In a prosperous place called Mangalam lived Anayar. He was born to show the greatness even of simple people, said R. Narayanan, in a discourse. Anayar was a cowherd. He took good care of his cows.
He chose the best of pastures for them to graze on, and he made sure that they drank at watering holes that had clear water. His herd included cows that had grown-up calves; cows that had just given birth to calves; cows that were pregnant; cows with calves that were a few weeks old. Looking after a herd with such a variety of cows could not have been easy.
Yet, Anayar, even while doing his duty, had thoughts only of Lord Siva.
Anayar would dress simply. He had no use for any ornamentation. Can there be a better ornament than the sacred ash, for a true devotee of Siva? Anayar would wear a garment made of tree bark. His upper garment was made of leaves. He had a stick in his hand, to herd the cows, and a flute in his hand. Thus dressed, he would go out to graze the cows.
He could produce the most beautiful notes of music on his flute. He would play the Panchakshara mantra, namely Namasivaya, on his flute. Those who love God see Him in everything.
Thus to Anayar, even a tree seemed like Lord Siva. One day, he stood before a tree and played on his flute. Goats, peacocks and other animals assembled to hear his music. His assistants forgot to tend the cows and stood listening.
The inhabitants of the netherworlds came too. Peacocks and snakes are natural enemies. But even they forgot their enmity temporarily, standing side by side, to listen to Anayar's music.
Lord Siva and Parvati too were drawn by Anayar's music, and came to listen to him. The Lord was so moved by the music that he gave Anayar the refuge of His feet. Thus Anayar, through his offering of music, gained the feet of the Lord and became one of the 63 Saivite saints. Music has the power to win over even God. We worship God through many offerings. Music, too, is an offering through which we can worship Him, as did Anayanayanar.