The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

by M. A. Dorai Rangaswamy | 1958 | 410,072 words

This page describes “thiruvarur or tiruvarur (hymn 51)” from the part dealing with the Pilgrim’s progress (away from Otriyur and Cankili), which represents the development of Arurar’s Mysticism as gleaned from his hymns. The 7th-century Thevaram (or Tevaram) contains devotional poems sung in praise of Shiva. These hymns form an important part of the Tamil tradition of Shaivism

Chapter 66 - Thiruvarur or Tiruvarur (Hymn 51)


Though this hymn is addressed to the Lord of Thiruvarur, it was really sung at Thiruvottiyur where the thought of Thiruvarur came once again to the poet. At Thiruvottiyur he had settled down and married Cankiliyar. There can be no doubt about this incident of Cankiliyar s marriage with our poet. But we had already suggested in our study of the number of verses sung by Arurar that the other details about this marriage we could not be sure of. He must have promised not to part from Cankiliyar, but under certain circumstances he must have been forced to leave her. The poet must have felt a kind of psychological or spiritual guilt which brought him the blinaness of his eyes. He repents and completely surrenders to the Lord which brings a gradual recovery from this sense of guilt and he gradually regains his eyesight, a recovery which is equally spiritual and psychological. It is this spiritual or psychological development of an escape from a sense of guilt which we see in the next fifteen hymns sung by our poet whilst going back to Tiruvarilr.

According to tradition, our poet married Cankiliyar whilst Paravaiyar was at Thiruvarur. There is no internal evidence in Arurar s poems to prove this conclusively. There is nothing against a suggestion being made that the marriage with Cankiliyar was effected after the life time of Paravai. In this very Jiymn he refers to the Lord saving him by bestowing upon him Paravai (10). But that is referred to in the past tense (10). In this verv hymn also he refers to the Lord bringing him and Cankiliyar together (11). In Hymn No. 69: 3, he speaks of the Lord depriving him of eyesight because of the Cankili incident.

In Hymn No. 45: 4, he refers back to his experience with Cankili:

Orntanan orntanan ullattul levinra vonporul
Cerntanan cerntanan cenru Tiruvorri yilrpukkuc
Carntanar carn'anar Cankili menrdl tatnmnkai
Amtanan arntanan AmaVi'i aiyan arulate

“I realized that bright reality inside my mind. Reaching that place, I entered into Thiruvottiyur. Then I embraced Cankili. That way, I became full of the experience of the Lord’s Grace”: He thus suggests his experience with Cankili was a kind of divine experience. It is necessary to read Cekkilar’s poetry for appreciating this point of view. In his hymn on Thirunagaikaronam (H. 46), where our poet begs of the Lord to give him a horse and scimitar and other paraphernalia of power, he addresses the Lord as one who is the prop unto him and unto Paravai and Cankili (46: 11). That hymn may prove that our poet was becoming great politically once again but not that Paravai was alive at the time of the hymn for admittedly there was no physical relationship even with Cankili at the time of singing that hymn though she was mentioned therein.

Perhaps the political conditions have improved in his favour by the time of his singing this hymn. It is also clear that the poet has a special attachment to Thiruvarur temple. Therefore, he feels all the more this kind of ostracism from Thiruvarur.


In this hymn our poet gives vent to this feeling of separation and exclaims, “For how many days can I live separated from my Lord of Arur?” (1). “How can I get on separated from Him?” (2). “To wither away without His company, in which place shall I live separated from Him?” (3). “Without His company, in what way shall I live separated from Him”? (4). “In what capacity shall I live separated from Him?” (5). “To become what, shall I live separated from Him carrying this body?” (6). “Without reaching Him, to do what shall I live separated from Him?” (7). “Forgetting Him thus, to know what, shall I live separated from Him?” (8). “Leaving Him away, having what shall I live separated from?” (9). “Alas! Foolish and poor me! Shall I live separated from Him?” (10).

Our poet speaks of his own life in relation to the Lord: “That disease covered me, a sinner, so that I may leave off my love and service unto God. I have now realized the significance of this. I shall go and fall at the feet of the Lord.” (1). “Born in this body to suffer here, I am without any sense. Here, thus I was born in this birth of misery and I was suffering to the point of exhaustion” (3). “But He came thus, so that I may not be exhausted and He saved me” (4). “I have not known that great wealth unknown to Visnu and Brahma, I, of cruel karma. I am a stubborn fool; I had not thought of the Lord from the beginning” (5). “He became the seven tunes of music, the fruit of music, the sweet nectar, my friend and companion in my misfeasance. He saved me by making a gift of Paravai of the beautiful eyes” (10). “He feasted on poison, giving away the nectar to the Devas. In a similar way, He considered me, an insignificant being, as of importance, and He, the real Truth, brought me and Cankili together” (11).


Our poet gives expression to his feeling of divine bliss and divine greatness. He addresses the Lord as real nectar ‘Ar amudu"; again and again (2, 4). He speaks of the Lord as the pearl, as the precious gem, as the diamond (1), as the rare medicine—'Arumaruntu' (4). He is the Lord of qualities possessed by no one else. (5). He is the One who has no other to compare with Himself (5). He is that great path, the beautiful path, that straight path (8), the divine fruit of education (9) (Compare: ‘Karratanal aya payan enkol Vaalarwan narral tolaar enin—Kural: 2). He is One who resides in the heart giving joy to our imagination (9). Our poet calls Him Sivamurti (2).


Our poet also refers to the Puranic stories about the destruction of Manmata (2), the feast of the poison (3), His firelike form (4), the deer held in His hand (4), Visnu and Brahma unable even to know Him through contemplation (5), His destruction of the three cities (6) and the Lord of Death (7), His lightning-like matlock (7), His bull (7), the Absolute worshipped by the people of the Heavens in the ancient path (8), the Lord worshipped in the beautiful path by the Deathless (8) (here also our poet makes a distinction between the Amarar and Vanavar), the upright path of His servants (8), the sprout of the Devas (8), the Lord with the eye in the forehead (9) and his covering of the elephant skin (12).


Our poet describes the place of Thiruvarur as the city where spreads the unique fame of great men and he calls this hymn as his very words uttered by him whilst hankering after the feet of Shiva of Thiruvarur (12). He describes himself as Aruran, Atit-tontan, Atiyan (12). He assures those who are masters of this hymn that like him feeling elated and beyond the reach of the common men whilst singing this hymn, they would also be head and shoulders above the people of this world (12). The last verse reminds us of the tenth verse in Hymn No. 86. (Ur Uran is not clear—12)—perhaps it means that the poet was visiting shrine after shrine. This term—‘Ur Uran’—occurs also in Hymn No. 90:10 and in Campantar s hymn No. 3: 65: 2.

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