History of Sudalai Madan

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Sudalai Madan or Madan, is a regional Tamil male deity who is popular in South India, particularly Tamil Nadu. He is considered to be the son of Shiva and Parvati. He seems to have originated in some ancestral guardian spirit of the villages or communities in Tamil Nadu, in a similar manner as Ayyanar.

One day, the Hindu God Shiva went around the world to offer food to all the creatures. Parvathi, his wife, wanted to test whether Shiva was actually doing it well. So she captured an ant, put it in a small box and hid the box in the hem of her sari. No sooner had Shiva come and sat on the throne than Parvathi told him that one creature was still hungry. Shiva replied that he was omniscient and asked her to open the box and look inside. When Parvathi did so, she saw the ant eating some grains.

Shiva asked, “Is there anything hidden in the box that Shiva does not know?” “Is there anything hidden in the room that is not known to Shiva?” Parvathi fell at his feet and begged for forgiveness. Then she prayed for a son. Shiva told her that the Gods Ganapathi and Murugan were her children. She was not ready to go with that, instead she prayed again for a son. Shiva said that her request would be granted and asked her to stand at the gate of heaven and to spread the end of her sari in the kandamani lamp. She did exactly as Shiva had instructed her. At that time a baby without a head was born to her.

Parvathi cried: “I prayed for a boy. But you have given me a grinding stone.” Shiva told her “you wanted to test me. That is why I have caused it to happen like this.” Then he called for a potter and asked him to shape the child’s head. Parvathi raised the child. When the child was three years old he thought to himself: breastfeeding will not quench my thirst, Mother’s milk will not enable me to run around. I will go to earth and eat the corpses. So one day he started off at dusk with a lantern and a staff in hand and went to the place called Thillaivanam. There he saw a burning corpse. He removed its intestines and wore them as a garland around his neck. He plucked out the liver and started munching it as if it were a mango. He broke the bones and gnashed them as if they were sugarcane. After he had eaten everything he returned to heaven. He also did the same thing the next day. He thought that Parvathi hadn’t noticed what he had done. So he took the remains of the corpse and placed them under his cradle as a footrest. When Parvathi noticed that he was eating the corpses, she told him that he was unfit for heaven and asked him to leave for the earth. He replied that if he must go to earth, he should be honoured with a festival lasting eight days. When the festival was over, he said that he would not go unless some further demands were answered. His demands were: The sick should be healed with the sprinkling of my ashes. Chronic illness should vanish with my miraculous power The devils should run away from my stuff. His petition was granted and he left Thillaivanam of the earth where he knocked at the door of Bagavathi’s house. A voice from inside asked: “who is that?” And he replied that he was Sudalai, the son of Parvathi. To this he added, “If I am a son of Parvathi, I am a son to you also!” She opened the door and said, “If you serve as a watchman for all these seven treasures, I will offer you a human sacrifice at midnight.” But while he was performing this job, Pulayan—a famous magician from Kerala—began to disturb him.

Pulayan had only one daughter. He didn’t possess any wealth to arrange her marriage ceremony. The magician utilized his power to reveal hidden things. With that power he saw the treasures in the house of Bagavathi. Having seen them, he ordered a thousand evil spirits to bring him the treasures from the store of Bagavathi, saying that if they failed they would be sentenced to death. The spirits went to the store and stole the treasures when Sudalai was asleep. When he awoke he was shocked to find that the treasures were missing. Since he had been born with miraculous power he was able to see Kerala. He told Bagavathi that he would go to Kerala to retrieve the treasures. Bagavathi pleaded with him not to go there since it was the place of a great magician. But Sudalai paid no heed to her plea. He set out on his way, carrying with him a thousand snakes, one of each species. Upon reaching Kerala he performed a display with the help of the snakes.

A damsel who was a friend of the daughter of Pulayan witnessed the performance and praised Sudalai. Pulayan’s daughter was herself induced to go out of her house to see the show. When Sudalai noticed her, he picked up a serpent and let it loose among the crowd. The crowd scattered hither and thither. Then Sudalai bore a thiruvodu [begging tray] in his hand and went to Pulayan’s house where he begged for water. Pulayan’s daughter replied: There is plenty of water in the river, There is plenty of water in the channel, Go there to quench your thirst.

Sudalai replied: I have not come as a beggar. But I have come to marry you. Then he entered into a dense forest of seven hills. There he met the members of a hill tribe. Sudalai was all the while thinking about how to win Pulayan’s daughter. So he took the form of an ant, and crossed the seven hills. When he reached Pulayan’s house he took the form of a rose and played with Pulayan’s daughter. She embraced the rose and fell asleep. Sudalai made her pregnant. The next day seven men from the hill tribe came to Kerala in search of Sudalai. They asked him for a lamp to destroy the flies in their farm.

Sudalai asked them: Give me six roosters for sacrifice. Give me seven gates to sprinkle the blood. Give me eggs together with twenty-one earthen pots and a fibre tray. When these things were offered, Sudalai picked them up in his hands, and immediately everything broke into pieces. Sudalai got annoyed and demanded the tribesmen sacrifice Pulayan’s pregnant daughter; otherwise he threatened that he would kill them. They went to Pulayan’s house and told him about the matter. Pulayan replied that if his daughter were pregnant he would sacrifice her to Sudalai, and went into his home. There he saw that his daughter had already conceived. He was stunned and told her that he would go to the jungle to worship Kali, and come back. He took her to the jungle and sacrificed her to Sudalai. And later Sudalai has also killed Pulayan .

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