(pronunciation = 'aa-naa-yar')
By Swami Sivananda
Thirumangalam was an important place of pilgrimage in Malanad (Trichnopoly District). The Lord who dwells in this place is called Samavedesvarar. It was He who purified Parasurama of the sin of killing his mother and also gave him the axe.
In that enchanting place, there was a cowherd by name Anayar Nayanar because he was tending cows, he was known by that name. Anayar was a staunch devotee of the Lord. He was devoted to the Bhasma and to Siva bhaktas (irrespective of their caste). His devotion to the Lord took the form of playing on his flute the holy Panchakshara Mantra of Siva. He aspired to realize the Lord, through this mantra.
One day when he was playing the mantra on his celestial instrument, under a Konrai tree (a favourite of Lord Siva), the music captivated all the cows and calves. Even the birds sat on trees and silently heard the enrapturing music of the flute. The peacocks danced in joy, keeping time with the music. Hearing the music, other animals stood motionless. The music captivated the hearts of the deer, snakes, lions, elephants, tigers, etc. The snake and the peacock, the lion and the elephant, shed their enmity and lived together happily. The rivers stopped in their course. The waves in the sea calmed, to hear the music of Anayar Nayanar. Even the celestials (Vidyadharas, Kinnaras and Devas) came in their celestial cars to hear the music.
The Lord was immensely pleased with Anayar Nayanar's sincere devotion, the sweetness of the music of the flute, and the effect of the Panchakshara Mantra all melted Siva's heart. He appeared before Anayar Nayanar, with Mother Parvathi, blessed him and took him to Kailas.
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.