The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

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

This page describes “nayanar 40: poyyatimai illata pulavar” from the religion of the Thevaram: a comparative study of the Shaivite saints the Thiruthondathogai. 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

The seventh verse in Thiruthondathogai begins with the phrase, “Poyyatimai illata pulavar” which is the name of the Charukkam in Periyapuranam where the lives of the saints contained in this verse are described. The first saint of this verse—the 40th saint in the list from the beginning—is Poyyatimai Illata Pulavar. The words of Arurar are, “Poyyatimai illata pulavarkkum atiyen”— ‘I am the servant of the scholar whose service to the Lord is devoid of all deceits’.

Nampiyantar Nampi interprets these words as representing the 49 poets of the Cankam including Kapilar, Paranar, Nakkvrar who composed many songs on the feet of the Lord of Tiruvalavay (Maturai). But this name is not one of the group names specifically mentioned in verse 10 of this hymn (39).

Whilst all other hymns mention only individual saints except for the Tillai Val Antanar mentioned at the beginning of the hymn, Cekkilar seems to feel the force of the argument and he does not specifically mention the poets of the Tamil Cankam. The purpose of poetry is the realization of true knowledge and with this conviction Poyyatimai illata pulavar took refuge in the feet of the Lord and became famous as a scholar of true service, never singing the praise of any one but the Lord.

Cekkilar always sings the individual saint in the honorific plural and this has misled some into thinking that he is also referring to a group name. Some feel that Manikkavacakar is referred to under this name, though others will argue that Arurar came long before Manikkavacakar who according to them refers to Arurar in the lines, “Tenamar colait Thiruvaruril fuanam tannai nalkiya nanmaiyum”.

The Darasuram sculptures probably accept the interpretation of Nampi-yantar; for, we see there, a number of poets standing between the temple and a mantapa.

No Sanskrit and Kannada traditions are available about this saint or a group of saints.

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