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Archives by Month: July, 2009

Hello readers, Today we return to Darasuram once more to study another Periapuranam sculpture. We have already seen the panel on the left - Marar of Ilayankudi. Today we are going to see a simply stunning sculpture fittingly sculpted to suit a fantastic storyline, which showcases the matchless chivalry and valor of a King, who even at the face of death through the hands of a conniving assassin, a dreaded foe who slays him by treachery, displays his noble birth and devotion to the Shiva, by forgiving him. But why did he do that ? Read on ( am going to use the thevaram hymns translations since they are almost like a running commentary /first person account of the events as they unfold)

Lets view the location of this amazing panel.

meiporul nayanar

We are talking of Meiporul Nayanar, a pious king.who ruled over the hill tribes of Sethi and born into the noble clan of Malayamans. The brave king was unconquered in battles and a just ruler.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=12050&padhi=72&button=%E0%AE%9A%E0%AF%86%E0%AE%B2%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%95

His capital was Tiru-k-Kovalur in goodly Sethi realm;
He hailed from Malayaman dynasty which served
Ammai-Appar from generation to generation;
He, the Prince was poised in the noble way true, of the Vedas
And served the Lord’s servitors divining their true wish.

The rich land was the target of a wicked enemy from his neighbouring country. King Muthanathan, many times he tried matching his large Army, with strutting elephants and hordes of soldiers, yet he could not find a way past the forces of Meiporular. He was repeatedly defeated.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=5&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

Whilst thus he flourished, a hostile king
Fired by a desire to vanquish him,
Waged wars against him many a time, only to lose
His elephantry and cavalry and infantry,
Thus repeatedly defeated he was sunk in shame.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=6&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

The worsted king who could not think of victory
In the field of battle, coming to know
Of the religious piety of Mei-p-Porul, desired
To ape his great habit of wearing the holy ash
And thus win by deception; his mind
Nurtured such unspeakable evil, and he
Prepared for his infiltration into Tiru-k-Kovalur.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=7&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

He smeared all over his person the holy ash;
He had his hair matted and tied it into a crown;
He held a mega biblion which concealed a dagger;
Like a lamp thick with black at the wick, his mind
Harboured deception; thus in his false habit of tapas
Mutthanathan barged in.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=9&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

The guards of the palace adored him with folded hands,
And said: “The Lord Himself is come! Be pleased to step in!”
He crossed many a threshold and arrived at the last one;
Thither stood Thatthan who beseeched him thus:
“Be pleased to regard the hour; the King slumbers.”

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=14&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

He commanded in love his consort, Lakshmi-like,
To hasten to the gynaeceum, and then had him,
– The one robed in the weeds of a tapaswi –,
Installed on a seat, while he himself sat on the ground.
Then he said: “Be pleased to grace me.”

Watch the words above. we will see its importance shortly!

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=15&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

He placed on his lap the treacherous scroll
And pretended to unwind the rope binding it.
When the king bowed low reverentially, he drew out
The dagger and did what he intended to do;
The king exclaimed, still adoring:
“The true habit of askesis is indeed the truth supreme.”
(Surely it is) the king
(who) triumphed!

Now, we come back to the sculpture, closeup of the whole panel first first

meyporular

Now, lets study the panel from left to right. Act 1.

the false sage about to assassinate the king

Do you notice the false sage seated on a seat and the king seated on the floor. Do you notice the left hand of the assassin holding a bag like contraption. In his right hand he is holding a dagger and about to decapitate the King. Such indepth knowledge of the storyline of the sculptor to go into such detailing is amazing.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=16&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

Thatthan who kept surveillance over him,
Even when he who concealing himself in the garb
Of a tapaswi broke into the king’s chamber,
Now darted into the room, and was about to smite him

With his sword; the king who was to fall down
As blood profusely gushed forth from him,
Stretched out his long arm, prevented his deed
And exclaimed: “Thattha, he is our own.” Then he fell down.

Again we return to the sculpture. Act 2.

the body guard thatta

We see the body guard flying into action, his garments flayed, sword raised to protect his Lord. But at the moment the King stops him with his stretched out Long arm. All brilliantly captured in stone in such a miniature form.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=17&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

Thatthan the servitor who was thus restrained
By the prince who suffered pain and fell down,
Bowed low, and said: “What should I do?”
The prince replied him thus: “Let none obstruct
The devotee of our Lord on his way back.
You go with him and see to his safe passage.”

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=20&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC


With effort great, the prince still bore his ebbing life
Only to hear the news that the one of deceptious habit
Had been conveyed safe, unmolested by opposing hordes;
Before him came he who carried out the royal mandate.

Oh, what emotion and melodrama.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1205&padhi=72&startLimit=23&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

To the devotee-prince, the Lord of Himavan’s daughter
Granted darshan in the form in which
He contemplated Him for many a day.
The Lord graced him to attain the shade
Of His ankleted feet inaccessible to the celestials,
And also blessed him with the beatitude
To adore Him for ever.

Thus the sculpture ends his story as well with the final Act.

Shiva n parvathi - final act

Truly masterclass.

credits: the verses are from the amazing site www.thevaaram.org
Eng Translation also from same ref: T.N. Ramachandran

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Hi friends, i can hear you laughing, but it no joke, this is another priceless treasure from Darasuram, which denotes the life of Amarneethiyar, one of the 63 Nayanmaars.

Lets look at the location of this miniature panel to start with.

amarneethiyar location

The story is a lesson in how the Lord plays with his devotees, sometimes taking it to real extremes to test the sincerity of a devotee ( wish if they do similar before granting boons !!) . Thanks to http://www.nayanmar.com/abtus.htm and with some verse references from the 12th Tirumurai

Amarneethiyar of Pazhayarai was an honest merchant who used to offer food and clothes including inner-wears to the devotees of Shiva. He had also built a Mutt for pilgrims at Tirunallur.

Once Shiva came in the guise of a devotee and gave him a loin-cloth for safe-keeping till he returned after a bath in the river.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=13&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

The Brahmin-lad consenting to what the devotee
Entreated of Him bowing, said: “I’ll bathe
In the divine river Cauvery and return;
In case it rains, keep this (dried) kovanam with you
And return it to me.” This said, He untied
From His staff a white and bright kovanam.

The visitor gave great importance to the loin cloth thus:
http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=14&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

“I need not expatiate to you on the lofty excellence
Of this kovanam; receive it and keep it safe
With you till I return here; be not negligent;
Preserve it yonder and give it back to me.”
Thus He spake and handed it over to him.

Amarneethiyar understanding the importance of the loin cloth !!, did not keep it with the other clothes but in a safe place with adequate security

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=16&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

The peerless servitor who received the kovanam
Bearing in mind the Brahmin‘s instructions,
Did not keep it with his gift-articles
– Kantais, keells, garments and kovanams –.
He thought of a safe place and thither kept it safe.

When he came back, Amarneethiyar found that the lion cloth had vanished from the box.

He brought a new one in its stead but the visitor was full of fury and refused to accept it. He wanted his own “You call yourself a devotee of Shiva Just to rob other devotee’s! of their belonings” he shouted. When Amarneethiyar sought to pacify him, he agreed to receive clothes equal in weight to the spare loin-cloth he was having.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=31&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

Then the Lord spake thus: “Apart from the kovanam
We now wear, the one we gave you and which
You allege as lost can be matched by this only.”
He untied the kovanam from his staff and said:
“Give me a kovanam equivalent to its weight.”

Notice how the sculptor has sculpted this little detail as well

stick with the loin cloth

The game started, the loin cloth was put on one side of a balance and Amarneethiyar’s cloths on the other. They could not weigh equal to the loin cloth. All the riches of Amarneethiyar proved inadequate to tilt the scales in his favour.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=36&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC
Beholding this, fear-stricken, the devotee spake
To the Brahmin thus: “Even when filled with
Boundless clothing, pure and good, and also varieties
Of innumerable threads, the pan stands thus;
Suffer me to freight it with my other wealth.”
Thus did he, Him beseech.

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=39&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

Its threads are the import of the Vedas four
Brimming with the puissance of askesis;
It is dear to Siva, the kovanam. So the encomium
– That all the wealth of Amar-Nitiyar in this world
And all the wealth of all the worlds cannot
Match it –, mirrors not its true glory.

It was only when Amarneethiyar ascended the scales along with his wife and son chanting the Panchakshara that the needle of balance became even.

the family entering the weighing scale

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=12&Song_idField=1207&padhi=72&startLimit=40&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

Having witnessed the happening, the peerless one
Standing before Him spake thus: “I have loaded
The pan with all my blemishless wealth; nothing now remains;
O Lord, may I be graced with leave to ascend
The pan with my wife and little child, if considered fit.

Such was the act of complete self-surrender that the Lord extracted from his devotee. Even as the youth vanished, Shiva appeared in the skies with his consort and blessed him. The scales acting as an airship, Amarneethiyar ascended to Shiva’s world along with his wife and child.

amaraneethiyar2

See how the Lord plays with his devotees and uses the barest of bare necessities - a loin cloth of all items to test and make them one with him.

verse english version translation are from the site ref and credits
Translation: T.N. Ramachandran

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