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Athipattha Nāyanār

Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.
On the eastern seashore, in the famed city of Nagapattinam, lived a fisherman named Athipattha. One day watching a priest offering consecrated rice to the fish in the Kamalalaya Sripuram tank, Athipattha leapt forward and caught hold of one of them. The Brahmin shouted at him and Athipattha instantly released it. The priest commended the fisherman: “Since you obeyed my word, you shall receive Tyagesvara’s grace” and so saying, gave Athipattha vibhuti. Athipattha returned home to find himself changed: from that day forward, he resolved that each day he would return to the sea the first or best fish in his net as an offering to the Lord.

Over time he proved unyielding in this determination. Even on days when he caught little, he offered the first fish to the Lord by safely returning it to the sea. On some days Athipattha caught only one fish the entire day but he always kept his oath. Finally the Lord tested him with a very long period of catching only one fish per day, which he thus surrendered but soon his family was on the verge of starvation. The Lord then devised the supreme test. He arranged an unusual catch, so large that Athipattha and his fellow fishermen had difficulty bringing it ashore. But when the nets were unfurled, it was discovered that the largest was a fish of a bright glittering golden hue. Fellow fishermen protested bitterly when Athipattha set about to release the golden fish. Finally it was agreed that he could do so if the remainder of the windfall catch were given to them. Athipattha agreed and joyfully saluted the Lord as he safely returned the golden fish to the water. But as the fish disappeared into the depths, to the wonderment of all, the Lord appeared before them and turning to Athipattha, granted him the unending wealth of liberation.

Reproduced from the October 2012 issue of the Saranagati eNewsletter
published by Sri Ramanasramam. The above text has been freely adapted from editions
of Periapuranam, Siva Bhakta Vilāsam (published by Sri Ramanasramam) and other texts.

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