Samsara’s immediate concerns are compelling, preventing one from pausing to probe the divine mystery that is perennially happening. But time and again, Siva’s intervention in the lives of devout saints proves the truth that He is always committed to saving humanity from the endless cycle of Samsara, pointed out Sri A. Velayudhan in a lecture on Manikavachagar.
Saint Manikkavachagar hailed from a community renowned for its proficiency in good governance. Early in life, he was well-read and accomplished and these qualifications won for him the post of chief minister in a Pandya king’s court and he enjoyed the special trust of the king as well. But deep within him he had the urge to serve God and attain salvation.
Once he was sent to Tiruperundurai to buy horses. It is said that Siva chose to kindle the latent devotion in him and enacted a drama in his life at this point of time.
Seeing a sage in the vicinity, Manikkavachagar's devotion prompted him to build a temple for Siva at the place with the money meant for the horses. The king demanded an explanation. Manikkavachagar prayed to the Lord and He gave him confidence saying the horses would reach the palace at the appointed time. The horses arrived, but in the stables they became jackals. When the king ordered the torture of the saint, there arose floods and a divine voice told the king not to harm Manikkavachagar.
There is a deeper significance in the Lord’s act of converting the jackals to horses. Human birth places man in an intermediary state from which he can either upgrade or downgrade himself, being endowed with a body mind complex that affords him a variety of faculties and powers to function in this world. By adopting ethical values and adhering to the path of Sanatana Dharma he gains a higher level, and by evil deeds he forges his downfall. A jackal is selfish and has its cunning ways. But God has the power to convert the baser human nature into much refined forms.
The saint spent time singing Siva's glory. His hymns are valuable vehicles to get initiated into the divine experience.