Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nayanmar 22 - Somasimara Nayanar

Somasimara Nayanar (சோமாசிமாற நாயனார்)

Birthplace  : Ambarakathur
Star           : Vaikasi Ayilyam

A staunch devotee of Lord Shiva, Somasimara Nayanar’s service to his Lord was to serve His devotees irrespective of caste or creed. He used to recite the Panchakshara and performed Yagnas everyday without fail. He was not only devoted to Lord Shiva, but also to Sundaramurthy Nayanar. He went from his hometown of Ambarakathur to Thiruvaarur to meet Sundaramurthy Nayanar and finally attained mukti as a result of his service and devotion!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nayanmar 21 - Moorka Nayanar

Moorka Nayanar

Birth place : Thiruverkaadu
Mukti        : Kumbakonam
Star           : Karthigai Moolam

A devotee of Lord Shiva lived in Thiruverkaadu. His service to the Lord was to offer food to all His Bhaktas every day. Years rolled on and the devotee lost all his wealth and became poor. He then moved to Kumbakonam. He still managed to continue feeding the devotees. The money he needed to do this service, he made by gambling. He gambled everyday and ensured he won. He did not use any of the earnings for himself but only to feed the devotees. While gambling, if anybody tried to cheat, he used to draw his sword and threaten them. He came to be called Moorka Nayanar because of his harshness. In due course he attained Lord Shiva’s feet. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nayarnmar 20 - Thirumoola Nayanar

Thirumoola Nayanar (திருமூல நாயனார்)

Place were Sundaranathar became Thirumoolar : Thivaavaduthurai
Star   : Purattasi asvini

One of the disciples of Nandi by name Sundaranathar stayed in Kailasam. One day Sundaranathar wanted to visit Sage Agasthya in Podhigai malai. He travelled from Kailasam down south visiting various temples like Kedarnath, Pasupathinath, Kasi Viswanathar, Kalahasti and reached Thiruvaavaduthurai.

In the town of Thiruvaavaduthurai, he saw a strange sight. Many cows were in tears around their cowherd by name Moolan who had fallen dead bitten by a snake.

Sundaranathar felt sorry for the cows. He proceeded to a secluded place and lay down. He had decided to transfer his soul into the cowherd’s body to make the cows happy. He did so and the cows were pleased to see the cowherd waking up. In the evening after grazing, the cows went back home and Moolan followed them. When he reached home, his wife tried to touch him in welcome. As it was Sundaranathar who was in Moolan’s body, he refused to enter the house and stayed in a matam saying he had no wife. His relatives tried to take him back home but in vain. Moolan went back to the place were Sundaranathar’s body was hidden but could not find it. He then understood that it was ordained that Moolan sing Lord Shiva’s praise. He came back to the temple of Thirvaavaduthurai and sat in yogasanam there. He then composed the Thirumandhiram consisting of three thousand stanzas. It is said that he sat in meditation at the temple for three thousand years composing one stanza per year.

Thirumoolar’s Thirumandhiram is not only in praise of Lord Shiva but also explains the various aspects of a good life and guides us to lead one. Many parts of Thirumandiram sound simple when one reads it lightly, but it also has a deeper subtle meaning of philosophy if one delves into it!

Here is a stanza from Thirumandhiram

அன்பு சிவம் இரண்டு என்பர் அறிவிலார்
அன்பே சிவமாவது ஆரும்  அறிகிலார்
அன்பே சிவமாவது ஆரும் அறிந்தபின்
அன்பே சிவமாய் அமர்ந்திருந் தாரே! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nayanmar 19 - Chandeswara Nayanar

Chandeswara Nayanar (சண்டேஸ்வர நாயனார்) 

This is one Nayanar we see in all Shiva temples even today. We give attendance to him so that he can pass on the details of our visit to the Lord. Chandeswara Nayanar is the Chandikeswarar who is present in all Shiva temples.

Here is the story of how he attained the position of Chandikeswarar:

In the beautiful town of Cheinallur (சேய்ஞல்லூர்) (called Cheinallur because it was created by the universal Sei – Lord Muruga) (this place is now called Senganur) there lived a Brahmin couple by name Echadattan and Pavithirai who were devotees of Lord Shiva. They were blessed with a brilliant son who was well versed in the education of Vedas even without the help of a Guru. The couple named their son Visarasarumar.

One day, Visarasarumar saw some cowherds beating the cows. Very upset, Visarasarumar explained the greatness of the cow to the cowherds - how all the Devas are present in the different parts of the cow’s body; milk given by the cow is used for abhishekam of Shiva and the cow dung is used in the preparation of sacred ash. He also offered to take care of the cows thereafter.

From then onwards, Visarasarumar herded the cows everyday to graze and the quantity of milk given by the cows increased day by day.  An ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, Visarasarumar made a Shiva Linga in the sand and did puja and abhishekam with the cows’ milk every day.

Hearing from the people in town that Visarasarumar is pouring the milk in the sand everyday, Echadattan came in search of the son. Visarasarumar was praying to his Lord and the pot of milk was kept ready for abhishekam. Echadattan called his son and when he did not respond, he beat him with a stick. Even then Visarasarumar did not react and continued with his prayer. Very angry, Echadattan kicked the milk pot. Furious that the milk kept for the Lord’s abhishekam was wasted, Visarasarumar took in his hand the stick which his father had used to beat him. The moment Visarasarumar touched the stick, it turned into an axe and Visarasarumar cut his father’s legs which kicked the milk pot!

He then continued with his puja. Lord Shiva along with Goddess Parvathi gave darshan to Visarasarumar and said that Visarasarumar can consider the Lord as his father thereafter. The Lord made him the head of his devotees and gave him the position of Chandeswarar. The Lord further declared that the offerings made to Him will be offered to Chandeswarar also. He also removed a Kondrai flower from His head and placed it on Chandeswarar’s head. The Lord then took Chandeswarar with Him to Shiva Loka while Chandeeswarar’s parents also attained moksha. Thus, Visarasarumar became a son to Lord Shiva and became Chandikeswarar. He is always present in Shiva temples near the spout from where the milk offered as abhishekam to the Lord comes out!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nayanmar 18 - Thirukuripputhonda Nayanar

Thirukuripputhondar (திருக்குறிப்புத்தொண்டர்)

Birth place : Kanchipuram
Star           : Chithirai Swathi

There lived a washer man in Kanchipuram who attended to the needs of the devotees of Lord Shiva noting their requirements. Hence he came to be called Thirukuripputhondar. For the world to know the devotion of Thirukuripputhondar, Lord Ekambaranathar of Kanchipuram came in the form of a devotee. In his usual style, Thirukuripputhondar took care of this devotee’s needs and offered to wash his clothes. The Lord said he needed his clothes back by evening as it would be cold in the night.

Thirukuripputhondar assured the devotee that the clothes will be delivered to him clean and dry by evening. Thirukuripputhondar was washing the clothes when it started raining heavily. The rain did not stop till evening and there was no way to dry the clothes. Not able to fulfil the wishes of the devotee, Thirukuripputhondar started banging his head on the washing stone trying to kill himself. Lord Shiva’s hand extended and stopped Thirukuripputhondar from hurting himself. The Lord gave darshan to Thirukuripputhonda Nayanar and blessed him with mukti!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nayanmar 17 - Nandanar

Nandanar (நந்தனார்)

Birth place  : Aadhanur
Mukti         : Chidambaram
Star            : Purattasi Rohini

A Harijan by birth, Nandanar earned his livelihood by cultivating the small piece of land donated to him. An ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, he served the Lord by supplying leather and strings for the musical instruments used in the temple of Aadhanur. In his Bhakti towards Lord Shiva, he used to sing and dance in ecstasy in front of the temple.

Once, Nandanar went to the Shiva temple in Thirupungur. When he tried to see the Lord, he found the huge Nandi right in front of the Lord hindering the view. Nandanar requested Nandi to move aside and Nandi promptly moved to one side so that this great devotee could see his Lord!  

Nandanar visited many Shiva temples and was also very keen to visit the temple of Chidambaram, but kept postponing the trip. Being a harijan, he was not sure if he had the right to enter the temple at Chidambaram. Hence he postponed the journey saying “Naalai poven, Naalai poven” ( I will go tomorrow) Hence he came to be called Thirunaalaippovar. Finally one day, he did go to Chidambaram. He entered the town and saw smoke coming out of the Brahmins’ houses busy in their daily homam rituals. Nandanar felt quite awful about  his low caste and spent a few more days going around the town, without entering the temple.

One day, Nandanar dreamt of a fire being lit in front of the temple and he entering the fire. The Brahmins of Chidambaram also had a dream in which their Lord asked them to light a fire and ask Thirunaalaippovar to walk in it. Realising this was a divine dream, the Brahmins lit the fire and requested Nandanar to enter it. Nandanar entered the fire and came out as a celestial Rishi. The moment Nandanar entered the sanctum, Lord Shiva gathered his devotee to his feet and Nandanar vanished.

Note – This story is quite different from the Nandanar story I have heard and the movie I have seen. But in the reference books, it is clearly mentioned that nowhere Nandanar was stopped from entering the temple because he was of low caste, but he himself was hesitant to enter the temple!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nayanmar 16 - Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar

 Rudra Pasuapthi Nayanar (ருத்ர பசுபதி நாயனார்) 

Birth place  : Thiruthalaiyur
Star           : Purattasi Asvini

Pasupathi, a Brahmin in the village of Thiruthalaiyur was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Everyday early in the morning, he used to stand in neck deep water and do Rudra japam. This japam went on for hours at a time. Pleased by his japam, the Lord gathered Pasupathi to his feet. The everyday routine of  Rudra japam by this devotee earned him the name Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nayanmar 15 - Muruga Nayanar

Muruga Nayanar (முருக நாயனார்)

Birth place : Thirupugalur
Star           : Vaikasi Moolam

Muruga Nayanar’s service was to make garlands for Lord Shiva in the Thirupugalur everyday. He used to wake up early in the morning, have bath, pluck fresh flowers from the garden and make different types of garlands himself, take them to the temple and decorate the Lord with these garlands. Once Thirugnanasambandhar visited this town and stayed in Muruga Nayanar’s matam. Both the Shiva devotees became good friends. Other Nayanmars like Thirunavukkarasar, Siruthondar stayed in Muruga Nayanar’s matam when they visited Thirupugalur. During Thirugnanasambandar’s wedding, Lord Shiva gave jothi darshan to all present at the wedding and Muruga Nayanar became one with the jothi and attained Shiva Loka.