There lay the majestic elephant of the King, bloodied and brought to the ground. Beside the elephant lay the bodies of the Mahouts who controlled the animal. Killed without mercy. Standing in front of them, with his chest heaving up and down, like a raging volcano, was Eripathar, one of the hounds of Siva.
The hounds of Siva , or the Nayanmar Saints, were the esteemed 63 Saints of Tamil Saiva Siddhanta. From the famous Kannappa Nayanar , who gave his own eye to Siva , to Siruthondar Nayanar whose service to Saiva Ascetics knew no bounds ( even sacrificing his own son in Siva’s Leela ).
These Saints were legendary for each, in his own way, following Siva Dharma, even if it conflicted with ordinary rules and regulations of their time.
And what was Eripathar famous for?
The bloody axe resting on his boulder like shoulder told the tale.
His service to Siva Dharma, was to eliminate without Prejudice, anyone who would cause hindrances to Siva Bhaktas anywhere.
Passing by this village, he has seen a frail Siva Bhakta on the ground crying. Upon enquiring he found out that this bhakta, would collect flowers for Siva worship every day while singing hymns of Siva.
The plants themselves would be enthralled by his voice that they would drop their flowers on his basket.
On that day however, the King’s Royal Elephant, that walked that way , had gone berserk. It had pushed the Siva Bhakta aside, and trampled on the flowers meant for Siva.
This outraged Eripathar! Hurt a Siva Bhakta? And trample on the flowers meant for the Lord? Even a King’s Royal Elephant must pay!
Eripathar had rushed to the location where the elephant was, and chopped its trunk off with his Axe! The mahouts of the King who tried to stop him, also met their fate to that deadly axe.
Eripathar stood there. His anger, still not satiated.
News reached the King, who was incensed on what happened, he led his army to that location.
Looking in rage for the perpetrator, only he saw was a divine looking Saiva Sage, Eripathar.
Realising that something must have transpired to have made such a Sage angry, the King, Pugazh Chozha, approached Eripathar, with reverence, saying..
Oh Lord, may I know what transgression might have happened?
When Eripathar narrated the incident, the King, a great Saiva Bhakta was shattered.
He told Eripathar, “oh enlightened one, all my life, I have done service only to protect all Saivas, seeing this has happened in my own land, I have failed in my dharma. Killing the elephant and the mahouts is not enough, for I, The King , am responsible for the sins of my land. As penance, please take my life too.”
“I only have one request, use my sword instead, for a King should not die via an Axe”. Saying that he placed his sword in Eripathar’s hands.
Eripathar was now in a dilemma. This King was a great Saiva Bhakta who protected all Saivas. And now the one who was being a hindrance to him , was Eripathar himself!
What would he do now , that he himself was the hindrance?
Without thinking twice, Eripathar took the sword and proceeded to behead himself!
Just then, from the sky, boomed Siva’s voice. “Oh noble souls, all these way my Leela, to bring to the world, your Bhakti for me.”
“The King, the Singing Bhakta and you Eripatha will all be acknowledged as Nayanmars who are peerless”.
“And you Eripatha, will follow me to Kailash , where you will lead my Siva Ganas, as Captain”.
May the spirit and bhakti of Eripatha Nayanar guide all Hindus..
– Sivarpanam , Karuppar Thunai