The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thirunallar or tirunallaru (hymn 68)” 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 43 - Thirunallar or Tirunallaru (Hymn 68)

I

Our poet begged of the followers in the previous hymn whether the Lord would accept him. Of course he is sure from his own experience that the Lord would save him. The implication of a possible negative reply however lurks there. Love is reciprocal and the contingency of a negative reply can only arise if the poet forgets the Lord. But can he? Has not he already exclaimed, “What shall I think of, forgetting Him?” (H. 57). Mind never forgets the happy things it has experienced and the Lord is the sweetest nectar. He has addressed the Lord as “Ara innamudu” (H. 27:7). But this conception enters the centre of his mind henceforth, and he repeats calling, “The Lord of Nallaru as ‘Amudu’, to him a dog of a slave” (8). This is the burden of this hymn: “Nallaranai Amudai nayinen marantu en ninaikkene?”. In the last verse, our poet himself gives the substance of this hymn in these terms—“the great hymn of a garland of five and five exclaiming, ‘What is there for us to be forgetting Siva?’” (10).

II

Amudu is the zenith of his happy experience of the Lord and the various happy descriptions of his of the Lord are piled up one after another, before reaching this acme of bliss. The descriptions are mostly as in the previous hymns, of the puranic forms of the Lord clearly revealing the fact about the poet’s mind at this stage, being blissfully immersed in the puranic mythology as expressing the message of his own experience—the gold form (1), the white sacred ash (1), the blue throat (1) (all forming a harmony of colours), the Great Fire unknown to Visnu and Brahma (1), the flaying of the elephant (1), the bull (1), the konrai (2), the bath in five fold fruits of the cow (2), the company of the Mother (3, 8), the mat-lock (3), the saviour of the boy (Markkanda) (4), the destruction of Death (4), the feast of poison (4), the destruction of Kama (6), the eye in the forehead (6), the blessing showered on Arjuna (7), the Teacher of the Banyan Tree (7), the father of Subrahmanya (7), the vanquishment of Ravana and his redemption through his music (9).

III

Our poet gives expression to his personal experience of the Lord, sometimes as peculiar to him, sometimes as the universal experience of all the Bhaktas. The Lord is the Cit-Jnana, the Light and our poet experiences Him as the sprout of Jnana (2), as the musician of the Vedas (2), especially the Sama Veda (1), as the Lord whose feet the Antanar full of the Vedic lore and the Vedic sacrifices worship (5), as the Pure flame of Light dispelling all darkness of words and their meanings (6). His supremacy is emphasized by such descriptions as this, “The Lord of the Sevenfold worlds” (2). This is experienced as such in the universal vision the poet sees. The Lord is the earth, the wind, the water, the fire and this vacant space (harmonizing all their contradictions into His unity). He is there, in all these as their very life and worth even as the very fragrance in a flower (3). God is the most precious thing, the best that could be desired or loved—the gem, the blotless gem (5), the gold, the mountain of gold itself (6). This love is the greatest divine bliss. He is the sweet honey (3), the sweet fountain of nectar gushing forth from our tongue when we sing of His praises in the Kamaram tune (3).

This Love makes us happy—giving us everything. He is the munificent patron—Vallal (9). He is the Karpaka tree (6). He is the All Powerful (1)—unique beyond any comparison (1)—the Lord of the immortals (3), but yet He cannot get away from the minds of those contemplating on Him (4). He removes the karmas of those praising Him (2). He is the Lord of the Vedas destroying the karmas of those bowing at His feet (8). He is searched everywhere and is never seen but yet He has come easily within my reach—the poor me (5). At last God’s Feet have accepted me as His servant and saved me by showing His wonderful title-deed (6). He is a great moral saint, Aravan (7), but yet He is the Lord patiently putting up with and forgiving all the crimes I had done (7). He is the envoy easily within my reach (8), the Lord who has blessed me with His friendship forgiving all my perverse acts (8).

The name expressing all these beautiful thoughts is honoured as a mantra, i.e., Siva, a word which our poet repeats twice in this hymn (3, 10). The other popular name is Sambhu—the giver of Happiness (1).

In this overflowing of the Heart, feasting on the mythological descriptions as expressions of his spiritual experience, the poet has no space available for a description of the Holy place except for referring to its ever expanding fragrance (7), being surrounded by the crowding gardens (10).

Our poet describes himself as the father of Cinkati anil Vanappakai and as belonging to Navalur. He gives his proper name (Ar)uran and the title Vanrontan which he had acquired as a Bhakta. “To those masters of this hymn who with melting heart can recite this, there is no death and exit or entrance into the world; and they will be easily getting themselves immersed in the flood of the divine Bliss”—this is the assurance our poet gives (10); for, that must have been his own experience whilst singing this hymn, whose characteristic feature may be epitomized in one word ‘Amudu’ (1-9). This emphasis differentiates this hymn from the hymn No. 57 which has the same refrain and paints out a higher spiritual development enjoying more the confidence in God.

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