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It is believed that the Grace of the Almighty can make the mute eloquent and the lame climb mountains. It can turn grains into gold and new moon into full moon within minutes. It can also save one’s life from the jaws of death!
Temple Town Thirukkadaiyur
That’s what happened to Subramaniya Iyer, a staunch devotee of Goddess Abirami, who lived in the 18th century Chola land called Thirukkadaiyur in Mayiladuthurai, Southern India, on the banks of river Kaveri. The presiding deity of this beautiful Amritha Ghateshwarar Temple town, is Shiva and His consort Parvati, as Abirami.
Thirukkadaiyur is a birthplace of 2 Nayanmars (poet- saints devoted to Lord Shiva)- Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar & Kari Nayanar; it is also a place of historic importance as stone inscriptions belonging to Medieval Cholas who constructed the temple in the 9th century, have been discovered here. Later expansions of the temple have been attributed to Thanjavur Nayaks in the 16th and 17th centuries
A complete 180-degree flip of the moon
Subramaniya Iyer was mocked as a mad man. Reason – his transcendental devotion to Mother Goddess Abirami. He was often in such reverie of the Goddess that he would go to women devotees in the temple, call them out as “Abirami! Abirami”, and worship them with flowers which would make them all run away from him!
One day the Maratha King Sharaboji I Bhonsle was on a processional visit to the temple. (Sharaboji I Bhonsle (1675–1728) was the son of the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur Ekoji I and the Raja of Thanjavur from 1712 to 1728. He was a great patron of art & literature)
Subramaniya Iyer in a deep trance in meditation, was unmindful of the King’s presence and remained in his meditative state. While some complained and spoke ill of Sunbramaniya, the Archaka pleaded with the King to pardon Subramaniya who, he said was learned and also an astrologer.
Subramaniya Iyer praised loudly the resplendent face of the Goddess as “thousand times more beautiful than the full moon today!”
Irritated by the irreverence of Subramaniya Iyer, the King asked whether it was a new moon or full moon that day?
In a heady frenzy of devotion Subramaniya Iyer proclaimed the day as full moon day instead of a new moon one, and that the words were not his but the Mother’s! Outraged by the lack of respect and attention from Subramaniya, the King pronounced a death sentence on him, if the moon did not appear that night. Subramaniya was tied by 100 cords, made to stand on a platform/swing, beneath which a huge pyre was burning. And thus, he started composing hymns in praise of the Goddess. With the completion of each stanza, one cord got cut. When the 79th stanza was sung, the Goddess appeared in all her glory, hurled one of her dazzling earrings that illuminated the benighted sky like the full moon! The spectacle mesmerized the people, and Subramaniya was filled with ecstasy. He continued to compose 21 more verses. 2 more were added; an invocatory prayer to Lord Ganesha (called as காப்பு – Kāppu-protection), and the phala stuti or (பயன்– Payan) – the benefits of chanting the verses.
The King humbled and awed by his true devotion, honored him with the title of “Abirami Pattar” meaning – the worshiper/pujari/pontiff of Goddess Abirami.
Abirami Anthaadi – The etymology
The verses composed by Abirami Pattar are called Abirami Antaadi.
அந்தாதி – Anthaadi, is a poetic form in which the last word of a previous verse becomes the first word of the next verse. Thus this kind of poem gots its name, Antam (அந்தம்,the end) + ādhi (ஆதி, the beginning) = Anthaadi
The Tamizh canon is a body of high culture literature; works that have achieved the status of classics. Although there are many forms of intricate poetry, Abirami Anthaadi is a treasured one.
The Special 16 benediction prayer of Abirami Pattar
The following blessings asked by Abirami Pattar for one’s well-being and happiness are considered very special:-
01. கலையாத கல்வியும் – kalaiyaadha kalviyum
Single minded learning
02. குறையாத வயதும் – kuraiyaadha vayadhum
03. ஓர் கபடு வாராத நட்பும் – oru kabadu varaadha natpum
Friendship without malice
04. கன்றாத வளமையும் – kandraadha valaimayum
05. குன்றாத இளமையும் – kundraadhu ilaimayum
06. கழுபிணி இலாத உடலும் – kuuzhupinni illaada udalum
07. சலியாத மனமும் – shaliyaada manamum
08. அன்பு அகலாத மனைவியும் – anbu agalaada manaiviyum
Increasing love of a wife
09. தவறாத சந்தானமும் – thavaraadha santhanamum
10. தாழாத கீர்த்தியும் – thazhaadha keertiyum
11. மாறாத வார்த்தையும் – maraada vaarthaiyum
12. தடைகள் வாராத கொடையும் – thadaigal varaada kodaiyum
13. தொலையாத நிதியமும் – tholaiyaada nidhiyamum
14. கோணாத கோலும் – Konnaada kollum
15. ஒரு துன்பம் இல்லாத வாழ்வும் – oru thunbam illaada vazhvum
Life without misery
16. துய்ய நின் பாதத்தில் அன்பும் – thooya nin paadathil anbumm
Steadfast devotion to your Feet
Even till today, in the Tamizh month of ‘Thai Amavasai’ that falls in January – February, the temple town of Thirukkadaiyur comes alive in great festivity and celebration to commemorate the celestial event and the devotion to goddess mother Abirami. The nama Abirami means – “one whose beauty cannot be measured”.
Abirami Pattar had a devotion that could not be measured.
Abirami Anthaadi is hence immortal in the famous Southern land of Thirukkadaiyur and is regarded as a major poetic work of the Tamizh Literature.