Faith

A strange wish is sought

Periyapuranam is valued as much for the social, cultural and economic milieu it captures as for the way it transmits the depth of Siva devotion prevailing among the people of that era. This is very explicit in Sekkizhar’s account of the trajectory of the saint devotee Karaikal Ammaiyar’s life, wherein her ideals of life and devotion are manifest in the most unique manner, pointed out Selvi Lemuria Manickam in a discourse.

Born as Punitavati in a prosperous merchant family, she is blessed with the inherent strain of devotion to Siva and Sivan Adiyars. After marriage, she abides by her wifely duties with diligence. At this juncture, an incident that becomes a defining moment in her devotional life happens owing to the Lord’s will. One day she offers one of the two mangoes her husband had sent home to a Sivan Adiyar by way of hospitality. She serves her husband the other mango at lunch. Drawn by the delicious taste, he asks for the other fruit. She is in a dilemma and prays to Siva for guidance. The Lord grants her a mango which she gives to her husband. He finds this fruit far more delicious and asks her about it. Then she tells him all that had happened.

He wants to test her and asks her to get another mango and Siva answers her prayer once again. But it disappears the moment she hands it over to him. He is now filled with awe and convinced of her divine nature. Henceforth he is unable to see her as his wife. As she is committed to her dharma as a wife, she reacts to his decision in the strangest manner. She wishes for an existence in the skeleton form without skin, flesh, etc, that lend appearance and beauty to all living species. Her rejection is rare and one of its kind, reflecting a mature level of realisation.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 11:35:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/a-strange-wish-is-sought/article34330956.ece

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