പൂജാ മനോഭാവം – The attitude behind the worship

Whenever Nayanar saw a great temple, he would want to build such a temple himself, for the Lord. He started building a temple within his heart.

We are discussing the meaning of
Om catuḥ ṣaṣtyupacārāḍhyāyai namaḥ
(who is adored in sixty-four
ceremonies.) The attitude behind the worship is important.

I shall tell you the story of Poosalar Nayanaar, one of the famed Shiva Devotees. He was born in Thirunintravur near Chennai. He was one of the foremost devotees of Lord Shiva, the fifty-eighth nayanmar and in all Shiva temples, his idol can be found in the posture with folded palms.

A king named Rajendra Pallavan built a temple of granite to Lord Shiva. The temple is known as Kailasanatha Temple. It is even famous today. Rajendra Pallavan employed thousands of artisans over several years to build this temple with the aim of making it a perfect abode for the lord.

It was nearing the day of the ceremonial inauguration of the temple or “Kumbabishegam”. He had decided on the date of the ceremony. Lord Shiva appeared in the king’s dream and said that he had another consecration ceremony on the same day and hence could not be present at the king’s temple. The King thought it was all his imagination and went back to sleep.

He got Lord Shiva’s darshan again and again until he realized the truth of his darshan. “Do not perform the consecration on the day that you have decided.” The king thought to himself, let me find out where this temple is.

The lord is unable to come for his consecration in the temple that I have built with such love and devotion. The Lord had given the name of Poosalar Nayanar as the devotee. The king thought that Nayanar’s temple must be bigger and grander than his own. He went to Tiruninravur.

Nobody in that village knew the construction of such a temple. All the people that he asked said, “No such temple is being built there”. Finally, when they heard the name ‘Poosalar’, they said he is a Brahmin who lives in a small house on the outskirts of the town.” We shall go and meet him.

The king started off to Poosalar Nayanar’s house. Nayanar’s wife came out to meet the king. The King asked him where is Poosalar Nayanar”? “I hear that he is building a grand temple. where is it being built?” The wife said that she knew of no such temple.

“My husband has not come out of the house for the last couple of years. He has become introverted. I see him crying and at times laughing, often I hear him sing hymns in praise of Lord Shiva. He sits inside his room and eats sparingly. I don’t know where he has built a temple. Please come in and see him”.

The king entered the room and saw a man with a long beard and matted hair, sitting with closed eyes in the corner of the room. He was crying and laughing as the king watched him. He shook the Nayanar awake and asked him, Lord Shiva told me that you have built a temple for him”.

The Lord said that because of the consecration ceremony at your temple, he would not come to the Kailasanatha temple on the same day. Where is this temple that you are building? Tears streamed from the eyes of the Poosalar Nayaanar. He said I am building a temple inside me”.

Whenever Nayanar saw a great temple, he would want to build such a temple himself, for the Lord. He started building a temple within his heart. Since then he was planning and imagining in his heart how each aspect of the temple should be constructed, how should be the inauguration ceremony, what all rituals and pujas need to be performed, and all other details he was creating in his mind.

Poosalar Nayanar took the hand of the king and placed it on his own chest. To his surprise, the king could hear Vedic Chanting, the sounds of the conch, the percussion, and another divine music one could hear only in a temple. Later, the king constructed another temple Hridayaleshwar (God of the Heart) Temple for Poosalar Nayanar in Tiunintravur and it even stands today.