SOUTH INDIAN DEVOTIONAL WRITERS.
THE MOTHER OF KARAIKAL.
The title of the serial was suggested to us by a request of a missionary friend of ours, who asked us if we could give him any connected account of the South Indian Devotional Writers, and we had to confess there was no such account, thought there were a host of such writers ancient and modern. Moreover, though we have preserved some of their writings, the accounts we possess of their lives are very meager indeed. However in this serial, we hope to collect such materials as are available and give such texts from their works which will illustrate their life, faith and philosophy. We would invite our friends to collaborate with us, and gather such materials as are available to them and contribute to this serial. We have numbered this paper as II, as the Life and Writings of the First Poet of the famous Third Sangam has already been summarized in these pages, and it will form the introductory paper of this series. We would suggest to our friends who would help us, to take up the authors of the ninth and eleventh Tirumurai to begin with, who are all very ancient writers and whose periods date from the first to the tenth century A.D.
Fortunately for us, the life and incidents of Karaikal Ammaiyar is given in the Periyapurana of St. Sekkilar; and we follow the account as far as it goes. In the famous seaport Town of Karaikal* [*This is now a French possession, and at some distance from Negapatam.] inhabited by merchants noted for their virtue and veracity and wealth, there lived once a merchant by the name of Dandatta. As the result of his great tapas, he was blessed with a daughter who was named Punitavadiyar (the immaculate). From her earliest years, she developed instinctively a love of God and was given to the study of religious literature and the service of God's devotees. After she attained her proper age, the parents were casting about for a suitable match, and they had an offer from the neighboring town of Negapatam. This was approved, and Punitavadiyar was married in great pomp to Paramadattan at Karaikal. The parents were not willing to part with their only daughter, and they assigned a separate house and large property to the son-in-law, who agreed to live in Karaikal. While so, one day, Paramadattan received a couple of mangoes from his friends, and he sent them on to his wife. At home, a devotee of the Lord came and asked for food. Punitavadiyar had only cooked rice, and the vegetables were not ready, but she remembered she had the mango fruits, and thinking that nothing was too precious to be bestowed on God's bhaktas, she served him with one of the two fruits, and appeased his hunger. The bhakta left, and later, the husband returned about noon from his business, bathed and sat down for dinner, and Punitavadiyar served him with the other mango fruit. He found it sweet and asked to be served with the other. She went inside as though to bring it, and felt distressed and prayed to God who always succors those who think on him forgetting their self, and lo! a mango was placed in her hands. She took it to her husband, who eating it, wondered and said that this fruit surpassed anything in the three worlds and asked her where she had got it. On hearing this she was unwilling to declare the truth, as she felt that the manifestations of God's mercy was not fit to be disclosed, and she felt at the same time, that it was not right to tell an untruth to her husband. She then related what had actually occurred Paramadattan did not feel convinced, and asked her to procure another such fruit, if what was obtained previously was by the Grace of God. She went aside and petitioned to God that if He did not grant her another fruit, her words would be found to be untrue, and another fruit was surely in her hands. She presented it to her husband, and it vanished from his hands the moment after he held it. He was at once struck with fear and trembling, and he felt that his wife was no ordinary woman and she must be divine and secretly determined to leave her at the earliest opportunity. With this object in view, he fitted up a ship for trading and took all his wealth in it and left abroad, and after exchanging his merchandise, he arrived at a port in the Pandyan Territory and settled there, and soon after married a suitable girl, and he got female child by her whom he named after Punitavadiyar. The relations of Punitavadiyar heard about his whereabouts in course of time, and they determined to take his first wife to him, and they did so carrying her in a palanquin, and arriving in Paramadattan' s town, sent word to him of their arrival and mission. Greatly perturbed, he however determined to face the matter and taking his wife and child approached Punitavadiyar' s presence and fell prostrate at her feet. The relations wondered and asked how he could worship his wife. Paramadattan related all that took place before and how he named his own daughter after her, and they should all worship her also. Our Lady then prayed to God that that being her husband's view, she could no more bear the flesh and the beauty of her person which was solely for her husband, and she should be given the form of a demoness (பேய்) who could stand by God ever in prayer. She shed her flesh at once and bearing the bones alone became a demoness, by the grace of God. The gods showered flowers and the music of the heavens sounded; Devas and Rishis burst forth in praise, and the relations and others who stood there fell at her feet and worshipped and left.
She then composed her first poem called arpuda-thiru-andadai, the wonderful Antadi, of 100 verses, and any one reading it could not but feel the wonderful beauty and pathos and love that permeates those verses. We have cried over them when reading in private, and even in public company, tears have gushed to our eyes when others recited them. Our civilized notions prevent us from doing any such effeminate thing, as shedding tears, at the recitation of some devotional poetry. But if this is civilization, let us part company from it at once. True Religion and Love is cast in a different mould. To the God-over-powered, there is no caste and company, shame and pride of etiquette.*
மலமில்லை மாசில்லை மானாபிமானம்
குலமில்லை கொள்ளுங் குணங்களுமில்லை
நலமில்லை நந்தியை ஞானத்தினாலே
பலபன்னி யன்பிற் பதித்து வைப்போர்க்கே.
No sin, no dross, no shame, no pride,
No caste no qualities nor good is possessed
By those through Jnana by repeated praise
Embed in their Love our Blissful One.
அன்புள்ளுருகி அழுவன் அரற்றுவன்
என்பு முருக இராப்பகல் ஏத்துவன்
என்பொன் மணியை யிறைவனை ஈசனை
தின்பன் கடிப்பன் திருத்துவன் தானே.
Melting in Love will I cry and loudly sing
Even my bones to melt, will I pray night and day
My ornament of Gold, My God and My Lord
Him will I prepare, eat and masticate.
- Tirumantra of Tirumular.
They roll in a world of their own, loving God, delighting in God, revelling in God, and rejoicing in God and really attain to Svaraj† [† Chandogya Up. VII, 7, 25, 2.] and not they who roll under the feet of their worldly rulers. They become mad of God and the world accounts them also mad. They become God-possessed and the world accounts them as Demon-possessed. Says Saint Tayumanavar.
பாலரொடு பேயர் பித்தர் பான்மையென நிற்பதுவே
சீலமிகு ஞானியர்தஞ் செய்கைபராபரமே.
Like babes and demon-possessed and mad men
Do the great Jnanis behave, Oh Lord of Lords.
And truly enough, as our mother, moved about in her Demoness-form, the world fled from her presence, but what did she rack how she appeared to the truth-less world if she was accepted by the Lord of the worlds. She proposed to visit Kailas and travelled through many regions and approaching the out-skirts of the silver mountain, she was afraid to walk with her feet and travelled on her head. From where our Parents (Bhuvanesa Pitaram) were seated, our Mother Uma observed the lady and wondered what great love should have been possessed by her who was approaching on her head and with the bare bones for the body. Our Lord said that this mother was His devotee and had obtained this form purposely. And when she approached the Lord, He called out to her 'Mother' and she fell prostrate at His feet calling 'Father.' The poet exclaims here that the Lord uttered this one good word, so that the whole world may be saved. But how many do really understand all that is implied in this one word! all that love, and loving sacrifice and the love that finds no fault and bear all faults, that love that would save from all harm and would redeem from all sin, that Love in fact that is more typical of Divinity than humanity. Is not all this synonymous with this one word 'mother'? And when the prodigal son returns and is received into the bosom of the mother, the response 'mother!' how much does it not imply. It is the acknowledgement of this all-love, and one's own worthlessness and sense of joy and bliss which this acknowledgement brings about!
She rose up and when asked what special prayer she had, she said she desired undying love, and deathlessness, and if she should be born, she should never forget Him, and she should ever dwell under His Dancing Foot ever singing His praise. The Lord granted her prayer and told her she would see His Ananda Tandava at Tiruvalankadu. She accordingly retraced her way to Tiruvalankadu in the same way, and sojourned there singing many Hymns, waiting for the day when God would fulfil her wish. She sang her last hymn and she saw the Lord's Dance and she was taken under His anklet-sounding Foot, with her own song ringing in the ear of the Lord. Such is the narrative as given by Sekkilar and it is replete with many lessons. It teaches us many domestic virtues, and above all that the worship of the flesh and beauty is of no use; and even if the world should reject us for our faith in God, this is alone what would land us in everlasting Bliss. We give below a selection from her verses, which would show their worth and beauty.
பிறந்த மொழி பயின்ற பின்னெல்லாங்காதல்
சிறந்து நின் சேவடியே சேர்ந்தேன் – நிறந்திகழும்
மைஞ்ஞான்ற கண்டத்துவானோர் பெருமானே
Ever since I learnt to lisp after my birth
My love to Thee increased, I reached Thy foot.
Oh God of Gods with throat of shining blue
When wilt Thou rid me of my pain?
இடர்களையா ரேனு மெமக்கிரங்காரேனும்
படருநெறி பணியா ரேனும் – சுடருருவி
லென்பறாக் கோலத் தெரியாடு மெம்மானார்க்
Even though He frees me not from pain nor show
Me pity nor the path to go, my heart shall never
Cease loving Him whose flaming Person is
Adorned with skulls and who midst fire doth dance.
அவர்க்கே யெழுபிறப்பு மாளாவே மென்று
மவர்க்கே நாமன்பாவதல்லாற் – பவர்ச்சடைமேற்
பாகாப் போழ்சூடு மவர்க்கல்லான் மற்றொருவர்க்
Even to seven births am I His slave
Ever my love is fixed on him, naught else,
To Him whose coral braids are covered with buds
And to none else my service shall be due.
இறைவனே யெவ்வுயிருந் தோற்று விப்பான்றோற்றி
யிறைவனே யீண்டிறக்கஞ் செய்வர் – னிறைவனே
யெந்தா யெனவிரங்கு மெங்கள் மேல்வெந்துயரம்
The Lord creates all life and creating
He destroys all in this here world. The same
Lord when we cry to Him 'Oh my mother'
Will rid us sure of our mortal sorrow.
வானத்தா னென்பாரு மென்க மற்றும்பர்கோன்
றானத்தா னென்பாருந் தாமென்க – ஞானத்தான்
முன்னஞ்சத்தாவிருண்ட மொய்யொளி சேர்கண்டத்தா
'He dwells in Heaven' 'He dwells in Indra's World'
They are pleased to declare, I will let them do.
Wisdom Lord whose throat is with poison dark
Dwells in my heart I do declare.
அருகே யுலகெலா மாள்விப் பதீச
னருளே பிறப்பறுப்ப தானா – லருளாலே
மெய்ப்பொருளை நோக்கும் விதியுடையே னெஞ்ஞான்று
மெய்ப்பொருளு மாவ தெனக்கு.
'Tis Isa's grace that rules the world,
'Tis Isa's grace that destroys birth,
'Tis with such grace I look at truth,
Let me be merged e'er in such Truth.
எனக்கினிய வெம்மானை யீசனையா னென்று
மனக்கினிய வைப்பாக வைத்தே – னெனக்கவனைக்
கொண்டேன் பிரானாகக் கொள்வதுமே யின்புற்றே
னுண்டே யெனக்கரிய தொன்று.
My Father own so sweet to me, My Lord
Him I treasured sweet in my heart always
Him as My Lord I owned and owning Him
My heart rejoiced. What is then rare to me?
இனியேநா முய்ந்தோ மிறைவன்றான் சேர்ந்தோ
மினியோ ரிடரில்லோ நெஞ்சே – யினியோர்
வினைக்கடலி யாக்குவிக்கு மீளாப் பிறவிக்
கனைக்கடலை நீந்தினோங் காண்.
Henceforth we have been saved, we reached God's Feet
Henceforth no more pain Oh my heart! Henceforth
The endless sea of births whence rise karma
We have crossed without doubt.
காண்பார்க்குங் காணவாந் தன்மையனே கைதொழுது
காண்பார்க்குங் காணாவாங் காதாலாற் – காண்பார்க்குச்
சோதியாய்க் சிந்தையுளே தோன்றுமே தொல்லுலகுக்
Him visible to Seers, He can be seen
By those who worship Him. If seen with Love,
He will appear within thy heart as Light,
Hara who stands as the old world's First cause.
அறிவானுந் தானே யறிவிப்பான் றனே
யறிவா யறிகின்றான் றானே – யறிகின்ற
மெய்ப்பொருளுந் தானே விரிசுடர்பா ராகாச
மப்பொருளுந் தானே யவன்.
He knows all future and He intuits everyone,
He the Intelligence that knows the present,
He is the Truth that knows. And he is all
This Earth and Akas and effulgent sun.
அவனே யிருசுடர்தீ யாகாச மாவா
னவனே புவிபுனல்காற் றாவா – னவனே
யியமா னனாயட்ட மூர்த்தியுமாய் ஞான
மயனாகி நின்றானும் வநது.
He is the fire, Akas, and the twin lights,
The earth and air and the water is He,
He is Ejaman and Ashtha-murti
And the Intelligence that transcends all.
நூலறிவு பேசிநுழை விலாதார் திரிசு
நீலமணி மிடற்றா னீர்மையே – மேலுலந்த
தெக்கோலத்தெவ்வுருவா யெத்தவங்கள் செய்வார்க்கு
Let alone what fools with bookish lore declare
About the Nature of our blue-necked God
In whatever form and figure one worships
In that same form and figure He shows grace.
பிரானவனை நேர்க்கும் பெருநெறியே பேணிப்
பிரானவன்றன் பேரருளே வேண்டிப் – பிரானவனை
யெங்குற்றா னென்பீர்க் ளென்போல் வார்சிந்தையினு
மிங்குற்றான் காண்பார்க் கெளிது.
If one desires the path leading to God
And wishes to deserve His grace and asks
Where He dwells sure – Even in the heart of those
Like my poor self, It is easy to find.
அன்றுந் திருவுரு வங்காணா தேயாட்பட்டே
னின்றுர் திருவுருவங் காண்கிலே – னென்றுந்தா
I did not know thy form the day I was Thy own,
Nor do I know it now. Of what form is Thy Lord,
They ask. To them what reply shall I give?
Which is Thy form, what is It, Oh my Lord!
ஏதொக்குமே தொவ்வாமே தாகுமே தாகா
தேதொக்கு மென்பதனை யாரறிவார் – பூதப்பால்
வில்வேடனாகி விசயனோ டேற்றநாள்
What form will fit and what will not
What It will be, what It will not
Who will know? That form that became
The bowman strong whom Arjuna met.
கண்டெந்தை யென்றிறைஞ் சிக்கைப் பணியான் செய்யேனே
லண்டம் பெறினுமது வேண்டேன் – துண்டஞ்சேர்
விண்ணாளுந் திங்களாய் மிக்குலக மேழினுக்குங்
கண்ணாளா வீதென் கருத்து.
If I cannot see Thee and serve and pray
I will not care to dwell even in Heaven
Oh Moon, Lord of skies and the seven worlds
Oh my dear! This is my sole desire.
பணிந்தும் படர் சடையான் பாதங்கள் போதா
லணிந்து மணிந்தவரை யேத்தத் – துணிந்தென்று
மெந்தையார்க்காட் செய்யப்பெற்ற விதுகொலோ
சிந்தையார்க் குள்ள செருக்கு.
Bowing, adorning with flowers the Feet
Of the Lord with spreading braids and uttering His praise
With constant devotion fixed on my Father true
Is this not what makes His devotee proud?
காலனையும் வென்றோங்கடு நரகங்கை கழன்றோ
மேலையிரு வினையும் வேரறுத்தோங் – கோல
வரணார விந்தழிய வெந்தீயம் பெய்தான்
சரணார விந்தங்கள் சார்ந்து.
We conquered death. We lost our hold on Hell.
The roots of Twin karma we did tear up
When we did reach the lotus Feet of Him
Who with fiery dart the Triple forts did shoot.
நாமாலை சூடியுநம் மீசன் பொன்னடிக்கே
பூமாலை கொண்டு புனைந்தன்பாய் – நாமோ
ரறிவினையே பற்றறினாலெற்றே தடுமே
With garlands of words and flowers
If we adorn the golden Feet
Of our Isa with love and one mind
How will the karmic darkness afflict?
அவன் கண்டாய் வானோர் பிரானாவானென்று
மவன் கண்டா யம்பவளவண்ண – னவன் கண்டாய்
மைத்தமர்ந்த கண்ட்த்தான் மற்றவன் பானன்னெஞ்சே
மெய்த்தமர்ந்தன்பாய் நீ விரும்பு.
Behold He is the God of Gods
Behold He is the coral-Hued
Behold He is the Blue-necked One
Desire Him Oh mind with True Love!
J. M. Nallasami Pillai, B.A., B.L.