Saint Appar escapes death sentence-He floats ashore singing the Namachivaya Padhigam

My post on the magnificence of the Thirupathiripuliyur temple will not be complete without the narration of the visit to this sacred miraculous spot where something astonishing happened several years ago.

Mahendra Varma Pallava, under the influence of his Jain citizens, was greatly angered that Saint Appa/Thirunaavukarasar converted from Jainism to Shaivism. History tells that in the time of the Pallavas as well as the Imperial Cholas the Jains as well as Buddhists held a lot of importance and there was an apparent rivalry within all these religions. Following the orders of the King, Saint Appar was tied to a stone and flung into the sea.

Much to the people’s amazement the saint was found floating ashore sitting on the stone he was tied to in this place in Thirupathiripuliyur, which is a few minutes’ drive from the Padaleeswarar temple. The stone  (which cannot float except with divine intervention) floated like a boat from the main sea, into the Getila River and reached this spot. This incident was life changing for the Pallava King Mahendra Varman, who converted to Saivism from Jainism, deeply touched by the ardent devotion of Appar to Lord Shiva.  Saint Appar travelled far and wide  to various Shiva temples and has also written several compositions compiled in the 4,5 and 6th volumes of the Saiva Thirumurai. He lived upto 80 years and has totally written 4900 devotional hymns on Lord Shiva of which only 313 are found.

The locals directed us to this place as we weren’t sure that Google Maps would direct us correctly.  Stone panels with exquisite carvings greeted us. Apparently a new temple was being constructed in that holy place. We walked in and found a lone guide/caretaker and a statue of Appar in a little temple. The caretaker narrated that the place was indeed where Saint Appar was washed ashore and a group of like minded people from Erode were constructing this temple and in 6 months it should be completed. Since the river had changed its course, what we saw now was just a pond. The stone panels, I believe were made by sculptors in Mammalapuram. It retold the incidents in stone art about the life of Saint Appar, especially the tortures he was subject to by the Pallava king, Mahendra Varman 1.

I imagined how this area must have been in 600 CE. Maybe with lots of trees and vegetation as it was practically a river bed, horses and carts must have been used for transportation. Since Medieval Cuddalore was a well-known port probably merchants from far off lands used to visit this place to do trade. Since the Pallavas were known to encourage art and literature people would have been well read and rasikas of beauty and the divine. The pallavas barring a few encouraged Sanskrit. It was during his time that lots of Sanskrit words came into usage into the Tamil language. The Pallava King’s conversion to Hinduism, heralded the renaissance of Tamil Literature with compositions by the Nayanmars and Alwars growing in importance.

Sharing a few pictures taken. Once this new temple is built, I am sure it will induce a lot of interest in the life of this Saivite Saint, Appar/Thirunavukarasar. Such stories of grit, devotion, divine miracles should reach the generations next. History is never a bunch of facts for me, but truly fascinating. Experience is the greatest teacher and History too always teaches. There is always something to take back home, after every temple trip.

Related blog posts, click to read:

The Padaleeswarar temple, Thirupathiripuliyur 

How Appar witnessed Mount Kailash at Thiruvaiyaaru



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