The deeply - stirred emotions of Saint Arunagirinatha before Lord Muruga, his saviour and beloved deity, took the form of sacred mellifluous Thiruppugazh.. This study analyses the unique features of these hymns and highlights its devotional fervour and poetic beauty. The study also focuses on the unbiased outlook of the saints-poet towards cults other than the one he apparently professed and his profound concern for the well-being of humanity at large. The book is designed to serve as a guide to the devotees of Lord Muruga and lovers of Thiruppugazh.
Shri S. R. S. Ayyar hails from Suchindrum (Kanyakumari District) in Tamil Nadu. He has had a long a distinguished banking career before retiring as Executive Director of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) in 1995. Next to finance, his interests are reading, writing, lecturing and music.
Lord Muruga is the favourite deity of the Tamils. He is known by many names. Muruga means beauty. He is supposed to be the embodiment of beauty. He is also supposed to be the Commander-in-Chief of the army of Devas. He had established six military camps (Aarupadai Veedu) covering the entire Tamilnadu for the purpose of fighting and eliminating the evil forces. There are millions of devotees of Lord Muruga and as to be expected there were many poetic compositions by his devotees. The most important of them is Arunagiri's Thiruppugazh. S. R. S. Ayyar has come forward with an analytical study of this beautiful musical composition under the title, "The Grandeur of Thiruppugazh". I hope this work will being to the notice of other linguistic groups; the beauty of Thiruppugazh and the manifold divine qualities of Lord Muruga.
Thiruppugazh, the collection of divine, mellifluous Tamil musical praises on Lord Muruga, the handsome and powerful Offspring of Lord Siva, by Saint Arunagirinatha occupies a conspicuous and distinct place among the several devotional out-pourings on the Lord. These hallowed hymns sprang forth from the saint's tongue as ordained by the Lord Himself. Truly Muruga chose the saint as ordained by the Lord Himself. Truly Muruga chose the saint as His messenger for the spread of peace, love and kindness among the masses, And the soul-stirring Thiruppugazh songs served exceedingly well in fulfilment of this noble task.
Over the years many illustrious scholars have laboured hard in propagating Thiruppugazh and other masterly poetical creations of Arunagirinatha, which for some reason or the other, had not come before the public eye for long. It is believed that several hymns could not be traced despite persistent efforts and these priceless gems seem to have been permanently lost. The notable personalities who have put in strenuous efforts to bring Thiruppugazh into limelight are the revered Vallimalai Satchidananda Swamigal, Thiruppugazh Swamy Iyer, Thirumuruga Kripananda Variar, 'Thiruppugazh Mani' T. M. Krishnaswamy Iyer, Vagheesa Kalanidhi Ki Vaa Jagannathan and Shri V. T. Subramania Pillai. 'Thanigaimani' Dr. V. C. Sengal-varaya Pillai, son of Shri Subramania Pillai did a yeoman service in this field and credit for creating twelve Holy Orders (Thirumurai) for Muruga, comprising Thiruppugazh and other devotional offerings, and writing well-researched commentaries thereto in Tamil, goes to Dr. Sengalvaraya Pillai. The elaborate and the commendable commentaries contained in four volumes brought out by The Sough India Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society, Tinnevelly Ltd. Served as a valuable reference material to the author who owes a grate deal of gratitude to the publishers of these volumes.
Thiruppugazh Anbargal is a large conglomeration of Thiruppugazh lovers spread over India and overseas. This organization was founded more than three decades ago by Guruji Shri A. S. Raghavan of Delhi. This organisation has been engaged in conduct of classes at set to melodious ragas by the Founder, group singing of hymns, training of teachers, release of Thiruppugazh- related publications and convening of seminars and symposia on Arunagirinatha's life and works. It is noteworthy that anbargal who have learnt Thiruppugazh train others in far away cities like New York, Washington, Connecticut, Chicago and New Jersey in USA, Toronto (Canada) Penang (Malaysia) and Jakarta (Indonesia) and also arrange periodical assemblies; their experience has been highly rewarding. The author takes pride in his being a small link in this mighty chain of Thiruppugazh lovers. The author acknowledges the guidance and advice he received from Guruji Shri Raghavan while undertaking this project.
Many publications and audio-cassettes were made use of while drafting the various chapters, which provided valuable inputs for this work. It is difficult to name all of them here. The author is indebted to these famed writers and noted speakers.
The book is structured in a fashion which reflects the unbiased outlook of Saint Arunagirinatha. While apparently Arunagirinatha professed Kaumara cult, owing complete allegiance to Lord Muruga and His worship, he was not averse to other cults and their followers; in fact he identified himself wholly as a staunch devotee of other deities like Ganapathi, Siva, Shakti and Vishnu as revealed by his respectful veneration towards them and appropriate epical anecdotes relating to them.
Chapter 1 seeks to provide a brief backdrop to the subject matter and gives some of the interesting facets connected with the 'advent' of Muruga into this planet. The succeeding two chapters contain biographical sketches of the life of Arunagirinatha based on traditional accounts and later studies carried out by learned scholars and researchers. Chapter 4 contains a detailed analysis of the structure and contents of Thiruppugazh songs viewed from different angles, which collectively bring out the supreme grandeur of these verses.
The saint's balanced approach towards Gaanaapathya, Saivism, Shaaktam, Vaishnavism, Sowra and finally Kaumara, as revealed in his supplications as also the exemplary manner in which he links other deities with his favourite Lord, Muruga is discussed in Chapters 5 to 10. The author's concluding observation are contained in Chapter 11. Translations of select Thiruppugazh songs and Glossary of Thiruppugazh songs referred to in this book are given in Appendix I and II respectively.
The author would like to strike a note of caution here. Appreciation of the beauty and substance of any poetry in its original form and that in a translated version would not yield satisfaction of the same degree. This is particularly so when verses like Thiruppugazh in chaste Tamil which are noted for their exceedingly rich poetical content, rhyme and phraseology and translated into English. While the author has strived to retain the flavour of the original verses while translating them into English, the readers are requested to keep this limitation in mind while going through the English translations of Thiruppugazh and other verses contained in the book.
The author expresses his deep sense of gratitude to Shri C. Subramaniam, former Governor of Maharashtra, who written Foreword to this book. The author is grateful to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan which agreed to publish his study on Thiruppugazh under its banner. He is particularly indebted to Shri. S. Ramakrishnan, Executive Secretary of the Bhavan who rendered assistance at every stage. The author's sincere thanks are due to Shri M. V. Arunachalam, Chairman of Bhavan's Madras Centre, who evinced keen interest in this literary venture and extended valuable support. Many well-wishers made useful comments and suggestions on reading the text and the author is thankful to all of them.
The author is conscious of the fact that the book is not an exhaustive treatise on Thiruppugazh which is and all-per-vasive. He would feel gratified if his modest endeavours to underscore the greatness of Thiruppugazh through this who aspire to experience the divine bliss arising out of the magnificent creations of the immortal bard, but who have had no occasion to know in somewhat greater details the origin of these songs, their, structure and the message they seek to convey.
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