A collection of Indian tales of wit, wisdom, humour, bravery, devotion and lots more...

Tag: devotion

The Story Of Srirangam

On the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadashi, I thought of posting the story of Srirangam. Srirangam , which is a town in Southern India has the famous temple of Sri Ranganatha or Lord Vishnu.

There is an interesting story on how the Lord Ranga came to stay at this place on the banks of the Cauvery river.
The idol of Lord Vishnu, by name Ranga Vimaanam, was being worshipped by King Ikshwaku, who was the ancestor of Sri Rama. As we all know, King Dasaratha conducted a fire sacrifice for begetting children. He had invited all kings from all over the country and one Chola king from the South by name Dharmavarman also attended the sacrifice. He was mesmerised by the Vishnu Idol possessed by King Dasaratha and wanted to take it to his kingdom in the South. However King Dasaratha was not willing to part with the idol which he had acquired as ancestral property. Dharmavarman, disappointed returned to his kingdom and started to do penance to attain the idol.

In the course of time King Dasaratha had four sons Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrugna and we all know the story of Rama. Now, after Rama came back from Lanka and his Coronation performed was giving away gifts to all present. Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana, who was also attracted to the idol which was now being propitiated by Lord Rama, asked permission from the Lord to take the Ranga Vimana with him to Sri Lanka. The Lord granted his wish but told him that the idol should not be kept down at any cost as it will not be able to take it back, once kept down. Vibheeshana agreed and left for Lanka with the idol.

Dharmavarman had prayed hard all these years that he should get the Ranga Vimana to his Kingdom. His prayers were to be answered shortly.

As Vibheeshana was crossing Southern India, he remembered he had to perform his evening prayers. He looked around and saw a boy there. The boy was none other than Lord Ganesha. Vibheeshana called the boy and told him to hold the idol till such time he finished his ablutions. He specifically told him not to keep it down at any cost. The boy nodded his head and took the idol.

After a while, the boy called out to Vibheeshana thrice and when Vibheeshana was deeply engrossed in his prayers, kept the idol down and ran away. When Vibheeshana finished his prayers he was alarmed to find the idol placed on the ground and try as he might, the idol would not come from the ground. It was stuck there. Vibheeshana was very very sad and disappointed when Lord Narayana appeared to him and told him that he would stay there but he would always have his eyes resting on Lanka from there. And therefore the Lord lies in Srirangam, with his head on the Western Side and eyes seeing the south. The entrance to the temple is also from the south and the sanctum also faces the southern direction.

Dharmavarman was greatly pleased and built a nice temple around the idol and was worshipping the same. Years passed by and over time the Cholas had shifted their capital to Tanjore. As it happens always,the fury of Nature prevailed and the temple was buried under the sands and its existence became unknown. Dense forests had grown over the soil not leaving a trace of the temple buried underneath.

After many years, a young Chola prince who went hunting near the Cauvery river was resting under a tree when he heard a parrot say a sloka in chaste sanskrit about a temple being buried underneath. The prince was surprised and tried to excavate, but could not find anything. Dejected, he started to build a new temple in the spot. The next day, Lord Narayana appeared in his dream and guided him as to where the Lord exactly lay. Overjoyed, the prince excavated in the spot and found the temple with its deity.
With great happiness and devotion he restored the temple to its earlier glory. The prince henceforth came to be known as Kili Cholan as he had acted according to the parrot’s directions.

This is the story of Sri Rangam.

The story of Kannappa Nayanar

This is the story of one of the sixty-three Nayanars (Saivite saints) Kannappa Nayanar.

Kannappa Nayanar  was born Thinnan , in a place called Uduppur near the present day Srikalahasti to the Chieftain of the hunting tribe, Nagan. Thinnan was born after lot of penance by his parents and so was the apple of their eye. He was a very strong boy and hence the name Thinnan which means strong in tamil. Thinnan was taught all the martial arts by his father and the other elders of his tribe and Thinnan became a skilful archer in a short time.

Nagan felt he was becoming old and the tribe needed a young strong chief and with the consultation of the elders, anointed Thinnan as the next chieftain of their tribe, much to the joy of the tribe . Thinnan discharged his duties well and led the tribe on hunting expeditions successfully.

One day, as Thinnan and his friends went hunting, Thinnan started chasing a wild boar and in the process entered into the forest area which he had not previously entered. He killed the boar and as he was lifting and bringing it, his eyes fell on the beautiful lingam, the form of Lord Shiva in a clearing in the forest. Thinnan was at once drawn mysteriously to the lingam. He could not control his emotions and felt that he should stay back with the lingam.He told his friend Kadan to make a fire and cook the boar. After the meat was cooked, Thinnan placed it before the Lord and offered it to him.

Thinnan could not bear the thought of leaving the Lord as he was overwhelmed by some mysterious bonding with the Lord. He decided to stay back there and told his friend to tell his parents that he had decided to stay with the Lord.

Every day Thinnan would go hunting , catch some prey , cook the meat and offer it to Lord Shiva. He did not have any utensils and so he would fill up his mouth with water and pluck wild flowers and bring them in his matted hair as he would be carrying the meat in his hands. He would spit the water on the Lord thereby ‘bathing ‘ him and place the meat with raw honey in front of the Lord. He would then take out the flowers from his hair and adorn the Lord with it. this went on as a routine.

Now , there was this sage Shiva Kochariyar who was also a staunch devotee of the same Shivalinga and he used to come everyday when Thinnan went to hunt. The sage  was aghast at the sight of meat and hurriedly cleaned it the first day thinking that some animal would have had its kill there, but as days went, the sage was at a loss to find who was doing this. He was very troubled that the Lord was being desecrated again and again and the place strewn with bones and flesh as a routine and pleaded with the Lord to help him solve this mystery . The Lord appeared in Shiva Kochariyar’s dream and said ” Do not think that some miscreant is doing this . It is my devotee who is doing this out of the unconditional love he has for me. If you want to see the extent of his devotion , hide behind the bush and see”. The next morning, the sage did as he told and then in a short while appeared Thinnan with his mouth full of water, flowers in his hair and meat in his hands. He did the ritual ‘bathing’ of the Lord and adorned the Lord with the flowers from his hair. The sage watched , horrified. Then Thinnan pleaded with the Lord to accept the meat. He spoke endearing words to the Lord when suddenly, blood started oozing from the left eye of the Lord. Thinnan was shocked. He tried to wipe it with his garment, but the eye bled more. Immediately, Thinnan ran into the forest and brought some medicinal leaves and crushed them and applied it on the Lord’s eye. But the bleeding did not stop. The sage was also watching all this with shock and awe. Then Thinnan did the most  daring thing. He picked up his arrow and plucked out his left eye from its socket. Carefully, he placed it in the depression of the Lord’s eye . The bleeding stopped.

Thinnan danced in ecstasy. But the joy was short lived. Now the other eye started bleeding. Thinnan was not so sad now. After all he knew the treatment. But… the predicament was peculiar. If Thinnan took out his right eye also, how would he know where to place it?? Thinnan thought for a while and suddenly lifted his leg and placed it in the Lord’s eye and prepared to pull out his right eye. The sage almost fainted on seeing this and suddenly, the Lord’s soothing voice was heard, “Halt Kannappa, Halt!” called out the Lord, “You are Kannappa now since you have offerred your eye to me!”.

Thinnan’s eyes healed and he  was blessed with the appearance of the Lord and so was the sage as he understood the deep rooted love and devotion Kannappan had for the Lord and from then, Thinnan has been considered as one of the 63 Saivaite saints as Kannappa Nayanar.

The Story of Poosalar Nayanar

There are lots of stories in our culture about people who have lived to see God and his miracles. The following story is about one such person.

Poosalar, a poor , but educated man lived in Tiruninravur which is near modern day Chennai. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva and his most cherished desire was to build a temple for Lord Shiva. But he was a very poor man and he could not imagine building even a wall, leave alone a temple. But Poosalar’s desire only kept growing day by day. So he consulted the spiritual texts on the rules of building a temple.

There are certain rules to be followed in designing a temple and those rules are strictly followed. So, Poosalar studied all those rules and started to construct a temple in his mind. Today he would build one portion, tomorrow, another. The next day he would build the entrance and the next day the doors. He kept on building the structure in his mind like this daily, deciding the places for the deities and deciding on the sculptures to be placed.

This went on for a while and he even fixed a date for performing the “Kumbabhishekam” or inauguration of the temple. He would perform the Kumbabhishekam also in his mind.

In the meanwhile, a Pallava king named Rajasimha had built a grand temple for Lord Kailasanatha (Shiva) at Kancheepuram (near modern day Chennai). He had fixed a date for the grand inaugural of his temple and incidentally it was the same date as Poosalar had decided for his imaginary temple.

A few days before the consecration, Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of the Raja and expressed his inability to come for the consecration of the temple as he had to “attend Poosalar’s temple function at Tiruninravur” on that same day.

The king was aghast that there was another temple superior to his that the Lord himself wanted to go. The very next day Rajasimha  set out to Tiruninravur to see for himself how Poosalar’s temple was better than his. But when he reached there and enquired, he came to know that Poosalar was a poor scholar not even capable of buying ten bricks. But since Lord Shiva himself had appeared in his dream, he called Poosalar and enquired about his temple. Poosalar reluctantly told him of his imaginary temple. The king was taken aback by the sheer devotion of this poor fellow. He immediately  ordered a temple to be built at that very spot in the same design Poosalar had envisaged.

Poosalar was very grateful and thanked Lord Shiva. The temple is there still  at Tiruninravur and is named “Hridayaleeswarar” temple (Lord of the heart) aptly. The Lord’s name is Hridayaleeswarar.

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