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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Tamil Language & Literature > Thamizh Literature Through the Ages - Preface > 1. Introduction > 2. The Sangam (Academy) period. > 3. The Didactic Period > 4. The Era of the Thamizh Epics > 5. The Era of Devotional Period > 6. Epics of the ChOzha Period > 7. Grammar and Lexicography > 8. Philosophical Literary Period > 9. Thamizh purANangaL and Minor Poems > 10. IslAmic and Christian Contributions to Thamizh Literature > 11. Modern Period > 12. Present Situation > 13. Conclusion
Through the Ages
Dr. C.R. Krishnamurti,
8. Philosophical Literary Period (தத்துவ காலம்)
8.3.4. Sivap pirakAsar (சிவப்பிரகாசர்)(17th century A.D.)
Like Kumara Kuruparar, Sivap pirakAsar also became an ascetic very early in his life. He belonged to the VIra Saivam (வீரசைவம்) sect, where the followers were staunch Saivaites. He hailed from the ThuRai Mangalam (துரைமங்கலம்) mutt. Sivap pirakAsar gained fame, when, as a youngster, he displayed his literary talents by employing the difficult word format (சொல் அலங்காரம்) , known as n^IrOttaka yamaka an^thAthi (நீரோட்டக யமக அந்தாதி) . In this format the letters, (ம,ப,வ) do not appear in the poems.
He is the author of 23 literary works which include n^anneRi (நன்னெறி) which deals with moral instructions and one section of Thiruk kALatthi PurANam (திருக்காளத்திபுராணம்), in which the mythological legend of KALatthi (திருக்காளத்தி) are described.
The other two sections of this work were written by his two brothers. He also wrote Pirapulinga lIlai (பிரபுலிங்கலீலை), an epic containing the basic features of the VIra Saivam sect. The most well known work by Sivap pirakAsar is n^Alvar n^An maNi MAlai (நால்வர்நான்மணிமாலை), an anthology of the four doyens of Saivaite faith (சைவசமயக்குரவர்கள்).
In particular, the philosophy of MANickavAchakar (மாணிக்கவாசகர்) touched him deeply. This could be seen from one of his observations in n^Alvar n^An MaNi MAlai: "we have not heard of anyone shedding tears of joy or exhibiting physical expressions of devotion after reciting the VEdhAs; on the other hand, when one recites ThiruvAchakam (திருவாசகம்) once, even the stone hearted gets deeply moved; tears roll down the eyes like a stream, the hairs stand erect with ecstasy; one cannot help become devoted".
8.3.5. Siva GnAna Munivar (சிவஞானமுனிவர்) (18th century A.D.)
He belonged to the ThiruvAvadu ThuRai mutt (திருவாவடுதுரை மடம்) and was proficient in Thamizh and Sanskrit. His literary contributions include the following:
1) commentaries on n^annUl (நன்னூல்உரை), an explanatory notes to some of
Perhaps he was best known for his debating skill and his courage to stand up and discuss philosophical topics whenever he disagreed with the interpretations of others.His other works include ilakkaNa SURAvaLi (இலக்கண சூவளி), a contradictory report on ilakkaNa ViLakkam (இலக்கணவிளக்கம்) and VairakkuppAyam (வைரக்குப்பாயம்), a rebuttal to SivagnAna Sitthiar's (சிவஞானசித்தியார்) interpretations.
8.3.6. Other Authors
Other authors hailing from the Saiva SitthAn^tham tradition are SAn^thalinga SwAmikaL (சாந்தலிங்கசுவாமிகள்)and Chithambara SwAmikaL (சிதம்பரசுவாமிகள்) both of whom belonged to the Thirup pOrur (திருப்போருர்)mutt.
Thatthuva rAyar (தத்துவராயர்) was famous for his ability to exploit the popularity of folk music and games to propagate the concepts of Saiva SitthAn^tham to ordinary people. He had employed practically every conceivable literary format (உலா, தூது, கலம்பகம், பரணி, அந்தாதி) in his work.
ThANdava rAyar (தாண்டவராயர்) is unique in the line of Saiva SitthAn^tha authors, who was able to bridge the gap between VEdhAn^tham and Saiva SitthAn^tham. He was the author of Kaivalya n^vn^Itham (கைவல்யநவநீதம்) in which he explained the advaita (அத்துவைத) philosophy of Adhi Sankarar (ஆதிசங்கரர்) in 310 poems in the viruttham style. It dealt with the characteristics of AnmA (ஆன்மா) and presented the complex concepts and the essence of upanishads(உபநிடம்) in a condensed form as a cream. It is believed that he had succeeded in an effort which many thought could not be done.
8.4. aruNakiri n^Athar (அருணகிரிநாதர், அருணகிரியார்)
aruNakiri n^Athar lived in the middle of the 14th or in the early part of the 15th century A.D. in ThiruvaNNAmalai (திருவண்ணாமலை).. Details regarding his personal life differ widely. According to some, during the early stage of his life, he enjoyed the company of unchaste women (பொதுமகளிர்) and suffered from some dreadful disease. After deep repentance he decided to end his life when he got the blessing of Lord Murugan. Other scholars (K.V.JagannAthan, கி.வ.ஜகன்னாதனf) believed that the references to unchaste women represented a tradition, whereby poets projected themselves as undesirable elements which they wished to condemn. However, his devotional poems are extremely popular wherever Thamizh is spoken.
Unlike many other Thamizh scholars, aruNakiriyAr represents a remarkable blend of Thamizh literary genius, a high degree of devotion to Murugan and a musical expertise. His titles, Divine Poet (இறையுணர்வுக்கவி)and Reverberating Poet (சந்தக்கவிஞர்) fit him admirably. The following anonymous song rates aruNakiriyAr along with the four Saivaite doyens (சைவசமயக்குரவர்கள்)(தாயுமானவர்) in specific areas of expertise:
(aruNakiri for expressions, VAthavUrAr for heart rendering poems, Sampan^thar for debates, n^akkIrar for originality, Sun^tharar for sweetness and appar for convictions.)
ThAyumAnavar (தாயுமானவர்) paid a high tribute to aruNakiriyAr when he said that no one was more precise than aruNakiriyAr in expressing the truth:
He had engaged in literary debates against stalwarts such as Villi puthUrAzhvAr (வில்லிபுத்தூராழ்வார்) and Sampan^thANdAn (சம்பந்தாண்டான்). His literary works including the yAppu (யாப்பு) he employed in the composition are as follows: Kan^thar anupUthi (கந்தர்அனுபூ தி, சந்தக்கலிவிருத்தம்). Thirup pukazh, Thiruvakuppu (திருப்புகழ், திருவகுப்பு, சந்தப்பாக்கள்), Kan^thar alankAram (கந்தர்அலங்காரம்) and Kan^thar an^thAthi (கந்தர்அந்தாதி)both in kattaLaik kalit thuRai (கட்டளைக்கலித்துறை), Mayil VEl SEval virutthankaL (மயில், வேல், சேவல் விருத்தங்கள், ஆசிரிய விருத்தம்) and Thiru eZukURRirukkai (திரு எழுகூற்றிருக்கை) in (இணைக்குறள்ஆசிரியம்).
8.4.2. Salient Features of aruNakiriyAr's poems
a) San^thak kavi (சந்தக்கவி)
As in the case of many other Thamizh authors, whose works are of a religious nature, it is necessary to approach aruNakiriyAr's works without bias against his religious convictions in order to appreciate his literary genius. In Thamizh literature, four kinds of literary expertise are recognized:
1) spontaneity and originality (ஆசுகவி).
Though music was an integral part of the ThEvAram (தேவாரம்) hymns, aRuNakiriyAr was the the first to set all his compositions to reverberating music (சந்தம்) and rhythm (தாளம்). The words san^tham (சந்தம்)and vaNNam(வண்ணம்) mean literally beauty. Poetic beauty (செய்யுள் வண்ணம்)f refers more specifically to musical sounds of words which are associated with poetry. These terms have been in existence since the days of Thiru GnAna Sampan^thar (திருஞானசம்பந்தர்) as shown in the following phrases in ThEvAram: (சந்தமார் சொன்ன செந்தமிழ், சந்தமாலைத்தமிழ்).
aruNakiriyAr was the first to make extensive use of the sounds of dancing ghosts and marching CUran (சூரன்) come alive before one's eyes in his Thiruppukazh (திருப்புகழ்).
There are 20 different kinds of vaNNankaL (வண்ணங்கள்) depending upon how the words (அசைச்சொற்கள், தன, தானா, தத்த, தந்த)etc. are put together. Just as the seven octaves, ( ச, ரி, க, ம, ப, த, நி) characterize the rAgam, the letters (த, தி, தொம், நம், ட, ளாங், தின்) are used to describe rhythm , thAlam, (தாளம்). By combining the seven letters of the thALam with hard (வல்லினம்) or soft (மெல்லினம்) consonants and long (நெடில்) or short (குறில்) vowels in different ways, hundreds of compound words (சந்தங்கள்) can be produced. The examples are: (தத்த, தாத்த, தந்த, தாந்த, தய்ய, தன்ன, தான, தனன, தத்தா, தந்தா, தய்யா, தன்னா, தனதன, தனத்த, தனந்த, தனனா, தானன, தானா, தனத்தா, தனதய்ய, தனதனன, தனதனா, தனாதன, தானதன).
At the beginning of each Thiruppukazh (திருப்புகழ்)song, the notations (சந்தக்குழிப்புகள்) are usually given as follows:
The second unique feature of Thiruppukazh poems is the placement of unattached words, thonkal, (தொங்கல்) at the end to give a musical adoration. The thonkals have a notation (சந்தக்குழிப்புகள்) different from the section preceding them and may occur at every line, once in two, three, six, seven, nine or twelve lines. The following examples illustrate this feature:
The words,(அறியாத) and (உறுவேனோ) are 'thonkal' and occur on alternate lines in this case. The thonkals have different notations and are indicated at the top of the poems. b) Any literary epic in Thamizh has 3 components:
If the author is just a literary scholar (புலவன்), he will be content to write on a topic he will be familiar with or one that he enjoys; if he is a music composer, he will enjoy doing so because he has the expertise to do so; if the author happens to be a Bhakthan (அடியார்), he will focus on methods of seeking communion with God and methods of achieving salvation. aruNakiriyAr has taken it upon himself to combine all the three different roles into one and succeeded as well.
He had stated his objectives explicitly not only what he wanted to do but also what he did not wish to do. In the following poems he says that he will use all that his knowledge and all that he has learned from the divine grace only to sing the praise of Murugan (முருகன்) whom he considered as the Absolute Being:
c) Secondly he did not wish to emulate so many poets of his time in writing the glory of patrons who had spent all their time leading an immoral life in the company of unchaste women. In fact he condemned such authors who have sacrificed their principles for money as follows:
d) aruNakiriyAr then places himself in the capacity of an artist (கவிஞன்)and describes the kind of poems he will write. The poems will be very original and have the caliber of Asu Kavi (ஆசுகவி).
He ascribed all his poetic gifts to Murugan, who is capable of writing in such beautiful Thamizh:
e) The several epithets aruNakiriyAr used to describe Thamizh in its varied formats (முத்தமிழ், இசைத்தமிழ், முந்துத்தமிழ், தண்டமிழ், வண்டமிழ், தெள்ளுதமிழ்) show his profuse love and deep commitment to the language per se. Why else should he pray God for blessing him with more expertise in Thamizh but for the only purpose of singing His glory?
f) As far as the Thamizh format (வடிவம்) is concerned, the different yAppus (யாப்பு) used by aruNakiriyAr have already been mentioned. His profound knowledge of different Thamizh literary formats is expressed skillfully in the following Thiruppukazh. The last line indicates his humility in his request that his own 'I-ness' (அகங்காரம்) should be removed.
g) Expression (வெளியீடு). The par excellence of poets is best displayed in their capacity to express their thoughts in the most appealing manner using different adoration technics. The body is compared to a house using the following simile:
The following poem is an example of aruNakiriyAr's style of describing the changes one undergoes from childhood onwards:
The changes that take place when health fails and death approaches could not be described more explicitly than in the following poem by 'mutthamizh vitthakar' (முத்தமிழ்வித்தகர்), aruNakiriyAr:
h) In the last poem of Kan^thar anupUthi (கந்தர்அனுபூதி), aruNakiriyAr crystallizes all the principles enunciated in the VEdhAs and upanishads succinctly by portraying the nature of the Absolute Being (மூலப்பொருள்தத்துவம்).The confusion surrounding the concept of the Divine Spirit is clarified in four short lines. The multiplicity of personal gods, meant only to describe the indescribable and enable comprehension by the human mind becomes untenable and remains as a tool. The divisions due to the differences in semantics in referring to the Absolute Being within and between religions become unwarranted.
People who preach universal peace in the name of religion will do well to appreciate the profoundness of this verse and abstain from claiming any inherent superiority of one religion over another. After all, it is better to unite the divided instead of dividing the united Supreme Being !
i) In spite of his Thamizh literary genius and extreme devotion to Lord Murugan, aruNakiruyAr, in his own characteristic modesty, prays that he should not rot and die without being able to meditate on the glorious feet of God whole heartedly at least for half a minute:
In the high technology age we are living in, when everyone is complaining about tension and associated health problems, it may be appropriate to reiterate the above aruNakiriyAr's poem on whole hearted meditation on the Eternal at least for a few minutes daily. This may be a more pragmatic approach than worrying about the correctness or limitations of different religious dogmas.
8.5. ThAyumAnavar (தாயுமானவர்) (1705 - 1742 A.D.)
One of the striking features of ancient civilizations is that, periodically during the course of history, sages and philosophers were born who were able to make profound changes in their society with their thoughts and deeds. ThAyumAnavar, who lived in the 18th century belonged to this category of philosophical leaders in the Thamizh region. In the Sangam period there was religious forbearance (சமயப்பொறை) ; in the post Sangam era it gradually changed into religious difference (சமயவேறுபாடுகள்); in the Bhakthi period one saw the onset of religious strife (சமயப்பூசல்).
ThirumUlar (திருமுலர்) laid down the foundation of religious equanimity (சமயசமரசம்). With the advent of the philosophy of VEdhAn^tham (வேதாந்தம்) and SitthAn^tham (சித்தாந்தம்) the situation deteriorated into religious conflicts (சமயப்போர்)which were in addition fanned by caste differences. At a time when the religious strife was at the pinnacle and the society was highly polarized, ThAyumAnavar postulated his hypothesis of "advaitha SitthAn^tham" (அத்துவைதசித்தாந்தம்). This concept was more universal and aimed at bridging the gap between VEdhAn^tham and SitthAn^tham.
Born in VEthAraNyam (வேதாரணியம் அல்லது திருமறைக்காடு) in the ChOzha Kingdom, ThAyumAnavar was the treasurer in the service of Visaya Raghun^Atha Chockalinka n^Ayakkar (விசயரகுநாத சொக்கலிங்க நாயக்கர்). Even as a civil servant his mind was always preoccupied with spiritual matters. When the Queen surprised him with romantic advances, he quit his job. He then came under the tutelage of Mouna Guru DhEsikar (மெளனகுருதேசிகர்) who taught him to practise the art of being quiet (சும்மா இரு). After his mother died, ThAyumAnavar became an ascetic and spent all his time in spiritual endeavours.
8.5.2. Salient Features of ThAyumAnavar's Literary Works
184.108.40.206. Literary objectives (பொருண்மை கோட்பாடு)
a) He had written 1454 poems which were of either pAmAlai (பாமாலை),(Garland of poems) or kaNNikaL (கண்ணிகள்) type. KaNNikaL refer to very short poems of two lines each in a very elementary folk style, in which he was able to squeeze in profound philosophical concepts. The message itself was in the form an exclamation addressed to a variety of arbitrary subjects such as a parrot, painkiLik kaNNi (பைங்கிளிக்கண்ணி) or the Absolute Being (பராபரக்கண்ணி). For example, he said that he did not know anything else except to wish that everyone shall be happy in the following parAparak kaNNi (பராபரக்கண்ணி) :
His objective was therefore not to display his Thamizh literary skills before scholars but to use the language to communicate with ordinary people in spiritual matters, a strategy neglected by the VEdhic system. His use of the words, pAmAlai (பாமாலை) and sonmAlai (சொன்மாலை) rather than ilakkiyam (இலக்கியம்) to refer to his works is indicative of his aims. The following poem gives details of his literary works:
b) ThAyumAnavar believed that mere bookish knowledge on philosophy was inadequate for attaining spiritual fulfillment as mentioned in the following poem. He said that spiritual knowledge acquired from books alone resembled a person who was planting cotton to make strings to climb to heaven.
c) ThAyumAnavar spelled out the four conventional literary objectives (அறம் பொருளின்பம் வீடடைதல் நூற்பயனே) but emphasized that of the four, the most important one for salvation is the spiritual pursuit (ஞானநெறி) ; (வேதமுடனாகமம் புகலுமதினாலாம் பயன் ஞானநெறி முக்ய நெறி) (மெளனகுரு 5). His literary works are thus oriented either intellectually (அறிவு நிலை)or spiritually (அருள்நிலை).
d) ThAyumAnavar's spiritual policy
i) Oneness of God
In his religious discussions he gave the least amount of importance to myths and legends mentioned in the purANams. He conceived Sivam (civmf) as the Absolute Being, omnipresent and embodiment of eternal bliss and grace (அங்கு இங்கு எனாதபடி எங்கும் பிரகாசமாய் ஆனந்த பூர்த்தியாகி அருளோடு நிறைந்து). He conceded that the Divine was beyond any literary description (சொல்லுக்கடங்காச்சுகப்பொருள்) or mental comprehension (மனம்வாக்கினில் தட்டாமல் நின்றவன்)
In literary works it is common for authors to describe the physical expression of the feelings of individuals. In ThAyumAnar's poems, the devotional feelings are also captured with utmost reality as in the following poem.
With his astute sense of logic, ThAyumAnavar was able to bridge the gap between followers of VEdhAn^tham and SitthAn^tham with his theory of universal religion (சுத்தாத்துவத சித்தாந்த சமரச சமயம்). He postulated that VEdhan^tham resembled the path and SitthAn^tham the vehicle to reach Sivam, the absolute being. His statement, "I do not have any dobts that no matter in what form you worship, the Divine is only One". (தொழுந்தெய்வமெல்லாம் ஒன்றே, மருள் எனக்கில்லை) is perhaps more relevant today than at any other moment in the history of mankind.
ii) Being Quiet (சும்மாஇருத்தல்)
ThAyumAnavar's advice to the serious student of spiritual philosophy is to discipline the mind, control desires and meditate peacefully. Again this message is more relevant for people living in affluent conditions, when one is apt to over indulge in insatiable desires and ultimately get overawed in desperation. ThAyumAnar was the first to admit that "it is easy to control an elephant, catch hold of the tiger's tail, grab the snake and dance, dictate the angels, transmigrate into another body, walk on water or sit on the sea; but it is more difficult to control the mind and remain quiet".
He condemned excessive desires towards land, gold and woman (மண், பொன், பெண்) and pleaded to God that his only desire was to remain in perfect peace within. (சும்மா விருப்பதற்கே அல்லும் பகலுமெனக்காசை பராபரமே (பராபரக்கண்ணி 8).
A similar thought had been expressed by ThiruvaLLuvar earlier:
iii) Self exposition (வெளியீடு)
ThAyumAnavar expressed his feelings following conventional akam and puRam styles. He used the hero-heroine or the hero-friend dialogue patterns for puRam purposes; he employed the God-devotee relationship for akam topics. His repentance for his past actions and self admonition over his human limitations and weaknesses were depicted clearly in his poems. The following popular lines are applicable to many of us regardless of our religious affiliation:
iv) Format (வடிவம்)
ThAyumAnavar's poems are in the form of Aciriya virutthap pAkkaL (ஆசிரியவிருத்தப்பாக்கள்) in the 6, 7, 8 or 12 meters. The kaNNikaL are short pieces and are in the form of Anan^thak kaLippu (ஆனந்தக்களிப்பு) popularly sung by the paNdAram (p]fdarmf) on the streets. In these poems the soul (ஆன்மா) is depicted as the lover and God as the hero with an intermix of Bhakthi (பக்தியோகம்) and spirituality (ஞானயோகம்).
The similes and metaphors in ThAyumAnavar's works are considered to be a fusion of reality, spirituality and humor. In describing the wandering mind, he compares it to a monkey, not an ordinary monkey but a huge one (EpyfkfKrgfK) ; not merely a huge monkey but one which has been stung by a scorpion (தேள்) :
ThAyumAnavar's literary objective was not to impress the elite but to convey his message and share his own spiritual experiences with the common man. (யான்பெற்ற இன்பம்பெறுக இவ்வையகம்). The popularity of ThAyumAnavar's works may be ascribed to their simple literary format set to folk type melodies. His liberal spiritual philosophy (அத்துவைத சித்தாந்தசமரசம்) is proof of his vision of a universal religion in which semantics, rituals, fixed dogmas are considered less important than the recognition of the Absolute Being as omnipresent, graceful and full of love. By avoiding over indulgence in sensual desires and maintaining peace within (சும்மா இரு), people leading a fast life would be able to achieve the same spiritual fulfillment that he himself enjoyed.