Pandiyan King, Varaguna, who, according to tradition, lived in the seventh century A.D. Once he went for hunting in a nearby forest and when he started back home, dusk had already fallen. The horse, fatiqued by the hunt, was anxious to get back to the stables,and literally flew over the path. Meanwhile an aged Brahmin, also travelling through the forest, had called it a day and was lying fast asleep under the shelter of a large tree. Unfortunately the path which the King’s horse took was led over the very place where the old man lay sleeping. The hooves of the horse crushed his chest, and he perished on the spot. So fast was horse that the King had no inkling of this terrible calamity. Only when the soldiers following him saw the dead Brahmin and informed him, did the King come to know of the tragedy. He lost no time in observing the penances and sacrifices ordained in the sastras for absolution from this sin; but the damage was done Brahmahathi (spirit of the dead Brahmana) clung to him all the more tightly. In despire, the King sought the help of Lord Sundaresvara of Madurai.
Such was the sincerity and devotion this grief-stricken King that one day as he was circumambulating the shrine, he heard a divine voice command: “Do not despair O King ! A Chola king will invade your Kingdom soon. Fight him and he will be defeated. As he flees back to his country, chase him without harming him. He will lead you to Thiruvidai-marudoor where Lord Shiva Himself worshipped His own image. There the sin which is clinging to you now will leave you”.
As prophecied, the Chola King did invade the Pandya Kingdom; Varaguna chased him and landed up at the shrine. The moment he beheld the temple towers, he dismonuted from his chariot and offered solemn prayers. He went and bathed in the Pushya Ghat and the tank called Karuniamrutham. He entered by the eastern gate and at once felt Brahmahathi left him. (It can be seen even today crouching in a small alcove by the left side of the Eastern gate as we enter the temple. It looks like a child with an oversized head and large protruding eyes and is shown with the head resting at an angle on its folded hands. Tradition has it that it is still waiting for the King to return.) As the King stood near the shirne worshipping the Lord, he received the second set of the instruction. “DO NOT RETURN BY THE EASTERN GATE. LEAVE THE SHRINE BY THE WESTERN GATE. So he went by a side passage to the Devi's shrine and left by the Western gate, a custom which is even totay followed by the pilgrims.
The Chola King decided to have peace and gave his daughter in marriage to King Varguna Pandiyan. The Princess was such an outstanding beauty that the king decided that she would be a befitting offerr to the Lord. He took his new bride to the Lord as his offering. The lord in His mercy decided to do as His Bhakta wished. A jyothi effulged from the Linga and the Princess was absorbed into it. But her bangled right hand remained atop the Siva Linga. The King happily went back. Next morning when the pujaris entered the shrine with the King for the early morning puja, they saw the jewelled, bangled hand and wrist. After sometime the hand also vanished. The entire crowd of worshippers were awestruck by the way the Lord responded to His true devotee’s wishes. (This King built the Meenakshi Sundareswarar shrine on the Northern side of the Temple. As desired by the Lord, he created along the top of the walls surrounding the inner shrine , the scenes from Mount Kailas. This is called Kodumudi(peak) Prakara, and according to faith, anyone who goes around it once, gets the benefit of having gone a thousand times around the Lord Himself.)
There is a story which proves that in the eyes of the Lord both the King and fisherman are the same, provided they are bhakthas.
Once a pious fisherman went to the seashore and loaded a cart full of dried fish (karuvadu). On the way back, he reached Thiruvidaimarudoor by night and went to sleep by the banks of Rudra Theertha. His companions had deserted him. Just then the Lord appeared to him and made him remove the cart’s cover. There upon the fish leapt out of the cart and fell into-the river, all becoming alive at the same time. As he watched in amazement, the fish which had fallen into the water assumed the forms of Rudras and sped heaven ward. Thus the lake came to be called Rudra Theertha and the shrine by its side is called Atmanatha Temple. The young Bharatha (fisher-folks are called Bharathas in Tamilnadu) was in despair. He prayed in grief : “Oh Lord ! If there is no load, the bullocks will run wild. How will I control them?” The Lord advised the youngster to pick up chengal (chen=red; kal=stone) that lay on the ground and fill his cart with it. The boy did as he was told and drove the cart home. There he narrated the whole story to his mother, who in turn took him before the King with this strange tale. The King listened carefully and ordered that the sheet which covered the cart be removed. And lo! They saw not broken bricks but nuggets of solid gold. The generous King allowed the boy and his mother to keep the entire gold.
The childless king had made a gold image of a child, left it in the Lord’s presence as commanded by the Lord and offered prayer to him. The Lord gave life to the statue and since he was originally made of gold, he was called Pon Uruva Chozhan (The Chola with a golden figure).
Thus do the stories go on about Lord Ekanayaka or Mahalinga (call him what you wish) but there is no denying the fact that even today, people possessed by spirits to find relief in His Divine presence. Let Lord Mahalinga bless all who pray to Him and save this country from all evils.
Courtesy to Deiveega Gnanam February Issue.
|01 December 2017|
|09.30 PM||Artha Jamam|
|King Varaguna Pandian Story|