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Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar - Part- II Establishing the Truth - The Ocean that Floated on a Sea

The king of the spoken word created excellent hymns on the King of all arts - the Lord. He saluted Him in all his humbleness filled with gratitude at the immense grace the Lord has bestowed on him despite the gravity of his misdeeds, and praised Him for blessing even Ravana who had committed a sin. Devotees surrounded him, filled with joy for the grace Tirunavukkarasar received thereby benefiting the entire world. That great sage, whose heart and words filled with truth and love, with an unwavering mind, uninterrupted flow of words of praise and hands holding the hand-plough (uzhavaram to clean the temples of the Lord removing the weeds that destroy the temple) engaged his body and mind completely in the holy service to that Eternal who stands alone after everything retreats into Him.

Thirunavukkarasar float on the ocean
The Ocean of Tapas, Love and Service floats on the sea!

While Tirunavukkarasar was rejoicing on the path of Shaivam, the Jain monks of Patalipuththiram on hearing the cure he got through the grace of God, were bewildered and worried that their followers count would shrink. What bothered them was the fact that the sage who had for so long led them to many victories in philosophical debates and was the chief champion who established the principles of Jainism against many other religions had renounced the path. So, they all met in a place to take stock of the situation. There was a general uneasiness among them that if the king was enlightened with the truth, he would also become a Shaivite and that would reduce their prosperity and clout. Those people who claimed to be adherents to the truth decided to lie to the king that Dharmasena used his stomach pain as ruse to enter the Shaiva fold and was now criticising and uttering profanities against Jainism.

They went to the Pallava king Mahendravarman, who was a follower of Jainism himself, agreed immediately to help. They kindled his anger by saying that Dharmasena was engaged in blasphemy. Having taken a vow of non-violence but, filled with hatred and cruelty, they asked the king to punish him severely. The king, blind in his faith, without verifying facts, sent his ministers and soldiers to bring Tirunavukkarasar. They went to Tiruvadikai, informed him about the king’s summon and asked him to come with them. For true devotees only Lord Shiva is the emperor, all lives are His subjects and the entire Universe is His kingdom. Why should a devotee be afraid of a mortal king? The King of Words sang an elegant hymn "namarkkum kudiyallom" to convey to the king that he had taken secure shelter under the comforting feet of the Lord, who never bows down to anybody, and so he was not bound by any order from anyone. Tirunavukkarasar is a great devotee one can emulate. He was very humble and constantly engaged in the service of the Lord and His devotees. At the same time, being a true believer of Almighty, he was not a coward who could be intimidated by the mere summon of the king of the land. He continued his service peacefully trusting that Lord would take care of all the repercussions.

Hearing about the defiance of the great sage, the Jains forgot their own principles and asked the king to put him in a lime kiln. The king complied with their wishes and his men put Tirunavukkarasar in a burning kiln with a lot of fuel and sealed it. What can a kiln fire do to him who is blessed by the Lord whose one eye is Fire itself? The sage sang in praise of the Lord, the shelter whose feet is like a nice breeze on the bank of a beautiful pond in a spring - "masil vinaiyum". After seven days, the king and the Jains opened the kiln and they were shocked to see the seer inside without any harm, smiling in the bliss that Shankara bestows. Hiding their shock, the beasts who were committed to sin, told the king that the practices Dharmasena performed while he was a Jain helped him survive this. They now asked the king to use a strong poison on him. Declaring that poison is also nectar for one who has taken refuge in the Immortal, the sage ate the milk food containing poison as ordered by the king. Is it surprising that the poison was powerless on him who is blessed by the Lord of all creatures who held in His throat the most potent poison that came to destroy the Universe? Petrified, the evil monks now convinced the king that Dharmasena was alive because of the holy incantations he learnt in Jainism and if the king didn't kill him it was going to be fatal for the religion as well as his rule. They now suggested that the king trample him under an elephant’s foot.

The merciless king ordered to send a fierce elephant to trample upon the devotee. The provoked elephant came in all fury, like a storm, destroying things on its way. The king’s men directed the elephant on to the sage who stood there in the form of peace. He praised the Lord holding the sharp trident (shula) and declared "We are the servitors of the Lord of Tiruvadhikai. We are not afraid of anything. There is nothing that can scare us." -"chunnaven chandhanach chandhum". Instead of hurting him, The elephant now circumambulated and saluted Tirunavukkarasar. It turned back with an uncontrollable ire trampling upon the king’s men and the Jains instead, creating chaos and evoking frantic cries. With their strength completely lost, the Jains fell at the feet of the king. They suggested that the king abandon their holy philosophy of non-violence and drown the sage in the sea by binding him to a boulder. The king who had already cast aside justice and neutrality ordered his men to carry out this inhuman act. The wicked men executed the order by pushing Tirunavukkarasar into the deep sea with a rock tied to him. The true devotee, with an unshakable faith in the Great Rescuer, praised the Lord with the wonderful hymn that would nurture determination in anyone who sings it - "sotrunai vedhiyan". In that hymn, with overwhelming love, he sang the purest words of love Namah Shivaya, the great Holy Five Letters of the Lord. The Holy Five Letters, that uplifts creatures from the ocean of suffering, transformed the rock itself into a boat and raised Tirunavukkarasar. The bond with the rock broke just as the bonds severed for one who bows down to the Lord with the mountain as His bow. The ocean of great peerless love now floated on what looked like a small sea. 

The sage who had crossed the limits of the impossible, arrived on that very rock to the town of Lord - Tiruppadhirippuliyur. He prostrated to the Lord with the crescent ornament there, praising it as the invisible companion of the devotees in a Devaram. Eager to return to Tiruvadhikai out of the love for the Lord there, he proceeded towards that town. On the way, he paid visits to the abodes of the Lord at Tirumanikkuzi and Tiruththinainagar and sang devarams. The entire town Tiruvadhikai was in the mood of festivity to welcome the great sage who had triumphed over the sinful deeds of the ignorant Jain monks and established the greatness of Shaivam. Besmeared with holy ash, his appearance bright as gold, his body adorned with the holy rudraksha, his mind fixed on Maheshwara, his eyes wet with tears of love and his tongue praising the Lord with beautiful hymns, the sage entered the town. The people who saw him could not imagine how the Jains dared commit such cruelties on this sage of love. Surrounded by the devotees the seer entered the abode of the Lord and cried in all humbleness, "How did I, poor in knowledge, malign this great Graceful Lord in the past ?!". The king, by now realizing the Truth and repenting for his sins, denounced the Jains and surrendered to the sage who had established the supremacy of Shaivam without a war. The king built a temple for the Lord there called Gunaparavishwaram. Then, the sage continued to immerse himself in the service of Lord Shiva. 

Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar - part III (The Two Saints – A sage and a prodigy)

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