Thursday, June 1, 2017

Know your Nayanmars - Part IV - The Brahmins!

Continuing on our series on Nayanmars, we now move on to look at the priests, who worshipped the Lord for their love of him, and not just because it was their profession! Their profound love, even during the most trying of circumstances, made them earn his compassion and find their place among the Nayanmars!

Note: The numbers next to the names of the Nayanmars denote the order in which they appear in the Thiruthonda Thogai!

Thillai Vaazh Andhanar:

When Lord Shiva asked Sundaramurthy Nayanar to sing a hymn in praise of his devotees, he gave the first line himself as " Thillai Vaazh Andhanar tham adiyarkum adiyen". The 3000 Dikshidars of the Chidambaram temple, had the privilege of being named by the Lord himself, because when Lord Shiva manifested in the form of a linga in the middle of a Thillai forest at Chidambaram, these Dikshidars are said to have accompanied him for the purpose of carrying out rituals of his worship. 

10. Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar
Birth - Thirukadaiyur   Mukthi - Thirukadaiyur  
Guru poojai - Avani Moolam 
Temple - Amirthakadeswarar Temple, Thirukadaiyur,
Arunajadeswarar Temple, Thirupanandhal

Kalayar was a Brahmin priest and a staunch devotee of Shiva. Every day his primary responsibility was to offer Benzoin (Kungiliyam) fragrance to the Lord at Thirukadaiyur. The Lord, in order to test his devotion, made him lose his livelihood and possessions. Still, Kalayar’s service continued, undeterred. 

One day, when there was nothing in the house to feed the children, his wife gave her Thaali asking him to sell it to buy rice. When Kalayar went to the market, he found a man selling Kungiliyam, so instead of rice, he bought Kungiliyam and went to the temple, burnt it and sang the praises of the Lord. Hours passed, and his wife and children fainted with hunger. The Lord, moved by Kalayar’s devotion, filled the house with foodgrains, and riches. He appeared in the dream of Kalayar’s wife, letting her know that there was enough food for the children and she should prepare something for them to eat. 

The lady woke up, saw the house full of provisions, and started preparing a tasty meal. Lord Shiva chided Kalayar for forgetting his duty, and urged him to go home and have a meal. Kalayar thanked the Lord and spent all the riches on feeding devotees. 

In the meantime, the lingam at the Tirupanandhal temple had tilted, and the King tried all his might, using elephants and soldiers, in vain, to straighten it. Hearing about it, Kalayar rushed to the temple, put the noose on to his neck and pulled with all love and devotion. Within seconds, the lingam straightened up. The King fell at the feet of the devotee, and praised him. 

15. Muruga Nayanar
Birth- Tirupugalur  Mukthi - Aachalpuram
Guru poojai – Vaikhasi Moolam 
Temple – Agneeswarar Temple, Tirupugalur

Muruga Nayanar was a Brahmin priest of Tirupugalur. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Every morning, he collected flowers from plants and trees, creepers and ponds, in different baskets held above the navel, and made garlands for the Lord with the choicest flowers. His devotion was so pure and simple, that when Thirugnanasambandar came to hear about him, he offered his friendship. Sambandar and Appar stayed with Muruga Nayanar while visiting Tirupugalur. Muruga Nayanar was invited to attend the wedding of Gnanasambandar, wherein he attained mukthi along with Sambandar and other invitees.

16. Uruthira Pasupathy Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruthalaiyur near Kollumangudi
Guru poojai – Purattasi Aswini
Temple: Pasupathinathar Temple, Thiruthalaiyur

Pasupathy Nayanar was a very pious Brahmin who chanted the Vedas with austerity and devotion. Every morning, he would get into neck deep water in the lotus pond, with his hands held high above his head like a blooming lotus bud, and would chant the Rudram with utmost devotion. The Lord, pleased with his devotion, placed his lotus feet upon the raised hands of Pasupathy Nayanar and gave him mukthi. Because he recited the Rudram with utmost devotion, he came to be known as Uruthira Pasupathy Nayanar.

25. Thiruneelanakka Nayanar
Birth – Seeyathamangai  Mukthi – Aachaalpuram
Guru poojai – Vaikasi Moolam
Temple – Brahmapureeswarar  Temple, Seeyathamangai

Thiruneela Nakkar was a Brahmin who lived in Thiruchathamangai  with his wife. Both of them loved to worship Ayavantheeswarar. One day, the wife saw a spider running up the baanam of the Lord. Without thinking, she blew on it, to chase it away. Thiruneela Nakkar was shocked that his wife would think of doing something so unholy. In a fit of rage, he told her that he was  disowning her. The distraught wife stayed back at the temple. That night, the Lord appeared in Thiruneela Nakkar’s dream and showed him his body. He had blisters everywhere, except where Nakkar’s wife had blown.  Nakkar  regretted his action, and brought his wife back in the morning. He soon heard about the glory of Gnanasambandar and wanted to meet him. When Sambandar came to Sathamangai, Thiruneelanakkar received him and gave him a place to stay. He was invited to perform the wedding of Gnanasambandar at Aachaalpuram, where he also attained mukthi along with Sambandar.
For a detailed post on the Seeyathamangai temple and the tale of Thiruneelanakkar on Aalayam Kanden, click here.

26.  Naminandi Adigal Nayanar
Birth – Thiruneipper  Mukthi – Tiruvarur
Guru poojai – Vaikasi Poosam
Temple – Vanmeeganatha Swamy Temple, Thiruneipper

Naminandi Adigal was a Brahmin who was very fond of going to Tiruvarur to worship Lord Vanmeeganatha. He had a desire to light innumerable lamps in the temple that would glow until dawn. One day, he approached a house near the temple and asked for some ghee. The inhabitants being Jains, told him they had no ghee and asked him to light the lamps with water. Naminandi Adigal was heartbroken. He went back to the temple, and wept. The Lord asked Naminandi to light the lamps from the water in the pond. Unquestioningly, Naminandi obeyed and the lamps burned bright until day. This continued for many days. One day, he accompanied the Lord on a procession and went home. When his wife asked him to come in and perform the pujas, he replied that he had been along with people of other communities and would like to cleanse himself before worship. It was as though by magic, that he fell asleep immediately. In his dream Lord Shiva told him that all those who are born in Tiruvarur were his Ganas. Naminandi woke up, regretting his mistake. Next morning, when he went to the temple, he saw everyone as Shiva Ganas. A repentant Naminandi sought forgiveness of the Lord and spent his life in performing service.

32. Somasimara Nayanar
Birth – Ambar   Mukthi – Tiruvarur
Guru poojai – Vaikasi Aayilyam
Temple – Brahmapureeswarar Temple, Ambar

Somasimara Nayanar was an exponent of Samaveda. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva and believed in revering and serving his devotees as a path to attain salvation. He was greatly inspired by Sundaramurthy Nayanar. He went to Tiruvarur and recited the Samavedha. On hearing the rendition, Lord Shiva is said to have appeared before them. He spent his life in serving Sundaramurthy Nayanar before attaining Mukthi.

34. Sirappuli Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruaakur
Guru poojai – Karthigai Puradam
Temple – Thanthonrinadhar temple, Thiruaakur

Sirappuli Nayanar was a devotee of Lord Shiva and he took it as his prime responsibility to feed His devotees and give them what they sought. Pleased with the commitment and dedication with which he fed devotees, Lord Shiva himself came as one among thousand devotees fed by him. Hence he is called Ayirathil Oruvar (One in a thousand) in the Thiru Aakur temple. 

37. Gananatha Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Sirkazhi
Guru poojai – Panguni Thiruvadhirai
Temple – Thoniappar Temple, Sirkazhi

Gananatha Nayanar was very devoted to the service of Lord Shiva. He felt the need to train several people to perform the services required by the Lord. So he identified and trained several young people to be devotees and maintain the temple groves, and collect flowers for worship, make garlands, bring clean water and fresh milk for bathing the Lord, cleaning the temple, removing the vegetation, lighting lamps and all other services that were needed in the temple. He was instrumental in disciplining the youth through service to God. He became the Head of the Ganas in the Lord’s abode.

54. Pugazhthunai Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruarisirkaraiputhur (Azhagaputhur)
Guru poojai – Avani Ayilyam
Temple – Sornapureeswarar Temple, Azhaputhur

In Seruvilliputhur there was a priest called Pugazhthunaiyar. He worshipped the Lord with true affection and devotion. Most people in the village starting leaving it due to famine. But Pugazhthunaiyar chose to stay, not wanting to leave the Lord alone and hungry. Even when there was no food available, he brought whatever fresh flower he could find, and bathed the Lord in cold water. One day, he felt giddy due to hunger and dropped the pot on the head of the Lord and became faint. In his dream, the Lord told him that every day he would keep a gold coin in his shrine till the famine was over. When Pugazhthunaiyar woke up, he found a gold coin at the feet of the Lord. With hunger being driven away, he continued his worship undisturbed and reached the lotus feet of the Lord.
56. Pusalar Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thiruninravur
Guru poojai – Aipasi Anusham
Temple – Hridayaleeswarar Temple, Thiruninravur

Pusalar Nayanar was a poor Brahmin who was desirous of building a temple for Lord Shiva. He asked several people to help but they thought he was crazy. A disappointed Pusalar decided to build a temple in his heart. He started with the foundation and constructed the temple little by little. Finally the temple rose in his heart. He set a date for the consecration and invited the Lord to come into the sanctum. At the same time, the Pallava King was also building a magnificent temple for Lord Shiva. He had set the consecration date as the same day as Pusalar. The previous night, the Lord appeared in his dream, and asked him to move the date to another day, as he had to fulfil Pusalar’s wish and enter his temple. The King was surprised that there could be a man in his kingdom who had built a temple that was greater than his. So he went to Tiruninravur and asked about the temple that Pusalar had built. No one knew where it was. So the king asked if he could see Pusalar. He went to the tree where Pusalar sat in meditation and saluted him. He humbly asked him about the temple he had built. Pusalar fell at the King’s feet, with tears running down his eyes. He could not believe that the Lord had actually considered the temple he had built in his heart to be more important than the one built by the King. When the King heard that Pusalar had actually built the temple in his heart, he circumambulated him and fell at his feet.
For a detailed article on the life of Pusalar Nayanar and the Hridayaleeswara Temple on Aalayam Kanden, click here.

61. Chadaiya Nayanar
Birth & Mukthi – Thirunavalur
Guru poojai – Markazhi Thiruvadhirai
Temple – Bakthajaneswarar Temple, Thirunavalur

Chadaiya Nayanar was the father of Sundaramurthy Nayanar. He came from a family that called themselves the slaves of the slaves of God. Sundaramurthy Nayanar’s excellent, blemishless love for the Lord was inherited from Chadaiya Nayanar and the grooming of his son towards the path of divinity.
For a detailed article on Chadaiya Nayanar and the Tirunavalur temple on Aalayam Kanden, click here.

Check out the other posts on the Nayanmars series too:


  1. Good information. Thanks -

  2. Ohm Namasivaya. No caste n creed among the great devotees of Lord Siva.Same is the case with 12 Azhvarkal.