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March 14, 2017: The Hindu

Nakkeerar’s powerful poem

Poet Nakkeerar’s poem — Thirumurugatrupadai — was so spiritually powerful, that it helped save lives, said M.A. Manickavelu, in a discourse. A demon once captured Nakkeerar and imprisoned him in a cave. There were already 999 people in the cave. The demon’s plan was that when the number of prisoners touched 1000, it would kill all of them and eat them up. So Nakkeerar’s entry into the cave was viewed with alarm by the already imprisoned people, for with his coming, the number of prisoners touched one thousand.

But Nakkeerar remained unperturbed. He knew that his faith in Lord Shanmukha would see him through any crisis. So he composed Thirumurugatrupadai in praise of Lord Shanmukha, and the cave broke into many pieces. Lord Shanmukha killed the demon and all the demon’s prisoners were saved. Such is the power of the Lord’s name.

The Tamil prefix ‘Thiru’ indicates auspiciousness. Muruga, the name by which Lord Shanmukha is popular in Tamil Nadu, means beauty and youthfulness. Atrupadai is a type of poetry, where the poet guides one to a generous patron. In Thirumurugatrupadai, Nakkeerar guides devotees to the six holy abodes of Lord Shanmukha in Tamil Nadu, which are known as arupadaiveedu. Thirumurugatrupadai begins with a description of Lord Shanmukha of the sacred shrine of Tiruparankundram. There are descriptions of the Lord’s handsomeness.

It then goes on to say that when the demon Soorapadman assumed the form of a human being with the face of a horse, Lord Shanmukha took six different forms to kill him. The demon had hidden in a mango tree, which the Lord split with His spear, and killed the demon. The poet Nakkeerar in his Thirumurugatrupadai says that moksha is to be sought at the feet of the Lord, and that devotees should work for the welfare of others, selflessly.

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