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Childhood of Ayappar

The story opens in the riverbank of Vaigai. Mr.Vaduganadhar and his wife Ponnammal are the couple have no children. They are from Kazhugumalai in Tuticorin district. One day the couple hear a cry of a baby in the bush of thumbai plant at the riverbank of Vaigai. Both of them run towards the cry of the child and there they saw a divine child. They took the baby with them and thanked Goddess Sri Meenachi for that child.

The couple named the child as “Thumbaiappar”, because he has taken from the thumbai plant. Both of them pampered the child with great tenderness and passion. By the time, his name changed as “Ayappar”. He has grown with a divine quality and he became a seven year old boy. At this time, Vaduganadhar and his wife go to Sri Meenachi Amman temple at Madurai. They took Ayappar with them. In the crowd of the temple, the couple missed their gifted child. They searched all the places, but he lost and they returned home with sorrow. Ayappar also searched his parents, but he lost and then he joined a grocery shop near that place. At the penance time of Goddess Sri Meenachi in Madurai, the maids buy things in the grocery shop. Ayappar briskly provides the things to the maids. Sri Meenachi is surprised that the maids came quickly from the shop. The maids explain about the quick supply of the boy Ayappar. On hearing this Sri Meenachi eager, to see that boy and on the next day the maids bring him to the Goddess. Both the boy and Sri Meenachi Amman talked for some time. And Sri Meenachi asks him to come whenever he gets time. From that day, Ayappar daily goes to see the Goddess and worshipped. One day, his parents Vaduganadhar and Ponnammal saw their children at Meenachi Amman temple. They ran to his son and hugs with full of passion. They ask him to come with them, but he thinks of the Goddess. Suddenly he went to inform this to his divine mother Sri Meenachi. She permitted to go with his parents. Sri Meenachi gave him a lemon and a mirror. And she told that he would come back when the lemon get decompose and when the mirror image get blurred.

Ayappar Named as Periyaswamy

Ayappar came with his parents and he takes the lemon and mirror with him. He reared a horse and take lots of care. Regularly, he worships Sri Meenachi and passed some days. One day at the time of prayer, he saw the decomposed lemon and blurred mirror. Suddenly he ready to go Madurai to see his divine mother Sri Meenachi without informing his parents. Ayappar searched many places for the Goddess, but she is not in all that places. And he came to know that Meenachi is at “oblation” (yagam) place. He runs to see her, but she is not there. He worried on not seeing his divine mother and so he jumped into the fire of the “homa”. At that moment, Sri Meenachi Amman came and she shocked on seeing the devotion of Ayappar. Then he came out of the fire without any injury, it is only because of the grace of Goddess Meenachi. The Goddess is happy on seeing the maturity of her son. She gave him the “Muvaaiyira Thivyya Prabandham” and she chanted the “eight letter mandhra” in his ears. She asks him to worship daily and she said that she would always with him. Sri Meenachi said that he should go on the south side and he should stay where the tiger and deer drink water in the same place. She blessed that he named as “Periyaswamy” and all people will worship him.

Periyaswamy (Ayappar) started his holy travel towards the south direction. His parents Vaduganadhar and Ponnammal worried on hearing this incident. They decided that his son would never come and on this anxiety, they died.

Miracles of Periyaswamy

Sollaiyappar is one of the richest men in the village of ‘Eppodhum vendran’ in Tuticorin district. Sollaiyappar affected by leprosy. He took many treatments and medicine, but there is no good result. Even though he has more money, he cannot heal his disease. He always worried about his unhealthy life. One day Sollaiyappar get a dream. In that dream, he saw a woman and the woman said, “Periyaswamy is coming go and meet him”. Sollaiyappar asked how he finds Periyaswamy. She said that a piece of cloth fly over his head to give him shadow. Suddenly, he wakes up and he confused whether it is a dream or not. Sollaiyappar did not know that the woman is Annai Sri Meenachi.

One day Sollaiyappar saw a man coming with the identity told by the woman in the dream. He walks towards the man and he totally forgets his disease. He ran near to that man and he realizes it is Periyaswamy. Suddenly, Sollaiyappar fell down at Periyaswamy’s feet. Periyaswamy asked that who he is. Sollaiyappar said his history and about the dream. Periyaswamy become sympathetic and feel for him. Now Periyaswamy think of the “eight letter mandhra “and asks Sollaiyappar to take a bath in the near pond. Without any questions, Sollaiyappar take a bath and came back. Periyaswamy ask him to see his body. Sollaiyappar surprised on seeing his body without any mark of his disease. He became a new man without any disease. Then Periyaswamy wished him for his healthy life. Sollaiyappar now understand the divine power of Periyaswamy and Sri Meenachi Amman. Sollaiyappar wished to be the disciple of Periyaswamy. Sri Periyaswamy accepted him as his disciple. Sollaiyappar leaves all his wealth and decides to follow Periyaswamy. Both the Guru and Seedan stayed there for some days and do the full moon and new-moon day poja. After some days, both of them started their travel towards the south.

Travel of Guru and his Disciple

Periyaswamy and Sollaiyappar reached “Kombankulam” in-between their travel. On that night, they must do the full-moon day poja. They need a goat to sacrifice for God. On that time, a goat came on that side. The Guru decided to sacrifice that goat for the poja. The owner of the goat came there. He understands that the sacrificed goat was his pet. He asked about the goat to Periyaswamy after the poja. The owner knows that his goat died. Then Periyaswamy called the sacrificed goat as “maa”, the same goat came alive by the grace of Sri Meenachi. The owner was shocked on seeing the goat. He gets blessings from Periyaswamy. Sri Periyaswamy blessed him and he gives sermon about the great Annai Meenachi. And then the relatives of that owner were became the followers of Periyaswamy.

Reached Chettiyapathu

Periyaswamy and his disciple Sollaiyappar continued their pilgrimage. Periyaswamy spread the power of Annai Meenachi in every place he goes. He gathered followers without any discrimination and teach them the poja methods. He made a leader for each place followers and they called as “Annavi”. Then he went to “Kudankulam”, “Thamaraikulam”, and “Kanyakumari”. He came to Udangudi and stayed for some time. Finally, they came to Chettiyapathu.

At Chettiyapathu he saw a tiger and deer drink water in the same place. On seeing this, he becomes very happy and he remembered the words of Annai Meenachi and he decided to settle in Chettiyapathu. Near his place, there is a sorcerer (mandhiravaadhi) family. That family has a “Sri Sudalamaada Swamy Iyan” temple near their ancestor’s grave. The people of Chettiyapathu call it as “Aathi Kovil”. Not only that family but also the village people worship the temple. They grandly celebrate the festival of that temple with ‘villupaatu’ and sound effects. These sounds disturb the poja of Periyaswamy. He told the people that they are disturbing him, but they did not listen to him. Periyaswamy gets angrier and he cursed that the arrow would break. The people were shocked on seeing the broken arrow. They realized it is because of that saint Periyaswamy. Immediately, they went to Periyaswamy and asked about the broken arrow. The people ask his name and native. He replied that he is a human and he is from “Parvadhakeni” They did not know that place before, so they confused. The people understand the power of Periyaswamy. After finishing the temple celebration, the sorcerer family went to “Malayalam” where they go for livelihood.

RuthraBoodham as Aathiswamy

One sorcerer daily comes to “Aathi Kovil” by airway from Malayalam. He made some poja and return back. On the third day of the temple festival, Periyaswamy went to Aathi kovil. The temple already locked. Periyaswamy open the door and worships. The sorcerer opens the temple for his usual poja, on seeing the fresh flowers he understands that somebody came to the temple. But he surprised how the door could open. He guessed that the saint (Periyaswamy) made this. He goes to Periyaswamy and asks about the poja. Periyaswamy accepted the truth silently. The sorcerer warned Periyaswamy that he should not go Aathi kovil. But Periyaswamy does the same for the second day. On seeing the poja at second day, the sorcerer gets anger. Again, he warned Periyaswamy. He worships and locked the temple strongly. On the third day, Periyaswamy does the same. The sorcerer came and argued with Periyaswamy. He did not like the poja done by Periyaswamy. Then the sorcerer returns to Malayalam to bring his master Malaiarasan.

The sorcerer explained about the incident to his master. The master sends an Apparition (boodham) to kill Periyaswamy. It goes to Periyaswamy. He told “shanthi” (peace) and the apparition calmed after hearing his word. It occurred again in the second time. On the third time, Malaiarasan send “RuthraBoodham” which is very aggressive. This time the word of Periyaswamy did not calm the apparition. Now he thinks Annai Meenachi for help. Sri Meenachi appeared and saw the aggressive apparition. She made the apparition to calm state and she asked for what purpose it comes. It explained about the sorcerer and Malaiarasan who send it to kill Periyaswamy. It sorry for coming to kill the devotee of Annai Meenachi. The Goddess forgives the apparition and allows it to stay in the Aathi Kovil with twice offerings. But the problem is, if once it aroused it needs some sacrifice. Sri Meenachi told to kill the persons who send it. Then the apparition started to kill the sorcerers very aggressively. On seeing the aggressive ghost, the sorcerer and Malaiarasan run to save their life. At last, it kills both of them and gets “Shanthi” by the grace of Annai Meenachi. Finally, it came to Aathi Kovil and settled. Even today, it gets two offerings–“Macha panividai” and “Keerisuttan panividai” by the people.

Temple for Annai Meenachi

After all these miracles, Periyaswamy asks his divine mother, ‘what is the next thing he wants to do’. Annai Meenachi told to build shires for herself and for Periyaswamy. He asks to choose places for them. She chooses one place for herself and another for Periyaswamy. According to the words of Annai, he made both of their shrines.

Every month Periyaswamy continued the full moon and new-moon day pojas for PERIYAPIRATTI (Annai Meenachi). Peoples from the surroundings came to know about the power of Periyaswamy. Many people from the nearest places of Chettiyapathu come to worship this temple. Periyaswamy treated all peoples equally. He allowed all to worship Annai Periyapiratti without any discrimination. He always says that all are the children of Annai Meenachi and so no one can discriminate others. Periyaswamy instructs that the combination of Bidi leaf with Neem leaf is the best medicine for all diseases. He healed many diseases of people with these leaves. Through his teachings, he purified the soul and body of peoples.

Meeting with Thirupuzhi Azhwar

‘Thirunagari’ is considered as one of the nine Thirupathi. At Thirunagari, the vaishnavas are the dominators. They are very proud with their mantras and always dominate other peoples. Swamigal decided to teach lessons to the vaishnavas. He thinks the way to teach them a lesson and slept that night. In Swamigal’s dream, Annai Meenachi said to go Thirunagari and meet Thirupuzhi Azhwar. At the same time, in the dream of Thirupuzhi Azhwar, Annai Meenachi said ‘Periyaswamy is coming go and meet him’. On the next morning, Swamigal and Sollaiyappar started their travel to Thirunagari.

Both of them reached Thirunagari and meet Thirupuzhi Azhwar. He always sits in a cradle under a tamarind tree. The specialty of that cradle is, it also grow with him. Azhwar become happy to see Periyaswamy and welcome him. They talked for some time. Thirupuzhi Azhwar likes to go with Periyaswamy to Chettiyapathu. Swamigal said he would take him when he returns. Then Swamigal and Sollaiyappar decided to stay at Thirunagari to teach lessons for the vaishnavas.

Lessons Taught by Swamigal

At first, Swamigal irritated Vaishnavas by some incidents. The guru and his disciple gathered the waste banana leaves and washed. They planned to sell these waste leaves to the Andhanars. They eagerly bought it. Day by day, they gained a lot. Then, Swamigal sells leaves without washing cleanly. The unwashed leaves irritated the Andhanars. After that, they stop buying leaves from them.

After some days, Swamigal catch “Kuuniviral Fish” from Thamirabarani River. He fried and makes powder of it. Swamigal sold the fish powder as “Thiruvaranga powder” and he told Andhanar that it is best for sambar. They bought it regularly. Then, as if banana leaves incident Swamigal half fried the fish. The Andhanars came to know the powder is from fish. Therefore, they stop buying it. With the help of Annai Meenachi, Swamigal teaches a good lesson to them. However, he did not stop it.

Next, in the full – moon day poja Swamigal regularly sacrifice a goat to God. Therefore, he went to market and buys a goat Then he give “paathappaal” to the goat and killed it. Then he ready to cook. The Vaishnavas goes to Bishop of that time and complained Periyaswamy. When Bishop came to Periyaswamy’s place, the pieces of goat changed to vegetable by the grace of Annai Meenachi. Bishop warned Vaishnavas for the wrong complaint. Vaishnavas failed for the first time.

Day by day, the competition increased between Swamigal and the Vaishnavas. One day, Vaishnavas said there is no water in the river whether Swamigal can bring rain. Swamigal asks the same question to them. In self-conceit, they started some ‘yagam’ to bring rain, but no use in their mantras. Then Swamigal said, “Now rain will come” and thinks Annai Meenachi. By the power of Annai Meenachi, rain occurs and water filled the river. Still the Vaishnavas argued with Swamigal. They said that they “Nalaiyira Theviya Prabandam” is the best one. Swamigal says Annai Meenachi’s “Muvaira Theviya Prabandam” is the best. Then they decided to throw their books as a single, single sheet in water and the book which return with its all sheets in its original structure is considered as the best one. Periyaswamy gets “Muvaira Theviya Prabandam” fully but Vaishnavas cannot get their book. Now the Vaishnavas accepted their failure. Then Swamigal mentioned their mistake that they trust only in mantras and totally forgot the immortal. Now they realize their mistake and feel sorry for it.

Next, Swamigal came to Thirupuzhi Azhwar and stayed with for some days. Then they planned to go Chettiyapathu. Swamigal and Sollaiyappar took Azhwar with his cradle. Thirupuzhi Azhwar has another name called “Thirukuzhandhai Azhwar”.

Testing Sollaiyappar

Sri Periyaswamy Swamigal becomes ill in Chettiyapathu. At the time, he likes to test his disciple Sollaiyappar. Swamigal vomited because of his sickness. Suddenly, Sollaiyappar bear up the vomit by his hands. Swamigal said to bury the vomit in the place where nothing buried before. Sollaiyappar thinks the word “nothing buried before” and drinks it. Swamigal surprised on seeing this. This is as Swami Vivekananda eats the saliva of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsar. Even the saliva of Guru would become precious to their disciple.

Days have passed. One day Swamigal asks Sollaiyappar to mash a betel leaf. Sollaiyappar searched for mortar to mash the leaf, but it is not there. Therefore, Sollaiyappar scrunch the leaves in his mouth and give to his Guru. Swamigal eat the betel leaf and he finds a new taste in it. Swamigal asks to bring the mortar that mashed the betel leaf. Suddenly, Sollaiyappar cut his head and give to his Guru. Swamigal misunderstand him that he doing because of his self-conceit. However, he wished to attach the head to his body. After Sollaiyappar get his head, Swamigal cursed him as “Sollaiyappar head will burst when he crossing the dry ground”. Swamigal misunderstand and curse Sollaiyappar. On hearing this curse, Sollaiyappar cursed his master in anger. He cursed Swamigal, as ‘he will die like an orphan.’

Some years passed. Swamigal knows that his death is nearing. Now, he remembered about his parents who pampered him with great care. He worried about his parents and thinks Annai Meenachi. Meenachi decided to solve his worry.

Second birth of Vaduganadhar and Ponnammal

One of the followers of Swamigal is a Weaver. He has no children. To resolve the troubles of both Swamigal and Weaver, Annai Meenachi gives second birth to Vaduganadhar and Ponnammal. Next day the Weaver and his wife hear a cry of two babies. They run towards the sound and there they saw two babies. They took them and decided to adopt the children. The weaver brings the babies to Swamigal. He knows that the children are his parents and become happy. However, he did not reveal the birth secret of his parents to anyone. He blessed the babies and returned to the Weaver.

Sollaiyappar’s travel towards North

Years passed, Sollaiyappar asks permission to go “North” from his master Periyaswamy. He permitted Sollaiyappar. He started his travel to “North” with some other disciples. On the way, one of the disciples died at the place, “Naalumavady”. Then he called as “Paadhai Karai Swamy” and worshipped by the peoples.

Sollaiyappar depressed by the death of his friend. Then, he continued his Pilgrimage. He saw dry lands in the place “Vandhan Vendran” and he remembered the curse of his master. According to the curse, Sollaiyappar’s head burst and he died. On hearing the death news of his disciple, Periyaswamy feels bad and cry a lot.

Death of Swamigal

Two or three years passed. One day, in April (Panguni 21), Swamigal was alone and there is no one with him. On that day, Annai Meenachi came with a divine light and got hold of the soul of Swamigal with her. Periyaswamy mixed with the divine light. He passed away. The local people named the death of Swamigal as “GURUMOTH”. By time, the name changed as “Gurumugathu”. Every April (Panguni 21), the people of Supurayapuram celebrate “Gurumugathu” poja.

Discrimination  Problem

Periyaswamy allowed people without any discrimination. But people see the caste difference among them. At that time, people gave importance to caste. One day a sweeper cooks food for panividai poja. The people refuse to get that prasadham. The sweeper worried and slept. In his dream, Periyaswamy came and said to bury the food in a particular place and open it after one year. That place is the straight opposite to the south side of the shrine of Annai Periyapiratti. According to his words, sweeper buries the food and open after one year. The sweeper surprised on discovering the fresh and hot food within. From that incident, people understand that all are equal before God.