The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “(m) symbology of fire” 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 - (m) Symbology of Fire

The fire was also sent against Shiva from the Sacrifice of the Rsis of Darukcwana. It was held in the left back hand of the Lord of Dance. Not only in the fire ordeal but also during the worship, the fire is held in the hand to prove one’s purity. Even today worshippers of Mari carry a mud vessel of fire in their hands. God Shiva is holding the plate of fire—“Eri akal”

Arurar mentions the fire in Shiva’s hands in 12 places. In the Kailasanatha temple sculptures, Plates LI, fig. 1, LXII and CIX, fig. 1, Rea, reveal this fire in the form of torch almost like the Grecian torch. In Plate LI, the torch is bent downwards. The confusion of ‘Main’ with the fire has already been explained. That the fire is mentioned along with ‘Malu’ has also been noted. The fire is called ‘anal’, ‘eri’, ‘Talal’, and ‘Ti’. He holds the fire in His hand—“Kaiyil analutaiyar”, “Anal cer kaiyinan”, “Anal cer kaiyan”, “Vittilanku eriyar kaiyinan.’' It is held with His palm or ‘ankai’—“Ankaiyin nal analentum avan” “Eri anri ankai-k kon rillaiyd empiranukke”, “Talal ankaiyinan”, “Ankai-t tiyukappar” The palm is kept upwards and the fire is in it—“Kaimicai-k kur eri”. The same idea is conveyed by the verb “entu”—to hold—“Anal entum avan” and enti’. In other places the Lord is said to be possessed of the fire—a symbol of His divinity—“Eriyum......utaiyan” and the poet asks, ‘Is there nothing else for the palm except this fire?’—“Eri anri an-kaikku onrillaiyo?” The fire is said to reach or to be attached to the hand signifying physical contact—“Anal cer kaiyinan”.

The fire glistens—“Vittilanku eri” It is an ever increasing fire on the palm—“Kai micai-k kur eri”. ‘You carry the fire that is never put out and dance at night on the cremation ground’ —“Aviyd anal enti-k kankur purankattdti” ‘The golden heroic anklet resounds; the serpent dances; the Lord adorns Himself with the crescent and the Ganges, and holds up the fire; He changes His modes or postures and dances’—“Araiyum painkalal drppa aravata analentippiraiyum kankaiyum cuti-p peyarntdtum perumanar” The never to be put out fire—“Aviyd anal” and the ever increasing fire—“Kur eri” reminds us of the description of ‘Bhujanga lalita’ dance as described in Mayamata when by quick changes in the position of the legs, the fire in the hand of the Lord of dance is blown into a blaze.

The Great Lord of dance, Nataraja of Cidambaram is also mentioned by Arurar as holding the “eri akal”, the plate of fire. Tn the quick dancing hands, He holds the Damarukam or the short drum, the fire plate and the black serpent and He dances in Cirrampalam. We have him to save us from Yama. But according to this description we see the Damarukam, the fire plate and the black serpent only in the hands of Nataraja at Perur near Coimbatore. Perhaps our poet Arurar was very much absorbed in the Nataraja form at Perur when he visited that place and had the same vision at Cidambaram so much so, he had sung that the Nalaraja of Cidambaram was having these things.

The fire is mentioned in connection with the following forms if at all any form could have been thought of by the poet—the Gajari, Ardhanari Sankaranarayana, Nrtta murti of both the Tillai Ananda Tandava and Samhara Tandava of midnight, Gangadhara Lingodbhava and Kapali

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: