Appar and Appoothi Adigal

It is not Siva alone who is held dear in the hearts of the devout Nayanmars; it is also every devotee of Siva who is spontaneously honoured and served. Sekkizhar’s Periyapuranam captures this unique and ennobling aspect of devotion that is expressed in the lives of the Saivite saints, pointed out Dr. Sudha Seshaiyan in a discourse. The devout Appoothi Adigal becomes an ardent Tirunavukkarasar devotee as well, when he learns about the saint’s total surrender to Siva after his stint with the Samana faith. The Adigal names his children, the village roads, wells, water stalls, etc, with the name Tirunavukkarasar.

Tirunavukkarasar is surprised to see his name in every nook and corner of the village and on enquiry comes to know that this is the work of one Appoothi Adigal. He visits his house and asks him why he has named the stalls in someone else’s name and not his own. Appoothi replies: “Is there any name better than Tirunavukkarasar who has the full grace of Siva? Who are you by the way?” When the saint reveals his identity with all humility, Appoothi falls prostrate at his feet along with his family and prays that he should have food at their place. Appoothi asks his eldest son to cut a leaf from the plantain tree in the backyard. While plucking the leaf, the boy is stung by a snake; realising that soon the poison would enter his whole body, he hurries with the leaf, hands it over to his parents and succumbs.

The parents are shocked and worried about the likely obstacle to their hospitality to the Sivan Adiyar by this unfortunate incident. But they hide the dead boy and with cheerful faces invite Tirunavukkarasar to have food. The saint learns about the snake bite, and sings a soulful pathigam to Siva that restores the son.

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