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The recognition of music for devotional purposes is, however, not unique to the Thamizh community. People belonging to different religious faiths all over the world have resorted to music for holy communion with the Absolute. The nature of music and the tune (;rakmf, p]f) employed may vary but music did provide the liaison between the worshipper and the Absolute. It is true that the Saivaite saints used the name, Sivan to denote the Absolute Reality. But this is a matter of semantics which is inevitable when one tries to describe the divine in human terms. Love as God

The concept of the Divine as Love is another example of human perception of the Absolute. This point has also been stressed in several passages in the ThirumuRaikaL. In the following Thiruman^thiram poem, ThirumUlar states that only the ignorant will think that love and Sivan are two different things; only few really understand that Sivan is nothing but love; once everyone understands that Sivan is nothing but love, everyone will become saintly.
`[fp<mf civMmf ;r]fed[fprf `bivilarf
`[fEpcivmavT yaRmf `bikilarf
`[fEp civmavT yaRmf `binftpi[f
`[fEpcivmayf `mrfnftiRnftaEr Portrayal of the Divine as friend
An imaginary concept unique in the ThirumuRaikaL is the portrayal of the Divine as the hero (pti) and the individual (pC) as the heroine or friend and the involvement of messengers who will transmit the love to the Lord. This is perhaps a carry over of the akam (`kmf) concept from the Sangam period. A sincere devotee always longs for the Lord; sighs heavily thinking about him; derives pleasure in listening to the Lord's names and grace; suffers from the pangs of separation; gets obsessed about joining the Lord. (t[fA[ mbnfT t[f[amgfekdfD, tAlv[f taAqEy tAlpfpDtlf). These reactions are the same encountered in love torn heroines separated from their heroes. Absolute faith and surrender
According to Saiva SitthAn^tham, the prerequisite to attain salvation is absolute faith and complete surrender of the individual to the Divine. By doing so, one gets a psychological boost and confidence to face up to any complex worldly situation. When the PAndya King asked Thirun^Avuk karasar to call on him, the latter refused by saying that "we do not believe in servitude, we do not fear even death": (namf yarfkfKmf KF`lfElamf nmA[ `wfEcamf). When he was tied to rocks and thrown into the sea, Thirun^Avuk karasar escapes miraculously through divine grace and says that even if heaven drops into earth and the oceans engulf everything, even if the galaxies lose their way and the sun and moon fall from their orbits we shall not fear:
(m]fpatlmfp<kfK malfkdlfYMF mbfB"zfulkmf vi]fpalf tiAcekdfD ;RCdrf vIzi{mf `wfclf enwfEc).

The absolute surrender to the Divine is expressed in the following passage by Thirun^Avuk karasar wherein he addresses the Lord and says " On the very day you have graced me, you have taken away my soul, body and wealth; I am therefore not concerned about any hardship I may encounter; whether good or bad comes to me I am not responsible".

`[fEb'[fb[f ~viy<mf
udLmf udAm 'lflaMmf
K[fEb`A[yayf '[fA[ ~df
eka]fdEpaEt eka]fFAlEya
;[fE$rf ;Ady> B '[kfK]fEda
']fEtaqf Mkfk]f 'mfmaE[
n[fEbecyfvayf piAz ecyfvayf
naE[a;tbfK naykEm.

MANicka vAchakar's sense of absolute surrender is expressed in the following poem where he states that "he does not want family, place, fame or the company of the learned ; thanks to you everything will come to me; all that I want is to cry like a calf yearning for its dam":

ubf$Ar ya[fEv]fEd[f
UrfEv]fEd[f Eprf Ev]fEd[f
kbf$Ar ya[fEv]fEd[f
kbfp[v<mf ;[i `Amy<mf
Kbf$ltfT `mrfnfTAby<mf
Ptfta u[f KArkzbfEk
kbf$vi[f m[mfEpalkf
kcinfTRk Ev]fDvE[ Devotional experience (emyfpffpaDkqf)
The final outcome of all the penances mentioned above leads to a devotional experience which defies description. Thiru GnAna Sampan^thar says " if one utters your name with deep love and sing your praise with tears rolling down, you will show the right path; the name n^machivAya, which is The Absolute beyond the four vEdhAs".
katlakikfkcinfT k]f]Irf mlfki
OTvarf tAm n[fe[bikfK uyfpfpT
Evtmf na[fki{mf emyfpfepaRqavT
nat[f nammf nmcfcivayEv.

ThirumUlar brings in the akam principle again to emphasize " how can anyone visualize the Lord through the normal eyes? one can only see the Divine through the mind ; for example, how can the mother explain to the daughter the pleasure she and her husband had?
Mktftibfk]f eka]fD parfkfki[fb YYMdrfkaqf
`ktftibfk]f eka]fD ka]fpEt ~[nftmf
mkdfKtftayft[f m]aqE[aD ~Fy
CktfAtcf ecalf'[f$lf ecalfLmaB 'gfkE[.

In conclusion, the Saivaite doyens (AcvcmykfKrvrfkqf) launched the Bhakthi movement to counteract the Jain and Buddhist propaganda. By combining their musical expertise with heart rendering lyrics they were able to inculcate the devotional trait into the minds of the Thamizh people which seems to have sustained till today.

5.4.2. n^AlAyirat thivyap praban^tham nalayirtf tivfypf pirpnftmf)
The AzhvArkaL (~zfvarfkqf) , the protagonists of VishNu, wrote the VaishNavaite canonical poems. They were responsible for launching the Bhakthi movement over a period of 400 years. The four thousand devotional poems written during this period were compiled into the n^AlAyirat thivyap praban^tham (nalayirtf tivfypf pirpnftmf) by n^Athamuni (natM[i) who lived at the end of the ninth century A.D.

It is divided into four sections: Muthal Ayiram (Mtlayirmf) , Periya thiru mozhi (epriy tiRemazi) , iyaRpA (;ybfpa) and ThiruvAi mozhi (tiRvayf emazi). The entire work was written by 12 AzhvArkaL who went from to place singing the praise of VishNu and his 10 incarnations.

The first three AzhvArkaL, Poikai AzhvAr, BUdhattAzhvAr, PEyAzhvAr were contemporaries (460-540 A.D.). All of them lived in the Pallava country. Their compositions were in the veNpa (ev]fpa) meter. The three were noted for their equanimous attitude towards other religious traditions.

a) Poikai AzhvAr (epayfAk ~zfvarf) was so named because he was found in the temple pool (epayfAk) in KAnchIpuram. He wrote the first Thiruvan^thAthi (Mtlf tiRvnftati). The word an^thAthi denotes that the last word in each verse would be the first word of the next verse.

b) BUdhattAzhvAr (p> ttftazfvarf) was nicknamed BUdham (p> tmf) because he believed that ThirumAl represented the five matters (_mfp>tgfkqf- nilmf, nIrf, tI, vqi, viCmfp<). He was the author of the second Thiruvan^thAthi. He belonged to MahApalipuram.

c) PEyAzhvAr (Epyazfvarf), the author of the third Thiruvan^thAthi, was so named because he was roaming the country side like a ghost singing devotional poems tenaciously. He lived in MylApore.

d) Thiru mazhisai AzhvAr (tiRmziAc ~zfvarf) (520-620 A.D.) was a native of Thiru mazhisai near Chennai. His works include n^Anmukan Thiruvan^thAthi (na[fMk[ftiRvnftati) , Thirucchan^tha viruttham (tiRcfcnft viRtftmf).

When his disciple, KaNikaNNan (k]ik]f][f) refused to go to the royal court, the Pallava King got angry and ordered him to leave the town immediately. Thiru mazhisai AzhVar wrote the following poem requesting the deity, ThirumAl, to leave the temple because KaNikaNNan is leaving the town. ThirumAl did so and the town lost its prosperity. The King realized his folly and requested KaNikaNNan to come back:

k]ik]f][f Epaki[f$[f kamRp>gf kcfci
m]iv]f]a nIyigf kiraEt - T]iv<dE[
ecnfnapf p<lv[iya[f eclfki[fEb[f nIy<M[fb[f
Apnfnakpf payfCRdfFkf ekaqf

e) PeriyAzhvAr (epriyazfvarf) (700 -785 A.D.) was a native of SrivilliputthUr and was the author of ThiruppallaANdu (tiRpfplfla]fD) and PeriyAzhvAr ThiruvAi mozhi (epriyazfvarf tiRvayfemazi). He was devoted to the child God, KaNNan. His style was the forerunner for the PiLLait thamizh (piqfAqtftmizf) type of poems which came later. In addition to his own scholastic abilities he is credited with rearing his daughter, ANdAL (~]fdaqf) in a spiritual manner so that she also grew up to be another AzhvAr.

f) ANdAL (~]fdaqf). (716-782 A.D.) She was also known as kOthai (EkaAt) and CUdikkoduttha n^AcchiyAr (VFkfekaDtftnacfciyarf) She considered Lord KrishNan as her lover and refused to marry anyone else. Her two works, ThiruppAvai (tiRpfpaAv) and n^AicchiyAr Thiru mozhi (nayfcfciyarf tiRemazi) are very popular in the Thamizh community.

g)Thirumankai AzhvAr(tiRmgfAk ~zfvarf) (710-790 A.D.) is a prolific writer and has contributed 1362 peoms to the praban^tham series. His works include: Periya Thiru mozhi (epriytiRemazi), ThirukkRun^thANtakam (tiRkfKBnfta]fdkmf) , Thirun^etun^thANtakam (tiRenDnfta]fdkmf) , Thiruvezhuk kURRirukkai (tiRevZkf PbfbiRkfAk) , siRiya Thirumatal (cibiy tiRmdlf) and periya thirumatal (epriy tiRmdlf).

h)ThoNdaratippodi AzhvAr (eta]fdrFpfepaF ~zfvarf) (740-800 A.D.) was born in Mandalankudi in the ChOzha Kingdom. His name denotes that he revered even the dust (epaF) under the feet of the devotees (eta]fdrf). ThiruppaLLi ezhucchi (tiRpfpqfqi 'Zcfci) and ThirumAlai (tiRmaAl) are his compositions and are supposed to be laden with grief.

i) KulasEkara AzhvAr (KlEckr ~zfvarf) (750-780 A.D.) was a prince in the ChEra Kingdom who renounced his royalty to serve VaishNavaite devotees. His devotion to rAman is unsurpassed. In the song given below he sings an inspirational lullaby to rAman:

tAqyviZmf nBgfKwfcitf tyrt[fb[ff Klmtlayf
vAqyevaR ciAlyt[alf mtililgfAk yzitftvE[
kAqkZnIrf mRgfklRmf k]p<rtfet[f kRm]iEy
;Aqyvrfkdf kRQAdyayf ;rakvE[ taElEla

j)ThiruppaN AzhvAr (tiRpfpa]f ~zfvarf) (750-780 A.D.) He was born in uRaiUr (uAby> rf) in the PANar (pa]rf) community which was an untouchable caste. He wrote only 10 poems, amala n^AthipirAn, `mlnatipira[f describing the physical appearance of ThirumAl. Though his literary contribution was meager, the high quality of his poems prompted VEdan^tha DhEsikar (EvtanftEtcikrf) , a 14th century scholar, to write a commentary on them. The chief message from his life is that caste differences do not make any difference before God. A timely reminder to contemporary community leaders !

k) n^ammAzhvAr (nmfmazfvarf) (765-800 A.D.) He was born in AzhvAr Thirun^agari (~zfvarf tiRnkri) and derived his nickname (nam=our own) from being very popular. He was also known as SatagOpan (cdEkap[f) and Tamizh mAran (tmizfmab[f). His works are ThiruvAi mozhi (tiRvayfemazi) , Thiruviruttham (tiRviRtftmf) , Periya Thiruvan^thathi (epriy tiRvnftati) and ThiruvAciryam (tiRvaciriymf).

l) Mathura kavi (mTrkvi) (740-805 A.D.) His name is attributed to his ability to write sweet devotional poems. His work is called KaNNi n^uN siRutthAmpu (k]f]iN]f ciBtf tamfp< ). By his own reference to n^ammAzhvAr as AchArya (teacher), he is believed to be a disciple of the latter. Salient Features of n^AlAyirat thivyap praban^tham

a) All the four components of the Bhakthi theme were presented in these poems with extreme sincerity and deep conviction. As one would expect, the AzhvArkaL have regarded VishNu or ThirumAl and his 10 incarnations as the Absolute or Supreme Being. Despite the differences in the theological beliefs of the VaishNavaites and Saivaites, the first 3 AzhvArs were more liberal than the otherrs in their attitudes towards the Supreme Being. For example, when PEyAzhvAr (Epyazfvarf) went to the VaishNavaite holy town of ThiruvEnkadam (tiREvgfkdmf) for worship, he finds in the Deity the characteristic features of both VishNu and Sivan.

tazfcAdy<mf nIqfMFy<mf o]fmZv<mf ckffkrMmf
Vzrv<mf epa[f[}nf Eta[fBmalf - Vznf
tir]fdRvi pay<nf tiRmAlEmlf 'nfAtkfK
;r]fDRvmf o[f$yf ;AcnfT

The other AzhvArkaL were, however, not as generous and unbiased in the acceptance of other deities as equal to ThirumAl. This paved the way for frequent squabbles between the supporters of AzhvArkaL amd n^AyanmArkaL The VaishNavaite literary format is extremely appealing to everyone due to the simplicity of the language and musical backup. The use of an^thAthi (`nftati) style in their compositions was eye catching and added to their popularity.

b) In order to describe fully their love, undisputed faith and surrender to the Absolute, The AzhvArkaL, like the n^AyanmArkaL, resorted to the akam (`kmf) technic popular among the community. They considered the Divine as the hero (tAlv[f) and the devotees as the lover (tAlvi) , or friend (Etazi) and expressed their love in human terms.

PeriyAzhvAr (epriyazfvarf) regarded the divine KaNNan as a child and expressed his love as a devoted mother. ANdAL (~]fdaqf), the only woman in the category of AzhvArkaL, represents the extreme devotion to the Lord in the capacity of a maiden who refused to marry anybody else and insisted that she could not live without His companionship. In her ThiruppAvai (tiRpfpaAv) she even persuaded other maidens in the village to join hands and undergo penance (Ena[fp< until they succeeded in joining the Divine. In the following poem in ThiruppAvai, ANdAL says to KaNNan, the cowherd, "that she and her colleagues will surrender themselves to the Lord and serve him not only in this birth but in 14 more births if necesssaary". This tradition of singing ThiruppAvai songs during the month of mArkazhi (marfkzi) continues upto the present time:

cibfbmf ciBkaAl vnfT[fA[cf EcvitfT[f
epabf$ mAryFEy EpabfBmf epaRqfEkqayf
epbfbmfEmyftfT]f}mf Kltftilf pibnfTnI
KbfEbvlf 'gfkAqkf ekaqfqamlf EpakaT
;bfAbpfpAb ekaqfva[f `[fBka]f Ekavinfta
'bfAbkfKmf "Ezzf pibvikfKmf u[ffb[fE[aD
ubfE$Em ~Evamf u[kfEknamf ~dfecyfEvamff
mbfAbnmf kamgfkqf mabfEbElarf 'mfpavayf.

c) The extent of sacrifice a devotee will make to get the grace of the Divine is expressed beautifully in the following verse written by ThoNdaratippodi AzhvAr eta]fdrFpfepaF ~zfvarf who says " I do have no place, no land, no relative. I am all yours, Oh. KaNNA, Who else is there to protect me except You".

Urf ;El[f ka]i;lfAl ubv<mbfB oRvrf ;lfAl
parilfni[f patYMlmf pbfbiEl[f prm YMrftfti
karfoqi v]f]E[ '[f k]f]E[ ktBki[fEb[f
yarf uqrf kAqk]f `mfma `rgfkma nkRqaE[.
(eta]fdrFpfepaF ~zfvarf)

d) The following poems illustrate the usage of akam concept to describe the emotional feelings of endearment of a mother (devotee) to the child:

kidkfkilf etadfFlf kiziy uAttftiDmf
'DtfTkf ekaqfqilf mRgfAk ;BtftiDmf
oDkfkipf p<lfkilf utrtfEt payfnftiDmf
miDkfki laAmyalf na[femlinfEt[f ngfkayf.
cItkfkdLqf `Mt[f[ Etvki
EkaAtkfKzlaqf yEcaAtkfKpf Epanftnft
EpAtkfKzvi piFtfTcf CAvtfT]f}mf
patkakmlgfkqf ka]IEr
pvqvayIrf vnfT ka]IEr.

5.4.3. Conclusion

Together the n^AyanmArkaL and the AzhvArkaL did succeed in their attempts in channelling the minds of people from indulging in sensual pleasures to concentrating on the Supreme Being. This becomes evident from the fact that after the advent of the Bhakthi movement both Buddhism and Jainism were not able to take roots in the Thamizh region. Viewing the events historically, it would appear that the mentality of people has not changed significantly during these 1000 years. The bias towards the semantics to be used for the undescribable Divine is stronger than ever. The allegiance to the creeds or sects is still considered to be more important than truth.

A definite disadvantage of the Bhakthi movement is that people, instead of pondering over why these concepts were instituted by n^AyanmArkaL and AzhvArkaL in the first place wounded up regarding the pathways and tools as ends in themselves and perpetuating, in the process, internal animosities. At least this is the impression that is being presented to the outside world. In a world torn with religious strifes, it would be appropriate to reiterate the essence of the Hindu doctrine in MaNicka vAchakar's immortal words "For One who does not have a name or form, why not we give a thousand names and hail His grace":

(oR nammf Orf uRvmf ;lflarfkfK ~yirmf tiRnammf paFnamf etqfEq]gf ekadffdaEma)

5.5. Bibliography

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MANickam, V.S. (ed.) (1968) A glimpse of Tamilology. TiruchirAppaLLi, Academy of Tamil Scholars of Tamil Nadu.

MInAtchi sun^tharan, T.P. History of Tamil Literature. aNNAmalai University Publications in linguistics - 3. aNNAmalai University, aNNAmalai n^agar. (1965). pp.211.

n^ilakanta SAstri, K.A. (1966) A History of South India. Oxford University Press, Madras. pp. 387.

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