THE LIFE AND LEGENDS OF SUNDARA-MURTTI
The Saiva devotee, adapted from the Periya Puranam.
G. U. POPE
The great Sages of the Caiva sect in the South of India are four in number. Of these Manikka-Vacagar is the oldest and incomparably the greatest. At an interval of probably a century arose Nana Sambandhar, Sundarar and Appamurtti. These three lived in the time of great struggle between the Jains and the Caivites, which ended in favour of the latter. There was a great dissimilarity between the three sages of this later period; Sambandhar being a youth, almost a child, full of enthusiasm, gifted with a truly poetic faculty, and passing away in his earliest manhood, innocent and uncorrupted. He beams upon us in the legends as a lovely character. The next, Sundarar, was of a very different type. He seems to have been remarkable for beauty of person, - his very name, which is also one of the names, or epithets of Civan, meaning the 'beautiful'. He was addicted to pleasure, - an accomplished courtieur, and man of the world. There seems indeed nothing whatever of the ascetic about him from first to last. His hymns, 100 in number, are not it seems to me of any peculiar value. Like those of Sambandar and Appamurtti they are decads of verses in honour of the idol worshipped at each shrine visited by the sage, as a sacred bard. We may say, once for all, that the circumstances and traditions connected with the great collection called the Devaram do not impress us with any conviction of the genuineness of the great majority of the songs. About a score of them are striking hymns.
The story of Sundarar begins before his appearance in South India. He was one of the host of Civa in Kailasam, (on the silver hill) - his name being Halala-Sundara (an epithet of Siva; Tiru Vacagam, XII, 9), and was one of the especial favourites of Siva. One day as he was walking in the flower garden belonging to the goddess, he saw two maidens, attendants upon Parvathi, or Uma, who were plucking flowers for her garden. He immediately became enamoured of the lovely damsels, and in a state of great bewilderment presented himself before his master, who at once recognised the fact that evil desires and passions were alive in his servant's soul. He accordingly told him that, because it was so, he must descend to earth and be born a man in the southern land, where he can in due time marry the girls with whom he is in love, they having also been sent down to sojourn on earth. Sundarar adores his master and says, 'our Lord, since I have yielded to evil impulses that must for a time separate me, from Thy sacred feet, when I am on earth deign at times to appear to me, and make me and keep me ever Thy faithful servant and devotee.'
This Sivan promises to do, - and so Sundarar quits for a time the bliss of Paradise, to expiate (very strangely) his sin.
2. His birth and early history.
There is a district in the Southern Tamil country named Tirumunai-padi, and a town in it called Navalur. In this village lived a Caiva devotee whose name was Cadai-yanar, and his wife, a most virtuous and saintly woman, was called Icai-naniyar. He was born as the son of this worthy pair. When but a child he attracted by his beauty the attention of the king of the district, who begged him from his father and brought him up as his own son. This did not however prevent him from observing all Brahmanical usages, and from reading the sacred Vedas. He thus grew up both an accomplished courtier and a learned sage. When the time came for his marriage his parents arranged for his union with an unexceptional bride, and on the appointed day in great state he repaired to the lady's house for the performance of the marriage ceremonies. At that time Civan, ever mindful of his servant, and cognizant of all deeds and of all events, came down from Kailasam to fulfil his promise, and presenting himself in the marriage-hall disguised as a poor Civa mendicant, addressed the brahman ministrant with the words: 'This marriage cannot proceed, for I have a complaint to make, and a claim to urge. The bridegroom is my SLAVE, and was sold to me by his grandsires. The deed of sale with signature is here.' To this Sundarar naturally replied, 'Was it ever known that a brahman was sold as a slave to another brahman? Go, madman.' The disguised god replies: 'Whether I be a madman or a demon matters not. Abuse me to thy heart's content; but the suit is not settled, nor my claim refuted.' It may be observed that, Madman is the phrase continually applied to Civan as the wandering mendicant. This occurs frequently in the Sacred Songs of the ascetics (Cf. note I to Tiru-vacagam and 5). A great dispute hereupon arose, in the course of which the unknown mendicant exhibited a document purporting to be a deed executed by Sundarar's grandfather making over himself with his entire clan to the Brahman as his absolute slaves. This deed Sundarar indignantly pronounces to be an absurd forgery, for 'no Brahman can ever be a slave'; and tears up the document. The claimant now appeals to the village council, and Sundarar is compelled to accompany the disguised god thither to defend the suit. After much talk, the original document is produced, and the signature of the grandfather verified! The bond ran thus 'I, Aruran, a Caivite of the original stock dwelling in Tiru-Navalur, make this agreement with the "Madman", who resides in Vennai-Nallur; myself and my posterity agree to give ourselves up to him, inwardly and outwardly, as his hereditary bondsmen.' Upon the exhibition of this bond the question arises whether the claimant was really a householder in the village, for no one seemed to know either him or his dwelling place. When the question was propounded to him he bade them follow him and conducted them to the celebrated Civa temple in the neighbourhood, entering which he was finally lost to view. The astounded brahmans now perceive that the claimant was their god, and that the document simply asserted what every true Caivaite would gladly acknowledge, that outwardly and inwardly he and all his race belong to Civa, the Supreme Blessedness! It is in every deed, Sundarar's divine master who has come down from Kailacam, has assumed this form, and resorted to this stratagem to assert and make manifest his eternal sovereignty over his servant.
Sundarar now understands it all, and rushes into the temple where stands the image of Civa with Parvathi his bride conjoined. Addressing this he says 'I recognise Thee, and acknowledge Thy claim, O my Master.' The god replies: 'Before, whilst thou went my servant on the silver hill, thou didst permit thy soul to swerve from its fidelity to me, and I sent thee down to earth to rid thee of the stain. I have now interfered to prevent thee from entering into bonds which would entangle thy soul, and make three more and more of the earth earthly.' The ecstatic rapture of Sundarar here finds expression in the poet's flowing verses, which are more copious than interesting, or (to us) edifying. Civan replies, 'in the dispute thou hast used mighty words against me, even calling me 'Madman' and Deceiver': thou shalt hence-forth be called the 'the mighty devotee', and shalt mightily praise and serve me in these Tamil lands. Go forth therefore, and sing my praises in ever loving and lovely song. Song shall be thy worship.' Thus commissioned, the sage goes forth to be one of the four great Saiva psalmists. We humbly confess after long study an utter inability to admire his poetry, the contrast between which and the powerful and pathetic verses of Manikka Vachagar is striking.
3. Sundarar's Pilgrimages.
It would be tedious and unprofitable to trace all the various pilgrimages which henceforward occupied the time of our sage. He visited every Saiva shrine from Cithambaram to Sheally, and it is mentioned that he refrained from entering the latter town because it was the birthplace of the renowned Nana Sambandhar. This certainly is an odd reason for avoiding it, and seems to indicate a fear of being considered a rival of Sambandhar. I infer too that hi date was some little time after the two other saints, Sambandhar and Appa Murtti. Some of his experiences are sufficiently grotesque: for example, he once came to a place called Tiru-Vathigai, where he laid himself down to sleep in the adjoining monastery porch. Soon an old brahman came in and stretched himself by Sundarar's side. Some time afterwards the sage was aroused from slumber by feeling this old brahman's feet pressing his head. He accordingly arose, rearranged his pallette, and again resigned himself to slumber; but again was roused by feeling the feet of his pertinacious old neighbour resting on his head! He now again rose and planted himself at right angles to the restless stranger and resigned himself once more to repose. Still however, whatever position he took up, in a little while his slumbers were surely disturbed by the intrusive feet. On rising at length to expostulate, he heard a voice say 'Sundarar! knowest thou me not?" But the old brahman had disappeared, and the sage knew now that his Master was fulfilling the promise he made to him on his quitting Kailasam.
4. His first marriage.
Meanwhile one of the two damsels with whom he had been enamoured in Civan's paradise, and whose name was Kamalini, was sent down by Sivan to Arur, where she was born as a dancing girl, and received the name of Paravaiyar. She there grew up to be a young maiden of exceeding beauty and accomplishments, and was in the habit of visiting the temple daily with her companions, there to sing the praises of the god. On one of these occasions she was seen by Sundarar, and although they did not recognise one another, the 'ancient flame' was felt by both of them. In order to arrange for their union, it is said that Civan himself came down and negotiated the marriage, such as it was.
This is not a very edifying episode in the Periya Puranam!
At this period Sundarar settled down to a quiet domestic life with Paravaiyar, and obtained great renown in all the neighbourhood as a devotee whose prayers and benediction were of exceeding value. Some of the neighbouring villagers were in the habit of filling Paravaiyar's storehouses with paddy and pulse of every description, and she was evidently a thrifty housewife. But famine came. The chief patron, if we may call him so, of Sundarar was a petty chieftain of Gundai, who on the failure of the crops appealed to Civa especially on behalf of the Saint to whom he could no longer send the accustomed largesse's. In a dream the god promised relief, and next morning the town and adjacent hamlets were filled with piles of grain rising mountain-high. The difficulty now was how to convey them to Arur where Sundarar lived. When information reached him of the vast heaps of grain ready for him in Gundai he went to the temple and sang one of his celebrated decads, the refrain of which is:
'Bid these be lavishly poured forth for us;.-
Civan accordingly sent his hosts at nightfall (reminding one of Robin Goodfellow!) who soon brought grain enough to fill the granaries not of the sage only but of all the people of Arur; and Paravaiyar made the distribution with great eclat.
5. Golden gifts.
A devotee of his is celebrated under the name of Kol-puli-Nayanar. At his earnest request Sundarar visited him and was received with extraordinary pomp, the chieftain bringing out his two daughters, whom he presents to him to be his slaves. The saint receives them with the words 'They shall be my daughters', and in the kindliest manner conversed with them and gave them presents. The incident throws light upon the habits and feelings of the time. From thence Sundarar returned home, and found that Paravaiyar was, as usual, in want of supplies, and the more so as a great feast was at hand. Accordingly he set out to the town of Pugal-ur and going to the temple implored the assistance of the god, and afterwards retiring to the neighbouring monastery (or choultry), gathered together some bricks which had been brought in for repairs, and piled them up as a kind of pillow, spreading over them his upper garment. He thus went to sleep, and when he awoke, behold! the bricks were gold, a wonderful circumstance which he commemorated in a suitable ode. After this he made a circuit through the towns in the neighbourhood of the Kaveri. During this circuit the kings of Urraiyur lost a very precious breastplate inlaid with gems; but in answer to the prayer of the saint it was restored, and put into a vessel of water used for bathing the idol. Thus, when the servant poured water upon the image the precious jewel fell out, and arranged itself around the neck of the idol, plainly indicating the god's agency in its restoration. Sometime after this he again supplicated the god (perhaps at the instigation of Paravaiyar) for another gift of money, and received what the history calls 'a pile of gold,' but its nature and value are not further specified. He then went on to visit the Konkanad, and after a great round came to Cithambaram.' One night when trying to find his way to Vriddachalam he met an aged brahman from whom he asked directions for the way.
The brahman, really Civan himself, showed it, and disappeared. Thus was the master the ever ready guide and companion of his servant. At that time the god spoke to him in a voice which he heard, but saw no form, bidding him cast the gold that he was carrying about with him into the Manimuttam river assuring him that when he required it he should find it in a certain spot in the tank in the temple of Arur.
Accordingly one sage returning home told his spouse that there was money given him by the god, now lying on the western side of the tank in the temple enclosure. She laughed him to scorn, but he replied 'by the grace of our god I will give it to thee' and led her to the place; where having performed all reverential ceremonies he went down into the tank to seek the gold; but the god desirous to try him, and make the circumstance the occasion of the production of the sacred hymn, withdrew the gold from the tank; so the sage was disappointed, yet he sang a song to be found in the Devaram. Instantly the gold was restored, but on examining it, it was found to be of inferior quality. This also was a trial, and after he had devoutly sung another song, he received the gold in all its purity. Paravaiyar's mouth was stopped and her inordinate desire of money satisfied. After this the sage and his wife lived together for sometime in great comfort and peace.
6. At various shrines.
He now set out on a new circuit, in the course of which he came to Cirkari where he venerated the feet of Gnana Sambhandar but whether this means that he there met that sage, or paid veneration to some image of him, is not quite clear. In the course of this journey a remarkable circumstance happened; the sage worn out with fatigue and suffering from hunger and thirst was fainting by the way when his ever watchful master in the shape of a brahman appeared to him under a pavilion in which everything necessary for the sage's refreshment was provided. He and all his retinue probably numbering some hundred were fed, and after that retired to rest; but when they awoke the brahman and the pavilion had both disappeared. This is commemorated in the Devaram. He then went on to Cithambaram and there worshipped Siva 'the head of the assembly.' Afterwards his wanderings led him to a place called Tiru-Kachur, which is a few miles from Chingleput. There again nightfall found him under the outer wall of the town exhausted and famished. Civan, the Supreme, however appears and with his mendicant bowl in his hand says, 'Remain here, and dismiss all anxiety. I will go and ask alms for you and speedily return.' Accordingly the disguised god went to all the brahman houses round and begged for curry and rice, and bringing these back to the famished sage placed them before him. So Sundarar praised the unknown brahman's love, while he and his retinue ate and were refreshed. Forthwith the brahman disappeared. Another hymn commemorates this.
His next journey was to Kanji, where he worshipped the god under the name of Egambarar. * [* Tiru-Vacagam, IX, 15; XIV, 4.]
Here he remained for some time, and then went to Tiru-Kalatti, the mountain where Kannappa-Nayanar's* image stands and there he offered his adoration and sang his adoration and sang his hymn (Devaram.p. 1044). [* For this legend see Tiru-Vacagam, X 13, and XV, 9-12.]
7. His entanglement with Sangiliyar.
After this he returned to Tiru-Ottiur.
We now come to what is the most curious episode in the sage's (?) history. At the outset of the story we find Sundarar in relation to two of the ladies of Kailasam. One of these under the name of Paravaiyar has been born on earth, and has become his wife; the other Aninthithai (= the Irrreproachable) also was now born upon earth, in a family of the yeoman class (Velalar) under the name of Sangiliyar ('She of the chain') On earth she grew up thoroughly devoted to the worship of her mistress Uma. In due time her parents prepared of the tribe; but she steadily refused, saying that she was destined to belong to none but a devotee of Civa. At length after much suffering, she finds herself installed in the temple of Tiru-otiur in a suitable dwelling as nun, or pledged devotee of the goddess, her mistress. In this retirement three times every day she visited the temple to behold the deity; and, behind a veil in an appropriate recess, she employed herself in weaving garlands of flowers to adorn the sacred images. Thus it happened one day that when Sundara-Murthi came to the temple and looked round upon the various worshippers he went into the recess where the garlands were prepared. There, led by the hand of fate he beheld Cangiliyar, fell in love with her, and going forth enquired her name and learnt that she was a devotee in the service of the temple. He straightway offered his petition to his master, who in things good and bad is represented here as being the unscrupulous friend and confidant rather than the lord of his devotee. The god replied to the sage's prayer, 'She whom you ask for is the most ardently devoted ascetic of the temple; but fear not, I will give her to thee.' Accordingly at midnight when she was asleep in her cell the god appeared to her in a dream. This appearance threw her into ecstasies, and falling at his feet she cried 'Lord, what meritorious deeds have I done in former embodiments that for my salvation thou shouldst thus appear? ' To this Civan the supreme replies, 'All in Tiru Venney-nallur know how made a certain bard my servant and my companion. It is he, my friend, that prays that thou mayest be given to him as his wife. Joyously consent thou to his request!' She replies 'Thy servant, O lore' will obey thy command, and become the wife of this thy devoted servant; but he now lives in Arur in great joy and prosperity. Cause him to swear an oath that he will never desert me after our marriage.' Accordingly it was arranged that the sage should swear unalterable fidelity, which considering that Paravaiyar was still alive, seemed a difficult matter; and, in fact both he and his master knew that the oath would not and could not be kept; but, since Sangiliyar would listen to no compromise, it was agreed at the suggestion of the god that the oath should be sworn not in the shrine before the sacred image, in which case it would be binding, but under a tree in the precincts, in which case it would not be binding oath! The god himself having suggested this, she accepted it, and accordingly the pretended oath was sworn. The next day the god appeared to the devotees of the temple in a dream, and commanded them to give Sangiliyar in marriage to his servant Sundarar, which was done accordingly.
Thus a new life begins for the sage, who is now in fact attached to Cithambaram, of which Tiru-votti-ur is a suburb; yet he has not forgotten the lord of Arur; and after that, breaking his oath, leaves Tiru-votti-ur to return to his first loves,both spiritual and earthly. But it is said that his eyes became blinded as a punishment for breaking his oath, and thus blind, but still singing with devotion the praises of the master who had, as it would seem, betrayed him into this sin of perjury, he makes his way towards Arur. On the road he visited several shrines specially, Alamkadu, where he saw the temple of 'the Lady of Karaikal'* [* See her legend in Tiru-vacagam, VII, ver XV]. He then went to Kanji where in answer to his fervent supplications his left eye was restored. After this he went onwards from village to village, but it seems that as a further punishment he was afflicted with what would appear to have been a kind of leprosy covering the whole of his body. This however was removed in answer to his prayers, at the village of Tiru avadu-turrai, where he was directed by the god to bathe in the tank on the north side of the temple. This was the occsion for further hymns of thanks giving. Still he was afflicted by the loss of his right eye, especially because the glory of his master in each shrine could scarce be beheld even by both eyes, and one was obviously insufficient. However, in answer to his prayers, this also was granted him, and in transports of joy, perfectly restored to himself, he re-enters Arur. Meanwhile Paravaiyar, his first wife had heard of his infidelities, and mock-marriage, and was of course exceedingly indignant, so that when our devotee wished to return to his dwelling she refused to permit any messengers of his to enter the dwelling. In vain was the help of various mediators sought. She declared that she would die rather than be reunited to him. In this extremity the sage has recourse to his master, whom he sought again to employ in what certainly seems to us to be a most undignified occupation. It is difficult indeed to fancy 'Civa Peruman' acting in the capacity of Sir Pandarus of Troy! However there seems to have been in this case no limit to the kindly indulgence of the master who treated the devotee, invariably as a spoiled child. He accordingly paid two visits to the lady, one in the guise of a devotee, and again in his own glorious form; and she is at length appeasedm Sundarar being readmitted to his home. So thoroughly has the god perforned his task that when Sundarar arrive she finds his dwelling in festive array, lights gleaming and beautiful flowers shedding light and beauty, and diffusing a heavenly radiance around.
After this, for a long period he and Paravaiyar lived in all the luxury of amplest wealth: the sanctity being apparently in abeyance!
8. Healing of Eyar-Kon.
At this time a distinguished devotee of Sivan, called Eyar-Kon Kali-Kama-Nayanar, hearing that Sundarar had actually dared to employ his Master as a vile pandar; was naturally very angry and gave expression to his wrath in words of contemptuous indignation against both the servant and the Master!
Sivan, the supreme, hearing of this, sent a dreadful colic as a punishment to the presumptuous devotee, and when the sufferer appealed to his compassion said to him "Only by the hand of my servant Sundarar can'st thou be healed." The impetuous devotee indignantly refused the services of one whose conduct he had so loudly condemned, declaring that he would rather be branded with the three-pronged spear of Sivan made red hot, than allow one who had employed the god on such an unworthy errand to approach him.
However, the sage came, and was denied access to the sick man; but forcing his way in, declared that he had come to heal. The patient, in a fury drew his sword and slew himself, rather than be healed by unworthy hands. The sage horrified toot the sword, and was about to kill himself, when Sivan restored the dead man to life, and filled his mind with heavenly light, the result of which was that he sprang up and wrested the weapon from Sundarar's hand. A full explanation and reconciliation took place and from that time Eyar-Kon became the attached friend of the sage, who paid him a long visit and then returned to Arur.
9. His friend Seraman Perumal.
After this a new friend comes into the life of the sage. This person is called Seraman-Perumal-Nayanar, who was the chieftain of Kodunkol. This petty king was a very remarkable devotee, and his history is related at great length. We shall only not the particulars connected with his intimacy with our sage. The first place of importance which they visited together was Vedaraniyam, celebrated in the history of Nana Sambhandhar. This chief seems to have been himself a poet. They then went to Madura, and travelled round the Pandiyan kingdom, while the sage composed and sang lyrics at every sacred shrine. After many days spent in Arur, the two friends took a journey westward, and having to cross the Kaveri, which was swollen by the rains, the sage sang one of his celebrated songs, the consequence of which was that the river divided, and standing on either side like walls of crystal permitted them to pass over dry shod. After they had sung praises to the god, the river quietly returned to its usual channel. After this Sundara-Murtti accompanied his friend to Kodunkol where he was received with royal pomp, and made a splendid progress round the little state, singing his sacred lyrics everywhere. After some time he felt an irresistible impulse to return to Arur, but his friend and patron resisted his departure, and only consented on the understanding that immense piles of gold, jewels, costly garments and perfumes should be sent with the sage, carried by a little army of porters. When they were on the way the hosts of Civan disguised as robbers came and carried off all the treasure: but the sage went to the nearest temple, and sang a lyric which had such an effect that the robbers brought back the whole of their spoil and piled it up at the gate of the temple: so the wealth reached Arur in safety, no doubt to the great satisfaction of Paravaiyar, who was of an avaricious disposition it may be inferred. On a later occasion when Sundarar returned to visit his friend, it is said that in a certain village he heard sounds of rejoicing proceeding from one house and of mourning from the opposite one. On enquiring the reason he was told that in the house mourning a boy of five years of age had gone to bathe in the tank with another boy about his own age; and that one of these boys had been swallowed by an alligator,* [* The alligator is not known to occur in India. What we get here are only crocodiles and gavials. - Ed.] while the other had escaped. The mourning in the one house was for the child carried away in such a terrible manner; while the rejoicing in the other house was for the child that had returned safe, whom they were investing with the sacred thread! The saint was filled with compassion for the mourners, who came crowding to worship at his feet, imploring him to accept their hospitality and feeling that his presence was more than a compensation for their bereavement, and sang one of his sacred lyrics, praying that the child might be restored. Accordingly the dreaded king of death brought back the spirit of the child, reunited it to the body, and caused the alligator to bring, the child thus rescued to the bank. This wonderful resurrection filled the whole countryside with wonder, and rich presents poured in, while the land rang with the praises of the illustrious visitor.
Many days after this the sage, while his host had gone to bathe, went to the temple of Tiruvanjaukalam, and having performed his worship with due devotion, prostrated himself before the image in an ecstasy of mystic fervour, praying in language, that might have been adapted from the song of Simeon, that he might at length be released from the bonds of earthly life and permitted again to worship at the sacred feet on the holy hill. No sooner had he offered this prayer than Siva-Peruman, addressing all the gods, bade them in glad procession proceed to earth, and placing Sundarar on a white elephant conduct him to Paradise. This was accordingly done. All the heavenly hosts surrounded him. He was mounted upon an elephant; and with the sound of all kinds of music, amid the praises of all the gods, and showers of flowers from the sky, he was conducted along the celestial way to Kailasam. Meanwhile the chief his friend returning saw the wondrous procession making its way through the sky, and immediately mounting his royal charger breathed into its ear, the 'mystic five syllables'. Forthwith the charger sprang into the skies overtook the elephant on which the saint was riding, and led the way to the 'silver hill.' All the choice warriors of the kingdom seeing their master taken from their sight fell upon their swords, and leaving their earthly bodies at once received the heavenly shapes of heroes, and so preceding their master waited at the gate of Paradise to welcome him and do him service. So the whole company went on, the saint still chanting his inspired song. At length at the sacred gates the sage was admitted, but his friend and attendants remained outside. Sivan received his faithful devotee and friend with warm welcome. The sage, bowing at his feet, said "The fault which banished me from hence and consigned me to an embodied existence is forgiven, and once more thou dost admit me to share thy joy with thee!" He then represented the case of the Nayanar who was waiting without the gate. The order was given at once for his admission, and our sage under the old title of Halala-Sundarar was made the chief of Sivan's hosts, with his friend as his second in command.
Afterwards, Paravaiyar and Sangiliyar, restored to their old names and positions, were gathered with the servants of Parvathi. So they all entered into the joy of an eternal rest. To the king of the sea it was moreover given in charge that he should carry down to the Southern land the hymn which the sage had sung on the way. Thus ends the legend of the third of the Siva saints, or if we include Manikka-Vasagar, the fourth. It will be seen that they were very diverse in character and history.
By the readers of the four histories of Manikka-Vasagar, Sambandhar, Navukkarasar and Sundara Murtti, who closes the series, it will be seen that these "saints" had many peculiarities and even vices which to the western mind seem most repulsive, and unsaintly. For example Sundarar in his poems uses the most unseemly familiarity in his addresses to his master. Before coming down from Kailas he had earnestly implored the god not to forsake him in his new position; and we have seen that Sivan was continually with his faithful devotee, who calls him 'Madman' 'Deceiver', 'Companion' and even 'Servant'. Something of this is seen in Manikka-Vasagar's verse, but Sundara avails himself of the liberty of a spoiled child in a strange way. We may notice too an inconsistency in the history of this devotee not discernible in the others. Sundara was sent down to earth to rid himself of the dominion of the senses and to make atonement for the indulgence of undisciplined thoughts and desires. The god also appears to break off Sundara's marriage by claiming the young bridegroom as his slave; and the design of this it to present him from becoming a drudge to the world. Yet afterwards, the selfsame Sundarar is actually permitted to employ his master to arrange for his union with Paravaiyar, and afterwards to bring about a reconciliation when she was justly offended.
Moreover Sivan was employed to arrange a second and clandestine marriage with Aninthaiyar (or Sangiliyar); and this was accomplished by a gross decption, Sundarar swearing never to desert her, which he however did soon, with the connivance of Siva! He swore what seemed to her a binding oath, but was not really so, because not sworn in the temple, but merely under the shade of a consecrated tree. We note these things, because the tone here is decidedly lower than that of the two former histories. Manikka-Vacagar laments bitterly his imperfections and falls, but gives the idea of a devout-minded man struggling towards purity and light. Sambandhar presents an exquisite picture of youthful devotion, reminding us of what we are familiar with in connection with the names of Samuel, Daniel and S. John the Apostle. We say this, because the character of their saints must, one would suppose, affect the conduct of the votaries of the system.