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The History of Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar

In the land of the Chozhas where the canals take the waters of the river Kaveri deep into farm-fields is the town of Kadavur. Tall coconut trees like chamaras fanning the Lord, dot the landscape. The land was prosperous in both yield and worship. With Vedic rituals happening continuously, even the rain smelt of the clarified butter poured as oblation into the sacrificial fires.

Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar - The History of Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar
Kunguliyam for Lord Shiva in exchange of Mangal Sutra!

In that town lived a brahmin devotee Kalaya who came in the tradition of people who think with kindness about all creatures. His compassion was enhanced by a high degree of discipline with which he led his own life saluting Lord Shoolapani who appeared with the trident to strike down Death that was fast approaching the young sage who had sought refuge in Him. The Nayanar, with his heart melting in love, served the Lord who is described as “sweet smelling” (sugandim) by the Vedas, by offering fragrant smoke of kunguliyam (an aromatic resin). He spent all his wealth in that service without a concern.

With nothing left even of food and his family in discomfort, the Nayanar’s companion in this service, his wife, gave her mangal sutra (an important customary necklace worn by a woman to signify she is married) to get rice for food. While he was going to procure some rice by selling the mangal sutra, there came a merchant selling kunguliyam. The devotee with the sacred thread was delighted to see kunguliyam. He thought himself to be blessed by the Lord who bore the Ganga, for he would be able to serve the Lord that day too. With great devotion, he sold the mangal sutra in exchange for a sack full of kunguliyam. He walked directly to the abode of the Lord. With the nectar of love brimming in his heart, he burnt the kunguliyam as an offering to the Lord who was verily the ultimate pot of divine nectar.

While His devotee was busy serving Him in the temple, the Almighty commanded the God of Wealth, Kubera to fill the devotee’s house with wealth. As the entire family was sleeping in hunger, the Lord mounted on His Bull appeared in the Nayanar’s wife’s dream to indicate the grace that had been bestowed on them. She woke up from a pleasant dream only to see an even more pleasant reality, the house had been converted to a wealthy one. She sang praises of the Lord who is the refuge of people suffering from the worldly ills. She then cooked a delicious meal for her beloved husband. Meanwhile, the Lord instructed the Nayanar to return home, satiate his hunger with rice-milk porridge and end his hunger. Unable to defy the Lord’s command, the Nayanar stood up, saluted the Lord and went home. When he reached his house, he was unable to recognize it. It has changed completely and was filled with rich opulence. With a tinge of doubt, he questioned his wife. His wife recounted the mercy of Lord Shiva. Together they worshipped the feet of the Lord and arranged a grand feast for the devotees of Mahadeva, who never fails to help his devotees in need. With the new gotten wealth he continued his service to the Lord.

The Nayanar wanted to help out in the great effort of making the Shivalinga upright. With great love in his heart, he placed a garland around the Shivalinga and tied a rope to it. The other end of the rope was tied to the Nayanar’s neck. He pulled the rope, not to show his prowess, but to participate in the service to the Lord. He did not have much physical strength, but he more than made up for it with the strength of his love for the Lord. How can the Lord not melt at this display of selfless love? The Lord became upright blessing the mature love of the Nayanar. Flowers rained down from the heavens. The king fell at the feet of the great devotee of the Lord. The king then performed many a service to the Lord at Tiruppanandhal and left for his capital. The Nayanar too returned to his home in Tirukkadavur after a few days.

Some time passed by. The master of Tiruththandakam, Appar and the child saint Tirugnana Sambandhar, arrived at Tirukadavur during their pilgrimage. The Nayanar hosted them and the accompanying devotees with impeccable hospitality and obtained their blessings. The Nayanar continued to serve Lord Mrityunjaya in various ways and attained the fragrant feet of the Lord. Let the simple, sweet, directed and determined devotion of Kunguliyam Kalaya Nayanar stay in the mind forever.

Guru Pooja : Avani / Moolam or Simha/Moola

Har Har Mahadev

See also:
1. Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar(appar)
2. Thirugnanasambandha Nayanar

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