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Thiruvilayadal
 
 Manikkavasagar Story
Manikkavasagar, the author of "The Thiruvaachakam" (the great Upanishad in Tamil), is said to have been born in Vadhavoora, a village seven miles from modern Madurai, on the banks of river Vaigai. He was the illustrious minister of Pandinaadu.

Once, Manikkavasagar was given money by the Pandiyan King to buy horses for the cavalry. But he used the money to renovate the dilapidated temple at Thiru-p-perunthurai. He knew that the cavalry is in urgent need of remounts. But, when he arrived at Thirupperunthurai, he saw that the temple was in more urgent need of renovation. So he diverted the money for the renovation of the temple, an act well within his powers of discretion. He was not misappropriating the state funds.If anyone was in the wrong, it was the king who was in the wrong. Manikkavasagar was put into prison.This was the reason why Lord Shiva chose to teach the king, the evanescent nature of faith in power based on an army. It was therefore that he made the howling jackals turn into cavalry horses. Lord Shiva reached Madurai with the horses. The king was pleased and he released Manikkavasagar.On the same day, (midnight) all the cavalry horses turned into howling jackals. The message reached the king through his soldiers.

Whereupon, the king threw Manikkavasagar into prison. Mundane justice was satisfied,the ends of the law of karma was fulfilled. But divine law had been forgotten by the king. Lord Shiva made the perenially dry Vaigai rise in devasting flood. The king had to be taught a lesson and Manikkavasagar too had to learn a lesson - an elementary lesson in the service of god. Pandiyan king ordered every family in Madurai to send one man for each family to help to throw embankments to contain the waters of Vaigai. Prisoners, who were the first people to be pressed into service in such emergencies even in those days would not have been spared by Pandiyan.

So, Manikkavasagar was there with his basket frantically throwing hods of mud into the hungry waters of the Vaigai. An old lady Vanthi, who used to sell "Pittu" could not send anyone from her family to throw embankments to contain the waters of Vaigai.The lady was a disciple of Lord Shiva . So, Lord Shiva planned to help the old lady and he appeared as a labourer infront of her.She, being a poor lady said that she will give him "Pittu" instead of money if he is ready to throw mud into Vaigai river. He accepted to carry mud in his head and throw it into the waters of Vaigai. He was very lazy used to sleep after eating "Pittu". The Pandiyan King came to know about Vanthi's servant through his soldiers. He ordered his Soldiers to bring him . Then the king started beating him on his back.Immediately, Lord Shiva, who was the servant of Vanthi disappeared after throwing a basket of mud into Vaigai. The king then realised that it was Lord Shiva who came as servant to rescue Manikkavasagar. Thus Lord Shiva taught the Pandiyan king - a much needed lesson in righteous kingship.

To commemorate this historical incident,'Avani Festival' is celebrated every year in the month of 'Avani'. This is another important festival next to 'Chithirai Festival'.
 Nakkeerar Story
Lord Shiva performed "Thiruvilayadals" for poets who prayed to him for succour. Once the Pandiyan king had a doubt as to whether the scent from a woman's hair was natural or artificial. He announced a price of 1000 gold coins for anyone who clear his doubt. A poor poet named Tharumi prayed to Lord Shiva to make him get the award. The Lord gave a poem to the poet and asked him to take it to the King.

When this poem was read in the court, Poet Nakkeerar found fault with it and stopped the giving of the prize. Alas! Tharumi's grief grew and he again appealed to the Lord. He said he was not for not receiving the prize but he could not bear anyone finding fault with the Lord's poems.
Thereupon, Lord Shiva himself came to the court and challenged Nakkeerar. But Nakkeerar could not be cowed down. Though the divine poet asked him if the hair of Ganapoongodai,the consort of Lord Kalathinathar,whom Nakkeerar worshipped ,did not have the natural scent,the undaunted Nakkeerar asserted that it was so.

Suddenly the Lord opened the eye in his forehead (Netrikkan) which emitted fire and looked at Nakkeerar to show the poet who he was. Even then, Nakkeerar persisted in his statement. As he could not bear the scorching heat, emanating from the divine eye he jumped into the water of the Golden Lotus Tank. Then at the request of the other poets, the Lord took Nakkeerar out of the tank, forgave him and made him study under 'Agasthiar', the Tamil Sage.
 Malik Kafur Story
Alauddin Khilji, who was the successful ruler in North India wanted to occupy Tamil Nadu. So he sent his Army Chief Malik Kafur to Madurai. He attacked Madurai in the year 1310. He easily won the battle as the then Pandiyan king Veerapandiyan lacked a powerful army. He also planned to destroy the Madurai temple after capturing the fort.

One of Malik Kafur's soldiers by name "Thiruvegambarayan" came to see the temple. He noticed eight elephant statues around the main Garpagraha. He asked a saint who was sitting in the "Siththar Sannidhi" about those elephants.The saint told him about the "Thiruvilayadals" of Lord Shiva.Once Lord Shiva came as "Siththar" and gave those elephants sugarcane. He asked the saint whether it will happen even today.

"Thiruvegambarayan" who felt surprised informed Malik Kafur about the elephant statues. Malik Kafur came to the temple to see those statues. Malik Kafur was given sugarcane by the saint to feed the elephants. To everyone's surprise the stone elephant stretched its trunk and ate the sugarcane. Malik Kafur was astonished. He said," Truly, god is present here only". He also ordered his soldiers to stop destructing the temple.

The temple was thus saved from demolition. When they attempted to know about the saint, he was not there.It was Lord Shiva who incarnated as the saint to rescue the temple.
 
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