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Staunch devotion

Chennai: Kulachirai Nayanar is one of the 63 nayanmars mentioned in the Peria Puranam. He was the minister for the Pandya king, Koon Pandian, who got the name because he was hunchbacked. The queen Mangaiarkkarasi and Kulachirai Nayanar were both Saivites, but the king was a Jain. He was so intolerant of other faiths that the queen could not even wear sacred ash on her forehead.

The queen and the minister wanted the king to embrace Saivism, but it did not seem possible, given the king’s fanaticism. It was around this time that Appar and Sambandar made the door of the temple in Vedaranyam open and close with their verses. So the queen dispatched Kulachirai Nayanar to fetch Sambandar to Madurai, to see if he could help change the king’s mind. Sambandar was willing to leave at once with Kulachirai Nayanar, but Thirunavukkarasar felt the time was not quite auspicious. Sambandar, however, pointed out that since all the planets were controlled by Lord Shiva, no devotee of Shiva would be harmed by any planet. So Sambandar left for Madurai.

Koon Pandian had been ailing from an incurable fever for a long time. Sambandar not only cured him of this illness, but also straightened his hunched back. The king then converted to Saivism and came to be known as Nindra Seer Nedumaran, said R. Narayanan in a lecture. The people of the Pandya kingdom had also been Jains because it was customary for the subjects to follow the same religion as their king. Now when the king became a Saivite, the subjects too converted en masse to Saivism.

The king is honoured by Sekkizhar as a nayanmar. This incident also earned for Mangaiarkkarasi and Kulachiraiyar, the honour of being included in the list of nayanmars. It was due to the devotion and conviction of the queen and the minister that the king became a Saivite, and the result was that Saivism gained many adherents, because the king’s subjects converted to Saivism too.

In the Peria Puranam, Sekkizhar says that Kulachirayar would honour all Saivites. He treated with reverence all devotees of Shiva, even if they were not conscientious in carrying out their duties.

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