The chief of the Kurumbas devoted himself to the service of the Lord’s devotees. Though filled with blessings, he longed for a guru and chanted the Panchakshari each day, praying that the Lord would lead him to a guru. One night Mahesvara came in a dream, “Your guru is coming tonight. His name is Sundarar.” Kurumba leapt up, performed his ‘morning’ ablutions and rushed to the Tyagesvara temple. Around midnight a brahmana arrived and Kurumba, convinced that this must be Sundarar, fell at his feet. Sundarar did not answer the devotee’s many pleas but proceeded to the house of his consort, the dark-eyed Paravai. While Sundarar was within, Kurumba called from outside and declared his fidelity to the Master. When the lady opened the window and saw him, she laughed and mocked at Sundarar for having a shudra disciple. Sundarar told her, “You should know that my disciple and I will have no rebirth. But those who mock us shall suffer.” He then departed her house and initiated Kurumba into the secrets of the Panchakshari, explaining its transcendent meaning. With his mind always contemplating Sundarar’s name, Kurumba repeated the Panchakshari twelve thousand times each day. Becoming cleansed of all impurities, he attained jivanmukti. But when through his divine sight he discovered Sundarar’s departure for Kailasa at the Lord’s behest, he was beside himself with grief and resolved to ‘overtake’ him in order not to be separated from him. Through yogic powers, he merged his being in the Lord, well ahead of his Guru. A remarkable feat for a simple tribal chieftain!
Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.