Thirumangai-alwar focused all his energies on completing the temple construction at the earliest and spent all the money that he had generated by cheating the captain of the ship and selling the golden idol, even before the work could be completed. As he did not have the necessary funds to complete the work, he promised the contractors and artisans that he would settle their dues from the treasure that he had hidden in one of the islands in the course of river Cauvery and got the work completed. The contractors started demanding their dues and Thirumangai-alwar kept on postponing their payments by giving them some reason or the other. The frustrated contractors ganged up against Thirumangai-alwar and asked him to settle their dues immediately.
Thirumangai-alwar asked all of them to accompany him to the island to help him unearth the hidden treasure and to take their payments. The unsuspecting contractors accompanied Thirumangai-alwar in a ferry that was being guided by Neer-Mel-Nadapavan, one of Thirumangai-alwar’s associates, and they started to sail through the swirling waters of Cauvery. As instructed by Thirumangai-alwar, Neer-Mel-Nadapavan, who could walk on water, sunk the ferry at a particular place where it was impossible for the contractors to swim back to the banks and escaped from there along with Thirumangai-alwar and all the contractors drowned to death.
Thirumangai-alwar returned to Sri Rangam and told the relatives of the contractors that being captivated with the natural beauty of the island, the contractors had decided to stay on the island for a few days and had requested him to inform their relatives about it. After thus eliminating his creditors and hoodwinking their relatives, Thirumangai-alwar started doing devotional service to Lord Ranganatha.
As days rolled on, the relatives of the contractors started becoming suspicious when the contractors did not return and started asking Thirumangai-alwar to take them to the island to see the contractors. They also started accusing Thirumangai-alwar of having murdered the contractors.
As the clamor gained momentum, Thirumangai-alwar got disturbed and as his devotional service was getting affected he requested Lord Ranganatha to help him overcome the crisis and save him from the wrath of the relatives of the contractors. The Lord appeared in Thirumangai-alwar’s dream and asked him not to worry. The Lord instructed Thirumangai-alwar to ask the relatives of the contractors to assemble in the temple hall at a designated time after taking bath in river Cauvery and to invoke their relatives by their names. The Lord assured Thirumangai-alwar that the deceased contractors would personally convince their relatives not to trouble him further.
The relatives of the contractors followed Thirumangai-alwar’s instructions and the contractors appeared from the Lord’s sanctum sanctorum in their ethereal form and said, “By the mercy of this saint we have attained liberation, which is very difficult to attain even for the yogis who have been doing penance since ages and we are staying with the Lord. Don’t trouble the saint, be obedient to him and serve him if you want to attain this supreme state. Trust in the Lord and he will take care of you.” The contractors disappeared from there after speaking to their relatives. The relatives apologized to Thirumangai-alwar for having troubled him and offered their obeisance to him before leaving. Thirumangai-alwar continued to serve the Lord.
The Padma Purana says, “Those who help in construction of Lord Vishnu’s temple do not return to this material world, (instead) they go to the eternal abode of Lord Vishnu (after death).”
According to Vamana Purana – Whoever constructs or helps in constructing the temple of Lord Vishnu protects eight generations of his forefathers from falling to hell. Many other scriptures including Srimad Bhagavatam have reiterated the benefits of constructing or helping one to construct a temple to Lord Vishnu in similar terms. Thirumangai-alwar practically proved the claims of the aforesaid scriptures to the world by the mercy of Lord Ranganatha.
We shall reveal about the final days of Thirumangai-alwar in the next post.