Book 2 | Chapter 10 | Rameswaram

It has been a while since we spoke about Alwarkadiyaan Nambi. After overhearing the conversation between Princess Kundavai and Vandhiyathevan, Nambi had immediately started on his journey to the South. He had headed towards Rameswaram. On the way, he had avoided all forms of religious debates, since that would delay his journey. On the same day that Vandhiyathevan had reached Lanka, Nambi had reached Rameswaram.

The salty breeze of the ocean blew against his face. He was standing on the beach at Rameswaram. Anger boiled within him. There were several Shaivites surrounding him.

Appane, come! Let us take you to the 64 holy fresh-water wells of this holy city, so that you can wash off all the impure Vaishnava symbols on your body.”

Another said, “Come, I will take you to the holy well where Lord Rama himself got rid of his Brahmahatthi dosham.”

Nambi screamed back, “Shut up all of you. Please wash all your mouths with those holy waters.”

“Oho, you think we should wash our mouths for having mentioned the name of Rama? You need not worry about that. When Rama worshipped Lord Shiva here, that dosham was washed away. Hence the name of this city – Rameswaram.”

“You ignorant Shaivites – you do not even know the origin of the name of this city. Shiva angered Brahma when he destroyed one of his heads, and got the Brahmahatthi dosham. Shiva came to this beautiful land graced by Lord Rama, to get rid of the dosham. This place is called Rameswaram because Shiva worshipped Rama here.”

“Who are you to call us ignorant Shaivites?”

At this point Nambi lost his temper, and started swirling his wooden staff around his head. He laughed hysterically.

“I will break each one of your heads with this staff.”

At that point in time, there was an arrival announcement. Everyone stopped and looked towards where the announcement came from.

The announcement proclaimed the arrival of the Chief Minister of the Chozha Empire – Aniruddha Brahmaraayar.

A craft was just banking onto the shore. The Chief Minister stood majestically observing the commotion that had just stopped.

He looked at Nambi and motioned for him to come near. “Thirumalai, what is the commotion here?”

Nambi looked aghast at the Minister and fumbled for words.

“I am not even sure if I am to believe what I am seeing. Is this real, or is it all an illusion (maya)?”

“Thirumalai, I was always thinking that you were a Veera Vaishnavite. When did you start swerving towards the Advaita philosophy of illusions?”

“If you, who were born in a very conservative Vaishnavite family, can become a Shaivite, why cannot I?”

“Who told you that I had converted, Thirumalai?”

“I see the Shaivite sandal marks on your forehead and body.”

“All that can be explained. Come and see me. I am staying at the mandapam on the island there,” he said, pointing to a small isle nearby.

The Shaivite saints came forward and complained to the minister about Nambi and mentioned their intention to punish him themselves.

“I will take care of this Vaishnavar myself.”

He pointed to his craft and barked orders to his soldiers to capture and bring Nambi to where he was staying.