The Story of a Demoness and a Tamil Poet (Post No 2941)

nakkirar 1

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 4 July 2016

Post No. 2941

Time uploaded in London :– 6-07 AM

( Thanks for the Pictures)






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Nakkeerar was a famous Tamil poet who lived two thousand years ago. He wrote several Tamil poems. His name was a household name because of his clash with Lord Siva. Dharumi, A poor Brahmin poet prayed to Lord Siva in Madurai temple to win a box of 1000 gold coins from the Pandya king who announced the prize. The king said that it would be given to the best poem with an answer to his query. Lord Siva decided to help him. The poor Brahmin poet Dharumi met Lord Siva who came in the guise of an old poet. He gave him a beautiful poem and asked him to present it to the king on the day of the poetry competition.


Nakkeerar was the royal poet at that time. When the poem was recited in the royal assembly the king was very happy and was about to give the gold coins. But Nakkeerar said that the poem had lot of mistakes. When he was asked to explain, Dharumi fumbled for answers. Nakkeerar sent him home and asked him to improve the poem. That evening he met lord Siva again in the guise of an old poet. He was furious when he heard that Nakkeerar found fault with his poem. Next day, Lord Siva himself disguised as a poet went to the royal assembly and challenged the royal poet Nakkeerar. Even when the old poet revealed his true identity as Lord Siva, Nakkeerar was so adamant and said, “I don’t care even if you open your Third Eye. A flaw is a flaw”. When Siva actually opened his Third Eye Nakkeerar couldn’t with stand the heat and apologised to him. But yet he was suffering from the burns caused by the fire emitted by the third eye. Siva advised him to do a penance to recover from it.


Nakkeerar’s problem did not stop there. Now he faced a new trouble. While he was doing the prayers on the banks of a river a leaf from a banyan tree fell in front of him. Half of the leaf was covered in water and the other half was on the banks. The portion inside the water became fish and the other half became a bird. He was wondering what it was. Because of this strange phenomenon he lost concentration in his prayer towards Siva.


A demoness who lived on the tree used to play this trick to see whether someone is focused in what one was doing. If someone loses concentration, then the demoness would catch that person and imprison in a cave. Nakkeerar also became a victim and was caught by the demoness and thrown into the cave prison. 999 prisoners were already there inside the prison and Nakkeerar was the thousandth person. Those 999 prisoners were very unhappy to see Nakkeerar because the demoness told them that all of them would be eaten on the day the 1000th person was caught. They all cried and told Nakkeerar the reason for their sadness. All of them did the same mistake of losing concentration and get distracted during Prayer to Shiva.


Nakkeerar pacified them and told that he would pray to Lord Skanda, son of Siva, and he would help them. The demoness name was Karkimuki. When she went to a tank nearby for a bath, Nakkeerar sang a long poem in praise of Lord Skanda. The long poem known as “Tiru Muruka Aatruppadai” is part of 2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature. Nakkeerar threw a leaf on the demoness when it returned to the cave. The leaf became a spear (Vel) and was about to attack the demoness but by the grace of Lord Skanda the demoness also got released from a curse which turned her into a demoness. Now that all the prisoner poets were released, Nakkeerar felt very happy and the Poem became a popular one.

This story was known to every Tamil 500 years ago and Arunagirinathar sang about this demoness Karkimuki in his Tiruppugaz verses. Otherwise we wouldn’t know this story at all.


Long Live Arunagiri and Nakkeerar!!




1000 Gold Coins Prize Scheme from Vedic Days!


Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1333; Dated 7th October 2014.

(This is part of my research article series on Mahavamsa)

Giving thousand gold coins as prizes has been in practice from the Vedic days. It shows that Hindus were the inventors of decimal system and they always think high. It also shows the richness of Indians in thought, word and deed. We read about 1000 gold pieces prize from Brihad aranyaka Upanishad to the latest period of Mahavamsa, the Sri Lankan chronicle. Tamil Hindus also followed this 1000 gold coin prize scheme from Sangam Tamil period.

Emperor Janaka of Videha Kingdom, performed a sacrifice – Yaga—in which he proposed to give one thousand cows, with gold attached to the horns, to the most erudite Vedic scholar. An assembly of scholars from Punjab, Sind in Pakistan, Gandhar in Afghanistan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and several other regions were sitting in the Vedic assembly. Yajnavalkya took all the cows and the gold. This is one of the earliest references to 1000 gold pieces.

In the Rajasuya sacrifice where the Dasapreya rites are performed, Hotr priests (Rig Vedic pundits) get a circular ornament of gold as dakshina/fees, where as Adhvaryu (Yajur Vedic Pundits) get two ornaments, Udgatr (Sama Vedics) a garland of flower and Brahmins a horse etc. This is in addition to regular dakshinas (fees). Like Yudhistra of Mahabharata, Tamil Cholza King Peru Nar Killi also performed Rajasuya where the other two kings of Chera and Pandya Kingdoms were present. The Brahmins would have received these presents in Choza kingdom.

cash at home2

Tamil Sangam period also had a story of 1000 gold coins. King Shenpaka Pandya announced that he would give 1000 gold coins for a poem on a particular theme. A poor Brahmin brought someone else’s poem, supposed to be written by Lord Shiva himself. A learned poet by name Nakkiran challenged them. Here also we come across a prize of 1000 coins.

1800 years ago, a Brahmin by name Parasara won lot of gifts through Yagas and Yajnas and was returning home. He took rest in a village called Tankal. He challenged the young Brahmin boys playing on the road to repeat Vedas after him. One child took the challenge and repeated Vedas after him. Amazed at his skill the selfless Brahmin gave him all the gold he won. But the jealous Brahmins of the town told the king that his father stole the money from the royal treasury. Immediately he was arrested and detained in the prison. His wife Kartika fought his case and won. Here the point to be noted is that his enormous prizes won through Yahas and Yajnas. He was carrying a white parasol. Brahmins who do Soma yaga will get such special gifts. Apart from kings only learned Brahmins can hold white umbrella. Others will be beheaded if they pretend to be kings (source Katturai Katai: Tamil Epic Silappdikaram).

File photo of Swiss Francs five cent coins heaped in a pile in the old vault  of the former Schweizerische Volksbank in Basel

Four Million Gold Coins!!

Pathitrupathu (Ten Decad) is a collection of old poems on Sangam age Chera Kings. Foreword to each decad describes what the poet got from the Chera king as a gift for composing that poem.

Kumattur Kannanar, a Brahmin poet, got 500 villages for composing a decad on Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan,
Palai Gauthama, another Brahmin poet, composed poem on Selkezu Kuttuvan, and went straight to heaven with his wife (in short mysteriously disappeared). That was the prize he actually asked from the king.

Kappiyatru Kappianar, another Brahmin poet, received four million gold coins from Nar Mudi Cheral. He belonged to Kavya Gotra like Tol Kappiyanar, author of the oldest Tamil book.
Paranar, a great Brahmin poet of Sangam age, got Umbarkadu area as a gift from Senguttuvan.

Kakaipadini Narchellai, a poetess, received one hundred thousand gold coins and Gold bars weighing nine Tulas.

Kapilar, the greatest Brahmin poet of Sangam age, who was praised as a Brahmin of spotless character by many, received 100,000 gold coins and the lands whatever he could see from the hill! Selva Kadungo Vaziyathan gave him this.

Arisil Kizar received 900 000 gold coins from Peruncheral Irumporai and a throne was offered to him. But he refused to take it.
cash at home

Perumkundrur kizar got 32,000 gold coins and some plots and houses.
(All these gold coins may not be heavy, may be weighing fraction of a gram )

Mahavamsa Coins

Mahavamsa, the Sri Lankan chronicle, has got many references to 1000 Panas (Scholars believe that the English word Money came from Pana, which is derived from the Phoenicians called Panis in Vedic days).

Mahavamsa Chapter 6: During fifth century BCE, a Bengal king announced 1000 coins as prize money to catch a lion which was threatening the villagers. He sent the bundle of coins on an elephant around the town. Even today we see Americans announcing prize money on the heads of terrorists!

Chapter 7: When the Pandya Princess from Madurai came to Sri Lanka to marry King Vijaya, he begged his first wife Kuvenna who belongs to Yakshini clan to leave him. He says that he will spend 1000 coins for Puja for her.
power of skt, fb

Chapter 9:–Like Kamsa threatened Devaki, a Sri Lankan princess known as Unmatha (mad) Chitra was threatened when she was pregnant. Like Devaki, she also exchanged her male child to a female child just to escape from the wrath of the king. She gave the lady 1000 coins for this exchange. Later, like Krishna, that male child became a king with the name Pandu abhayan.

Chapter 10:– When Pandu Abahaya’s uncles came to know that he is alive they planned to kill him. Immediately his mother gave the foster father another 1000 coins to take him to a safer place.

Chapter 23 : A lazy but a strong youth was given a difficult job by the prince and was asked to see a Brahmin living at a faraway town. He did it and received appreciation of everyone. And the prince gave him 1000 coins.

Chapter 23 : Pusa Devan helped the king Duttagamani to secure an important victory over a Tamil king. The king asked him to bring his arrow and laid it on the ground. He bathed it with coins and donated all to Pusadevan.

Ahapter 35: King Vasaban consulted an astrologer to find how long he would live. It was the days where every king was murdered or killed within a few years of their rule. The astrologer told Vasaban that he would live for another 12 years. Vasaban bribed the astrologer with 1000 coins to keep his mouth shut.

Thus we see 1000 coins from the Vedic days to the latest period of Mahavamsa spreading over 2000 years. Since Hindus were the inventors of modern numerals (1, 2, 3, 4…..), decimal system and zero, it is no surprise to see 1000 coins or four million gold coins in Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali literature.