Story of Ilayankudi Mara Nayanar
Ilayankudi Mara Nayanar is known for his hospitable nature.
He saw Shaivites as lord Shiva himself.
His real name is Maranar, Ilayankudi is his village.
Ilayankudi Mara Nayanar chose a path of Shiva sadhana called Maheshwara Puja.
In this sadhana, one worships the devotees of the lord.
So, it covers the entire procedure of receiving a devotee, delighting him with your service and bidding him a pleasant farewell.
Firstly, the devotee spots a Shiva devotee by his external semblance of Rudraksha beads and Vibhuti.
One then welcomes the guest by washing his feet in the mood of surrender.
One worships him with puja articles which include incense, flowers etc.
Then one reverently drinks his charan amrit with the will of purifying oneself.
One then speaks pleasant words glorifying the guest and pleases him with one’s hospitality.
Then one remembers the lord for his kindness to provide such a rare opportunity.
Lastly one bids the guest farewell by making him feel comfortable and escorting him to a distance.
There are the rules of the Sadhana.
In the truest sense, the practice of serving devotees purifies the heart and gives us their blessings to progress spiritually.
In this regard, the Nayanar belonged to the farmer class and was blessed with ample riches.
He faithfully followed his discipline in the best possible ways.
Wealth never corroded his devotion.
He remained grounded and genuinely worshipped devotees with earnestness.
The lord was pleased with His devotional activities.
However, he had different plans to emphasize the glory of his devotee.
It is impossible to understand one’s true nature when times are favorable.
Hence, the lord created adverse circumstances.
Astonishingly Ilayankudi Mara Nayanar lost all his wealth.
Yet he kept firm to his spiritual disciple even in the most adverse conditions.
To continue his discipline, he sold all his belongings.
In fact, a time came where he even sold himself for his pursuit.
One day, it was pouring heavily.
The couple was about to sleep with an empty stomach.
Suddenly, they heard a knock at the door.
Who had come so untimely?
On opening the door, they found a Shaivaite fully drenched in rain expecting to receive alms.
Maranar’s service attitude
The couple welcomed the Shaivite and looked after his needs.
They wiped his body, offered him a new pair of clothes and gave him a respectable seat.
However, they were internally worried about his food.
Since, the house faced dire times, they struggled to make ends meet.
The Nayanmar’s wife was however a pious and chaste lady.
She came up with a brilliant idea-
“Why not use the seeds that we had sown just yesterday in the fields.
We can thus cook a fine meal for our guest.”
Unconcerned about their future upkeep, the couple mutually agreed.
The Nayanar rushed to the backyard and in the darkness of the night collected all the floating seeds in his basket.
His wife crushed the seeds and cooked a fine meal out of it.
The Nayanar couldn’t believe his fate. He was extremely delighted.
As he went in to invite his guest, the guest had disappeared.
Greatness of Ilayankudi
The sky was glowing with the beauty of the celestial couple.
Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati had personally come to shower their blessing on the couple.
Hunger is something very difficult to conquer.
Yet the couple kept firm to their spiritual discipline to please a Shiva devotee.
They did not give in to the pangs of hanger.
This indicates the height of self-abstinence.
Pleased by their selfless devotion, the lord said “You both have won my heart.
Hence you shall forever reside in my planet.”
Story of Iyarpahai Nayanar
Iyarpahai Nayanar is known for his charitable nature, and die hard spirit to fulfil the demands of Shaivites.
His dispassion and determination puts him at a high pedestal.
The Nayanar seemed to be materially blessed, but he never let his riches interfere in his devotion. He remained detached by heart.
Those who openly give are truly rich. The extent of his sacrifice is other-worldly.
It is this nature that brings him very close to lord Shiva.
For Iyarpahai, Shiva devotees were lord Shiva himself.
Their wish is the supreme commandment.
Iyarpahai came from Kaveripoompattinam.
He had vowed to fulfil every desire of Shaivites.
Since he came from the Vaishya (business) community, he kept charity as his sadhana.
To prove the supremacy of his devotee, the lord personally visited Iyarpahai Nayanar’s noble cottage in the guise of an ascetic.
He looked extremely ritualistic with his body covered with ash, wearing heavy Rudraksha beads.
At his mere arrival, the Nayanar could feel the spiritual vibrations.
He cordially welcomed his guest and looked after every possible need of his.
He then asked the ascetic to express his desire.
You may also want to read- Story of Sundaramoorthy Nayanar
The ascetic’s demand
The ascetic said- “You are far-acclaimed for you charitable disposition.
So, listen to my desire.
But first you must promise to keep up your words.”
The Nayanar confidently replied-
“If whatever you ask is within my domain, I shall readily fulfil all that you ask”
The Brahmin immediately said. “If this is so, I want your wife”
The Nayanar without a second thought, agreed.
Neither did he look upon the Brahmin with suspicion nor question his demand.
His desire to satisfy the lord’s devotees was so supreme.
When the Nayanar informed his wife about his resolve, she was taken aback.
Yet she agreed to comply with her husbands’ wish, since she held her wife’s duty as the highest.
She kept her husband’s desire above everything else.
However the ascetic added-
“When I leave with your wife, you must protect me.
Naturally, your relatives shall attack me.
Hence you must ensure my safe departure.”
The Nayanar agreed.
He carried with him all the weaponry to protect his devotee guest.
Iyarpahai Nayanar’s sacrifice
Meanwhile, the news of entrusting the family’s honor to an impious brahmin reached the ears of the Nayanar’s relatives.
Enraged at such an unrighteous decision, the relatives rushed to attack the Brahmin.
The ascetic, though lord Shiva himself preferred to emote fear.
The Nayanar’s wife however convinced him of her husband’s abilities and told him to stay fearless.
The relatives tried their best to deter the Nayanar through logical reasoning, but to no avail.
Finally, they violently rushed to kill the Brahmin.
To protect his devotee guest, the Nayanar chopped off their heads like weeds.
To fulfil his spiritual resolve, he saw no relation.
Such was his determination.
Now the Nayanar rejoiced since he could satisfy a devotee.
On reaching the temple at Tiruchaikadu, the ascetic sternly ordered the Nayanar to leave entrusting his wife.
The Nayanar bid farewell and sternly proceeded towards his home.
Seeing the Nayanar leave thus, Lord Shiva’s heart melted.
He called out to the Nayanar.
The Nayanar so absorbed in duty anticipating another danger came running.
However, the Brahmin had disappeared.
His wife was standing alone.
The Nayanar kept searching for his guest but wasn’t successful.
Lord Shiva grants a benediction
Suddenly Lord Shiva and mother Parvati appeared majestically.
They then heartily blessed the couple saying-
“We are pleased by your devotion.
You both shall very soon attain our abode.”
The Nayanar’s relatives had also attained the final beatitude.
Thus, we see the true exemplification of unquestioned devotion in the life of Iyarpahai Nayanar. His trust on the lord and his devotees was beyond question.
Through this pastimes lord Shiva wanted to display the great level of dispassion in his devotees.
He wanted to prove their extraordinarily love for him which made them break all material ties.
Materially, their actions may seem unconventional or eccentric, but they display the heights of spiritual attainment.
Their actions are beyond criticism and cannot be seen with a judgmental eye.
The lord purposely enacts such pastimes, to emphasize their sacrifice.
It is impossible for ordinary men to understand and mimic their mood.
Each Nayanmar has a specific quality which makes them the lord’s favorite.
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