"After our youngest son had seen Star Wars for the twelfth or thirteenth time, I said, "Why do you go so often?" He said, "For the same reason you have been reading the Old Testament all of your life." He was in a new world of myth." Bill Moyers, interview with Joseph Campbell











PRABUDDHA BHARATAPrabuddha Bharata | July 2004  





               Glimpses of Holy Lives




               May the Guest Be Your God!




     It was raining heavily throughout the day in Ilayankudi. That remote village in Tamil Nadu had not seen such a heavy downpour for a long time. Maran was confined to his house. He had had just a glass of water that morning; nothing more throughout the day - not because he was on some fast, but there was nothing to eat. It was late in the evening now. Across the room lay his wife. Theirs was a life devoted to the service of Lord Shiva and his devotees. Before entertaining a sannyasin for the day, neither of them ate anything. But there was no visitor that day yet. When they themselves had nothing to eat, the heavy downpour proved a blessing in disguise: no one could possibly visit their house now.


     Maran was a devoted farmer. There was a time when he reaped rich harvest from his field. Both he and his wife loved to entertain guests. Satisfied by a sumptuous meal and their loving hospitality, the guests left the house with a cheerful face and kind words for them. Sannyasins would assemble in front of his house awaiting his arrival from the field. When Maran was back home, his wife would be ready with food for more people than necessary. He would wash his face, hands and feet, apply sacred ash on his forehead and prostrate before the sannyasins along with his wife. They would then feed them with great devotion. The sannyasins would leave after expressing their gratitude and blessings in the name of Shiva. Maran and his wife would eat then, considering the food as prasad.


     All that was past. Maran was in poverty now thanks to repeated crop failure. More than his hunger that day, it was his inability to feed a sannyasin that disturbed Maran more. Amid flashes of lightning and thunder, Maran heard a knock on the door. He and his wife went to the door with an earthen lamp in hand. Shivoham - there stood before them a sannyasin. They welcomed him. I am hungry, said the visitor. I was told that a devoted farmer lives here, so I came here straight. You did well, holy one, said Maran. He gave the drenched visitor a new ochre cloth and made him comfortable. Be seated, holy one; food will be ready in a moment.


     Maran looked at his wife, who said there was nothing to cook. She had borrowed from others many a time. Now she did not know what to do. Maran suddenly thought of something and rushed to his field, covering his head with a basket. In that dark night he waded through knee-deep slush, retrieved with difficulty a fraction of the paddy he had sown that morning and rushed back to his house. His wife wondered what they would do for firewood. Maran removed the wooden beam that supported a major part of his house and hacked it to pieces. He then got some greens from the backyard. His wife cooked the rice grains and made some dishes from the greens. The rain intensified in the meanwhile. As his wife spread a leaf for the guest, Maran invited the sannyasin for food. There was a flash of lightning - not from outside but inside the house. The sannyasin vanished and there stood Shiva, His luminous form lighting up the room. He said, You didnt care for your own hunger, My dear, but retrieved the sown grains from the field for a sannyasinss sake. Come here, My child, with your wife. You will be with Me for eternity. All the gods will be at your service. Both Maran and his wife merged in the luminous form of their Lord.


     Ilayankudi Mara Nayanar is adored as one of the sixty-three Shaiva saints of Tamil Nadu.

International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015









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