Lord Siva Curses and Pardons Nakirar

Once, a Pandya king of Madurai felt that his queen’s hair had some kind of natural fragrance. A doubt arose in his mind as to whether human hair could have natural fragrance, or could be rendered fragrant only through association with flowers or scents. He went to the Sangham or the Tamil Academy the next day, suspended a bag containing one thousand gold pieces and said to the poets that anyone who would write a poem clearing the doubt he entertained in his mind would get the gold pieces as a prize. Many poets composed poems but they were not able to satisfy the king.
Darumi, a Brahmin priest in the temple, was extremely poor. He requested Lord Siva thus: “O all-merciful Lord! I am very poor. I wish to marry now. Relieve me of my poverty. Help me to get these gold pieces now. I take refuge in Thee alone”. Lord Siva gave him a poem and said: “Take this poem to the Sangham. You will get the gold pieces”.
The king was immensely pleased with the song as it cleared his doubt, but the Sangham poets did not accept it. Nakirar, one of them, said that there was a flaw in the poem. The poor priest was greatly afflicted at heart. He came back to the temple, stood in front of the Lord and said: “O Lord! Why did You give me the poem which contained a flaw? Nobody will take You for the Lord. I feel very much for this”. The meaning of the poem is: “O fair-winged bee! You spend your time in gathering flower-dust. Do not speak out of love, but speak out of truth. Is there any among the flowers known to you that is more fragrant than the hair of this damsel who is most loving, is of the colour of the peacock and has beautiful rows of teeth!”
Thereupon, Lord Siva assumed the form of a poet, went to the Sangham and asked: “Which poet found out flaw in the poem?” Nakirar said: “It is I who said that there is a flaw.” Lord Siva asked: “What is the flaw?” Nakirar said: “There is no flaw in the composition of words. There is flaw in the meaning.” Lord Siva said: “May I know what defect is there in the meaning?” Nakirar said: “The hair of a damsel has no natural fragrance. It gets the fragrance from association with the flowers.” Lord Siva said: “Does the hair of Padmini also possess fragrance by association with the flowers?” Nakirar said, “Yes.” Lord Siva said: “Does the hair of celestial damsels also possess fragrance by association with the flowers?” Nakirar replied, “Yes. Their hairs become fragrant by association with Mandara flowers.” Lord Siva said: “Does the hair of Uma Devi who is on the left side of Lord Siva whom you worship possess fragrance by association with the flowers?” Nakirar replied: “Yes. Quite so.”
Lord Siva slightly opened His third eye. Nakirar said: “I am not afraid of this third eye. Even if you are Lord Siva, even if you show eyes throughout your whole body, there is flaw in this poem.” The fire from the third eye of Lord Siva fell upon Nakirar. Nakirar was not able to bear the heat. At once he jumped into the neighbouring lotus-tank to cool himself.
Then all the poets approached Lord Siva and said: “O Lord! Pardon Nakirar.” Lord Siva appeared before Nakirar. Through the grace of Lord Siva his body was rendered cool. He repented for his mistake and said: “I pointed defect even for the hairs of Uma Devi. No one but the Lord can pardon me.” He sang a song with intense devotion. Lord Siva entered the tank and brought him to the shore.
Then Nakirar and other poets gave the purse of gold to Darumi.
 
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