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 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’.
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.
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
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.
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.
Chruthunai Nayanar was born in Keezh Thanjavur. He was a passionate and a disciplined devotee of Lord Sri Moolanathar with his consort Goddess Sri Akilandeswari. He was practiced a strict method of worship of Lord and used untainted materials for the worship of Supreme Lord. Once, King Kazharsingar along with his Queen made a visit to the temple of Lord Tyagaraja at Thiruvarur with their escorts. The King was transcended to the world of ecstasy after visualizing the mesmerizing beauty of Lord. In the meantime, Queen was gracefully moving through the circumambulatory paths observing the enthralling beauty of the environment. At one moment, her eyes get caught of a beautiful hall and its dais. At the center of the hall there was heaps of alluring fresh flowers of various fragrances which was kept for making garlands out of it for the worship of Lord. Instantly, a gorgeous flower fallen down from the dais which was picked by the Queen and smelt it.
Thiru Cheruthunai Nayanar was happened to observe the Queen’s movement. He was totally annoyed by her act; he had strict disciplined manners in the worship of Lord and purity of materials used for the worship of Supreme Lord. It was most frustrating moment for him, he rushed off his feet and cut down her nose for the sin she had committed. The queen was traumatized at the behavior of Thiru Cheruthunaiyar and withered in pain. Soon, King Kazharsingar joined at the spot, he was utterly shocked to see his dearest wife shivering and screaming out of pain. Thiru Cheruthinaiyar explained the state of affairs to the King Kazharsingar. The King scrutinized the situation and declared that the punishment for polluting the flower which was kept for offering to Lord was the severe sin committed and the verdict followed to chop her hands down for picking the flower kept for the worship. At once, there were flowers trickled from the sky appreciating the uprightness of King Kazharsingar and Thiru Cheruthunai Nayanar.
Kazharsinga Nayanar was the righteous ruler of Pallava Kingdom. During his regime, people were lived a happy and prosperous life. Thus, he earned lot of fame and won over his enemies. He was an adorned devotee of Lord Shiva; visited many sacred temples of Lord along with his wife.
Once, King Kazharsingar along with his Queen made a visit to the temple of Lord Tyagaraja at Thiruvarur with their escorts. The King was transcended to the world of ecstasy after visualizing the mesmerizing beauty of Lord. In the meantime, Queen was gracefully moving through the circumambulatory paths observing the enthralling beauty of the environment. At one moment, her eyes get caught of a beautiful hall and its dais. At the centre of the hall there was heaps of alluring fresh flowers of various fragrances which was kept for making garlands out of it for the worship of Lord. Instantly, a gorgeous flower fallen down from the dais which was picked by the Queen and smelt it.
Thiru Cheruthunai Nayanar, one of the passionate devotees of Lord Shiva was happened to observe the Queen’s movement. Thiru Cheruthunaiyar was totally annoyed by her act; he had strict disciplined manners in the worship of Lord and purity of materials used for the worship of Supreme Lord. It was most frustrating moment for him, he rushed off his feet and cut down her nose for the sin she had committed. The queen was traumatized at the behaviour of Thiru Cheruthunaiyar and withered in pain. Soon, King Kazharsingar joined at the spot, he was utterly shocked to see his dearest wife shivering and screaming out of pain. Thiru Cheruthinaiyar explained the state of affairs to the King Kazharsingar. The King scrutinized the situation and declared that the punishment for polluting the flower which was kept for offering to Lord was the severe sin committed and the verdict followed to chop her hands down for picking the flower kept for the worship. At once, there were flowers trickled from the sky appreciating the uprightness of King Kazharsingar. King Kazharsinga Nayanar ruled his Kingdom wisely for several years and finally attained the Abode of Lord Shiva.
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.
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.