Selvapillai and bibi nachchiyar
As the terrible events were unfolding in the court of Kulothunga Cholan, wearing white and accompanied by Mudaliandan and a few other sishyas, Bhagavat Ramanuja headed west towards Melkottai of present day Karnataka. It would be 12 years before Ramanuja would return to Sri Rangam.
All along the way, R and his entourage were helped by many SV converts. First it was a group of Adi Dravida hunters. They had embraced SV from a sishya of R, Thirumalai Nallan. For the hunters, it was great and privilege and joy to see R in person. They escorted R and his party for about a week. But food became a difficulty. So, the hunters took them to the residence of a Brahmana.
By a serendipitous coincidence, the wife of the householder was already an SV convert through a chance encounter with R during a visit to Sri Rangam. It seems she was able to pick out R from the rest of the group by just looking at the feet even though he was wearing white. She made her husband embrace SV as well from R.
From there, R and the group slowly moved further west and came across a village of Brahmins. They were initially hostile towards SV and R. But, after a few days of observing and hearing R's teachings, the entire village converted to SV under R.
Finally, R and his sishyas reached Thondanoor, a town close to Thiru Narayana Puram aka Melkottai. The country was ruled by a Jain king called Vidaladeva Rayan. It seems his young daughter was afflicted by some kind of mental illness and was running around naked. Further, the king had lost a finger at the hands of marauding Muslim army from Delhi. This made him an angaheenan. For these reasons he was shunned by the his kula gurus.
Having heard of R freeing Kanchi King’s daughter from the clutches of a “Brahmma Rakshaha”, Vidala approached R for help. R was successful in healing the girl. Vidaladeva became an ardent disciple of R and changed his name to Vishnuvardana Rayan. The text claims R debated 12,000 Jains from his kingdom, standing behind a screen and taking on his original form of Adhiseshan, and converted them all to SV. Thus, SV became state religion there.
Finally, R and goshti moved to Melkottai. There he found out that the Utsava moorthy (Selvapillai) of the temple was taken away to Delhi by the army of the Muslim Sultan. R went to Delhi and asked the Sultan for the return of the moorthy. Sultan said we have many such vighrahas, if you can find it you can have it.
But the Vigraha could not be found in the warehouse. It seems Selvapillai came in R’s dream and told him he was with one of Sultan's daughters. The next day R revealed this to the Sultan. Upon inquiry the vigraha was found in his daughter’s possession. The Sultan made her give the Vighraha to R, who made a hasty return to Thiru Narayana Puram.
Unable to be parted from the icon, daughter persuaded her father to go after R and het the icon back. But, the soldiers could not catch up with R, he had already safely reached Thiru Narayana Puram. At this point retrieving the moorthy would mean doing battle with Vishnuvardan. So the soldiers returned back to Delhi.
But unable to be away from her beloved idol, the daughter stayed back and lived the rest of her life in Melkottai as a devotee of Selvapillai. To commemorate this, there is a small sannidhi for this young girl. She came to be known as Bibi Nachchiyar. A carving of her figurine can be seen at the feet of Selvapillai vighraha even today. If you happen to go to Thiru Narayana Puram, ask to see Bibi nachchiyar.
At this stage, the text has couple of intriguing sentences about debating some Bouddhas and grinding them to pulp in a grinder. Hope this is not to be taken literally. You be the judge, here is the original text.
"பௌத்த ஸமயங்களை வென்று "என்றும் என்பிள்ளைக்குத் தீமைகள் செய்வார்கள் அங்கனம் ஆவார்களே" என்னும் படி அவர்களை கற்காணம் தன்னில் அரைப்பித்து, நிச்சேஷமாக நிரஸித்து, நிஷ்கண்டமாக ஆக்கி அருளி ...."
(கற்காணம் = செக்கு, grinder)
After twelve years, news of the Chola’s king’s horrible death arrived. He was afflicted by some degenerative decease and was supposed to have wasted away and because of this he is called krimi kanda chozan by SVs. The new king invited R to come back to Sri Rangam. But the SVs of Thirunarayanapuram would not agree to let R leave.
To satisfy them, the text says, R made a utsava moorthy of himself and endowed it with all his powers. The sishyas were very happy to have his vighraha and let him return to Sri Rangam. This vigraha came to be known as தமர் உகந்த திருமேநி
(delight of devotees).
This is one of the three most revered moorthees of R, the other two being தான் உகந்த திருமேநி
(of delight to self) at his birth place Sriperumbuthoor, and தான் ஆன திருமேந்னி
(same as self) at Sri Rangam. The third one at Sri Rangam உடையவர் சந்நிதி
is supposed to be his own actual mummified and preserved body.