Sunday, 21 April 2013

The power of purity

The author of one of the most translated books is Thiruvalluvar. Thirukkural or Poyya Mozhi or vayurai vazhthu as it is known, can be construed as a book of law. A thinker, philosopher and writer par compare, Thiruvalluvar was married to Vasuki Ammayar. Vasuki ammayar’s devotion towards her husband was very pure. This purity made her a very strong person and there are a lot of tales about her pure devotion towards her husband. 

Konganavar muni had a lot of pride in himself and his powers, was walking through a forest. As he walked past a tree a stork sitting on one of the branches dirtied the muni’s head with its excreta. 

The sage only had to look angrily at the bird and the bird turned into ashes. This made the rishi prouder still. With the newly acquired power he strode towards the hut of sage Thiruvalluvar. As soon as he reached the hut he asked for food and Thiruvalluvar’s devoted wife was serving her husband and took some time in coming out to feed the rishi. The rishi got very angry and stared angrily at Vasuki Ammayar. Amazingly nothing happened. The rishi was astounded. He had such great confidence in himself that he had not expected this. 

Meanwhile Thiruvalluvar’s wife who saw the astonishment on Kongannavar’s face, smilingly asked the rishi if he thought of her as the stork that he had earlier burnt to ashes. The rishi was shocked and understood that he was up against no ordinary woman and bowed before her. 

The purity with which Vasuki served her husband was her strength. Such was her devotion towards her husband, that one day while she was drawing water from the well in a pot her husband called out to her. She left the pot and ran inside. The pot, instead of falling into the well hung from mid-air! Just by performing her daily duties to the best of her abilities, she grew in stature and commanded respect even from great rishis. 

One of the five great epics of Tamil literature is Seevaga Sinthamani. In this the poet talks through the heroine’s character about the greatness of sanyasam or renunciation. He opines that renunciation does not lie in sitting in a forest in front of fire and giving up on earthly desires and bondages. The greatest saint is one who performs his duties towards everyone around him, beginning with his parents. In doing this he may have to give up his own desires to keep others around happy. He who does this will be called a true munivar or sage.

In this sense Vasuki Ammayar can be called a true munivar.