24 November 2011

Kalia Nayanar and message of the Nayanars

Nayanar’s Message
[By Swami Venkatesananda]

"There have been many ‘intellectuals’ even in India who have looked down upon the path of Bhakti (devotion) as something inferior to Jnana (wisdom). Their short-sightedness becomes at once apparent when we study the lives of the great Four Teachers (Appar, Sundarar, Manickavachagar and Sambandar) and realise that these great Jnanis, too, were great Bhaktas who loved to visit Temples and sing the glories of the Lord. Look at the humility of Appar who carried Sambandar’s palanquin. It is not born of the weakness of the ignorant: but it is the culmination of true knowledge!

How shall we understand the wonderful spirit of renunciation that characterised the lives of many royal Nayanars, if we regard them as weaklings? They had understood the true nature of the world, and wanted only God . . . This great truth has been beautifully brought out again and again in these lives — love of God completely removes the devotee’s attachment to his own body.

Let us also never forget that in the case of all the Nayanars devotion invariably meant expansion of the heart, and, therefore, service and charity. It is essential that, in our study of these great lives, we take them as a whole: the sixty-three blending into one marvellous scripture on devotion. . . . Nayanars have to be read with this caution: we have to take them as allegories exhorting us to rout out the inner obstacles to our Sadhana, ruthlessly. The story of Eripatha Nayanar, for instance, should be taken as an exhortation for us to kill lust, anger and greed, the powerful impediments on our spiritual path which, in the twinkling of an eye wreck our worship of the Lord.

If we approach these saints with faith and devotion in our hearts, we shall grasp the message they have for us. We shall also understand why they gave such a great place to externals like the sacred ash, Rudraksha, etc. These symbols remind one constantly of God: and, when they are said to remove our sins, they remove our sinful tendencies, too, by constantly reminding us of God, and keeping evil out of our mind."

Kalia Nayanar

Kalia Nayanar is another of one of the 63 Nayanars whose story is associated with deepams and lamps maintained in praise of the Lord.

“Kalia Nayanar was an oil monger of Tiruvotriyur. His adoration of the Lord, to who he was highly devoted, took the form of lighting the Temple lamps daily. The bhakta was rich. But, in order to reveal his greatness the Lord impoverished him, so, Kalia began to work as a labourer in order to earn money to purchase oil for his worship. But even this became impossible. His depths of poverty were so dire that the bhakta even tried to sell his wife, but no-one would buy her.

At last, in despair at his plight at not being able to maintain the Temple lamps, Kalia decided to cut his own throat and use the blood instead of oil, to burn the lamps. In his attempt to do this, Lord Siva caught hold of his devotee’s hand and blessed him.

What greatness, and what intensity of devotion is portrayed in this simple life! Self-forgetfulness is the key-note in devotion. Remembering God always, the devotee is so thoroughly absorbed in Him, that nothing but God and His worship matters to him. By all means His worship must go on: no obstacle shall stand in the way. The devotee’s heart and mind are always positive, never letting a negative thought enter them. He sees opportunities in difficulties and is never beaten by any obstacles which serve him as steps to God!”
[By Swami Sivananda – abridged]

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