Pattinathar’s box

“Not even an eyeless needle will accompany you in the final journey of life.”

Siddhar Pattinathaar was born in a very wealthy family in Kaveripoompattinam, in south India, and yet he turned to be a Sanyasi.

He was the wealthiest trader in Kaveripoompattinam and had a beautiful wife named Sivakalai. For a long time, the couple was childless. They were worried and went to a lot of temples. One night, Lord Siva appeared to them in their dream and promised a child. In the dream an elderly couple showed them the way to Thiruvidai Marudhur. The next day along with Sivakalai, he went to Thiruvidai Marudhur. Once there, he was amazed to see the same elderly couple from the dream. He inquired about them, and they said that they were poor and the child was born at a very later age, and now they are weak to feed for themselves. They had planned to visit Pattinathu Chetty and ask him to adopt the child. Pattinathaar and Sivakalai eyes were tears and they thought that Lord Shiva and Parvathi themselves came as the elderly couple and blessed them with the child. Pattinathaar and Sivakalai, adopted the child and gave the elderly couple a large amount of wealth. They named the baby boy – Marudhavanan.

Marudhavanan grew like a prince and was shown great love and affection by Pattinathar and Sivakalai. One day Marudhavanan expressed his interest to sail across the oceans to where Pattinathaar’s business ships traveled. Excited that his son would grow to be a business tycoon like him, Pattinathaar taught him the nuances of trade. Before leaving he promised his father that he will bring the most valuable wealth that his father has ever seen. Days went on and one fine day, the ship that Marudhavanan went, returned back to Kaveripoompattinam.

Pattinathaar was excited and went to receive his son back home. Marudhavanan hugged Pattinathaar and happily exclaimed that he has brought all the treasures he promised. Marudhavanan then went to meet his grandmother, while Pattinathaar ordered his men to unload the treasure. As the men began to unload gunny sacks, Pattinathaar grew suspicious, as precious gems and gold will never be tied up in sacks, rather they will be safely kept in boxes. He opened one of the sacks and all he found was dried cow dung and husks.

Pattinathaar grew furious and asked one of his men to carry a sack, went home angrily and shouted where Marudhavanan was. Pattinathaar’s mother came running out. He angrily exclaimed, “See what you grandson has got?” and kicked the sack down. The sack fell open and to his surprise the dried cow dung shattered into precious gems and the husk was nothing but golden husk. Pattinathaar’s joy knew no bounds. His mother came near him, gave him a box and told that Marudhavanan asked her to give Pattinathaar this box. She also said that Marudhavanan had gone away saying not to search for him. With great curiousity, Pattinathaar opened the box and found an eyeless needle and a small palm leaf with something written on it. It read, “Not even an eyeless needle will accompany you in the final journey of life.” Pattinathaar felt dizzy and found everything to be illusory. He realized that he had gone in search of wealth that is unstable in life. Seeing that he, too, was trapped, he immediately renounced his wealth and family and became a sanyasi.

Tamil script etched on a palm leaf manuscript.
Scripture box in Burma Teak wood by Miheer Fyzee