Thiru Neelakanta Nayanar (திருநீலகண்ட நாயனார்)
|photo courtesy : vikatan prasuram|
Birth place: Chidambaram
Star: Thai Visakam
A very pious potter, who was fascinated by the episode of Lord Shiva drinking the Alahala visham (poison) which came out while the Devas and Asuras churned the Paarkadal, used to always chant “Thiruneelakantam, Thiruneelakantam” that his original name was forgotten and he came to be called Thiruneelakantar.
A staunch devotee of the Lord, he lived a peaceful life with his wife making pottery and giving away at least one clay bowl (thiruvodu திருவோடு) everyday to the devotees of Lord Shiva.
One day, due to his past life karma, he went to a prostitute and when he came back, his wife was furious and swore in the name of the Lord that Thiruneelakantar should not touch her anymore. Ashamed by his action, he accepted his wife’s condition and they stayed together not leading a life of man and wife but continued the service of giving away a clay bowl a day to the devotees.
This went on for many years and Lord Shiva wanted the world to know their devotion. He came in the form of a Shiva devotee and gave a bowl to Thiruneelakantar stating that the bowl is capable of purifying anything put in it and Thiruneelakantar is to keep it safe until the devotee came back. Thiruneelakantar kept it very safe in his house and when the devotee came many years later and asked for the bowl, it was not to be found anywhere.
Very upset with this, Thiruneelakantar offered to make a new bowl for the devotee, but the devotee insisted that he wanted his own bowl back. He said he did not believe that the bowl was missing and accused Thiruneelakantar of cheating him. When Thiruneelakantar pleaded with him that he is saying the truth, the devotee asked Thiruneelakantar to prove that he is not lying by taking a dip in the temple pond nearby holding his son’s hand.
When Thiruneelakantar said that he did not have a son, the devotee asked him to hold his wife’s hand and take a dip. Baffled by this, (as he had not touched his wife after the promise) he kept quiet. The devotee insisted that the case be heard by the village head and Thiruneelakantar agreed to take a dip with his wife with both of them holding either end a bamboo stick. The devotee did not accept this either and Thiruneelakantar was forced to admit in front of the village about his life with his wife.
The village head gave judgement that Thiruneelakantar has to take a dip in the pond holding his wife’s hand and he had no other choice. After a dip, the two of them came up. Lo and behold, both Thiruneelakantar and wife had become young!
Lord Shiva gave darshan along with Goddess Parvathi and explained that He wanted the world to know the devotion of Thiruneelakanta Nayanar!
|photo courtesy : shaivam.org|
The temple where this happened is Thiruppuliswarar Temple (திருப்புலிச்வரர் கோயில்) aka Ilamai Thirumbinar Koil (இளமை திரும்பினார் கோயில்), very close to Chidambaram.