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The History of Amarnithi Nayanar


In the Chozha kingdom there is a town called Pazhaiyarai which was the political capital of the Chozhas. It was a town of wealth and prosperity. In this town was born the honest trader Amarneethiyar. He had a flourishing business and was so affluent that his wealth included heaps or rubies, diamonds, gold and costly garments from different parts of the world. Despite all the opulence, his mind was forever engrossed in the peerless gem of them all – the feet of Lord Pashupati. While humility is a noble virtue even for an ordinary person, for the rich it is their most precious wealth. Amarneethiyar was very generous and put his money to good use to serve the devotees of the Lord adorned with snake rings. He arranged grand feasts for the devotees and offered them loin cloths to wear.

Amarnithi Nayanar - The History of Amarnithi Nayanar
The Love of Amarneethiyar balancing with the Kaupina of Shiva!

At the festival of the Three-eyed Lord at Thirunallur, the Nayanar worshipped the Lord by providing shelter and food for the devotees attending the festivities. He along with his family stayed in the same place and personally ensured that the devotees of the Lord were served well. Then one day when Amarneethiyar was filled with joy serving the servitors of God, there appeared Shiva himself in the guise of a celibate, besmeared with Sacred Ash and adorned with other Shaiva symbols in accordance with his monastic order. On seeing Him, Amarneethiyar ’s heart swelled with happiness which was further enhanced by his welcome. The unblemished devotee saluted Lord Nilakanta who had concealed His third eye in order to hide His true identity. Amarneethiyar requested the celibate to accept his hospitality and bless them by staying there. Then the Veda chanting celibate accepted the Nayanar’s request and said He would bathe in the Kaveri and return. As it was about to rain, the celibate wanted to keep one of his two loin cloths dry, so he gave it to Amarneethiyar for safekeeping. The celibate mentioned that it was a special cloth and He would take it back once he returns from bathing in the Kaveri. Amarneethiyar immediately kept in a safe place. But the Lord, who makes the three sources of suffering disappear from the hearts of His devotees, made the cloth disappear.

Only He knew if He bathed in the Ganga that flows through His matted locks or in the Kaveri on earth. But when He returned, He was drenched. He asked the Nayanar for his dry loin cloth that had been kept safely. The Nayanar obviously did not find the cloth which had been made to disappear. He searched high and low, but how could he possibly find that which the Stealer of Hearts had already stolen! The Nayanar felt guilty, brought another fine loin cloth and begged the pardon of the celibate. The celibate refused to accept it. Would the Lord who gave Kubera his covetable wealth accept that white cloth? All He wanted to show the world was the pure unblemished heart and peerless service of Amarneethiyar. Now the celibate’s anger started leaping like flames and he shouted that the Nayanar was trying to steal his invaluable loin cloth and wondered whether his trade was done with honesty. The shivering devotee fell at the feet of the celibate and offered gems and jewels instead of the lost loin cloth. The celibate refused. On being further pressed, the celibate said he would take cloth equivalent to the weight of the wet loin cloth he was wearing since it was similar to the one lost by the Nayanar.

Agreeing to the suggestion of the celibate, the Nayanar brought in a balance. He placed the wet loin cloth of the Lord, whose other name was Digambara (one who clads himself with the directions), on one side of the balance. To the other he started adding woven loin cloths. But as he kept adding cloths, there was no change in the balance. He ordered new bundles of cloth but in nothing managed to tilt the scales. Worried, he asked the celibate if he could now place his gems and gold. Since the celibate agreed, Amarneethiyar now piled all his wealth to balance the weight of the wet loin cloth. Is there anything in all the worlds that can equal the cloth of Vedas that the Lord sports? Amarneethiyar had given away everything he had. The last thing that was left was his family, he asked the celibate’s permission to sit on the balance along with his wife and son. Now the Lord who shows the path to climb out of the ocean of worldly existence, allowed the Nayanar and his family to climb on to the balance. Feeling blessed, Amarneethiyar and his family went around the balance where the Lord’s loin cloth was kept and prayed – “If our love for the Lord and His servitors is true and our service to his servitors was without a fault, then let the scales get balanced.” Then chanting the Holy five syllable mantra, they got on the side of the balance with the pile of wealth. 

The wholeness of their love and dedication brought the scales to balance. The world wondered! The heavenly beings praised them! The Lord of Vedas, who showed the balance of Amarneethi Nayanar to the world, appeared with his inseparable Shakti on the Holy Bull at the horizon. The blessed devotee sang praises for the Lord standing on the balance scale. To the devotee who gave up all his worldly wealth to Him, the Lord gave the wealth of being with Him. The balance scale plate became a heavenly vehicle for Amarneethiyar and his family to reach the abode of Shiva. Let the determination with which Amarneethiyar performed pure service to the extent that he gave himself up, stay in our minds.

Guru Pooja : Ani / Pooram or Mithuna/Purva Phalguni

Har Har Mahadev


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