Nakkeerar was a much venerated Tamil
poet from the region of Madurai
who existed during the medieval period. Nakkeerar is well known mostly for his popular work of Tirumurukaruppatai
. He has also composed another literary work titled as Irayanar Akapporul. The poet Nakkeerar is different from another poet with a similar name of Nakkirar who lived during 250 AD. Nakkirar also wrote many renowned anthologies such as Nedunalvadai during the Sangam age
of Tamil literature
. Nakkeerar has also authored an epic known as Sri Harnipuram. Nakkeerar is one of the major characters in Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam (Tiruvilaiyaddal Puranam), which is also a Tamil epic. The episodes of Sundareswarer (Lord Shiva
), comprised in the Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam portrays the poets confrontation with the Lord. This episode is depicted through acting and drama as a part of the festival traditions of the Meenakshi Sundareswarer Temple located in Madurai.
Legends Related to Nakkeerar
The epic work of Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam constitutes of an incident which involves a confrontation between Lord Shiva and Nakkeerar. According to the work, the Pandyan king, once had a qualm regarding the scent of the hair of a woman and doubted if the scent was natural or artificial. He declared a reward of 1000 gold coins for anybody who could resolve the king`s doubt. A deprived poet with the name Tharumi appealed to Lord Shiva to help him attain the king`s prize. Shiva composed a poem and gifted it to the Tharumi and instructed him to recite the poem to the Pandyan king.
When the poor poet read the divine poetry to the king in the royal court, poet Nakkeerar identified a flaw in the poem and prevented the Pandyan king from giving the reward of 1000 gold coins to Tharumi. The unfortunate poet was engulfed with grief and in desperation, again prayed to the Lord. Tharumi was not concerned about being unable to receive the royal prize, but he could not tolerate that Nakkeerar found a fault in the verses of Lord Shiva.
Eventually, Lord Shiva himself appeared in the imperial Pandyan court and confronted Nakkeerar. But the poet Nakkeerar was not enthused. Although Lord Shiva enquired him if the hair of Ganapoongodai, the companion of Lord Kalathinathar, worshipped by Nakkeerar, did not contain a natural odour, the unworried Nakkeerar emphasized that it was so. Lord Shiva opened his Netrikkan, the third eye on his forehead that emitted divine flames and gazed at the poet to reveal his true identity. But still, Nakkeerar continued to persist in his opinion. As the poet was unable to tolerate the burning heat originating from the Lord`s divine eye, he leaped into the water of the Golden Lotus Tank. After this, the other poets requested Lord Shiva to help Nakkeerar and so the Lord took the poet out of the tank and forgave Nakkeerar. Lord Shiva instructed him to study under the Tamil sage named Agasthiar.
This episode of confrontation between Lord Shiva and Nakkeerar mentioned in the epic Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam is a popular myth in the Tamil country.
Literary Works of Nakkeerar
Nakkeerar is the author of the Tamil devotional poem Tirumurukaruppatai, which eulogises the much important Thiruparankundram shrine, devoted to Lord Kartikeya
(Murugan). The poem narrates the story of a devotee who attained the blessings of Lord Murugan and showed the path to a fellow seeker to attain the lord`s grace. Nakkeerar also composed as epic known as Sriharnipuram or Sri Harnipuram. The poet wrote the epic at the request of Kulachirai Nayanar, who was the Prime Minister in the court of Gunapandyan, the Pandya