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The Nose Ring
by Sujata C
The Story of Saint Purandaradasa

Srinivasa Nayak was a jeweler who lived in the village Purandaragada during the Vijayanagar dynasty. Everyone called him Seenappa and knew what a miser he was, though he was popular as Navakoti Narayana. He cared for nothing except money. 

One day a poor Brahmin approached Seenappa for money to perform the thread ceremony of his son. Seenappa refused to give the Brahmin any money. Days, weeks and months passed in this manner. The Brahmin kept asking and the jeweler kept refusing.

Six months passed. Finally, Seenappa decided that he had to do something to get rid of the brahmin. He had some worn-out coins that were quite worthless. He poured these in front of the Brahmin and asked him to take one and never come back. The Brahmin was dejected.

Seenappa’s wife was a kind-hearted soul who in her own way, tried to make amends for her husband's miserliness. The Brahmin knew this and told her his story.

Saraswathi was appalled by her husband's behavior. She wanted to help the poor Brahmin, but felt helpless since she could not give anything without her husband's permission. When she explained her helplessness, the Brahmin asked if she had something given by her parents (which, presumably, she could give without asking for her husband's permission). She agreed and gave him the nose-stud that her parents had given her.

The Brahmin took the ornament straight to Seenappa shop. Seenappa became angry with the Brahmin for coming back. The Brahmin clarified that he had come to pledge an ornament and take a loan. When Seenappa saw the ornament, he was perplexed because he knew it belonged to his wife.

Asking the Brahmin to wait, Seenappa put the ornament in his pocket and went home. He saw his wife without her ornament he questioned her about it.

Saraswathi felt the ground giving way under her feet. She knew that her husband would punish her if she told him the truth. Unable to think of an alternative, she decided to commit suicide. She went into the kitchen and mixed a cup of poison for herself. Just as she was about to drink the poison, she heard a metallic sound.

Lo and behold! The nose ring was at the bottom of the cup, sparkling. Her heart filled with gratitude, she prostrated before the idol of Krishna and took the ornament to her husband. Seenappa was astounded, as it was the very ornament he had kept in his pocket. He quickly excused himself and ran back to the shop to check for the Brahmin. He was also missing! Seenappa was now totally dumbfounded.

He went back to his wife who confessed to him that she had indeed given the nose ring to the Brahmin and unable to face his wrath had decided to end her life. Instead she found the nose ring in the cup of poison. This was nothing but the Lord’s miracle!

Seenappa was disgusted with himself. The Lord had come in the guise of a Brahmin and he had not recognized him. His greed and miserliness had blinded him. He felt that his wife had conducted herself far more decently than himself. He gave away his wealth to the poor.

From that day onwards Navakoti Narayana became Narayana bhakta with the tamboora in his hands and tulasi mala round his neck. The man who had turned away countless people away, now himself went around collecting alms and living the life of a mendicant.

Saint Vyasaraj initiated Seenappa into the Haridas cult and re-christened him as Purandaradasa who went on to become the Father of Carnatic music in India.

Saint Purandardasa composed more than four lakh songs in the praise of the Lord. Every student of Carnatic music begins the lessons with Purandaradasa’s famous kriti Lambodara Lakumika ra. His songs serve as a beacon to attain spiritual serenity and high morals.

9-Jun-2008
 
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