About Sundaramoorthy Nayanar
Sundaramoorthy Nayanar was a Tamil devotee of the 8th century. He travelled extensively and spread the name of Lord Shiva.
Also, he is one of the 4 Tamil acharyas and greatly revered by the Shaivaites.
Sundaramoorthy Nayanar’s works are the pride of Tamil devotional literature.
People know him for his soulful Tamil compositions called Thevaram.
He holds deep friendship or Sakhya ras towards the lord.
Hence, he would freely demand from the lord not for the fulfilment of his selfish desires but for the betterment of mankind.
So, Lord Shiva appreciates and adores him.
Astonishingly, this great Shiva devotee only lived till eighteen.
Befitting his spiritual heights, he was born in a land of Shaivaites, surcharged with spiritual vibration.
His father Sadaiyanar and mother Isaignaniar passed on Shiva devotion to him in heredity.
Following the customary ritual of Tamilians, Sundarar got the name of his grandfather “Nambi Arurar.”
Sundararmoorthy Nayanar’s past life
Sundarar was an eternal associate of lord Shiva named Alala Sundaran.
He accompanied Lord Shiva by handing over the bowl of poison during the colossal churning of the milky ocean.
Since he handed over the fatal venom called ‘Halahala’, he was thereafter known as ‘Alala’.
Downfall of Alala Sundaran
Once Alala Sundaran had gone to the garden to collect flowers for his master Shiva’s worship.
However, he spotted the two beautiful attendants of Parvati Devi namely Aninditi and Kamalini. There, he was struck by the arrows of cupid.
Now, back in the mountains, Lord Shiva understood his devotee’s mind though his yogic powers.
He then summoned Alala Sundaran and said-
“Along with these two attendants, you shall be reborn on earth as humans.
There, you shall marry and enjoy the pleasures of worldly life.”
Now, Sundarar felt the pain of being struck by a thousand arrows.
He couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from his cherished lord, Shiva. He wept bitterly and said-
“Oh Lord, my foolishness has taken me away from you.
I am afraid that Maya shall delude me.
I had turned my face away from you, Oh lord.
Oh ocean of kindness please be merciful and dispel my ignorance.
Please take me back to your feet at the earliest.”
The lord then promised to grant his wish.
Another cause for Alala’s birth
Ordinarily, people may feel that even in Kailash one is bound by feelings of lust.
However, due to lord Shiva’s wish alone this desire entered Sundarar’s mind.
Indeed, Lord Shiva’s eternal associates are free from vices, yet they appear entrapped only to fulfill His supreme wish.
They are ready to take the bad name just to fulfil Lord Shiva’s desire.
They come for the betterment of the world and to bless us by their presence.
Everything happens for a good cause.
Through this episode, Lord Shiva wanted to accomplish two goals-
1) Firstly, He wanted to highlight the power of lust, How lust pull you away from God.
Lust can entrap even the greatest of Shiva devotees like Sundarar. Hence, it becomes essential to burn this quality if at all one wants to attain lord Shiva.
However if you positively utilize sexual energy, it propels you towards you spiritual goal.
2) Lastly, He wanted his dear devotee to compose wonderful Thevarams and instill the seed of devotion in hearts. Thiru thonda thogai is one such popular Thevaram.
His devotees thus through every possible way only wished for the betterment of mankind.
Story of Sundaramoorthy Nayanar
Sundarar was born in a pious family as Arurar.
The child was resplendent and beautiful resembling the majesty of a shiva devotee.
King Narasinga Munaiyar grew fond of the baby and wanted to foster it as a father.
The king then sought its parents’ permission.
Sadaiyanar who was already dispassionate by nature, gladly agreed.
Interestingly, Sundarar and his parents find a place among the 63 nayanars.
Thus, Sundarar grew up in great pomp and luxury.
Lord Shiva stops Sundarar’s marriage
Now as providence would have it, Sundarar reached a marriageable age.
His father Sadaiyanar approached Sandakavi Sivachariar to give his daughter’s hand in marriage.
All the wedding arrangements were done, but destiny had something else in store.
An old Brahmin bathed in ash, wearing rudraksha beads all over, suddenly stomped into the assembly.
He then a made a public announcement for all to hear-
“This marriage ceremony cannot happen.
The bridegroom Sundarar is my bond slave. His grandfather had signed an agreement affirming the same.”
The mystic’s claim stupefied all.
Now, the ceremony was halted for good.
The Brahmin however had made a right assertion. He definitely had a right over sundarar’s life since he was none other than his eternal master lord Shiva.
Thus the Brahmin forcibly took Sundarar along.
The young bride was chaste. Fixing her mind on Sundarar’s feet she casted off her material body. Thus she transcended to the eternal abode of lord Shiva, Kailasha.
Now Sundarar was furious with this stranger. He angrily questioned him- “Who are you?”
The Brahmin replied- I come from Tiruvennai Nellur.
Sundaramoorthy Nayanar calls lord Shiva “a liar”
Sundarar openly called him a liar and said- “Now let the wise men of the land make the final settlement.”
Since the Brahmin was no ordinary man, he magically produced a document before the wise men which read-
I, Arurar (pertaining to Sundarar’s grandfather) consciously comply with this bond of slavery.
I and my future my generations shall forever serve this ‘Pithan’ of Tiruvennai Nellur with all dedication and surrender.
Lord Shiva’s name “Pithan”
This ‘Pithan’ whom they refer to is actually Lord shiva Himself.
Pithan mean ‘mad man’.
Lord Shiva enjoys being called a “mad man” since He is above all body-consciousness
He is the supreme yogi and the lord of all sciences.
The court closely examined the documents and signature. Finally, Sundarar was held guilty.
Hence, he had to faithfully obey the commands of his master, the Pithan.
Now, the Brahmin happily moved toward his home. But astonishingly he vanished from sight on entering the temple of Tiru Arul Turai.
All were astounded by the miracle. Since Sundarar’s was lord Shiva’s close devotee, he understood the hidden message behind this pastime.
Lord Shiva had arrived in time to save him from the clutches of maya.
Now, Sundarar felt great pain of separation from lord Shiva. Also, he felt remorseful for not having recognizing his lord. He thus cried aloud for protection.
The merciful lord appeared before him and reassuringly said- “Do not worry. You are already my dear devotee. I am always there with you.
Due to a folly of your previous birth, you have taken birth thus. See, I myself have come to save you.
Lord Shiva gives Sundarar a new name
Since Sundarar had exchanged bitter words with the Lord, Lord Shiva called him ‘Vanthondan’, (the devotee who speak harshly).
The Lord then advised Sundarar to sing His glories.
The merciful lord said “My dear child, since you were angry with me, you addressed me as ‘Pithan’.
So, compose a soulful poem that begins with this very word.”
The thevaram thus inspires many devotees and stands before us known as ‘Pitha Pirai Soodi’.
After this episode Lord Shiva got the name ‘Taduthatkonda Iswar’ (The lord who feels for his devotees and saves them from Samsara or worldly life).
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