Sakthi Vikatan 04 Aug, 2015

Sithamalli on the mind

சித்தமெல்லாம் சித்தமல்லி!


Sithamalli is a village in Tamil Nadu. An embodied soul, jostled by life's trials and tribulations, was angry with God. He took the idols from inside the house and unceremoniously dumped them in the backyard. Over a few centuries, the idols sank in the backyard under the weight of accumulating mud. The idols were forgotten and led a subterranean life for centuries.

Fast forward a few centuries.

Sundaranarayanan planned to raise vegetables in the backyard and the workers dug the backyard. The crowbar hit something hard. They dug around it and found two idols, Perumāḷ and Thāyār, who were worshipped by his ancestors.

The owner of the house and the backyard is Sundaranarayanan (SN), an atheist. He kept the idols in the backyard, not wanting to give them a home or a temple. The idols were drenched by rain, scorched by sun, and buffeted by winds. And yet SN was stubborn.

Perumāḷ by his Divine Will converted the atheist SN to theist and made him build a temple for him and Thāyār. There were miracles, oracles, life-changing incidents, a whole lot of unlucky people made whole by Perumāḷ… For all this, it should be a tale. Not so.

His (SN) male ancestor was the man who caused burial of the idols. His sister from centuries ago was reborn in another family as Padmā Māmi. Perumāḷ played Divine Sports with these two souls and used them to build a temple.




Sithamalli village was the crossroad of Siddhars (the supernals). The sacred ground was to earn grace, gleam and glow for all times (in the future). This is where the greats and the Siddhars performed their inimitable acts of grace.

This place, until a few years ago, was a shrine populated by more than a hundred Vedic scholars (Pundits). It stood on the road going from Vaithīsvaran Temple in Nagapattinam Division to Mayiladuthurai. It was the solemn words of grace by a Mahan that this village will acquire world fame.

This site is in a peaceful natural environment, south of Kollidam river a northbound tributary of Kaviri, which earns the reputation equal to that of Kasi. Kanchi Mahaswamy visited this sacred place.

Tradition says, Tirumular stayed here, worshipping Kailasanathar. Oral history says many Siddhars performed Tapas here and the village was called eponymously Sithamalli

We will later discuss the Mahan and the woman devotee who heard his oracle of the future greatness of Sithamalli. Let us dwell now on an incident that happened about 500 years ago.  

A youth and Vedic scholar noted for his erudition, accomplishment, and recitation of Mantras according to injunctions… left his wife and son in the village for Kumbakonam, famous for Vedic scholars. Sporting shabby and crumpled clothes and a lean famished body, the Vedic scholar saw distribution of free food to Vedic Brahmins and his hunger forced him to seek food there.  Whenever Samārāthaṉai (feeding of Brahmins) takes place in a village, the Vedic pundits are privileged to participate (dine). No one makes an objection. The head of the household being the village chief and the sponsor of the event blocked his entry seeing his crumpled clothes and weak body and made him stay outside. The Vedic chanting ended and the participants took their seating for meals. The youth also joined them but was blocked again to sit down and eat. The sponsor sent him to the back of the house and asked him to grind and prepare sandalwood paste for use by the Brahmins on the body. The youth went to the back of the house and prepared the sandalwood paste. During the grinding process he chanted Mantras.

The sandalwood paste was ready as the Vedic scholars finished eating. The sponsor ordered the youth to bring the paste to them. So, it was done. The participants smeared the paste on their bodies with glee and gusto. Soon their bodies felt warm and later they felt their bodies were on fire. Bubbles and blisters appeared on the bodies. They were in agonizing pain. The sponsor called the youth and demanded an explanation with the promise and threat of bodily harm.

The youth stopped for a moment and went over in his mind all the steps he followed while preparing the sandalwood paste. He realized the scalding of the body resulted from the recitation of Agnisuktam during his grinding stint. Receiving the leftover paste, he grinded it again reciting Varunasuktam and asked the Vedic dinner guests to smear the reground paste on their bodies. They smeared the paste as advised by the still famished village scholar. Lo and behold. The fiery bodies immediately cooled down and the bumps and blisters simply vanished.

(Agnisuktam [= Hymn of Praise of Fire-god].

(Varunasuktam [= Hymn of praise of god of ocean]

The Vedic Pundits, knowing and experiencing the power of the famished youth to inflame and cool down their bodies by recitation of the Suktas, felt a sense of wonder and a plethora of respect and paid homage to still hungry magical youth. The sponsor of the event was seized with fear for disrespecting a Mahan, whom he mistook for a penurious sad sack. He fell at his feet in an eight-limb prostration, paid homage to him, took him inside, played a respectful host, fed him, gave him new clothes and gold coins and sent him on his way.

This youth of such power in later years received recognition as a Mahan. He gave whatever people wanted in the spirit of the Wish-Tree. He told a woman devotee in the spirit of an Oracle that Sithamalli would become famous in the world soon.

The Mahan gave Dharsan to his fellow villager at dusk and told him that the Sithamalli village would become famous and pointed a site as the point of fame, name and welcome.

His attitude changed after his experience of supernatural experience.

Who is that Mahan?

What is the power of the spot he pointed to his fellow villager?  Come all to Sithamalli.

Your body, mind and soul: Are they ready for a jolt with horripilation?