SADGURU SHRI SIVAN SIR

Yenippadigalil Maanthargal - YPM

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YPM-II - Page-9

Apparadigal - Appodiyadigal

Thilakavathiyar and Marulneekiyar were born to Pugazhanar and Madhiniyar who were engaged in the divine service of Lord Shiva at Thirumunaipadi in South Arcot district. Thilakavathiyar has been engaged to marry an army commander by name Kalipagayar on reaching marriageable age. But it so happened that the proposed groom died in a war which made Thilakavathiyar dedicate her life to Lord Shiva and live as a spinster throughout her life. Marulneekiyar engaged himself in the service of Lord Shiva and charitable activities as he grew up. At that point of time the Pallava king and majority of the citizens were devoted to Jainism. Influenced by this Marulneekiyar thought that he could attain enlightenment through Jainism. With this thought in his mind he reached Patalipuram aka Thirupadiripuliyur, undertook proper training in Jainism and was made a religious head with the name, Darumasenan. Ever since Marulneekiyar left him, Thilakavathiyar became sad, reached Thiruvadigai, built a Mutt there to continue her detached life, praying to Veerattaaneshwarar  about the condition of her brother. A few years passed by.

One day Bhagavan appeared in the dream of Thilakavathiyar and said these words of solace: "I have bestowed Soolai disease (a very painful stomach ache) on your younger brother. He is suffering. Since Jains will not be able to cure the disease, he will come to you. You bring him to my Sannidhi ". Accordingly Darumasenan too guessed intuitively his sister's place and reached Thiruvadigai. He was affectionately welcomed by his sister and taken to the temple where he was asked to pronounce Panchakshara. The brother bowed to Eswara and prostrated to him. He gained the divine ability to compose poems, sang the Thirupadigam "kootrayinavaaru vilakkagalir" which made his Soolai disease vanish miraculously. Lord Shiva granted the growth of Chitham to Appar and have him the name, Thirunavukkarasu.

When the fellow Jains of Darumasena came to know that he had left them, they invaded the palace of the Pallava king. They complained to King Mahendra Varman that Darumasena joined them with the treacherous idea of using the powers of Jainism for promotion of Hinduism. Appar was arraigned and brought in front of the king. As suggested by the Jain Guru, the king ordered that Appar be put to death with torture. However Appar was saved miraculously each time from the punishment. Finally when he was tied to a rock and thrown into the sea, Appar reached Thirupadiripuliyur, the fort of Jains safely sitting on the rock. The king who was amazed about Appar escaping this time too, realised that he was guilty of offending divinity. Sensing the transformation of the king, the Jains swore by Hinduism and begged to be let away. However the king awarded death to many religious heads and released the rest.

Appar who reached the shore at Thirupadiripuliyur (Patalipuram) had Darshan at several Siva kshetras before reaching Thiruvadigai. The Pallava king who came to know that Appar is in Thiruvadigai reached the Thirumadam where Appar was staying wearing Vibhudi and Rudraksham, fell at Appar's feet and begged his pardon. Appar also took the king to the temple, made him have Darshan of Bhagavan and gave him Vibhudi. Finally Saivam prospered Jainism waned in the country.

Appar who was staying in Thiruvadigai undertook a pilgrimage after a few days. He composed Pathigams (verses) in each Siva kshetras before reaching Seerkazhi. When Thirugnana Sambandar came to know that Appar was coming to Seerkazhi, he welcomed Appar. While Appar prostrated to Sambandar, Sambandar saluted Appar. Both of them went to have Darshan of Thoniappar. Thus Appar spent a lot of days together with Sambandar before leaving him to reach Thingaloor near Thiruvaiyaru.

Apparadigal observed that public utilities in Thingaloor such as Nandavanam, Kulam, Dharma Sathiram, Thaneer Pandal etc were named after him (Thirunavukkarasu) and enquired of the locals, the reason for the same. He was told that there was a Brahmin by name Apoodhigal living in that town who was devoted to a Mahan by name Thirunavukkarasar and was doing charitable acts in the name of that Mahan. Appar visited Apoodhiyar's house who welcomed the Sivanadiyar with due respect and offered him a seat.

Appar saluted him and asked him, "why are you naming your charitable acts after some other person instead of yours". At this Apoodhiyar became slightly angry and retorted somewhat harshly, "Though you look like a devotee of Siva, you have referred to Thirunavukkarasar as 'some other person '! You talk as if you do not know that Mahan. Was he not rescued by Siva Himself when he was subjected to a terrible death sentence? Further has he not emerged victorious against Jainism? So  whose name should I choose except his?"

Trembling at the kind of devotion Apoodhiyar had for him, Appar informed him, "I am that humble person who was brought back to Saivam from Jainism by Lord Siva Himself through Soolai disease". On hearing this Apoodhiyar ran inside his house, brought his family with him and all of them simply fell at his feet.

Exhilarated at meeting Thirunavukkarasar in person, Apoodhiyar once again prostrated to him and requested him have food at his house. As soon as the cooking was over, he sent his son Senior Thirunavukkarasu to the garden for fetching banana plantain leaves. When his son was doing so, he was bitten by a snake. He rushed in, gave the leaves to his mother and fell dead. The parents bundled the body of their son in a carpet and concealed it in order to accord more priority to their duties towards Mahan. Also they did not want to lose an opportunity of feeding Mahan who may not accept food if he comes to know of their son's death.

When the couple requested the Mahan to sit for food after washing his feet, he gave them Vibhudi Prasadam and asked them to bring their eldest son to him. Apoodhi Adigal responded, "He will not be of help now", Appar asked for the reason. When the beans had to be spilt, Appar ordered the dead body to be brought to the temple and rushed there.

Appar worshiped Meendum Mudiyan and sang the Thirupadigam "ondru kollam" reviving the dead boy as if waking from a sleep. After this Appar visited Apoodhiyadigal's house and partook food. Apoodhi Adigal was a Daiva Sadhu and a Nayanmar as well.

Appar left Thingaloor and reached Thiruvaroor praising Lord Siva with his compositions in many kshetras on the way. He spent a few days there in Darshan and reached Thirupugalur. In the meantime, Sambandar too reached Thirupugalur after having Darshan at several kshetras and when he came to know Appar was coming there, he went to welcome Appar. When Sambandar left Thiripugalur, Appar stayed back to continue his Uzhavaara Pani there. Thus both of them also indulged in pilgrimage separately. Once again they met and reached Vedaranyam via various kshetras.

At Vedaranyam the doors of main entrance remained unopenable for a very long time. On hearing this Sambandar requested Appar to compose a Pathigam to open them. Even after Appar sang "Pannin Ther Mozhiyaal" the doors did not open. Finally he sang another Pathigam, "Irrakkamondruleer" which made the doors open.

Both of them felt happy, went into the temple, and had Darshan of Lord Siva. When they returned through the same door from the temple, Appar requested Sambandar to compose a Pathigam to close the doors. As soon as Sambandar started to sing the doors closed at once. From that day, the doors could be opened and closed without any problem.

When Appar fell asleep feeling somewhat disturbed at the fact that he took time to open the doors whereas Sambandar closed it in a jiffy, Lord Siva appeared in his dream and ordered him to follow Him to Thiruvaaimur. Waking up, Appar saw Lord Siva and followed Him. However Lord Siva continued to disappear time and again only to appear at farther and farther. It was not as if Lord Siva was guiding him from nearby.

When Sambandar came to know about the departure of Appar, he followed Appar expeditiously to assist him and soon joined him. Sambandar noticed that Lord Siva was going just in front of them so as to guide them. Whenever Appar told Sambandar that Lord Siva was at a distance, Sambandar showed Lord Siva going in front of them nearby. On such occasions, Appar saw the Lord just in front of him.

Finally when Bhagavan entered a temple, both of them followed Him inside and Appar begged His pardon: "I should not have accepted the privilege of opening the temple doors at Vedaranyam. I must have only requested your beloved devotee Sambandar to do it. Not doing so is my mistake". Thus tendering his pardon mentally, Appar prayed to the Lord to give Darshan directly. At once Bhagavan appeared giving Darshan to both of them. Both  Sambandar and Appar continued their service at Thiruvaaimur for some more time before reaching Vedaranyam.

While they were at Vedaranyam, messengers from the country of Pandya approached Sambandar. They submitted that they were sent by the Queen and Minister Kulachirayaar. That Jainism was prospering in their country due to conspiracy hatched by Jains and they have come to take Sambandar to their country to reverse this trend. Submitting thus the messengers prostrated to Sambandar.

Fearing harm to Sambandar from Jains, Appar tried to stop him. However Sambandar convinced Appar not to worry, that he will put an end to Jainism through the king himself and left him. After this Appar again left on a pilgrimage.

When he reached the famous town of Pazhayaarai which was under the domination of Jains, the Hindus living there recognized Appar and submitted thus to him. "The Jains have concealed our Sivalingam and converted our temple to their temple. You must retrieve the same." Appar accepted their request and sat in meditation of the Lord for necessary action. The merciful Bhagavan appeared in the dream of the Chola King, informed the spot where the Sivalingam was buried and asked the king to do the needful. The king left with his army, destroyed the Jains, reestablished the Sivalingam in its due place, visited Appar and prostrated to him. Further he carried out the Kumbabhishekam of the temple and liberally donated lands for food offerings in the temple.

After having Darshan of Sivalingam and composing a Pathigam, Appar set out on a long journey to reach Mount Kailas. Even before he reached Kasi, he was constrained to go on all fours. Unable to move forward out of sheer tiredness, Appar simply dropped down on a ground and slept. When he woke up, he was surprised to find a pond and a sage in front of him. Enquired by sage as to what was he up to, Appar replied that he was heading to Mount Kailas. The sage responded that it is impossible to reach Mount Kailas which was inaccessible even to Devas. When Appar averred that he will not give up his effort at any cost, the sage disappeared. Simultaneously Appar was completely rid of his tiredness and became very fresh. Also he heard an incorporeal voice from sky which said: "Take a dip in this pond and emerge from the sacred pond at Thiruvaiyaru. There we will bless you with our vision of Mount Kailas ".

Appar did as was commanded by Lord Siva and was blessed with the vision of Mount Kailas. Extremely pleased with the vision, Appar stayed there for some time and did Uzhavaara Pani (a sacred service of cleaning  of a Siva temple compound of weeds and other unwanted growth/rubbish) to Panchanadishwara. He then left on a pilgrimage to Thiripunduruthi, having Darshan of some other kshetras on the way.

At that time, Appar came to know that Sambandar who went to Madurai was returning, he not only joined the sacred crowd but also became one of the bearers of Sambandar's palanquin. Sambandar who was eager to meet Appar enquired where Appar was, to which Appar replied "I am here" with pride. Sambandar immediately ordered that the palanquin be halted and got down. Appar prostrated to Sambandar whereas Sambandar saluted Appar. Both of them stayed at Thirupunduruthi for a few days and served Lord Siva.

At this meeting Appar came to know how Sambandar won over the Jains at Madurai and established Saivam there. Then both Mahans took leave of each other and proceeded on different directions on pilgrimage. Finally Appar reached Thirupugalur again and undertook Uzhavaara Pani.

Now let us get into the details of how Sambandar won over the Jains at Madurai. When Sambandar reached Madurai both the queen and the minister came to him. They fell at Sambandar's feet like trees that have been cut down. Then all of them visited the temple and had Darshan of Bhagavan and returned to their abodes. Mahan (Sambandar) was staying at a Mutt outside the town with Sivanadiyars. Knowing this Jains approached the king and got his permission to set the Mutt on fire through incantations. When this could not be done, they physically set it on fire. The devotees woken up by the heat, extinguished the fire and reported the matter to Mahan, who sung a Pathigam meaning, 'In a regime if a citizen commits a crime, it is the king who is responsible. Hence let the fire that was set on him, reach the king'.

As soon as Mahan sang the Pathigam, the king's body was affected with excessive burning sensation and pain. The king was writhing in pain. The queen and the minister took king's permission and brought the Mahan there. In the meantime the Jains also reached the. Mahan agreed to cure the right side of king's body and asked the Jains to cure the left side. Jains accepted Mahan's challenge. Mahan applied Vibhudi on the right side of king's body which got rid of the malady instantaneously. But the left side which was treated by the Jains with incantations became worse.

The king who screamed at the Jains, beseeched Mahan who cured the left side of his body out of compassion. The Jains did not stop with this. They sought permission for another debate. Mahan agreed to this. Both of them wrote their religious motto on palm leaves and threw it in Vaigai river to test which one resisted the current. While the palm leaf thrown by Jains was washed away, the one thrown by Mahan resisted Vaigai waters and reached the shore at Thiruvedagam. The Pandya king who witnessed this miracle from his palanquin was cured of his hunchback by Sambandar sitting in his own place.

 

Meanwhile, as per the terms of the palm leaf competition, the Jain Bikshus were impaled in Kazhu Maram. The king ordered that Jainism be completely snuffed out from his country. Finally the king fell at the feet of Mahan and begged his pardon. The king, queen and minister accompanied Mahan till outskirts in farewell and returned to the palace. The twosome of Queen Pandiyamadevi and Minister Kulachirayaar are among the sixty three Nayanmars. Sambandar made a pilgrimage to the southern kshetras and returned to Chola kingdom. 

 

Manikavachagar

Among those who occupy an exalted spiritual state, Manikavachagar has attained the pinnacle. Referred to as one among Tamil Nadu's Naalvar (Appar - Sambandar - Sundarar - Manikavachagar) he worked as a minister in the court of Pandya king. When subjects were protected in a noble regime free of flaws, ie, when such excellence was preserved hereditarily, kings and ministers administered the country effortlessly and focused more on divine assignments.

Manikavachagar who was functioning at the level of Daiva Sadhu when he was a minister, lived a divine life beyond compare like that of Janaka. Goddess Meenakshi Devi desired to demonstrate the superior mindset of Manikavachagar to the king. One day when everyone was seated in the court, Manikavachagar suddenly pressed his upper garment muttering, "Oh, my God" to himself. When king listened to this rather strange behaviour of the minister, he ordered him to explain the same.

The minister responded to the effect that the curtain in front of Chidambaram Nataraja caught fire and he intended to join those there who put out the fire immediately. The king who doubted the words of his minister despatched messengers on horse to Chidambaram to ascertain the incident. When the messengers returned and confirmed the incident, king began to trust the words of minister.

This incident reminds me of a similar one that took place in Rome. The Roman emperor Domitian, who remained a debauch, despite the best attempts of his ministers to reform him, was killed by outraged citizens. This incident took place in 96 AD. At this time a youngster by name Appolonius was a student in a Pythagorean school of philosophy. At this point of time branches of Pythagorean schools were established in the Middle East. Appolonius was born in a place called Dhyaana in 4 BC at Modern Turkey.

Appolonius who was studying in the Pythagorean school started to unravel many secrets about the universe and gods to some extent. Hence a strong thought arose in him to stay put in the divine world. He abandoned exalted worldly arts. He reached out to the goddess of Ephesus. The goddess blessed him without delay and Appolonius became a Daiva Sadhu. In his previous life he has already completed the stage of Mahan and hence was at the threshold of Thuravi stage too. His divine greatness spread to a few countries. Satraps and kings pursued him to have his Darshan. Finally he was fortunate enough to reach the stage of a Thuravi.

Once when he was walking in the streets of Ephesus he started shouting thus : "The despot is being killed. He has taken the deadly blow from the scimitar. The murder is over. He is dead".

Thuravis can see any incident in any part of the world from their place. However you must know that even if they set their mind upon exposing the incident, they will do so only in an indifferent frame of mind. Hence, when Appolonius was shouting in the streets of Ephesus, the news of the murder of emperor Domitian at Rome spread throughout the western world rapidly.

Therefore, in the two incidents quoted, a Daiva Sadhu and Thuravi have seen things that happened beyond their vision, there is a basic difference between the two. A Daiva Sadhu can't see incidents beyond his vision independently. Since Meenakshi Devi set her mind upon letting the Daiva Sadhu (Manikavachagar) see the Chidambaram incident, he could see it.

Let us stop this here. Did I not mention about the kshetra of Ephesus? You should not remain ignorant of the temple of that kshetra. At a time when we were worshipping Gods without building massive temples for them, such temples were erected for worshipping them in Western Asia, Europe, North Africa etc. Among these temples, the temple of Ephesus located at modern Turk is very popular. There were 127 pillars of 60 feet each which were supporting the central structure of this temple. If each such pillar had to be donated by a king, you can decide the value of each pillar yourself. It is said Diana Devi Herself put in place a rock that formed the upper portion of the temple. Emperors competed with each other in laying most part of the temple with gold, silver and nine gems. It took 220 years to complete the temple. As Kali occupied the seat of Calcutta, Diana Devi occupied Ephesus.

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD.

At this juncture let me enumerate the seven wonders of the world. 1. Temple of Ephesus (Extinct). 2. Pyramids of Egypt (Extant) 3. The bronze statue of Apollo which was 95 feet tall. It was erected in the island of Rhodes at the eastern end of Mediterranean sea. During a natural turbulence it fell into the sea. A king of Persia carried the broken pieces of the statue on 800 camels to Susa. (Apollo's bronze statue at Rhodes -extinct). 4. Leaning tower of Pisa (extant). 5. Hanging gardens of Babylon (extinct). 6. Great bell of Moscow. (extant) It is not whole and rests on the ground because of a long vertical cleavage on its side. The lesser holy bell hung at Mingum in Burma weighs not less than 80 tons. 7. Great wall of China - ruins still to be seen.

I have not forgotten Manikavachagar. Many years passed after the Chidambaram incident. Once the king sent him to buy horses for his palace. Manikavachagar whose mind was full of devotion for God, set about traveling when he happened to camp at the village of Avudayar Kovil. Bhagavan appeared in his dream that night and asked him to expand His abode. The minister started renovating the temple using the gold coins that were given to him by the king for buying horses. Those who are detached and surrender themselves to God in steadfast devotion don't hesitate to dedicate anyone's wealth to God.

A few years passed by. Since Manikavachagar did not return for a long time, the suspicious king sent his army captain to arraign him. The captain and soldiers found out that as guessed by the king, the minister was engaged in the renovation of Avudayar Kovil temple. The captain informed the minister about the order of the king.

The Daiva Sadhu became slightly perturbed thinking of the fact that the renovation work is still incomplete and he had to explain his conduct to the king. He did not worry about imprisonment. He told the captain that they can leave the next day and spent the night at Athmanathar's abode itself. He informed the Lord that he will gladly abide by His ordinance and slept. The Lord also wanted to give the Daiva Sadhu indubitable assurance. Hence, Bhagavan appeared in Daiva Sadhu's dream at night, informed him that He Himself will bring the horses to Madurai before Moola Nakshatram and hence he can inform king that horses have been purchased and are on their way to Madurai. The Lord also placed a Manickam (a precious stone) in Daiva Sadhu's hand. When Daiva Sadhu woke up, he was astonished to find a Manickam in his hand and became highly elated at such compassion shown by the Lord.

Arraigned, Manikavachagar left for Madurai with soldiers and was duly produced in front of the king. "Where are the horses" inquired the king. The minister replied to the effect that horses have been purchased an year back and since they have to be brought from a distance, the sellers have assured delivery before the ensuing Avani month.

However, being informed by the army captain about his involvement in the temple renovation, the king ordered that the minister be sent to jail. As assured by the minister, the horses reached the palace within a few days. When the king saw them from his balcony, he was startled. The horses belonged to an excellent breed he has never seen and were embellished with golden ornaments.

The chief of the merchants who brought the horses like an emperor, wore a golden garment laced with nine gems as also a golden cap, carried an intricate whip made of golden pearls and stood there in sheer abandon. Is He not Bhagavan Himself! As instructed by the king, the chief displayed different types of horses that could be used for war, chariot, dance, riding etc one by one. Further, the merchants of horses sang like Gandharvas and the horses with Gajjai danced gorgeously  to their tune, leaving the king amazed. Finally the merchants took their leave, having been suitably rewarded. The king felt that the horses he got were a thousand times worthy of the money he spent. Hence feeling that the whole episode smacked of fraud and is too good to be true, the king did not want to release the minister till he discussed the matter in detail in the assembly.

Goddess Meenakshi used the Chidambaram incident in the beginning to demonstrate the greatness of Daiva Sadhu to the king. However the king overlooked the same. The king would not have sent the minister for buying horses had he realised his greatness. Further, the king would have released the minister from jail had he realised his divine greatness at least after he got the horses that were indeed priceless. However, since the king continued to keep the minister in jail Bhagavan  Athmanathar devised a new plan. The horses that were tied up in the stable transformed into foxes, unfastened themselves and started to run away howling. The king became terribly angry and decided to behead his minister.

At the same time, citizens petitioned the king that river Vaigai was in spate and about to breach its bunds. The king ordered them to send one person per family to carry sand for repairing the breach. He also instructed government servants to take necessary action. Further, he personally left with army to supervise the situation. Till dawn, though the flood situation did not worsen, it was worrisome. The citizens were focused on raising the shores of low lying areas.

An old woman who made a living by selling Puttu had none to support her. When she was perplexed about the king's order, a worker  came forward to assist her, agreeing to take Puttu for his wages. As it dawned Vaigai became more ferocious. However the citizens worked with alacrity to ensure that bunds were raised wherever there was a breach. In the area allotted to the old woman, where the labourer was in charge, the waters did not rise. Hence he was concentrating on taking the Puttu from the old woman and eating it with relish. The king who was supervising and encouraging the damage control activities now came to the area allotted to the old woman.

Water level which was normal till the king stepped into the area, suddenly rose and started even entering the town to some extent. The indignant king scoffed at the old woman who trembled and pointed out at the labourer with shovel and basket hired by her. That is all. The king gave a blow on his back with the stick in his hand. How wonderful! The labourer vanished immediately and all citizens of Madurai took a mild blow on them. Vaigai too controlled her force. At the same time the prison doors of Mahan also stormed open. The king who took a slightly stronger blow, began to realise the reasons for the incidents that happened and rushed to the prison to apologise to the minister. The Mahan who left the prison went in search of the king to assist him.

When the king found the Mahan coming in search of him, he fell at his feet and submitted, "I behaved like a fool though you made me understand that you saw the Chidambaram incident through intuitive eyes. Kindly pardon me." "Everything was done by Athmanathar", responded the Mahan humbly and proceeded to have darshan of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar along with the king.

When they were proceeding to the palace after darshan, the appropriate officials in charge met them on the way and told them that the horses were back in the stable. The sacred day on which Bhagavan took a blow happened during  Avani month, Moolam star and till date is celebrated as Puttu Thirunaal in a grand manner at the Madurai temple.

Those who belong to the modern age may pose a question as to why the omniscient Bhagavan should enact so many incidents instead of making the king understand in a second. There is no doubt that Bhagavan is capable of doing anything in a split second. But those persons should understand that such incidents are by way of demonstrating his divine plays to the world at large in an elaborate manner.

The Avudayar Kovil renovation started once again. It took many years to complete it. This is one of the temples that exhibits exquisite and high quality workmanship. It is said that such "Kodungais" which are thin but broad is not to be found in any other place.

Like wise the Mandapam built over a broad area in Thiruveezhimizhalai and stone door at Thiruvalanchuzhi have never been attempted by sculptors belonging to the later age due to sheer inability which they mentioned explicitly. The circles and chains sculpted on the inner side of the high ceilings though amazing are found in many other temples. Shaped in the form of a chariot the temple in Tanjore, Gangai Konda Sozhapuram, Darasuram and Thirubuvanam which are situated on either side of Kumbakonam - the towers of all these four temples are made with solid rocks which is noteworthy.

Now in a state of decay, the temples of Gangai Konda Sozhapuram, especially the one in Darasuram sport works of sculptural exquisiteness that should be accorded first place among Indian temples according to the Chief Officer of Archaeological Department.

Kumbakonam Nageshwaran temple has a dedicated temple for Nataraja in the shape of a chariot. Measuring 45x19x7 Gajams (a unit of measurement used in the  olden days), though it does not sport extraordinary sculptural work sports axle, wheels and galloping horses of the chariot as found in a few other temples which are noteworthy. Further, four rock elephants bearing kings which are attached to the front portion of the chariot are quite remarkable.

Besides, in Tanjore district which does not contain even a small hillock, if hundreds of temples have been built using solid rocks, the credit should go to Nayaka Kings in general and to Chola Kings in particular. This is their unique distinction. It should be noted that if one pits mammoth temples in any other states of India, they will pale in comparison to the huge temples in Tanjore alone! Only because of this, an expert in arts has named Tanjore district as the museum of artistic sculpture/ temples.

The king who was extremely happy to witness the temple renovation completed by the Daiva Sadhu returned to Madurai. The Daiva Sadhu went to Chidambaram on receiving the command of Athmanathar to reside in Thillai beholding Him forever.

Unlimited lands have been donated to Athmanatha Swami temple. The residents of Avudayar Kovil considered Athmanathar as their personal God. You can't help wondering at the fact that the rice required for the entire population of Avudayar Kovil was cooked at the temple and offered to Athmanathar daily.

Such greatness and plentitude was prevailing even during the British regime. During British regime, those who misappropriated funds were not appointed as officials in the temple. The Britishers appointed noble rich men as Dharmakarthas of temples. We attained "sweet freedom" (Ananda Sudandiram) by driving the British out. The lands of Indian temples have been taken away by those called "kings of independent India" (Innattu Mannargal).

What happened to landlords has also happened to the Gods of Indian temples. However many temples which have been robbed of their properties, get food offering at least once in a day according to the affordability of a few of its devotees. Can Athmanatha Swami be an exception in these degraded times? 

Did I not tell you that Manikavachagar went to Chidambaram? To fix his heart on the Kalarudra dancing eternally at the temple at Thillai, became the lifetime objective of Manikavachagar. Accordingly the Kalarudra also bestowed on him full blessings instantly.

Getting such exquisite blessings of the Lord,  Manikavachagar started perceiving the world as an illusion and beheld everything around him in the form of Vimalar. That is, one should take it that Ananda Thandavar, revealed to Manikavachagar the subtleties of the Thuravi stage. (My translation of this paragraph is very approximate at best. Can't help it.)

At this juncture, Manikavachagar wandered in many places but also used to sit in spots around Thillai as well. A few years passed by. When Manikavachagar was about to reach the stage of a Gnani, a group of Buddhists came to Chidambaram. That was a time when the religion of Buddhism and Jainism were on the wane. The Buddhists reached Chidambaram in a preparatory attempt to revive their religion.

The Buddhists thought that they can bring South India under the sway of Buddhism if they manage to outwit the Thillai Dikshithars through black magic. The Dikshithars who accepted the challenge sought the help of Manikavachagar. But the Thuravi directed them to Lord Nataraja. However Lord Nataraja redirected them to the Thuravi and requested Manikavachagar to intervene in the matter of Buddhists.

Dikshithars led the Buddhist intelligentsia to the Thuravi. The Thuravi simply looked at them and asked, "what? ". That is all. The Buddhists became dumb. Each of them, confounded completely,  thought "We will not indulge in religious propaganda henceforth. It is enough if we regain our speech." but were unable to express it in words. However finally the Buddhists simply prostrated to the Thuravi in utter surrender. Pardoned by the Thuravi, the Buddhists conceded defeat to the Dikshithars and set their heart on embracing Hinduism and start a propaganda against Buddhism and Jainism.

Further they returned to Sri Lanka immediately, converted the king there into a Hindu and brought him with family to Thillai. Yes, they did this in order to cure the king's daughter of her dumbness. The king was fortunate. His dumb daughter regained speech on seeing the Thuravi. Thus ended the episode of the Buddhists. Finally Manikavachagar attained the level of gnaanam too!

The king of Sri Lanka returned to his country after having Darshan of both Manivachagar and Lord Sabapathy and undertook building of a temple for Lord Nataraja in his country. Further, he had both Maharishis, Pathanjali and Vyaakrapatha, consecrated there as is in Thillai. From that day to this day, each year the temple Bramhothsavam as well as the Holy Chariot Day are observed there with grandeur. 

 

Pattinathadigal

We are not in a position to ascertain the correct name of Pattinathar. Known as Venkattar, he lived with his parents in Thiruvenkadu. When he was young, he shifted to Kaveripattinam in order to expand his business. Making huge profits in import/export trade, he did not indulge in charity in a small scale. He attained a lot of fame through such charitable activities. However he was sad in not being blessed with a child. He was extremely devoted to Swetharanya Swami and made it a habit to visit Thiruvenkadu time and again, stay in the temple and have Darshan of his favourite deity. Bhagavan too appeared in his dream and asked him to undertake a pilgrimage.

In the course of his pilgrimage, he stayed in Thiruvidaimarudur where Mahalingam appeared in his dream and blessed him thus: "I have gifted a child under the Maruda tree. Give the Sivacharya gold equivalent to the weight of child and take it". Mahalingam also ordained the Sivacharya to accept gold from Pattinathar.

The Sivacharya who received the gold used it for a five headed snake ornament for Lord Siva. The couple who received the child reached Kaveripattinam after completing all divine related services as well as Annadanam. Named Marudavanan, the child grew up through day and night.

The father was intent on sending his twelve year old son Marudavanan  for training in overseas trade. The son also reached the shores of another country abroad with his servants. The other traders sold their articles and bought valuable and useful things. When those who accompanied Marudavanan tried to do the same, the boy stopped them and asserted his decision to buy things of his own choice.

He asked them to buy Viralis or Viraatis (a round shaped cake made from drying cow dung) for the entire amount realised by selling whatever articles brought by them.  He also instructed them to buy Viralis with gold coins he had with him. Hence the servants were constrained to visit many interior villages to collect Viralis. While they were so engaged, the ship returned to Kaveripattinam. Pattinathar was disappointed to see his son missing. When he enquired about his son, he was told by the others that he is engaged in buying Viralis and is likely to return by the next available ship. The father became more restive.

Are you doubting about the possibility of Viralis being available in other countries? From time immemorial, the entire world was following a common culture. Each country started losing this common culture at some point of time. Cow dung was used to clean floors at home. The smoke that issued out of Viralis can strengthen optical nerves. At the point of time we are considering,  East Indian islands and certain other countries were still following our culture mostly.

Let us know turn to the boy. With piled up Viralis at the harbour, the boy and servants waited for the next ship. Similarly other traders too waited to board the ship with a lot of valuable merchandise. The ship too reached the harbour. Looking at the strange spectacle of a large number of Viralis being loaded into the ship, the curious fellow traders enquired into the matter and commented derisively that the boy's trade tactics is rather unprecedented.

The servants who accompanied the boy were a worried lot as to how to convince his father about his unusual conduct. When the ship was on its course, suddenly a storm accompanied by heavy rains started. The sailor halted the ship in a nearby island due to intense heavy winds. All those in the ship took shelter in the island. The rain stopped but cool weather and winds took over as if competing with each other.

Is the boy an ordinary boy? Has he not come into this world with a divine aspect? He can even make an earth quake happen. Besides, those stranded in the island affected with extreme cold approached the boy to buy Viralis. The boy quoted a price that was several times his cost of procuring them. Many of the traders lost whatever they had in their hand to survive. All Viralis were sold out. The cold subsided and the ship too reached its destination.

When the father came to know about the incident, he was overcome with a sense of worry as well as satisfaction. The boy finding his father satisfied about his windfall profits admonished him that even a needle whose ears are damaged will not come with him when he leaves this world and left the house. Thinking for a moment, the father followed his son and was flabbergasted to find that he vanished right in front of him.

The turn of events in the life of Pattinathar who earned a lot of money as a trader was rather unique. He was fortunate in that Bhagavan Himself walked into his life to warn him. His Chitham bloomed due to the blessings of God. Pattinathar who was a Daiva Sadhu in his last birth, became one in this birth too. HE REALISED THAT ALL ACTIVITIES  EXCEPT WORSHIPPING GOD ARE FUTILE. He left his house without informing anyone. Wandering from place to place, he begged food to satisfy his hunger.

In general those who are about to reach a higher state spiritually may happen to be deplored by their own kith and kin. Pattinathar was no exception. His sister who came to know about his nomadic life considered it an insult to her status. Coincidentally Pattinathar happened to cross her town in the course of his wanderings. Coming to know of this, the sister prepared Appam containing poison.

Seeing his brother crossing her street with outstretched hands, she called out to him affectionately. Even as he was sporting the looks of a beggar, the younger brother with an indifferent mind reached the entrance of her house. His treacherous sister gave him the poisonous Appam. Pattinathar sighted poison in the Appam placed in his hands. That is, God showed the word poison in the Appam. Pattinathar wanted to teach a lesson to his sister.

He looked at his sister and threw the poisonous Appam on the ceiling of her house saying, " Than Appam Thannichudum; Veetappam Ootaichudum". This meant that the way an Appam can singe the finger of the person when being prepared, let this poisonous Appam burn the ceiling of the house in which it was made. Only his sister's house got burnt.

Then Pattinathar reached Thiruvenkadu and had Darshan of Swetharanya Swami for a few days. From there he went to Thiruvidaimarudur to commence a pilgrimage. He visited many holy places in Tamilnadu. Like prince Gautama who renounced his palace life and attained popularity during his lifetime, the fame of Ex Kubera (Pattinathar) who left home and worldly pleasures also spread to some extent in Tamilnadu.

Once when he was staying in Thiruvannamalai having Darshan of God, he saw a very beautiful Devadasi woman and started describing her beauty with relish. This made him release semen which he gathered in a leaf and placed it on a mound nearby. The Devadasi woman who was startled by the whole incident and the looks of Pattinathar ran to her mother and told her the whole thing. Her mother who guessed the identity of Pattinathar correctly approached him with his
daughter, prostrated to him and requested him to accept her daughter. 

Pattinathar pointing out at the leaf bearing his semen responded, "Here is the person who pursued your daughter " and left the place. The mother made his daughter drink the semen. In due course the Devadasi woman gave birth to Arunagirinathar. (14th century)

Once when he was meditating in a Pillayar temple, a thief who was being chased, dropped the articles he stole near Pattinathar and disappeared. Pattinathar was taken to the presence of the king under the mistaken notion that he is the thief by those who pursued the actual thief.

The Daiva Sadhu who was sentenced to death was made to mount the Kazhu Maram (a stick that impales the victim) which burnt out automatically. Thus the Mahan was saved miraculously. Badragiri, the king, realised his mistake, feell at the feet of Mahan, renounced his crown and became a detached soul.

Thus becoming a Mahan in course of time,  Pattinathadigal returned to the country of Cholas after visiting many kshetras to visit Thiruvidaimarudur. On the way he dreamt that his mother was unwell. Taking the dream as a divine command, he visited his mother. The mother was beheld by her son and within a short time she died. The local residents gathered there to catch a glimpse of the saint. Accompanied by everyone his mother's body reached the graveyard.

The Mahan felt that his mother's body should be cremated in an unique manner. Accordingly he invoked Mahalinga Swami and caused Vazhaipattais (the incombustible stump of banana trees) to be piled under and on mother's body. Then he lighted the fire without any external help such as match stick, oil etc. After cremating her body in such a unique manner, he reached Thiruvidaimarudur to be near Mahalingam who clarified his Chitham. Everyday he had Darshan of Mahalingam and sat at the entrance of eastern temple tower. King Badragiri who renounced his crown, reached Thiruvidaimarudur in pursuit of his Guru, prostated to him and took up residence at the western entrance of the temple tower. However, his mind which has renounced the world (Daiva Sadhu) was attached to a dog. He used to give the dog a portion of the food collected by him through begging. This attachment was due to a contact in previous birth. One day a beggar approached the Mahan (Pattinathar) for alms. The Mahan responded that he was an impoverished person and directed him to the householder (Badragiri) who was sitting at the western tower. The beggar went to Badragiri and solicited alms by repeating the words of Pattinathar.

Becoming emotional on being addressed as an householder, Badragiri hit the head of the dog with his Kapparai (A bowl used for begging). The dog died then and there. Since it was reared and killed by a Daiva Sadhu, the dog was born as a girl in the royal family of Badragiri itself and it is said that this girl had Darshan of Badragiri fully conscious of its previous birth as a dog.

A few years passed by. Pattinathadigal felt that it was time to reach God. Hence he prayed to Mahalingam to inform his time and place for giving up worldly existence (Niryanam). That day Bhagavan appeared in his dream, gave him a Paykarumbu (Nanal or bamboo) and blessed him thus: "With this bamboo visit each kshetra on the northern side. Wherever this bamboo turns into a sugarcane will be the place of your departure ".

The Mahan woke up at once and found a bamboo nearby. He took permission from  Mahalingam and started his pilgrimage. At each kshetra, he tasted the bamboo which finally got transformed into a sugarcane at Thiruvotriyur. When the Mahan tasted it, he had a feeling of bliss. He took permission from Thiruvotriyur Bhagavan and reached the sea shore. Using a Vannan Chaal (It is a wide mouthed, huge vessel used by dhobis to rinse clothes) that was found there, the Mahan requested the children there to cover him with it and again uncover him rather playfully. This was repeated twice. When the children did it for the third time, they were startled to see the Mahan missing. Only through these children, Tamilnadu came to know about the manner of disappearance of the Mahan.

The songs that were composed by Pattinathar when he was functioning at the level of Daiva Sadhu will help us understand spiritual truths. In general Mahans do not attain popularity. There is no need for them to attain popularity.

No one is asked in the upper world, "have you attained popularity while on earth? ". Popularity is not rewarded there. Unlike a few virtuous persons and Prabhus (the charitable rich) who enjoyed some popularity in the past, these days divine fakes and some sinful politicians are enjoying unlimited popularity. Hence it is foolhardy to assess the greatness or merit of a person only based on popularity.