He never studied the holy scriptures, yet his devotion was sung by many sacred texts. He was trained to hunt and kill but his love towards his Lord was unparalleled. Great devotees and scholars including Tirugnana Sambandhar, Tirunavukkarasar, Sundarar, Manikavachakar, Adi Shankarar, Nakkirar and many others praised this one hunter for his simple nonpareil devotion. It is difficult even for divine poets to put in words the divine love, the mere thought of which takes the reader to heights of devotion. Yet, love inspires this effort to narrate the story again.
The kingdom of Pothappi Nadu was blessed by Mother Nature with an abundance of green forests and hills. In this kingdom was the village of Uduppur, surrounded by beautiful hills. The odour of rotting dead animals hung out to dry on the rocks along with nets used for hunting, filled the air. One could hear the hunting calls “Kill it!”, “Stone it!” or “Stab Them!” along with pleasant sounds like the dancing of deer or rushing of waterfalls. Sparing only the cowherds, the hunters usually robbed everyone else. They were like a herd of strong elephants that was up to any challenge. These hunters had no mercy or fear in their hearts and were led by a courageous leader Nagan. He was trained in crime, his hobby was to kill, profession to hunt, his expertise lay in archery and he got the most suited job handed down by his ancestors as the leader of hunters. But he must have performed great penance in some previous birth for he was soon to be associated with one of the greatest devotees of the Lord. His wife too came from a family of archers and was seen sporting nails of tigers and skin of snakes as ornaments. Her name was Thaththai.
Nagan and Thaththai did not have a child for a long time. When every means of begetting an offspring failed, they turned to God. Even an atheist may start believing in God when there is no hope left. As the last refuge, Nagan prayed to the son of the Lord who dances in the cemeteries (Shiva), Lord Muruga, the form of His Grace. By the grace of Lord Muruga, Thaththai conceived the child who would go on to be revered by the world. The child was born. With tears of joy, Nagan held his son like a huge mountain holding up a dark cloud. Nagan celebrated the occasion in a grand manner, offering many animal sacrifices to Lord Muruga and the entire village was joyous. The marvellous kid was so strong that his own father found him heavy to hold. So, he named the child Thinnan (meaning strong) and announced it amid roars from the entire community.
Thinnan grew up with ornaments made of animal parts adorning his strong young chest and waist. He played by catching wild pigs, snakes, and wild dogs. He gave immense pleasure to his parents with his sweet childish talks. When he grew up to the age of being able to learn archery, his father selected an auspicious day for his initiation and announced the event to hunting communities in all directions. The hunters came in huge numbers from all directions. They brought along with them gems, leather, ivory, honey, meat, fruits, and roots as presents. The festivities included many animal sacrifices and the worship of the bow of Thinnan, that bow which was going to have the fortune of getting meat offerings for the Almighty who feeds the entire universe. Nagan had arranged for lavish feasts throughout the festivities. On the seventh day, when the Sun climbed up to the middle of the sky, the young lion (Thinnan) was handed over the bow and arrow. He then efficiently learnt the art which was also his hereditary occupation. Thus like the growing crescent moon, Thinnan reached the age of sixteen.
By now age had caught up with Nagan and he was not able to perform his responsibilities of leading his tribesmen. The numbers of elephants, deer and tiger were swelling by the day in the forest around them. The hunters came and informed their leader that a hunting expedition was long overdue. Nagan expressed his inability to accompany them but asked them to take his son Thinnan instead. While they were a little sad that their leader no longer was there to lead them, there was a renewed enthusiasm with Thinnan leading them. Nagan called the oracle to propitiate the forest deities before Thinnan’s first hunt. He then informed Thinnan about his own decision to retire because of age related infirmities. He asked Thinnan to take lead and guide his people to prosperity.
That day Thinnan started out with his hunting group even before the Sun signalled a new day, armed with a bow and quiver of arrows, he looked like the great Arjuna himself. With a twang of the bow, he sent the animals scurrying in all directions deep into the forest. The hunting party ran behind them with their fearful weapons. The scouts stayed ahead relaying information on the haunts of the different animal species. The hunters ambushed these animals and rounded them up neatly. Soon there was a big heap of killed wild animals. Thinnan along with some of the hunters went even deeper into the forest. They spotted a wild boar which had torn the net which had been laid to catch it and leapt away escaping the arrows of the hunters. Only three in the hunting pack were able to keep up with the wild boar – Thinnan, Nanan and Kadan. The boar eluded them expertly and drew them to the bottom of the hill, the sacred hill, Sri Kalahasti where God was worshipped by a spider, a snake, and an elephant. The boar finally stopped under a tree. Thinnan leapt forward and killed it with a small dagger he had. The three realised they had been drawn too far out and were separated from the rest of the group. Thinnan asked Kadan to cook the boar they had just killed, while he and Nanan went to fetch water from the river, Swarnamukhi, on the other side of the hill. While crossing the forest at the foot of the great hill, Thinnan was overcome with an unexplainable emotion. Nanan told Thinnan about the shrine of Kudumithevar (Lord Shiva) at the top of the hill and suggested they go and pray there. Thus, Thinnan took his first step towards the Lord who submits Himself to the love of devotees.
Continuation here - The worship of thiNNanAr.
gurupUjai : thai - mrugasIrsham