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

Mind is a Woman: Tamil Poet Bharati

tamil kurangu

Hindu Encyclopaedia of the Mind – Part 2
Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No.847 Date: 17 February 2014

Please read the first part of Hindu Encyclopedia of the Mind under the title Mind is a Tiger: Adi Shankara.


Tamil saint Thayumanavar echoes it in the following poem:
You may control a mad elephant;
You may shut the mouth of the bear and tiger;
Ride the lion and play with cobra;
By alchemy you may earn your livelihood;
You may wander through the universe incognito;
Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful;
You may walk on water and live in fire;
But control of the mind is better and more difficult. – Thayumanavar.

Mind is a Monkey is an expression used by the Buddhists in China and Japan. Neither Buddha nor Hindu saints used it. But they indirectly referred to it.

In Indian context zeal, will power, thoughts, good heart and mind are all linked to one another. They are interchangeable words. English translations of great Tamil and Sanskrit works often mix up these words.
Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar links a healthy mind with good companions. Valluvar’s thoughts on zeal and mind are as follows:

“The lotus stem is high according to water depth
A man’s merit is the measure of his mental strength” – 595
Another translation for the same couplet runs like this
With the rising flood, the lotus stalk extends
On mind, the dignity of man depends.

“Think lofty thoughts always; in such a context even if you fail
Your aspirations keep you on a higher plane” – 596

Another translation for the same couplet runs like this
Think ever of rising higher. Let it be your only thought. Even if your object be not attained, the thought itself will have raised you.

“The quality of water changes with the soil
The mind changes with association” – 452

“Men ‘s perceptions are of their own mind
But their nature is known by their kind” –453

“Intelligence depends upon the mind
Character of a man upon companions “–454

“Purity of action and purity of mind both come from purity of good company” – 455
The pure of heart leave behind a virtuous line; on the other hand
The efforts of those with clean associations will never fail –456–

“Purity of mind ushers in spiritual growth and personal prosperity
While good associations lead to glory” –457–

“Even wise and virtuous gentlemen of pure mind
Need good friends for effective strength”–458

“Admittedly purity of mind would lead to heaven. This is strengthened by good company” – 459.

tamil curiosity

Tamil Poet Subramanya Bharati on Mind

The Damozel Mind

1.Maiden Mind! Listen.
Clinging to one thing
You swing to another;
As I ask you to hold on to the good,
You sink away disgusted;
When I order you to skip an idea,
You grasp it more tightly;
And you cling to the past
With dogged persistence

2.Novelty makes you afraid
You love new things and newer,
Yet you shrink behind.
As the bee to the honey,
You return to ancient things—
Then grumble again;
“Where is the new creation?
Everywhere the old rules”.
As the crow to the corpse,
You are drawn to the garbage
That rots and dies.

Loving me ever, and guarding my soul;
My sensitive organs
My seeing eye, you are
That make me share
The earth’s movement;
Giving joy, and swooning in it,
And committing blunders
In search of happiness;
Guarding and cherishing it, and destroying sorrow;
Running after pleasure,
Sinking in gloom;
Yourself unknowing
But souring the universe,
Hungering to see
The Supreme one who is
Within you all the time.

4.Ah, when asked to look somewhere,
Your eyes roam elsewhere;
Knowing all partial laws
You know not the law of laws
Nor the meaning
Behind the laws.

5.Maiden Mind ! Listen
I do not know
How to live with you.
And yet I want always
Your company.
I shall try to make you grow
And strive for realisation.
The Supreme whom I have seen –
But you have not –
Claims my daily homage,
And through That
You too may be redeemed.
Translation from Bharatiar Patalkal by Tamil University, Thanjavur,pages 396-397