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Somāsi-māra Nāyanār

Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.
Somāsi worshipped the Lord with great fervour during his daily yagnas. But for a long years he yearned to have darshan of the Lord and to offer him havis at his yagna. Knowing that Sri Sundara was a great devotee of the Lord and had been granted the grace of the Lord’s presence on numerous occasions, Somāsi sought to win his favour, hoping that Sundaramurti might petition the Lord on his behalf. Knowing that Sundara loved preparations from the alarka plant, the somyaji searched high and low till he found it. Each day he went and collected it and secretly left it with the saint’s cook, who willingly prepared delicious dishes from it each day for his master. One day, however, there was a terrible downpour and the river flooded, preventing Somāsi from crossing to reach the meadow where the herb grew. He waited in the pouring rain for three days before he was able to cross. Meanwhile Sundara missed his favourite dish and inquired about it. The cook reluctantly confessed everything, telling about the secret admirer who had been supplying the herb. When Somāsi next came to deliver the plant, Sundara questioned him and then learned of his longing to have darshan of the Lord. Moved to compassion, Sundara promised to arrange it.

Sundara went to the temple and prayed in his usual way but when he told the Lord of his promise to the somyaji, the Lord became angry and said: “How could you make such a promise without asking me? Even lesser gods will not just casually accept havis at a yagna!” But Sundara continued to plead with great solicitude until finally the Lord’s anger dissipated and he agreed to appear to Somāsi at his next homa. But he would do so on one condition: Somāsi would have to recognise Him. This would be difficult as the Lord would appear to him in an unexpected way.

When the day of the yagna arrived and the priests undertook their sacred prayers and rites, a chandala arrived carrying a dead calf on his shoulders, dripping with blood, and beside him, his wife with foul drink in a clay pot on her head. Both were wretched in appearance and smelled of alcohol. All the priests were aghast and rushed to the river to wash themselves. But Sundara stood by and alerted Somāsi who promptly saw through the Lord’s lila. Somāsi immediately did prostrastions before the One disguised as a chandala and made offerings to Him and Mother Parvati. The Lord in turn revealed Himself in his true glory and blessed Somāsi, granting the somyajji and his wife supreme realisation.

Reproduced from the June 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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