Since our navaratri theme this year is Mother Meenakshi, let me write about HER MAJESTY, the Empress of Madurapuri.... A real life incident to show her care towards her children. Meenakshi appeared as a three-year-old girl three times in History. First during the ‘Puthirakamestshi yagna’- (her actual incarnation), next during the aranketram of ‘Meenakshi Ammai Pillai Tamil’ by Kumaraguruparar(during the regign of Tirumalai Naicker) and Latestly before Rous Peter - during the British rule.
The East India Company was actually ruling Tamilnadu during 1812 and Rous peter was the Collector of Madurai. Rous Peter was kind hearted person and respected and treated people of all faiths equally.
Unlike other English officers, Peter cared a lot for the welfare of the people. He also restored peace, prosperity and justice in Meenakshi's Pattanam (Madurai).. The people had a great regard for Peter and felt that he is equal to the Great Pandiyan Kings. Because of this attitude, the people called him with the popular name ‘Peter Pandian’.
As a district Collector, he was not only in charge of the temple town, but also for the Temple administration. Peter had the habit of going around the temple everyday before beginning his daily work.
One night the city experienced huge thunder storm with lightning. Peter was inside his bungalow in deep slumber.. Suddenly a three-year-old girl appeared at his residence and dragged Rous Peter by his hand outside the house. As soon as they left the compound, a lightening struck the building and the bungalow collapsed to pieces and destroyed the room, where the collector was sleeping.
Everything happenned within few seconds... Peter was takenaback and was in total shock. Soon he came back to himself, and found the mysterious little girl walking away.
He immediately followed her... though he ran after her, he could not keep up with the girl. The tiny tot always seemed to be the same distance away in front of Peter, however fast he walked.
She playfully entered the Meenakshi Temple and went straight to the Sanctum Sanctorum of Meenakshi... and right in front of his eyes... there she disappeared.
Peter was sure that the empress Herself has come in the form of that mysterious girl... For Shri Matha everyone - including Peter is her Child. The Ruler Meenakshi had come to save a good man from calamity.
Peter was ever-grateful to Mother Meenakshi and donated many jewellery and other gifts to the Minakshi Temple. Among which, a notable one is a set of golden stirrups studded with diamonds and red stones to the temple for use on the idol of Sree Meenakshi when taken in procession in the streets of Madurai.
He also wished that after his death he should be buried in a position that enabled his eyes to face the temple. It is interesting to note that Rous Peter’s grave is positioned the way he wished while the pther graves faces the other way.
The stirrups offered by Peter Pandiyan adorns the Horse Vaahanam on the day of procession. Even now this is used when Goddess Meenakshi riding the horse is taken out during festival days. He also donated a Jade necklace which is still preserved, in the temple museum.
maata marakata shyama maatangi madhushalini
kuryaat kaTaaksham kalyani kadamba vanavaasini