The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

by M. A. Dorai Rangaswamy | 1958 | 410,072 words

This page describes “the problem of interpolation” from the part dealing with the life and age of Nampi Arurar (Sundarar): one of the three Tevaram (Thevaram) Saints. The 7th-century Thevaram (or Tevaram) contains devotional poems sung in praise of Shiva. These hymns form an important part of the Tamil tradition of Shaivism

Chapter 4 - The Problem of Interpolation


The total number of hymns or patikams sung by Arurar now available are 100 and the total number of verses now extant are 1026. If there were only 10 verses in every hymn there must be only 1,000 verses. But there are patikams in which a few verses have been lost. In the 63rd hymn, the last two lines of the last verse are missing; in the 11th hymn there are only 8 verses available, the 8th and the 9th verses according to all the editions having been lost; in the 65th hymn, there are only 7 verses available, the 8th, 9th and 10th verses having been lost; in the 66th hymn, only 5 verses are available, the 6th to 10th verses having been lost. It looks as though the cadjan leaves containing the 63rd to 66th hymns have been originally eaten away by the white ants. If, therefore, allowance is made for these 10 verses lost, there must only be 990 verses, as against 1026 verses now extant. This excess of 36 verses has to be explained. There are 30 hymns with 11 verses each, which account for 30 additional verses and three hymns with 12 verses each, which account for the other six additional verses, in all making up a total of 36 additional verses. All the rest 67 hymns including the four hymns for which lines or verses are missing, have 10 verses each.

That the latter is the scheme of Arurar’s hymns is made quite clear by his specific mention of number ten in 24 out of 63 such hymns. The word ‘pattu’ is not a shortened form of Pathigam which may contain 11 verses and 12 verses as in the hymns of Campantar. Instead of using the ‘pattu’, Arurar in a few places specifically describes the number ten without giving room for any doubt by referring to it as ‘ettotirantu’ (8 plus 2); ‘aintotaintu’ (5 plus 5); ‘aificinotaificu’ (5 plus 5). Campantar refers to his hymns as ‘pattu’, ‘aintotu aintu’ but that is on the basis the last verse or ‘kataikkappu’ is not numbered as one of the ten. That is clear from his scheme where almost all hymns contain 10 verses on God and the 11th about himself as composer whilst in Arurar’s scheme as is made clear by 67 hymns, the verse containing his name as a composer is included within the ten verses of the hymn.

That these ten verses form individual music compositions is made clear by Arurar’s description of them as ‘cantam’, ‘panpayilum pattu’ and ‘icaikkilavi’. Cantam is the rhythm varying with the ‘tala’ or time-pattern, ‘Pan’ is the melody type and ‘Icai’ is the general music. ‘Pani’ is ‘tala’ or keeping time or a musical composition. It may be a shortened form of ‘Tevapani’, a musical composition in praise of God. Arurar has looked upon these compositions as pieces of Tamil Literature and he refers to them ‘Ontankl’, Aruntamil’, Narramil’, ‘Cencorramil’, ‘Tantamil’, ‘Vantanul’. The longer poems came to be known as ‘Pattu’ or ‘Patal’ from the time of ‘Pattuppattu’ and Arurar refers to his hymns of 10 verses each as a longer unit of poetry by referring to them as ‘Palal’.

This idea of unity is still further emphasised by calling these hymns ‘Malai’ or garland. The individual verses are considered as so many flowers going to make up this garland of poetry or ‘Nulmalai’; and he refers to individual verses going to make up this garland as ‘Colmalar,’ ‘Tamil malar’. In some places he refers to the hymns as his talk or message ‘Peccu’. All this make it clear that Arurar looked upon the hymns as separate units of poetry and music made into an organic whole by the unity of his message of poetry and his music representing thereby a garland—like beauty though consisting of distinct and seemingly unconnected verses; and that under his scheme each hymn generally consisted only of 10 verses.


Having so far made it clear that Arurar’s scheme is to sing only hymns of 10 verses each, the hymns in which 11 verses are found may be taken up for scrutiny. In H. 2, there are 11 verses and the last verse itself states that the hymn consists of 6 plus 4 plus 1 verses or 11 in all. This is a hymn sung in the presence of the Great kings of Tamil Land, Cera, Cola and Pantiya. It is the Tamil tradition, that in addressing the kings, one can sing of his own praises. This last verse, therefore, in singing of Arurar himself, in the presence of the kings, has an importance of its own, over and above the ten verses in praise of God. It has to be placed on a par with the ‘Tirukkataikkappu’ par excellence of Campantar; whereas in the other hymns of Arurar, the verses mentioning the name of the author are found included within the ten verses of the hymns, without any such extra significance. This difference explains why Campantar’s poems alone were known as ‘Tirukkataikkappu’ and not Arurar’s. Therefore, this exception of 11 verses in a hymn only proves the rule that Arurar’s hymns contain only 10 verses.

There is one other exception as well and that is ‘Thiruthondathogai’. From Nampiyantar Nampi’s Tiruvantati and Cekkilar’s Periyapuranam, it is clear, this hymn contained 11 verses. Both these poets at the end of the descriptions of the lives of Saints catalogued separately in each of the 11 verses of Thiruthondathogai, sing a verse in praise of Arurar himself. There are eleven such laudatory verses by Nampi and eleven by Cekkilar. Nampi in verse No. 88 of Tiruttontar Tiruvantati gives the index of the eleven verses of Thiruthondathogai and Cekkilar has divided his Puranam into eleven carukkams apart from his prologue and epilogue and these are named after the opening phrases of the eleven verses of Thiruthondathogai.


If the other exception was because of the Saint singing in the presence of the kings, this exception is because of the Saint singing in the presence of the Shaiva Saints, his Lords, who are to him more than kings. Leaving these two hymns out of account, there are 28 hymns to be explained. Of these, the last verses of two hymns state that these hymns contain 5 plus 5 verses. The hymn No. 61 states that it contains twice five verses. Therefore, there can be no doubt about these hymns having had originally 10 verses and no more. In six other hymns it is clearly stated in the last verses they are ‘pattus’ or hymns of 10 verses each. These references clearly prove beyond any doubt that this scheme is based on a unit of ten verses only. Therefore, there is no explanation why there should be 11 verses in these cases and in other 19 hymns which do not have any specific reference to the number of verses. As for the hymns with 12 verses, such hymns occur in Campantar’s poems where reference had to be made to 12 different names of Cikali in different verses or different orders but no such explanation is possible for Arurar singing in 12 verses. These verses over and above ten could not have been there originally except in H. No. 2 and Thiruthondathogai.

On this calculation the total number of Arurar’s poems now available is 992 i.e. (1026-36+2) and the total number of verses originally sung should be 1090 or so.


The hymns containing verses more than ten may be studied at this point with a view to find out any verse or two which may be considered a later day addition. The last verse called ‘Tirukkataikkappu’ by Cekkilar is ‘Nandi’ verse or the benedictory verse giving the reader the information about the author and benefits that may accrue from reading the hymn. In Campantar’s hymns this last verse stands apart and is in a pattern different from the other preceding verses w hich usually end as it were in a chorus or ‘Pallavi’. If one examines Arurar’s hymns Nos. 3, 4, 5, 8 etc., one will find that this kind of scheme to prevail. But hymns Nos. 1, 2, 7, 9 etc. do not follow this scheme; here, the last verse giving the name of the author follows the pattern of having the same ending ‘Unakkalai ini alien enalame’ etc. Therefore, it is not possible to say that these last verses are later day additions. Though Arurar does not give as much importance to this last verse as Campantar, who will declare that it is his order (Anni Namate), yet Arurar also follows in the footsteps of Campantar in leaving his mudra or name in the last verses. It is this difference that has made Campantar’s benedictory verses to be called Tiruk-kalaikkappu par excellence. In some places, Cekkilar refers to the last verse of Arurar’s hymns as Tirukkataikkappu and in these places, the hymns contain more than 10 verses. On this basis, it cannot be argued that wherever Cekkilar uses the phrase Tirukkataikkappu, there must be 11 or more verses; for, hymns like 15 where also the last verse is described by Cekkilar as Tirukkataikkappu, the total verses are only ten and no more. As this short cut of removing all the last verses, is not available, the hymns containing more verses than 10 have to be scrutinized in detail. Tastes differ and it is not easy to come to any unanimous verdict on any one verse. All the same, the attempt is worth making.


The hymn No. 7 contains 11 verses. The verse No. 8 seems at first sight an imitation of verse No. 2. The first line in V. 8 is against the rule of grammar about ‘short U’, though such ‘Arsa’ breaches of rules are found even in the musical compositions of Campantar. This hymn is described as ‘Cittanilait Thirupathigam’ by Cekkilar and true to this name, this is addressed by the Saint to his own mind or ‘citta’. The term ‘Mapattir’ may be interpreted as referring to mind; the verses point out the defects including evanescence of this worldly life and give wholesome advice. The only verse, not based on this pattern is verse No. 10, which probably was introduced by some who wanted to have a hit at Visnu and Brahma, as is used to be done by Campantar in a few verses preceding the last verse. When such references to Visnu or the Jains come, it may be said verses containing them may be later day additions. But one must take into consideration whether Arurar himself might not have been in a reminiscent mood and therefore sometimes made such reference as Campantar himself, almost in the same order.

Hymn No. 9 contains verses alternately addressed to God as ‘Alakan’ or the ‘The Beautiful’ and as ‘Punitani, ‘The Pure’. This alternating pattern is spoiled by verses 9 and 10 which both address God as the ‘Beautiful’. The last or the 11th verse tries to restore order by speaking of Him as the Pure. If either the 9th or the 10th is omitted, the alternating pattern of the ‘Beautiful’ and ‘the Pure’ will be restored and the hymn will contain only 10 verses and not 11 verses, as it stands now.

The hymn No. 12 is called ‘Nattut-t tokai’. Tokai is a grouping or collection. In this hymn we get an illustrative catalogue of the holy places. Nani means both an independent state and a province of a state. This hymn describes the temples mentioning the Nani or Province or State in which the city of the temple is. This explains the name ‘Natni-t tokai’. The last line in each verse gives the name of the city and the name of the Nani almost in similar terms: c.f. ‘Marukal natni Marukal’. In verse No. 10, this pattern is broken raising a doubt of interpolation by those who wanted to introduce the temples mentioned therein. Though verse No. 7 also does not end like the other verses, giving the name of a city bearing the name of the province itself, it does refer to the Ilanani, Teunani and Colanani. In passing, it must be also noted that Killikuli which occurs at the end of this verse as one of the temples of Cola Nani seems to follow the pattern, for, Killi is another name for Cola. This hymn conceives God as the Great Wanderer, ‘Natatanil tiriyum Perumani or the great cosmopolitan or the citizen of the world-states and the places of Shiva worship are enumerated in terms of the various states or provinces. It is really the 10th verse which does not under any interpretation follow the pattern explained; if any verse has to be omitted, it may be suggested that it might be omitted.

The hymn No. 13 which also contains 11 verses, has a pattern of its own. The first two lines describe the ‘Pennai river’ in high floods, the 3rd line refers to ‘Turaiyur’ with appropriate adjectival clauses reminiscent of the bathing ghat (tunai) or ford suggested by the name of the holy place (Turaiyur), and the last line except for the first word is repeated as a prayer for Tapas. Verse No. 10 alone especially its first two lines do not follow this pattern prima facie, suggesting by that very breach that this may be an interpolation by those who thought there must be a reference to Brahma and Visnu in this verse.

The hymn No. 14 contains 12 verses. The verses inclusive of the benedictory verse follow one and the same pattern and end with the chorus-like phrase “Ivaralatu illaiyo pirapar?”—Is there no Lord but He?’ The first two lines in these verses refer to Arurar himself or his mind as having complete reliance on God and none else. The third line is a reference to ‘Paccil Acciramam’, the name of the temple. The fourth line is an interrogation or an interjection: ‘Is there no Lord but He, if He were not to help or save us!’ Verses Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 follow this pattern. Of these, verse No. 8 is addressed to the poet’s mind and therefore verse No. 4 which is also addressed to his mind and in that way a reference to the poet himself, may be said to conform to this pattern. Verses 5 and 7 are not modelled on this scheme; the 5th refers in its first line to Tripuradahanam and to God’s help to His devotees, whilst the 7th is a description of God adorning Himself with skull and dancing on the grave yard. If these two are omitted, one gets only 10 verses. In some verses God is described as ‘Ankall and in others as ‘Paramar’, the Lord and the Beyond. Even as ‘Punitani and ‘Alakani alternatingly formed a pattern of verses in hymn No. 9, perhaps originally there was an alternating pattern in this hymn as well, and there will be no difficulty in re-arranging the verses on this pattern.

The 16th hymn on ‘Kalayanallur’ also reveals a general scheme of its own. The first two lines give a puranic story of the Lord either of His destroying the evil or His blessing the Good, and the last two lines give beautiful descriptions of Man and Nature of the holy place: “If you ask what is the city of the Lord who has performed this great deed of Grace, it is Kalayanallur of such beauty”—that is the pattern of the sentence occurring in every verse. The first gives the story of the penance of the Mother Goddess, the third that of Candesvara, the fourth that of the playful covering of the eyes of the Lord by the entwining hands of the Goddess, the 5th that of Tripuradahana, the 6th of the destruction of Daksa’s sacrifice, the 7th the destruction of the pride of Ravana, the 9th the burning of Kama, the 10th of Brahma’s worship, the 11th that of the Lord’s begging—that is, all these give only one story each. The second and the eighth verses, however, give more than one story. The first two lines therein in verse No. 2 may be said to introduce some unity by connecting these stories by way of contrast. Asura Jalandhara was killed and the same weapon which killed him was conferred on the worshipful Visnu as a gift whilst the Lord hurled his weapons on the proud Indra and Andhaka. The 8th verse is really a problem; it refers, to the pillar of Fire, which form, the Lord assumed in the presence of the conceited Visnu and Brahma, to the Lord adorning his crown with the crescent and to the drinking of the poison. Unless one strains a good deal, a unity may not be easily perceived. Somebody having the pattern of Campantar’s poem must have thought that the reference to Brahma and Visnu must succeed the verse immediately after the other verse describing Havana. In this connection, one may usefully be reminded of the tradition about Vellippattu—the interpolations by Velliampalat tampiran of Dharmapuram in Tevaram.

In hymn No. 17, every last line states that the Lord’s place is our Thirunavalur; the 2nd line or the third line refers to Venneinallur where God saved Arurar—“Venneinalluril vaittennai alunkontar”. The terms ‘Vennei nallur’ and ‘Navalur’ do not find place in v. 2 though the verse describes in more detail the story of the Saviour. The heading ‘Venneinallur and Navalur’ does not, therefore, fit in with this verse. If this verse is omitted, one has only ten verses.

The hymn No. 19, as it stands at present, is against the scheme of ten verses. ‘His place is Thirunindravur’—“Itamavatu or itamam or itam Tirunintiyure”—that is the pattern of the sentence in every verse. Verse No. 10 has the other form, ‘Ur Thirunindravur’. In verse No. 3, the form, ‘Karn Thirunindravur’ occurs; but, whereas in other verses ‘Kam’ occurs in the fourth line and Thirunindravur also in the same line, in this verse, whilst the word Thirunindravur occurs in its proper place in the fourth line, the word ‘Ram’ occurs in the third line instead of in the fourth line. If Arurar’s love of natural scenery is taken into consideration, one will be tempted to omit the tenth verse rather than the third, so as to reduce the number of verses to ten.

The hymn No. 30 comes next with its extra verse. The last sentence in every verse is a sort of chorus or ‘pallavi’—‘How sweet is He when we think of Him!’ The third line describes the Koknti (or the jasmine), the temple itself being named after this flower. The second line mentions the place ‘Karupariyalur’, with its descriptions which sometimes begin in the first line itself. Verse No. 7 differs from this pattern in that, the first line contains an advice addressed to the world at large; and this may be omitted. In this hymn also, as in the hymns of Campantar there is one verse referring to Visnu and Brahma and another to the Jains and Buddhists.

The hymn No. 34, the famous Thiruppugalur hymn, contains 11 verses. These verses are addressed to the brother poets of the age, usually singing the vain glories of erratic men. Arurar assures them in the first two lines that even if they attribute in their verses all grand qualities to those who have them not, those men will never condescend to give them anything. Arurar, in the third line and sometimes in the second line, also advises them to sing the glory of the Lord. In the fourth line he affirms that there is no doubt whatever about those singing the praises of the Lord reaching Shivaloka in the next birth. “Yatum aiyupavillaiye” is the ending of every verse. The contrast between the poet’s imaginary description and the cruel reality is emphasised in every verse. This is the general pattern. Verse No. 10 does not specifically mention the contrast. It describes only the poet’s hyperbole without even suggesting the reality of ugliness and meanness as in other verses. But so is verse No. 3. In verse No. 10, however, the use of the word ‘Kalaru’ may at first sight seem to be not very happy, but perhaps Arurar feels that the poets by sheer contrast bring home poignantly the truth of the world. No breach of pattern need be felt; it may be that the darker and more realistic side of the picture is there, in an implied sense. The verse No. 9 repeats the words ‘Karru nallape’ found in verse No. 3 and it repeats the idea of Kama found in verse No. 10. The singing of the owls reminds one of desolation; Pukalur’s fertility is described in terms of the owl’s song, not a very happy description, indeed, of fertility. In hymn No. 32, wherein Arurar complains of isolation and desolation, he mentions the owl as the sign of such state. In hymn No. 50, the first verse also refers to the song of the owls. The reference to the high-way robbers inverses Nos. 2 and 5, the appearance of desolation in verse No. 4 and the mention of ‘Kalli’ in verses Nos. 6 and 8 make it clear that the context in which the owl is thought of can be only that of desolation—a place in ruins—“Palampati”. If this is admitted, the beauty of the fertile Pukalur described in the last verse of the hymn, fits ill with the description of the owl’s song. Hence verse No. 9 may be omitted.


Hymn No. 36 is composed as the speech of the woman to whose doors the Lord goes to beg. All the verses end with the phrase “Araniya vrtankare”—‘The natural unsculptured Beauty of the Forest’. They express their fear of His serpents and other articles of adornment and beg of Him not to bring them along with Him. The first line of verse No. 3 speaks of the Lord in the third person as contrasted with the other verses addressing Him in the second person. It is possible to suggest an emendation; ‘Tuyavar’ might have been ‘Tuyavir’; but even then the third line is neither musical nor poetical. If this is omitted one will have only 10 verses in this hymn.

Hymn No. 37 on Thiruvarur is what is called in Tamil ‘Tutu’ or ‘Sandesa’ where the pining lady-love sends messages to her lover through the birds. Cekkilar calls this ‘Kaikkilai’ or one sided love. The first two lines in every verse addressing the birds, give the description of Arur or its Lord and end in ‘Arurarai’ in the accusative case or in ‘Arurarkku’ in the dative case. The last two lines enumerate the sufferings to be explained to the Lord, in triplets. Verse No. 7 does not follow this model in as far as the last two lines are concerned. Probably verse No. 6 does not also give three types of sufferings; but the states of the growth of the suffering can be easily distinguished as (1) sight of the Lord, (2) growing of the fire of love and (3) its consuming the body. In any case the word ‘um’ has a conjunctive force, but not so the ‘um’ in verse No. 7 which refers to only one suffering. Further ‘Tenalankonta ten vantukal’, ‘Panalankonta’ etc., fall flat. Hence this verse No. 7 may be safely omitted.

Hymn No. 39 is the famous Thiruthondathogai. This hymn had already been explained as an exception. Verse No. 10, as contrasted with the other verses referring to specific devotees refers to devotees in general. When the full implications of the 10th verse are realised, it is not possible to reject it as an interpolation. Even during the times of Nampiyantar Nampi, there were these eleven verses. At least with reference to hymn No. 2, which we considered to be an exception to the rule of singing ten verses, it can be said that the last verse has no connection with the verses that have preceded it; but such doubts cannot arise with reference to this hymn. Therefore, it should be looked upon as an exception to Arurar’s scheme of ten verses.

In hymn No. 40, verses Nos. 8 and 10 do not follow the general pattern found therein of piling up the accusative cases, in the first four lines. Perhaps the pattern should not be taken in such a detailed way. But verse No. 9 is really difficult; it repeats ‘Cataiyanai and the phrase “Tuniviniya tuyamolit tontaivay nallar tunilan kunvalarum” does not make excellent poetry worthy of Arurar. If this is omitted the total verses here also will be ten.

The first two lines in every verse in hymn No. 43 refer to the beggar’s part, the Lord plays; and they ask implicitly or explicitly: ‘How are the devotees to live if their Lord is a Beggar!’ The second two lines describe the Mudhukundram and its natural scenery. Verses Nos. 4 and 9 are not of this pattern. A reference to the 4th line of the verse No. 9 makes it clear that the third line does not go along with ‘multi’ of line 4. The subject of ‘multi’ is not clear. In verse No. 4, the third and the fourth lines form a description of the Lord of Mudhukundram and there are many places where the description of the Lord takes the place of the description of a city, in Tevaram. Therefore, it is verse No. 9, which is not intelligible with its “Cetti nin katali; attum in cil pali; and multi all tola”, that has to be omitted.

Hymn No. 45 has the pattern of repeating the first word of every line suggesting thereby surprise or wonder or certainty. The verse No. 6 repeats the words already repeated in verse No. 1. It is probably a variation or a different reading of the first verse. If this is omitted the hymn will contain only ten verses. A study of hymn No. 99 will help us to understand this position.


In every verse of the hymn No. 46 there is a request for luxuries of life. But the verse No. 3 does not contain any such request. Probably for this reason, this has no place in this hymn.

In hymn No. 51, Arurar pines for the sight of the Lord of Thiruvarur. The last line of every verse chimes like a chorus: “Pirintirukken en Arur Iraivanaiye”. In the first three lines, he condemns himself for being away from the Lord. Verses Nos. 2 and 7 do not refer to Arurar in the first three lines except for the last phrases in the third lines. But this need not be considered a breach of a pattern as long as the fourth line is all right. In the absence of any breach of a pattern, one may search for any unpoetic repetition. Verses 5 and 9 repeat the reference to Brahma and Visnu and one of these, possibly verse No. 5 which certainly does not rise to the poetic heights of verse No. 9, has to be omitted. It must be said, repetitions of ideas and puranic stories are not unknown even in Arurar’s verse, though in this hymn one is on firmer grounds on rejecting verse No. 5, because one relies on a comparison of poetic worth.

Hymn No. 56 contains 11 verses and it is very difficult to decide which has to be omitted. If the pattern of piling up the accusative cases in each is considered, the fourth verse may seem to be a breach; but, the first verse which is specifically mentioned in Periyapuranam is also very much like this fourth verse. Speaking subjectively, this present writer does not see much of poetic beauty or feeling in verse No. 7 which repeats in addition a phrase ‘Vittilanku’ for the sake of ‘etukai’. Therefore, it may be concluded that it was not originally there in this hymn.

In hymn No. 57, perhaps, verse No. 10 had been interpolated for introducing a reference to Jains and Buddhists, since in the previous verses reference had been made to Visnu and Ravann. “Iruntun terarum ninrun camanum” is a phrase from Campantar’s poems. The descriptions have no ring of sincerity. Verse No. 11 repeats the story of Tripura told with force in verse No. 5. If these two are omitted the hymn will leave only 10 verses.

In hymn No. 59, the verses pile up the description of the Lord in accusative cases and end by saying ‘Is it possible to forget Him? The verse No. 4 states “Vaitta cintaiyunte, manamunte, matiyunte, vitiyin payanunte” whose significance is all too patent to mislead any one. The verse No. 5 is an elaboration on this model by some one who wanted to outdo Arurar. “Cerivun tel mannt tarruli.vuntel terrat talvarufi cikkann vuntel, marivuntel maru maippirap puntal van al mercellum vancapai untel, porivan talaeyum ponmalark konrai ponpo luncatai merpunain tanni, arivun niynta lattuyi runto yaru ranai matakkalu mame” piled up in the first, second and fourth lines with no claim for perspicuity. If this is omitted the hymn will contain ten verses.

In hymn No. 61, the third lines refer to the Mother Goddess worshipping the Lord; the first two lines mention the other characteristics of God, and the fourth lines are but the chimings of a chorus—“Kampan emmannik kannk kan atiyen perravare”. Verse No. 10 is not according to this pattern, since all the three lines give the story of the worship of the Mother Goddess without any reference to the other characteristics of the Lord. The verse is really good; perhaps it has been composed by one who wanted to describe the puranic story in greater detail.


In hymn No. 67, though the verses look like objective statements, they are really expressions of subjective experience. Therefore, the mere piling up of puranic stories can have no place, and verse 9 seems to be, on this score, out of tune with the ring of other verses.

In hymn No. 69, Arurar refers in every verse to himself and prays for the removal of his misery; the expression, “Patutuyar kalaiyay pacupata parahcntare” occurs at the end of every verse almost like a chorus. But verse No. 4 introduces a variation, “Patuver karulay pacupata parancutare”—“Bless me, who is singing your praises.” This verse repeats Arurar’s reference to his singing of Tiruppukal in verse No. 2. The music of assonance is attempted at the cost of its meaning in this verse No. 4 and therefore this may be taken as not to have been originally in this hymn.

In hymn No. 72, one may first feel that the second verse is sacrificing sense, for a jingling assonance of ‘arakam’ in phrases like “Aravuri irantavan”. But “Naravuri irantavan” is the reading suggested which makes good sense. Probably for many verses we are not having the correct reading. Therefore, in this hymn it is difficult to decide which verse has to be omitted.

The 73rd hymn also contains eleven verses. The first verse is unlike other verses in that there is no self condemnation there, as in the following. Again the verse No. 5 which may be interpreted as a special plea for God’s pity on the poet based on his innocence does not fit in with the scheme of self condemnation. But it is not clear whether we are having the correct reading for some of the verses here. In the absence of a correct reading it is difficult to decide. The author of Periyapuranam, does not mention the initial line. He speaks of ‘Tiruppatikankall in plural; probably the word ‘Pathigam’ means not a hymn but a verse in this reference. If he meant more than one hymn, there must have been 20 verses of which only 11 are available; nine verses on the pattern of the first must be missing.

Taking hymn No. 77 for consideration, one finds that the verse No. 10 repeats what is found in the first line of verse No. 11. A repetition may be found in an ‘antati’ composition but this is not one such. This verse probably had been introduced to bring in the story of Visnn and Brahma.

In hymn No. 89, the verse No. 9 seems to be giving elaborate details of the story of Cankili and Arurar—somewhat more detailed than one may expect in this hymn. This verse must have been in existence even during the days of Cekkilar who it may be said, has based this part of Arurar’s story on this verse. Or, it may be that on the basis of Cekkilar, somebody has introduced this detail in this verse.

In hymn No. 93, it is very difficult to decide upon the verse to be omitted. If the verses are taken to be referring to puranic stories and events, verse No. 8 which seems to describe the adornments of the Lord rather than give the puranic stories, may be omitted. It is possible to interpret this verse as referring to the puranic events but in that case it must be taken to be repeating the story of the tearing away of the elephant already mentioned in verse No. 2 and the story that followed after that mentioned in verse No. 5, the defeat of the rsis of Darukavana, who, enraged at the Lord going naked to beg at the doors of their wives, sent the deer, fire etc., all of which the Lord neutralized. In this case, one has to omit it on the score of repetition when such repetition is not a pattern of the hymn.

In hymn No. 95, the verses speak of the devotees in the plural including therein the poet himself. Verses Nos. 2 and 11, however, speak of the poet in the first person. The verse No. 11 is the last verse and as usual it gives the name of the poet. There might have been a variant reading for this verse. As already stated the last verses cannot be omitted. The second verse simply repeats “En kun kontir nire palip pattir” which occurs in the last verse, when there is no such pattern of repetition in the other verses. Further it states that the poet has committed no wrong whatsoever—a statement which is against the trend of his poems—c.f. hymn No. 55 and his principle—“Kurram ceyyimim kunam ena-k karutum kolkai”. The phrase niarraikkun’ in this verse No. 2 is mentioned by Cekkilar. Or, it may be that this verse was composed by others following the verse of Cekkilar.

In hymn No. 98, the first two lines in every verse describe the Lord and the last two lines, the place where the Temple is situated. Verse No. 4 may be brought within this pattern. It is verse No. 10 which has to be omitted since the idea of Cenkanan as found in verse 11, is repeated herein, and since it might have been introduced by those who thought that a reference to Ravapa was necessary.

Hymn No. 99 gives in the first two lines of every verse, puranic stories and asks why these events took place. The story of Manmata is given in verses 7 and 9. These verses are almost a replica of each other except for the initial words and for a slight difference in line 4. As the 9th verse is more in accordance with the established practice of assonance than its altered form in the 7th verse, it might be taken to have been the original verse rather than the 7th.


One has to confess, one is here in the land of conjecture except in a few cases like hymn No. 99. The difficulty may be explained with reference to a hymn which has only ten verses, for instance hymn No. 54. In that hymn, verse No. 8 is addressed to the Lord but in the midale of this verse, the poet turns to his own mind only to end with his address to the Lord, which forms a kind of chorus at the end of every verse of this hymn. This is not a case of any breach of a pattern. Perhaps the abrupt changes reflect truly the confusion of the poet’s misery. It is verse No. 2 which repeats “Tiruvalip pilaiyeni’ without making any clear sense in any of its lines—perhaps an attempt to sing on the model of verse No. 1—that seems to be omitted. Even the reference to Cankili is not clear. If this is omitted this hymn will have only nine verses, one verse having been already lost to us. It is not argued that this should be omitted; it is pointed out only for the purpose of explaining the difficulties in the way.

This examination has proceeded on the assumption that where there is a repetition of ideas or words without any poetic effect, in such repetitions they may not be the work of Arurar. As a check we have Periyapuranam which in some cases refers to particular verses and Nampiyantar Nampi Tiruvantati. If verses have been referred to by these earlier works it will be difficult to set them aside as interpolations. The other assumption is that when a hymn follows a particular pattern, any verse which does not fit in with that pattern will have to be looked upon with suspicion. But one has to be on one’s guard in deciding upon the pattern; one must avoid the temptation of imagining too detailed a pattern. A third source of suspicion which may after all turn out to be baseless, hovers around verses, referring to Visnu or Jains on the pattern of Campantar’s hymns. Perhaps it is the fourth assumption of poetic worth of a verse—purely a personal prediction inspite of all reasons given—that really decides the matter. It is not claimed that the judgments are final. A case, it is hoped, has been made for re-examining the verses of these hymns with a suspicion that there may be in them verses not sung by Arurar. Nothing more is claimed and that is why in our studies in the following pages we do not omit references to the verses here suspected to be interpolations.

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