Faith

Shepherd boy’s verse

In five verses in his Kandar Alankaram and in twenty-two verses in his Tiruppugazh, Arunagirinatha praises Lord Shanmukha of Tiruchengode. In his Kandar Anubhuti, Arunagirinatha refers to Shanmukha as the One who resides in Nagamalai, which is the hill on which the Tiruchengode temple is situated. One has to climb 1300 steps to get to the temple. Lord Siva here is in the form of Ardhanareeswara.

In many Siva temples, it is the Shanmukha shrine that attracts huge crowds. This is true of Tiruchengode too. Lord Shanmukha, fondly referred to as Murugan in Tamil Nadu, is known as Sengottuvelan in the Tiruchengode temple, said T.Rajarathinam in a discourse.

There was a poet called Gunasekaran, who was a devotee of Sengottuvelan, and he was once challenged by an arrogant poet to a contest to prove which of them was the better poet. Worried about having to face a scholar, Gunasekaran prayed to Sengottuvelan for help. As the proud poet came towards Tiruchengode, he tried to compose a verse but could not get beyond the first two lines. This was the gist of the two lines – ‘why does this hill, which is called Nagamalai (the hill of serpents) not spread its hood?’ But the poet was stuck at this point and did not know how to complete the verse. A shepherd boy offered to complete it, and said, “How could a snake spread its hood, when Muruga is there on the hill with His peacock, which will kill the snake?”

Impressed, the scholar poet asked the boy who he was. “I am a student of Gunasekaran,” the boy said. The poet fled from the scene, for if a student of Gunasekaran were so good, how much better would his teacher be?

The little boy was none other than Sengottuvelan, who came in answer to the prayers of His devotee Gunasekaran.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 8:04:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/shepherd-boys-verse/article22369096.ece

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