THE STORY OF CIRUTTONDAR IN SCULPTURES – PART II

The above touching story is found sculpted from the south western corner of the mantapa with a few variations.

  1. In the first panel Venkattunangai and Sandananangai are seen cooking food while Ciruttondar serves food to a sanyasin.
  2. Ciruttondar brings another devotee the next day.
  3. Siva comes as Bhairavar and enquires if this is the house of Ciruttondar. Tiruvenkattunangai, the wife of Ciruttondar requests him to come into the house to take food. Refusing the invitation, he goes to Ganapathiccharam.
  4. Ciruttondar, finding no devotee, goes to the shrine of Lord Ganapati and prays before him.
  5. Ganapati is seated on his mount mouse (Mushika) having his trunk turned to the left.
  6. While Ciruttondar returned to his house with a sorrow laden heart, his wife informs him of the visit of a devotee hailing from Uttarapati, and induces him to go to Ganapaticcharam in order to invite him.
  7. Bhairavar is seated holding a linga by his right hand, under the shadow of an Atti tree.

On the northern side of the Mantapa

  1. It seems that Venkattunangai or her maid servant also accompanied Ciruttondar to invite the Bhairava.
  2. She is shown being driven away by Bhairavar.
  3. Siralan being taught by his teacher.
  4. Siralan standing in the midst of his classmates.
  5. Siralan reading along with his fellow students.
  6. Siralan’s uncle seems to have come to take him to his home and obtains permission to take him.
  7. His uncle carries him on his shoulder.
  8. His mother receives him from his uncle.
  9. His mother, keeping him on her lap, applies oil on his head.
  10. Venkattunangai and her servant bathe him by holding each; hand on either side.
  11. After bath, his mother carries him on her hip.
  12. His mother and her servant feed food to him.
  13. Siralan is put on the bed to sleep.

On the eastern side of the Mantapa

  1. While his mother catches hold of his hand, his father catches hold of Siralan’s hair by his left hand and cuts his neck by his right hand with the help of a Sword.
  2. Siralan’s bones and fleshes are cut by a sharp blade.
  3. Venkattunangai’s servant crushes the head with the help of a mace in a small barrel.
  4. Venkattunangai and her servant gives the cooked food to Ciruttondar in order to serve to Bhairavar.
  5. Bhairavar and Ciruttondar take a handful of food to eat.
  6. Venkattunangai and the Bhairavar call Siralan. Siralan is shown crawling without his head from a higher place.
  7. Ciruttondar, his wife, her servant and Siralan pray before Siva and Parvati who are seated on the bull.
  8. Ciruttondar, his wife, her servant and Siralan stand before Siva and Parvati with Anjali Hasta at Mount Kailash.

In this sculptural narration, we could find a few deviations from the Periapuranam. The deviations are as under:

  1. Ciruttondar worships before Ganapati.
  2. Venkattunangai or her servant also seem to have accompanied Ciruttondar to invite Bhairavar and she is driven away by the Bhairavar.
  3. Siralan is brought not by his father, but probably by his uncle from the school.
  4. The maid servant crushes the head of Sriralan with a mace.
  5. Siralan was called not by his father and mother, but by Bhairavar and his mother.
  6. Siralan does not come from the school but is crawling from a higher place and that also without a head.

The above deviations make us presume that the story was changed due to the regional variations or due to the passage of time. This story is found elaborated in later periods. ‘Periya eluttu Ciruttonda pattan katai’ Ciruttondan kummi and Siralan Ammanai alias Ciruttonda Pattan Kathai are the best examples of more additions to the story. It was perhaps for the purpose of attracting the public to embrace Saivism.

As said in the introduction, this story appears to have very much touched the hearts of the common folk. Hence they celebrate this event as a festival in South Arcot Vallalar district and Tanjavur district. On Barani Nakshtra of Chittirai month, every year this festival known as ‘Ciralan Vizha’ is celebrated even in remote villages. On this day, they make one act as Bhairavar, to go round begging. Finally, they cook food as ‘Siralan Kari (Flesh of Siralan) with the help of blackgram powder adding a few other ingredients and distribute among the public. This food is received with veneration especially by women who have no children.

 Natana Kasinathan

Source: Journal of Indian History and Culture, March 2003.

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