Pakkanar was a rustic – extremely devout and totally dedicated to the service of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. So was his wife. They had no children. In the devotional service of the Lords they forgot all mundane pleasures and formalities. They lived in a thatched hutment in an upcountry village near the woods. Both of them would set out at break of dawn, cut bamboo-reeds, sitting under the shades make sieves out of them.
They would manufacture twelve or fifteen sieves around noon and take them to the households chanting:Aum Nama: Shivaya. With great difficulty they used to sell those sieves. Reaching home with extreme happiness, they would perform their evening rituals and prayers. Pakkanar’s wife would cook food. Both of them would partake half of the food and preserve the remaining half for the next morning. After chanting the divine mantra till they got fatigued, they would go to sleep on the bamboo-mat on the hard floor. In the early morning, after ablutions and puja they would consume the remaining food and would set out to do the routine daily work.
Seeing the pathetic condition of Pakkanar and his wife Parvati told Lord Shiva, “You must bless them in such a way that they enjoy a better life. They are such a Satvic couple. They deserve better.” One day when food was being prepared at Pakkanar’s house Lord Shiva winked his eyes against the pot in which food was being prepared. When Pakknar’s wife went to the kitchen and opened the lid of the pot in which the food was being prepared her eyes were dazed. There overflew from the boiling kettle, gold coins one after the other. She shouted in amazement. “Look, look here…” She said to him, “How great and merciful is our Lord. Responding to our suffering he has been kind to us. See the kettle is full of gold!”
Pakkanar was taken aback. He said: “No…no…be cool and normal. There is perfidy in this. Such a thing has never happened anywhere earlier. How can gold coins usher in out of rice bowl? Come, don’t touch it…come.”The whole night they could not sleep.The man’s anxiety was about any impending disaster.The woman’s anxiety was to end up everything as natural and possess the gold coins intact and become rich.
In the morning when they went to the kitchen they got a shock of there life. The clay pot on the kiln had fallen down and broken. There was a wild cat lying dead nearby. They were taken aback in horror.
On another occasion, Pakkanar and his spouse finished cutting the bamboos and heaped them. They cleared a pavement aside the woods. It was around noon and they decided to take rest for a while.
The Lord and the Goddess were aviating above. They saw Pakkanar and his wife chanting the mantra closing their eyes.“Look there…” told Goddess Parvati to Lord Shiva, “How devoutedly they are worshipping us. “I know it.” “You know everything and yet you look unconcerned.” “It is not my having any concern, …” Lord Shiva tried to cajole Goddess Parvati:“Pakkanar’s in-built nature is not to accept any foreign material. Look here…”So saying the Lord touched a bamboo reed tenderly and deposited the same on the top of the heap.After their brief rest the couple resumed their work.
As Pakkanar slit the reed into two, there fell down a stream of gold coins from the reed.“Ha…ha…gold…gold…!” The lady leapt forward to sweep them altogether.
“No…no…Don’t touch that, intervened her husband, “This is quite unnatural. I have never seen or heard of such uncommon incidents earlier. However, let us be away for some time, and if nothing untoward happened, we shall see…” They left the scene temporarily.
During that time two passersby lost their way. There was a tiny pavement freshly cleared off the bamboo clusters. They struggled to reach a walkway. As they were walking, one of them jostled with a bamboo stick and fell down. The other, while trying to lift him found the numberless shining gold coins strewn all around.
“Ha…ha…” exclaimed one, “what a fortune…”“Now, don’t couch them. These are mine.” Claimed the first one.“No. These are mine.” Claimed the second: “you did not see them and therefore you fell down.” “I fell down because God wanted me to see and own them. All these coins belong to me.”
Both the friends started quarrelling over the ownership of the riches. They wrestled, kicked and thrashed each other and fell down.After sometime, Pakkanar and wife visited the site. What they saw was horrifying. Two travelers were lying dead in a pool of blood. “Didn’t I tell you?” reminded Pakkanar, “that these gold coins are killer seeds?”
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )