Sacred places of worship are believed to shower grace and kindle Bhakti in people. The Nayanmars and Azhwars sang hymns in praise of the deities in many temples whose presence they were able to behold. In a lecture, Dr. Sudha Seshaiyan pointed out that there is a spiritual quality in the sacred town of Tiruvannamalai that is capable of awakening in many the desire for higher values rather than mere materialistic yearnings.
Among the temples of Siva that are associated with the five elements, Tiruvannamalai temple is regarded to represent fire. The rocks here are of the igneous type testifying to this claim. The reigning deity Siva is known as Annamalayaar or Arunachaleswarar and there are accounts of how He has intervened in the lives of many devotees and granted them salvation as well.
In the case of the Iyarpakai Nayanmar, the Lord tested him with an unimaginable demand that went contrary to natural tendencies and convention. Siva in the guise of a Sivan Adiyar asked for the Nayanmar's wife. Without any hesitation, the Nayanmar complied with this wish, because he followed the unwritten credo of devotion — to serve Sivan Adiyars according to their wants at all costs. Such a sacrifice exemplifies the extent of the Nayanmar's total surrender (Atma Nivedhanam).
Iyarpakai Nayanmar escorted the Adiyar who led the wife to the outskirts of the city, to contend with the opposition raised by the relatives and the villagers for acceding to this incredible demand. The Nayanmar fought with all and guided the Adiyar safely. As he returned, he heard his name being called. On turning around he saw only his wife; the Adiyar was missing. Immediately, he was overwhelmed to see a pleased Siva and Parvati appear before them to grant salvation.
When Saint Arunagirinathar, in a state of depression, decided to end his life by jumping from the tower at Tiruvannamalai temple, Lord Muruga appeared before him and conferred on him the power of poesy. Thus was born the Tiruppugahzh hymns of unparalleled beauty that eulogise the Lord and teach us to seek His feet.