MURTHI NAYANAR


To adore Lord Siva with sandalwood paste, smearing it all over the Lingam is regarded as a
great form of His worship. This kind of worship was done by Murthi Nayanar. He was born in
Madura in Pandya kingdom. He was a Vaisya by caste. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva. Daily
he used to offer sandalwood paste to the Lord.
At that time, the city was invaded by a Karnataka king. In the battle the Pandya king was
defeated. The Karnataka ruler became the Pandya king. He was a follower of Jainism. He wanted to
exterminate Saivism and to spread his religion. He began to persecute Saivas. ‘Murthi Nayanar also
had to bear a lot of sufferings. But, he was undaunted. He continued his worship of the Lord, with
sandalwood.
The king, with a view to convert Murthi Nayanar forcibly to Jainism,made it impossible for
anyone in Madura to obtain sandalwood. This greatly upset the Nayanar. He prayed to the Lord:
‘Oh Ocean of Mercy, this country is ruled by a tyrant and he is bent upon exterminating Your
devotees. When will we be fortunate enough to get a king who will be devoted to You?’ He knew
that the people would follow the king, out of fear and in an effort to win his favour. He, therefore,
wanted a Saivite king!
He searched throughout the day for a little sandalwood to offer his worship. He could not get
any. With a broken heart, he went to the temple: and he had a wonderful idea. He began to rub his
own elbow (in the place of sandalwood!). The hand was bleeding profusely. Lord Siva was highly
pleased with his devotion. A heavenly voice said: ‘Oh noble soul, I am immensely pleased with
your devotion. Kindly stop rubbing your elbow. All your grievances will be redressed. Kindly take
up the reins of the kingdom. After ruling the country justly and wisely for a long time, you will
come toMy Abode.’ Nayanar was amazed to hear this and to see that his elbow regained its original
shape.
Murthi Nayanar did not aspire for kingship, but it was the Lord’s will. That night the cruel
king died. The next day, the Ministers sent the palace elephant to choose their king, in accordance
with an ancient custom. The elephant proceeded towards the temple. Murthi Nayanar had come
there for his worship. The elephant bowed to him and placed him on his back and returned to the
palace.
The Ministers begged of Nayanar to become their king. Nayanar stipulated this condition:
‘If I become king, I will not have any luxury bath, but will bathe only with the sacred ashes. My
jewel will be only Rudraksham and my crown will only be matted locks. I shall strive to let the love
of Lord Siva be enthroned in the hearts of all.’ The Ministers accepted these conditions with great
joy and satisfaction.
Nayanar ruled the country justly and wisely for a long time, and eventually attained Siva’s
Abode.