the heads of men killed. They placed all these at the king’s feet. Among the heads, the king noticed a head with the braid of hair on top—it belonged to a Siva Bhakta. Stricken with terrible remorse the king had a big fire made, went round it having the head on a golden plate in his hand and entered the fire chanting the Panchakshara Mantra. Thus he entered the Lord’s Abode.
41. Narasinga Muniyaraiyar
This saint was a petty chieftain. He lived in Tiru Munaipadi. He was highly devoted to Lord Siva. He was a champion of Saivism. On every Tiruvathirai day he would conduct special Puja, feed Siva Bhaktas in whatever form they appeared and offer the gift of a hundred gold coins to each. On one such occasion, one Bhakta came with sacred ashes on his stark naked body: this evoked disgust in the hearts of the other Bhaktas. Nayanar understood this and fell at the naked devotee’s feet and welcomed him with more respect. He fed him nicely and gave him 200 gold coins. This earned the Lord’s supreme grace for the Nayanar.
Here is an illustration of the subtle way in which saints manifest their cosmic vision, and also the subtle way in which they bring about the necessary change in the outlook of others. To the Nayanar, all the devotees are the manifestations of Lord Siva. The naked man does not evoke the least trace of disgust or contempt. When he finds this unhealthy attitude in others, he does not violently correct them. In his own subtle, mysterious but very effective way, he demonstrates the truth: and brings about a change in the attitude of the ignorant. Both these lessons are important.
42. Adipattha Nayanar
This saint was a fisherman born in Nulaipadi near Nagapattinam. It was his practice to let go one fish from his catch daily, as an offering unto the Lord. The Lord wanted to reveal his greatness to the world. Once it so happened that for many consecutive days he could catch only one fish. He let it go, in the name of Lord Siva, and went without food. One day he caught a golden fish, again only one for the day. And, he stuck to his vow and let it go, in the name of Lord Siva. The Lord appeared before him and blessed this illiterate, fisherman saint!
Not indeed by vast erudition, nor by breath-taking austerities, nor by hearing and talking a lot, but by unflinching devotion alone can God be realised. This humble, simple, fisherman saint has proved that beyond the least trace of doubt. But, look at his steadfastness, Nishta! It is not easy to acquire, unless you have living faith in God. Otherwise, the mind will bring up all sorts of reasons (lame excuses!) for breaking the vow. This supreme faith and devotion is itself the highest Jnana. Only an ignorant man studies books: what need is there for a great scholar to study an elementary book on grammar? What need is there for one to whom God is a living presence, to stuff himself with words? Intellect is a help, if it serves faith: it is a hindrance if it shakes it. Devotion is indispensable for attaining Him.
43. Kalikamba Nayanar
This saint was a Vaisya by caste and he lived in Pennagadam in the Chola kingdom. He was doing some service in the temple. He was very devoted to Siva Bhaktas in whom he saw the Lord Himself. His wife, too, helped him in all this.
One day, his former servant came to his house in the guise of a Bhakta. Nayanar, as usual, welcomed him, washed his feet and worshipped him. But, his wife who recognised the former servant did not join. Nayanar understood her lack of devotion, cut off her hand and continued his worship of the Bhakta. Practising this form of Yoga Sadhana, he attained Him.
This saint has dramatically proved the great truth which Sage Narada has emphasised in his immortal work ‘Bhakti Sutras’: there is no distinction of caste, creed or status, among the devotees of God. They do not recognise such distinctions among themselves: and others, too, shall not entertain such distinctions. It is blasphemy against God. The great devotees have become one with Him. They are all manifest divinity. Whatever might have been their past life, caste or faith, they have now become divine and hence such distinctions have no meaning.
44. Kalia Nayanar
Kalia Nayanar was an oil monger of Tiruvotriyur. His adoration of the Lord, to Whom he was highly devoted, took the form of lighting the temple lamps daily. He was rich. But, in order to reveal his greatness the Lord made him poor. His family people also refused help. He began to work as a labourer to earn the oil. Even this became impossible. He wanted to sell his wife: but no one would buy. At last, in despair, he wanted to cut his own throat and use the blood instead of oil, to burn the lamps. In that attempt, Lord Siva caught hold of his hand and blessed him.
What greatness, and what intensity of devotion is portrayed in this simple life! Self-forgetfulness is the key-note in devotion. Remembering God always, the devotee is so thoroughly absorbed in Him, that nothing but God and His worship matters to him. By all means His worship must go on: no obstacle shall stand in the way. The devotee’s heart and mind are always positive, never letting a negative thought enter them. He sees opportunities in difficulties and is never beaten by any obstacles which serve him as steps to God!
45. Satti Nayanar
Satti Nayanar was a Vellala by caste. He was born in Varinjiyur in the Chola kingdom. He was a sincere devotee of Lord Siva and honoured His devotees. He could not tolerate anyone speaking ill of them. If anyone did so, he would cut off the slanderer’s tongue. Lord Siva understood his pure inner Bhav and showered His grace on him.
Besides revealing the glory of the Nayanar’s devotion, this simple life also holds for us a great object lesson—never speak ill of the saints or devotees of God. They have attained union with God: and, so, if you vilify them, you are vilifying God Himself. It is the greatest sin, the greatest, Himalayan blunder. You cannot judge them: they live on a different plane of consciousness from yours. Our scriptures contain numerous illustrations of the strange behaviour of saints, sages and Yogis. Sometimes they behave as little children: sometimes as mad-men; sometimes as fools. Mysterious is the nature of saints. Always worship and adore them: you will be benefited. Do not criticise them or speak ill of them or find fault with their conduct. Our scriptures say that he who blames the conduct of the sages, gets their bad Karma, and suffers doubly in consequence. Beware!
If anyone speaks ill of a saint or devotee of God, in your presence, leave that place at once. Otherwise, your own moral and spiritual structure will be dangerously undermined. Beware!
46. Aiyadigal Kadavarkon Nayanar
Aiyadigal Kadavarkon Nayanar was a Pallava king who ruled over Kanchi. He infused the spirit of Saivism into his people, too.
Soon he got disgusted with worldly life, renounced the world, after installing his son in his place, and undertook a continuous pilgrimage of the various shrines singing hymns in His praise, wherever he went. Lord Siva was highly pleased with his devotion and blessed him with His Darshan.
This king has set an example for all kings and social leaders to follow. Leaders should be the best example for their followers. They should encourage the masses to walk the path of virtue and Godlines. Otherwise, they live in vain: and, what is more, they take upon their shoulders a good part of the sins of their followers, for they are responsible for those sins.
This Nayanar lives in our hearts even today because he served his subjects both by precept and by his own personal example. He taught them; he encouraged them; and, finally, by his own life of renunciation and wholehearted devotion of the Lord, set a glorious example for them to emulate. Such is the life of an ideal leader.
47. Kanampulla Nayanar
Kanampulla Nayanar was a wealthy man in Irukkuvelur. He was a great Siva Bhakta. He wanted to utilise all his wealth in His service only. So, with unswerving devotion he would light the lamps in Siva shrines and sing His praise. Lord Siva wanted to reveal his devotion. He withdrew his wealth. He went over to Chidambaran. There also he continued his service, with the money got by selling his possessions. There was nothing left in the house. He had to cut grass, sell it and purchase ghee with the money and burn the lamps. Because he cut grass known as Kanampul, he was known as Kanampulla Nayanar. One day he could not sell the grass. He did not want to swerve from his duty, however. He went to the temple and made a wick out of the grass and burnt it. The quantity of grass was not enough. So, he brought his own head near the lamp, spread his hair on the lamp, and began burning it. At once Lord Siva appeared before him, and blessed him.
48. Kari Nayanar
This ardent devotee of Lord Siva was a native of Tirukadavur. He was a scholar in Tamil. He used to go to the three Tamil kings, and get money by singing Tamil Kovais (anthology). He earned a lot and built temples. Thus he spread the cause of Saivism. He also served Siva Bhaktas and earned His grace.
A true devotee of the Lord lives for His sake only. All that he has is offered to the Lord as the devotee’s worship. God is your creator, your father and mother, friend and Guru. He has given you the various talents and skill. They belong to Him. He dwells in all, and expects you to utilise them in the service of all. This is the simple logic by which the saints arrive at the conclusion that they should see God in all, serve the Lord in all, and love Him in and through cosmic love, expressed as selfless service and charity.
By leading such a selfless and divine life, you will conquer your worst spiritual enemy, viz., egoism, and realise God in this very birth, nay, this very second.
49. Ninra Seer Nedumara Nayanar And
Koon Pandyan, the Pandyan king, was ruling in Madura. He was called Koon Pandyan because of his hunchback. He was himself a poet and he patronised the Tamil poets and established a Tamil Sangam. His wife was Mangayarkarasiyar. She was the daughter of a Chola king. She was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva. Kulacchirai Nayanar was his minister: and he was also a staunch devotee of Lord Siva. Tiru Jnana Sambandar has sung Padigams in praise of both.
Koon Pandyan had fallen a victim to the influence of Jainism. The queen and the minister feared that unless something was done, Saivism would be wiped out. When Sambandar came to Madura and was staying outside the city, Kulacchirai Nayanar invited him into the city. The Jains tried in vain to destroy Sambandar. When Sambandar sang a song, the king’s hunchback was cured, as also his burning pain. He came back to Saivism. Since then he was known as Ninra Seer Nadumara Nayanar, as his hunchback had disappeared and he stood erect and tall.
The Pandyan king then defeated the northern kings at Tirunelvely and spread Saivism there. Mangayarkarasiyar helped her husband a lot in this. Both the husband and the wife worshipped Sambandar with great faith and devotion. Their devotion to the Guru and love of Saivism earned His grace for them.
51. Vayilar Nayanar
He was a Vellala by caste. He belonged to Mylapore. He was a Siva Bhakta. He constructed temples mentally and did Manasic (mental) worship. He built the temple of non-forgetfulness, lit the shining lamp of Self-illumination, bathed the Lord in the waters of immortal Ananda (bliss) and worshipped Him with the elixir of supreme love. Thus he obtained salvation.
Here is the life of a Para Bhakta, a supreme devotee. He had transcended the stage of idol worship. He had attained great purity of heart and clarity of inner psychic vision so that, without the aid of a symbol and without the help of rituals, he could raise his mind to the sublime heights of the Abstract.
The inclusion of this wonderfully simple life of Vayilar Nayanar is to point out that devotion is of many types, to suit the taste and temperament of different individuals. Whatever be the path the choose, ultimately they reach the same goal, union with the Lord, Siva. The Hindu sages have always declared that the spiritual path is not a stereotyped one, the same drug for all diseases, the same food for all people at all ages (from infancy to old age!), but that the spiritual life is adapted (within broad limits) to the needs of each individual. Everyone pursues the path or the combination of paths suited to him, and ultimately reaches the same goal.
52. Munaiyaduvar Nayanar
This saint was a Vellala by caste. He belonged to Tiru Nidur in the Chola kingdom. He was a great Bhakta of Lord Siva and His devotees. He was always the hope of the desperate, the weak and the vanquished. They would call upon him to turn their defeat into a victory. He would hire himself out as a professional fighter. He fixed a wage for this service and with that money he would feed the Siva Bhaktas and look after them. He earned money in this way and hence he was called ‘Munaiyaduvar’. Lord Siva was highly pleased with him and blessed him.
Two vital lessons that this Nayanar’s life hold should not be ignored. The first and foremost, even in the exercise of the God-given talent of fencing, the Nayanar took care to see, that it was used to defend the weak, the oppressed and the downtrodden. Strength, too, is a manifestation of the Lord, according to Him: but it should be used in His service in a righteous way. The second one is that the fruits of such service were always dedicated to the Lord. This is the very core of the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, and the teachings of all saints and sages. Righteousness rests on this pedestal of dedication to God and unselfishness. Selfishness is the root cause of all sins and consequent miseries.
53. Kazharsinga Nayanar And
54. Seruthunai Nayanar
Kazharsinga Nayanar was an ardent devotee of the Lord. He was a Pallava monarch, belonging to the family of Kadavar. Due to God’s grace he defeated the kings of the northern country and established Saivism there. He went on many pilgrimages.
Once he came to Tiruvarur with his queen and visited the temple. The queen, coming round the temple, came to the place where flowers had been kept for Siva’s worship, and she smelt a flower which had accidentally fallen on the floor. Seruthunai Nayanar, a pious Vellala of Tanjore, who was doing the service in the temple, was annoyed by her action. He at once cut off the nose of the queen that smelt the flower.
The king, hearing the pitiable cry of the queen, rushed to the spot. He was terribly angry with the man who was responsible for the brutal act. Seruthunai Nayanar explained to him the queen’s action which was an insult to Lord Siva (Siva Aparadham). The king at once gave an additional punishment to her, by cutting off her hand which picked up the flower! Both the king and Seruthunai Nayanar were glorified by the people and the celestials rained flowers on them. Both of them attained the grace of Lord Siva.
55. Idangazhi Nayanar
This saint was the king of Velas in Kodumbalur. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Siva. He had made arrangements with all the Siva temples to perform worship according to the Siva Agamas. There was another Siva Bhakta in the same locality doing Maaheshwara Puja. He became very poor and so he could not continue his Puja and feeding of Bhaktas. So, one day he entered Idangazhi Nayanar’s granary at night and began to steal paddy. The watchman caught him red-handed and took him to the king. The king learnt on enquiry that the Siva Bhakta’s motive for stealing was to feed the devotees of the Lord. The king let him go.
This incident opened the eyes of the king. He realised that nothing belonged to him and that the real owners of his property were Lord Siva and His Bhaktas. So, he gave permission to all Siva Bhaktas to enter his palace and granary and take whatever they wanted. Thus he displayed his zeal for the spread of Saivism. Thus he earned Lord Siva’s grace, too.
56. Pugazh Tunai Nayanar
This saint was a pious Adi Saiva of Seruviliputhur. He was an ardent Siva Bhakta. He was a Pujari (priest) in the temple. His daily duty was to bathe the image, uttering the Mantras and do the Puja, according to the Siva Agamas. Once a famine swept over the land and he had no money to buy food. He loved the deity and his daily duty so much that he did not like to leave the place in spite of the starvation. He stuck to that place and continued the Puja. His body was emaciated. One day, in spite of his weakness, he fetched water for the Lord’s Bath (Abhishekam) and, when he was pouring the water on the Lingam, the water-pot slipped from his hand and fell on Him. Nayanar forgot himself in sheer exhaustion and fainted away. The Lord appeared in his dream and said that He would leave one coin in the temple every day till the famine was over so that he could procure the necessary food with that money and appease his hunger. Nayanar woke up and found that the dream was true! The Lord thus enabled His Bhakta to get over the famine. He continued his daily Puja in the temple and finally reached the Lord’s Abode.
57. Kotpuli Nayanar
This saint was a Vellala by caste. He was the Commander-in-Chief of a Chola king. He was highly devoted to Lord Siva. He was very pious and virtuous. It was his practice to purchase paddy out of his income and give it to Siva temples for the Lord’s food. He was doing this for a long time.
Once he had to go out on military duty. So, he stocked a sufficient quantity of paddy for the temple use, handed it over to his relatives, with clear instructions that it was meant only for the Lord and that they should not touch it for their own use. During his absence, there was a famine and his relatives had to suffer for want of food. So, they laid their hands on the paddy meant for the Lord and appeased their hunger. The Nayanar returned from his duty and heard of his relatives’ action. He was annoyed with them. He called them to his house and killed them, including his parents, for this crime. His supreme love for the Lord had so completely overshadowed his love for his own near and dear ones! The Lord appeared at once before him and blessed him, and also all the relatives who had died at his hand, and took them all to His Abode.