The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thiruvalangadu or tiruvalankatu (hymn 52)” 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 70 - Thiruvalangadu or Tiruvalankatu (Hymn 52)


In this hymn, the refrain of the verses is “ALarikatd un atiyark katiyen avene”— ‘I shall become the slave of your slaves’. Elsewhere we have explained the significance of the cult of the bhaktas. Alankatu is always coupled with Palaiyanur. Alankatu is probabty the forest of banyan trees and the temple itself must have been once upon a time, one of the banyan trees. The city nearby came to be known after one ‘Palaiyan’ perhaps a chieftain. Palaiyan is the name of a chieftain as is made clear by the Cankam poetry which speaks of ‘Mokurp Palaiyan and other chieftains. Our poet has regained his mental equipoise and as of yore refers to the Puranic stories in detail: His company of the Mother (7), His waist-band of a serpent (2), His ornament of bones (3), His destruction of three cities (3, 6, 7), His blue throat (4), His matlock (5), His Ganges (7), His bull (7), His form of fire worshipped by Visnu and Brahma (8), His dance in the company of the ghosts and the burning ghat (9).


The poet repeatedly addresses the Lord as Parama in seven verses (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10) out of ten and he also describes this supreme being above all others as curing the karmas (3, 4, 7, 8) which cannot be otherwise removed, the karmas in which we are submerged from very ancient times (‘Pantal vinai’ in the third verse is the same as ‘Pantal vinai’ of the seventh verse except for the lengthening of the vowel in the former case) the karmas which become a void. The other idea which is emphasized in this hymn that He is prayed by many, comes uppermost in our poet’s mind when he thinks of taking refuge in the bhaktas— ‘the pattar palar porrum parama (1)—‘O, Supreme Being, praised by many bhaktas’; ‘Panna ricaika latu kontu palaru mettum Palaiyanur Anna (6)—‘O, Lord! praised by many with music full of melody’, 'Panmd malarka lavaikontu palaru mettum Palaiyanur Amma’ (9)—‘O, Lord! praised by many worshipping you with many valuable flowers’. ‘Pattar cittar palarettum paraman palaiyanur meya Attan’ (10)—‘the Lord being praised by many bhaktas and siddhas’. In this way our poet has suggested the various kinds of worship with flowers (9), with music (6), and with praises (9). He refers to another form of worship as well: ‘Palankatz, neyyafi’ (5)—‘the Lord who bathes in milk and ghee’. The good effects of such a worship is also referred to: “Toluvar tanked tuyar tirppay” (3)—‘You are the Lord who removes the miseries of those who worship you’. There is also the worship according to Vedas; for, “He is the path of the Vedas”—“Veda neriyane” (7).


The poet also enumerates in a way the various kinds of worshippers and he sometimes calls the Lord Himself after the names of these followers “Mutta (1), Citta (1), Patta (1)”—‘the freed One, One who had achieved and reached the goal, One who loves the Lord.’ These terms are thus used as the names of the Lord Himself (1). He speaks of the worshippers of the Lord as Pattar (1, 10), Cittar (10). The Lord is not only ‘Mutta” but confers ‘Mutti’ (1). He is not only a ‘Siddha’ but shows the ways of ‘siddhf (1). He is not only a ‘Bhakta but One praised by bhaktas (1). He is by nature a freed soul, not one who is freed—that is why He is Mutta; the term Bhakta we had already referred to as the name of the Lord. He calls the Lord ‘Tevar Cinkame’ (1), ‘the Lord of the Devas’ which must have been suggested the name of the Pallava chief Rajasimha, the contemporary (king) of Arurar. In this hymn also the poet calls the Lord, the good flame of the Light which requires no kindling—‘Tunta vilakkin naredff’ (3). He calls Him ‘Tattuvan’ (8), the fundamental element of the thing in itself. The Poet who has lost his eyesight addresses the Lord as the eye of the world which with all His thought is concentrated on protecting the world—“Kannayulakam kakkinra Karutta” (6). The Lord is perfect, impossible to be perfected any more—‘Tiruttalakatay” (6). Our poet feels that not only he, but all his ancestors were the slaves of the Lord—“Entay entai Perumane” (6). “Emman entai muttappan elel patikal emaiyanta Pemman” (9)—We have referred to this service of the Lord through seven generations.


The first foot of every fourth line, as usual in our poet’s hymns, consists of words expressing that God is the real relationship of all kinds. The words which we found in other hymns are repeated here: Atta (1), Aiya (2), Anta (3), Arive (4), Anna (6) Anta (7), Alvay (8), Ammd (9).


Our poet also expresses certain aspects of his life in relation to the Lord. “I acted falsely and roamed about going more and more away from you. You came here as the truth, and preventing me from thus getting away from you, you saved me, O, Truth! the true principle or the truthful” (2).

“I was caught in the trap of the beautiful damsels of eyes shining like those of the deer. My intelligence became deluded and I lost my intelligence” (4). “I was caught in the net of the damsels of wide eyes flashing like the spear. I forgot you” (5). The unconscious probably is suggesting that the description of Cankili is after all just because he has escaped from the feminine trap. Therefore, these references ought not to be taken as referring to any immoral life of the poet. We will see the poet coming back from this confused state of mind when he reaches mental equipoise at Thiruvamathur (45) where he explains his true and divine relationship with Cankili.


The poet in this hymn also refers to the precious worth and lovable character of the Lord and in his usual way he describes the Lord as the gem, the pearl and the emerald (5). Experiencing the Lord as such when he takes refuge in the bhaktas he is so overpowered by this joy that he dances and sings completely surrendering himself through worship to the feet of the Lord (10). He says, “He came to love the service alone, he, the young one Uran, the famous young one whom siddhas ever keep in their mind and he has sung these shining Tamil verses (10). Therefore, he assures those who will read these Tamil verses of his song and dance overpowered by this experience of the hymn will surely worship the feet of the Supreme Being (10). Such a worship itself is a state of Heaven.

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