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Amarnēthi Nāyanār

Amarnēthi
Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.
Amarnēthi of Pazhayāri, a merchant of gold, pearls, rubies and other precious stones, was a great devotee; of Lord Siva. He built a Math at Tirunalloor in order to serve the pilgrims who came to visit the Lord’s shrine, offering food, fresh clothes and new loincloths as required by them after their long journeys.

One day, the Lord took up the guise of a young Brahmachari. With sacred ash on his forehead, he carried a staff with a bundle of sacred darbha grass, a small pouch of holy ash, and two loincloths tied to it. Amarnēthi prostrated before the visitor who addressed him, “We have heard that you host devotees, offering food, clothing and fresh loincloths”. The humble host replied, “May it please thee; to take food in this Math today. It has been prepared in the prescribed way”.

The Brahmachari agreed but said, “First I must bathe in the Holy Kaveri. Please keep this loincloth safe and dry in case it rains. Guard it with your life for its glory cannot be told”. The devotee received the cloth piece reverently, bidding the guest return with all speed. He then put the loincloth in a safe place. When the Brahmachari returned dripping wet from his bath, he asked for the codpiece but lo, it had mysteriously vanished. Amarnēthi took a fresh loincloth from his store and pleaded with the Brahmachari to accept it instead. “Your deceit is now apparent”, said the Brahmachari. Amarnēthi’s face turned pale. He protested his innocence and pleaded mercy, offering to make fair restitution for the lost clothing. The Lord, the owner of the Universe, dressed as the Brahmachari, graciously agreed. He untied the other codpiece from his staff and said: “This piece is a match in all respects to the lost one. Place it in the balance and put your cloth in the other pan so that the weight may be judged equal”. The host was much relieved by this suggestion and put a fresh codpiece from his store into the balance. But finding it was not enough, he piled up other codpieces, though to little effect. Bewildered, he added bundles of clothing and then finally pieces of silver, gold and gems, but all proved of too little weight. (The Lord was out to prove that His grace would outweigh all His devotees’ offerings). The devotee proposed that he, his wife and his son stand in the balance to make good the shortfall. He bent low and touched the feet of the mysterious guest, went around the balance with his wife and son and chanted the Panchakshara. When he and his family stepped into the pan, he called out in supplication to the Lord above: “Lord, may these scales now stand even!” And so, it happened. The spectators of the miracle praised Amarnēthi for his devotion and the celestials showered flowers down from on high. In the midst of this downpour, the young Brahmachari disappeared. The Lord with His consort now appeared and gave darshan to all assembled. Amarnēthi, his wife and son stood in the scales and adored the Lord. The balance climbed up into the sky like a vimana, carrying them up to the Lord’s abode.


Reproduced from the October 2011 issue of the Saranagati eNewsletter
published by Sri Ramanasramam. The above text has been freely adapted from editions
of Periapuranam, Siva Bhakta Vilāsam (published by Sri Ramanasramam) and other texts.