As its mahout goaded the mammoth royal elephant to the open space where Navukkarasu was held, the beast trumpeted in fury, knocking down walls and ornamental arches in wanton aggression. The earth shook under its tread and the crowd surged back in fear.
Navukkarasu fearlessly stood his ground asserting, "The Cosmic Dancer who wears a garment of elephant hide will protect me."
The animal charged forward - only to stop short before the saint. In an instant, all aggression leached out of the beast. As docile as a lamb, the elephant circumambulated Navukkarasu, clumsily fell to its knees, and raised its trunk in homage to him. Lumbering to its feet, it then carefully backed away from its intended victim.
Hounds of Shiva is a treasure house of tales with impassioned, heroic acts of sacrifice, devotion and service in the lives and times of the Nayanmars - the sixty-three Shaivite saints who were exemplars of bhakti. Kannappa gouges out his eye to heal Shiva's wound; Punitavati renounces her youth and beauty to follow the Lord as an emaciated ghoul; Siruthondar sacrifices his own son at Shiva's command; Iyarpahai gifts his beloved wife to another man; Samandhar raises a boy from the dead; Poosal builds an intricate Shiva temple in his heart.
But the book's hero is Lord Shiva, who assumed myriad disguises to sport with his devotees, blessing and testing them. Filled with astounding miracles, Hounds of Shiva is an untole tale of the Blue-throated Lord and a feast for the mind and soul.
The Hounds of Shiva
Reading level: Adult
Paperback: 324 pages