The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thirunindravur or tiruninriyur (hymn 65)” 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 49-50 - Thirunindravur or Tiruninriyur (Hymn 65)

Thirunindravur or Thirunindriyur (Hymn 65)

I

In the previous hymns, the memory of the great Bhaktas oi Tamil Land whom the Lord blessed with His Love, has been growing in force and emphasis:—c.f. Tanti Atikal in hymn No. 72: 10 and Nana Campantar in hymn No. 97: 9. The lives of these great men give the best illustrations of the Lord’s love—an effective answer for all the searchings of our heart and brain. The greatest message of Nampi Arurar is that this love of the Lord is there to save every human being—even the sinners and the lowest of the low. The worst sinners are the first concern of the Lord.

II (a)

Human beings alone are sometimes considered by most of the philosophers, as capable of salvation. But the folklore looks upon every living being even the insects and the plants as speaking a divine language of their own praising the Lord and reaching His feet. This philosophy of the man in the street, appeals to our poet and he narrates further the stories of the puranas which, because of this message had appealed to him, almost effecting a conversion of his heart, inspiring it to take refuge in the feet of God with confidence that divine love which saved so many will not leave him in the lurch. The insect of a spider served the Lord in its own way—putting up a canopy of a cobweb what others will laugh at. But the Lord realized as only He could and conferred on its next birth as Ko-c-cenkanan, munificence and an empire of great power and skill. This is the story of the Cola King Koccenkanan. “This word of mouth, describing this story I have heard and I have taken refuge in your feet” (1).

II (b)

Not only the insect but the animals were also saved. “The cow waking up before the rays of sun, (or before the rise of the sun—the great flame), carrying its milking vessels of its udders, bathed you raining the milk and thus followed your feet. I heard this word of mouth-history and got it firmly implanted in my heart. I praised you and contemplated on you. Thus breaking away from my fetters, O, the Supreme, I took refuge in your feet” (4).

“The elephant of the four tusks shook (in fright on his enemies). But as soon as it praised your feet of goodness or beauty, (not only was its fear removed but also) it was blessed with the unique greatness and grandeur of the Heavens. I heard of this characteristic feature of yours and took refuge in your feet of gold” (7).

II (c)

“Is that all?—All the beings were saved—even the cruel and wicked beings doing harm. The vision is of the silent Teacher under the banyan tree expounding the Aram or Dharma as Pacupati surrounded by all the living beings—the concentrated yogis, the Kinnaras, the tiger, the biting serpent, the uncontrollable lion, the blotless ascetics—all those that had done harm one way or the other” (6).

II (d)

(The lion, the tiger and the serpent are harmful; Katupottar are sometimes spoken of as Raksasas; Kinnaras are potentially harmful with their power used against their enemies; the ascetics are harmful with their powers of curse; (but there is no story of their using this power. It may be that their father Brahma, the Creator, was disappointed at their complete renunciation—thus proving harmful to him). It is the delay caused by this exposition of the Teacher to this group that withheld the Lord from the Mother thereby making the whole world fruitless in that way; the whole of this group may be taken to have done this harmful act. “Etam ceytavar” is how the beginning words of the third line of verse No. 6 should be read, because this gives the line the beauty of alliteration; whilst if it is read as “Vedam ceytavar” ‘those who have given the Vedas’, this beauty is spoiled and the resulting meaning is also wrong; for they are not the authors of the Vedas. The reading adopted by us makes the message of Arurar very clear—the message of Arurar which he has expressed elsewhere that the Lord blesses us even when we commit faults. Is it not the sinner going powerless, down the inclined plane that deserves all the help and love of the Lord?). The word ‘etam’ in the term ‘Etam ceytavar is also interpreted by some as goodness.

II (e)

Some of the saints whose lives at first sight appear to be swerving from the right path (as he had mentioned—Hymn 55:4) come to our poet’s mind—Candi, cutting the feet of the father and being blessed with beautiful garments, ornaments, garlands and food of the Lord, Tirunavukkaraiyar, an erstwhile heretic singing his seven hunared, comparable only to themselves, and Kannappar carrying the cruel arrow—“Hankering after the sweet Grace of your love which these have received, I have taken refuge” (2).

Parasurama of the Puranic fame wreaking his vengeance on 21 generations of kings held aloft the befitting water vessels of gold and gems and gave away 360 veli lands and 300 Vedic scholars, stating that this ever growing city of Ninriyur is yours. You have showed him your feet. I have realized this rule of yours—showering blessings on the erstwhile sinners once they approach with the converted mind. I have taken refuge in you” (3).

The greatest blessing conferred on Agastyar comes to our poet’s mind along with the mercy showed to Indra. “Indra came and worshipped. You were pleased and you blessed him saying, ‘You do rule the Heavens’. At the three points of the day—morning, midday and evening—establishing the immobile linga of the Lord and creating for the Lord this form, Agastya worshipped and fell at your feet. You blessed him with the permanent residence at Tiruppotiyil beautified by the invaluable gems falling out from the waterfalls. Realizing this great wealth of your blessing, I have taken refuge in you” (5).

III

Unfortunately we have only seven verses left of this hymn. The poet describes this Holy place. Like all great men and poets, he is fond of the chilaren even as the Lord is fond of the spiritual weaklings. The river of gold—Kaviri in its flood thrusts aside many gems while the many teams of chilaren, going about in the midst of their games, gather these in the streets, in the raised platforms and the front yard of their houses (1). The city gives away these pearls levelled up equally with pure gold (4). It is the city of wealth where abides the goddess of wealth seated on the cool and red commodious lotus (5).

It is also a city of learning and worship and beauty. It is a city of that wealth worshipped by Cittar, Vanavar and Tanavar—all the varieties of supernatural beings (3). It is the city where the perfect fame of the righteous Vedic scholars shines all round the world (6). The damsels of crescent like forehead, glisten and move in every palace and tower, like the pea-hen, the young ones of the deer and the parrot reminding these respectively with their beautiful tresses of hair, with their darting eyes and with their sweet speech (7). They speak words of Tamilian love and the parrots learn them—these beautiful Tamil full of the theme of love (2). That is the wealth of the city of the dancing of women, Brahmins, chilaren and parrots and angels—all forming the Democracy of the divine community consisting of Agastya, Tirunavukkaracar, Kannappar, Koccenkanan, Campantar, insects, tigers, lions, Kinnaras, saints, elephants, cows and parrots.

Thirunindravur or Thirunindriyur (Hymn 19):

I

This hymn is not mentioned in Periyapuranam. We have suggested that this hymn may belong to Tiruninravur of Pucalar. The pattern of the stanzas is like that of hymn No. 72. Unlike the swift moving trot of that hymn (72) this hymn is in a longer metre which can be scanned as a ‘Kattalaikkalitturai’ of modern times, moving like the dignified march of the horse in a royal procession, a slow and steady march of four short steps (metrical feet) and a longer step (metrical foot)—a uniformity which is not always observed in a Kattalaikkalitturai. Therefore, in this metre we have room for more words; instead of ‘Itam Valampu-rame’ in the former hymn (72), we have here, Ttamdvatu nam Tiruninriyure’ (1, 2, 5, 8), or Itamam Tiruninriyure” (4, 6, 7, 9). There are some variations for example in verse 3, ‘Itamvala malku-punal cenkayal payum vayal poliyum Tiru ninriyure’ and in 10, ‘Or Tiru ninriyure’.

The cataract-like speed of the previous hymn (72) changes here; the metre here flows like a slow moving useful river, revealing a greater repose, more like a message to the world than a subjective exclamation. There are less of endstopped lines, the idea flowing with emphasis flowing from one line into the next. Otherwise what we have stated with reference to the other hymn applies to this hymn.,

II

The puranic descriptions of the company of the Mother (1), the destruction of the three cities (1), the shrine of konrai (2), the sacred ash (2), the trident (3), the feast of poison (3), the love of the sadangas and music and books, the Lordship of the Vedas (4)f the bull (4), the Ganges (4), the serpent (6), the garment of tiger’s skin (6), the covering of elephant’s skin (6), Brahma Kapala (6), the begging (7), the eight mat-locks (7), the dance (7), the conquest of Death (8), and the worship by Brahma, Visnu and Indra are all referred to (9).

III

The relationship of the Lord to his Bhaktas stands foremost in the mind of the poet. He is thoroughly theirs. Many love Him as the Supreme of the Supreme (1). He does not come near the deceitful minds (5). He has accepted as His permanent abode, the minds of those taking refuge in Him (5). Has not the poet told us in the previous hymn (65) that he has taken refuge in Him? His lovers of cool and equipoised mind revel in the surrender of their six passions and in their worship with flowers and He loves their worship (8). They think with their mind and out of the fullness of the heart, their mouth is full of Him (10). He is ever on their tongue. To them He is purer than the rare tapas or a sacrifice (10). He is far away from those who had gone away from Him and near unto those who are dedicated to His feet (10). He is the great fame. He is the auspicious (10), good of goodness or Siva (11). He is fond of the acts and the conduct of those who love His feet (5). The references here reveal to us the mode of worship with music (4, 8), Vedas (4) and Books (4) flower (8) and mantras (9), sacred ash (10) and the five fruits of the cow (5), suppressing the six passions and taking refuge in Him (8). Fame comes to these Tontars (11).

IV

There is also a personal reference. We had often referred to Campantar as the leader of Arurar’s school of Saivism. In this hymn occur the words “Pukalinnakar porrum em punniyattar necattindl ennai alum konpar” (2). It is usually interpreted as referring to the Lord as the virtuous Being honouring the city of Pukali and as the great Lord saving the poet out of love. “Pukali” was the birth place of Campantar. The virtuous being, honouring or worshipping at Pukali may be interpreted as referring to Campantar. The next part of the verse will then mean that out of His love for Campantar the Lord had saved Arurar,

V

The Lord is here to save all. He is the Lord of this country surrounded by the long and wide expanse of the sea (3), reminding us of Arurar’s description of the empire of Kalarcinkan. The Lord loves all the eight points of the compass (8). He is Time and the Sun (a measurer of time) (9).

VI

Thirunindriyur or Thirunindravur is a Heaven on earth (It is Sivagati—11)—with the waters of increasing fertility, the kayal fish rushing to the fields—the poet has not more to say (3). It is a place where the activities of the famous Tontars never cease (11). Having experienced the place as Sivagati, our poet assures the readers that those who are masters of this hymn will be in communion with the Lord, worshipped by this Earth and the Heaven (11).

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