Eripatha Nayanar was born in Karuvur, one of the main cities of the Chola Kingdom.. Eripatha Nayanar was daily worshipping Lord Pasupatheesvarar with great faith and devotion. His one aim in life was to serve Siva Bhaktas and to offer them every kind of protection. He always carried a weapon, an axe, for this purpose. With the axe he would punish anyone trying to harm Siva Bhaktas.
In that city, there lived a Siva Bhakta by name Sivakami Andar. He was very regular in his daily worship of Lord Siva. Early morning would find him in the garden after bath, collecting flowers, making garlands for taking to the temple and offering to the Lord. This was his routine.
On a Maha Navami day when all the people were jubilant, Sivakami Andar was rushing to the temple, as usual, with a basket of flowers. At the same time, the king’s pet elephant was returning from the river, after its bath. On its back were two Mahouts, and three others were escorting it. Suddenly, it went mad and was chasing the people. They were running here and there. It ran towards Sivakami Andar. It caught hold of him, wrenched the basket of flowers from him, threw it on the ground and ran away. The flowers were all scattered on the ground. Sivakami Andar was greatly upset. The elephant had destroyed the flowers he had kept for the worship of the Lord. He chased the elephant. He was very aged and soon fell down exhausted. He was weeping bitterly, crying aloud: ‘Sivada, Sivada’ (a cry expressing agony). Eripatha Nayanar happened to pass that way. He heard Sivakami Andar’s pitiable cry and the cause of it. ‘Where is that elephant?’ asked Eripathar and began to run in the direction indicated by Sivakami Andar. Soon he overtook the elephant and hurled his powerful axe, killing it with one stroke. Then he pounced on the Mahouts and killed them, too.
The news of the elephant’s fate reached the king who immediately reached the spot on his horse, surrounded by his soldiers. He could not see who had killed the elephant, for, he could not associate the Siva Yogi Eripathar with such an act. He began to shout: ‘Who killed my elephant?’ When someone pointed to Eripathar, immediately the king’s wrath vanished, for he knew that if the Siva Yogi had done so, there should have been a very valid reason for it. ‘He must have killed it in self-defence,’ thought the king and felt happy that the elephant had done no harm to the Siva Yogi. He addressed Eripathar: ‘Oh Swamin, I did not know that you killed the elephant. Definitely, the elephant and the Mahouts must have done some harm to you and you rightly punished them.’ He fell at the feet of Eripathar and said: ‘O Swamin, for what they have done, the punishment awarded by you is not enough. I have committed a great crime by keeping such an elephant and such Mahouts. Now, I do not deserve a death through your holy weapon, the axe. Here is my own sword. Please be gracious enough to cut off my head with it.’
Eripathar felt that he was the cause for the king’s affliction, and in self-punishment, he began to cut his own throat. The king was alarmed. He thought that he would now be guilty of another offence and at once gripped the sword and stopped Eripathar from cutting his own throat.
The Lord’s voice was heard in the sky: ‘Oh noble souls! This is Lord Pasupatheesvarar’s Lila. It is His wish that His Bhakta’s sincere and faithful service to Him must be recognized by the world.’ Immediately, the elephants and the Mahouts got up, as from sleep. Sivakami Andar’s flower basket was full. Eripathar continued to serve Siva Bhaktas. Finally he cast off his mortal coil and reached the Abode of Lord Siva.
OM Namasivayaa…! Om Namasivayaa…!!