The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thirukurukavur or tirukkurukavur (hymn 29)” 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 53 - Thirukurukavur or Tirukkurukavur (Hymn 29)

I

This is the hymn on Kurukavur where the temple is called Vellatai (10). This is an outpouring of the poet’s heart. The hymn is so surcharged with personal emotion that there is not any reference to the puranic description of the Lord except to the Lord’s going a-begging with the skull (3), besmearing Himself with the white ash (5), and adorning Himself with the konrai (5) to dance on the burning ghat in the midnight (3)—a conception that appeals to the heart of our poet.

In the last verse the poet speaks of the Lord as residing at Kurukavur Vellatai (10). In the other nine verses, he seems to be identifying the holy place with the Lord Himself—“Kurukavur Vellatai ni anre” which is the burden of this hymn. Of course, it is possible to interpret this phrase “Vellatai ni anre” so as to mean “Are you not of this place Vellatai?”.

II

He looks upon this holy place as a place in the very Heavens “Vinnitai-k kurukavur”—“Kurukavur within the Heavens” (6). The kayal fish rush into the ponds, and in the tanks, whose every sluice, the various kinds of water flowers kavi, kuvalai, lotus and cenkalunir are fond of (2). This idea of the flowers hankering after the holy place is again repeated—the water lilies and jasmine are fond of the tank of budding flowers (5). The beautiful and shining blue lily grows high in the pond of flowers. In harmony with this beauty, shines the young swan of beautiful gait. This becomes the great truth of the holy place—its beauty (4). It is the beautiful place of shining light surrounded by fields and gardens full of fertility (10).

III

His own personal experience of the Lord as usual is expressed with reference to his particular vision as well, as in general as universal truths, true of all Bhaktas. “Ah!. My Lord! I have not understood this—your becoming all this to me. All others speak of you as a mad man. You are the precious pearl, the gem of carbuncle” (1). (We have already noticed our poet’s partiality for manikkam, the carbuncle). “You have protected my soul from getting lost; you have accepted me as your servant and saved me” (2). “You have saved me from fever and all other diseases” (4). “You have saved me from the coming scandals” (5). “You could not bear my mortal pains and you have come in to save me; if the servants of the Lord of Death come iri to inflict pains I know of none but you” (7). “Even if it comes to a question of death, you have saved me, you, my king, from all such miseries” (7). “Even if the angry, noisy and powerful servants of the Lord of Death come to confuse me and make me perturbed, you will prevent all those cruel miseries inflicting me” (8).

IV

Coming to the general statements or universal truths, which are, after all, another way of expressing his own subjective feelings, the poet speaks of the Lord as appeasing the hunger of those who sing of Him and of curing all the diseases of all those who praise Him (3). “The Lord is there at Kurukavur for preventing mental distress rushing on His followers in this world” (6). “He removes the darkness, confusion or delusion in the minds of His followers who never go astray, or who never get perturbed” (8). “You, my Lord, make us your servants without our going to fall at the feet of many” (9). You roam about wearing the skin whilst you make us adorn ourselves with silk and gold”. (9). “You allow others to get themselves ruined releasing them thoroughly from your golden feet devoid of all evils” (others have taken this ‘vitzyvippay’ to mean release me thoroughly to get attached to your golden feet) (9).

You are like the Tamil song in music compositions; you are like the sweet taste in the fruits; you are like the apple of the eye; you are like a flame in the midst of dense darkness” (6).

V

The descriptions of the personal experience of the poet suggest that our poet escaped, thanks to his reliance on the Lord, mental and physical afflictions following undeserved political vilification. Or, these descriptions should be taken as of troubles, diseases and scandals overtaking ordinary men in general.

Periyapuranam speaks of this hymn having been sung when the Lord came as a Brahmin to feed our hungry and thirsty poet, on his way to Thirukurukavur. But more than this is meant in this hymn as suggested by us. Our poet has sung this hymn when God has saved him from all the afflictions and when the troubled heart has become cool and calm. Campantar gives a secret of his poetry that he sings of the Lord when his mind is calm and cool—“Ulankulirntapotelam ukantukanturaippane. Walking closely in the footsteps of Campantar, our poet calls this hymn as lam kulir tamil malai”— ‘the Tamil garland of cool heart’ (10). This hymn is an exclamation of a loving heart representing the speech of all Bhaktas—that is what our poet tells us. He is also a Bhakta, a relative that way of the Lord, only the very last and youngest ‘ilankilai’ (10). This hymn must belong to the age of his political pre-occupation; he calls himself the father of Vanappakai and, therefore, must have sung—after his marriage (10).

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