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PERIYAPURANAM

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Periyapuranam narrates the story of sixty three saints who are better known as Nayanmargal. It is compiled as the 12th Thirumurai and also known Thiruthondarpuranam; the greatest work of epic in the world of Saivism which hold a unique position.

Kannappar
Kannappar's life is among the most famous Saivite hagiology. Tinnan was born to the hunter chief Nagan who ruled over Pottahappi. The hunters of this area were a hardy lot delighting in Tina flour, honey and cooked meat floating in honey syrup.Sekkizhar gives a charming slice of social history when he describes the tribal initiation ceremony for Tinnan's virgin hunt. When Tinnan entered the dense part of the forests, he hunted zestfully along with his friends. One of the pigs caught by them escaped and Tinnan pursued it along with Nannan and Kadan and killed it. They found themselves near a hill. Annan told Tinnan that this was the hill of Srikalahasti with a temple to Shiva.

Tinnan went up the hill and the moment his eyes saw the image of Shiva's Linga, a mighty transformation came upon him. He gave up the idea of returning home and spent his cleaning up the temple, decorating the image and offering cooked meat to the Lord. For five Tinnan continued his unconventional worship which included cleaning the top of the Linga with his sandals. It was sometime before the regular priest Sivagochariar discovered the identity of the devotee who was performing the desecratory worship. He was upset but the Lord appeared in his dream and commanded him to observe Tinnan from a hiding place. When Tinnan came with flowers on his head and cooked meat in his hands for performing worship, he was shocked to see one of the eyes of Shiva spouting blood. Feeling helpless, he plucked out his eyes and stuck it on the Linga.The flow of blood stopped.

But Tinnan's joy at having staunched the flow was short lived. Presently the second eye of the Linga began spurting blood.Undaunted, Tinnan held his foot against Lord Shiva's wounded eye and began gouging out his own healthy eye so that he could offer it to the Lord. The Lord Shiva then appeared from the beyond exclaiming thrice, Stop, Kannappa! Such is the enthralling story of Kannappar.


Kalayanar
Among holy places dedicated to Shiva, Tirukadavur announces the Lords victory over death to save Markandeya.The place is also far famed because of Goddess Abiramai, the compassionate one.Kalayanar a Brahmin devotee of Shiva lived here long ago. He considered it as his sacred duty to spread the scented smoke of Kungiliyam in the temple. Even when he became poor, he continued his service.Kalayanar would rather forego his meals for several days than stop his Kungiliyam service even for a day.

A time came when he had literally nothing on hand to continue this self chosen duty. In the mean time he and his family had gone without food for several days.Kalayanar was blessed with an understanding wife. She could stand no more the hunger of her children and so gave her auspicious necklace to Kalayanar.He was to sell it and buy some paddy. As Kalayanar went towards the shopping centre, a seller of Kungiliyam came his way. Quite excited by the availability of a bag of Kungiliyam, kalayanar exchange the necklace for the incense. The next moment he started walking towards the temple. Entering the sacred precincts he fell unconscious as he had been without food for several days. Lord Shiva appeared in his dream and advised him to go home and eat milk pudding. Waking up, Kalayanar was flabbergasted that Lord Shiva should ask him to part take of a rich meal when his home had not a grain in the granary. All the same, he did not dare to disobey the Lord. He got up and went home.

Wonder of wonders! His house had changed beyond recognition. It was endowed luxuriously and the granary overflowed with paddy. Even as his darling wife Kalayanar and the other devotees of Shiva to her hearts content, it was clear that for his lifetime henceforth Kalayanar would have no dearth of wealth to render his favorite service to Shiva. As Kalayanar happily continued his service at Kadavur, he heard that in the temple at Tiruppanandal, the image of the Lord had tilted to one side. The King had set his army to pull the image back to its original angle in vain.Kalayanar hastened to Tiruppanandal.Finding the army tired out and in a swoon; he decided to join their ranks. He bound one end of the rope to the image and tied the other end to his neck and pulled hard. Lord Shiva touched by his devotees love straightened himself in a trice to the wonder of all those present. The very heaven showered scented blossoms to mark the miracle. It is said that when Kalayanar lived at Kadavur, he played host to famous devotees of Shiva like Tirujnanasambandhar.He was indeed a peerless devotee who had not even a shade of ego in him.

kulachirayar
Among Pandiyan rulers, Ninraseer Nedumaran otherwise known as Koon Pandiyan has a special place in Saivite hagiology. He was a contemporary of Tirujnanasambandhar. Besides he had the privilege of having a great Saivite Kulachirayar as his Chief Minister. Kulachirayar was also an able administrator and had a big hand in the Pandiyan victories at Uzhinjnam, Paazhil and Nelveli. Yet another distinction about King Nedumaran was his generosity of understanding. Himself a Jain, yet he had a great respect of Kulachirayar who followed Saivism with single minded zeal. Kulachirayar was born at Manamerkudi.He had great respect for the devotees of Lord Shiva irrespective of their caste affiliations. He would present them with food, bags of holy ash, kaupin cloth and other reuirements.He was a great help to Queen Mangayarkkarasi who was engaged in spreading Saivism throughout the Pandyan land.

kurumbar
The yogi Kurumbar found soul satisfaction in serving the Lord Shiva yogis. He would feed them and give them gifts in all humility. By engaging his mind with total faith in meditating upon Sundarar, another great devotee of Shiva.Kurumbar became an adept in the eight Siddhis.However he did not get lost in the regions of the occult but reached the crests of yoga by holding on to the Panchakshara.One day he understood from his yogic vision that Sundarar has been granted eternal life by Shiva. As he did not wish to continue on earth life after Sundarar's leaving the physical, Kurumbar too reached the feet of Lord Shiva by withdrawing from life through the power of Yoga.

Kazharitrarivar
Peria Puranam has a way of springing pleasant surprises and purposive shocks upon the reader. The tale of Kazharitrarivar belongs to the former variety and is a priceless lesson in gentle humility.Perumakkothai of Kodungalur and unfathomable depths of devotion for Shiva and his devotees. Though of royal Chera descent, he spent his time in cleaning the temple and worshipping Lord Shiva with flowers. He was not quite happy when one day he was called upon to accept the crown but he bowed to the people's will. As he was coming out in state on the royal elephant after being crowned King, he saw a washer man coming towards him. The laborer's body was white with the washing sand of the riverbed. The King got down and bowed to him. The poor washer man, Ekaliyar, drew back afraid. "You reminded me of Lord Shiva's devotees. Go forth on your way", said Perumakkothai to Ekaliyar with affection.

A legend associated with Perumakkothai speaks of Panabhadra, a great musician. Pleased with his music, Shiva gave him a letter of introduction to the Chera King. Overwhelmed, Perumakkothai gave Panabhadra riches innumerable. The King's instinctive understanding of others needs gave him the sobriquet, Kazharitrarivar.Perumakkothai ‘s ritual worship of Lord Shiva was undertaken with deep concentration and it is said he invariably heard the sounds of the Lord's anklet at the conclusion of the pooja. As his fame spread apace, one day he was upset when the Lord's anklet - sounds did not reach him. As he tried to commit suicide, the sounds of the anklet were heard. "I was listening to Sundarar's recital and I am late", the Lord assured him. Presently Perumakkothai met Sundarar and they became good friends. Together they visited several holy places like Chidambaram, Madurai, Rameshwaram and Tiruvarur.When Perumakkothai learnt sometime later that Sundarar had ascended to Kailas on a heavenly elephant; he recited the Panchakshara into the ear of his horse. And lo! Drawn by the power of intense devotion and ever present grace, the horse ascended to Kailas as well.

Kalikkamar
There is never a moment of repetitive dullness in Sekkizhar's tales of Shiva's devotees. Each individual has a unique approach to the Divine. Kalikkamar for instance could not bear the Supreme Divine acting as a serviteur of Sundarar! Kalikkamar hailed from Tirupperumangalam and belonged to a warrior clan. He was deeply devoted to Lord Shiva and reveled in endowing temples. His devotion to Shiva was not without resentment. How could Shiva allow Sundarar such freedom and familiarity? Hence when he fell ill with colic and the Lord himself assured him that Sundarar could save him, Kalikkamar rejected the offer.

The Lord then commanded Sundarar to go to Tirupperumangalam. When Kalikkamar heard this, he stabbed himself. His wife who was also a devotee of Shiva was non-plussed. Stealing herself, she did the corpse and welcomed Sundarar. But Sundarar was aghast when he heard of Kalikkamar's death. He then proceeded to stab himself! It was then that Shiva appeared, Kalikkamar was brought to life and the two devotees became great friends.