Born to a working-class family of Vellalas, Viranminda hailed from the fertile Parasuramakshetra at Sonacalam, Kerala. Uncompromising in his service to Sivabhaktas, Viranminda saw the Lord’s devotees as equal to the Lord Himself and would stop at nothing to protect them, even resorting to his battle-axe when necessary. Once while standing before an assembly of devotees at prayer, he announced, “My life’s purpose will come to fruition if you permit me to be your slave and guard.” Thus, with their approval, he spent the next twelve years in diligent, one-pointed service. Later, when visiting Tiruvaroor, Viranminda chanced to encounter Sundara who, in his fine regalia, looked to Viranminda more a dandy than a devotee, appearing very standoffish, even arrogant, in the company of Sivabhaktas. Indignant, Viranminda lifted his weapon, but Sundara hastened to the inner sanctum, bolted its hefty doors and took refuge in the Lord. Threatening the saint from without, Viranminda heard the Lord’s voice, “Sundara is under my protection. Your anger is baseless.” But Viranminda only became more obstinate and demanded the Lord hand over the offender. When Sundara escaped through another door, Viranminda departed Tiruvaroor, swearing never to return. He continued his service to pilgrims and devotees, washing their feet and minstering to their needs each day. Meanwhile Mahadeva bade Sundara set things right. Sundara thus traveled to Viranminda and stood outside his house singing songs of devotion. Just when Viranminda heard Sundara sing the line, Wearing on my head the dust from the feet of the Lord’s devotees, I shall cross over the sea of dark ignorance, Sivabhaktas approached Viranminda and pleaded moderation, testifying to Sundara’s piety and his dedication to devotees. Finally convinced, Viranminda sought pardon of the saint and swore eternal friendship. Mahesvara appeared in all His glory and spoke to him, “Your steadfastness of devotion is remarkable”. When the Lord embraced him, His divine touch burned away the remaining excesses in Viranminda’s feisty personality and he was granted lasting liberation.
Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.
Reproduced from the May 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.