Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sivam in Thiruppugazh–Part 1

What is the goal of Bhakti? Our individual souls/consciousness are under bondage because of ignorance and limiting adjuncts such as mind, body and senses. We are assailed by cravings, desires, egoism, pride, greed, lust and likes and dislikes that keep us from realizing the divinity within. The ultimate goal of bhakti is to help the individual soul to merge itself in the Supreme Soul or Paramatman that is Infinite, Omniscient, Omnipotent, and an embodiment of knowledge and bliss. The Supreme Soul is self-luminous and illumines everything; it is formless, all-pervading indivisible, decayless, timeless, Eternal, and Immortal.

What prevents us from seeing ourselves as we truly are – as Pure Consciousness – are the three malas or cloakings that prevent us from recognizing the unifying spirit in all beings and make us feel separate and different. This experience of differentiation comes from a power called Maya which is a mala that our bodies are subject to. Mala means taint or impurity, a limiting condition that hampers the free expansion of spirit. It is of three forms, anava mala, maya mala, and karma mala. These Malas are part of our existence, part of the fabric of who we are.

Anava mala is the root mala, the primal limiting condition which reduces the universal Consciousness to a small, limited entity. It is a cosmic limiting condition over which the individual has no control. It is owing to this that the jiva (individual soul) considers himself a separate entity, cut off from the universal Consciousness. Maya mala springs from Anava mala.It is that binding condition that causes you to see yourself as separate from others and causes you to perceive people, places and things as being different from each other and different from yourself. Karma mala evolves out of Maya mala. It is the limiting conditions created by samskaras/vasanas of your past and present lives. It is the condition in which you believe yourself to be the body and you attribute all your actions to the limited "I" consciousness of your own ego.

In Thiruppugazh, we have several poems that sing the glory of Lord Shiva, His Form and His dance. But in this post, we will take excerpts from poems that glorify Siva as the all-pervading, Universal Substance.

In the poem kANoNAthathu, Sivam or the Universal and Infinite Matter is something which cannot be seen but is omniscient; cannot talk but makes one speak; it resides in the body made of five elements but remains imperceivable by it; it conforms to all worldly aspects of unity and diversity; it is known as the Cosmic Union of Shakthi (bindhu) and SivA (nAdham).

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Devi in Mahabharatham

Devi is any goddess, though in Saivism it would mean the consort of Shiva. For Vaishnavas, it would be the goddess Lakshmi. In Thiruppugazh we have the description of both the Devis.

  1. In the song aNisevviyAr, Arunagirinathar describes Parvati Devi as holding Mount Meru as a bow, an attribute usually associated with Shiva – which is quite understandable, because Shiva holds the bow in His left hand, and Parvathi occupies the left half of Shiva. She dances with Shiva in the jungles.

    குண வில்லதா மக மேரினை
    அணிசெல்வியாய் அருணாசல குரு

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Nakkeerar in Thiruppugazh

Read here the story of Nakkeerar, a nineth century Tamil poet who wrote a learned commentary on the well-known work entitled Irayanār Ahaporul. Nakkeerar is famous for stubbornly clinging onto his beliefs even in the face of supreme and incontrovertible evidence. Vankya Sudamani Pāndyan offers a bundle of gold coins as a prize to any poet who would compose a poem that would clear his doubt whether women could have naturally fragrant hair. Lord Shiva himself composes a poem that answered this query and hands it over to a poor scholar Tharumi. However, Nakkirar finds fault with a particular line in that poem and even when Siva asserts the correctness of Tharumi's thought and diction, Nakkirar persistently refutes it. Shiva opens His third eye and Nakkeerar feels as if his body is set ablaze. He undertakes a pilgrimage to Mount Kailasa and on the way he encounters the demoness Karkimukhi who imprisons him in a cave along with 999 other pious men, similarly held captives in order to perform a sacrifice offering one thousand men. The place of captivity is a mountainous cave on the top of Tirupparankunram, and Nakkirar in the opening lines of the poem Tirumurugārrupadai extols its praise, as the holy abode of Muruga. When the poet finishes his poem of praise, Lord Muruga appears and kills the demoness with His powerful Lance and rescues the thousand men. This entire episode is described in the song piraviyaana sadam

பொறி வழாத முநிவர் தங்கள் நெறி வழாத Sage Nakkeerar who controlled his sense organs from going astray and righteously performed his daily religious rites,

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mahabharatham in Thiruppugazh (Part 2)

Read Mahabharatham in Thiruppugazh (part 1)

There are two lesser known events that take place before the war. At the center of both the events is Krishna who makes every effort to ensure victory for the Pandavas. The first event ensures that none of the Pandavas will die in the war. The second event ensures that Vidura stays out of the war.

Duryodhana refuses to give the Pandavas their kingdom. Lord Krishna is all set to go to Hastinapura in the last ditch effort to avoid war. Of course, He knows that war is inevitable. But Sahadeva doesn't want war. Krishna tells him that he could try tying Him down and prevent Him from going on a peace mission.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Mahabharatham in Thiruppugazh (Part 1)

Out of the 503 Thiruppugazh songs that Guruji Shri A.S.Raghavan has taught us, it is difficult to find references to all the episodes that occur in the monumental epic called mahabharata. But there are a couple of songs that give us the gist of mahabharata. Let us now examine them.

Mahabharata was dictated by Sage Vyasa and written by Vinayaka on the Meru mountain. Enjoy the following lines from gugaiyil navanaathar

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Ramayana in Thiruppugazh (4)

Read the previous posts:

The song vanjam kondum describes in graphic detail the war scene between vanaras and Ravana –; how the vanaras hurl uprooted trees and boulders that come down heavily crushing the enemy, driving the entire clan of the demons to the South, the direction ruled by YamA, and how amidst the relentless onslaught of arrows Ravana keeps boasting in vain about his valor.

வஞ்சங்கொண் டுந்திட ராவண
னும்பந்தென் திண்பரி தேர்கரி
மஞ்சின்பண் புஞ்சரி யாமென     வெகுசேனை

வந்தம்பும் பொங்கிய தாகஎ
திர்ந்துந்தன் சம்பிர தாயமும்
வம்புந்தும் பும்பல பேசியு       மெதிரேகை

மிஞ்சென்றுஞ் சண்டைசெய் போதுகு
ரங்குந்துஞ் சுங்கனல் போலவெ
குண்டுங்குன் றுங்கர டார்மர      மதும்வீசி

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Ramyana in Thiruppugazh (3)

Read the previous posts:

  1. In விடுங்கை, it's not only the Vali vatham, the poet describes in great detail the slaying of Ravana too.

    கொடுங்கைப் பட்டம ராமர மேழுடன்
    நடுங்கச் சுக்ரிவ னோடம ராடிய
    குரங்கைச் செற்றும கோததி தூளெழ நிருதேசன்
    குலங்கட் பட்டநி சாசரர் கோவென
    இலங்கைக் குட்டழ லோனெழ நீடிய
    குமண்டைக் குத்திர ராவண னார்முடி அடியோடே
    பிடுங்கத் தொட்டச ராதிப னாரதி
    ப்ரியங் கொட் டக்கநன் மாமரு கா

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ramayana in Thiruppugzh (2)

Read here the first part of the trilogy on Ramayana as described in Thiruppugazh.....

The next episodes that find mention in 503 songs taught by Guruji A.S.Raghavan:

  1. Rama and Sita, along with Lakshmana, live at the Panchavati hermitage where Surpanakha comes across them and is infatuated with the handsome brothers. Angered by their spurning her love, Surpanakha attacks Sita, and Lakshmana, obeying Rama's orders, chops off Surpanakha's nose. Surpanakha stomps into Ravana's court, and incites Ravana to force Sita to marry him.

    மூக்கறை மட்டைம காபல காரணி
    சூர்ப்பந கைப்படு மூளியு தாசனி
    மூர்க்க குலத்திவி பீஷணர் சோதரி முழுமோடி
    மூத்தவ ரக்கனி ராவண னோடியல்
    பேற்றிவி டக்கம லாலய சீதையை
    மோட்டன் வளைத்தொரு தேர்மிசை யேகொடு முகிலேபோய்
    மாக்கன சித்திர கோபுர நீள்படை
    வீட்டிலி ருத்திய நாளவன் வேரற
    மார்க்கமு டித்தவி லாளிகள் நாயகன் மருகோனே

    Notice that the poet refers to Surpanakha as the sister of the virtuous Vibhishana rather than the depraved Ravana. This refers to the events in the past lives of Surpanakha and Vibhishana, who were Chandrachuda and Sumukhi in their previous births.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Ramayana in Thiruppugazh (1)

References to Ramayana have occurred in more than 150 Thiruppugazh songs, but in this post we will cover only a few out of the 503 songs that Guruji Shri A.S.Raghavan has taught us.

The objective of Rama's incarnation was to annihilate asuras and their king, the demon Ravana. Asuras complain to Vishnu about the atrocities committed by Ravana and seek His asylum. Vishnu then decides in what forms various devas should be born on earth and assist Him in this mission. Accordingly, Surya and Indra are born as Sugriva and Vali respectively; Brahma descends on earth as Jambhavan, the king of bears; Agni as Neela; Rudra as Hanuman; and other devas as vanaras in Kishkintha. This is described beautifully in karuvadainthu (கருவடைந்து)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Vamana Avathaaram in Thiruppugazh

Though his Ishta devata was Lord Murugan, Saint Arunagirinathar showed equal love for Vishnu and Shiva. In his poems he decribes the divine sports of Vishnu and then addresses Murugan as His beloved nephew, just as he sings the glories of Shiva and eulogises Murugan as His son. In this way, he brings about a rapproachment between Vaishnavites and Shaivites.

The Vamana Avatar is the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu as a human and the fifth of the Dasavatars. In the Vamana Avatar Lord Vishnu incarnates as Mahabali, the grandson of Prahlada, a great ruler who is loved by his people. Mahabali learns the Vedhas from his grandfather Prahlada and from the great Asura teacher Shukracharya.

Mahabali performs severe penance to please Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma grants him invincibility against Indra. Subsequently, Bali defeats Indra and takes over the heavens. However, Bali remains always righteous and is devoted to Lord Vishnu. Indra begs Lord Vishnu to help him.

Lord Vishnu incarnates as the son of Aditi and Kashyap, who performs his sacred thread ceremony and teaches him all the scriptures.

Meanwhile Mahabali has performed 99 Ashwamedha Yagna and has to perform just one more yagna after which he can be crowned as the King of the Gods.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Some of Saint Arunagirinathar's Prayers

In many of the poems, Saint Arunagiri deplores the life of humans who fritter away their youth in immoral pursuits under the sway of lust, despite knowing that the bodies, made of the five elements, are subject to degeneartion and disease. In the poem சேமக்கோமள, he wonders:
காம க்ரோத உலோப பூத விகாரத்தே அழிகின்ற மாயா காயத்தே பசு பாசத்தே சிலர் காமுற்று ஏயும் அது என் கொலோ தான்

Instead, he implores the lord to give him the mind that seeks His feet alone so that he could spend his time in the service of the Lord in the company of His true devotees.

  1. இரு நல்லவாகும் உனது அடிபேண இன வல்லமான மனது அருளாயோ (மருமல்லியார்)
  2. மாமணி நூபூர சீதள தாள் தனில் வாழ்வுற ஈவதும் ஒரு நாளே (ஏவினை நேர் விழி)
  3. யானுமுன் இணையடிகள் பாடி வாழ என் நெஞ்சில் செஞ்சொல் தருவாயே (அருணமணி)
  4. இன்பம் தந்து உம்பர் தொழும் பத கஞ்சம் தம் தஞ்சம் எனும்படி என்றென்றும் தொண்டு செ(ய்)யும்படி அருள்வாயே (துன்பம் கொண்டு)
  5. தணியாத சிந்தையும் அவிழ்ந்து அவிழ்ந்து உரை ஒழித்து என் செயல் அழிந்து அழிந்து அழிய மெய் சிந்தை வர என்று நின் தெரிசனை பட அருள்வாயே (அந்தகன் வரும்)
  6. எண்க டம்பணித் தோளு மம்பொன்முடி
    சுந்த ரந்திருப் பாத பங்கயமும்
    என்றன் முந்துறத் தோணி யுன்றனது சிந்தைதாராய் (வந்து வந்து வித்தூறி)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Quiz 2

In the first Thiruppugazh Kaitthala niraikani (கைத்தல நிறைகனி), Saint Arunagirinathar sings:

முத்தமி ழடைவினை முற்படு கிரிதனில்
முற்பட எழுதிய முதல்வோனே

It is believed that Agastya dictated the treatise on Tamil grammar to Vinayaka who transcribed them on the Meru mountain. muththamizhadaivu (முத்தமிழடைவு) could also mean Mahabharatha. In the Thiruppugazh orupadhumiru (ஒருபதுமிரு), Arunagirnathar addresses Murugan as the younger brother of Ganapathi who wrote the old language (or Mahabharatha?) (on the Meru mountain).

பருகிடு பெருவயி றுடையவர் பழமொழி
எழுதிய கணபதி மிளையோனே

In the preamble to Seval Viruththam (kappu), Arunagirinathar specifically mentions that Vinayaka writes the epic story of Mahabharatha on the Meru mountain with a piece of the tusk that He chops out forcibly out of himself.
வன்கோடொன்றை ஒடித்து பாரதம் மாமேருவில் எழுதி (சேவல் விருத்தம் - காப்பு)

Out of the 503 Thiruppugazh songs that Guruji taught us, there is one song in which Arunagirinathar specifically mentions that Vinayaka writes with the tusk on the mighty mountain what Sage Vyasa dictated faultlessly. Which song is it?

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


The Thiruppugazh journey that I undertook more than three years ago has just completed its first phase. When I started, I never had the confidence that I would take the task of translating all the 503 songs that Guruji Shri A.S.Raghavan taught us to its completion. I know I could have done a better job, but I was afraid that if I spent inordinate time in refining the work, I'd lose the momentum. As we now march ahead, I would regularly visit all my posts and improve them.

The plan I have for the second phase calls for a lot of reader participation. So please brace yourself for a more intense study of Thiruppugazh in the days ahead. To kickstart, I have a quiz for which there could be more than one answer for each of these questions. You can give your answer as a comment in Tamil or English.

  1. In which song does Saint Arungirinathar say that Murugan resides in the minds of those who constantly meditate on Ganesha? கணபதியை இடை விடாது சிந்திப்பவர் மனதில் முருகன் எப்போதும் வாழ்வார் என்று எந்த பாட்டில் அருணகிரியார் குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளார்?
  2. In which song is it stated that Ganesha sucked the water in the milky ocean? Why was this done? எந்த பாட்டில் விநாயகர் கடல் நீரை துதிக்கையால் உறிஞ்சினது குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ளது? இந்த நிகழ்ச்சியின் பின்னணி என்ன?'
Let your answers keep flowing!

503. முத்து நவரத்ன

ராகம் : வலசி தாளம்: 1½ + 1 + 1½ + 1
முத்துநவ ரத்நமணி பத்திநிறை சத்தியிட
மொய்த்தகிரி முத்திதருவெனவோதும்
முக்கணிறை வர்க்குமருள் வைத்தமுரு கக்கடவுள்
முப்பதுமு வர்க்கசுரரடிபேணி
பத்துமுடி தத்தும்வகை யுற்றகணி விட்டஅரி
பற்குனனை வெற்றிபெறரதமூரும்
பச்சைநிற முற்றபுய லச்சமற வைத்தபொருள்
பத்தர்மன துற்றசிவம்அருள்வாயே

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

502. முறுகு காள

ராகம்: கமாஸ் தாளம்: ஆதி திச்ர நடை
முறுகு காள விடம யின்ற இருகண் வேலி னுளம யங்கி
முளரி வேரி முகைய டர்ந்தமுலைமீதே
முழுகு காதல் தனைம றந்து பரம ஞான வொளிசி றந்து
முகமொ ராறு மிகவி ரும்பி அயராதே
அறுகு தாளி நறைய விழ்ந்த குவளை வாச மலர்க ரந்தை
அடைய வாரி மிசைபொ ழிந்துனடிபேணி
அவச மாகி யுருகு தொண்ட ருடன தாகி விளையு மன்பி
னடிமை யாகு முறைமை யொன்றைஅருள்வாயே