The only problem with Nandanar's devotion was that it was all in Tamil. God has special powers which will enable Him to see Telugu subtitles automatically, but the rest of us need to stay away.
Kalasagaram, a cultural association based in Secunderabad, is organizing its monthly program with a Tamil harikatha recital, Nandanar Charitram, by Visakha Hari, on 19th November, at Keyes High School For Girls.
Nandanar Charitram was written by Gopalakrishna Bharathiar a thousand years ago, about a harijan and poor devotee of Lord Shiva, who used to work in a landlord's farm, and supply animal hide to a temple of Lord Shiva, used in dhols (drums that are played during puja). He was desperate to visit the temple of Thiruppunkoor, situated a mile from the famous Vaidheeswaran temple, around an hour’s journey from Chidambaram.
However, his landlord didn't grant him leave, despite his frequent requests. Finally, out of frustration, the landlord one day offered to grant him the leave, with a condition that he had to till all the 40 acres of his land in a single day, which was next to impossible. Him being a harijan, nobody was willing to work with him, and so prayed to Lord Shiva for help. Overnight, while he was asleep at his home, the Lord tilled the land for his devotee.
The landlord was amazed at this miracle and fell at the feet of Nandanar, realising how great a devotee he was. He immediately gave Nandanar whatever he wanted for the journey and bade him farewell.
Being a harijan, he was however forbidden from entering the temple's sanctum sanctorum, which disappointed him.
Therefore, he stood outside the temple and tried to get a glimpse of the Lord. But his vision was blocked by the idol of Lord Shiva’s vahana, Nandi the bull. Nandanar prayed to Lord Shiva to grant him a vision of his image in the temple. As Shiva himself was even more anxious to see his devotee, He ordered Nandi to move to the side. Nandi moved several feet and has remained there even to this day. With the movement of Nandi, Nandanar could see Lord Shiva.
Since he had made Nandi move, the devotee came to be known as Nandanar (his earlier name is unknown). Elated with the vision, he wanted to do something for the temple. Realising that the temple lacked a water tank, he built it in honor of Lord Shiva.
This story has not been told in Periyapuranam in detail, but Bharathiar highlighted the cruel discrimination in the name of casteism/racism among people, and how the jaati (caste) makes no difference in prema (love) for the Lord.
Visakha Hari is a disciple of Padma Bhushan Lalgudi Jairaman. She is a recipient of the Central Government Scholarship for classical vocal. She is an excellent exponent of the harikatha style of musical discourse. An A-grade artiste of the All India Radio, she has a rich voice, excelling in sampradaya sangeetam. She performed not only in most places of India, but also in Singapore, Dubai and Muscat, and won several prizes, including gold medals and tambura prizes.
She is the daughter-in-law of the famed Krishnaprem Swamigal of Srirangam, Tamil Nadu. She was equally brilliant in academics, having secured a state rank (Commerce) in school, and an all-India rank in Chartered Accountancy.
Visakha will be supported in the recital by Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan on the violin and Bangalore Sudhindra on the mridangam.
Kalasagaram is a South-Indian cultural association situated in East Nehru Nagar of East Marredpally, and has been organising Carnatic music concerts for more than 15 years. The concerts are always held in the Keyes High School campus in the open-air theater. The singers are generally from outside Hyderabad, usually amateurs and upcoming artistes, and are quite competent. They also occasionally stage South-Indian classical dances and Tamil plays.
Please contact Rajagopalan of Kalasagaram at 2773-1775 for further details.