Volume 16 - Issue 02
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Posted on: Feb 12, 2018

How Saint Manikkavasagar Melted into Shiva

Part 02


The Moment That Created Manikkavasagar Out of Vadhavooraar

BP: Interestingly, much before Vadhavooraar reached there, Lord Shiva had manifested there as a Siddha Purusha (spiritual teacher) and was spending time with the poor children there. Every day He would go to the house of one child and eat the simple meal with that family. The rest of the time He would play with them and teach them about prayer and purity. This in fact had been going on in Thiruperundurai for quite some time.


The day Vadhavooraar stepped into the Shiva temple there, this Siddha Purusha was already in the temple compound. He was sitting under a kuruntha tree and around Him were His little disciples as well as many sanyasis.

When Vadhavooraar arrived, he first went to have the darshan of the Lord inside. Then he stepped out to do a pradakshina of the shrine.

As he was circumambulating the sanctum sanctorum, his eyes suddenly fell on the Siddha Purusha at a distance and that sight stirred something in him so explosively that he just could not contain himself.

He lost consciousness of everything happening around him and like a person possessed he rushed to His presence, his hands raised in supplication. The moment Vadhavooraar was there he surrendered himself to the Siddha Purusha and fell at His feet in complete submission.

LS: Wow! These are moments that can never be articulated by words. I was reminded of my first darshan of Swami way back in 1992. I knew nothing about Him then. After my marriage, my husband brought me first to Puttaparthi. I sat in the lines for darshan. There was not much crowd then.

When Swami came, as He was crossing by me, He stopped a little and His glance fell on me. I saw Him eye to eye for that split second and that moment sealed it for me. I instantly knew deep within that I had seen the eyes of God. Since then life has never been like before. It was a life-altering shift of my consciousness.

BP: You had experienced it with Sai Shiva!

For Vadhavooraar, Shiva specifically came down as a Sadguru and waited for weeks for him to arrive. Given Vadhavooraar's intense pining to see his Master, no wonder he immediately connected with Him. Of course, he didn't know then that it was Shiva Himself in the guise of a Sadguru but he knew for sure that he had found the One he had been frantically searching for months together.

LS: Maybe that was the perfect time for the Lord to touch his heart.

BP: Absolutely. As they say, “With God, it is worth a wait. It takes a bit of patience and lot of faith!” I also feel the Lord was preparing not only Vadhavooraar but that entire area for this moment. He had spent days visiting so many houses and mingling with so many souls, perhaps to purify them and create the perfect setting for this landmark event to unfold.

When Vadhavooraar prostrated at His feet, the Lord raised him up with a lot of love. Vadhavooraar had only one prayer, “Accept me as Your disciple, please.”

That is when Shiva looked deep into Vadhavooraar and in that one gaze, He instantly granted him ‘gyanopadesh’ – The Supreme Wisdom. Nothing was spoken but the highest knowledge was imparted.

The next moment, Vadhavooraar burst forth with spectacular compositions in adoration of the Lord and Shiva was so mighty pleased listening to him that He said, “Every syllable that emerges from your mouth is like a manikyam, a priceless ruby. So henceforth you will be known as ‘Manikkavasagar’ – The One Whose Words are as Precious as Rubies”.

LS: The Lord alone grants the talent and again He only congratulates you and even rewards you!

BP: That is always the case. When you and I are so overwhelmed, imagine what impact this blessing had on Manikkavasagar! The mercy of the Master was like a massive ocean and his heart was like a tiny vessel. It just continuously overflowed with His grace. That is what his life became from then on.

LS: So he composed songs and hymns and continued to stay in the Thiruperundurai temple?

Manikkavasagar Builds a Temple for the Ruler of the Hearts

BP: Well, that is what he wished to do the rest of his life but Shiva gave him an additional job to do before He left. He commanded him to renovate that temple. After this instruction, Shiva disappeared.

Actually, only then it hit Manikkavasagar that he was till then in the presence of Shiva Himself. Now, the dam of his heart just broke free. He could not stop crying for the Lord. He lamented his fate for not recognising the Lord. He spent days in prayer and surrender and finally consoled himself and decided to start the work of the temple reconstruction.

Guess which resources he used for this work?

LS: The money that the king had given him to buy horses?

BP: Exactly.

LS: Oh, that reminds me of Saint Ramadas. He too used the wealth meant for the king to build a temple for Lord Rama and because of that had to go through a lot of trials. The way Rama ultimately rescued him in a most dramatic manner is so fantastic that it has become part of Indian folklore.

BP: The story of Manikkavasagar is somewhat similar but with more interesting twists and turns. From a worldly perspective, what Manikkavasagar did was perhaps incorrect. He ‘misappropriated’ the money given by the king.

But when you read his compositions, in one of them he says, “Oh! These kings just rule the land. But what about the Ruler of Hearts? For me, the Ruler of Hearts is more important. I will follow Shiva!”

LS: He was clear. When you are that clear, everything falls into place.

BP: No doubt about it. You are then governed not by the rules of the world but by the rules of the higher realms and that gives you all the strength.

LS: So he never went back to the king?

BP: Not exactly. What happened is that the king was waiting for his horses. So he sent word for him. Now Manikkavasagar had no clue what to do. He was in a great dilemma; there was no way he could go back to the king without the horses. So that night he prayed to the Lord to come to his rescue.

The compassionate Shiva appeared in his dream and said, “You go to the king and tell him that his horses will come on the day of the ‘moola star’ in the month of Shravana (in Indian lunar months every day is associated with a star). Also, give him this gem.”

When Manikkavasagar woke up, he did find the gem next to him. That gave him all the confidence. He wore his regal clothes once again and proceeded to meet the king.

Even though he left Thiruperundurai, his mind was always there. He offered the gem to the king and assured him that his horses would soon come on the appointed day.

But the king did not believe him one bit because his spies had already informed him that Manikkavasagar had spent the money building a temple. He was in fact infuriated with Manikkavasagar's promises which to him were cock-and-bull stories. The king ordered that he should be imprisoned for embezzling his funds.

LS: I cannot but think of Ramadas again!

BP: Me too. Just like Ramadas, Manikkavasagar's mind too was fixed on the Lord. The tests and trials did not bother him much because he had full faith in his Lord's words. He patiently waited for the ‘moola star’ day.

Shiva did not disappoint him. Just as promised, on that particular day, a horseman appeared before the king and delivered a drove of fine horses.

LS: So Shiva took the form of a horseman!

BP: Yes! They say Shiva transformed all the jackals of the forest there into horses and presented them to the king.

LS: So did the King then release Manikkavasagar?

BP: He had to! He was stunned to see the horses. He wanted to amply reward the horseman but all he asked for was that the king should now set Manikkavasagar free. So the king ordered for his release.

LS: It is Manikkavasagar's faith that did this miracle.

BP: There is nothing that faith cannot do, isn't it? They say that with little faith, you can go to heaven but with great faith, heaven itself will come to you.

The Fury of the Lord When His Devotee is Hurt

LS: For this great devotee, Shiva Himself came down time and again. First as a Sadguru and now as a horseman.

BP: There is more! The king was extremely delighted to see such fantastic horses. In fact they say that the ‘mysterious horseman’ also gave tips to the king on how to identify good horses. The king then ordered that the new horses be added to his royal stable.

But something really bizarre happened that night. All the new horses suddenly transformed into jackals, their original forms, and this pack of jackals became unruly. They killed the other royal horses, created a complete mayhem there and finally escaped into the jungle.

When the king heard about this the next morning, he immediately ordered for Manikkavasagar to be put back in prison. He felt that his clever minister had played a trick on him.

LS: If I relate to Ramadas's story at this point, after Rama and Lakshmana appear before the king and reimburse the money, the sultan realises his folly and himself becomes a devotee of Rama.

But somehow in this case, the king was not smart enough to understand that something mysterious was happening. Even though Shiva Himself came and delivered the horses, his mind was too closed to grasp anything of the subtler dimension.

I guess the Lord had to give him some shocks to awaken him from his slumber.

BP: That is how it seems to me too. But unfortunately, the king was too dull-witted to clasp even such obvious hints. Instead of trying to fathom the mystery of what had happened, he could only think of punishing Manikkavasagar more.

Now, the Lord gave him another jolt. When Manikkavasagar was put behind bars the second time, immediately the waters of River Vaigai rose. It was so frightening that the entire city of Madurai was in danger.

Somehow the waters had to be stopped. So the king ordered all the citizens to stop everything they were doing and build bunds on the river.

LS: It makes me think that the king had actually erected a big bund in his heart which was stopping all the grace of the Lord from touching him.

BP: That's well said!

Sadly, no one could question the king. All the people were on the river bank helping in the construction work. Here, another interesting anecdote unfolded.

Part 01 | Part 03

- Radio Sai Team

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