A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO TAMIL DEVOTIONAL LITERATURE (Post No.3424)

Compiled by London swaminathan

 

Date: 6 December 2016

 

Time uploaded in London: 10-50 am

 

Post No.3424

 

 

Pictures are taken by Tamil Conference Booklet.

 

contact; swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

1981 World Tamil Conference Procession in Madurai -Part 2

 

Yesterday I posted Part 1 with the title A Brief Introduction to Tamil. following is the 2nd part.
THE RELIGIOUS SAVANTS AND TAMIL

Thirugnana Sambanthar

 

He lived in the 7thc. A.D. This young devotee who attained the divine mercy at the age of seven, was largely responsible for Saivism becoming popular in Tamil Nadu. His poems are melodious and mellifluous and they form the first three books in the twelve canons of Saivite sacred texts, which are popularly known by the term Panniru Thirumuraikal.

 

Tirunavukkarasar (Appar)

 

An ardent Saivite saint, Appar lived in the 7th C. AD. He has composed his devotional lyrics in the Thandakan form and hence he was called by the popular attribution Thandaka venthar (King of Thandaka genre). His works are included as the fifth, sixth and seventh books of the twelve Saivite sacred books. As per the Saivite tradition, he was the supreme example of Divine Service.

 

Sundarar

 

He lived in the 8th C. A.D. and considered himself to be a close friend of Lord Siva. Consequently, his devotional poems reveal his sense of comradeship with God. His poems form the seventh book of the Tamil Saivite sacred books.

 

Manikkavasakar

 

He lived in the Eighth century A.D. and composed the very beautiful Tamil devotional lyrics entitled Thiruvasakam and Thirukkovaiyar. The special charm. of the former work has captivated the mind of the European missionary G.U. Pope, who has rendered it into English.

 

LORD AT THE SERVICE OF PEOPLE

 

When the Pandya King Arimarthanan punished Manikkavasakar for spending the Govt money for religious purpose, Lord Siva performed a miracle before the king to make known the greatness of the famous Saivite saint. As per His divine orders, there was heavy flood in Vaikai river. It destroyed the banks of Vaikai. The officials of the Pandya King ordered that each one of the subjects should do his allotted work to repair the damaged river banks. The poor Vanthi who sold Pittu (rice pudding) could not find a man to work on her behalf. As per her prayer, Lord Siva assumed the form of a coolly and came to Vanthi. After eating the Pittu given by her, he joined others who were engaged in the flood relief activities. He carried in his basket the sand for filling the damaged portions of the river bank. But, he had not sincerely done his job. Consequently, the work allotted to Vanthi remained unfinished. When this was reported to the King, the King got angry and started beating the coolly by a cane. Everyone present there felt a blow on their backs. The coolly put one basket of sand in his allotted area and suddenly disappeared.  The outrageous King’s men went to Vanthi to punish her. But, she was taken to Heaven on a divine chariot by the Siva ganas. When the King’s men went to the river bank they found that it was completely repaired.

 

Andal –THE DIVINE BRIDE

 

Andal, the daughter of Periyalvar, is one of the most fascinating of the Alvars. Periyalvar, her foster father found her as a baby in his garden and he brought her up as his daughter. Later, she imagined herself to be the bride of Krishna, refusing to marry mortals, boldly wearing even the garlands intended for the image of Krishna. One day, when her foster father saw it, he was shocked. He proclaimed that the garland which was worn by mortal being was not befitting to Krishna. Consequently, he would not use it to garland the image of Krishna. The same night Krishna appeared in Periyalvar’s dream and said that he would like only the garland which was worn by Andal. Finally, she was given in marriage to the lord of Srirangam. Andal has left but two works Tiruppavai of 30 stanzas and Nachiar Thirumoli of l43 stanzas. Krishna is the hero and she, the heroine in both. Thiruppavai owes its origin to a religious observance among maidens of the cowherds’ class. This tableau depicts Periyalvar looking in wonder at his daughter offering the garland to the statue of Krishna.

 

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Arunakiri Nathar

 

He is the author of Tiruppukal, which consists of three thousand devotional poems endowed with high rhythmic qualities. He was proficient in Tamil music too. He composed the metrical compositions such as Kanthar Alankaram, Kanthar Anuputhi, Kanthar Antathi, Vel virutham, Mayil Virutham and Tiruvakuppu.

 

Tirumular

 

He was a saivite saint and a mystic poet par excellence. He has composed the famous philosophical work Tirumanthiram. His poems are the revelations of his deep reflection in Yoga, Jnanam and Siddha medicines. To him, serving humanity is the chief way to serve God

 

Thayumanavar (1705 1742)

 

Born at Vedaranyam, Thayumanavar a great saint was full of love for mankind. His notable poetic works are Anandak kalippu and Paraparak kanni

 

Ramalinga Swamikal

He lived in Tamil Nadu in the 19th century A.D., and composed Tiruvarutpa which consists of six thousand devotional hymns. He was born on 5-10-1823 at Marutur, near Chidambaram. He lived in Madras for more than thirty years and composed a number of poems. He has established Sathiya Taruma Salai Sathiya Gnanasabai and Samarasa Sanmarka Sankam in Vadalur. His philosophical reflections which are full of egalitarian sentiment and profound humanitarian spirit are considered to be unique contributions to the world of religion and philosophy.

THE POET AND THE PATRON

KAMBAR

The Tamil poets are endowed with genial spirit and modest character. But they become crusaders of their cause if anything happens to stain their spotless virtue and prestige. In such cases, they are even prepared to fight with their royal patrons. Consequently, the rulers of the Tamil land patronized the poets with much care love and respect without offending their tender feelings. An event which stands as a typical example of the poet-patron relationship of the ancient Tamil Nadu is depicted here. The Chola King failed to recognize and give due respect to Kamban, the greatest epic poet of Tamil. The offended poet decided to teach him a lesson. He took a vow that he would sit before the court of the Chola King duly served and attended by great king equal in status to the Chola monarch as his errand man. The Chera King who was captivated by the poetic talent of Kamban followed him as an errand man and prepared betel leaf to Kampan while he was seated in the Chola palace. The Chola king promptly recognised the greatness of Kamban.

 


THE TAMIL RENAISSANCE POETS

 

  1. Subramania Bharathi (1882-1921)

 

Bharathi started his poetic career as a court poet of the Zamindar of Ettayapuram. He completely freed himself from the court life when he was attracted by the currents of the renaissance spirit as well as the upsurge of the waves of the Indian Freedom Struggle. When he found that he was not able to give vent to his patriotic feelings freely in Sudesamithiran, a Tamil journal in which Bharati worked as a sub-editor, he relinquished his job and started a new journal entitled India. He lived the life of a political exile in Pondicherry. He successfully experimented in modern Tamil literature and showed a new way to his successors. He used poetry as an invincible weapon to fight against oppressions of all kinds. His poems played a predominant role in the Freedom Struggle kindling the patriotic feelings of the Tamils. Most of his poems are highly prophetic.

Among his poetical compositions his national poems, Kannan Pattu, Kuyil Pattu and Panchali Sabatam are famous.

 

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