KARAIKAL AMMAIYAR


Punithavathiar as Karaikal Ammaiyar was called, was born in a Vaisya family. Her father
was Danadathan. He was a wealthy merchant. He was very virtuous, too. He and his dutiful wife
prayed to the Lord for a child, and the child the Lord blessed them with they called Punithavathy.
From her childhood, Punithavathy had an intense love for Lord Siva and His Bhaktas. She was
married to Paramadattan, a wealthy Vaisya. Both of them were leading an ideal householderÂ’s life.
One day Paramadattan sent two mangoes to his house. Punithavathy kept them safely so that
she could serve her husband with them at meal-time. In the meantime, a Siva Yogi appeared before
her. He was hungry and completely exhausted. Punithavathy worshipped him and offered him
Bhiksha. She had nothing to give him, except the mangoes. She gave one to the guest. At midday
Paramadattan came to the house. The wife served him with one mango. He liked it, and asked for
the other. She was upset. She appealed to the Lord for help. When she finished her prayer,
mysteriously a mango fell on the palm of her hand. She gave it her husband. He tasted it. It was
exceptionally sweet. He asked her to tell him from where she got it, as he was quite sure it was not
the mango he had sent. Punithavathy told him the whole truth. Paramadattan, however, would not
believe this and challenged her to produce another. She prayed again to the Lord. Another mango
appeared on her palm. She gave it to him. But, at once it disappeared from his hand. He was
astounded. He understood the greatness of his wife. He felt that it was a great sin to live with her as
her husband. On the pretext of going to a foreign country for trade, he sailed with a ship load of
goods. On return, he established himself in a big city in the Pandyan kingdom. He married a Vaisya
girl and lived happily. He had a daughter by her and he named her Punithavathy, after his first wife.
PunithavathiyarÂ’s relatives came to know of her husbandÂ’s whereabouts and took her also
there in a palanquin. When Paramadattan heard that Punithavathy was coming to him, he, with his
second wife and child, went forward, and fell at PunithavathyÂ’s feet. When the people demanded an
explanation, he revealed that he regarded her, not as his wife, but as a Goddess. Punithavathy
understood his mental condition, and prayed to the Lord: ‘In that case, Oh Lord, deprive me of the
present physical charm and let me have a demonaical form.Â’ Her prayer was immediately granted
and her charming body was transformed into a skeleton.
Then she went on a pilgrimage to the holy Kailasa. Feeling that it would be a great sin to
place her foot on those sacred grounds, she made the last part of the journey on her head. Mother
Parvathy was surprised to see PunithavathyÂ’s strange form and her wonderful devotion. Lord Siva
told her of AmmaiyarÂ’s greatness. When she went near Him, Lord Siva welcomed her with extreme
love and granted a boon to her. She fell at His Feet, and prayed: ‘Oh Lord of Mercy, give me sincere,
pure, unalloyed, eternal and overflowing devotion unto You. I want no more birth. If, however, I
have to take birth here, grant me that I should never forget You. Whenever You dance, I must be at
Your feet singing Your praise. This is my only wish.Â’ Lord Siva granted the boon and asked her to
proceed to Tiruvalangadu to witness His dance. She went to that place and spent her life singing the
praise of Lord Siva.