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Eripattha Nāyanār

Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.
Eripatthar was a combative saint. Mighty in battle and invincible with his axe, he could not endure any slight to the Lord or his devotees. If ever the sanctity of Lord’s temple or his devotees was disrespected in any way, Eripatthar would leap like a lion from its lair and cut off the unseemly obstacle with his axe.

Once on the morning of the Navami festival, a Brahmin sage named Sivakaami Aandaar made his way to the temple carrying a basket of flowers to offer the Lord. Just as he reached the temple, the royal elephant, Pattavardhana, prized by the king for his numerous triumphs in battle, majestically bestrode the town streets, full of pride, and, passing Sivakaami Aandaar, snatched the flower basket from his hands and strew its contents along the street and gutters. The sage outraged at the indignity done to the Lord and chastised the unruly beast with his staff, crying out to the Lord: “Oh, Bestower of blessings! Support of the weak! Is it seemly for this proud beast to trample underfoot the offerings that should adorn the tresses holding the Ganga and the crescent? What other refuge have I but Thee? Please intervene!”

Just then, Eripatthar, hearing the disturbance from a distance, rushed to the scene and quickly sized up the sequence of events. He pursued the raging elephant, challenging him with taunts. When the fighting beast turned and made ready to rush upon him, Eripatthar drew his trusty axe and unflinchingly stood at the ready. Just when the tusker was about to charge over him, the saint swung his axe and struck its front legs, causing them to buckle. With a great crash, the beast tumbled to the ground. A second strike relieved the angry pachyderm of its strong trunk, leaving him bleeding in the lane. Royal mahouts and trainers drew their swords to defend the king’s cherished property but soon they too lay bleeding on the ground. Word was sent to the palace and the king dispatched his army. But when the king arrived and saw that it was Eripatthar who was the cause of the disturbance, his anger subsided, for the king, himself devoted to the Lord, knew of Eripatthar’s devotion and humbly understood that the fault had been his own. By letting his excessively prideful fighting elephant roam the streets of the city, he had inadvertently disrespected the Lord and the Lord’s devotees. Immediately the king prostrated before Eripatthar and bore the blame, saying that such an injustice could only be expiated by offering his own life. He stretched out his neck before Eripatthar’s great ax. When Eripatthar refused to carry out the sentence, the king snatched the axe from his hands and attempted to take his own life. But Eripatthar intervened. Having secured the axe and seeing what great devotion lay in the heart of this beneficent ruler, he said, “No, great King, rather it is I who should give up his life, having caused such bloodshed here”. Eripatthar then put the axe’s sharp blade to his throat. Just then a celestial voice boomed and the three-eyed Lord emerged. The two devotees fell at His feet and the latter spoke, “Oh pure ones, may neither of you need feel guilty. All the injured will now be restored. No harm done. Eripatthar, henceforth lay down your arms, once for all, and serve devotees henceforth in a peaceful manner without causing ay harm. King, from now on, let your brave elephant remain within the palace compound. As ordained, the elephant and attendants returned to life and stood up as though having awoken from a deep sleep. Eripatthar helped the King mount his elephant who was now placid as a lamb. Sivakaami Aandaar’s basket was miraculously refilled as torrents of flowers rained down from heaven. Seeing that this was all Mahadeva’s play, the sage took his basket and made offerings right there where the Lord had appeared while the townspeople’s cries, ‘Hara Hara’, resounded from the rooftops.

Reproduced from the March 2014 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.

updated: Thu 22 Jun 2017 18:59:37 -0400