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Naminandi-adigal Nāyanār

Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram.
Near the Kaveri was a Brahmin clan famed for its righteousness and devotion to the Vedas. Among them lived one Naminandi Adigal who was deeply devoted to the blue-throated Lord. Once on full-moon day he went to the nearby Kamalalayam to celebrate the Phalguna festival and to offer 100,000 ghee lamps to Tyagesvara. In need of a large quantity of ghee, he went to the nearby market and encountered a shopkeeper who was an unbeliever. The latter asked him why he should need so much ghee. “To offer the Lord 100,000 ghee lamps.” “And to what purpose?” queried the atheist. “To obtain the grace of Shambhu, the Lord and creator of all the elements and all the manifest world”, said the devotee. “If He is Lord of all the elements, then how can water and fire, being mutually repulsive, fit into His form?” pressed the merchant condescendingly. “By the Lord’s grace, all is possible”, said the devotee emphatically. “If that is so then you won’t need any ghee but can just light your lamps with water, is it not?”.

Indignant at the merchant’s disrespect of the Lord, Naminandi took leave empty-handed and pain-hearted. Once at the shrine of the Lord with no ghee to offer Him, he fell prostrate before Mahadeva. Just then a voice boomed from above, “Leave your cares and fetch water from the tank. With it you shall light the lamps”. Hardly Illustration courtesy of Ramalingar Pani Mandram believing his ears, Naminandi at once began to follow the instruction. But as he prepared a wick for each of the water-filled lamps, he realised he was short on wicks. Rather than return to the shop and subject the Lord to further abuse, he made up his mind to journey home to fetch more. Taking short-cuts to save time, he was compelled to pass through the crowded sections of town, through villages of rustics and peasants, and thus came into contact with people of the lower classes. Once home, he felt uneasy, worrying that his caste purity had been compromised by contact with non-worshippers. He immediately set about to bathe himself after which he quietly dozed off. During the moments of slumber, the Lord appeared in a dream and showed him a vision of all the simple people whose contact he had disparaged of during his walk home. In the vision, each of them now appeared in their true form i.e. with matted hair and the crescent moon. Naminandi then understood that they and indeed, all people, whether low or high-born, were Lord Siva and thus should be respected in all circumstances. When he awoke, he begged pardon for the irreverence he had shown the Lord in His form of simple people and outcastes. Recalling his urgent task, with wicks in hand, he rushed back to the temple. Once there, he motioned to all gathered round, irrespective of caste or class, to join him lighting the lamps in this most spectacular offering. Onlookers were apprehensive about lighting water-filled lamps. But Naminandi cried out to the Lord: “O Tyagesvara, Ocean of compassion, bless me with your grace!” He then struck a match and the first lamp immediately blazed up and burned brightly. He lit a second lamp with the same result. Seeing this, the crowd knew it was the grace of the Lord and hastened to assist him.

By Mahadeva’s mercy, pure knowledge dawned on Naminandi and he discovered that devotion to the Lord was the one infallible means for securing anything worth having in this earthly life. He also learned that all people carried the divinity within them and were thus deserving of kindness and respect. By virtue of a more complete devotion, Naminandi attained to absolute everlasting union with the Lord.

Reproduced from the April 2014 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.

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