The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thirukkazhippalai or tirukkalippalai (hymn 23)” 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 54 - Thirukkazhippalai or Tirukkalippalai (Hymn 23)


This hymn is one of our poet’s exclamations of joy at the sight of God’s Grace overflowing towards him. Sometimes the exclamations are addressed to the Lord, sometimes to the world at large. In a few places, out of the fullness of his heart the poet simply stops with the puranic descriptions of the Lord. Thus this hymn is a kind of overflowing from the previous hymn,


The first verse seems to answer a question which his own conscience as a representative of the world raises: “How can the Lord save you, you, the author of so many past cruel karmas?” Our poet replies, “I am bad and because of my evil karmas, I get confused and desperate. Even after seeing this sorry plight of mine, is it fair for the Lord to leave me desperately alone, without expressing any sympathy in such terms as ‘Alas! My slave!’ He is the father of the prodigal son as well as the upright son and loves both alike even as His mat-lock brings together the crescent and serpent to sleep together. That is the beautiful and harmonious form of His. This is the only place Kalippalai which He loves most”—That is the first verse.

In the second verse the poet addresses the Lord, “I may be anywhere and from there, if I, your slave, think of you, you come there, become one with me to stand there to shower your blessings, to cut me away from the shackles of karma here and now and to save me, O, Lord of the Ganges! (who saved many for the sake of Bhagiratha) you love this holy place Kalippalai” (2).

“You have punished me; the excesses, I, your slave, committed out of your love, you have forgiven all. You have taken this dog of yours as something significant and made me contained within you. Yes! that is your nature! Your throat has become blue because you have feasted on the poison of the seas, never conscious of that fact”

“The bees hum and the flowers bloom; gathering these, your followers shower them on you; tears of love unceasingly drip, from their eyes—these speak the state of the loving heart. Along with them, I perform these acts of love. No other God have I loved with my heart except thyself, O, Lord! that art fond of this holy place of Kalippalai of fields full of the sweet sugarcane (sweet like your love unto them)” (4).

“You may remove my karmas; You may love them. You may hate and out of love you may rant or hector me. You may smite me. You are possessed of the deed of sale (of my slavery). I am completely yours. The solid bead disappearing inside the back-waters is carried on to the streets of the holy place by the sea. So can you hold me aloft even when I reach the very depths of misery, you who hold up the fire in your hand, as though to burn away all our faults” (5).


The poet at the realization of the love of the Saviour loses himself in the description of the Lord. “The skin of the tiger is on your waist and you tighten it up with the dancing serpent. You cover yourself with the elephant’s skin in spite of its bad smell. So do you love us in spite of our faults; you protect us, we who are in your service. The karmas disappear at your sight. With that ideal, you have enshrined yourself in this holy place of no fault. This is Kalippalai'’ (6).

“You have flayed the elephant’s skin as though it were a fine cloth. The whole world worships you. You set fire to the three cities with the intention of removing the miseries of the Devas (You are the Lord of all, praised by all, destroying all obstructions, make your followers happy)” (7).

“You have created all this world. You destroyed the sacrifice of Daksa. You share the body of the Mother and yet you have the mat-lock of an ascetic. You have crushed Ravana, O, Thou, who art fond of Kalippalai, where the fields lie near the seas!” (8).

“God is the Lord of Devas shining like an inflickering and permanent light of truth inside the mind of those who praise Him with the tongue knowing no falsehood. He is unknown to the red coloured (Brahma) and to the black coloured (Visnu). He is happy with the collyrium eyed damsel” (9).

“The Lord is the Supreme being, the Parametti, whose fame knows no blot. He loves this holy place of Kalippalai full of the wealth of the back-waters” (10).

The poet Arurar, the Lord of Navalur, worships Him and he has composed this faultless Tamil garland. Those who are masters of this hymn will rule the world of the people of the Heavens (10).


These exclamations of this hymn are the essence of a divine life and hence this assurance of our poet, that his readers will rule the Heavens (10).


The poet has described the holy place as being full of the wealth of the back-waters, the dashing sea and fields of paddy and sugarcane, all with a divine significance of their own. He has also referred to the puranic descriptions of the Lord which emphasize further his own experience of the Saviour. This hymn reveals our poet’s feeling of self-surrender and the joy of release he has experienced thereby.

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