Monday, July 2, 2012

Nayanmar 23 - Karaikkal Ammaiyar

Karaikkal Ammaiyar (காரைக்கால் அம்மையார்) 

Birth place  : Karaikkal
Mukti         : Thiruvalangaadu
Star            : Panguni Swathi

A devotee who the Lord himself called his Mother, was Karaikkal Ammaiyar!

Born in the town of Karaikkal to a rich merchant, Karaikkal Ammaiyar was originally named Punithavathi. Punithavathi was devoted to Lord Shiva right from her childhood. When she came of age, her father got her married to another merchant by name Paramadattan from Nagapattinam. But as she was his only child, her father did not want her to stay away. Hence he built a house near his place for his daughter and son-in-law and made them live close by.

Punithavathi and Paramadattan started their life in Karaikkal. One day when Paramadattan was at work, a visitor brought him two mangoes. He sent the mangoes home. Punithavathiyar was alone at home. A devotee of Lord Shiva came for food. Punithavathiyar offered him lunch and also one of the mangoes her husband had sent.

Later, when Paramadattan came home for lunch, he asked for a mango and ate it. He found the mango very sweet and wanted to eat the other mango too. Worried that Paramadattan may be angry if she said she had given it away, Punithavathi went inside and prayed to Lord Shiva. Miraculously, she got a mango in her hand and took it to her husband. Paramadattan found this mango extremely tasty and asked his wife about it. Punithavathi came out with the truth that the Lord had given it to her. Unable to believe this, Paramadattan asked Punithavathi to request the Lord for one more mango. She did this promptly and gave him the third mango (the second miraculous one). The mango vanished from Paramadattan’s hand.

Now Paramadattan understood that his wife was no ordinary woman and decided that he could not continue to live with her. He said he was going out of town on business and sailed out of the country. He came back and settled down in a town in Pandyanadu. He also married again and had a daughter. He named his daughter Punithavathi out of respect for his first wife.

Coming to know that Paramadattan was living in another town nearby, Punithavathi’s relatives took her to him. When they met, Paramadattan fell at Punithavathiyar’s feet along with his family members. The relatives were surprised to see the husband falling at his wife’s feet. Paramadattan then narrated the story of the mangoes to the relatives. Understanding that her husband would never live with her any more, Punithavathi wanted to give up her youth. She prayed to the Lord to change her form to a skeletal ghost (பேய் உருவம்). Her prayer was answered and she immediately transformed into a ghost. She proceeded to Kailasam in that form. Reaching Kailasam, she did not want to walk on her feet and hence started walking on her head. Goddess Parvathi enquired Lord Shiva about the ghost form walking upside down towards them. The Lord said, it was his “Mother” who was on her way to meet him. Punithavathiyar became Karaikkal Ammaiyar as the Lord himself called her His mother. She reached the Lord and fell at his feet, calling Him her father. She conveyed her wish to see His cosmic dance and the Lord asked her to reside in Thiruvalangaadu and see his dance there forever. Karaikkal Ammaiyar reached Thiruvalangaadu and once there, she could see only the Lord everywhere and hence continued to walk on her head. Here she sang the Lord’s praise and attained mukti.

Karaikkal Ammaiyar has composed many hymns on the Lord like Arpudha Thiruvandhadhi and Irattai Mani Malai.  iHi 

Here is one of the compositions of Karaikkal Ammaiyar

இறவாத அன்பு வேண்டும்
இனிமேல் பிறவா வேண்டும்
 மறவாத பக்தி வேண்டும்
மறுபிறப்பும் அதுவே வேண்டும்
பிறழாத நடனம் வேண்டும்
என்பாடல் அதிலே வேண்டும்
உறவாக உன்தாள் கீழே
ஒன்றிட வேண்டும் வேண்டும் 


  1. Very nice! I have heard of Karaikkal Ammaiyar and I have heard the story of the mangoes. Did not know that they were all about the same person. Very well written :)

  2. Om Nama Shivaaya!! Kaaraikkaal Ammaiyaar adi potri!!