The temples and the archaelogical wonders in India are quite fascinating. More fascinating are the ones that have a great heritage, become lost over time and later rediscovered. One such place is Muttam, also now known as Kottai Kaadu, meaning the forest of the fort. It is quite intriguing to know that this place was once a hive of activity, with people flocking from all across the globe. The Romans and the Greek conducted trade with people in that region. The reason behind it was the great perennial river, Noyyal. It is referred to as the Kanchi Maanadhi in ancient literature. However, some people opine that the Kanchi Maanadhi and the Noyyal start as two different rivers that merge together before merging with the famous Cauvery at a place called Kodumudi. The Kanchi Maanadhi was laden with precious and semi-precious stones that was one of the biggest reasons for people flocking from all across the globe. The other reason was that the region was rich in spices and condiments that are quite valuable to the people of the other countries.

Muttam lies in the Kongu region, the present Coimbatore, near the foothills of the famous Vellingiri hills and in the banks of the Kanchi Maanadhi river (Noyyal). The route along the river Noyyal gave the foreign traders access from a port called Vanji in Kerala to one of the busiest cities in the Chola Empire – Tiruchirapalli (Trichy). This route became more of a trade route called the Rajakesari Highway, which still connects Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli. The name Rajakesari refers to the Chola king “Aditya Karikalan – I” who conquered the Kongu region and provided a shadow of army to safeguard the traders and their precious belongings while they travel in this route. Along the Rajakesari highway were a few other important places that were also a hive of activity and trade, they were, Vellalur, Erode and Karur. Ancient Greek and Roman currencies were discovered in these places when research and excavations were done.

It is no wonder that kings from the three empires were insistent on conquering the Kongu region, because, when they have the fertile and rich Kongu region in their control, they amassed great wealth. Muttam was the hub of all the events and trade happening. In order to safeguard the place, a fort was built by the then rulers of the place, some say Cholas and some say the Pandyas. This dates to the days of another famous place call the Perur, which has a famous Shiva temple built by the great Chola Emperor – King Karikala Peruvalathaan. Many Sangam period Tamil literary works Kurunthogai, Padhitrupathu and Aganaanuru have references about the Kongu region

Now, in the once famous centre of activity, only a small renovated temple remains. The fort is now ruined and the blocks of granite used to build the fort have now been used up to erect fences, stone embankments. Now let’s see the present state of this glorious place, that is, temple. The temple’s main deity is Lord Shiva adorned with the named Muttathu Naagalingeshwarar and his consort Goddess Parvathi is in the name Muthuvaaliamman. The other deities include Vinayagar, Subramaniar, Dakshinamoorthy, Perumal and Sandikeshwarar. The temple also carries the symbols of the Chera, Chola and the Pandya kingdoms, implying that the kings were patrons to this temple. The temple does not have a festival yet, but the Poojas are being performed daily. Thavathiru Santhalinga Adigalaar took efforts to renovate the rebuild the temple in the same old structure it was. The same stones that were used to build the original temple was used again too, to renovate and rebuild that temple. Nearby the temple runs the Kanchi Maanadhi. Now let’s see the pictures of this great old treasure.


The front view of the Muttam Nagalingeshwarar Temple

The front view of the Muttam Nagalingeshwarar Temple

The shrine of the main deity Nagalingeshwarar  and the Dakshinamoorthy shrine. My friends Sakthivel and Vijayendran too in this snap

The closeup view of the main shrine

The Vinayagar shrine

The view of the main shrine from the Vinayagar temple with me and Sakthivel

The stone inscriptions on the temple walls
Following are the pictures around the temple

Lord Subramaniar Shrine on the left

Goddess Muthuvaali Amman Shrine

Carving of the Kannappa Nayanar. Shiva worship was quite prominent in the Chola Empire

The Pandyan Empire symbol – The Fish

Lord Vishnu Shrine

Navagraha Shrine

The Nandhi status in front of the Nagalingeshwarar Shrine

The serene and fertile Betel nut plantation near the temple

The Kanchi Maanadhi. This is a perennial stream that irrigates the lands nearby (Sakthivel, Anwar and Vijayendran)
A few more picture of the Kanchi Maanadhi


Though we have lost the heritage of this great place Muttam, the remains have to be preserved for the generations to see how well the Tamil civilisation flourished, when most others were just beginning to evolve.

More to come, until then…

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King Badhragiri decided to become a sanyasi, handed over his kingdom to his minister and went in search of Pattinathaar. He found Pattinathaar and requested Pattinathaar to accept him as his disciple. Pattinathaar denied saying that Badhragiri was a king, who has lived a posh life and being a Sanyasi means relinquishing everything in life as nothing belongs to a sanyasi, even the air he breathes does not belong to him. But Badhragiri was determined; he expressed his determination to be a disciple of Pattinathaar by turning to be sanyasi. Pattinathaar finally agreed to take Badhragiri as his disciple.

Then they started out on their journey south. They followed the rule of the Sanyasi, relinquishing everything. For food, they just get some alms from the homes that provided food. During some days they get food in plenty, well enough to feed thrice a day or even more, and on some days they don’t get food at all.

One day, Badhragiri found a Thiruvodu and he took it. Pattinathaar told him that a Sanyasi has no property, so he told Badhragiri to leave that Thiruvodu where he found. Badhragiri justified saying that they don’t get food quite often and the Thiruvodu is the vessel used by Sanyasis, even Lord Shiva used it. Pattinathaar said, “It’s your wish”. Then they proceeded, later Badhragiri found a small bag, he took and looked at Pattinathaar, again Pattinathaar told “See you are starting to gather your assets”. Badhragiri argued, “it’s of no use to others, why not we using it”. Pattinathaar said, “It’s your wish” and proceeded.

And on another day, he found a puppy stranded in the road. It was very weak and appeared as if it hadn’t eaten for a few days. Badhragiri took pity on the puppy, fed it well and took it with him. Pattinathaar reminded Badhragiri that he was a Sanyasi and he is going back into his family bonding by taking the puppy with him. Again, Badhragiri argued that being a sanyasi does not mean that we should ignore the poor and hapless creatures. As usual, Pattinathaar said, “It’s your wish” and proceeded.

A few days passed, then one day, both of them did not get any food for the day and they decided to rest for the night in the Thinnai – a small area in front of the house, usually where people sit. Pattinathaar lay down to rest in one end of the lobby and Badhragiri in the other end keeping all the possessions and the puppy nearby. Sometime later in the night, a beggar came near Pattinathaar and begged for food. Pattinathaar and Badhragiri woke up on hearing the beggar. Pattinathaar told the beggar that he is a Sanyasi however the man on the other end of the lobby is a family man and he might have something.

Badhragiri realised that Pattinathaar was mentioning about the the various things he had collected in due course has made him attached to those things. At the same time, he got angry because he renounced everything to become a Sanyasi, yet his own Guru told that he is still a family man. Immediately he threw away his possessions and threw the puppy against the wall that it died after having a last gaze at Badhragiri. Badhragiri could not understand the meaning of that gaze the puppy gave him. Then the beggar showed who He was, He was lord Shiva incarnate. Lord Shiva gave enlightenment to Badhragiriyar and vanished

However, Pattinathaar had to wait for some more time until he reached Thiruvottriyur and he was playing with the kids out there, he attained enlightenment and turned into a Shiva lingam.

That was the life history of the legendary Pattinathaar who was born as a wealthy man, but renounced everything on realisation that nothing in this world is permanent. He has left us his life experiences and his realisations as songs that will serve as a reminder that one should not be attached to the materialistic possessions in this world.

More to come, until then…


Pattinathaar reached Ujjain and worshipped the Kali and decided to stay there for a while. He was getting acquainted with the place and walked along the streets of Ujjain. There was a sudden excitement in the crowd and the reason was that the King of Ujjain Badhragiri (Bharudhahiri) visited that place with his soldiers escorting him. The people there respectfully bowed to the King when he went past them. But Pattinathaar did not bow to the King. The King grew a bit disturbed and asked Pattinathaar why he did not bow. Pattinathaar said he does not bow to anyone other than Lord Shiva himself.

The king roared, “It is the King who is talking to you”. Pattinathaar replied “So is the One replying to you”. He referred to Lord Shiva as “the One” who is talking from within him. The King was surprised by that answer and went quietly ahead. The town settled down for the day at dusk and Pattinathaar along with a few sanyasis settled down in the nearby Sathiram

When Pattinathaar was telling about his life history to the other sanyasis, a stranger who claimed that he was a merchant joined the group of people in the sathiram. The merchant was listening to the conversation between Pattinathaar and other sanyasis. Pattinathaar was explaining about the realisation he had in his life and that the meaning of life is to get rid of the materialistic pleasures of this world and realising the Supreme Being. The merchant interrupted, telling his views. He argued explaining that the purpose of life is to enjoy every moment of it. To get rid of materialistic pleasures are the words of the weak and the impotent. The merchant added, “In addition to the pleasures of wealth, the company of a woman you marry adds more value to your life. You should not miss the comfort, love and compassion. The wife has only one mind and that mind thinks only about you.”

But Pattinathaar differed saying that woman are like men do have multiple minds, you can never say that their minds are set on only one man – the husband. Before marriage they could have admired other men too. The merchant grew a bit disturbed by the answer asked if it was true for noble women. Pattinathaar replied that it was true for all women in this world. The merchant who was none other than the King himself in disguise, came out of his disguise, grew more viscious and told Pattinathaar “My Queen is more noble and she has only one mind thinking about me”

Pattinathaar laughed and told “She has many minds!”. This made the King very angry and he shouted at Pattinathaar to get his word back. Pattinathaar was determined that he told that he spoke only the truth. The King intimidated Pattinathaar that he would be killed if did not apologize and take his word back. Pattinathaar did not budge. The King went out of the Sathiram asking Pattinathaar to be ready for his sentence in the morning. Pattinathaar told he is a sanyasi who sacrificed everything in life and life itself is no matter to him. The King ordered his men to put Pattinathaar in the prison.

The next day the King issued an order to his men to put Pattinathaar to sentence in a Kazhumaram. (Kazhumaram, a conical shaped mast made of tree or iron fully lubricated with oil, where criminals are mounted on it on the sitting position with their hands tied to their back. The criminals will have painful death). Pattinathaar was brought before the Kazhumaram where he was about to be sentenced. He realised that it is the will of Lord Shiva and sang the following Aram (Truth) song

“என்செய லாவதியாதொன்று மில்லை இனித்தெய்வமே
உன்செய லேயென் றுணரப் பெற்றேன் இந்த ஊன் எடுத்து
பின்செய்த தீவினையாதொன்று மில்லை பிறப்பதற்கு
முன்செய்த தீவினை யோலிங்ங னேவந்து மூண்டதுவே”

“Enn Seyal Aavadhu Yaadhondrum Illa Ini Dheivamae
Unn Seyal Endru Unarappetraen Indha Oon Eduthu
Pin Seidha Theevinai Yaadhondrum Illai Pirappadharkku
Munn Seidha Theevinaiyo Innaganae Vandhu Moondadhuvae

meaning, There is nothing I did or can do to this. I now realize that it is your will my God. I haven’t committed any sin after being born into this body. But the sins that accumulated over my previous births is now standing before me to end this life

As soon as he finished singing this Aram, he fainted and fell to the ground. The Kazhumaram started burning in flames. This incident was reported to the King; the King was amazed and went to meet his queen. She thought the King was disturbed by the incident and requested him to relax, gave him wine and ordered her servants to keep the King this way. The King enjoyed the wine and literally forgot his kingdom and the world. In the meanwhile, the queen went to meet Pattinathaar herself and ordered him to apologize and tell the world that she was noble to get himself released from prison. Pattinathaar said that he would rather die. She went away saying that she will make sure that the miracle like the one that happened before does not happen the next time.

The King was inebriated and never cared about his kingdom for a few days. After he came to his senses, he went in search of his queen. Suddenly, he heard her talking to someone and discovered that she was intimate with one his horse chariots drivers. He also heard her telling the plans to execute the sanyasi (Pattinathaar) and once that is done, then the King. As a result, her secret lover would become the next King.

The King was shocked to hear that from the woman who he believed to be noble. He was very disoriented to see the queen betraying him and having an affair with an ugly servant of his.  Now he remembered Pattinathaar, and the truth he said. He immediately ordered his men to behead the chariot driver and to humiliate the queen by a practice called Karum Pulli Sem Pulli Kuthudhal (A practice where the person punished was tonsured, applied black and white spots all over the body, mounted on a donkey and make them go around the city/town). He did that to set them as examples of what would happen if someone betrays the King. The order was executed, and his former queen went around the city, people pelted her with stones and she died.

King Badhragiri, then went running to Pattinathaar, fell at his feel and apologized to Pattinathaar for ordering his men to execute him. Now, King Badhragiri decided to become a sanyasi and a disciple of Pattinathaar. He handed over his kingdom to his chief minister and requested Pattinathaar to accept him as a disciple.

To be continued in the next part…

More to come, until then…

Pattinathaar made his decision to become a sanyasi and expressed his decision to his wife Sivakalai. She cried like anything on her husband leaving her alone and becoming a sanyasi. But later she consoled herself and she too decided that she will live the life of a sanyasi by being at home. Then Pattinathaar got from Sivakalai, a box that had the dress of his ancestor, who became a sanyasi. Pattinathaar’s family had been worshipping that box considering that dress to be divine.

Pattinathaar first renounced his wife and then renounced his chariot, so he walked across the streets to meet his mother. When he informed his decision about becoming a sanyasi to his mother. His mother said that she was not surprised, but she expected this. Pattinathaar said to his mother that he is going to wear the saffron cloth of his ancestor. His mother insisted that he opens up that box and sees that.

When Pattinathaar opened the box, all he found was six loin cloths. Now, Pattinathaar’s mother told that this was the property of her father-in-law and that he would say that full clothing is itself a big burden for a sanyasi. Pattinathaar went inside one of the rooms in the house and came out dressed in the loin cloth. Then his mother instructed that he should get the blessings and word from the guru from whom his grandfather got sanyasam. Before he left, his mother tied some small cloth packet to his hip and told that he should meet her if the pack unties, because that will happen when it is the end of her life.

Pattinathaar went to the Gurukulam for the first time in his life, though it was the Gurukulam started off by one of his ancestors and their family were the patrons of that Gurukulam, yet Pattinathaar never ventured into the Gurukulam before. He went in and got the blessings and word from the Guru. When he came out of the Gurukulam, he was given the beggar’s shell (Thiruvodu). He got the thiruvodu. As sanyasi’s are expected to beg and eat their daily meal as they have renounced everything in life and nothing belongs to them. Hence even the food for their living has to be given by others, symbolising that everything in this world, including one’s soul is the alms given by God.

Pattinathaar, with his Thiruvodu, went to meet his mother as the first alms for a sanyasi should be from his mother. That’s when he thought

வீடிருக்க தாயிருக்க வேண்டுமனை யாளிருக்க
பீடிருக்க ஊணிருக்க பிள்ளைகளுந் தாமிருக்க
மாடிருக்க கன்றிருக்க வைத்த பொருளிருக்க
கூடிருக்க நீ போன கோலமென்ன கோலமே

Veedirukka Thaayirukka Vendu Manayaal Irukka
Peedu Irukka Oon Irukka Pillaigalum Thaanirukka
Maadirukka Kandrirukka Vaitha Porulirukka
Koodirukka Nee Pona Kolamenna Kolamae

meaning Pattinathaar thinks to himself “You have your home, You have your mother, You have a wife. You have the fame, You have good healthy body, You even have children. You have the cow, And the cow has its calf, you even have the wealth for generations. While body is still alive, look what you have been – a Sanyasi”

Then he walks straight to his home to get the first alms from his mother. He called his mother from the gates. His mother came out with an empty hand and asked “My dear son, are you still rich?”. Pattinathaar was puzzled at his mother’s question. He thought he had renounced everything and is begging for alms before his mother and his mother is asking such a question. He asked his mother in a puzzled tone “Why do you ask that way mother?”. His mother replied

 
“வீடு உனக்கு அந்நியம் ஆகிவிட்டது ஆனால் ஓடு உனக்கு சொந்தம் ஆகிவிட்டதே அப்பா”
 
meaning “The home is now alien to you, but now you own a thiruvodu that makes you richer than other sanyasis”.

Pattinathaar had a much better realisation now, he was about to throw away his thiruvodu, but his mother stopped him and said. “Use it my son, but if you lose it don’t search as if you have lost your property”. Then she gave the first alms to Pattinathaar, he moved on. Then he came across his elder sister’s house, she saw him and invited him into her home and provided him a feast. When Pattinathaar obliged and sat for the meal, his sister asked about transferring the right to Pattinathaar’s property in writing. Pattinathaar immediately left the house without eating and made up his mind never to come to that house.

But his sister went behind him always, she sent spies to look where he was going. Finally one day, she sent her children to meet their maternal uncle. She asked the children to give their uncle the Appam (pancake) she had prepared. The children sprang up in love on Pattinathaar when they saw him. He had a lot of affection for those kids, so he picked them up in his arms and talked to them. They gave him the Appam that their mother had asked to give it to him and they left. When Pattinathaar was about to eat to he saw that the appam had some phosphoric poison in it. He realised that it was his sister who tried to kill him. He went straight to his sister’s house and threw the appam on roof top and went away singing these two lines

தன் வினை தன்னை சுடும்
ஓட்டப்பம் வீட்டை சுடும்

meaning, like one’s sins burns them up, the appam in the roof top will burn the house. The next day the entire house was engulfed in flames.

From then on Pattinathaar went on to the temples in the nearby towns and sang in praise of Lord Shiva in those temples. One day when he was in Thiruvidaimarudhur, the small pack that his mother tied to his hips untied itself indicating the his mother was her deathbed. He rushed to see his mother and as he was praying while he rushed, his mother held her life in her hands until Pattinathaar reached. Then his mother passed away in his hands. Pattinathaar wept like anything remembering how his mother had brought him up from a baby to a man. And after that, the in the funeral he set fire to his mother’s body. He then sang the following song

முன்னை யிட்டதீ முப்பு ரத்திலே
பின்னை யிட்டதீ தென்னி லங்கையிலே
அன்னை யிட்டதீ அடிவ யிற்றிலே
யானு மிட்டதீ மூள்க மூள்கவே

Munnai Itta Thee Muppurathilae
Pinnai Itta Thee Then Ilangaiyilae
Annai Itta Thee Adi Vayitrilae
Yaanum Itta Thee Moolga Moolgavae

meaning that the Fire in the front from the third eye of Lord Shiva, charred the country of Thirupura Asuras. The fire that was behind in the tail of Lord Hanuman set fire to Srilanka. The fire that the mother holds is the womb. And let the fire that I hold shall grow and grow to char the mother’s body”

Then he thought that being born is a big sin and that is what puts everybody in the inescapable loop of affection and bonding. So he sang an another song after that realising that he grew tired going from one womb to another in every birth.

மாதா வுடல் சலித்தால் வல்வினையேன் கால்சலித்தேன்
வேதாவும் கைசலித்து விட்டானே நாதா
இருப்பையூர் வாழ்சிவனே இன்னுமோ ரன்னை
கருப்பையூர் வாராமல் கா

Maadha Udal Salithaal, Vall Vinaiyaen Kaal Salithaen
Vedhavum Kaisalithu Vittaanae Naadha
Iruppaiyur Vaazh Sivanae Innumore Annai
Karuppaiyur Vaaramal Kaa

meaning, Mother got tired by giving birth in every life taken, My legs grew tired by going from one womb to another in every birth. Lord Bramha’s hands got tired by creating life again and again. Oh! Lord Shiva of Iruppaiyur, bless me that I shall not go into the womb of another mother”

Then he wandered in the same place for sometime, when again his sister started to give troubles in connection with the property. Pattinathaar transferred all the rights to the property to the temple. And he decided to go to Ujjain to worship the Goddess Kali and left his hometown for good.

To be continued in the next part…

More to come, until then…

Marudhavanan grew like a prince and enjoyed his life like a calf capering in the lush green fields. As Pattinathaar, Marudhavanan did not show interest in his studies. Pattinathaar was worried that education is his lineage seems to be a curse. As far as he can remember, nobody fared well in education in his ancestral lineage. however, he consoled that his son will get to learn the nuances of the business and will learn to manage the property over time, as he gets older. Time went on, and one day Marudhavanan expressed his interest to set sails across the oceans to where Pattinathaar’s business ships travelled.

Pattinathaar got excited that Marudhavanan is growing up to become a tycoon like him. And that, he can slowly educate him on the nuances of the trade, made preparations for his travel. He gave instructions to the sailors of the boat that Marudhavanan went aboard. And Marudhavanan set sails on the ocean to far off countries where his father had business contacts. Before leaving he promised his father that he will bring the most valuable wealth that his father has ever seen. In all the places Marudhavanan went, he was invited with a lot of respect and grandeur.

Days went on and one fine day, the ship that Marudhavanan went, returned back to Kaveripoompattinam. Pattinathaar was excited to hear the news that his son is back. He went to receive his son back home. Marudhavanan hugged Pattinathaar and happily exclaimed that he has brought all the treasures he promised. He asked his father to order the workers to unload the treasures he brought with him and ran out saying that he is going to meet Grandmother. Pattinathaar ordered his men to unload the treasure. The men unloaded many sacks that arised a doubt in Pattinathaar mind, because, usually precious gems and gold will never be tied up in sacks rather they will be safely kept in boxes. Then, he opened one of the sacks and all he found was dried cow dung and husks.

Pattinathaar grew furious and asked one of his men to carry a sack, went home angrily and shouted where Marudhavanan was. His mother came out and was surprised to see her son angry, asked why he was angry. Pattinathaar told irritatedly “See what you grandson has got?” and kicked the sack down. The sack fell open and to his surprise the dried cow dung shattered into precious gems and the husk was nothing but golden husk. Pattinathaar’s joy knew no bounds and was very happy that a his son Marudhavanan has brought in an enormous amount of wealth.

By then, his mother came near him, gave him a box and told that Marudhavanan asked her to give Pattinathaar this box. She also told Marudhavanan is a very playful kid that he gave this box and ran away saying not to search for him. Pattinathaar opened the box and found an eyeless needle and a small palm leaf with something written on it. It read,

“காதற்ற ஊசியும்  வாராது  காண்  கடைவழிக்கே”

“Kaadhatra Oosiyum Vaaraadhu Kaan Kadaivazhikkae”

meaning, This eyeless needle is useless and will not go to the market. And, even this useless needle will never accompany you in your final destiny (after death).

Pattinathaar felt dizzy and the world going around him. He found everything to be an illusion before him. He realised that he went in search of wealth that is unstable in life. His mother appeared to him as Goddess Shakti (Lord Shiva’s consort) and Marudhavanan as Lord Kandhan (Lord Murugan). He realised that everything in life is just a hoax or an illusion and that we all are trapped in such an inescapable illusion. Now, he had his first wisdom realised.

நாபிளக்க  பொய்யுரைத்து  நவநிதியம்  தேடி
நலனொன்றும்  அறியாத  நாரியரைக்   கூடி
பூப்பிளக்க  வருகின்ற  புற்றீசல்  போல
புலபுலென  கலகலெனப்    புதல்வர்களை  பெறுவீர்
காப்பதற்கும்   வகையறியீர்  கைவிடவு  மாட்டீர் 
கவர்பிளந்த  மரத்துளையிற்  கால்நுழைத்துக்  கொண்டே
ஆப்பதனை   அசைத்துவிட்ட  குரங்கதனை  போல
அகப்பட்டீரே  கிடந்துழல அகப்பட்டீரே

Naapilakka Poiuraiththu Navanidhiyam Thaedi
Nalanondrum Ariyadha Naariyarai Koodi
Poopilakka Varugindra Puttreesal Pola
Pulapulena Kalakalavena Pudhalvargalai Peruveer
Kaapadharkkum Vagai Ariyeer Kaividavum Maateer
Kavarpilandha Maraththulaiyil Kaalnuzhaithu Kondae
Aapadhanai Asaithuvitta Kurangadhanai Pola
Agappatteerae Kidanthuzhala Agapatteerae

meaning, You gather all the nine kinds of wealth by uttering lies until your tongue gets split. You get together with women who don’t even know what is good and what is bad. And like the termites that fly out cracking up the earth, you beget a lot of children. You don’t know how to save them, you won’t leave them and go away. This act is like the monkey that inserts its leg in the gap of a tree branch split up by a wedge and trying to shake that wedge.

Pattinathaar sang the above song, as he realised that he too was in the same position, got caught in the whirl of bonding and affection. There he decided to become a sanyasi

To be continued in the next post.

More to come, until then…

Tamil Nadu has a lot of poets, siddhars, sages and many wise men who have left behind their experiences as the great wealth that future generations to learn and follow. However, Pattinathar is unique to list of great people that Tamil has as its pride. It would be surprising that Pattinathar was a tycoon who has business all over the world. He was born in an affluent family and yet he turned to be a Sanyasi. Thiruvenkadar, was his name when he became a Sanyasi. This post and the subsequent posts narrate the life of Pattinathar and the incidents that lead him to become a Sanyasi. Pattinathar has given us his experience and wisdom in the form of songs that we will see in these posts. His works include Koyinaan Manimaalai, Thirukazhumala Mummanikkovai, Thiruvidai Marudhur Mummanikkovai, Thiruvegambamudaiyar Thiruvandhaadhi, Thiruvottriyur Orupa Orupadhu. Now let us see how a legendary tycoon of Kaveripoompattinam (Poompuhar) turned into Sanyasi.

Pattinathar, also called Pattinathu Chetty, was born in an affluent tycoon family. His parents were Sivanesan Chettiar and Gnanakalai Aachi. They were so affluent, that in those days it was a customary that kings of the various dynasties and empires who rose to the throne will be crowned by the wealthiest in the country. And for three generations or more, Pattinathar’s ancestors have crowned the kings in the Chera, Chola, Pandya and the Pallava Kingdoms. That would give us an understanding of how wealthy their family should have been. They had a lot of ships that sailed across to various countries in the globe for trade purposes. Pattinathar was born and he was named Swetharanyan. He had an elder sister.

Swetharanyan grew up as kid with lots of love, affection and lenience. He spent most of his time playing and studies was a far distant thing to him. Pattinathar’s father was worried that his son does not study well, but his mother convinced him that they had wealth that would feed more than 10 generations, so why worry about their son not studying. A few years later, Pattinathar’s father died and his mother had to take care of business. Though she was able to manage that, her brother – Pattinathar’s maternal uncle – gave her a helping hand and looked after the business.

Swetharanyan, born in the lineage of traders, instinctively had the skills for trade. He picked up the nuances quickly and wanted to venture into the seas to get more hands-on experience about trade across the oceans. He became well-versed and later he was married to a girl named Sivakalai at the age of 16. In those days, marrying at a young age was practised. Over the years, he grew to be a man who can handle businesses himself and became the wealthiest trader in Kaveripoompattinam. Thereafter he was referred to as Pattinathu Chetty or Pattinathar.

For a long time, the couple did not have a child as the heir to their wealth. They went to a lot of temples but still God did not bles them with a child. They were worried, and Pattinathar’s mother even suggested that he married another girl. In those days, men used to have more than one wife. However, People in those days had a very high respect for their mothers, that they would not rebuke anything against their mother’s words, Pattinathar was not in a position  to show his refusal to his mother’s suggestion, however he expressed clearly his unwillingness and made it clear that he was not willing to think of any other girl as his wife. His mother, honoured his wish and did not talk about that later.

Pattinathar had a dream one night. In the dream, he saw an elderly couple near Thiruvidai Marudhur, who had a young infant and were worried as they were not able to feed for themselves, and feeding and bringing up that infant was worrying them more. Pattinathar heard a divine voice asking him to travel to Thiruvidai Marudhur. He woke up from his dream and the next day Pattinathar and Sivakalai headed to Thiruvidai Marudhur. And when he reached Thiruvidai Marudhur, he saw the same elderly couple that he saw his in dreams. He enquired about them, and they said that they were poor and the child was born at a very later age, and now they are weak to feed for themselves. So they both decided to go and meet Pattinathu Chetty and ask him to adopt the child for which, the elderly couple told, that Pattinathar would give them gold equal to the weight of the infant with which they could manage the rest of their life. Pattinathar and Sivakalai eyes were in tears and they thought that Lord Shiva and Parvathi themselves came as the elderly couple and blessed them with the child.

Then Pattinathar and Sivakalai, took the elderly couple to Kaveripoompattinam and said that they will adopt the child and gave the elderly couple a good amount of wealth for them to survive through their age. Then they planned for the adoption ceremony of the child. Now, Pattinathar’s sister, who thought that the wealth of Pattinathar will automatically be for her family as Pattinathar had no heir, had her dreams shattered by the adoption of this child. She argued and quarrelled with his brother. But Pattinathar made a firm decision that he is going to adopt that child and that child will be his heir. The adoption ceremony went very well in all its grandeur and they name the baby boy – Marudhavanan. They considered Marudhavanan as their own child and showed him a great love and affection.

To be continued in the next post.

More to come, until then…

After a long time, I thought I should post about the less known legends about a mighty warrior. The warrior is none other than Bhima. The second of the Pandavas, he is known for his power and might in the warfront. Bhima is said to be a relentless warrior when it comes to the battlefield. He is said to have possessed the power of a ten thousand elephants. This mighty warrior, in reality, was such a soft-natured, honest, unswerving towards faith and justice and at times humorous too. Here are the less known legends that depict these characterisitics.

The first one goes like this. During his exile, Bhima was wandering in the forests and there he met with a rhinoceros. The rhino got agitated by a human presence and went raging towards Bhima. The rhinoceros then shouted at Bhima saying that Bhima was his slave as he has ventured into its territory. Bhima identified himself as one of the Pandavas and he is the mightiest in the world, in spite of that he also explained that he did not want any confrontation as they both have no enemity. He also said that he was willing to leave the territory at once. However, the raging rhino wanted a confrontation eventually leading to a fight. Bhima refused for a physical battle and said he will leave at once. The rhino not convinced wanted to somehow to enslave Bhima and threw a challenge before him. The challenge was that Bhima has to run ahead and the rhino will chase him. If the rhino catches before his territory ends, Bhima will be its slave, however if Bhima goes past its territory, he is free to go.

Bhima agreed to the challenge and started his run furiously, the rhino chasing him equally furious. The chase went on for sometime, and even at times, the rhino nearly caught Bhima. And when Bhima neared the end of the rhino’s territory, he jumped to the free himself from the clutches of the rhino. While half of his body cross the border, unfortunately, the rhino caught hold of Bhima’s legs just within the end of its territory. Now Bhima exclaimed that he has reached the end of the rhino’s territory and hence he was free. The rhino argued that it caught Bhima right within its territory and that it did not venture out of its territory to catch Bhima and hence Bhima was its slave. Bhima though he said that he has crossed the border, could not deny the rhino’s claims. So, he suggested that they call his brother Dharmar (Yudishtra) to arbitrate on this controversy. The rhino agreed, as Dharmar is known for his unswerving attitude towards justice.

Dharmar came to arbitrate on this issue and heard to the arguments of the both the parties. It was indeed a tough decision to make as his brother Bhima made it to be out of the territory, however, the rhino’s claim that it caught Bhima’s legs from within its territory was quite valid. Then Dharmar came to a decision and told the rhino to take that half of the Bhima’s body that the rhino caught within its territory and to leave the rest of the body free. That could not happen without killing Bhima. The rhino was moved by this verdict, in spite of Bhima being his brother, Dharmar gave a verdict that was just and fair. So, the rhino blessed him and left Bhima free and gave Bhima a wish that half of Bhima’s body will be bestowed with the powers of the Rhino. From then on, half of Bhima’s body looked armoured like that of a rhino. Though Bhima was powerful enough to fight a rhino, he did not blindly make use of his powers to fight the rhino that he never knew before. This stands as a proof that Bhima used his physical prowess wisely and only in times of need.

The second one is about faith, though it might look a bit mythical, the message this one conveys is very good and important too. Arjuna was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, he used to perform a lot of poojas during the day with lots of flowers offered to Lord Krishna. But Bhima would loiter aimlessly in the garden, plucking flowers and closing his eyes, smelling the fragrance of the flowers and they throwing them away. He used to do this, sometimes, for the whole day. This made Arjuna proud that he is offering more prayers and flowers to Lord Krishna than Bhima does and hence is a much better devotee of Lord Krishna. That night, Arjuna had a strange dream. He was walking along the country, where he saw loads and loads of bullock carts, fully loaded with flowers walking their way across the country and towards the skies. He was puzzled about how bullock carts were making their way to the skies. He enquired one of the persons who was riding the cart, the rider answered that the carts were carrying flowers offered by devotees to Lord Krishna and they were en route to the heavenly abode. Arjuna was surprised and asked the rider who the devotee was. The rider uttered the name Bhima. Arjuna was surprised, he then started asking the names of the devotees to each rider thereafter, all of them answered it was Bhima except the last one who answered that it was Arjuna. Arjuna was totally puzzled, how come Bhima who just wanders along the gardens, plucking flowers, smelling them and throwing them away could have offered so many flowers while Arjuna performing poojas throughout the day offered only one load full. He was puzzled and woke up to realise that he got the message in the dream. The next day morning, he found Bhima as usual in the gardens doing the same thing, he went to Bhima and asked why he was plucking flowers, smelling the fragrance the throwing them away. Bhima responded saying that when he plucks the flowers he closes his eyes, prays to Lord Krishna that the flower in his hand is for the lotus feet of Lord Krishna; then smells the fragrance and throws them away. He considers this to be an offering to Lord Krishna and he has been performing this all through the day. Arjuna realised that true faith is not just by lavish offerings but through immersing the soul and thought in the pure faith in Lord Krishna, and fell at Bhima’s feet for teaching him the lesson.

The third one is a bit humorous but does conveys a very deep meaning that for doing good deeds there is no good time or bad time. It has to be performed immediately then and there. One evening when Dharmar was in the palace, a poor man came for alms. In those days and even today, it is a practice that if the lights are lit in the homes in the evening, people don’t give away money, gold or loan of items (esp. money, if not others). That day the palace was lit for the evening and as it was a customary not to give away money/gold, he asked the poor man to come the next day, as the palace has been lit. Suddenly, Bhima went shouting all over the palace that his brother has transcended “time” and has become immortal. He bounced like anything in joy and was shouting like the merriest person in the whole world. Dharmar could not understand, he was smiling at the unusual act of Bhima however Dharmar was a bit annoyed thinking that Bhima was making fun at him. He stopped Bhima and asked him why he behaved like that. Bhima politely answered – “Brother, time is indeterminate and unpredictable. Everything around us is an illusion, the one who lives today thinking that he will live for long vanishes tomorrow”. Bhima continues “I am not sure you will live tomorrow, or I will live tomorrow and such is the nature of our lives. When you said for sure that you will give alms to that poor man the next day. It seemed to me that the only possibility to say those words was only if you were immortal. And, so, I jumped out in joy”. Dharmar realised that Bhima was right and good deeds have no excuses to be postponed and he immediately gave the alms to the poor man and sent him. Dharmar was proud of his brother and thanked him.

Bhima has stood the test of time for being the most mightiest man on earth. The legends too will stand the test of time. Though Hercules, Bhima’s western counterpart, is remembered more in the west. The analogy for power and might in India is Bhima, let us remember Bhima not only for his might, but also for his witty characteristics that these legends say.

More to come, until then..