Today we are going to see a very special pillar from the tanjore big temple. Who is this man depicted? Do you notice anything unusual ? Well the topic of this post does give it away !!
Its special because it portrays a very special person, who was so great a devote that the most sacred of towns is named after him - yes, we are talking of Puli Kaal Muni in tamil - puli ( tiger), Kaal ( legs), Muni ( saint) or Vyagrapadhar in sanskrit.
He was one of the earliest devotees of Lord Shiva of Thillai ( Chidambaram) which was called from time immemorial as Puliyur or Perumpatrup puliyur ( perum - great, patru - devotion - puli - tiger, ur - city or town)
The legend goes that the great saint, would go early into the forest to collect the choicest of flowers to offer the Lord of Dance. But however early he went, the bees and ants would still get to the blossoms, so he went even earlier - even before the sun rose to find the flowers before the insects. This gave him problems as the dew drops wouldn’t have evaporated yet and he found the branches slippery.
So great was his devotion and his intent to get the best for his Lord, that he prayed to the Lord to endow him tiger paws, so that he could climb the trees effortless - and the Lord obliged. With great delight, he went on to collect the flowers before the first rays of dawn, beating the insects to the race to find the most beautiful and aromatic flowers, that so delighted his Lord. There are many references to him in literature ( pl see tamil portion of this post to read the references)
Now see him beautifully sculpted in the pillars of the big temple, down to the last detail imbibed into the pillar.