20. Chandesvara Nayanar
Vichara Sarman (who was later known as Chandesvara Nayanar) was born in Tiruchaijnanallur, which was famous for Vedic recitations, Tapas, and Siva Bhakti. He was a prodigy. At the age of five he had learnt the Vedas, and all the Agamas, by himself, on account of previous Samskaras. After his Upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony), he learnt the Vedas, under a Guru: but the Gurus were wonder-struck at the intelligence of the disciple. He wanted to attain Final Emancipation in that birth.
One day Vichara Sarman, with his friends, was walking along a road. He noticed a cowherd severely beating a cow because it had slightly pushed him with its horn. Vichara Sarman could not endure this. He was greatly moved and spoke to the cowherd: ‘Oh ignorant man? Do you not know that the cow is worshipful and divine. All the Devas dwell in her. She is indispensable for all religious activities. It is our sacred duty to tend and protect the cows. Whoever harms the cow is hurled into the Naraka. Whoever worships the cow wins a place in heaven or in Siva’s Abode. You have committed a great sin today. Hereafter, you need not tend to the cows: I will do that myself.’ Vichara Sarman took the work upon himself from that day.
The cows grew healthier. They liked Vichara Sarman very much. The Brahmins who got more milk thereafter were able to fulfil their religious duties very well, and they were pleased with Vichara Sarman. There was so much of surplus milk now, that Vichara Sarman, who loved Lord Siva and His worship, decided to perform Abhishekam for Lord Siva. He used to sit under an Atti tree on the bank of the river, construct a temple from the mud, and also make a mud-image of Siva Lingam and offer the milk, to bathe the Lingam. Then he would perform Archana with the Atti flowers. The cows were giving plenty of milk both to Vichara Sarman and to the Brahmins.
One day, when Vichara Sarman was doing this Puja, a villager happened to pass by, and he watched all this. He reported the matter to the owners of the cows, and complained that Vichara Sarman was pouring precious milk on mud and river sand. These Brahmins summoned Vichara Sarman’s father, Echhadattan, and passed the complaint on to him in rather strong terms. The father was naturally shocked. He came home, but did not speak to Vichara Sarman. He wanted to find out for himself. So, the next day, he followed Vichara Sarman at a distance without his knowledge. When Vichara Sarman began pouring milk on the improvised Siva Lingam, the father, without understanding the son’s wonderful devotion, hit him with a stick. The boy was so much absorbed in his Puja that he did not even feel pain. Then, the father, getting still more angry, knocked the milk-pot down. It was then that Vichara Sarman realised that his father was interfering with his worship and had committed an unpardonable offence against Lord Siva (Siva Aparadham). He at once took a stick and hit his father’s leg: by the will of the Lord, the stick was transformed into an axe. Again, by His will, it killed the father. It was to test the depth of Vichara Sarman’s devotion. He was so engrossed in the worship, that he did not mind what had happened and continued the worship.
Lord Siva was immensely pleased with the intensity of Vichara Sarman’s devotion and appeared before him, with Parvathi. Vichara Sarman prostrated before the Lord. The Lord embraced Vichara Sarman and fondled him. That very instant, Vichara Sarman attained the divine Form of Lord Siva. The Lord removed a garland from His own neck and put it around Vichara Sarman’s. He had attained Saroopya Mukthi (liberation, with the attainment of the form of the Lord). The Lord said: ‘My child, you cut your own father’s leg for My sake. Now, I am Your Father. You will soon attain Chandikesvarar’s Abode. You worshipped Me with food, clothes and flower garlands. In the same manner, you will also be worshipped.’ The Lord disappeared. Vichara Sarman also went to the Abode of Chandesvarar. No sin attached to him, for having killed his own father, because of his supreme devotion to the Lord. His father, too, because he was killed by such a great devotee of the Lord, was purged of the sin of interfering with His worship, and reached the Abode of Lord Siva.