Nandanaar is one of the Nayanmars or Saivaite saints, who was supposed to have attained jeevan mukthi at the sanctum sanctorum of Chidambaram (The golden temple).  Nandanaar story promulgates the philosophy  of God - equal love for all creations without discrimination of caste, creed, religion, low or higher birth.  Poet Gopalakrishna Bhaarathi’s musical opera “Nandanaar Charitam” is an immortal Tamil literature suited for singing, dancing and reading.  (Musical direction for this production is by late Sri. Turaiyur Rajagopalasarma & Sri. Mani Iyer) 

Scene I: 
Nandanaar -a laborer in the service of a Brahmin land lord happens to be a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He sings and dances in praise of Lord Shiva.  He further influences the people around him to worship the Lord. Once he takes his entourage to the Thiruppangur Shiva Temple to have a darshan of the Lord. At the entrance, he is disappointed to see the Big Bull blocking the sight of the Sivalinga. Expecting scorn and abuse from his friends for his failure to show them the Lord, Nandanaar pleads to the Lord to ask the Nandi (bull) to move aside. 

Scene II: 
Hearing the cry of His true devotee, Shiva asks his Nandi to move aside. Nandi  moves giving darshan of the Lord to Nandanaar and his friends.
Scene III: 
This further deepens Nandanaar's urge to see Chidambaranaathan.  He asks his land lord permission to go to Chidambaram, which is denied several times.  The land lord reminds him that his duty is only to labor in the field and not to pursue the duties of the higher castes.  After repeated  persuasions, the land lord agrees to Nandanaar's wish, provided he is able to finish all his field duties over night, an impossible task indeed. 

Scene IV: 
A devotee’s prayer is answered. A miracle happens, the land lord sees his field work completed  by dawn.  Surprised and realizing his servants depth of devotion,  he hugs his poor laborer and sends him to Chidambaram. 

Scene V: 
At the outskirts of Chidambaram, Nandanaar is unable to enter the temple. He despises his own birth and decides to end his life.  Lord Shiva appears in the dream of the priests and asks them to bring Nandanaar into the temple. Reluctantly obeying the command of the Lord , the priests make Nandanaar walk through fire and he comes out unhurt.  He is taken to the sanctum sanctorum where he merges with Lord Shiva. 

NANDANAAR CHARITAM - Reviews - Photo Album