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The History of Chandesha Nayanar

Among the twenty-five forms (murtis) of Lord Shiva that are most praised in canonical texts is the Chandeshanugraha Murti. It is the form of the Lord blessing Chandesha Nayanar for his great deed. In fact, Chandesha Nayanar is a part of the pantheon of deities worshipped in all Shiva temples and festivals even today (others being Vinayaka, Subramanya, Somaskanda and Shakti). In all temples Chandesha Nayanar’s vigraha is placed where the water after anointing the Lord flows out. After worship, it is customary to take permission from him for taking out any prasad (remnants from the offerings to God) before leaving the temple. He is praised in many places in all the twelve Tirumurais. The great deed he performed at a young age is the bar for moral standards for anyone who learns about it. To write about that excellent example of devotion, is an effort similar to an unlettered trying to explain sophisticated literature! 


Chandesha Nayanar - The History of Chandesha Nayanar
The love for Pashupati flowing eternally in his heart, was poured as milk to Shivalingam by Chandishar!

In the land of the Chozhas, on the banks of river Manni, was the town of called Tiru-Seignaloor, which was created of yore by Lord Muruga who pierced the Krauncha mountain with his Vel (lance). The town was densely populated with Brahmins well versed in the Vedas. The Vedas resounded from the Vedic schools where young boys sat around their masters like the stars surrounding the moon and chanted the holy Vedas as per the prescribed methods. The town was blessed with abundant cows that gave the five special substances (panchagavya) used in worship and rituals. Like music is the reward of good rhythm, sweet flavour is the benefit of good milk, vision is a result of good eye-sight, holy five syllables is the recompense of contemplation, the rain the gift of the sky, and Shaivam the fruit of the Vedas, so too that town Seignaloor was a gift of the bountiful earth. It was one of the five towns where the Chozha kings crowned themselves.

Among the brahmins in that town came a person called Yagna Datta in the Kashyapa Gotra (lineage). Like the snake that holds both a gem and poison, his deeds were both good and bad. His wife hailed from a good family, was chaste at heart and truly blessed for begetting a son of eternal fame. For the truth of Shaivam to propagate, a child by the name of Vichara Sarma was born to her. By the tender age of five, he was well-versed in the Sivagamas, Vedas and the Vedangas with the grace of the Lord and the efforts from his previous life. When he was seven his father performed the Upanayana ceremony (initiation into the Vedic learning) for him. To the wonder of everyone around, at that young age, he already knew all that he needed to know, but in keeping with tradition, he went to the Vedic school. At that young age, the widely erudite prodigy realised the truth that, “The Dancing Lord is the Master of all and the ultimate goal being His lotus feet”. This realisation multiplied his love for the Lord many times and his devotion reached great heights.


One day he saw a cowherd hitting a cow with a heavy rod. His heart, which always beat with compassion, couldn't bear this. Cows are considered superior creatures. All the holy waters reside in them. They give the five holy substances for anointing the Lord. They provide the raw materials used for the preparation of the sacred ash. They belong to the same family as the holy Bull who carries the Lord. Thinking of the greatness of cows thus, he told the cowherd that from then on, he would take over the care of those cows. He took the cows every morning to the places where they got enough grass to graze. After they had their fill and quenched their thirst, he would make them sit in a cool shady place. He protected them from the attack of other animals. The milk obtained from the cows was duly handed over to the appropriate owner without fail. Under his supervision the cows lived in peace, procreated well and gave milk in huge quantities. This made the people happy with him.


Excited by his care, the cows came to him instead of their calves, and started pouring forth milk without the need for milking them. This was an indication to the Nayanar that this was milk meant for anointing the Lord. With the desire to worship the Almighty that gives perennial bliss, the child made a Shivalinga and constructed a temple out of the sand, all in play. He brought leaves and flowers from the shrubs surrounding as offerings for the matted hair of the Lord. When he went to the cows, they gave milk in abundance. Surrendering his heart at the Lord’s feet, decorating His golden hair with flowers, he started anointing the milk-like sweet God with milk, compensating with  his love for the other substances that were not available to him for worship. The cows gave the same amount of milk to their owners as before in spite of giving a good amount for the worship performed by the small but adorable devotee. This devotion and worship grew as the days progressed.

One day a passerby saw this form made of sand, which the Nayanar was anointing with milk. He had no idea of the glory of this worship. He went and told the people of the town that this young brahmin boy is wasting the milk by pouring it on to sand! The town council enquired about this to Yagna Datta. Nobody realised the presence of the Lord in the sand form or the devotion of the young prodigy or the respect they ought to accord to worship or even the fact that they were getting more milk after the young boy took over the job of tending to their cows. Yagna Datta told the council that he would take proper action to prevent any such things from happening in the future. He came back home after the evening worship but didn't tell anything to his son, since he wanted to find out for himself what happened. After our Nayanar started from home with the cows, he followed him quietly and hid behind a tree.

With true bhakti, the Nayanar made the Shivalinga and the temple out of sand as he did every day, decorated with the flowers and leaves, Him, whose ornaments are bones and skulls and started offering the milk that cows gave out of affection. Unable to realise the dedication of his young son and appreciate it, Yagna Datta saw the act through the lens the society had created. He became very angry and beat the Nayanar many times. But that act of the Nayanar was not just a child’s play. It was austerity steeped in love. He knew nothing but Shiva and the fact that He enjoyed the milk offering. His father’s beating never hurt him. He was in a state of complete bliss that was beyond the physical existence. Irked by this Yagna Datta kicked the milk pot that he was using to pour the milk on Lord's head. Vichara Sarma knew that it was his father who committed that crime. But by then the Nayanar had already realised that the only relation for the real "I" (pashu) was God, who holds the Ganga in His head. So, it did not matter who it was that dared to commit that sinful deed against the Lord or what the relationship was, a misdeed was a misdeed. That great young boy whom the world salutes took a stick that lay nearby. It turned into an axe. He flung it at Yagna Datta, which cut his legs that committed the sinful deed and disturbed the worship. Yagna Datta fell down on the sand. The determined devotee continued the worship.

The Lord, delighted by the impartial behaviour of his devotee, appeared on the holy Bull accompanied by His consort amidst the praise of the sages and the chanting of Vedas. The child prostrated the King of love. Mahadeva lifted the child and hugged him, "You punished even your father for My service. From this moment I am your father". The importance he gave to the service of the Lord made the God who transcends everything, be his father. Even at that tender age, he taught the entire world the lesson of service. The child who was touched by the Lord of luminous form appeared with the luminance of thousands of Suns. The Lord of universe made him the head of His devotees and said, "All the Nirmalya - the food, the ornaments, dress, flower and garlands that are offered to me, are from now on for you. You will henceforth be known as Chandesha ". The Lord then crowned Chandesha’s shining hair with the konrai garland from His matted hair that is adorned with the crescent moon. Chandesha Nayanar attained a type of liberation called Sarupyam where the liberated soul gets the appearance of the Lord with three eyes, crescent moon crown, axe and deer and the bull as a vehicle. Amidst the rain of flowers from the heavens along with praises sung by the good hearted and the path of Shaivam illuminated, he accompanied the Lord. His father who was reformed also attained Shivaloka along with his family. Let his fame be extolled, he who became the son of the Lord for his great deed. Let the impartial nature of Chandesha Nayanar’s service and his supreme love for the crescent moon crowned Shiva stay in the mind forever.

Guru Pooja: Thai / Uthiram or Makara / Uttara Phalguni

Har Har Mahadev


See also:

Mention of Chandeeshar in various Thevaram Thirumurais

Chandesha anugrahamurti

Saha Umaskandamurti


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