The Saga of Thulukka Naachiyaar, Melkote Version
For those of you who were interested in the romance (not that there was much 😛 ) and twist of the previous post (See Srirangam-The Saga of Thulukka Naachiyaar), here is an additional add-on. Interestingly, the shrine of Thirunarayanan at Melkote Thirunarayanapuram also celebrates a similar legend of Thulukka Naachiyaar, with some extra embellishments thrown in.
According to this alternate version, the Muslim invaders similarly took away the idol of Thirunarayanan from Melkote and smuggled it to Delhi. The princess did fall in love with the extravagantly beautiful figure of Thirunarayanan and refused to be parted from it even for a second.
And that was where Ramanujar came to the rescue. He bravely led a team to Delhi to regain back the idol from the Sultan. At the palace in Delhi, the Sultan was cordial enough to welcome Ramanuja into his court. Offering him all due respects he enqired Ramanuja about the purpose of his visit, knowing fully well that he was after the idol. Ramanuja looked at the Sultan, his eyes full of grace and said, “King, we want to continue our worship of Narayana at our hallowed shrine in Thirunarayanapuram without any hindrance. The annual Vairamudi sevai (the festival of the diamond crown) is coming up and the utsavar is of utmost importance. I therefore ask you, in the name of Vishnu, the all pervasive, to hand me back the idol.”
The Sultan looked at Ramanuja, “Holy man, I understand your position, but we have so many idols of your undistinguishable four-hand-hindu-gods within our palace. Some have even been melted.”, his eyes twinkled with malice, “Given that your idol is still safe, how will you even recognize the correct one? And your god will certainly be angry if you took the wrong idol”. The entire court was now openly laughing at the predicament of Ramanuja.
Udayavar however remained calm and said,”Our Narayanan is all merciful. Leave the recognition of the idol to me. Then, do I have the permission to take the idol from the palace?”
“As long as you can prove that it is indeed your very idol, you can take it”, ordained the Sultan
Ramanuja stood up and with his arms stretched out in front of him, he called out “Thirunarayana, En Selva Pillaye, Vaaraay” (Oh my beloved son, Come to me!!!). And as the whole court watched with total astonishment, the idol of Thirunarayanan came floating from the princess’ bedroom into the hands of Ramanujar. Leaving the court in stunned silence, Ramanujar and his followers immediately departed to Melkote.
The princess, knowing that the idol had indeed “walked away”, ran after them to Melkote. Seeing that the idol had now been installed and was being offered ritual worship, she gave up her life in front of the temple. Thirunarayanan came in the bhattar’s dream and informed him of the princess’ divine love for Him and ordered him that from that day she too should be worshipped as one of his ubaya Naachiyaars.
And so it remains today, the princess is worshipped as Bibi Naahiyaar at Thirunarayanapuram. Unlike at Srirangam, she is worshipped as an idol and the idol can be seen near the ThiruPaadam of the Moolavar, ever serving at His feet. Her face is, however, covered, just like any other respectable muslim woman’s, with a purdah. And to commemorate the victory of Ramanujar at Delhi, the utsavar is called by the name Selva Pillai, just as he had called out to the idol at the sultan’s palace, long long ago.
All thanks to Sid, for reminding me about this interesting facet to my previous post.