The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thirukadaiyur mayanam or tirukkatavur (hymn 53)” 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 44 - Thirukadaiyur Mayanam or Tirukkatavur (Hymn 53)


As in the previous hymn, the puranic lore occupies the central place in the heart of our poet. Here, the Lord stands as it were before our mind’s eye in a concrete form as enjoyed by our poet. The hymn is on the Lord of Thirukadaiyur Mayanam. Mayanam is a burning ghat and one wonders whether the temple here is a ‘Palli patai’ (temple) of any great king. Kings, are Perumanatikal; Periyaperumanatikal (Vv. 1-9) will signify the greater king, the God.


In consonance with the graveyard where the temple is situated, the Lord appears to us in this hymn, surrounded by the army of Bhutas (1), Pey (3), Paritam (5), with the begging bowl of a grinning skull (2), besmearing Himself with the dust of the graveyard (6)—all these clearly suggesting the Kapali going a-begging. Arurar makes a specific mention of the ‘mayanam’ for the burden of every verse in this hymn is “Mayanattup periya peruman atikale”. The place, as attached to Katavur was known as Katavur Mayanam. This is the name found in verses 1 and 5. In other verses except 8, Katavur is mentioned as the chief place. In the verse 8 also there might have been such a mention. ‘Pltar Katavur mayanattu’ might have been the origina] form instead of ‘Pitar cataiyar mayanattu, the latter reading was probably due to the influence of the verses 9, 4 and 6 which have ‘Cataiyar mayanam. The pattern of the sentence in every verse is ‘the great king of this mayanam is the Lord of the various descriptions (known to us as that of Siva in the Puranas).


The very first hymn sings of the Lord coming before us like a mountain of manikkam—manikkam so dear to our poet—crowned with the crescent moon, the Lord of fragrant konrai, riding a bull along with the damsel, surrounded by the army of Bhutas, the universal Lord of all—Visnu, Brahma, Indra, Devas, Nagas and the Tanavas (1). In the other verses reference is made to the other puranic descriptions—the sacred thread (2), the singing of the Vedas (2), the eye in the forehead (2), the destruction of Death (2), and the three cities (2), the tiger’s skin (3), the eight arms (3), the begging (3), the ornament of serpents (5), the elephant skin (5), the tusk of the boar (5), the pendant of a necklace (tali) of a tortoise (5), the loin cloth (6), the earring (6), the young deer (9), the feast of poison (7), the vanquishment of Ravana (7), the gift to Arjuna (8), the battleaxe (9), the destruction of Daksa’s sacrifice (9) and the head of Brahma (2, 9), the gift of the discus to Visnu (9) and the preaching of Dharma (9).


The Lord is called ‘Pacupatar’ (6) (See our remarks on this word given elsewhere).

Describing the grave-yard, he is reminded of the sects of Pasupatas (6) and Mavratis (6), (the Mavratls wear a sacred thread of hair called pancavati (6). Please see our description under the Kapali form).

The Lord as the Saviour—an idea which is the message of our poet—is also lovingly referred to: He is the Lord of all, blessing all, without ever saying no (4). The whole world is His (7). But His city is Orriyur and Arur (7). (This statement is made in a jocular vein because the poet is punning on the word Orriyur and Arur which in addition to their denoting the cities of those names, may also mean a city under mortgage and a city of someone not known, respectively. (‘Arur’—literally meaning: Whose is the city?). He is the Lord of a thousand names (7), one who blessed His followers removing all their miseries (10).


The way of worshipping the Lord is also referred to. The tontar or the followers sing their song in accompaniment to the drum—fufi of sound (4). We have suggested very often that the Putam, Pey and Paritam ought to be identified with the Bhaktas or followers of God and after mentioning the Tontars in one verse (4), he refers to the Pdritam (5) singing and dancing full of Bhakti, whilst the Lord stands before them as a mad man, mad in love with them going a-begging for their love and soul (5). The bath in the five-fold yields of the cow is also mentioned (9). Reference to the 1000 names of the Lord may suggest the idea of ‘sahasranama’, worshipping the Lord showering flowers on His feet at the mention of every name out of these thousand names (7). The Brahmins or the Vedic scholars also worship Him (2), the Brahmins of Katavur, where abound palatial residences (10). This mayanam is near Katavur and our poet calls this place Katavur Mayanam (1, 5), whilst in other places, he calls Him also the Lord of Katavur (2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10).


The poet is happy in describing the puranic personality of the Lord, the Lord revealing to him as such at the temple of Mayanam. Our poet says he has searched for the real greatness of the Lord and for the correct words expressing Him, and has given expression to these in these good Tamil verses (10). The sins of the followers who sing this hymn or listen to this will be destroyed (10). Having enjoyed the description whilst singing this hymn and feeling purified of all forms of songs the poet assures his readers of the same experience (10). The poet has completely forgotten his individuality, so completely lost in the bliss of the description of the Lord, that he does not make any personal reference to himself except in the last verse which usually gives his name. This hymn may be taken to belong to the age of his political greatness because lie gives the proper name as Aruran Nampi, a period when he was thinking of his title of Nampi also as much a proper name as Aruran (10).

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