Below is the translation to Veda Paati's story, narrated in tamil, available in below platforms:
Did I see the Lord like Thirumangai Azhwar ?
Swami Ramanuja looked at the child gently and said “What an excellent story it was about King Janaka that you had shared! It is true that the great Rajarishi was a stellar icon of one who is set on the path of duty while ensuring detachment! What is your next story, my child? Do tell!”. Oblivious to the excitement of the great Saint, the child continued, “Oh Swami, there is yet another exemplary devotee of Perumal, who was also once a king but later became an Azhwar. Let me share with you the story of how he met Perumal and Thayar through his steadfast devotion!”.
During the month of Karthikai, in the Karthikai nakshatra, in the Kallar community of Thirukuraiyalur, a child was born. This child was no ordinary child, he was the avatar of Perumal’s bow, Sharngam. The child was named Neelan and grew up to be a mighty warrior!
The Sozha king was impressed with his valour and decided to make him the army commander. Neelan fought many wars and attained many victories. The impressed king gave Neelan a small portion of his land to rule as a gift. This place was called Mangai Nadu, and Neelan came to be known as Mangai Mannan, meaning the ruler of Mangai.
In Thiruvellakulam near Thirukuraiyalur, lived a beautiful, intelligent and devout girl called Kumudavalli. She belonged to the Devaloka but chose to live on earth. Neelan once met and fell in love with her, and desperately wanted to marry her. She agreed but on one condition. She would only marry a Vaishnava. This means he had to do Panchasamskara and receive Upadesa of the holy Thirumantra. Mangai Mannan approached the Lord of Thirunarayur for help. The Lord Himself did PanchasamskAra, that is to emboss the Shanku and Chakra on the shoulders, for Mangai Mannan. He also did the Upadesa of the Thirumantra.
The delighted Kumudavalli put forth yet another request. She asked Neelan to feed 1008 Vaishnava's for a year, every day. Neelan, with much pleasure, started the service. He arranged for grand feasts for 1008 VaishnavAs every day. Very soon though, all his coffers became empty. He did not want to stop this service and was desperate to continue his service. He started using all the tax money that he owed the Chozha king for this service.
The enraged king sent an army for war to defeat Mangai Mannan. Mangai Mannan sat on his mighty horse called Aadal Maa, and effortlessly won them over. The King called Neelan to his palace in pretence of peace talks, but instead locked him up in a cell. Neelan would only be released if he paid his tax. That night, Kanchipuram Varadaraja PerumaL appeared in Neelan’s dreams and instructed him to go to the banks of Vegavathi river where he could find the wealth he needed. The next day Neelan went along with the king to the spot, and sure enough, found plenty of gold coins. He paid the King the tax and took the remaining wealth to continue his service.
The King who was moved by Mangai Mannan’s dedication to this service, returned the tax money instructing him to use it for continuing this service. The grand feasts resumed, only to halt again when this wealth was also over. Mangai Mannan had 4 friends, namely Neer Mel Nadappan, Nizhalil odhunguvan, TAL UduvAn and ThoLA vazhakkan. Neer Mel Nadappan could walk on water. Nizhalil odhunguvan could disappear into the shadows. TAL UduvAn could open any locks! Thola vazhakkan could escape from any crime. With these 4 friends, Neelan started stealing from the wealthy people so that he could continue his service.
Perumal and Thayar were impressed with his dedication although he had chosen the wrong path to continue his service. One day, they decided to play a small leela. They appeared in the form of a newly wedded couple going in a procession. Neelan and his friends noticed the entourage and decided to steal from the couple who were beautifully bedecked. They stopped the procession and demanded the couple, “Remove all your jewellery and place it on the cloth we have positioned in front of you now!”. When the couple had complied, Neelan noticed that the toe ring of the groom had not been removed and demanded for that as well. The groom explained that the ring was very tight and requested for Neelan himself to help him remove it. Neelan tried removing it with all his might, but it was too tight. He then tried to remove it by biting onto it! The moment he bit into the Lord’s toe, Neelan felt an ecstatic sensation, but that was only momentary as thoughts of his service returned. Removing the toe ring at final last, he wrapped up the cloth. He proceeded to carry it, but alas! It was too heavy!
He looked suspiciously at the groom and asked angrily, “Hey, have you cast a spell? This bag is much heavier than it should be!”. The groom beckoned Neelan to come closer, promising to teach him the spell. He whispered the Ashtakshara Mantra into Neelan’s ears causing him to change instantaneously. At that moment Mangai Mannan became Thirumangai Azhvar, leaving behind all his bad habits of stealing. Realizing the groom and bride were none other than the Divya Dampati, Thirumangai AzhvAr became immersed in devotion. He got onto his divine horse and travelled to several Divya Desams and sang several pasurams!
“The great Thirumangai Azhwar, wanting to do service to the bhagavathas by providing Prasadam, went to the extent of biting the Lord’s toe. I lack the determination, devotion or the hard work that the great AzhvAr had. What qualification do I have to remain in this Divya Desam”, pondered the Thirukolur child aloud.