KANDA PURANAM OF KACHIAPPAR.
The little of this holy book that I read now and then rather as a pastime than as a holy duty created in me such a zeal and reverence for it that I have been prompted to write this humble tribute before I may pretend to know it sufficiently well. I therefore request the learned readers to excuse my faults.
Here are few good things in this world which are recognized as such by the majority of those who come across them. The holiest man is considered mad, the highest philosophy dreamy, honesty folly, and forgiveness cowardice. Such is Kanda Puranam in a place where it is best known and the most familiar work. This is due to the inefficiency of those who expound it, fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. Besides, no religious truth is understood by anyone who has not a humble and pious heart. I pen the following however as I can only be afraid of falling short of the praise that is due.
Kachiappar, whose name I will not stain with any epithet, understood that it was the pleasure of god that he should write this purana. It was pointed out to him that he could get the materials for the work from the Sanskrit Skanda Purana which is one of the ten Siva Purana. Again, it was daily revised by Chit. The work has thus the highest authority, and Kachiappar's greatness and holiness may be imagined. These two touches of the Sat have to be proved. The sign of divine touch is absence of faults and imperfections and the onus of proof rests with those who question it. The little knowledge that I possess of the work enables me to say that no one can question anything in this work and I have not heard of any charge made that has not been answered.
What gives the highest value to the work in the amount of electricity with which it is charged, or perhaps which it generates, a force which corresponds to the magnetic power of men. While example and precept are the two educating influence generally known, the vast power wielded by personal magnetism is not so well known, probably because it is a rarity. These three influences may be found in their corresponding forms in books. Kural and Naladiyar teach by precept, and Periapuranam by example. Kandapuranam mainly influences by the electric power of the author. I do not here mean to disparage other works, but this may not be their greatest greatness. It attracts all those who come in close contact with it and makes them move in the right direction. Few who see it rightly can withstand its force. The story of Kandapuranam might be written by any poet not possessing the zeal, but would die with time instead of growing. Words and thoughts which send a thrill and make the hair of the reader stand on its end abound in this work, and make him feel rather than know.
A mistake often committed with respect to this work is to include it in literature. It is as far from poetry* [* We do not agree with the writer. It is the essential province of poetry, to awaken the feelings and inspire the heart. Hence the magic of Devaram and Tiruvachakam. – Ed.] as Nannool or Sivagnanasiddiar. In fact it is the contrary of poetry is that it is less slow than ordinary historic even. Essentially, it ranks with Tiruvachakam and Devaram although the clothing of poetry is second to few other poetical works. The muse comes uninvited to sub serve the holy purpose and naturally is more helpful to its devotees. Though few things are as graceful as the divine Tiruneeru or as sweet-scented as the highly medicinal musk, it would be want of sense to mention them among their virtues. The Sirappoopayiram of Tirukovayar is applicable to this work with more or less force in some points. The work is encyclopedic.
The main current in the work is the Siddhanta religion, the religion of Bhakti and Gnana. The religion is clearly and concisely stated in Kasipar Upadesapadalam which may be regarded as the text on which the whole work is founded. Kasipar states the philosophy, infers from it the line of action (marga), and illustrates it by the life of Markandeya. This procedure enables us to understand that the knowledge of religion is only a means – though not the only means – that practice is the end of a man's life and that this (practice) is acquired by worship. (Many young men who make it a fashion to learn religious philosophy without trying to act up to it will find from this how erroneous their way is.)
The consort of Kasipur, in her native spirit and true to her name, condemns his teaching, and impresses on one the greatness of material prosperity, thus laying the foundation for the advanced teaching undertaken later by Sukra. Sukra comes with the "fearful hurricane of Mayavadam," the so called Vedanta Sukra's precepts condemn themselves. He says, "They are fools who say 'Do what is right, do not do sinful acts which are wrong;." Kachiappar makes an ass of Sukra, so absurd is Mayavadam made from his mouth. No religion is so cruelly treated. The evil of aiming at material prosperity is shown by the utmost misery of Soorapadama's latter days.
The Lokayata religion is condemned by Manmata himself, the high priest or rather the lord of the religion; and the chief beauty is the while Brahma and other great exponents of Saivism are made to support him against their own convictions. He condemns himself. This is a characteristic of Kachiappa who finds pearls in stinking oyster. The occasion itself is such.
Next comes for the test, rather incidentally, from the sacred lips of Tateeshi, * the religion of karma, professed by the Rishis of Tarakavanam. [* Religions akin to Buddhism.] As religion is meant to guide us in our actions, and as the greatest intellectual giants have professed all the great religions, the surest test of religion is the fruit of following it and not arguing. This was what Sambandaswamy and Manickavachaka swamy did, and this is the method which commended itself to Kachiappar. The Tarakavana story, impure in the eyes of impure men, is an indispensable part of fundamental religions knowledge. The proof of the existence of God, and of the helplessness of a soul which is impenetrable to His Grace is most convincing and unanswerable. Here is the rock on which the karmic religions are readily and inevitably wrecked. Those who thought that they cared for no God found themselves quite helpless before the hollow †phantom of a female. [† As God exists everywhere. He can have no motion from place to place. Therefore, wherever we hear of personal divine intrusion, we must understand it to be a phantom, of course divine.]
Vaishnavism is considered in a very palpable manner. Daksha was the President founder of this religion. This is the only religion whose principles are not fully discussed; for, the only difference between this and Saiva Siddhanta relates to the nature of the Supreme Brahman.
Siva represents the Highest Brahman, and the worship of any other than the Highest God cannot lead to the Highest Palan, and was doomed to failure as in Daksha's sacrifice. Cf. Gita IX. 22 to 24.
The work thus considers all the chief religions in a popular way, shows that Siddhanta is the straight path and leads all sympathetic followers to happiness pure and everlasting. To crown all, the method of attainment of Mukti is treated in the beautiful and sustained allegory of Valliammai Tirumanapadalam.
The history contained in it is vast and embodies all knowledge necessary for a man's well-being here and here-after. There are several short tragedies and comedies in it with Soorapadma's * tragi-comedy in the center, each tragedy condemning several vices and each comedy upholding several virtues. [* It is called tragi-comedy, because he died and with it attained eternal bliss.] What makes the work unique is not the impressive manner in which ethical and religious principles are taught, but the ethical and religious tonic which it gives for keeping man in a healthy state for steady growth. While most other works make the reader know, this makes the reader act.
I shall close this short essay with a liberal translation of four typical stanzas in the first part. As the translation robs the stanzas of the force of expression and the vast treasure lying hidden in their depths, they are also given.
Manmata tells Brahma, "Of course, I win laurels for my victories over Vishnu and other gods, (yourself included). But, is it possible to dart the arrow and defeat the Supreme Being who wears the Ganges on his head."
மாலே முதலாகிய வானவர்தம், பாலேயடல்வாகை படைப்பதலால்,
மேலேநதிசூடிய மேலவன்மேற், கோலேவினன் வென்றிடல் கூடுமதோ
Indra's son says, "Desiring to enjoy life under the shade of the honey-dripping kalpaka tree, I have incurred great suffering. Thus, I see that even Swarga life is hollow; I have also seen the passing away (transitoriness) of other places of enjoyment, (as Vaikunta and Satyaloka). I, your servant, pray only for your everlasting home (of mukti).
தண்டேன் றுளிக்குந் தருநிழற்கீழ் வாழ்க்கைவெஃகிக்
கொண்டேன் பெருந்துயரம் வான்பதமுங் கோதென்றே
கண்டேன் பிறர்தம் பதத்தொலைவுங் கண்டனனால்
தொண்டேன் சிவனே நின்றொல் பதமேவேண்டுவனே.
Veerabahu Deva says (to Soorapanma to give him an idea of the greatness of Subrahmanya).
"Eh! Simpleton, you thought much of yourself in having obtained some of the simple solid worlds. Those who are favored with but a little of His Grace become rulers not only of all the worlds of the five forms of existence (commonly known as solid, liquid, burning (or stellar), gaseous, and ethereal), but also of the worlds of all other forms of existence.
பேதையுன்னினை சிறிதவன் றன்னருள்பெறுவோர்
பூதமைந்தினு மேனையதிறத்தினும் புறத்து
மீதுமாமண்டமெவற்றிற்கும் வேத்தியல் புரிவார்.
"Is it an easy affair for you and me if we say that we can state the nature of god whose form is Gnana. Even the Moonivas who are continually in the Mona state have not understood him. He himself has not yet discovered fully His great supremacy.
மோனந்தீர்கலா முனிவருந் தேற்றிலர் முழுதுந
S. SIVAPADASUNDARAM PILLAI.