The Stone Elephant!

The Stone Elephant!

It was the reign of King Abhisheka Pandya ruling over Madurai. He was childless. He was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and never faltered from his routine rituals and prayers to the Lord. Finally…Lord Shiva decided to grant him a child. He took the form of a 16 year old Siddha* and came to Madurai. He looked elegant, his face glowing with piety and spiritualism.

An old man came up to the Siddha and asked, “Sir! I am very weak and not able to walk. My eyesight is poor. Can you do something to cure me and make me strong?” The Siddha touched the old man’s head with a stick. At the next instant…a miracle happened! The old man was completely cured of his ailments!

Soon the Siddha’s name and fame spread like wild fire and people came to him in large numbers to seek his blessings and get relieved from their sufferings. The Siddha’s miracles included turning iron into gold, a donkey into a horse etc… He entertained children by changing cats into tigers and vice versa.

The Siddha’s fame reached the palace of King Abhisheka Pandya. He ordered his guards to bring the Siddha to the palace. But the guards never returned, having lost themselves to the charm of the Siddha. The king then sent his ministers who persuaded the Siddha to come to the palace. “Why should I? Those who need favours from others should go in search of them. I don’t need any from your king”, responded the Siddha and declined to go to the palace.

It was Pongal – the Harvest Festival. Cartloads of sugar canes, one of the most important icons of Pongal festival, were on sale everywhere. The Siddha came to the Meenakshi temple to worship. He sat in front of the stone elephant at the Northwest corner of the temple staring at the stone elephant and became oblivious to his surroundings.

King Abhisheka Pandya was on his way to the temple and despite all efforts of the guards to make the Siddha get up from his place, he did not budge even an inch. The King approached the Siddha and asked him, “Oh, Holy sage! Who are you? Where do you come from? I have heard much about you and your miracles. Can you perform one for me here?”

The Siddha smiled and replied, “Oh, king! I am Aakinai** Siddha. I wander from place to place and live on charity. What do you want from me now?”

At that moment, a farmer entered the temple with a huge sugarcane to be gifted to the king. “Tell the stone elephant to eat this sugarcane, NOW!” ordered the king to the Siddha.  The moment the Siddha so ordered, the stone elephant came to life and gobbled up the sugarcane in seconds… along with the pearl necklace that the king was wearing! Everyone around was awestruck! Reading the king’s angry expression, the guards were about to strike the Siddha who turned them all into stone statues!

The king realized the true power of the Siddha and begged pardon. With the blessings of the Siddha, none other than Lord Shiva, the king was blessed with a male child the following year, whom he fondly named Vikraman.

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