Saiva Siddhanta fosters the culture of honouring devotees on a par with Siva Himself. This is possible because the devout are enriched with the experience of Siva as a living presence in their lives and consciousness. The Periyapuranam chronicles the way Siva chose to bring together two of His devotees Sundarar and Cheraman Peruman Nayanar and of the friendship between them that lasted a lifetime and beyond, pointed out Dr. Sarada Nambi Arooran in a lecture.

This Nayanar was a Chera King and a Siva devotee blessed with the gifts of poesy to sing soulful songs in praise of the Lord. It is said that the Lord rewarded the king’s true devotion by sending a letter personally addressed to this king through another devotee by name Pana Bathiran. In this letter Siva praises the king’s munificence and asks him to reward the bearer with sufficient riches. The Lord graced the king’s daily worship with His cosmic dance and the king would hear the tinkling of the anklets on His feet. On one occasion when the king did not hear the customary divine sound of the anklets, he became distraught with himself and concluded that it was so because of some fault on his part. He decided to end his life with a dagger. The Lord spoke in His celestial voice: “The delay was due to Sundarar’s devotional songs.”

Cheraman Peruman Nayanar was interested to know about Sundarar and began to seek him. This became the starting point of a matchless friendship between two Siva devotees. They met in Chidambaram and together they visited many temples and shared their devout experiences. Since the king extended his bounty to Sundarar, he did not feel the need to ask Siva for wealth as he used to. But the Lord made Sundarar realise his indebtedness and enslavement to Him by depriving him of all that the king had gifted. Sundarar became penitent and understood that he owed everything to Siva alone.

When Sundarar departed for his heavenly abode in style mounted on the elephant from Kailasa after having fulfilled his mission on earth for his past karma, it is said he requested Siva to permit his friend to be with him in Kailasa. Siva acceded and the two continued their friendship.

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