27 June 2009

Tiru Neelakanta Nayanar

In Chidambaram, there once lived an ardent devotee of Lord Siva. He was a potter and leading an ideal household life. He had the highest regard for devotees of Lord Siva and made beautiful begging bowls of clay and offered them free to the devotees. Siva, in His aspect of Neelakanta (blue-throated one) was his sole refuge and prop.

In spite of the potter's virtuous qualities, once he fell a victim to lust. One day, he visited the house of a prostitute. When he returned home, his dutiful and pious wife understood this. Although she did not show her irritation and continued to serve him; she decided from then on not to have relations with him. One day, as her husband approached her with passion, she took an oath and said: ‘In the name of Neelakanta, I ask you: do not touch us.’ Though she only meant herself, she had used the word 'us. Since she took the Name of the Lord and since she had used the word 'us', Neelakanta Nayanar decided that from that day he would not touch any woman in the world. Years rolled by and they had grown old.

In the guise of a Yogi the Lord came to Tiru Neelakanta’s house. The Yogi gave him a begging bowl to keep in his safe custody and left the place. After a long time, the Lord returned to the house in the guise of the Yogi and asked for the bowl’s return which by the power of his Maya, he had caused to disappear from the house. Neelakanta searched for it, but could not find it. It was a mystery to him. He was ashamed of himself. Trembling with fear, he fell at the Yogi’s feet and said that he could not find it. At this, the Yogi got very angry and accused Neelakanta, calling him a thief and cheat.

The Yogi demanded that if he was innocent he should say so on oath while holding his wife’s hand. When Nayanar, who had resolved, in the name of the Lord, not to touch a woman anyone, declined, the Yogi pretended to attribute his unwillingness to the fact that he had been guilty of theft. They went to the court. The Brahmins heard the case. Neelakanta could no longer hide the secret relationship that existed between him and his wife, and so, related the whole story to the court.

After this narration, Neelakanta and his wife caught hold of the two ends of a stick and took a dip in the tank. As they emerged from the water, they shone with youth and beauty. The Yogi disappeared and Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati appeared in the sky, blessing all of them. The Lord said: ‘Due to the merit of having lived a life of self-control and devotion, you will live in My Eternal Abode, forever youthful.’ The Lord thus revealed the glory of supreme devotion to Him, and the power and purity of a saint’s virtue.

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