Iyarpahai was known for his hospitality and never denied the needs of any devotee. He had a keen eye for the faithful and always served them unfailingly. One day he received an unusual visitor in the garb of a Brahmin priest. When the guest said that he had heard that the saint never turned down the requests of devotees, the saint humbly assented. The priest said that he had an unusual requirement and wanted assurance in advance that it would be granted him. ‘Whatever I have is the possession of my Lord’s devotees’. The priest then boldly uttered the following: ‘I have come for your beloved wife’. Iyarpahai stood transfixed, speechless. When he stepped into the next room to consult with his wife both were in shock at hearing such words uttered in their chaste home. But as they pondered the matter, their discerning minds told them that something divine was at work and that this was no ordinary Brahmin. The two thus agreed to the priest’s demands and the latter asked them to accompany him to the edge of the town. While going, the man’s in-laws, having heard about the indignity being done their family, approached and threatened violence. When the saint drew his sword to defend the priest, the crowd dissipated. The saint then bid a tearful farewell to his life’s companion and moved away as if to depart but just as he was going, the Brahmin’s form dissolved and in its place Mahadeva, majestic and glorious, rose up together with his consort, Uma. The two devotees bowed in prostration. As the Lord mounted his Bull to depart, He commended their gesture of self-sacrifice and bade his devotees to come to dwell with him at Kailasa.
Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.