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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"