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Sundhara Moorthi Nayanar's life is spoken throughout the Periya puranam as compared to other devotees. The periya puranam by Sekkizhar is a narration by him on the coming of this great devotee and goes on to tell about the other 62 great devotees and the 9 groups and tells about his own final attainment of the Lord. Here is a glimpse on Sundharar taken from various parts of the periya puranam.
There appeared a splendid luminance in the mount Kailash. The yogis wondered what it was. Upmanyu maharishi realized that it was the arrival of Sundhara Murthi Nayanars back to His abode. The devotees around the sage were quite inspired and wanted to know about that wonderful devotee Sundharar.
The sage obliged and told the story of Sundharar ...
Hagiography: There was was an attendant of Lord Shankara by name Alala Sundharan, whose duty was to bring flowers and water for the poojas. One day when he went to collect these, two beautiful maidens who served the Goddess Shakti were also there to collect flowers. Alala Sundharan was attracted by their beauty. Lord Shankara on knowing this, asked him to be born in the world and lead the life of love with those girls. The devotee Alala Sundharan begged to the Lord to rescue him in time. The Lord blessed and agreed to do so. Because of this, the saint was born in Southern India, to educate the world of Shiva.
The blessed town Thirunavalur, located in Thirumunaippadi nadu, gave birth to two great saints of Shaivaism - Thirunavukkarasar and Sundharar.
A child was born to the devoted couple Chadaiyanar (father) and Ichainzaniyar (mother) and the child was named Nambiyarurar. One day the King Narachinga munaiyaraiyar happened to see this charming child and adopted him. The young Sundarar, grew up as a royal child and simultaneously learned the Vedas too.
His father Chadaiyanar arranged Sundarar's marriage with a girl named Shadangaviyar. On the day of the wedding, adorned in wedding fineries Sundharar set forth in a big procession riding a horse, to the wedding hall. Lord Shiva, who had given the word that he would rescue Alala Sundharan (Sundharar) in time, came disguised as a old man. The relatives welcomed the respectable old man. There the Old man asked Sundharar to settle an old account between them before going ahead with the marriage. On asking what it was, to everyone's surprise, the old man declared that bridegroom Sundharar is His slave.
The crowd and Sundharar scoffed at Him shouting, "Are you a piththan (Tamil term for a madman)"? The Old man acted scared and said that He would not be ashamed even if mocked at as madman or devilish one and He had the palm leaf document that was given by Sundarar's grand father that Sundharar is His slave. Shocked and irked Sundharar challenged Him to show the document. The Old man acting as if he was afraid of Sundharar said he would show it in the local court and rushed out. There in the local court the Old man not only put forth His claim but also charged Nambiyarurar of destroying the evidence!
When the authorities enquired as to how a brahmin was given as a slave of another brahmin and from which town He was from, the Old man replied He was from Thiruvennainallur and said that He had the original document still with Him and with that He would appeal in the court of Vedic chanters at Thiruvennainallur. Nambi ridiculed at Him and challenged Him to put the claim in the court in his town as he wanted. The Old man put His case in the Thiruvennainallur court. There after taking an assurance from the court that they would not cause any harm to the evidence, produced before them what He claimed to be the original document.
The document read, "Aruran of Navalur (Sundharar's grand father) writes. For the reverend piththan (madman) of Thiruvennainallur that - I and my heir successors are given to serve. Here is my authorization."
The court verified the signature with the other old documents and miraculously found them to be the same! The court ordered that Nambiyarurar had to serve the Old man.
On being requested by the court to show them his house in the town, the old man asked them to follow Him and entered the Thiruvarutturai (abode of Grace) temple in Thiruvennainallur, and there he disappeared. Sundharar and others were shocked. Then the Lord appeared in the horizon on the Holy Bull Nandi and told that He came to rescue Alala Sundharan (Sundharar of Kailash days) as He had blessed. He further told Sundharar since he used harsh words against Him, he would be praised as vanrondan and asked him to offer the worship by way of singing Him in sweet Tamiz. Sundarar was worried as to how to create songs to which Lord said that since he called Him piththan (madman) he could sing starting with piththan. The Sundharar started singing his first song "piththa piraichudi" in pleasant Tamiz.
The Lord ordered His loving devotee to keep singing Him. The girl of Shadangaviyar entered the shivaloka.
The popular compositions of Sundarar are: Tanenai (Ahiri), Ponnar meniyane (Pantuvarali) etc. His first song is piththa piraichudi.
His signature words - "Thiruran / Thirunavalur"