MANIKKAVACHAKKAR WAS GOING from one place to another until he came to Chidambaram. While witnessing Nataraja’s dance he started singing heart-melting songs and stayed in that place itself. Then one day Nataraja, with a view to make people know the greatness of Manikkavachakar and to bless the people with an excellent collection of hymns, went to the house of Manikkavachakar in the night, in the guise of a brahmin. He was received cordially and when asked the purpose of the visit, the Lord smilingly and with great familiarity asked, “It seems you have been singing hymns during your visit to sacred places of pilgrimage and that you are doing it here also. May I hear them? I have been thinking of coming and listening to you for a very long time but could not find the required leisure. That is why I have come here at night. I suppose you don’t mind. Can you sing? Do you remember them all?”
is no need to worry about sleep. I shall sing all the songs I
remember. Please listen.” So saying Manikkavachakar began
singing in ecstasy. The Lord in the guise of a brahmin sat down
there writing the songs on palm leaves. As Manikkavachakar
was in ecstasy he hardly noticed the brahmin who was taking
down the songs. Singing on and on, he completely forgot himself
in the thought of God and ultimately became silent. The old
brahmin quietly disappeared.
At daybreak, the dikshitar (priest) came to the Nataraja
temple as usual to perform the morning puja and as he opened
the doors he found in front of the Nataraja image, on the
doorstep, a palm-leaf book. When the book was opened, and
scrutinised the words Tiruvachakam were written as well as an
explanation that the book was written, as dictated by
Manikkavachakar. It was signed below Tiruchitrambalam, i.e.
Chidambaram. The stamp of Sri Nataraja was also there below
the signature. Thereupon, all the temple priests gathered in great
surprise and sent word to Manikkavachakar, showed him the
Tiruvachakam, and the signature of Nataraja and asked him to
tell them about the genesis of the hymns.
Manikkavachakar did not say anything but asked them to
accompany him, went to the temple of Nataraja and standing
opposite the Lord said, “Sirs, the Lord in front of us is the only
answer to your question. He is the answer.” After having said
that, he merged into the Lord.
As he narrated the story, Bhagavan’s voice got choked.
Unable to speak any more he remained in ecstatic silence.