The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “thiruvarur or tiruvarur (hymn 59)” from the part dealing with the Pilgrim’s progress (unto the last), 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 93 - Thiruvarur or Tiruvarur (Hymn 59)


This hymn is on Thiruvarur sung according to Cekkilar when the poet’s thoughts went to Thiruvarur whilst he was at the court of the Cera king. Cekkilar feels that because of Tiru Murukan (Murugan) Pundi incident of the poet being robbed of by the hunters, a robbery, which could not have occurred if the poet was in the company of the Cera king, the poet must have returned when he was robbed on the way. The last place sung by our poet is admittedly Thiruvanchikulam and, therefore, the poet must return to that place. In the Tirupparankimram hymn, the poet speaks of the presence of the three kings usually taken as the Cola, the Pandya and the Cera kings. If that were so, Cekkilar assumes (1) that the Cera took the poet to his capital for honouring the saint, (2) that on our poet thinking of Thiruvarur, he returned to Thiruvarur when he was robbed on the way and (3) that the saint once again went to Thiruvanchikulam being drawn there by the loving memories of his previous visit.

If we are not so very much tied to tradition, we are free to assign the hymn on Thiruvarur to the previous cycle of hymns expressing his longing to go back to Thiruvarur which probably he had to leave because of political complications. He goes to the north on a pilgrimage to come and settle down at Thiruvottiyur. He later on returns to Thiruvarur from where he is in a position to visit the Pandya and the Cera country including Pandikodumudi. Perhaps the political party of His is not successful. He goes through places laid desolate. The Cera need not necessarily have accompanied him. The poet goes to the Cera capital where he resigns himself to his fate. His end comes there and according to the tradition, also the end of the Cera, his political ally, perhaps against Nandivarma. If this conclusion is correct this hymn belongs to the cycle of hymns 51 and 83; or, the poet might have sung at Thiruvanchikulam without going back.


“The Lord got wild and kicked the Lord of Death (2). He is the Lord of the eight forms (2). He rides on the bull worshipped by the celestials and the eternals, as their pearl (or the ever free One) and their patron (4). He holds up in His hand the skin of the elephant which He had flayed (7). He has an eye above the eyes (7). It is High right of divinity to be crowned with the crescent moon (7). The Ganges is in His mat-lock (9). Uma is on one part of His form (9). He is the unruly mischievous theif (10) (of our hearts). He is the scholar (Bhatta) (10), the father of the cetti who out of love hewed down Surapanma in the sea (10). He stands crowned with the laurel of konrai (11). He can never forget Thiruvarur because of the beautiful damsel—Paravai (11):”—These are all the puranic allusions in the hymn.


The hymn expresses our poet’s feeling of gratitude. “He is the One that gives gold and the true reality (of His own Absolute). What more, it is He who brings about their enjoyment and experience—the enjoyment of the world and His Grace or the wealth of salvation. He does not stop with that. He puts up with my excesses. He orders the removal of all faults. He is my father impossible to be known specifically. He is the munificent patron so easy of reach. Is it proper or possible to forget this Lord of Arur?” (1). “He is the One who weeds out our sufferings and fetters of disease. He weeds out the cruel diseases and filthy desires (or desires left off by great minds). It may mean that He weeds out the cruel diseases resulting from desires though the desires have now ceased). It is impossible to leave such a one if you had once been in communion with Him. He orders the prevention of the affliction of the past and future scandals (This again seems to suggest some political complication)” (2).


From these personal experiences, he rises to the universal state of seeing God everywhere. “He showers, as rain on the cloud-clad mountains. He is the significance of all arts and yet becomes one with the soul enjoying the arts, at the same time feeling sympathy for it. He stands as day and night—(as the time frame of art). He is the organs of senses—(the instruments of enjoyment). He is the ear that listens through, the sound to its significance and joy; He is the tongue experiencing the taste. He is the eye that sees, (He is the objects creating the impressions in artists’ mind which gives expression to them as art). He is the roaring sea and the mountain” (3).

“He is the greatest. He weeds out our pains. He is the Vedas. He is the light for all the living beings of this world, though He is impossible to approach to those who do not think of Him with loving contemplation. He is so easy of reach to me, His slave” (7). “He is the flower of my crown; He, after accepting me as His servant under a promise to save, has gone away and hidden Himself. He is the day-light and darkness. He is the honey, springing up in the minds of those contemplating on Him; He is the sugar candy, the strained juice of sugar cane” (10). “He is the basis of all, fit to be described as the one great city for all the people of the world. He is the real category, the Absolute in communion with everything” (11).


This greatness of God’s love intensifies his feeling of his unworthiness. He cries, “I nourish and increase my flesh alone. I cannot cross the miseries—inflicting me as a result of the hankerings of many days. Nor, do I see a way out. Alas! I cannot (out of pity) throw anything into the hands of those who beg with sunken eyes” (9). This self-condemnation is more for the sake of others, in whose position he places himself and weeps thus bitterly for all. He speaks of these indifferent people. “God’s followers worship Him losing themselves in Him and doing nothing of their own but standing in His presence. (Such is their self-surrender). These get the rulership of the Heavens. (Is there any reference to the death of Rajasimha?) To tRs ears of the people of this world this news reaches. And yet they do not worship Him every day with flowers. Nor do they realize the truth of his saving us. Having heard this, I labour hard to the point of prostration. Thinking that He will be the help and prop to all our relations (the human community) I call upon many of them to become His servants” (8).


He reasons out on the basis of the ephemeral nature of this world and appeals to our reason:

“People die. In the presence of their corpse, some congregate and laugh at the life of the dead. Before that happens to us, should we not escape this calamity? Have we not for helping us, therefore our faculties of ‘cintai’ (cittam—recollections), ‘manom’ (desire to know) and ‘mati’ (decision) already established in us (and not only ahankaram or ego)? Have we not the results of fate to help us? If there is yogic attachment to Him, if there is clarity of mind, if there is firmness coming out of faith and certainty, if there is such a thing a returning from old ways (and therefore hope of conversion), if there is next birth (when one is sure to get his divine desires fulfilled if not in this birth), if there is that deceit (of nature) leading its invasion on our life (therefore, egging us on to activity before death comes) can one forget the father of Arur, for, we are blessed with knowledge (to open our eyes) and there is life yet in our body (to be saved)?” (4).

“The five senses gradually make me view this body of holes as the reality of worth and significance and as wealth, relations and enjoyment and He, the Providence or Law, prevents all their activities occurring in me. He is the munificent patron (Vallal). Ever, day after day, the eternals worship and praise Him as their sole help and prop” (6).


Our poet is proud of his name Arurar, the beautiful name of the father; but he is humble enough to praise himself as His servant the slave of a dog. He is however sure that those who become experts of the message of his, will be residents of the eternal world—for, that has been his experience whilst singing this hymn (11).

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