My (SEnthan) devotion to Thiruppugazh started in 1999, when the Almighty Lord Murugan - the God of beauty, bliss and blessedness - inspired me when I visited Uthara Swamimalai Temple (Malai Mandir), in New Delhi, India, during a Thiruppugazh function held there. During this particular function, a book containing 430 poems of Thiruppugazh was launched. Subsequently Lord Muruga - the Philosopher, Guide and Guru - directed me to spread the Godly message by converting these poems into HTML (internet) language.
Our Lord Muruga who has been the inspiration and inspirer, paved the way for me to launch Kaumaram dot com - the website dedicated solely for His devotees - in January 2001. While starting this website, I typed the poems from Thiruppugazh Mathani which contained the total of 1327 poems. There was a growing interest in the website and in the worship of Lord Muruga. There were overwhelming requests for the meanings of Thiruppugazh. These requests were immediately answered when we (SEnthan and VaLLi) performed our annual yatra in 2002, after we humbly requested Lord Muruga to send someone who would be able to provide these meanings. A few days after completing our yatra, Lord Muruga granted our request through Sri Gopala Sundaram who willingly offered his service to provide the meanings to these poems in Tamil and English (including transliteration). This important event paved the way for us to enrich and quench the thirst of Lord Murugan's Bhaktas throughout the world. Kaumaram dot com today has more than 15,000 pages dedicated to the Divine Knowlegde of Lord Murugan.
We have a complete and affectionate website devoted to Lord Murugan, and we would like to state that this service is divine and we are certain that Muruga's Devotees would considerably benefit from this service.
Thiruppugazh (Tamil : thiruppugazh meaning "Glory of the Lord" or "Divine glory") is a 15th century anthology of Tamil religious songs dedicated to Murugan, the son of Siva, written by the poet-saint AruNagirinAthar. The anthology is considered one of the central works of mediaeval Tamil literature, both for its poetical and musical qualities, and for its religious, moral and philosophical content.
According to the legends, AruNagirinAthar led a promiscuous life seeking pleasure from prostitutes as a young man. His disgust at his own conduct led him to mentally review the wasted years of his life that pushed him to attempt suicide by jumping off the temple tower at Thiruvannamalai. Before he was able to jump, Lord Murugan manifested before him and held him back. Murugan embraced him. Then, with his vel, (the spear that He always carries) He wrote a mantra on AruNagirinAthar's tongue, gave him ajapa mala (string of beads for meditation) and commanded him to sing songs in praise of Him. AruNagirinAthar was initially hesitant, claiming that he had no knowledge of Tamil prosody, but when Murugan encouraged him by giving him the first line of a song, AruNagirinAthar found that he could effortlessly compose and sing the remainder. Murugan disappeared, leaving AruNagirinAthar a totally transformed man. His diseases vanished and he became an ecstatic bhakta (devotee) whose devotion gushed in a stream of new songs, all in praise of Murugan, his deliverer. Traditional accounts say that he composed more than 16,000 songs. Most of them have been lost, but more than 1,300 of the surviving ones have been collected together in a work called Thiruppugazh (The Glory of God), which has now become one of the classics of Tamil devotional literature.
Thirupparankundram, a hill five miles southwest of Madurai, is the first pilgrimage site of Murugan among the six famous shrines called Arupadai veedu. A cave temple dedicated to the element of earth and mentioned in various Tamil texts as the 'Southern Himalayas', Thirupparankunram is the place where Murugan was married to DEvayAnai upon the hill, and for many centuries the Tamil people have considered it the most auspicious place for their own marriages.
Long ago, when Lord Subrahmanya was staying at Kanda Verpu, the two daughters of Lord Vishnu, namely Amrita Valli and Sundara Valli, cherished the desire of becoming the consorts of Subrahmanya. With this aim in mind they both went to Saravana Poigai and commenced austere penance to fulfil their desires. Pleased with their prayer and worship, Lord Subrahmanya appeared before them and told Amrita Valli, "You will be brought up by Indra as his daughter and I shall marry you in due course." Her younger sister Sundara Valli was also graced with a similar blessing. She was born to sage Sivamuni and brought up by Nambi, the headman of the hunters of KuRavA lineage, and was named VaLLi.
Amrita Valli took the form of a female child born in Mount Meru, the abode of Indra, to be adopted by him. Indra became very happy and directed AirAvadham, his white elephant, to take care of the child. The elephant brought her up with love; hence she came to be known as DEvayAnai, one who was reared by the heavenly elephant of Indra (yanai in Tamil means elephant).
ThiruchchendhUr temple is the second among the Arupadai veedu. It was here that Lord Murugan arrived with his band of warriors to fight against the demon, Soorapadman. So, a temple was constructed in this shore-town for Lord Murugan.
Soorapadman was a very powerful demon and a menace to the celestials (DevAs) and the humans alike with his wicked deeds. The DEvAs appealed to Lord Siva to spare them from the tortures of Soorapadman. Lord Siva in response to their appeal told them that He would produce a Son from His Shakti to annihilate Soorapadman.
Lord Siva generated six powerful sparks from His third eye on the forehead called NetrikkaN. Vayu (God of air) and Agni (God of fire) carried these flames to the river Gangai (Ganges). Gangai carried them to Saravana Poygai, a holy pond in the Himalayas. The sparks became six divine male babies. By God's grace, six divine water nymphs (the six Krittikas) nurtured these babies. When Lord Siva and Parvathi DEvi came to earth to behold the babies, the Goddess embraced all the six infants together and made them into a single child (SkandhA) with six faces and twelve hands. Lord Siva for His part gave Murugan a vEl (spear) through the hands of Shakti, and the spear is known as ShaktivEI (the spear of power).
With the blessings of His divine parents, Lord Murugan came to ThiruchchendhUr with His armed group. He immediately sent Veerabahu as an emissary to Soorapadman and asked him to release all the DEvAs imprisoned by him. But the demon refused. Lord Murugan had no option but to wage war against Soorapadman and his legions. It lasted for ten days. This war (between the Good and the Evil) is described in hundreds of songs by AruNagirinAthar in Thiruppugazh using such meters, rhymes, beats, sounds, fury and glory that no other poet has ever attempted.
Lord Murugan defeated the demons and transformed Soorapadman into a peacock and a rooster. The peacock or Mayil (symbolising arrogance) became the vehicle of Lord Murugan. CEval or the rooster (symbolising egotism) adorned his staff. Since Lord Murugan and the DEvAs emerged victorious at ThiruchchendhUr, it is also called as Jayanti Nagar as Jaya means victory.
Of mysticism, Goethe said, "It is the scholastic of the heart, the dialectic of the feeling." In the mystic poet Arungirinathar's renderings we find this connotation in its full meaning. Mysticism, it is stated, is the result of vast experience obtained through pursuit for union with the absolute. The Tamil sages and saints, such as the Nayanmars and Azhvars, sang in their devotional mysticism, on Gods they chose to have direct communion with. And Arunagirinathar, had, according to his life sketch, had such communion with Lord Muruga and experienced His presence.
In these modern days of materialism and never-ending chase of wants, it is indeed a relief to turn to pages of our old religious literature to find solace and understand the meaning of life. The translator and compiler of this great effort, Sri Gopalasundaram, has done immense good to the society by providing, not only the text of the divine poems of Thiruppugazh, but also meanings for them in a series of volumes, of which this is the first. He has already done yeoman service by providing all verses with meaning both in English and Tamil, in a website, and now has chosen to bring them in book form. According to Sri Gopalasundaram, his translation work and Tamil meaning of the verses in the website kaumaram.com being maintained by the efforts of webmasters Shri SEnthan and Kumari VaLLi both of Malaysia, was possible only due to their unstinted support to him.
In classifying the songs into the sthalas of their origin, the compiler has further glorified the work. The pictures of the places add life to the text. In the present volume, two great sthalas have been taken, both having been sung even by the Sangam poet Nakkirar, in the first two cantos in Thirumurugatruppadai.
A prolific composer, Arunagirinathar, who lived in the 15th century, is believed to have composed over 16,000 songs; however about 1330 are available, thanks to the efforts of one V. T. Subramania Pillai, a District Munsiff. Pillai toured all over south and collected all the available verses of Thiruppugazh songs in manuscript form, from various sources, and published them in two volumes in 1894 and 1901 respectively. His son V, S. Chengalvaraya Pillai brought out the second edition later.
Set in complex rhymes and rhythmic structures, the songs form an extraordinary major work of the 15th century. Not only did the compositions have poetical qualities par excellence, but also were endowed with great musical qualities. According to the legends, Arunagirinathar seems to have led a hedonistic life pursuing worldly pleasures, ended up with an incurable disease and was disowned by his own family. In disgust, he tried to take away his life by jumping from the tower of Thiruvannamalai temple when he was miraculously saved, which act he attributed to Lord Muruga. Having been given a new direction in the purpose of life, Arunagirinathar set out on a holy mission, singing his way through the temples of south starting from Vayalur. It is believed, that the initial words of his most popular verse, Muththaitharu were indeed given to him by Lord Muruga himself!
From then it was a long pilgrimage that he undertook and went around all the sthalas of Lord Muruga and visited all the six padai veedus of Lord Muruga singing His glory.
The renderings were philosophical musings, praising the Lord.
Thiruppugazh was popularised by later-day great sages like Pamban Swamigal and Thirumuruga Krupananda Vaariar. Devotees like A. S. Raghavan of Delhi set selected verses to music which are now heard all over the world. Now, Sri Gopalasundaram, in his effort to bring the songs to the common man, has undertaken this huge and magnificent work of classifying them according to the temples and presents the volume, comprising103 verses. They are given in Tamil, Roman Tamil and line by line translation from Tamil to English. The translation is simple and care is taken to give general meaning rather than the literal one. Thus the spirit of the text is not lost.
As understood, translation of literary texts constitutes not primarily of language but in fact of culture, language in effect being only a vehicle of the culture. When the words are culture-specific it becomes more difficult to translate into a language which does not have equivalent words. The translator here has circumvented this tortuous process, by largely adhereing to what has been meant by the saint. Thus the translation of difficult passages especially those describing the acts of a man of lust have been done with extraordinary care, lest the intended meaning is lost.
Most appropiately, the first five verses are on Lord Ganesha, followed by the famous "muththaitharu" being the first Thiruppugazh for which, as said earlier, Lord Muruga himself gave the initial words. This is followed by 14 verses on Murugan of Thiruparankunram and 83 verses on the Lord of Thiruchendur. Thus we find 103 verses in this volume.
The translator must be congratulated as he has ensured that the meaning is understood both by the lay reader and a serious devotee. Wherever necessary, footnotes are given for terms, not easily understood.
As far as I know no one has tried to translate the whole work of Thiruppugazh, though many have done parts of it. Sri Gopalasundaram must be congratulated for this mammoth work. This task must have taken a long time and several consultations; I am sure the intended purpose will be served.
This Book contains 97 songs of Thiruppugazh on Pazhani, with their transliteration and translation into English. The Book has a foreword by Shri M. Srinivasan, my friend-philosopher-guide who has been associated with Bharathi Tamil Sangam of Kolkata for over 60 years and as its president for quite a few years. He was my mentor in that Sangam which is my al ma mater, my source of knowledge in Tamil literature. Shri Srinivasan was responsible for naming a major street in Kolkata as "Kavi Bharathi Sarani" in 1982 in the august presence of late Chief Minister Shri M.G. Ramachandran and Shri Jyothi Basu, and for the establishment of a Tamil Chair in Kolkata University. He was bestowed with the titles of Shraddha Rathnam and Karma Yogi Veerar by late Swami Sivanandha Saraswathi of Rishikesh. He compiled 6 volumes of the writings of Professor A. Srinivasa Raghvan in 2005 which were published by alliance publications. He was recently awarded a prize by Tamil Nadu Government for his travelogue, "Kalai Varalaatru Payanangal". I consider his foreword of appreciation of this book as a great privilege.
My special thanks are due to Shri Kannan and Smt. Nagam of Chuvadi for this excellent publication. I also thank Shri. S. Viswesvaran, for his excellent editing work, Smt. Padma Venkatraman and Miss. B. Chitra in bringing this book into the final form.
In the next 12 months I plan to release 12 more books to complete the series of translation of the great work Thiruppugazh with the blessings of Shri AruNagirinAdhar and Lord Murugan.
The Saints of India have always been singers of divine glory spreading the gospel of divine love, under whose banner there was only one religion - the religion of man. The saint-singers knew of no divisions of religion or caste, of low or high birth and the lettered and the unlettered. Such was the universality of their approach to life that they drew large crowds wherever they went and they could bring about peace and goodwill among people of different faiths.
The instrument with which they wrought this miracle was their song-offerings to God, which poured forth from their God-intoxicated souls. These saint-singers came from all walks of life. There were kings and chieftains like Kulasekara and Bhadragiri, rice merchants like Pattinathar, highborn Brahmins like Perialwar, Sambandar, Sundaramurthi and Manikkavachakar and low born Harijans like Nandanar. And they formed one huge human family down the ages singing their way into the hearts of man and making them more refined, humble, loving and devoted to God and the society.
One such Saint-singer was AruNagirinAthar. It is said that he lived in the latter part of the 15th century at Thiruvannamalai, during the reign of Prabudevaraya. AruNagirinAthar sang soul-stirring songs on Kumara.
The worship of Kumara or Kandan or Murugan, as He is commonly known in Tamil, is as old as the hills. In the five-fold classification of land, the ancient Tamils gave the first place to Kurinchi, the hills and the hilly-tracts, which was as it should be, for the hills were the first dwelling places of the human race. Then came Mullai, the forest land, Marutham, the plains, Neidel, the sea- coast and Palai, the desert land. And Murugan was the Lord of Kurinchi. From the sangam age, down to the age of Bharati, great poets have sung in exquisite lines on the beauty and bounty of Muruga and his exploits and his unfailing grace. In Thirumurugatru-p-padai, Nakkirar takes the devotee to the six principle shrines of Muruga and also the other innumerable places, where one can seek His vision. The authors of Paripadal, llango in his Silappadikaram, Kachiappa Sivachariyar in Kanda Puranam, Ramalinga swamigal and others have all sung of Murugan in glowing poetry. Kumara Guruparar, Pakazhikoothar and a few others have composed lullabies to the divine child Muruga in one of the most enjoyable forms of poetry called Pillai- T- Tamil.
Arunagiri belongs to this great team of singers and was probably the most inspired of them all. His heart was bursting with devotion to Muruga and he broke out into songs, reflecting the full anguish of his soul and his longing to reach the feet of the Lord. Such intense love and devotion, one can understand if one looks into his life and see how God saved and redeemed him from a sinner to a saint par excellence. From then on, Arunagiri became AruNagirinAthar and went around the country visiting all shrines of Muruga and sang his exquisite 'Thiruppugazh' even as the Alwars and Nayanmars did many centuries earlier. It is said that he visited 225 shrines in India and Srilanka.
Coming to his hymns, one is amazed at the voluminous output of even what has been left to us today. Out of 16,000 hymns that AruNagirinAthar was said to have composed, we have just 1300 only left to us. These hymns alone out of the whole range of Tamil poetry are known by the name of Thiruppugazh or the 'Divine Glory'. The greatness of these hymns lies not only in their great spiritual content but also and mainly so at the original Chandam (metre) with intricate time-beat and symphony, in which these songs are composed and in which metre music and poesy mingle in a symphony of praise to Muruga.
While it is true that even from Tholkappiam days, Tamil music was developed and Thevaaram songs are set to various ragas known as 'Pann'. AruNagirinAthar's Chandam Viruttam are of a yet different kind and are set to a marvelous variety of rhythmic patterns, which is a source of delight to both the masses and to the adepts in music, especially tala. Sound and its many variations form the basis of music and are also said to cause inner responses from the hearts of the listeners. And that is why extreme care is taken for proper chanting of the Vedic mantras, which chanted incorrectly, may generate wrong responses. The extreme sensitivity to sound, and a remarkable handling of the many variations of sound in musical metres, is the greatness of Arunagiri and his Thiruppugazh. After Arunagiri many attempted his style but with the exception of Bharati, hardly any has succeeded in this difficult task. It is estimated that there are more than a hundred chandams in this collection.
As for the contents of these ecstatic songs, suffice it to refer to Arunagiri's own invocatory song to Lord Ganesha in another of his works 'Kandar Anubhuti'. He therein invokes the grace of Lord Ganesha in his attempt to weave a garland of poetry recalling the boundless Grace of Shanmuga and also to melt even a heart, hard as stone. This, then, is the purport of not only Thiruppugazh but also of his other works - to melt the hearts of men, grown hard by negative qualities and the play of the senses among the external pleasures of the world and to surrender to the lotus feet of Lord Muruga. In these songs, he speaks of the valour and exploits of Muruga, of his own anguish of soul and the need to surrender to Lord.
Many are the pieces in the Thiruppugazh, which are auto- biographical and speak in detail of his worldly experiences and his late realisation of the transient nature of these pleasures and how God came into his life. He sings of the glories of various shrines, especially of Vayalur, where Muruga manifested before him offering His darshan, of the beauteous hill resorts of Tiruparankundram and Pazhani. AruNagirinAthar has immortalised the glory of Tiruchendur, as a favourite of Muruga and his devotees.
The songs of Thiruppugazh have been composed in a unique and pleasing mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit, but which very much differ from the mechanically mixed bi- lingual diction in Tamil and Malayalam called Manipravala, which was much in vogue in Arunagiri's time. And this dynamic and jubilant mixture with additional rhythmic patterns helps to convey the buoyancy of the worshippers of Muruga, who sing these songs even to this day in all homes and temples.
Gopalasundaram has undertaken the difficult task of translating the whole of this great work of Thiruppugazh into English for the benefit of the devotees of Muruga all over the world. He is eminently qualified to do so. He is a very dear friend of mine, of long standing of over fifty years. We have been co-workers at the Bharati Tamil Sang am of Kolkatta. Gopalasundaram is well versed in Tamil literature especially Bharathiyar, Kamban and the devotional poetry. And he is himself a Tamil poet and eloquent speaker. His years at the US have further intensified his longing to serve the cause of Tamil and what a wonderful way to do it!
I have read the first book already published covering Thirupparankundram and Thiruchendur. And I have gone through the second volume on Pazhani. The translation is as it should be in the case of devotional works. It conveys both the pathos and the joy of a reformed and liberated soul, seeking union with the Lord.
Gopalasundram has indeed served the cause of Tamil by this beautiful translation of Thiruppugazh and made it available to global lovers of Muruga. And when the remaining volumes get published, it would be a significant addition to the existing collection of English renderings of great Tamil works.
The late-lamented Sukhabrahmam Ramaswami Saastrigal delivered in 1960 a catena of lectures at Thanjavur on the Periya Puranam. I was blessed to listen to his discourse, accompanied as I was then, with Tiruvaacakamani K.M. Balasubramanian. The great Saastigal's lecture on the boy-saint Tirugnaana Sambandhar lasted for ten days. The boy-saint, it is well known, was the inspirer of St. Arunagirinaathar who, it is said, went into raptures at the mere mention of the sacred name of the boy-saint. St. Arunagiri has affirmed, more than once, that the boy-saint was an avatar of Sri Murugan. According to Saivism, the boy-saint represents an amsa (aspect) of Sri Murugan.
Sri Murugan's love for Tamil knows no bounds. Of Sri Murugan, St. Arunagiri affirmed thus: "Lo, the One who wooed Valli of flower-tangled tresses, causes even those that dispraise Him with the vocables of the threefold Tamil, to thrive in blessedness." This, indeed, is an unexampled affirmation of the Truth that testifies to the salvific nature of Tamil. St. Arunagiri's penchant to hymn the multifaceted glory of Tamil that is divinely dulcet, waxes for ever, with ever-crescent zeal.
The devotees of St. Arunagiri should be sharply alive to the fact that he was a poly-philo-progenetive pymate. Even a world-renowned polyglot will stand baffled when he discovers in St. Arunagiri's oeuvre, words of languages unknown to him.
St. Arunagiri's mastery of Sanskrit was as great as his mastery of Tamil. He delighted to demark his hymns with the words of Sanskrit and Tamil- one succeeding the other. Let me cite an example. Our saint opened a hymn thus: "sata kasata mUta matti bhava vinaiyile janitta .... " sata is Sanskrit, kasata is Tamil; mUta is Sanskrit, matti is Tamil; bhava is Sanskrit, vinai is Tamil and janitta is made up of Sanskrit and Tamil.
Our Saint is a Virat-Purusha and I cannot measure his stature with my small Sanskrit and jejune Tarnil. Our saint's hymns are a class apart. Every line of his hymns gives a hint in words that will haunt us for ever. His lilts are soul-uplifting. Each Tiruppugazh hymn enacts an enchanting dance of orchestrated vocables which are mellifluously rhapsodic. Our Saint's aim is to din into us the ubiquitous presence of evil in a variety of forms which could be conquered only through the grace of Grace. He alerts us and appeals to us to ever remain circumspect. The solution to the ills is devotion to Murugan. The infinitely merciful Kaartikeyaa is awaiting our call which should stem from sincerity- pure and unalloyed.
The name Murugan, be it remembered, is not a single nomen but a sahasranamam, "Murugu enum naamankale" are his words. A single utterance of Muruga's name creates panic among our sins.
Let us cultivate the hymns of our Saint and travel on life's common way in cheerful Godliness. His Thiruppugazh leads us to our deliverance. Fortunate, indeed, are the Tamils in whose language the hymnody of Thiruppugazh is embalmed and treasured up to a life beyond life. Becoming aware of the glory of Thiruppugazh many non- Tamils are desirous of getting themselves acquainted with the contents of our Saint's psalms and songs, at least through the medium of translation. This felt want now stands fulfilled by my esteemed friend MurugaSri Gopala Sundaram. He has Englished all the hymns of Thiruppugazh- a formidable task, actualised through his patience and perseverance married to devotion, is the first to annex this glory-denied to millions and millions of bhaktas (devotees).
The translation in your hands is at once faithful and readable. This is no mean achievement. He has not, no doubt, presented to us the ultimate translation. No, that is not his claim. He knows that every translation is but a tentative one. He has provided us with the text, its transliteration and translation. Each verse comprises many units or parts. He deals with them individually and renders their import in clear and apposite words. The result is very satisfactory.
A Swamimalai Triuppugazh opens thus: "AnAdha pirudhivip pAsa nigaLamum ... " His translation of this line runs thus: "The insatiable greed for land is binding me like chains round my wrists." This translation yields the unmistakable message. It is as simple as it is charming. His translation of the words "iru vinaiyin idar kaliyod Adi nondhu" flows thus: "I suffered and felt wretched agonising from the impact of my two deeds (good and bad)." This translation makes the meaning of the original manifest. As 'iruviuai' refers to two-fold deeds, he gives in brackets the words "good and bad". He correctly and precisely translates 'Silaimakall" as 'Parvati', 'Kalaimakall' as 'Saraswati', and 'Tirumakall' as 'Lakshmi'.
The translator merits no mean accolade. As he is himself a practitioner of Tamil verse and a devout alumnus of Tamil, he has come by the feel of Tamil which enables him to communicate with clarity and lucidity. I welcome his fruit-bearing endeavours and pray for his welfare.
Sri Kumara KOttam temple is located in KAnchipuram, one of India's seven "Moksha-puris" or sacred cities where salvation may be obtained. It is just half a kilometre to the northwest of the bus stand, on the west Raja Street at the north end of which is the Sankara Matam and at the south end is the Kachapeswarar Temple.
In this temple, the sacred Kandha Puranam in praise of Lord Muruga was composed by the saintly scholar Kachiappa Sivachariyar. According to the account of Kachiappar, each day he would write his inspired account of Lord Murugan or Skandha, and in the evening deposit his day's work in the mulasthanarn (Sanctum Sanctorum) of Lord Subrahmanya at Kumara KOttam. Each night, miraculously, the Lord Himself would modify Kacciappar's manuscript with His own corrections. Hence, the Kandha Puranam is considered to be the absolutely authentic account of Lord Murugan's career bearing the seal of approval of none other than the Lord Himself.
According to mythology, Lord Muruga punished Lord Brahma for His ignorance of the meaning of the Pranava mantra, by a hard knock on His vortex with His knuckles and then imprisoned Him. Later, He assumed the Creation duties of Lord Brahma. In this Kumara KOttam Temple, Lord Muruga installed Himself in the sanctum in the 'Creator' (Brahmasastha) form.
Saint Arunagirinathar, who authored the 'Thiruppugazh' in praise of Lord Muruga, has composed the Thiruppugazh song 'ArivilAppitthar' eulogising Lord Muruga presiding over this temple, particularly Kumarak KOttam.
This Book - V in your hands includes the following mountain- shrines comprising 138 songs of Thiruppugazh numbering from 446 through 583 (Thiruppugazh Madhani numbers) as follows:
A few of the major shrines in this book are discussed below.
This is an important temple dedicated to Lord Siva based on one of the elemental Lingas, the Vayu (Air) lingam. There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the lack of air moment inside. Kalahasthi is surrounded by three sacred hills, the northern hill having a Durga Temple, the southern hill dedicated to Kannappa Nayanar and third hill belonging to Lord Murugan.
The temple tower is 120 feet high. The entire temple was carved out of a single stone hill, built by the King Krishnadevaraya in the year 1516. Kalahasthi is a town in Chiittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, situated at 36 KM from Thirupathi. The main Lingam in Kalahasthi is in the shape of the trunk of an elephant with tusks on either side and the figure of the spider at the bottom.
SriKalahasti is surrounded by two hills: The Durga temple on the north hill and the shrine of Kannappar on the south hill, in memory of the Sage Kannappar, who offered an eye to the Lord. There is also a temple dedicated to Subramanya on one of the hills.
As the legend goes, the town got its name because of the temple named after Sri (spider) Kala (serpent) hasti (elephant) after the three ardent devotees of Lord Siva. These three animals attained divinity by worshipping Lord Siva. The spider was Vishwakarmas (architect of the deva ganas) son Oornanabha. He was trying to replicate Brahrna' s creation and thus annoyed Brahma who cursed him to become a spider. Siva himself cursed the snake. The elephant was God Pramadha cursed by Sivas consort, Parvati, when he intruded on their. privacy. The Siva lingam here is an amalgamation of the three animals all of whom offered their obeisance to Lord Siva and died in that process.
Chidhambaram is one of the most ancient and celebrated of shrines in India. It is of great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. Chidhambaram is associated with Nataraja, or Siva in hisAnanda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss) in the cosmic golden hall and the hall of consciousness (Chit Sabha). Siva is also worshipped in the "formless form" of the Chidambara Rahasyam, while the temple is known for its Akasa Lingam, an embodiment of Siva as the formless Space.
Muthuswamy Deekshitar, one of the foremost composers in the Carnatic Music tradition sings the glory of this temple in his kriti 'Ananda Natana Prakasam'. The Alwar Poems of the NAIAyira Divya Prabandam sing the glory of Vishnu, whose image is also housed in this temple, and his shrine is referred to as 'Tiruchitrakootam'. Adhi Sankara is said to have presented a Spatika(Crystal) Lingam which is still under worship in this temple. SEkkizhAr's Periya PurANam, describing poetically the life of the Saivite Saints (63 in number) was composed in the 1000 pillared hall, and was expounded by the author himself in the presence of the Chola emperor Kulottunga 11. Each of the four most revered Saivite Saints (Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and MANikkavAcakar) has worshipped at Chidhambaram, and the bulk of MANikkavAcakar's work is in praise of Siva at Chidhambaram.
Adhi Seshan, the serpent (couch) of Vishnu, heard from Vishnu the grandeur of Siva's cosmic dance. Filled with irrepressable desire to witness His dance in person at Chidhambaram, Seshan descended to the earth as Patanjali. VyAgrapAdar, another devotee of Siva, prayed to obtain the tiger's claws so that he could obtain with ease the sacred Vilva (bael) leaves meant for Siva's worship at Chidhambaram. At the appointed hour, Siva (with Sivakami) granted to Patanjali and VyAgrapAdar, a visual treat in the form of his Cosmic Dance of Bliss, to the accompaniments of music played by several divine personalities in the Hindu pantheon. This Dance of Bliss is said to have been witnessed by Vishnu, and there is a GovindarAja shrine in the NatarAjar temple commemorating this.
Yet another legend, commemorating the dance duel between the doyens of dance Siva and KALi is associated with Chidhambaram. Siva is said to have lifted his left foot towards the sky in the Urdhuva ThANdava posture, a definite male gesture, which out of adherence to protocol, KALi could not reciprocate, thereby causing Siva to emerge victorious, relegating KALi to the status of a primary deity in another temple in the outskirts of Chidhambaram. This legend is portrayed in the Nritta Sabha, one of the halls within the Chidhambaram temple.
NatarAjar: The dance of bliss, or the Ananda Tandavam of Siva is said to symbolize the five divine acts (pancha krityas) of creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowing of grace. The dance of Siva has been frozen in metal and held in worships in Nataraja Sabhas, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu. Five of the foremost Sabhas (pancha Sabhai) are at Chidhambaram (Kanaka Sabhai the hall of gold), Madhurai (Rajata Sabhai the hall of Silver), TiruvAlangadu near Chennai (Rathnasabhai the hall of rubies), TirunelvEli (Tamrasabhai the hall of copper) and KutRalam near Tirunelveli (Chitrasabhai the hall of pictures).
The Deva Sabha or the house of Gods is also in the second prakaram, housing festival images of the Pancha Murtis (Somaskandar, Parvati, Vinayaka, Subramanya and Chandikeswara) and other deities. The 100 pillared hall, also in the outermost prakaram, is also of artistic value, as is the shrine of Subramanya, which dates back to the PAndiya period. The Subramanya shrine is in the form of a chariot, and is referred to as the 'PAndiya NAyakam'.
The ancient Subramaniyar temple at VaLLimalai is associated with colorful legends and it has been revered by the Thiruppugazh hymns. VaLLimalai is located near Vellore, 16 km north of the Siva-shrine Tiruvallam, on the Chennai Bangalore highway.
Vishnu's daughters were Valli and Devayanai (Sundaravalli and Anandavalli in their previous births). They wanted to have a husband who will never get angry. They performed penance and Lord Muruga appeared before them. Both of them wanted to get married to them. He said that DEvayAnai would be reared as the daughter of Indra and Valli would grow as the damsel of the hunters and He would marry them both in their next birth. After destroying the demon SUran, Lord Murugan restored the celestial land to Indra. As a gift, Indra gave his daughter DEvayAnai to Lord Murugan in wedlock.
In a village beneath the hill (later to be known as VaLLimalai) lived a hunter called Nambi; all his children being boys, he longed for a little girl. On the mountain slope, an ascetic by name of Sivamuni (an aspect of VishNu) was performing penance. One day a gazelle (an aspect of Lakshmi) went by, and the ascetic was aroused by its lovely shape; his lascivious thoughts made the gazelle pregnant. In due time, the gazelle gave birth to a girl in a pit dug out by the women of the hunter- tribe when they searched for the tubers of edible yam (VaLLi kodi - yam creeper in Tamil). The child' was discovered by the hunter-chief Nambi and his wife. Overwhelmed with joy, they took the little girl la their hut and named her VaLLi.
When VaLLi reached the age of twelve, she was sent to the millet field - as per the custom of the hillmen - to guard the crop against parrots and other birds, sitting in an elevated platform called ithaN (paraN), and chasing the birds away. The sage NArada, who visited VaLLimalai and saw the girl, went to ThaNikai to inform Murugan about VaLLi's exceptional beauty and her devotion to Lord Murugan. Thereupon Murugan assumed the form of a hunter and, as soon as He arrived at VaLLi's field, He addressed the lovely girl enquiring after her home and family. However, at that moment, Nambi and his hunters brought some food for VaLLi (honey, millet flour, VaLLi roots, mangoes and milk) and Murugan assumed the disguise of a tree (vEnkai - neem). When the hunters left, Murugan reappeared in human form, approached VaLLi and proposed to her. VaLLi was shocked, lowered her head, and said she would only wed the Lord Murugan. At that moment they heard the sound of approaching drumming and music. VaLLi warned Murugan that the hunters were wild and angry men, and the Lord transformed into the disguise of an old Saiva devotee. Nambi and his hunters took his blessings and returned home. The old man asked VaLLi for food, and she gave him some millet flour mixed with honey. Then she took him to a small forest pond, where she quenched his thirst from the palms of her hands. Then he told her, "Now that you have satisfied my hunger and my thirst, do satisfy my love for you." VaLLi reproached him, and wanted to return to her field.
This Book-6 in your hands covers 130 songs constituting KunRuthORAdal- Part-3 on the following shrines. These are Songs numbering from 584 to 713 of Thiruppugazh MadhANi:
A few of the shrines covered in this book are discussed below:
Skanda occupies a position of importance in this ancient Siva temple built on a hill, accessed by a motorable road as well as through a flight of steps. This is one of the several hill- temples in the vicinity of Salem.
Tiruchengode is an ancient shrine, referred to by ILango Adigal in his epic work Silappadikaram of the Sang am period (early 1 st millennium CE) as one of the abodes of Skanda. Tiruchengode has also been revered by the ThEvaram hymns of Thirugnana Sambandar and is referred to as KodimAda ChenkunRanAr. The presiding deity here is Ardhanareeswarar - an image of the man-woman manifestation of Siva and PArvati enshrined in the sanctum. The shrine to ChengOttu VElavar - Murugan- is of great importance. The image is said to be a self- manifested (Swayambu) one. SaintAruNagirinAthar has mentioned in his Kandhar AlankAram about ChenkOdan (Murugan) as follows: "To fully see His beauty, I wish BrahmA, the Creator, had blessed me with 4,000 eyes!"
The Holy Red Peak (Thiruchengode) is a mountain 1923 feet high. The legends have spawned a multitude of names for the hill such as Aravagiri, Brahmagiri, Bogimalai, Chakkiri Meru, DhEnugri and NAgagiri. According to the legend, the hill fell off from the Sanjeevi Mountain when it was' carried aloft by AnjanEya, the Monkey-God. Another legend claims that the hill was the result of a combat of strength between vayu, the wind-god and AdhisEshan, the thousand-head serpent king. AdhisEshan coiled himself around the Himalayas and Vayu tried to dislodge him by huffing and puffing. So fierce was the resultant storm that Gods and saints implored the serpent-king to yield. AdhisEshan slightly raised one of his hoods in order to listen better, when Vayu increased the force of wind and tore off the raised hood along with five peaks. The peaks, stained with the snake's blood, flew through the air and landed at where they are now. One of the five peaks is this NAgagiri (Snake-Mountian) the other four being Kanjamalai, Sankagiri, Pushpagiri (otherwise known as MOrur Malai) and Urasa Kuntha Kottai hill. After the combat was over, KAmadhEnu, the divine cow, obtained from Lord Siva the grant of the five peaks and consecrated them with her milk. They are collectively known as Kodumudi Hills.
ThiruppOrUr (Shrine of the Sacred War) is one of the 33 major temples of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Lord Muruga, situated 25-km away from Chingleput and 45-km from Chennai. ThiruppOrur is an ancient temple dating back to the Pallava period. ThiruppOrUr is known by different names like Poriyur or Yuddhapuri or Samarapuri. It is believed that after vanquishing Soorapadman at ThiruchendhUr, Skanda destroyed the rest
Inscriptions dating back to the early 10th century as well as from the period of Vikrama Chola of the 12th century can bee seen in the temple. ThiruppOrUr flourished but faded into oblivion for some time. But ThiruppOrUr was rediscovered and renovated by Chidambara Swamigal in the middle of the seventeenth century. Previously this place was a forest, covered totally by Palmyra trees. The image of the Lord Muruga is believed to be a "Swayambhu Murti", which lay covered up by an anthill. Chidambara Swamigal is said to have discovered the image of 'Skanda' in the anthill, and then rebuilt the temple and reinstalled the image.
There are many legends related to ThiruppOrUr. According to one, Lord Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi were subjected to the curse of Kanva rishi. In order to liberate them from its effects Lord Siva came to this place and relieved them from its effects. Hence ThiruppOrUr temple has a lot of significance where Lord Siva and his son Muruga are worshipped. The Sthalapurana also discloses that Lord Muruga with his consorts VaLLi and DEvayAnai granted protection to devas and expounded the meaning of Pranava to Sage Agasthyar at this place.
Legend also has it that Skanda worshipped Siva as "Vanmeekeswara" to rid himself of the sin of having killed Soorapadman. This temple enshrines Skanda in several forms relating to legends from the Skanda PurANam. The foremost of these is the depiction of Skanda as a warrior, "SamhAra Subrarnanya". He is also enshrined in the form of a child, expounding the meaning of the oneness of creation Om to his father Lord Siva.
AruNagirinAthar's Thiru-p-pugazh' is a treasure by itself. Recapitulating Thiru-p-pugazh into an alien language is no simple task; and Thiru Gopalasundaram has succeeded with remarkable ease in performing this arduous activity.
It is customarily said that 'words' lined themselves up in front of AruNagirinAthar and requested for his grace to be put into use. Reading through the present work, one cannot but wonder if the same had happened again to Thiru Gopalasundaram. His choice of words is so appropriate that the reader tends to forget the difference in language and syntax. To quote a few examples:
upayAmbuya-p-puNaiyai ini patRum karuththai yenRu tharuvAye:
Your two hallowed lotus feet, as the safe haven, when will you give me that resolute determination to hold on to them?
seetha mathiyam eRikkum thazalAIE : the fire emitted by the rays of the cool moon
seeRi mathanan vaLaikkum silaiyAIE : the bow bent by the fierce God of Love
Here, the God of Love is fiercely bending the bow. However, to the victim, the God himself appears fierce, since the arrow would attack her so.
vElum mayil vAkana prakAsam athilE thariththu : at that stage, the bright vision of the spear and your vehicle, peacock, will be seen.
Veedum athuvE siRakka arul thArAy : kindly bless me to realise that vision and grand liberation.
The transcreator (Thiru Gopalasundaram) has not merely translated the songs but has created a situation of Thiru- p-pugazh ambience even to the strange reader (and thus deserves well to be called so) has also added notes of expla- nation that would go well with the sentiments of the original. Even a long-time Thiru-p-pugazh singer may not be aware that the lady referred to in song 739 (seetha mathiyam - Thiru vAmUr) is ThilagavathiyAr or the variety of birds referred to in song 803 are eight in number. Clear explanations are a hallmark of this great work.
I take this opportunity to offer my praNAms to Thiru Gopalasundaram and pray to Lord MurugA for many more of such works.
I am sure that this book (the entire series for that matter) would also satisfy a long-felt need in the areas of Thiru-p- pugazh. Many admirers of Thiru-p-pugazh have found it difficult to split the words and phrases and this present work will help them do so.
I wish Thiru Gopalasundaram a long and fruitful life and also request that spiritual seekers be showered with such glory in future too.
When Mr. Gopalasundaram asked me if I could write a Foreword to his book No.8 of Glory of Lord Muruga, I was overwhelmed by his confidence in my calibre and competence. As one who had the honour of editing this voluminous work, I must confess that I set about my task convinced that "I was actually gilding the lily". For, Mr. Gopalasundaram had done an excellent job and any touching - up was surely bound to be redundant. Anyway, his magnanimity in praising whatever talent he found in me, gave me the impetus to add my humble inputs. He has made me the recipient of Lord Muruga's Grace by entrusting me with this job.
Readers would find this work dripping with divine fervour. It is as though Saint Arunagirinathar himself had entered the soul of the author to help him in this noble task of carrying forward his message across and throughout the World, through English.
A few illustrations are called for here. Let us look at the trans-created version of the beginning of Song 863- indhu kadhir (KumbakONam) - "Hitting the light emanating from the galaxy of the Moon, impinging on the central pillar-like beam of reddish effulgence over there, imbibing the nectar-like sweetness in that luscious milky way and attaining the moonlit place where our Father Lord NatarAjan, with eight attributes, dances standing upon the divine stage, I want to experience, with pleasure, the fragrance of the flower having petals of Wisdom and aroma of the illustrious letter OM (PraNava) and later immerse myself in the sea of eternal bliss."
Who else but Saint AruNagirinAthar (through the impeccable language used by Mr. Gopalasundaram) can express the experience of "realisation"?
In another example, Song 873- ThirunAgEswaram - AchAraveena- the Saint uses "dhuttargaL" (evil people) 11 times in different contexts. Mr. Gopalasundaram uses the following equivalent phrases for the single word to describe the individuals: despicable people, base people, depraved ones, cruel people, wicked ones, immoral people, thieves, blabbermouths, arrogant rogues, sinful people and stingy ones, appropriate to each context. This song provides the Thesaurus in English for the word "dhuttargaL" in Tamil.
The transient nature of life in this birth is excellently portrayed by the Saint in Song 904- VayalUr-ennAl piRakkavum. This has been recreated in English by Mr. Gopalasundaram as follows:
"At my will, I can take birth and die in this world. At my will, I can worship. I can beckon anyone with my eyes at my will. Of my own accord, I can walk and stay in any place. Women and homes can be enjoyed by me at my pleasure. I can become weak and thin due to my desires and prejudices. I can be easily satiated and fed up. I can burn all the diseases arising from my Karma. All the thoughts I want, I can freely think myself. I can bear pleasures and pains as they come. Who am I to do all these things on this earth? (implying, I am a NOBODY)".
Personally, I found some nagging doubts about life vanishing as I was engaged in this task, much in the manner of the proverbial squirrel which did what it could to help Lord Rama.
Talking of doubts getting cleared, I can share one instance with readers here. As a senior citizen, I used to discuss with my friends the current trend wherein the writ of youngsters runs in families. 'Is it a healthy trend?' - we used to wonder. But, the recurring theme in these songs namely, 'Thagappan swami', has served to emphasise that there is no harm in submitting to the dictates of youngsters, provided they have altruistic intentions.
I am proud to have been associated in this task and I am grateful to Mr. Gopalasundaram for inducting me into the galaxy of some illustrious Foreword-writers for his other volumes.
This Book 9 in your hands contains 126 songs (from Song 946 to Song 1071 of Thiruppugazh MadhANi) covering the following important shrines:
Although two-thirds of the songs covered in this book are common without any specific shrine being mentioned, we decided to highlight Madhurai Temple (where there is a famous shrine for DhandapANI) on our cover and RAmEswarm and ThirukkutRAlam on the back cover of this book.
Adi Sankara BhagavadpAda established a protocol for the worship of Hindu deities by choosing just six deities as most important, thus acquiring a name for himself as as shaNmata-sthApaka:, "the organizer of six-fold worship"! He had included KaumAram, worship of Lord SubrahmaNya, as one of the six important worship protocols. Every vedic sacrificial ritual called yAga always concludes with SubrahmaNya AhvAnam, the invoking of Lord SubrahmaNya, as the crescendo of the completion of that ritual. This Vedic God, Lord SubrahmaNya, has been the darling of Tamil speaking devotees. Tamil devotees the world over fondly worship Lord SubrahmaNya as Lord Muruga.
The story of SubrahmaNya or Skanda is narrated in the Skanda PurANam, written by sage VyAsa in the Sanskrit language and is one of the 18 great purANams. To enable Tamil speaking people to read this immortal Sanskrit classic, a great vedic scholar and qrofUJq; (paurANika) by name Sengalipuram Sri Anantharama Dikshitar, published the Skanda purANam by writing the original Sanskrit text in DevanAgarI, along with a transliteration of every verse in Tamil script, and also translating the meaning of each verse into simple Tamil, some fifty years ago. That would have been a tremendously arduous task in those days when word processing personal computers were non-existent.
In his beautiful foreword to that publication, the great Tamil scholar Sri K.V. Jagannathan praised the efforts of Sengalipram Dikshitar thus: "it would certainly be better if one converted cane juice to sugar powder instead of making jaggery out of the same juice; it would be even better if the ca ne juice was converted to sugar-crystals (kalkaNDu) rather than just sugar powder/ Sri Anantharama Dikshitar's efforts to create the Skanda Puranam by writing the verses in DevanAgarI script, transliterating each verse into Tamil script, and trans- lating every verse into easily understandable Tamil is comparable to making sugar crystals (kalkaNDu) from cane juice!"
Thiruppugazh (The Glories of Lord Muruga), a compilation of inspired verses on Lord Muruga that extol His Glories, was the creation of a blessed poet called Sri Arunagirinathar. Thiruppugazh has been highly popular with Tamil devotees for a long time. These verses are sung by devotees more often than recitations of Skanda PurANam mentioned above. However, globalization and the attendant migration of Tamil people from Tamil speaking environs to English speaking parts of the world had needed someone to transliterate beautiful Thiruppugazh into English. Such an effort requires someone with great facility in both languages, Tamil and English. Thiru N. Gopala Sundaram is one such person. He is equally at ease in both Tamil and English. He has done an outstanding job of transliterating and translating every verse of Thiruppugazh in an easily understandable manner so that all devotees of Lord Muruga the world over, who know English or Tamil, may enjoy reading it for years to come.
Borrowing from what Sri K.V.Jagannathan had said half a century ago of Sengalipuram Sri Anantharama Dikshitar, I like to embellish those words further as follows.
Thiru Gopala Sundaram has converted sugar cane juice into not jaggery, nor into sugar powder, not even into sugar- crystals (kalkaNDu), but into multiflavored sugar candies (miTTAyi) that everyone would crave for and relish!
What is even more praiseworthy is this. At a time of his life, when Thiru Gopala Sundaram can certainly relax into a well-earned leisurely retired life, he took upon himself to toil hard, day and night, even when challenged by frail physical health that came with age. How can we adequately express our gratitude to him for his giving us this treasure called Thiruppugazh, in a format that will be widely read by both Tamil and English speaking devotees of Lord Murugan!
I was so touched by his love towards me in asking me to write a foreword. The only credential I may have to write a foreword to this beautiful rendition of Thiruppugazh is that I was fortunate to be associated with Thiru Gopala Sundaram twenty years ago, when he asked me to join him in his scholarly discourses in Tamil on Kamba RAmAyaNam and NAlAyira Divya Prabandham, when we both resided in New Jersey, USA. He and his wife Thirumathi Rukmani are both staunch Muruga devotees. Her consistent support to her husband during his labor of love is evident to me from the quality of his work.
I offer these words as my humble, respectful and affectionate tribute of great admiration to Thiru Gopala Sundaram and pray to Lord Muruga to shower on both him and his wife, long life and excellent health so they may continue such work for many more years. Let me offer my prayers to Lord Muruga from a powerful verse (1037) that appears in this book it self! Transliteration and translation that follow are by Thiru Gopala Sundaram.
people who have embraced the "Sanathana Dharmam or Hinduism" as their religion strongly believe that the only way to get UNION with God Almighty, otherwise called Moksha, is through "Saranagathi or Total Surrender" to the "Supreme Brahman". Many Saints, Enlightened Souls and Poets of Divinity have attained this supreme status as mortals including Poet - Saint Arunagirinathar. His hymns on Lord Muruga include the famous Thiruppughazh which simply means, "GLORY to GOD" or Divine Glory. It is the 15th century anthology of Tamil Religious Songs dedicated to Murugan.
We know that the Tamil Sages and Saints such as the Nayanmars and Azhvars sang their devotional songs on Gods with whom they had direct communication. The Poet- Saint Arunagirinathar who had Lord Muruga's Grace, composed the exquisite garland of hymns on Muruga that have come to be known as the famous, " Thiruppughazh “.
When we read it, we are drawn into the enriching experience of being closer to Lord Muruga. Thiruppughazh as a sacred text is an ocean of infinite riches whose extent or depth remains beyond any measurable standards. One can see that the themes dealt with are encyclopaedic in nature as they are drawn from different purAnAs (mythologies) and other literary works. What one gains from Thiruppughazh depends on what one is looking for and the amount of effort he/she extends. Further one notices that the poetic aspects of the hymns are remarkable and are unique as the sound, grammar, prosody, diction, rhyme and rhythm have all been blended perfectly in these hymns by Arunagirinathar.
Take a look at the famous Thiruppughazh, "NAdha Bindhu KalAdhi NamO NamO", perhaps the first one that is taught to most of us as prayer song in our elementary schools. In it there is a stanza that begins as "Yeedhalum pala kOlala poojaiyum; Odhalum guNaAachara Needhiyum yeeramum guru seer pAdha sevaiyum Maravaadhe ". This succinctly tells us all the specific 'Do's' we should follow throughout life to be Happy. It says, "Don't forget to do charities, do celebrate worshipping God in a grand way daily, recite the vEdhAs, practice developing good character and follow the path of justice, develop empathy and compassion towards others and don't forget to be of service to your teacher who showed you Light by taking you away from the darkness of ignorance". The same points are highlighted as the parting advice of a teacher to a student in the Thaithreya Upanishad. This is an example of the greatness of the Thiruppughazh.
Thiruppughazh extols Lord Muruga. In it, the Saint states that even the Celestial Beings have not gauged "HIS" infinite glory or greatness. They wait in anticipation of an audience with "HIM". Yet the same Lord Muruga makes "HIMSELF" accessible easily to the Jeevathmas (People like You and Me) whose heart is full of devotion and bhakti. As an example, "The Lord going in search of Valli" is symbolic of the Paramatma's Grace being extended to the Jeevathma who longs for UNION with HIM.
Even though the hymns included in Thiruppughazh reflect Saint Arunagirinathar's personal rapport with Lord Muruga, yet they carry a universal appeal of the individual Soul yearning for the Union with the Absolute reality. Reciting/ reading the Thiruppughazh daily has the effect of doing the 'Mantra Japam' everyday. The difference is that sometimes we do the mantrajapam without understanding its meaning but with Thiruppughazh the meaning is easily understood. This every day experience allows us to deal with routine problems and besides, it definitely instills in us the confidence and courage to deal with and tide over the many unexpected problems of Life, thus, reassuring us all:
Saint Arunagirinathar's Thiruppughazh has 1327 hymns. He really composed nearly 16000 but only 1327 are available now. My friend Mr. N. Gopalasundaram from whom I learned a lot about tamil literature, together with his wife Rukmani's support, has translated the entire Thiruppughazh into English. He has done a phenomenal job of providing not only the text of the divine poems but also their meanings in both Tamil and English. He has published them as series of text books of which this is the final volume. This book contains the details for hymns from 1197 to 1327. Shri Gopalasundaram is an ardent devotee of Lord Muruga and has been since the age of 13. He was introduced to the Thiruppughazh at this young age by the great pithukuli Murugadas. Despite being extremely busy professionally as a senior executive in the banking industry in the US that took him to most financial centers around the globe during his working years, he always found time to read and lecture on Karnbharamayanarn, Bharathiar's works, Thiruvaachagham, Thiruppughazh etc. He continues to do the same more vigorously since retiring in June of 2002. From an early age he was drawn to lectures by eminent scholars such as Pulavar Keeran, Swami Kripananda VariAr and others. He was for sometime a student under VariAr Swamigal. The publication of this final volume of' Thruppughazh translated into English is proof of his untiring love for work, for service to humanity at large and above all, the love of Tamil literature.
The present volume has hymns in which the Poet-Saint very remorsefully regrets his actions while leading a hedonistic life pursuing worldly pleasures especially his indulgence in sexual alliances with the prostitutes. At the end of each hymn, he totally surrenders to Lord Muruga stating that He is the only one who can rid him of his sins and provide Salvation or Moksham, or Nargathi. One is able to see his literary and journalistic abilities in his writings in some of the hymns. In the last few hymns, he completely surrenders to Lord Muruga by constantly asking for "His Forgiveness" of his sins committed before Lord Muruga saved him from death by falling from the top of the KiLi Gopuram of ThiruvannAmalai.
In the verse 1200, Arunagirinathar says, "I have become the laughing stock of this entireworld that has branded me as a mad man; my self respect has sunk very low; my sense of justice and intelligence are totally demolished; I have become a dog like slob; How could 1 have turned into a bonded slave to those whores". Clearly, one can see the sense of remorse the poet saint has for his sins.
He is making a reference to Gajendra crying for help with Narayana in comparing his own situation as he is crying for help with Muruga. The following prayer by him gives us the intensity of his devotion to Lord Muruga while asking for His Grace.
"Oh, Lord Muruga , Will I not be able to right away hold on to your unblemished and hallowed feet so that my heart overflows with bliss and love". He concludes his prayer in the hymn by saying, "Muruga, you graciously bless your devotees in the righteous path and offer them refuge whenever they are in peril. So, please help me, ' Oh, The Great One' in overcoming my three major faults, viz., Arrogance, Karma, and Delusion. Again, the poet is asking for Lord Muruga's Grace to bless him withpure knowledge', and 'liberation'.
He further self-deprecates by saying that he lacks discipline, that he is stupid, he commits crimes due to foul temper, he is very vicious, and has a dirty mind. Also, he is thinking about only three things, namely, acquisition of property, woman and gold at all times. He is appealing to Lord Muruga saying that the Lord should provide him the steadfast love like the parents do for their children despite their bad behaviour. In another verse, he addresses Lord Muruga this way: "1 have tremendous love and devotion for you; I shall pick the lotus flower of my heart, tie that flower with the thread of love. I shall make a beautiful garland with my tongue sprinkling it with the fragrance of unique knowledge. Thus this garland will be sparkling surrounded by the bees called' spotless intellect'. The name of that garland is "Mathruka Pushpa Mala". The Saint concludes the verse by asking, "Oh, Lord Muruga, When will I have the honour of offering that garland to your coral-like red feet"
As I read the final verses of Thiruppughazh, I was reminded of a slokam by Aadhi Shankara in "Sivanandalahiri" where Shankara told Lord Shiva, "You have everything like the golden Merumalai, all the aishwaryams etc. So what can I give you except my mind/ heart with pure devotion and bhakti. Please take it and give me Moksha".
Similarly that is what Poet-Saint Arunagirinathar is also saying in his concluding verses of the Thiruppughazh and Lord Muruga with his Grandeur, Majesty and compassion does bless the Saint and gives him Moksham. Like the poet-saint Arunagirinathar and other enlightened souls mentioned earlier, let us all reach the lotus feet of the Lord at the right time by doing the Saranagathi as per Lord Krishna's advice to Arjuna :
"Sarva Dharman Parithyajya Maam Ekam Charanam Vraja Aaham Thwaa Sarva Papebyo Mokshayishyami, Maa Suchaha"
"Leave every thing and surrender to me COMPLETELY, I will absolve you of all your sins and give you Moksham, I assure you", Lord Krishna Promises in the Geetha. Thus, we can all be Happy here by following the prescribed ways of life as per our scriptures- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksham .. I conclude by praying to - Lord Muruga that He bestows His Grace on every one of His Devotees.
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