The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “(l) shiva’s ornamentation” from the part dealing with Nampi Arurar (Sundarar) and Mythology, viz. Puranic stories and philosophy. 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 4.6 - (l) Shiva’s ornamentation

(a) Ear:

In the image forms of Shiva, even in the absence of the Ardhanarisvara form, we find some distinction made between the right half and the left half especially with reference to the ear-rings worn. In the right ear, there is usually the “makliara kundala” or a “simha kundala”, whilst in the left ear there is “patra kundala” or “padma patra” or “sankha patra” or “ratna kundala”.

The Tevaram writers usually distinguish between “kulai” and ‘kundalam’ on one ear and ‘totu’ and ‘curul’ on the other. The palmyra leaf is wound round and inserted in the ear-lobe by poor women even today. This is the ‘totu’ or ‘uru’. Golden ornaments sometimes studded with precious stones are made in this form. Poor women who cannot afford to possess rubies, usually colour the palmyra leaf, by dying with either red or green before wearing it. The ‘kulai’ is in the form of a ring, perhaps a hollow ring worn in the ear-lobe, as hanging down. This is made of gold or conch. Sometimes this is made in the form of ‘makhara’ or ‘nakra’ or crocodile.

Arurar often speaks of the ‘kulai’ adorning the ear of the Lord. It is the shining ear-ring—“Vilankum kulai”. Sometimes he speaks of ‘kulai’ alone without any qualification—“Kulai-k katu” “Kulaikol katu”, “Kulai viravu vati katu”. He differentiates between the ear-ring made of gold and that made of conch. It is only in one place he refers to this golden ring of the ear—“Katilar kanaka-k kulaiyan” In another place he speaks of the sturdy and long ring of the ear—“Tinivar kulai and this may refer to the weighty gold. The shining ear-ring above referred to —“Vilankum kulai”;—may also imply that the ear-ring is of gold. In other places, he speaks of the “canku kulai”—the ear-ring of conch, also “Canka-k kulai” and “Canka ven kulai”. In other places, he speaks of the white-ear-ring made of conch—“Ven kulai” and this interpretation is justified by our poet’s reference “Canka venkulai” The qualification of white is used with reference to the ear-ring of conch. In one place the poet speaks of “Cantar ven kulai”, where ‘cantu’ may mean the joint, where the two ends meet or it may mean beautiful. He also refers to the “Makara-k kulai”, the ear-ring in the form of a makara; ‘the low hanging makara-k kulai—“Tai makara-k kulai” He speaks of this kulai as kundalam. In one place, he speaks of “Kun-dalam kulai tikal katu” and hence it may be said that kundalam is different from kulai. In one place, the poet speaks of the Lord having the serpent as an ear-ring.

These ear ornaments hang down from a very big ear-lobe—“Vati katu”. Even now we find some people wearing these, so as to touch almost their shoulders. The poet, therefore, speaks of the ear-rings dashing against each other whilst the Lord dances —“Kulai valar katukal mota ninru kunippate”.

The poet speaks of the ‘totu’ as adorning the ear of the Lord and also “Vellai-c curul” He mentions both the “Ven kulai” and “Curul ven totu” as adorning His ears. How these are worn is made clear in another verse where the poet speaks of the Lord wearing ‘totu’ in one ear and the ‘kulai’ in the other, which evidently means that the ‘tdtu’ is worn on the left or Sakti half and the ‘kulai’ on the right or Shiva’s half. It is because of this we have interpreted this to refer the Ardhanarisvara form when describing that form.

(b) Feet:

In the feet of the Lord are found ornaments but our poet specifically mentions the “Kalal”. It is found midway between the foot and the knee-cap, perhaps a little higher-up. It is an ornament worn by warriors as the sign of their heroism and valour, their greatness being sometimes inscribed on this ring-like ornament. This has a hanging clasp. It is usually worn on the right leg. Unfortunately, it has not been noticed clearly by Rea and therefore, we do not get it sketched in his pictures. However, in the photographic plate of Yogadaksinamurti found in the Kailasanatha Temple appearing as plate LV, fig. 2, this ornament can be easily identified in the midale of the knee muscle with its hanging clasp. If this is compared with the Plate LXXII, fig. 1, LXIV, fig. 1 and LXXIX our interpretation will be ‘correct—“Kalar kalalaro

In the Ardhanarisvara form, on the right leg appears this heroic ring and on the left appears the feminine ornament, the anklet of the “Cilampu” which we have already discussed when we were describing the Ardhanarisvara form.

(c) Catai:

Shiva is said to possess matted hair or catai. It is said to be red in colour. It flashes like lightning when the Lord dances, up above his body of golden hue. Our poet speaks of it thus—“Minear cencatai” above his “Ponnar me ni”. It is very curious that his friend and contemporary Ceraman Peruma} Nayanar, starts his ‘Antatf with a reference to the golden hue and the lightning like matted hair—“Ponvannam evvannam avvannam meni purinti-lankum minvannam evvannam avvannam vilcatai” The ancient man standing entranced by the beautiful rising sun colouring the spreading clouds with golden hue spoke of the Lord dancing on the horizon or on the infinite space with his body of gold and the dancing matted hair of red colour of the dawn. The sun-set reveals the same poetic glory which can be easily spoken of as the dance of sun-set —“Antinatam”. The matted hair is cool, because of that Ganges there, and, therefore, our poet speaks as cool matted hair—“Kulir catai”, “Kutalitu catai”

The matted hair is described in various forms as already described in our images: “Jatabhara”, “Jatabandha”, “Jatamandala”, “Jatamakuta”. When the Lord dances, the matted hair also dances and spreads out, in eight parts representing the eight points of the compass. Our poet is enamoured of the posture of the rare dance when the eight tufts of Shiva’s matted hair whirl around. In another place the poet expresses his experience of divine bliss by referring to the Lord of sugar-cane. The leaf-blades of this plant are spoken as “catai”. Here is an occasion for punning and the poet loses no opportunity. Of punning on this word which means both the blade of the sugar-cane and the matted hair and speaks of the “catai” of a sugar-cane of the Lord branching off “Kotaram payil catai utai-k karumpu”- In some form of the ‘jata , the front portion appears to be tied up whilst the back portion seems to be spreading out. Probably, it is this that our poet refers to as “Pin catai”.

Pinnakar’ is a name of the Lord very popular among the Tevaram writers and Arurar also is fond of this word. The Tamil Lexicon traces this word to the Sanskrit root, ‘Pinj’ to destroy. But, unfortunately, this word ‘Pinnaka’ with this meaning is not found in Sanskrit dictionaries. The tradition among the Tamil scholars is to interpret this word as referring to the Lord Shiva, because the particular way of dressing His hair. The Pinkala Nikantu speaks of ‘Pinnakam’ as a kind of dressing the lady’s tresses of hair and the Tamil Lexicon traces this word to the Sanskrit word “Pinnakam” which means only the tail of the peacock. Nor is this Tamil usage known to Sanskrit dictionaries. There has been a tendency from the days of Cilappatikaram to the days of Tevaram to palatalize the dental-nasals. Appar writes “Ceynninra”, “Ceynninra”, etc. Even ‘na’ which probably was lingual nasal underwent this change and Cilappatikaram uses the form ‘Annai’ for ‘Aijnai'. These forms may suggest that the original form of ‘Pinnakam’ is ‘Pinnkam’ and, therefore, the old traditional meaning given by the Tamil Scholars may be after all correct.

There is another term “Kularcatai'’ used by our poet. ‘Kulal’ is the tresses of the ladies’ hair and, therefore, we can trace this phrase to the. Ardhanarisvara where the matted hair is on the right side and the ladies’ tresses of hair on the left.

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