(pronunciation = 'maanak-kan-chaarar')
By Swami Sivananda
Kancharur was a fertile place in the Chola kingdom. The people were all Siva bhaktas. In this place there lived a staunch devotee of Lord Siva by name Manakanjarar. He was a Vellala by caste. He was a hereditary Senathipathi. People of the community had the highest regard for him. He was a contemporary of Sundarar-Moorthi Nayanar. To Manakanjarar, adoration of Siva bhaktas was the highest form of worship of the Lord. He would read their minds from their look and would serve them without their asking.
Manakanjarar had no children for a long time. He worshipped Siva with faith and devotion and obtained the boon of a daughter. Manakanjarar Nayanar celebrated the birth of this divine child, with a lot of charity. In due time, the girl attained marriageable age. She was engaged to be married to Eyarkon Kalikamar who was also an earnest and sincere devotee of the Lord. The date of the wedding had been fixed and all arrangements made.
In the mean time, Lord Siva wanted to shower His supreme grace on Manakanjarar Nayanar. He took the form of a Maha-Vrathiar (man of great vow) who wears the sacred ash on his forehead, matted locks adorned with a garland of bones, and a sacred thread made of human hair on his chest. The Maha-Vrathiar appeared before Manakanjarar, who received him with great delight.
When the ascetic enquired about the cause of the festive appearance of the house, Manakanjarar explained that his daughter was to wed that day. Manakanjarar asked the girl to bow to the ascetic and receive His blessings.
The ascetic saw her flowing hair and said,"Oh noble soul, I am delighted to see her hair. This can be conveniently made into a Panchavati (the thread that adorns my chest)."
At once, Manakanjarar took a knife and, without thinking for a moment, cut the hair on his daughter's head and handed it to the ascetic. In his extreme devotion to the Siva yogi, he did not even consider the fact that he was disfiguring his only daughter, and that the bridegroom might refuse to accept her. The Lord in the form of the ascetic immediately disappeared. He gave Manakanjarar and his family darshan along with Mother Parvathi and blessed them.
Eyarkon Kalikamar (the bridegroom) and his party arrived there soon after, and came to know of all that had happened. He was sorry that he had not come earlier to have the Lord's darshan. When Eyarkon Kalikamar saw the disfigured bride and hesitated to accept her, Lord Siva (the Indweller) understood the cause and restored the hair to her head. Manakanjarar Nayanar and his family were very happy and proceeded with the wedding.
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.