The Pallava kingdom was famous for its scholars. It was resplendent with many beautiful temples dedicated to the wielder of the bow called Meru. Sekkizhar describes some of these exquisite temples in this Nayanar’s puranam. For many centuries the city Kanchipuram, the renowned capital of the Pallava kingdom, was known throughout India for its famed institutions and the city itself was glorified by Kalidasa as - “Of all cities it is Kanchi (the distinguished)”. This is the place where the Mother of the Universe showed the greatness of devotional worship embracing the Lord.
In one part of the city, hailing from the Ekali tradition (washermen), with love filled in his heart there lived a devotee of Lord Nilakantha. For this devotee, all the three – his mind, intellect and speech - were dedicated to the Lord who burnt the three fortified cities like a straw with just His smile. He rejoiced in serving the Solus God in the lotus of his heart. His service to the devotees of the God with a thousand names was so great that he would serve them as they pleased even at the slightest indication without the need to explicitly ask for something. So, he came to be known as Tirukkurippu Thondar. He was a washerman in the city of Kanchi. He used to wash the clothes of the devotees as a service to them. He washed away all the dirt and stains in their garments - in that service he was verily washing away the three impurities of ego, good and bad deeds and illusion(Anava, Karma, & Maya), that force rebirth. In the temple of his heart the Lord with the poison stained throat, resided. Our Nayanar cared for the clothing of the devotees who did not care for anything other than the Supreme Lord Shiva. With the Holy Five Syllables on his lips, he would wash their clothing and return them with great love.
The Lord who saw the peak of devotion, wanted to show the sincereness in the Nayanar's service, his care, his true devotion and bless him. He came like a streak of lightning, in the guise of a sage smeared with Holy Ash, looking lean and tired, His holy feet, that were not found by Vishnu, were taking short steps on the ground and he was clad in a soiled piece of cloth that had become dark like the rain-clouds. At the sight of the revered sage, the Nayanar went and prostrated at His feet. The Nayanar invited Him with sweet words and anxiously enquired about His fatigue. Yearning to serve the devotee of the Sweet Lord of his heart, the Nayanar requested Him to give His clothes to be washed. It was the winter season. The Lord who came as a Shaivite hermit told that though the clothes needed a wash desperately, He could not tolerate the chillness of the night and hence wanted the washed clothes returned by the evening. Tirukkurippu Thondar assured Him of washing it immediately and returning it to Him in time. To hasten the Nayanar, the Lord in the form of the hermit told him that if he did not return the clothes by the evening, he would be causing great harm to His body!
Tirukkurippu Thondar washed the cloth, cleaning away all the dirt with the water. When he was satisfied with the cleanliness he had achieved, he went to dry the cloth. At that time by the play of the Lord, there was a sudden heavy shower of rain. It poured like the tears of devotion of the servitors of Lord Shiva who shed copious tears thinking of the unfathomable grace the Lord showed on them. The devotee was now quite worried about this sudden setback. He was hoping for the rain to stop at some point of time. Little did he know that it was but the rain of His grace for him. How could it stop? The day settled and darkness creeped in, but it didn't stop raining. He was totally dismayed as his service to the devotee was disrupted. “How will that sage who was already tired and lean be able to tolerate the cold winter night that too when it is raining”, he worried. “I am the cause of this great harm to the devotee of the Lord '', he thought. He then went to the rock on which he used to wash the clothes. He started banging his head against the rock. And lo behold! There came the hand that drives away the fear of those who surrender. The graceful hand of the Lord, who wears the imprints of the bangles of the Goddess on His body, appeared to halt the devotee. The rain of water turned into a rain of flowers. The Lord, whose matted hair emanates fragrances of the flowers of jasmine, lily, bilva, crown flower (erukku), shami (vanni) and many others, appeared there accompanied by the Goddess, with a flower like soft body, by His side, on the Holy Bull to bless the devotee with an eternal life with Him in His abode. Let the devotion of Tirukkurippu Thondar, with which he dedicated his service to the devotees of the Lord and his great love, that did not want to harm a devotee even by mistake, stay in the mind forever.
Guru Pooja: Chithirai / Swathi or Mesha / Swathi
Har Har Mahadev