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Paranjothi (Tamil: பரஞ்சோதி), popularly known as Siruthondar was an army general of the great Pallava king Narasimavarman I who ruled South India from 630–668 CE. He also led the Pallava army during the invasion of Vatapi in 642 CE. In the later years of his life, Paranjothi gave up violence and became a wandering Saivite monk, Siruthonda nayanar. He is venerated as one of the 63 Nayanmars.
Paranjothi, was born in Chengattankudi (now Thiruchenkkatukudi) village of Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu in a 'Maamaathirar Clan' during the 7th century AD. Tamil Nadu was ruled by Mahendravarman I of the Pallava dynasty with Kanchipuram as its capital. Paranjothi, who had mastered the art of war moves to Kanchipuram to learn literature and saivite scriptures, Kanchipuram was then a renowned knowledge capital in India.
Conquest of Vatapi
King Mahendravarman I, impressed by the courage and valour of Paranjothi appointed him as a commander in his army. After the death of Mahendravarman in 630 CE, his son Narasimavarman became the ruler of the Pallava dynasty and Paranjothi became his army general. Paranjothi was also a close friend of king Narasimavarman. Paranjothi as a trusted general of Narasimavarman, lead his forces to Vatapi in 642 CE for war against the Chalukya king, Pulakeshin. Pulakeshin was killed in the battle and Vatapi was burnt to ground to avenge the defeat of Mahendravarman by Pulakeshin in the battle of Pullalur in 618 CE.
During the dawn of war, Paranjothi worshipped a Ganesha sculpture on the walls of Vatapi fort. On the return from the victorious battlefield, he took the statue of Ganesha to his birthplace Tiruchenkattankudi to be worshipped as Vatapi Ganapathi. The statue and shrine to Vathapi Ganapathi is located in a temple in Tiruchenkattankudi in Nagapattinam district in the Tamil Nadu state of India.
On the victorious battle field Paranjothi underwent a change of heart and devoted himself to Lord Siva. Paranjothi became an ardent devotee of Lord Siva and was then called as Sirutthondar. He later became one of 63 Nayanmar Saints. Sirutthondar's life and devotion are narrated in Sekkizhar's Periya Puraanam.
In Popular Culture
Parnjothi is one of the prominent characters in Tamil historical fiction novel Sivagamiyin Sapatham by Kalki Krishnamurthy. This talks about the young years of Pranjothi where he raises in the ranks of the Pallava army and becomes the army general, his deeds in securing the Kachi fort from the imminent Vatapi invasion, his war on Vatapi Pulikesi and his eventual winm over the Chalukyas.
- "Mahendravarman I Biography - Encyclopedia of the Ancient World". Enotes.com. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Sekkizhar. Periya Puranam.
- Michael Lockwood. Mamallapuram and the Pallavas.
- Kalki (1946). Sivagamiyin Sabatham: illustrated. Pavai.
- "Miscellaneous / Religion : Sirutthondar's devotion". The Hindu. April 2010. Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Kalki Krishnamurthy (1946). Sivagamiyin Sabatham: illustrated. Pavai Publications. ISBN 81-7735-172-9.
- The Hindu (April 2010). "Siruthondar's devotion". The Hindu.
- "Sivagami's Vow - The translation of Sivagamiyin Sabadham".