Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How irresponsible journalism by Dinamalar ruins good intentions

I am really pained to write this post in Aalayam Kanden where I have refrained from writing anything other than information on lesser known temples. The readers and patrons have stood by me in every effort over the years, both in the blog as well as through the Aalayam Kanden Trust.

As many of you may be aware, in July 2014, author Venkatesh Ramakrishnan, invited me to be part of the cultural mapping of the Cooum river. Over the next two years, I was able to do an extensive study of the heritage sites along the river with the able guidance of Mr Vaidyanathan Ramamurthy. I used the Koova Puranam and the Inscriptions of Madras Presidency Volume 8 by Mr T V Mahalingam, both of which I procured with great difficulty over many months as the source of my study. The complete details of the project have been documented here chronologically  https://www.facebook.com/groups/CooumCulturalMapping/ 

At every step, I consulted with senior historians like Mr Sridharan K, Deputy Director Retired, State Archaeology Department, Ms Padmavathy Anaiappan, Senior Epigraphist, Dr Sankaranarayanan G, Asst. Professor of the Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Maha Vidyalaya of Kanchipuram on the inscriptions, and the findings. Through the study, we did not expect to find anything new, or claim that we did.

One of the significant information we came across in the T V Mahalingam compilation was an inscription at Sitrambakkam on the Cooum trail that speaks about the earliest found inscription of a structural temple. It was also one of the early Pallava Inscriptions in Tamil.

Excerpt from T V Mahalingam Volume 8 Page 543
This was discussed at length with Prof. Sankaranarayanan, who said it had been published in Epigraphia Indica too as an article. The same was also collected.

Mr Vaidyanathan and me, along with Mr Balaji, TTE, Tiruvallur,  visited Sitrambakkam on 1st October 2015 (the date stamp can clearly be seen in the pictures) to verify the existence of this stone.

Further we also took a group of enthusiasts on a heritage trip to this location in October, through a publicly advertised facebook event, the details of which can be found here:

Couple of heritage enthusiasts who accompanied us on the trip also wrote blog posts about this site, after the trip.


I had included this site in my book The Gods of the Holy Koovam published on February 12, 2017 on Page 19 where clearly the source from where the inscription was read is mentioned.

The book was released by Mr K Sridharan of the State Archaeological Department and all proceeds of the same were given to support the Madras Literary Society library. A number of print, digital and visual media covered the event and wrote about it. All the books have since been purchased and those who hold copies can also verify this information there.


Notably among that was Dinamalar which had written about the book launch and also mentioned the Sitrambakkam inscription in their coverage.

The reporter Mr Sivakumar had requested for more information on the Cooum temples so that he can do his bit in conserving them. Therefore, I first sent an article on the Kesavaram temple which was correctly published by Dinamalar. It did bring a lot of attention from the ASI to the temple, which was heartening to see,

Wanting to protect the Selliamman temple inscription too, that lay in the open, I wrote an article on it and sent it to Sivakumar, which I reproduce below.
அன்புள்ள திரு சிவகுமார் அவர்களுக்கு,

தங்களிடம் தொலைபேசியில் குறிப்பிட்டபடி சிற்றம்பக்கத்தில் உள்ள சிறப்பு வாய்ந்த முதல் கட்டப்பட்ட கோவிலின் கல்வெட்டை பற்றிய தகவல்களை கீழே கொடுத்துள்ளேன். உங்கள் முயற்சியின் மூலம் இக்கல்வெட்டு பாதுகாக்கப்பட்டால் மிகவும் சிறப்பாக இருக்கும்.

தென்கரணை என்று அழைக்கப்பட்ட சிற்றம்பாக்கம் கிராமம் திருவள்ளூர் மாவட்டத்தில் அமைந்துள்ளது. இங்கு பல்லவர் காலத்தை சேர்ந்த கும்பேஸ்வரர் ஆலயம் சில ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன் புதுப்பிக்கப்பட்டு உள்ளது. இதற்கு அருகே அமைந்த ஒரு சிறிய கோவில் தான் செல்லியம்மன் ஆலயம். 

இக்கோவிலின் வாசலின் மலரின் இதழ்கள் வரையப்பட்ட ஒரு கல் கிடக்கிறது. இக்கல் அக்கோவிலின் வாசற்படியாகவும் ஆடுகளும் மனிதர்களும் அமர்ந்து ஓய்வெடுக்கும் சிறு மேடையாகவும் விளங்கும்  இந்த கல்லில் தான் இது வரையில் கண்டறியப்பட்ட முதல் கட்டப்பட்ட கோவிலின் தகவல்கள் உள்ளன.

பல்லவர்கள் காலத்தில் பெரும்பாலும் குடைவரைகளே அமைக்கப்பட்டிருந்த நிலையில் முதல் முதலாக ஒரு கோவில் கட்டப்பட்ட செய்தியை தெரிவிக்கும் கல்வெட்டு இது. மேலும் பெரும்பாலான பல்லவர்கள் கல்வெட்டுகள் பல்லவ கிரந்தத்தில் சமஸ்க்ரிதத்தில் அமைந்திருந்த போது  வெகு சில கல்வெட்டுகள் தமிழில் காணப்படுகின்றன. வல்லம் குகையில் உள்ள முதலாம் மஹேந்திரவர்மன் கல்வெட்டு மற்றும் திருக்கழுக்குன்றத்தில் உள்ள முதலாம் நரசிம்மவர்மன் கல்வெட்டு போல இதுவும் தமிழில் காணப்படும் சிறப்பு பெற்றது. 

முதலாம் பரமேஸ்வரவர்மனின் முதல் ஆட்சி ஆண்டை இக்கல்வெட்டு குறிப்பிடுகிறது. இது கி.பி.670 ஆம் ஆண்டாகும். இக்கல் 29 அங்குல நீளமும் 28.5 அங்குல அகலமும் உடையதாக விளங்குகிறது. மத்தியில் மலரின் இதழ்கள் போன்ற உருவம் செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. இவ்விதழ்களை சுற்றி இரண்டு வட்டங்கள் ஒன்றின் உள்  ஒன்றாக செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.
இந்த உருவத்தை சுற்றி எழுத்துக்கள் காணப்படுகின்றன. மொத்தம் ஆறு வரிகள் கொண்ட கல்வெட்டில் முதல் இரண்டு வரிகள் மேற்புறமும் அடுத்த இரண்டு வரிகள் வலப்புறமும் செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. ஐந்தாவது வரி கீழேயும் ஆறாவது இடப்புறமும் காணப்படுகின்றன.

இக்கல்வெட்டு ஒரு காலத்தில் செல்லியம்மன் கோவில் பெரியதாக இருக்கும் பொழுது அதன் சுவற்றில் இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும். 

இதன் வரிகள் 
1. ஸ்ரீ மஹாராஜ பரமேஸ்வர வர்மர்க்கு யாண்டு தலைத்தா 
2. வது துணங்கிலவருள் ஆலவாயில் சோமாசியா 
3. ரு மருமகன் கும(ரன் )
4, ..டுப்பித்த கோ (வில்)
5,...........அழி (வு)ம் செ 
6. ய்தார் தரும வேற்க 

இதிலிருந்த ஆலவாயில் என்ற ஊரை சேர்ந்த சோமாசியார் (சோமாஜியார் ) மருமகன் குமரன் என்பவன் எடுப்பித்த கோவில் என்ற தகவலை நாம் அறியலாம். ஆலவாயில் என்பது பொதுவாக மதுரையைக்குறிக்கும். இங்கும் அது மதுரை என்று நாம் எடுத்துக்கொள்ளலாம். அல்லது ஒரு வேளை தென்கரணைக்கு ஆலவாயில் என்ற பெயரும் இருந்திருக்கக் கூடும். 

இவ்வாறு இதுவரையில் கிடைத்த முதல் கட்டப்பட்ட கோவிலை குறித்த தகவல் கூறும் கல்வெட்டு இப்படி வெட்டவெளியில் பாதுகாப்பின்றி அசுத்தத்தில் கிட க்கவிடாமல் அரசும் தொல்லியல் துறையும் பாதுகாக்க வேண்டும்.


பிரியா பாஸ்கரன் 

I had also attached the Epigraphia Indica pages for him to get the complete information.

Sadly the reporter had neither referred the references or my document properly and this was the report he produced, completely missing the appeal for conservation and protection of the inscription,and assuming it was a new discovery.

I was shocked to see this and several people including Dr Sankaranarayanan and Mr KRA Narsiah contacted me to find out what had happened, as they had been involved in the process right from the beginning.

I spoke to the reporter and pointed out his mistake and asked him to issue a corrigendum and apology. Not wanting to mess up the newspaper's reputation and probably his job, he further added to the problem by coming up with something like this:

One Mr Vedham Vedhaprakash went one step higher, condemning me of seeking cheap publicity. He also used my personal images and details without permission to write a series of hate posts, in the name of heritage interest, without bothering to verify facts.


After I spoke to him and clarified, he did make some edits to the content of his post, but has chosen to delete my comment on his post and has not taken it off. Obviously he is seeking publicity from a mistake that Dinamalar made because of which my credibilty has been questioned. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=443861985949195&id=100009761916382&comment_id=443886649280062&notif_t=like&notif_id=1493029909257430

His post may be one I saw. There may be several I did not. This is a post to clarify the facts as they stand and pinpoint Dinamalar and the reporter for their folly. Such irresponsible reporting not just damages the reputation of enthusiasts but also puts them off such volunteer activity in the future.

For three years, I slogged hard to document the heritage sites along the Cooum, brought out the book and gave all the proceeds to start a Tamil section in the MLS library which is one of the heritage landmarks along the Cooum. Despite my sincere efforts, this irresponsible act of Dinamalar has slung mud on all my hard work. I am documenting this for future records and reference of net experts who rely on what they lay their eyes on the internet, and make large comments without bothering to verify facts.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Know your Nayanmars! - Part III (The Warriors)

Continuing on the series of Nayarmars, we now look at the warriors!  Although their roles were taking lives of the enemies for the sake of their king and homeland, they have performed incredible deeds to be included among the Nayanmars!

8. Eanadhinadha Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Eananallur
Guru poojai – Purattasi Uthiradam
Temple – Brahmapureeswarar Temple, Eananallur

Eanadhinadha Nayanar was a valiant warrior of Eananallur. In the same village there lived another fighter, Adhichuran, who was a bully. Not many students frequented his school, while they thronged to learn the art of warfare from Eanadhinadhar. Angered by this, Adhichuran challenged Eanadhinadhar for a combat. The warriors and their students fought each other valiantly but in the end, Adhichuran had to run away from the arena. The next day, he planned to win over Eanadhinadhar through deceit. So he smeared the holy ash across his forehead, and covered it with a cloth. He then invited Eanadhinadhar for a duel. Accepting the challenge, Eanathinathar got ready to punch. At that moment, Adhichuran removed the cloth. On seeing the holy ash on the enemy’s forehead, Eanadhinadha froze and allowed him to have his way. He did not drop his sword and shield, for he did not want the sin of attacking an unarmed enemy, to befall Adhichuran. Such was his devotion to Lord Shiva and his devotees!

11. Manakancharar Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi -Kanjarur (Anandathandavapuram)  
Gurupoojai – Markazhi Swathi 
Temple – Panchavateeswarar Temple, Ananadathandavapuram

Manakancharar was a chief of army, a very humble and pious man, whose life was dedicated to Lord Shiva. For a long time, he did not have a child, and through his prayers, a girl child was born. She grew up into a beautiful woman, with long hair. Manakancharar wanted another pious devotee to be her groom and chose Eyarkon Kalikamar. On the day of the wedding, Lord Shiva arrived at the hall, in the form of a Mahavradhi. When Manakancharar saw him, he fell at his feet with his wife and daughter seeking his blessings. The Mahavradhi saw the girl’s long and beautiful hair and said he could use it for his “Panchavati” (Sacred thread made of human hair worn across the chest). Without any hesitation, the father pulled out his sword, and chopped off his daughter’s hair, and offered it. The Mahavradhi disappeared, and Lord Shiva appeared as Rishabaruda and blessed them. By this time, Eyarkon Kalikamar had reached the wedding hall and was delighted to hear about what happened but was not sure if it was appropriate to marry a woman whose head was shaven. To their surprise and delight, the girl’s hair grew back to how it had been before. They all bowed to the Almighty’s grace.

28. Eyarkon Kalikama Nayanar
Birth  & Mukthi – Thiruperumangalam
Guru poojai – Aani Revathi
Temple – Virundheeswarar Temple, Thiruperumangalam

Eyarkon Kalikamar was the son-in-law of Manakancharar Nayanar and the General of the State Army. He heard about Sundaramurthy Nayanar sending Lord Shiva to Paravaiyar’s house to pacify her after his marriage to Sangiliyar. He was furious that a devotee of Shiva would attempt to send the Lord barefoot, in the night, as a messenger. He thought if ever he met Sundarar, he would kill him. The Lord wanted both devotees to be friends. So he created a severe stomach ulcer in Eyarkon Kalikamar, and told him that only Sundarar was capable of curing his pain. At the same time, he appeared in Sundarar’s dream, asking him to go to Kalikamar and help him. Kalikamar did not want a life given through Sundarar. So he tore open his stomach and died. His wife prepared to join him in death, when she heard of Sundarar’s arrival. Asking everyone to stop crying, she received him. When Sundarar enquired about Eyarkon Kalikamar, she said he was out of pain and sleeping. Sundarar insisted on seeing him and when he did, he found he had killed himself. When he came to know that he was the cause of Kalikamar’s death, Sundarar took out his sword to end his life too. At that moment, Lord Shiva brought Kalikamar back to life. The two devotees fell at each other’s feet and became thick friends.

35. Siruthonda Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruchenkattankudi
Guru poojai – Chithirai Bharani
Temple – Uthrapadheeswarar Temple, Thiruchenkattankudi
Siruthondar and Thiruvenkattu Nangai cutting Seeralan for feeding the Bhairagi
Paranjothi was born in the Mamathra clan of Thiruchenkattankudi. He joined the Pallava army and rose to the position of the general. He led a battle against the Chalukyas to Vatapi (Badami),and brought back a Ganesha who is now called Vatapi Ganapathy. After the war, he expressed his desire to go back home and spend time in the worship of God. Paranjothi married Thiruvenkattunangai and had a son named Seeralan. He spent all his riches and time in feeding the devotees of the Lord for which he was called Siruthondar. One day, the Lord appeared as a Bhairagi in Siruthondar’s house. Thiruvenkattunangai welcomed him warmly. But he said he would not come when the man of the house was not in, and that he would wait under a tree near the temple. Siruthondar on his return, humbly requested the Bhairagi to visit his house for lunch. The devotee said that he would only take the meat of a child less than five, with no physical impairment, the only child in the family and the parents must cook the meat happily. Siruthondar heard the impossible and came back to his house. 

He discussed with his wife, and they decided they would cook their son, Seeralan. So they brought him back from school, bathed and dressed him, and with the mother holding the hands and feet, the father cut off the head. Thinking the head would not be appropriate, the mother cooked the rest of the meat. When the Bhairagi sat down to eat, he asked if all parts had been cooked, they said they had cooked everything except the head. He responded that he liked that too. Immediately the maid Santhananangai brought the head curry which she had cooked separately. The Bhairagi said that he would not eat alone, and asked Siruthondar to invite other devotees. Siruthondar went outside and looked around but could not find anyone else. So the Bhairagi asked Siruthondar to take lunch with him. He also asked about Seeralan. Siruthondar said he would not be of any use. But the Bhairagi insisted. He asked the couple to go out and call him. When the couple called their son, he came running as if coming back from school. They found the Bhairagi and the meat missing. Overwhelmed, the couple wept in joy. The Lord appeared before them as Somaskanda and gave mukthi.

50. Munaiyaduvaar Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruneedur
Guru poojai – Panguni Poosam
Temple – Arutsomanadheswarar Temple, Thiruneedur

Munaiyaduvaar Nayanar was a valiant warrior who took pleasure in feeding the devotees of the Lord every day. He would fight on behalf of those who offered him riches and win the battle for them. With the money he received, he would welcome devotees to his house and feed them. Because of fighting for others, he came to be called Munaiyaduvaar Nayanar.

55. Kotpuli Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thirunatiyathankudi
Guru poojai – Adi Kettai
Temple – Manickavannar Temple, Thirunattiyathankudi
Kotpuli Nayanar Shrine & depiction in Thirunattiyanthankudi Temple

Kotpuli Nayanar was a general in the King’s army. He gave grains for the worship of the Lord in various Siva temples. As he was called away for war, he stored a lot of grain at home, asking his family members to pass it on to the temples. After Kotpuliyar left, there was famine in that area. So his family members thought, it is better to consume the grain, rather than give it away.After few months, Kotpuliyar returned victorious, bringing back gifts and money that the King had given. On coming to know that the Lord’s grain had been consumed by his family members and relatives, he took out his sword and killed them one by one. Finally only an infant was left. One of the soldiers who was witness to the incident, asked Kotpuliyar to spare the child because he had not consumed the grain. But Kotpuliyar replied that the child was also guilty because it had drunk the milk of a mother who had consumed the grain. He threw the child up in the air and killed it as well. The Lord was pleased with his devotion, and gave mukthi to Kotpuli Nayanar and all his relatives. 

Check out other posts about the Nayanmars on Aalayam Kanden:

For a free download of an e-book on the lives of the Nayamars, click here:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Know your Nayanmars - Part II (The Kings)

Ten Kings have been named by Sundaramurthy Nayanar as Nayanmars. This works out to 1/6th of the total number. These Kings ruled the land as representatives of the Lord, putting service to Him and his devotees, above everything else! The list below describes the life and devotion of these kings. The number allocated shows the order in which they were named by Sundaramurthy Nayanar in his Thiruthondathogai!

4.  Meiporul Nayanar
Birth &  Mukthi -  Tirukovilur 
Guru poojai – Karthigai Uthiram 
Temple - Tirukovilur Veeratam

Meiporul Nayanar was the King of Chedi Nadu and ruled from Tirukovilur. He was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and would treat all his devotees with great respect. Another King Muththinathan, had tried to win Meiporul Nayanar at war but had not been successful. After several attempts, he decided to take the route of deceit. Disguising himself as a devotee, he reached the palace of Meiporal late one night. The King’s personal bodyguard, Thathan stopped him, telling him the King was asleep. Muththinathan said that he wanted to meet him urgently. The Queen, on seeing the visitor, woke the king up. The King welcomed the visitor, and asked him what he wanted. The latter mentioned that he had brought a rare agama from the Himalayas and wished to discuss it with the King alone. Trusting him, the King asked his queen to go away. Once they were alone, Muththinathan took out the dagger hidden inside the book, and stabbed the King. As he fell, Thathan rushed inside. He drew his sword to kill the enemy. However, Meiporul Nayanar forebade him, as he was in the guise of a devotee and asked him to be escorted till the borders, so that no one would harm him. Such was the King’s devotion towards the Lord and his devotees!

36. Kazharitratrarivar Nayanar (Cheraman Peruman)
Birth & Mukthi – Kodungallur
Guru poojai – Aadi Swathi
Temple – Mahadevar Temple, Thiruvanjaikalam
Cheraman Peruman and Sundaramurthy Nayanar at the Thiruvanjaikalam Temple

Perumakkothaiyar was born in the royal family of Cheras but instead of taking up the throne, he spent his time in the worship of Lord Shiva. One day, the King Chenkorporaiyan gave up his throne to lead an austere life. So the ministers approached Perumakkothaiyar to accept the throne. He thought it would be a hindrance to his worship and sought guidance from the Lord. The Lord blessed him with the knowledge to know what others think and hence he came to be known as Kazharitrutrarivar. After his coronation as Cheraman Peruman, he was riding on his royal elephant, when he saw a washerman returning home. The wet sand from the river had dried on his body and it gave an appearance like holy ash smeared all over. To Cheraman Peruman, he appeared like a devotee of Shiva. So he jumped down from the elephant, and bowed before the washerman. Shocked, the washerman fell at the feet of the King, saying I, am your slave, a washerman for which the king responded I, your slave, am a Chera. Cheraman Peruman was a great devotee of Lord Nataraja. The Lord accepted the prayers by sounding the bells on his feet every day. In Madurai, there was a poet named Banabathirar. He was wallowed in poverty. So, Lord Shiva told him to take a message from him to Cheraman Peruman in return for which he would receive rich gifts. Banabathirar took the message to Cheraman who danced with ecstasy on seeing the message from the Lord himself. With tears of joy, he ordered for all the riches in the palace to be brought out for Banabathirar to take. He offered those along with the elephants, horses and the throne itself. The poet was taken aback at his generosity. He only chose those things he wanted, and humbly returned the rest to the King.

One day when Cheraman finished his prayers, he did not hear the sound of bells. He was hurt and upset that the Lord was not happy with his prayers. So he pulled out his sword and tried to kill himself. On seeing this, the Lord hurriedly sounded the bells on his feet. When Cheraman enquired the reason for delay, the Lord said that he had been distracted due to the sweetness and devotion in the song of Sundaramurthy Nayanar. On hearing this, Cheraman wanted to meet Sundaramurthy Nayanar. He met Sundarar at Tiruvarur and both divine souls embraced each other. They went around temples, singing hymns. Cheraman invited Sundarar to visit Kodungallur, which the latter accepted. The King placed him on the royal elephant, and fanned him and when he reached the palace, he put him on the throne and washed his feet. Sundarar on his second visit, sang to the Lord of Vanchaikalam that he wanted to attain his lotus feet. So the Lord, sent a white elephant to escort Sundarar to Kailash. On hearing this, Cheraman got onto his horse, and whispered the Panchakshara. The horse climbed up into the sky and caught up with Sundarar’s elephant. They reach Kailash where Sundarar was allowed entry but Cheraman Peruman was not. Sundarar explained to the Lord that Cheraman had come out of love for the divine almighty. He was then allowed entry and he sang the Thirukailaaya Gnana Ula. This was heard by Maasathanar (Ayyanar) who revealed it to the world at Thirupidavur.

For a complete article on the Thiruvanjaikalam temple on Aalayam Kanden, click here

38. Kootruva Nayanar

Birth & Mukthi – Kalappaal
Guru poojai – Adi Thiruvadhirai
Temple – Adhiteshwarar Temple, Kalappaal

Kootruva Nayanar was a devout Shaivaite who spent hours lingering in the thoughts and service of Lord Shiva. He was a chieftain of a small area. Over time, he acquired different battalions and expanded his territory, by winning over enemies. He approached the Dikshithars of Thillai to crown him as King. They refused saying they would only do it for the Chola Kings. Disappointed, Kootruva Nayanar wept in front of the Lord of Thillai asking him to place his lotus feet on his head as crown. Delighted with his devotion, the Lord placed his feet on his head that night which was his crown for the rest of his life.

39. Pugazh Chola Nayanar
Birth – Uraiyur Mukthi – Karuvur
Guru poojai – Adi Karthigai
Temple – Panchavarneswarar Temple, Uraiyur

Pugazh Cholar was the great devotee who had asked Eripaththa Nayanar to kill him when his royal elephant had scattered the flowers meant for the Lord’s worship. He once went to Karuvur, to collect the taxes payable by the Kings of Kongu and Kudagu. There he asked his ministers if there was any one who was unwilling to pay, The ministers reported that Adhigan had not paid yet. Angered, Pugazh Cholar ordered his forces to attack Adhigan’s kingdom. Adigan was no match to the Chola army and he soon ran away into the forest. The soldiers collected gems, jewels, money and horses of Adhigan and also took the heads of those killed as souvenirs. When Pugazh Cholar came to inspect the heads, he found there was one among them of a devotee of Lord Shiva. Feeling he had sinned in killing a devotee of Shiva, Pugazh Cholar held the head of the devotee in a plate above his head, and entered the fire.

40. Narasinga Munaiyaraya Nayanar

Birth & Mukthi – Thirunavalur
Guru poojai – Purataasi Sadhayam
Temple – Bhakthajaneswarar Temple, Thirunavalur
Narasinga Munaiyaraiyar with Sundarar's parents in Thirunavalur
Narasinga Munaiyarayar was the King of Thirumunaipadi. He was a staunch Shaivaite and gave several grants to conduct daily worship in temples. On every Tiruvadhirai day, he would provide food and a hundred gold coins to the devotees of the Lord. Once when he was doing so, a man ailing with leprosy, came wearing the Holy Ash. While the others turned their face with aversion, Narasinga Munaiyaraiyar welcomed him warmly, treated him with respect and offered him food and twice the quantity of gold. Such was his love for the devotees of God!

For a complete article on the Bhakthajaneswara temple at Thirunavalur on Aalayam Kanden, click here

45. Aiyadigal Kadavarkon Nayanar
Birth – Thirukachiyegambam  Mukthi – Kanchipuram
Guru poojai – Aipasi Moolam
Temple – Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

Aiyadigal Kadavarkon was a Pallava ruler (believed to be Simhavarman - 550 to 575 CE) who ruled from Kanchipuram. After ruling over his subjects fairly and peacefully, he decided to spend the rest of his life in the worship of the Lord. So he crowned his son as the King, and set travel to different temples of the Lord, worshipping him and offering his services till he reached the lotus feet of the Lord. The hymns rendered by him on twenty four temples have been found and are called Kshetra Thiruvenba. They have been classified under the 11th Thirumurai. 

48. Ninra Seer Nedumara Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Madurai
Guru poojai – Aipasi Bharani
Temple – Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Nedumaran was the Pandya King. He was a Jain and hence did not encourage Shaivaite worship. His wife Mangayarkarasiyar and minister Kulachiraiyar, requested Thirugnanasambandar to come to Madurai and provide wisdom about Shaivism to him. The king was called Koon pandiyan because he had a hunch. Gnanasambandar, cured him of his stomach ulcer and through the grace of the Lord, he also got rid of his hunch, and came to be called Ninra Seer Nedumaran. The King became a staunch Shaivaite and spread the glory of the Lord for many years, before gaining a place in His abode.

51. Kazharchinga Nayanar
Birth – Thirukachchi Ekambam
Guru poojai – Vaikasi Bharani
Temple – Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

Kazharchinga Nayanar was a Pallava King. Desirous of worshipping the Lord at Tiruvarur, he set off with his wife. The King was joyous of seeing the Lord, and spent several minutes in meditation. The queen in the meantime, wandered around the temple. There were baskets of sweetly smelling flowers being tied into garlands. Seeing a flower fallen off the dais, she picked it up and smelled it. Cheruthunai Nayanar, who saw the queen smelling a flower intended for the worship of the Lord, immediately pulled off his sword and cut her nose. The queen rolled on the floor, in pain. On hearing her wails, Kazharchingar came looking for her and when he saw her,  roared in anger, as to who had the audacity to perform such an act. When Cheruthunai Nayanar explained what had happened, Kazharchingar was furious. He said that the punishment given was not adequate and chopped off the hand that smelled the flower too. There was a rain of flowers from heaven, in praise of his act. 

52. Idankazhi Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Kodumbalur
Guru poojai – Aipasi Karthigai
Temple – Mukundeeswarar Temple, Kodumbalur

Idankazhi Nayanar was the King of Konadu. Once, a devotee who was in the habit of feeding other devotees every day, stole grain from the King’s storage. The soldiers caught him and produced him before the King. When he came to know that the devotee had stolen grain, only to feed the devotees of Shiva, the King immediately set him free, asking him to take as much grain as he wanted. He also made an announcement that the devotees of Lord Shiva could take as much grain as they wanted from the King’s storage at any time.

59. Kochengatchola Nayanar
Birth – Thiruvaanaikka Mukthi – Chidambaram
Guru poojai – Masi Sadhayam
Temple – Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikka
Thirumarugal - one of the Madakovils built by Kochengatcholan
A white elephant was worshipping the Lord manifested under a white Jamun tree near Chandra Theertham in Chola country. Because of this, the place came to be called Thiruvanaikka. A spider that resided on the tree above, spun a web over the head of the Lord, protecting him from falling leaves. When the elephant brought water to bathe the Lord, it found the spider’s web and thinking of it to be unholy, broke it with its trunk. The spider was upset and built a web again. The next day, the elephant broke the web again. This time, the spider wanted to teach the elephant a lesson. It got into its trunk and started biting hard. The elephant could not remove the spider and unable to bear the pain, it beat its trunk on the ground, and died. In the process, the spider also lost its life.

Subadevan, was a Chola king. He and his wife Kamalavathy longed for a child, and prayed to Lord Shiva. With his grace, Kamalavathy soon conceived and when she went into labour, an astrologer predicted that if the child was delivered an hour later, he would grow up to be a great king. So Kamalavathy asked her maids to tie her upside down so that the child birth was delayed. When the child was born, his eyes were blood shot. Kamalavathy called out to her child as “En Sengannano!” before breathing her last. This child was none other than the spider that had died inside the trunk of the elephant. Chengatcholan became a great King as prophesied, and served God with the thoughts of his previous birth. He built a huge temple for Lord Shiva at Thiruvanaikka and several other temples as Madakovils – temples that cannot be climbed by elephants. He then went to Chidambaram where he built houses for the Dikshitars and spent the remainder of his life, in His holy presence.

Check out other posts about the Nayanmars on Aalayam Kanden:

The Ladies : http://aalayamkanden.blogspot.in/2017/04/know-your-nayanmars-part-i-ladies.html

The Warriors: http://aalayamkanden.blogspot.in/2017/04/know-your-nayanmars-part-iii-warriors.html
For a free download of an e-book on the lives of the Nayamars, click here:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Know your Nayanmars - Part I (The Ladies)

The Nayanmars were great devotees of Lord Shiva who, through their incredible deeds find mention in the Thiruthonda Thogai, sung by Sundaramurthy Nayanar, at the behest of Lord Shiva. The first line of the verse was given by the Lord himself, as "Thillai Vaazh Anthanar Tham Adiyarkum Adiyen" and with his guidance,  Sundarar named and praised his devotees. 

The Nayanmars lived between the 6th and the 9th Century and contributed to spreading the Saivaite Bhakthi movement. The hymns sung by a few of them have been compiled as the Tirumuraigal , and these hymns, moved & motivated several people to follow Shaivism. 

The list of Nayanmars as recited by Sundarar in the Tiruthondathogai was further expanded by Nambiyandar Nambi to include Sundarar and his parents.

The series of posts on the Nayanmars, is a brief introduction into their lives and devotion, which raised them to their exalted position. For convenience of classification, they have been grouped differently from the order in which they are mentioned in the Thiruthondathogai. However, I am mentioning their order as well for connecting better.

I would like to thank Dr Saundarya Rajesh for triggering this idea.

Let us first start with the women: 

23. Karaikal Ammaiyar
Birth – Karaikkal  Mukthi – Thiruvalangadu
Guru poojai – Panguni Swathi
Temple – Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple, Karaikal

Punithavathiyar was the daughter of Dhanadhathan , a rich merchant of Karaikal,. She grew up as an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. When she came of age, Dhanadhathan got her married to another wealthy merchant, Paramadhathan. One day some people who came to meet Paramadhathan, brought two mangoes for him, which he sent home. At that time, a devotee of the Lord came to Paramadhadhan’s house, weary and hungry. Punithavathiyar welcomed him warmly and offered him food. She served him one of the mangoes. 

In some time, Dhanadhathan reached home. Punithavathiyar served him food and the other mango. Relishing the tasty mango, he asked for the second. Punithavathiyar did not know what to do. She beseeched the Lord to help her tide over the situation. The Lord made another mango appear in her kitchen. Delighted, she quickly cut and served it to her husband. Realising the taste to be extremely divine, Dhanadhathan asked her where it had come from. She told him that the Lord had given it to her. The husband found it hard to believe and asked her to get another mango if that was the case. So she prayed again to the Lord and another mango appeared in her hands. When she gave it to Dhanadhathan, it disappeared. From that moment, his feelings towards Punithavathiyar turned to one of reverence. He left on a voyage to earn money, made lot of wealth, and settled in Madurai after marrying a wealthy merchant’s daughter. 

Unaware of all this, Punithavathiyar stayed in Karaikal, offering food to devotees of the Lord. When her relatives heard that Dhanadhathan had settled in Madurai, they took her to him. When he heard of their arrival, he ran out with his wife and daughter, and prostrated before Punithavathiyar. He said he was living with her blessings and had named his daughter after her. The relatives were shocked, but Punithavathiyar prayed to the Lord. If her husband no longer sought her, she was not desirous of her human body anymore. She requested the Lord to give her a skeletal form and proceeded to Kailash. She sang several hymns along the way. When she reached the foothills, she thought it would be disrespectful to climb with her feet, and started climbing on her head. When she reached, the Lord called her “Ammaiye” with a lot of affection. She cried, “My father” and fell at his feet. The Lord asked her what she wanted, and she said, she sought a place at his Lotus feet while he danced. The Lord asked her to go to Thiruvalangadu, where she got the vision of his Thandava and she stayed in eternal happiness.

57. Mangayarkkarasiyar Nayanar
Birth – Pazhayarai Mukthi – Madurai
Guru poojai – Chithirai Rohini
Temple – Dharmapureeswarar Temple, Pazhayarai

Mangayarkarasiyar was the daughter of the Chola King who married Nedumaran, the King of Madurai. She was a staunch Shaivaite but her husband was a Jain. Mangayarkarasiyar wanted her husband to adopt Shaivism. She kept praying to the Lord to show her a way to make her husband see reason. She along with her minister, Kulachiraiyar was instrumental in getting Thirugnanasambandar to Madurai to meet with the King. When the Jains set fire to the dwelling of Gnanasambandar, Mangayarkarasiyar was shocked and wanted to end her life, if at all anything happened to the holy child After Gnanasambandar cured Koon Pandiyan of his hunch and stomach ulcer, he became Ninra Seer Nedumaran, and adopted Shaivism. Mangayarkarasiyar went all over the Pandya Kingdom spreading Shaivism and worshipping the Lord in different shrines, and finally attained His lotus feet.

62. Isaignaniyar Nayanar
Birth – Thiruvarur  Mukthi – Thirunavalur
Guru poojai – Chithirai Chithirai
Temple – Thyagaraja Swamy Temple Tiruvarur,
Bhakthajaneswarar Temple, Thirunavalur

Isaignaniyar at Tirunavalur Temple

Isaignaniyar was born in Kamalapuram in a Sivachariyar family. She grew up with great love and devotion to the Lord. Her parents got her married to another great devotee, Chadaiya Nayanar. It was their pure love and surrender that gave them the fortune of being Sundaramurthy Nayanar’s parents. She named her son Nambi Aarooran in praise of the Lord of Tiruvarur and this devotion also passed on to her son, who even broke the promise he made to his wife, Sangiliyar to worship the Lord at Tiruvarur.

For a complete article on the Thirunavalur Bhakthajaneswara Temple on Aalayam Kanden, click here
For a free download of an e-book on the lives of the Nayamars, click here: