Similes in Tamil Poet Tayumanavar Songs- Part 1 (Post No.9634)


Post No. 9634

Date uploaded in London – –22 May   2021           

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Thaayumaanavar was a Tamil Saivite poet who composed at least 1452 poems on Lord Shiva. He lived 300 years ago in Tamil Nadu.

Issac Tambyah published a book with English translation of 366 poems in 1925.

He has listed the similes in Thaayumaanavar poems. The title of his book is

Psalms of a Tamil Saiva Saint , Luzac & Co, London

He gives the background of his book.

Poets cousin Arulayya Pillai was among those who were constantly with the poet ,particularly when he had finally renounced the world and betaken himself to the devout life. Arulayya Pillai is described by a Tamil editor of the Psalms as the chief of those disciples who followed the poet from place to place as his very shadow . The poets only son Kanagasabaapathi Pillai received spiritual instruction from Arulayya Pillai . They preserve d his poems.

In a place called Annappan Pettai, south of Tanjore, is a mutt where Ambalavana Swamy, one in the line of discipleship from Thaayumaana Swamy, had gathered around him a number of devout students of religion. Among those students was Arunaasala Swamy, latterly head of the mutt, and he is believed to have had in his possession the original Edu/boos from which the psalms came to be first printed.

The Psalms of Thaayumaanavar are given in all Tamil editions as 1452 in number while JR Arnold referring to an edition of 1836 as apparently the first printed, gives the number as 1453 . Kochagam is attributed to the poet, but the internal evidence is unfavourable to it.


Some of the similes listed by Mr Tambyah


As water runs down a slope and meets a stream so is the soul’s joy when it meets the joy of god, verse 440

A stone thrown into a pool clears the film off the face of the water, so are the words of the wise to a man-849


The soul in the ecstasy is as wax in fire- 44,47

In yearning for god the soul is as wax in fire,88;577;1329

The mind is capable of receiving spiritual impression s as heated wax to receive material impressions 421


To lay foundations of grammar and other learning whereon to build a knowledge for obtaining heaven is like planting cotton trees in the hope of getting cotton for the making of a ladder of thread to reach the skies.


As the lotus in sun light so rejoices the soul in God.


 The soul has a capacity for attachment to good or bad as a mirror reflects colours and receives impressions. In the Tiru Arul Payan, is this comparison, As the crystal reflects itself and several colours in the light of the sun, so the world is related to the Light of the Lord.

In the Bhagavad Gita (3-38) another Hindu thought is by the figure of mirror, as the mirror is covered by rust so is this soul covered by it (taint).

The Siddhanta view of  soul , it is explained, is different from the  Vedanta . Intheir context of the mirror analogy, in that the Vedanta in this respect takes no account of God.

To  be continued…………………..

tags- Thayumanavar, Tayumanavar, Similes