Tag Archives: Madurai

Peter Padukas of Goddess Meenakshi!

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Madurai, the temple city was the capital of the Pandyan kings. Though they ruled the kingdom, they considered Lord Sundareswara and Goddess Meenakshi as the Divine Rulers of the kingdom and they were only their representatives. Once a year, symbolically, the sceptre of the Goddess was received by the kings, kept with them for a day and returned back to the temple the next day. In the present times, the temple administrators go through this procedure.

Rous Peter was the collector of the temple town of Madurai from 1812-1828. The famous Meenakshi temple also was under his administration. As one who respected other religions, he went about the temple administration also with great respect and sincerity. He treated the people of other faiths with love and respect. Every day, on his way to his office, he had to cross the temple. When he came to the temple, he would get down from the horse he was riding, remove his hat and boots, offer his salutations to Sri Meenakshi and carry the boots in his hands till he crossed the temple. The people of the town started addressing him as ‘Peter Pandian’. The title ‘Pandya’ is associated with the dynasty of the great kings who ruled in South India, with Madurai as their capital.

One night it rained very heavily. The river Vaigai was overflowing. Peter who was sleeping in his residence was woken up by the sound which was similar to the tinkling of anklets. He woke up and found a little girl, about three years old dressed in the typical silk pavada (silk long skirt or lehenga) and wearing beautiful ornaments in his room. She took hold of his hand and with the words: “Peter come, Peter come”, she almost dragged him out of his residence. The moment he came out, lightning struck his house and it collapsed. Peter was stunned. He looked back and saw the little girl running in the direction of the temple. He only heard the sound of the anklets and also noticed that she ran barefoot! 

Peter Stirrups

Peter was convinced that it was Devi Meenakshi herself who had come in the little girl’s form to save him. To express his gratitude to Goddess Meenakshi, he decided to offer something to her. Since she had come barefooted to his residence, he decided to offer to her,  a pair of golden stirrups to cover her feet. The stirrups were made of gold with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones. The name ‘Peter’ was engraved behind the stirrups. Even to this day, during the Chithirai festival, on the panchami (fifth) day, when Goddess Meenakshi rides on her ashwa (horse) vahana, these stirrups adorn her feet. They are also known as “Peter Padukam”. 
After retirement, Peter refused to go back to England. He stayed in Madurai. His last wish was that he should be buried with his eyes facing Goddess Meenakshi. His wish was fulfilled and he was buried with his face towards the temple. 

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The Saint who became a King – Murthi Nayanar


Nayanars were a group of 63 saints who lived between the 6th and 8th century AD in Tamil Nadu who were greatly devoted to Lord Shiva. He was the 15th among the Nayanars.

Murthi Nayanar served Lord Shiva by preparing sandal paste and offering it to Shivalinga at the Chokkanathar temple at Madurai. Then Madurai was ruled by the Pandiyan King who was also a great devotee of Lord Shiva.

One day, the peaceful Pandiyan kingdom was attacked by a foreign Vaduka ruler who killed the King and ordered that no one should henceforth worship Lord Shiva. Afraid of the King’s order, people stopped going to Shiva temples, but Murthi Nayanar continued offering sandal paste to Lord Shiva. Having got this information, the King ordered that none should sell sandalwood to Nayanar.

Unable to find sandalwood, Murthi Nayanar in his devotion thought of offering his hands which prepared sandal paste all these years.  He decided to grind his hands, and his hands started bleeding. Pleased with Nayanar’s devotion, Lord Shiva immediately appeared and said that the King who disrupted Nayanars worship will be punished for his evil deeds soon and Murthi Nayanar would rule the kingdom. By the Lord’s grace, Murthi Nayanars wounds got healed at once and the foreign King who had no children died a mysterious death the very next day.

The ministers decided to give a garland to the royal elephant and make it go round the streets to select the next King as per tradition. The blindfolded elephant roamed the city and finally reached the temple. As soon as Murthi Nayanar came out from the temple, the elephant garlanded him.

Murthi Nayanar was taken in procession to the palace on the royal elephant and was made the King. Murthi ruled in a garb of a Shaiva devotee, smearing his body with sacred ash and wearing rudraksha ornaments and matted hair, instead of a crown. He forwent the luxuries of the crown and ruled the kingdom justly.


"Surrender to Him and learn to live in Him and smile away all worries. With ever-growing faith in His protecting shelter, live joyously. - Swami Chinmayananda"