10. (Kungiliya) Kalayar
(pronunciation = '(kuNgiliya) kalayar')
By Swami Sivananda
(Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar was born in Thirukadavur in the Chola kingdom. The Lord of this place is called Amirda Ghateswarar. Once Devas and Asuras came to this place with nectar in a pot. They wanted to take bath. So, they left the pot on the ground and went to the river. When they came back to the place, they could not lift the pot. The pot itself had been transformed into a Lingam. Hence, this Lingam is known as Amrita Lingam. Markandeya worshipped this Lingam and became an immortal boy of 16 years.
The Goddess in this place is called Abiraami Amman. Abiraami Pattar, a great devotee of Mother, sang beautiful songs called Abiraami Andhaadhi, in praise of Her here. Divine Mother who was highly pleased with his devotional hymns that She changed the new moon day into a full moon day, in order to save him from the king's wrath.
(Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar was a Brahmin by caste. He got the name because he was always holding an incense pot in his hand. He considered burning of incense before the Lord as the best service to Siva. Lord Siva was highly pleased with (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar's intense devotion and his wonderful service. He wanted to put it to test, so that the true glory of his supreme devotion to the Lord may be understood by all.
By the will of Lord Siva, (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar became poor suddenly. He sold all his property. His family was starving. Still, he continued to burn incense before the Lord.
One day his dutiful wife thought, "Everything has been sold. Only this Mangalyam is left (a sacred thread with a pendant, which every married woman must always have on her person, till the husband dies, when it is removed). I will give it to my Lord though it is inauspicious to do so. Let him sell it and obtain some rice, with which we could feed the children who may die of hunger otherwise."
She removed the Mangalyam and gave it to her husband, who gladly received it. As he was proceeding to the market to sell it, Lord Siva Himself appeared before (Kungiliya) Kalayar, in the guise of a hawker and said that he had very good incense. The word incense at once made (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar forget himself and his mission to buy rice for his family! He quickly bought incense for the price of the Mangalyam, and went to the temple to burn it before the Lord.
His wife patiently waited for his return, and, not finding him even after nightfall, put the children to bed and remained praying. The Lord was immensely pleased with this noble couple. The faithful wife was prepared to part with even the most sacred ornament for the service of her Lord, her husband.
The Kural says, "Rain falls at the bidding of her who, on waking from sleep, worships no other God but her husband."
That night Lord Siva appeared in her dream and blessed her with all wealth. She woke up from her sleep and was amazed to find all types of wealth in the house. She sang Lord Siva's glories. Immediately she prepared a nice meal and was waiting for her lord's return.
After blessing (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar's wife, thus, Lord Siva appeared before (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar in the temple and said, "Oh noble soul, I am immensely pleased with your devotion. Your dutiful wife is anxiously waiting for you in the house with milk and food. Kindly go to your house."
It was only then that (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar became aware of this world! He returned to the house and found that it had been transformed into a heaven, by the grace of the Lord. Siva bhaktas, too, had assembled in the house in large numbers. They all sang the glories of the Lord. (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar treated the wealth that the Lord had bestowed upon him as the property of Siva bhaktas and served them with it.
One day (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar wanted to visit the temple at Thiruppanandal. The Lord of this temple is Arunasatesar. Thatakai was the daughter of an Asura. For getting a son, she worshipped the Sivalingam regularly. One day at the end of the worship, she wanted to garland the Lingam. As she lifted the garland with both her hands, her cloth began to slip from her waist. She held it with her elbows, and hence could not raise her hands (and the garland) high enough. To relieve her, the Lord leaned to one side and accepted the garland.
Many people tried to pull the Lingam straight but it could not be done. (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar heard that the king of this place was upset about it and wanted the Lingam to be straightened. (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar wanted to help the king. So, he tied the Lingam to his neck with a rope (the rope of God-love) and gently pulled it. The Lingam became upright! Devas rained flowers from heaven. All were amazed and recognised the glory of (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar and his great devotion to the Lord.
After spending some more time in the service of Lord Siva and His bhaktas, (Kungiliya) Kalayar Nayanar reached Siva's abode.
Sekkilaar, and G. Vanmikanathan. Periya Puranam A Tamil Classic On The Great Saiva Saints of South India. Ed. Dr. N. Mahalingam. Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 2000.
Sivananda, Swami. Sixty-Three Nayanar Saints. World Wide Web edition. India: Divine Life Society, 1999.