Nandanar: The Nayanmar for whom Nandi Stepped Aside

“Accept that you do not have the intelligence or the means to answer all the questions that are unanswered.”


Sadhguru: There is a beautiful incident that happened in Tamil Nadu. There was a man who was an outcaste in the society, a bonded labourer. He had no name. In a society that wants to enslave someone, the first thing they do is take away your name because a name has a powerful identity. They will make Mumbai into Bombay, Bengaluru into Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram into Trivandrum.

This man had no name and was generally just referred to as a tiller. Right from his childhood, the very thought of Shiva had intrigued him. As a bonded labourer he was not supposed to have any thoughts of his own, but the thought of Shiva fired him up.

About twenty-five kilometers away from where he lived was the famous Shiva temple of Thirupungur. He had always wanted to visit this temple because he felt Shiva was calling him. But since his life was not his own, he could not make the trip. Any number of times, he presented his case to the landlord: “I’ll make just a one-day trip to the temple and come back.” The landlord always replied, “Today, there is weeding to do. Tomorrow, there is fertilising. Day after tomorrow, you have to till the land. No, you cannot waste a single day. What do you think? As it is, you are a good-for-nothing. You want to waste a whole day in your life? No.”

But this intrigue began to build up within him. He wanted to see Shiva in Thirupungur. One day, a new kind of energy began to reverberate through his entire body. So he went and stood before the landlord with a different kind of dignity that a bonded labourer is never supposed to know. The landlord started off, “You idiot, last time, your mother was sick. Before that, your sister was getting married. Before that, your grandmother died three times over. Now you want to go to the temple?” The man said, “I’ll do all the work today. Tomorrow, just a day trip, I will go and come.”

The landlord, in that moment, gave in and said, “Okay, go and come back before evening.” But the landlord immediately realized what he had just said. So he added, “Before you leave, all the forty acres should be tilled. Since it is evening now, before tomorrow morning, you must plough the land and only then leave for the temple.”

The tiller was not foolish enough to even attempt that. He just went to bed. His entire system was reverberating and he knew that this time, he would go to the temple no matter what the consequences were.

In the morning, he woke up to a big commotion in the village. To the man’s surprise, the entire forty acres were ploughed. The landlord was standing there with a gaping mouth. The landlord’s wife and children fell at the tiller’s feet. He always thought that by appealing to Shiva, he could bend the laws of nature, but the laws of men are so cruel that they can never be bent. However, here, the laws of men, gods and nature were all bent.

People came and put silver coins in his hand. Someone put a food hamper in his hand. Someone gave him a stick and said, “He is going to the temple, he is a chosen one. Shiva himself has come and ploughed forty acres of land for him.”

He went to the temple with great joy in his heart. But having lived a life of an outcaste, he did not forget that the priests would not allow him to cross the threshold of the temple. He stood outside the temple and of course, though Shiva bends everything for his devotee, the priests will not bend. But he just wanted to see Shiva once. So, the big Nandi which was sitting in his way moved to one side. Even today, at Thirupungur, the Nandi sits to one side.

Later on, people called this man Nandanar, and he became a famous sage. You cannot call him a devotee, but his entire life was this intrigue. He was unwilling to let go of the intrigue.

The problem with most logical minds is that when something intrigues you, you give a stupid explanation to it and kill it right there. Most minds are incapable of living with intrigue. They come to a conclusion. Every intrigue that comes up, you try to answer it with your silly ideas. That is just a way of dodging life. With conclusions, you will close doors for yourself.

There is so much that is unanswered. Many of the top scientists today are saying that not only do we not know the nature of the universe, we will never know the nature of the universe. So, accept that you do not have the intelligence or the means to answer all the questions that are unanswered. Just remain with that. That is a sincere human being. One who knows that he does not know the answers is a sincere human being. One who finds a silly logical answer is a foolish human being but he thinks he is smart.

All that is needed is to walk with this intrigue. When your mind bothers you, just maintain the intrigue. That’s all it takes.

Editor’s Note: Mahashivratri, a night of tremendous spiritual possibilities, will be celebrated at Isha Yoga Center on February 13. Visit the Mahashivratri webpage for info on the many ways you can participate.