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The History of Eripaththa Nayanar


Situated in Kongu Nadu, Karuvoor was one of the important capitals of the Chozha kings. It is a town where the beauty of nature and wonders built by man vie with each other. It is the home to the ancient Anilai temple of Lord Pashupatishwarar.

To add to the fame of such a city there lived a devotee of the Lord, Eripaththar. Wherever the devotees of the Lord were troubled, he appeared with his axe to protect them. There was an old sage, Shivakamiyandar, who engaged his mind and body in the service of offering fragrant garlands to Lord Pashupatishwarar. One morning, as was his routine, he filled his basket with fresh flowers and his mind with the thoughts of God. He hurried to the temple to be in time for the service. That day was the day before the Mahanavami celebrations and hence the royal elephant of the emperor Pugazh Chozhar had been bathed in the Kaveri and was going through the town. It saw Shivakamiyandar, who was rushing to the temple with the basket full of flowers. The impudent elephant grabbed the basket and strewed the flowers and crushed them. The guards managed to control the elephant and realised the sin committed and whisked it away quickly. The distraught Shivakamiyandar tried to run behind the elephant to hit it with his stick, but couldn't owing to his old age. All he could do was weep and wail loudly " Oh Shiva! You slew the roaring elephant and wore its skin! You are the strength of the weak! What can I do now? The elephant lay waste the flowers I brought for your scented head!! Oh my Shiva! Oh my Shiva!!"

Eripaththa Nayanar - The History of  Eripaththa Nayanar
Devotion of Eripathar and Pugazhchozhar that surpass each other!

Eripaththar who came that way, saluted Shivakamiyandar and learnt about what had happened. He turned furious as he came to know about the misdeed of the elephant. He went like a storm, like the god of death, to slaughter the elephant. He sprang on the elephant and cut off its trunk with his axe. He then killed the guards who not only failed in their duty, but also tried to stop him from doing the needful. A few guards who escaped ran to the Chief Guard of the king and reported thus - "The royal elephant and the guards have been killed by some. Please inform the king immediately." The king, a nightmare for enemies, heard this and reached the spot like a roaring lion with his eyes red in anger. He had with him his four-fold armed forces. Contrary to his expectation, he didn't see any enemy army but saw a sage standing in front of the elephant, which was rolling in a pool of blood. "Where is the enemy who dared to do this", the king roared. The guards pointed to Eripaththar, who was standing in front of him with the axe. He was surprised and exclaimed, "If devotees, who are themselves the form of love, get irked, then there must be a strong reason behind this. What worst sin have I committed for the devotee to have taken a step like this?". He then climbed down from his horse, bowed to the devotee who was fury personified, and asked humbly, "What was the crime committed by the elephant and the guards that deserved such a piteous end?" Eripaththar told him about the sinful act of the beast. The great king Pugazh Chozhar felt guilty and thought it was only right that he too be punished since it was his elephant and his guards that had committed the grave mistake against the servitor of the Lord. He fell at Eripaththar's feet and appealed to him, "Killing just the elephant and the guards is not sufficient punishment for the sin done. Kill me too! Since killing with the holy axe is not the custom, kill me with this sword", and held his sword out.

The king’s love for the Lord and his respect for devotees made Eripaththar think, "Perhaps, I did the wrong thing by harming the forces of the king. This king, in the greatness of his devotion, asks to be killed with his own sword that too when he was not directly involved in the sin. I should kill myself as a penance for having made him suffer". The peerless king thought, "I owe a lot to this great sage, because he is helping me atone for my sin by killing me". Then, Eripaththar instead of killing the king, took and raised the sword to cut his own head off. The king, shocked at this, stopped him with his strong arms while Eripaththar continued to struggle with the king. In that precarious situation with two great hearts clashing out of love and respect for each other, God called out to his devotees, "Oh people with abundance of love! All this happened to show the greatness of your devotion." Both of them prostrated before the Lord. The elephant and the guards came back to life. Fresh and fragrant flowers filled Shivakamiyandar’s basket again. The king took Eripaththar around the town on the royal elephant, holding the royal umbrella over his head. They went to the temple and prayed to the Lord who is the killer of lust. Eripaththar continued his service to the Lord and became the head of Shiva Ganas on reaching Kailash. Let the valour of Eripaththar, who raised his sword against the royal elephant without caring for the repercussions only because of the sin it committed against a servitor of the Lord, stay in our minds.

Guru Pooja: Maasi / Hastam or Kumbha/Hasta

Har Har Mahadev


See Also:
1. Pukazch Choza Nayanar

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