21 July 2009

Appudhi Nayanar

The story of the Nayanar Appudhi from the Periapuranam illustrates the nature of devotion for a householder and how the whole family can work together in service of Siva. Appudhi Nayanar was an ardent Siva Bhakta who excelled in devotion to the Guru. He belonged to a Brahmin Family in Tingalur (the place where the Moon worshipped the Lord) and lead the ideal householder’s life.

Appudhi had heard of the glories of Tirunavukkarasar and had taken him as his Guru and meditated on his lotus feet. He had named all his children ‘Tirunavukkarasu’ and all household articles and water sheds had been named after the Guru. Thus Appudhi had ensured that he would constantly remember the Guru, and thus experience his Grace.

Tirunavukkarasar passed through Tingalur one day and was surprised to see his own name everywhere. Appudhi received the Siva Bhakta (though he did not know who it was) with great devotion. Tirunavukkarasar asked why the water-sheds and other items were named after Tirunavukkarasar. Appudhi was upset at this casual reference to the name of his Guru and asked: ‘Though you appear to be a Siva Bhakta, you do not seem to know Tirunavukkarasu Swamigal, who through the grace of the Lord withstood successfully all persecutions and re-established Saivism.’

Tirunavukkarasar moved by Appudhi’s devotion replied: ‘I am that humble soul who fell a victim to severe colic and then took shelter under the Lord’s Feet. I am that one who, due to the grace of Lord Siva, got cured of disease and returned to Saivism.’ Thus it was that Appudhi remembered the glory of Tirunavukkarasar, whereas the Guru choose to recall his own failings (to preserve his humility) and the Lord’s supreme saving grace.

As soon as he heard this, Appudhi understood that the Siva Bhakta was none other than Tirunavukkarasar and was overjoyed and worshipped him along with his wife. The Guru accepted the invitation to eat at their home. After the food was ready to be served, Appudhi sent his elder son to bring a banana leaf from the backyard, and the boy in the process of collecting the leaf, got bitten by a snake. The boy managed to return home and hand over the leaf to his father but after fulfilling his duty, fell down and died as the poison took its toll.

Appudhiadigal and his wife were distressed but, hiding their emotions, rolled the boy in a mat and hid him outside their house. Without informing Tirunavukkarasar about the tragedy, they served him food. The Guru understanding the situation, asked them to bring the dead son. Tirunavukkarasar then went to Tingalur temple and laid the body in front of the Temple and sang; and as soon as he finished singing, the boy got up as though he was waking up from his sleep. All were overjoyed except for the parents who regretted that this incident had caused a delay in Tirunavukkarasar having his meals! This story thus illustrates the nature of true devotion.

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