MISCELLANEOUS

Siruthondar's devotion

CHENNAI: From Sekkizhar's account of the lives of the Saiva saints in the Periyapuranam and of the grace of Lord Siva, one is able to understand not only the magnificent bond that Bhakti is able to create between the devout and the Lord, but also the spirit of service that these saints fostered, not merely to God but to all his devotees as well. In the case of some saints, the Lord chose to test their Bhakti in unimaginable ways.

In a lecture, Dr. Sudha Seashiayan pointed out that though in the modern context such challenges and tests the saints were subjected to might make many cynical and even dissuade them from the path of Bhakti, the message that Bhakti demands total surrender to God is clear.

In the case of Siruthondar, the saint is willing to sacrifice his only son with the father and mother ready to even cook his body as food for the Sivan Adiyar who chose to accept their hospitality. Siva wanted to show the world the nobility and purity of Siruthondar's devotion. Knowing the mind and heart of his devotee — that he would not eat without first serving a Sivan Adiyar — the Lord went to Siruthondar's house in the guise of a Vairavar Adiyar. When Siruthondar saw this Siva devotee in his house, he was overjoyed to extend the hospitality to him. But the guest told Siruthondar that he would eat the meat of a five-year-old boy who should be the only child of his parents, and that both the parents must be willing to give up the child for this purpose. Siruthondar readily accepted all these conditions, and decided it would be his son who would be offered to this devotee. The parents cut up the child and cook the meat.

When the time for serving food drew near, the Sivan Adiyar asked for the boy to eat along with him. The parents went about calling his name, knowing it would be a futile attempt. But their son responded to their call and when they came back to the house, the Adiyar had disappeared.

The Lord then appeared along with Parvathi and blessed their devotion.

This unique Bhakta exemplifies the act of total self surrender.