Even as Thirumangai-alwar told Yatirasan about the Lord’s order to construct some portions of the Sri-Rangam temple, Yatirasan suggested that they steal Lord Buddha’s gigantic golden idol, which was installed in a mysterious temple near Nagapattinam (the present Nagpur). The Lord’s order was the law for Thirumangai-alwar and he was not the one to regret breaking any rule to fulfill the Lord’s bidding. Moreover, stealing was not new to Thirumangai-alwar.

Therefore, Thirumangai-alwar readily agreed to Yatirasan’s suggestion and summoned his former associates who used to help him rob the businessmen to enable him fulfill the promise that he had made to his wife, Kumudavalli. History is replete with examples of many criminals who have become great saints after having transformed themselves.

However, Thirumangai-alwar was and is worshipped as a saint even when he continued his criminal activities and murdered people. One has to understand the fact that Thirumangai-alwar was so engrossed with his devotion and commitment to the Lord’s cause that he did not mind doing anything for the Lord and did not do those things for his personal gains. He did not mind risking his reputation as a saint and a great poet while committing such criminal activities to generate funds for the temple. 

Thirumangai-alwar left to Nagapattinam along with his brother-in-law, Yatirasan and his associates and, upon reaching there, started to inquire about the temple. An old lady who knew about the mysterious temple told them that it is impossible for strangers to enter that temple as it is craftily hidden from public view and its entrance is completely mechanized and those who dared to enter the temple without knowing how to operate the mechanical door were cut to pieces by the wheel that was designed to guard the temple. Very few people knew about the temple’s exact location and the secret lever that helps one to open the temple entrance. Therefore, Thirumangai-alwar decided to trick the chief architect of the temple into revealing the mysteries of the temple.

As the architect of the temple lived in a small island on the west coast of the country, Thirumangai-alwar sailed along with his associates to the island and located the architect’s house. In accordance with their plan, Thirumangai-alwar sat along with his associates on the portal of the architect’s house and started to discuss about the theft of the Buddha’s idol and began to lament.

One of Thirumangai-alwar’s associates saw the architect passing by and loudly said, “The Turks have destroyed even that mysterious temple of our Lord and have taken His golden Deity away. What is the use of living like this and how many more temples will they destroy?” The architect overheard the conversation and asked them to tell if the temple at Nagapattinam was destroyed and the group replied in the affirmative.

The architect was shocked and he started to curse himself for having boasted about the temple with the Turks. Without realizing the trick that was being played upon him, the architect started to lament saying, “How could they find the lever that was craftily hidden beneath the stone pavement under the water that falls from Gomukhi, how did they locate the secret entrance that is located at the crown of the temple or how did they manage to disconnect the mechanized wheel that guards the entrance of the temple and cuts those who dare to enter the sanctum?” Thirumangai-alwar and his associates thus collected all the information that they needed to steal the idol from none other than the architect of the temple on the pretext of consoling him.

As Thirumangai-alwar did not have sufficient money to sail back, he and his associates disguised themselves as mendicants and convinced the captain of a ship that was carrying betel nuts to Nagapattinam to ferry them free of cost by preaching about various aspects of Vedanta to him. Thirumangai-alwar did not have money to execute his plans to steal the golden idol and, therefore, he started to worry about it. He devised a master plan to trick the captain of the ship to part with half of the cargo that he was carrying to Nagapattinam.

We will reveal how Thirumangai-alwar tricked the captain in the next post. 

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