Tirunilakantar of Chidambaram was a potter by caste and profession. He had a highest regard for the devotees of Lord Shiva, too. He made beautiful begging bowls of clay and offered them free to the devotees of Lord Siva, with great joy. He was leading an ideal household life. Siva, in his aspect of Neelakanta was his sole refuge and prop. Hence, he was called Tiru Neelakanta Nayanar.
Inspite of his virtuous qualities, once in a moment of weakness, he spent few hours with a prostitute. He felt ashamed of his conduct, but his heartbroken wife refused to touch him. Thus, the couple spent many years without any physical contact with one another and grew old.
One day, Lord Shiva came to their house in the guise of a Shivanadiyar [Shiva devotee]. He gave his begging bowl to Tirunilakanta for safe keep saying that he would take it from him later.
After few days, Lord Shiva came back as the same Shivanadiyar and asked for the bowl. The Lord Himself, by the power of his Maya, caused it to disappear from the house! Neelakantar searched for it, but could not find it. Trembling with fear, he fell at the Shivanadiyar’s feet and said that he could not find it. At this the Shivanadiyar got angry and accused him as thief. Neelakantar offered to replace the bowl; but the Yogi would not accept.
Again and again Neelakantar pleaded that he had not stolen the bowl and that by a divine mystery it was missing from the house. The Shivanadiyar demanded that if that was the truth, Neelakantar should say so on oath, holding his wife’s hand and should take a dip in the temple pond.
Tirunilakantar and his wife entered the temple pond, each holding an end of a bamboo stick in order to avoid touching each other. However, the Shivanadiyar insisted that the couple hold their hands. As instructed, the couple took a dip in the pond. When they came out, they miraculously looked very young. Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi appeared and blessed Tirunilakanda and his wife.