31. Dandi Adigal Nayanar
In Tiruvarur, in the Chola kingdom, there was a pious Bhakta by name Dandi Adigal. He was born blind. But, he always repeated the Panchaksharam and visualised the Lord with his inner eyes. He would daily go to the temple, do circumambulation, and worship the Lord.
There was a tank on the western side of the temple which was surrounded by Jain dwellings. Dandi Adigal wanted to extend the area of the tank. But, how could he, a man born blind, do it? But, with a determination and complete faith in the Lord, he decided to do it. He erected a post inside the tank where it was to be dug and tied a rope to it. The other end of the rope was tied to the other post which was fixed on the bank. Then guided by the rope he would go to where the digging had to be done. He would dig with a spade, collect the earth in a basket and again with the help of the rope, he would go to the bank and throw the earth away.
The Jains were watching the blind man’s miracle. They were jealous of his achievement, too. So, they wanted to disturb his faith. They put forward a cunning argument. ‘You are blind and you cannot see. While digging, you are killing many insects which is a great sin. So, give up this foolish act.’ Nayanar explained to them the sacredness of the work, which was highly pleasing to the Lord, and also that by His grace, he was sure no insect would be injured. He went on with work. The Jains were insulting in their behaviour now. They said: ‘You were born blind: but now you are deaf, too. Even though we are giving you good counsel, you are not listening.’ Nayanar replied: ‘Oh ignorant people, what do you know of the Lord’s glories? To me He is the sole refuge. I live only to serve Him. Do not mock at His grace. By His grace, if I regained my eye-sight and you lost yours, what will you do?’ This reply greatly annoyed them: they snatched the spade and the basket from his hands.
With a broken heart, Dandi Adigal went to the temple and expressed his grievances to the Lord. The Lord appeared in his dream that night and assured him of His help. He also appeared before the king in his dream and asked him to redress the grievances of Nayanar. The king summoned the Jains. Dandi Adigal was also there. The king addressed Dandi: ‘Oh devotee, you said that by God’s grace you could get your eye-sight back and the Jains would lose theirs. Prove this.’ Dandi Adigal said: ‘Lord Siva is the real God. He is my sole refuge and prop. I am only His slave. If this is true, let me regain my eye-sight and let the Jains lose theirs.’ He then uttered the Panchaksharam and went into the tank. When he came out, his eye-sight had been restored and at the same time, the Jains lost their eye-sight. All were amazed at this. The king banished the Jains from his kingdom and restored people’s faith in the Lord. Dandi Adigal attained God-realisation.