18 February 2012

Meypporul Nayanar

Nayanars were from varied backgrounds, ranging from kings and soldiers to untouchables. The story of each saint exhibits different aspects of devotion and is believed to inspire in the reader a greater intensity of love towards Lord Shiva.

The Periapuranam, which is regarded as one of the greatest devotional books in Tamil literature, is a compilation of the lives of these great saints and narrates the history of each of the sixty-three Nayanars.

The below narrative of the king Meypporul Nayanar, serves as an example by showing us the values of tolerance and of doing good even to enemies.

Meypporul Nayanar

The story goes thus:

Meypporul Nayanar was a pious king who ruled over the hill tribes of Sethi. He was chivalrous and brave and there was peace and plenty in his kingdom.. People worshipped him as the living God. He fought many battles and was always victorious.

He was well versed in the Agamas and an ardent devotee of the Lord. To him Siva and His devotees, adorned with matted locks, Rudraksham and sacred ashes represented the only truth, Absolute Truth: and all the rest of the world was straw. He saw everything as Sivamayam. Siva Bhaktas enjoyed absolute freedom in his country: they were honoured by the king and the people alike. Though he ruled the kingdom as the king, his mind was always at the Lord’s Feet. Daily, special prayers and festivals were conducted in the temples in his realm.

Nayanar’s fame spread far and wide. This evoked the jealousy of Muthanathan, the king of a neighbouring state. He collected an army and attacked Nayanar several times; but he was repeatedly defeated. So, Muthanathan resorted to foul-play. One day, he disguised himself as a Siva Yogi and entered the palace at night. The gate-keepers did not question him, but allowed him to proceed. Dathan, the faithful and intelligent servant of Nayanar, was guarding the bedroom in which the king was sleeping. When the Siva Yogi approached the bedroom, Dathan tried to dissuade him from disturbing the king’s sleep; but the Yogi refused to listen, saying: ‘I have some secret Shastra to teach the king. I cannot wait.’ So, Dathan had to allow the Yogi to enter the bedroom of the king, though he was a little suspicious.

Nayanar’s wife got up and, finding a Siva Yogi in the room, quickly awakened her husband. The Siva Yogi told the king that the Shastra was a great secret, revealed by the Lord Himself, and that only the king was entitled to hear it. At once the king sent even the queen away and prostrated before the Yogi, ready to receive the secret. At that moment, the Siva Yogi, who was none else than the jealous king Muthanathan, quickly stabbed Nayanar on his back, with a knife he had kept hidden.

The shrewd Dathan, as he entered the room, found the king on the floor in a pool of blood and Muthanathan with a knife in his hand. He was ready to strike down Muthanathan, when the dying Nayanar said: ‘Datha, he is our man. He has the appearance of a Siva Yogi and so must be honoured as one. Do not harm him. Kindly escort him to the borders of our kingdom, and see that he is unharmed.’ Dathan obeyed the commands of his master. As he was escorting Muthanathan, the people who had heard what happened went to attack Muthanathan, but, as soon as Dathan told them of the king’s commands, they withdrew, admiring the supreme devotion of their king. Thus, Muthanathan was safely escorted out of the kingdom. And, Dathan hastened back to the palace to convey this news to the dying king who was eagerly waiting for it.

As soon as Dathan conveyed the news to the king, the Nayanar called all his Ministers and relatives to his bedside, and spoke to them as follows: ‘It is our duty to serve the Bhaktas. They must be honoured and worshipped at all times and under all circumstances. Let our people walk in the footsteps of the Siva Bhaktas. Let the country be flooded with Siva Bhaktas. By their blessings, let peace and prosperity reign in our land.’ With these words, he closed his eyes and meditated on Lord Siva.

Lord Siva at once appeared before him and blessed him as follows: ‘I am immensely pleased with your devotion to My Bhaktas. I am immensely pleased with your cosmic love and your unquestioning devotion to My devotees. Even in a murderer you saw Me. You are, therefore, fit to reach the Highest Abode which even the Devas cannot hope to reach. You will soon come to My Abode.’ With these words the Lord disappeared: and Meypporul Nayanar (whose name means ‘one for whom God is the sole reality’) also attained His Abode.

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