Thiruchathamangai was a fertile village on the banks of the Cauvery in the Chola Kingdom. There were many Vedic scholars in the village, and their Vedic chants were heard every day. When the scholars taught the young boys in the village, a particular species of bird would pick up the chants and teach its young ones the chants! short, it was a village steeped in devotion. Thiruneelanakkanayanar lived in this village. He worshipped Lord Siva every day as prescribed in the Sastras.
His wife was equally devoted to the Lord and would accompany her husband to the temple and assist him in puja. One day, when Thiruneelanakkanayanar went to the temple as usual, his wife noticed a spider drop onto the linga . She wanted to brush away the spider from the linga. So like a concerned mother, she ran towards the sanctum sanctorum. She blew on the spider so that it dropped to the ground. But while she blew on the Sivalinga, a few drops of her saliva fell on the linga. Her husband felt she had committed a grave sin by letting her spittle fall on the sacred linga. So he said he didn't want to live with her anymore. So saying, he left his puja incomplete and went home. The poor woman stayed on in the temple and spent a sleepless night, sorry that she had been the cause for the incomplete puja.
That night, the Lord appeared in Thiruneelanakkanayanar's dream. The Lord asked him to see His body, which was covered with boils all over, except where Thiruneelanakkanayanar's wife's spittle had fallen. Thus, the Lord indicated to Thiruneelanakkanayanar that He was pleased with his wife's devotion. We would be offended if a person's spittle fell on us, even if inadvertently. But the Lord is pleased even when his devotees' saliva touches Him, said R. Narayanan in a discourse.
Then Thiruneelanakkanayanar took back his wife. Later, Thirugnanasambandar visited and stayed with Thiruneelanakkanayanar. When Thirugnanasambandar got married, Thiruneelanakkanayanar, along with his wife, went to the wedding celebrations. There, he and his wife merged in the Siva jyoti that appeared.