The tales of the 63 Nayamar Saiva Saints, is one every hindu in the devotional path should read. It expands ones concept of what bhakti is, beyond the usual emotional sentimentalism often masquerading as Bhakti in most media platforms.
The Story of Siruthondar Nayanar
Once there lived a man by the name of Paramjyoti who descended from a long line of military commanders. He was a great Shiva Bhakta , who did his daily karmas for Shiva without fail.
The Chozha King had called him to lead the army in a war with a rival king, and upon Paramjyoti’s successful return from the bloody war, the King found out from his advisor, that Paramjyoti was a Great Shiva Bhakta.
The King apologized for having asked such a Bhakta to have fought in a war, and gave him gifts and told him to continue his Siva Puja, and he would no longer be disturbed.
Paramjyoti’s daily karma included his Siva Puja and feeding at least one Saiva Sadhu, or Siva Bhakta. He would not have his meal before that.
Hence he got his name Siruthondar ( small servant ) for his service to the servants of the Lord, even once serving the great child saint , Tiru Gyana Sambandar.
One day, a Bhairaagi ( follower of Bhairava ) from the North, came to his home.
Siruthondar was not around hence his wife, received the fierce sage at the door. The sage said, he had heard of Siruthondar’s service and would wait seated at a nearby tree until he came.
When Siruthondar came home, dejected as he had not been able to find even a single Saint or Bhakta to serve, his wife told him about the fierce sage awaiting at the nearby tree. Siruthondar rushed toward the tree.
He told the sage that it was his great punya to be able to serve him, and to let him know what he would like to eat, so that he and his wife could prepare it.
Said the Bhairava Saint,
“Don’t be too happy, for what I want is difficult to procure.
I want Nara Mamisa ( human meat ) , that is less than 5 years of age.
It should not have any ailments, should be the old child in a family , and the childs parents would have to cook it, without the slightest hint of pain in their heart”.
The shocked , Siruthondar, nevertheless said he would find a way. Going home he told his wife of this, and she replied, Sire, all the qualities the sage has asked for, our own beloved son fulfills these conditions.
So great was their adherence to their dharma of pleasing Siva devotees they set about the task.
The mother showered their child in turmeric water, but refrained from planting kisses on the child as she would have always done, not wanting to make the offering for the Saint, impure.
Laying her son on her lap, Siruthodar did the task.
They called the Sage into their home for the feast. And served him with the food that he had asked for. The sage then said, I eat only once in 6 months, and never in a family without a child.
I saw your son when I came in earlier, call him here , or I will not accept this bhiksha. Siruthondar tried to convince the sage but he would not have it.
Without recourse, he and his wife called out “Oh! my dear child, chiraala ! come fast to make the devotee have his feast !”
Shockingly, their son ran to them from the entrance of their home. Hugging him , with tears rolling down their cheeks, they carried him to where the Sage was seated.
But he was no where to be seen.
Then like lighting, appeared Shiva, with Parvati and the child Skanda, seated on Rishabha. Removing their miseries, removing their bonds than binded them to this existence ,and giving them a place at their eternal feet.
May anyone who calls themselves a Bhakta, remember the dedication of the Great Saint, Siruthondar Nayanar, for all his bhakti and service, was known only as Siruthondar ( lesser servant ).
P.S Why did Shiva test his bhakta to such a level?
Siruthondar, in his service to the King in war, had killed the sons of many others, in his adherence to (war) dharma, would he sacrifice his own child for adherence to Dharma ( when the type of Dharma changed ? )
All other Nayanmars only managed to See Shiva, but Shiva gave Siruthodar nayanar the Darshan of the special Somaskanda Murti, and gave Moksha to not only him, his wife and his son, but also the maid-servant who served him.
It reminds us of the benefits of aligning ourselves to great bhaktas , for which benefits, we ourselves would not get in lifetimes on our own.