The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

by M. A. Dorai Rangaswamy | 1958 | 181,393 words

This page describes “namakkadigalakiya adigal or namakkatikalakiya atikal (hymn 33)” from the part dealing with the Pilgrim’s progress (with Paravai), which represents the development of Arurar’s Mysticism as gleaned from his hymns. The Thevaram (or Tevaram) contains devotional poems from the 7th century sung in praise of Shiva. These hymns form an important part of the Tamil tradition of Shaivism

Chapter 42 - Namakkadigalakiya Adigal or Namakkatikalakiya Atikal (Hymn 33)


This hymn, though, according to tradition, is said to have been sung at Thiruvarur when our poet returned to that place after his pilgrimage, does not belong to any specific temple. This hymn is, therefore, named after the refrain or ending of every verse herein —“Namakkadigalakiya Adigal”. “The Lord, our Master, is He, the same as the Lord of the kite-canopied jungle. Is He the same as the Lord of the dead skull? Is He the youth sharing His Body with the damsel of the mountain, etc.?” (1):—This is the pattern of the sentence, piling up the descriptions of the Lord in the form of interrogations. Most of these descriptions belong to the Puranic lore, and show that our poet’s mind is captivated in this period of his life by these stories. As in the case of the Bhiksatana hymns the descriptions are applicable to the Kapali and the Bhiksatana form, revealing the heart of the loving damsels of Darukavana, in the heart of our poet himself. Every interrogation is expressive of the loving regard of the poet for that description. One could see Him dancing in joy like a lover, asking forth for confirming the marks of the beloved, while, at the same time, giving his own descriptions and distinguishing features of the Lord for comparison. This hymn is addressed to the Bhaktas, our friends, guides and philosophers. He has experienced his Lord and they talk of their Lord—the one Lord of the Universe. “Is that universal Lord, the Lord of us all, our Master of this mark and of this mark—marks which have appealed to him in his own experience of the Lord?”

The Bhaktas may be imagined to confirm his identification, when, as a result, his joy must have known no bounds, like the joy of Kampan’s Sita hearing the identifications of the hero who broke the Svayamvara bow, as confirming her own marks of identification of her own Rama—the youth following the saint, the youth of the lotus red eyes:

Komuni yutan varu kontal cenrapin
Tamaraik kanninan enra tanmaiyal
Amava nekol enru aiyam nznkindl
Vamame kalaiyinul valamta talkule

(Balakandam: Karmukappatalam. V. 62).


Lost in the bliss, our poet does not mention any result flowing from a recitation of this hymn but inquires of the Bhaktas as in hymn No. 73, whether this our Master would accept his services and save him also.


This is addressed by Arurar of Naval, the father of Vanappakai, the Vanrontan as he describes himself to the Bhaktas, thus revealing the great value the poet places on this cult of Tiruttontattokai.

“You think and praise as it suits or as it pleases you—or according to your capacity”—thus are the Bhaktas addressed and described (2, 3, 6, 7, 10). He begs all of them to come together and to come near Him (He hankers after their physical presence near him) and to tell him what the truth is (2, 3)—those Bhaktas who are of the qualities setting up the standard to be followed by others:—the guides. “I worship at your feet and praise you. Pray, bless me (with the truth—10)”—thus he addresses them, in all humility, as his masters. “I may be cruel, I may be wicked. But I am a slave of His; my mind is always thinking of Him. Will He accept and save me?” (10)—that is his last query. He thus expresses with all humility describing himself a fool (6), a cruel and wicked man (10).


The graveyard (1, 7, 8), the skull (1, 2), the mat-lock (1, 2), the youthful form (1), the ear-ring (1), the bull (1, 2, 5, 7), the sacred ash (1, 3), the crescent moon (1, 5), the river and the mat-lock (1), the serpent (2, 5, 7), the karantai flower (2), His form red like kunri (3), the three eyes (4), the bath of milk and honey (4), the elephant’s skin (4), the kotukotti dance (5), the vina (5), the lordship of the Vedas (5), the trident (7), the blue throat (7), the begging at every door (7), the city (8), His being beyond the reach of Visnu and Brahma (8), the dance of eight arms (8), the scandals of Jains (9), the formless (10)—all these are lovingly referred to in terms of the Puranic mythology.


“Would He accept us as His servants, lovingly feeding us with alms?” (2). “Is He a beggar because He has nothing or is He so, though He has everything?” (3). “Further, is He that One who is the Great Aravar, the Dharmic ascetic renouncing everything?” (6). “Is He that One Good to those attached to Him?” (4). “Is He that One that is our Master full of His sovereignty?” (5). “Is He that One who understands and sympathizes with our sufferings?” (6). “Is He that One good to those praising Him?” (6). “Is He that One who takes to heart our words?” (6). “Further, is He that One who saves us?” (2). “Speaking to us the truth and nothing but the truth, (6), is He that great One who has many a people to sing His praises?” (8). “Is He that One good to those attached to Him?” (8)—These interrogations give us specific features of the Lord as our poet has experienced Him.


This is one of the hymns in which there is a reference to the Jains. Our poet mentions their characteristic names with their peculiar endings: Namana Nandi, Karuma Viran and Darumacenan. They stand like hillocks with no clothes, without any sense of shame, uttering their mantras—Namo,......with the nasal sounds predominating, which our poet caricatures as namana na nana nana nonam”—The complaint against them is that they hurl abuses on the Lord.

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