60. Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar
(pronunciation = 'thiru-Neela-kanta yaal-paaNar')
By Swami Sivananda
In Thiru Erukattanpuliyur, in the Chola kingdom, there lived an ardent devotee of Lord Siva by name Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar. He was an expert in playing the Yaal (Veena, a musical instrument). It was his habit to visit many sacred shrines and sing Siva's glories on the Yaal.
He once went to Madurai. Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar stood at the entrance and sang. The Lord wanted to hear Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar at close quarters and so asked the devotees in their dream, to bring Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar into the inner shrine.
The next day, when the Brahmins took Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar inside the shrine, Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar was surprised, but understood it was Siva's leela and that Siva wanted to hear him play on the Yaal.
As Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar was singing, a voice was heard in the heaven, "If the instrument rests on the wet floor, it will be spoilt give Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar a golden seat to occupy."
At once a golden seat was offered to Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar. Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar prostrated to the Lord and sang of Siva's supreme compassion, standing on the golden seat.
Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar then went to Thiruvaaroor and, there, too, he remained outside the shrine and sang. And here, too, the Lord wanted Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar to sing in Siva's immediate presence. So, the Lord created another opening on the northern side of the temple. Thiru-Nilakantha Yalpannar understood the Lord's will and entered through the gate and sang in Siva's presence.
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.