(81) SIVA BHAKTA SUNDARAMURTI
26th January, 1947
Yesterday, while Bhagavan was going through Thiruchuli Puranam, spoke thus regarding the events connected with the visit of Sundaramurti to this holy place: “The venerable Sundaramurti, born in the amsa (part) of Aalaala Sundara, who emanated from the reflection of Lord Siva, with the Somasekhara (with moon in his crown), acquired the friendship of the Kerala king, Cheraman Perumal Nainar, in the course of his wanderings as a pilgrim. Then they both went to Madurai on pilgrimage. The Pandyan king, as well as his son-in-law, the Chola king, extended a very warm welcome to them and expressed their happiness at being their hosts.
Sundaramurti worshipped God Sundareswara, the husband of the goddess Meenakshi, and sang the praise of the god with his poetic skill. Accompanied by the Chera king he visited and worshipped at the sacred shrines of the south, namely Thirukuttralam, Thirunelveli, and Rameswaram. From there he visited the sacred shrine of Thirukkedeswara in Lanka Dwipa (Ceylon) and offered worship. There he remembered Thrisulapuram (Thiruchuli), which is the Muktinagar (city of salvation) and proceeded thither. As they approached that city, the crowds saw them both resplendent as though the sun and the moon appeared at the same time. Sundaramurti was happy to have the darshan of Lord Bhuminatha and offered worship with the song, beginning with ‘Unaiuyir puhalai’ and was overwhelmed with devotion. He decided to stay in that holy place for a while, and so resided in a mutt (monastery) on the bank of the river Kowndinya.
“One night during his stay there, Lord Siva appeared to him in a dream with a ball in his hand (ball is the symbol of kingship) and a crown on his head, as a youth of incomparable beauty and with a smile dancing on his lips, and said, ‘We stay in Jyotivana (Kaleswara)’. On hearing these words, Sundaramurti woke up with excitement, and recollected the glorious kindness of the Lord who appeared and showered benevolence on him, and narrated the wonderful vision to the Chera king with joy. There and then he sang, overwhelmed with devotion, the Thevara Pathikam on Lord Kaleswar, commencing with the words, ‘Thondar adithozhalum’.
“From there they started to visit the far off holy place, Thiruppunavayil, and even as they started, God Kaleswara, who had appeared in the dream of Sundaramurti, and Amba approached them in the guise of an old brahmin couple. When Sundaramurti asked them, ‘Who are you? Where do you come from?’ they replied, ‘We shall talk about that later. First give us food. We are hungry.’ Sundaramurti consented and got food prepared and looked for the couple to serve it to, but they were not to be seen anywhere. All the lanes and by-lanes of the village were searched but they could not be found anywhere. They came back to the mutt only to find that the food that was cooked had all disappeared and the leaves in which the food was eaten were thrown all over the yard.
Sundaramurti was wonder-struck and exclaimed, ‘Ah! What a wonder is this! What can this be except the leela (game) of the Lord of the Universe?’ As he arrived at this conclusion, he heard an invisible voice: ‘Where do you intend going without seeing us that reside in the Jyotivana?’ Sundaramurti was wondering where that Jyotivana was and how to go there, when the invisible voice once again said, ‘We are proceeding there on the vehicle of the sacred bull Nandi. You may also come there, following its footsteps.’
“Sundaramurti followed the footsteps accompanied by the devotees there; but suddenly the track disappeared. As he stood there in confusion, the invisible voice was heard to say, ‘Look carefully.’ As he followed carefully the footsteps he saw a particular place full of Siva Lingas. There was no space even for a single step forward and he and the other devotees stood there in confusion. Suddenly he saw a narrow footpath and they followed it, on and on until at last they beheld the temple of Kaleswara. They all took their bath in the tank in front of the temple and, as they were thinking of going into it, all on a sudden, the temple with its tower disappeared. Sundaramurti was wonder-struck and sang some songs in praise of the Lord, conveying the idea, ‘Is this the result of my not having come for worship in your temple before bathing?’ At once, a whole view of jyoti (light) appeared and the view of the peak of a temple tower and then the temple itself with its compound wall. He was overjoyed, had a darshan of God, worshipped Him and sang songs in praise of Him, and then proceeded on his pilgrimage. This is a wonderful story. There are many more stories of him,” said Bhagavan.
He is the same Sundaramurti that was referred to in my letter printed earlier under the heading, “Swami is everywhere,” (No. 70). His story is given in detail in the Sanskrit works Siva Bhaktha Vilasam, Upamanya Bhaktha Vilasam and in the Telugu works, Panditharadhya Charitra and Basava Puranam of the poet Palakurthi Somanatha.
Bhagavan told us once before that the devotion of Sundaramurti to the Lord is that of a friend, of Manikkavachakar that of the beloved, of Appar that of a servant, and Sambandar that of a son.
Please also see Spiritual Stories told by Bhagavan (53).