Few hundred years ago Gangaikonda Chozhapuram a place in Tamil Nadu , was ruled by the Cholas who were active patrons of the arts , poetry, drama, music and dance . The Chola kingdom grew into an extensive and well-knit empire, efficiently organized and administered by the King .
One fine day two courtesans from other kingdom came to meet the King for his generosity in encouraging their talents . One of them could sing according to a pattern called deva‐gana (celestial mode) and the other could sing in the normal method manushya gana (human mode). Each thought their music was the best and excelled the other. Their objective of having an audience with the King was to settle the dispute between them as the King was well versed in those forms of art .
The king summoned his royal artists and ordered the council to meet, for them to perform . In the process , the council of royal artists agreed that the courtesan who sung with manushya gana was better than the deva gana . Thus the dispute was decided in favor of the manushya gana . Rich presents was bestowed on that performer with all the honours while the other was considered to have failed.
The lady of the deva‐gana thought thus “My method of singing, cannot be appreciated by normal humans and hence I shall submit the same to the Devas (celestial beings)” in all the temples . So with deep concern , she went to the temples from one Holy Shrine to another displaying her art to the deity and seeking their blessings
In due course she reached Viranarayanapuram a place near to Kattumannar koil . She went to the Shrine of Lord Veeranarayana Perumal and sang her song among the opulence audience of our great Sage Nathamuni the torch bearer of Srivaishnavam . Nathamuni was pleased with her recitation and as a mark of his appreciation blessed her with the tirtha and prasada of Perumal and encouraged her with blessings .
The lady thanked Swami Nathamuni for his patience and accepting her song and blessing on her . Overjoyed , she then went to king Chola and said Oh Highness !! Atlast “there is one soul, at least in your kingdom , who can understand the inner truth of my devaganam . Swamy Nathamuni, who is the blessed devotee of Lord Mannanar at Viranarayanapuram is the reason for your country’s prosperity .
The king was curious to know about the sage . He sent his messengers to Swamy Nathamuni, begging him to visit his royal palace . Swamy Nathamuni , on receiving the invitation, thought “We have set the blessed Divya Prabhandhas to exquisite music. Let us visit the king’s court, and take this opportunity of making these holy hymns known to the world. Thus he went to the king’s court taking it as Lord’s command .
On his arrival, the king rose and welcomed the Sage with every mark of honor, and offered him a suitable seat. Whereon the Sage blessed the king, and inquired as to his object in inviting him. The king submitted “Holy sage can you distinguish between the two patterns of ragas sung by these courtesans ? Can we be enlightened about this inner secret ?
Swamy Nathamuni requested that the performance be given once again before the audience . When this was done, he addressed the king and said “You all have ears to receive the flow of the manushya‐gana only. The other one can be understood by the Devas only .
“But”, the king respectfully asked, how can we be made to hear it? There upon Swamy Nathamuni directed that the 400 kinds of tala (rhythm) be marked, and explained to the king the rate of each. The king understood from this explanation the harmonical progression and symphony in which this is composed to the deva‐gana music, which produced in him a bliss never experienced before .
A small demonstration was also shown among the elated arts lovers .A pair of cymbals was placed near a consecrated post while the deva‐ gana was sung. Over a period of time , it was found that the post began to melt. The singing was stopped , and when an attempt was made to lift the cymbals, they stuck to the post and when the music was once again played they came off. It is said that Nathamuni directed a number of bronze cymbals of different weights to be sounded together and forthwith described correctly their different weights from a perception of the acute differences in the pitches of the notes. The king went into raptures over this, and falling at the feet of the Sage proposed to reward him abundantly.
But the Sage, to whom even the offer of Lordship over worlds was no temptation, politely declined the presents offered and blessing the king, returned to Viranarayanapuram. Thus with this incident the King became a disciple of Swamy Nathamuni and spent his time at Kattumannar learning the esoteric truths regularly .
Swamy Nathamuni set the 4000 Divya prabhandam to tune and music and taught to his dear disciples Melai agatthazhwAn and Keezhai agatthazhwAn (his nephews) and propagated the divine nectar in various divya desams. Nathamuni re arranged 4000 into four parts and introduced the same as part of recitation in Divya Desams, as part of worship.
Once , the King got down along with his wives to Viranarayanapuram temple . Looking at the Royal couple in such great ornaments, crown, and silk cloth, Nathamuni for a moment lost himself and thought Lord Krishna with His devis have come from Dwarakai. He fell at the feet of the king to prostrate. The king was shocked and immediately sprung to lift Nathamuni . The King realised the deep devotion of the Sage and submitted himself .
During another occasion, the king had just completed discussing with the Sage about Lordships and took Acharya’s permission to leave. He started walking towards the chariot. When he was about to board, (as usual, the king used to call the chariot driver on whose shoulder he used to set his foot to jump into the chariot), the driver was there for the king to jump in. After he jumped in, he saw below and it was Nathamuni’s shoulder. The king was shocked . He got down to apologize for his grave offence . He felt ashamed and said ! Swamin …. “What have I done! Stepped on your shoulders! I have committed a great apacharam!”
Nathamuni thought it was Lord Rama who had come by the chariot along with Sumanthrar. Hence, he offered his shoulders for Lord to step into the chariot. That was Nathamuni’s unalloyed devotion who was always in transcendental bliss always seeing LORDSHIPS everywhere .
One day Nathamuni was in Samadhi Yoga. The Chola king passed near Veeranarayanpura with his soldiers after a hunting exercise. The sage, interrupted in his meditations by the attendant bustle, opened his eyes and, construing the party to be the divine Lord Rama and his brother, on whom his thoughts were wholly bent in meditation, followed the track of the party and walked with weary steps till the very gates of the Chola capital Gangaikondapuram from Kattumannar Koil and went searching ..
Nathamuni already in that bliss imagined that Lord Rama with his brother Lakshmana and Mother Sita is have come to grace him .
He fainted at a place in a divine bliss and reached Lord’s abode on an Ekadasi day.
More details about this great saint can be seen in the appended linked post below
All glories to Swamy Nathamunigal
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Pics : Google images