Sundarar parts Kaveri at Tiruvaiyaaru

Today we are going to see a very very interesting panel from Darasuram. Thanks again to Satheesh for the excellent camera work. This panel was a total shocker at first glance and there was no way i could have proceeded to identify it.

Locating this panel itself is difficult – no one seems to even acknowledge their presence. We have already seen the other panel that is alongside – Sundarar resurrecting the boy from crocodile’s belly in a previous post.

At first sight, it looked like someone was felling a tree or a structure in front of a temple and and it was falling on the temple! The man was actually not felling but maybe yelling and pointing towards the falling structure. The structure itself was a bit unique, and could find no parallel?. The second person depicted seemed to look like a King who was sculpted in a very pious pose.

Thankfully, with the help of Mr. N. Ganesan, who was kind enough to share an interesting paper of Prof. Marr, JR, titled “The Periya Puranam frieze at Taracuram: Episodes in the Lives of the Tamil Saiva Saints’ – we see that its a sculptural depiction of a very famous event in the life of Saint Sundarar.

The famous duo have quite a number of interesting legends among them – While on a pilgrimage, they pass through the temple town of Thirukandiyur and seeing the temple of Thiruvaiyaaru across the river, Cherman Perumal wishes to visit that temple as well. However, the river Cauvery is in spate. The flood is so great that boatmen have stopped plying – seeing the desire of his friend to see the Lord, Sundarar sings a series of heart rendering songs on shiva – hearing which the great river parts – allowing them a passage over her sandy bottom.

Now, see the panel – to the left ( as you view) is the Thirukadaiyur temple, Cherman Perumal even in his regal attire ( he was a Chera King) is full of devotion, while Sundarar cups his left hand so that his voice carries over the din of the river waters( see the waves depicted showing the spate) – and across is the holy temple at Thiruvaiyaaru.

A scene that instantly took me to back to Cecil De Mille ‘s Ten Commandments – Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner…the famous parting of the Red Sea by Moses.

Back from the Crocodile’s belly

In an earlier post we saw how Hanuman came out alive from a Crocodile’s belly. Now, we are going to see another such feat.

Darasuram has some amazing miniature story board like freezes. One such depicts the Periapuranam legend of Saint Sundarar, by his infinite devotion to Lord Shiva, making a crocodile regurgitate a boy.
The story goes thus, in the town of Avinashi, two young boys, close friends just completing their 5th year, go for a swim in a nearby lake. Unfortunately a large crocodile swallows one of the boys, while the other manages to escape and return home. The loss of their dear son greatly grieved the parents and they never managed to get over the grief.

Couple of years pass and the other boy is old enough for his thread ceremony, so his family prepares for it in great fanfare, a festival atmosphere prevails with beating of the ceremonial drums etc. On seeing this the parents who had lost their young child, are reminded that if not for the unfortunate incident, their home would also be bedecked and resound with similar joy and celebrations. So great was their loss that years couldn’t lessen their lament.

To their good fortune. the great saint Sundarar had taken an invitation from his dear friend Cheraman Perumal to see him in tiruvelam. so as he was moving there from thiruvaroor, he passed through Avinashi. As he was passing the street, he heard laughter, rejoicing and all auspicious sounds from one house and from the other house he heard the heart wrenching lament. he inquired around and learnt the story of the two boys. Just then the weeping parents heard that the great saint was passing by, and they wiped their tears and being true devotees of shiva, offered their respects to him. Moved by their devotion and wanting to alleviate their suffering, the saint decided that he would resurrect their son and then only worship the god in the town’s temple. So he composed his divine verse right there, imploring the Lord – who loves his worshipers, he who dwells eternally in the minds of his followers,
he who is the start and end point of all, he who resides in this beautiful town of avinashi, please bring forth the boy on this tank bund.
Lo and behold there came the crocodile and regurgitated the boy, much to the delight of his parents and all around. Thus is the grace of the lord and his benevolence to his followers.

Thanks to Mr. V. Subramanian, for his valuable guidance with regard to the verse references.