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The Tiruvaçagam; or, Sacred utterances' of the Tamil poet, saint, and sage Manikka-Vaçagar; online

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Online Library9th cent ManikkavacakarThe Tiruvaçagam; or, Sacred utterances' of the Tamil poet, saint, and sage Manikka-Vaçagar; → online text (page 1 of 41)
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Mil: TAMIL Ti:XT UV I 1 1 K I-lI'lA'-OXI' rOFMS







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KI'lV. G. U. I'urii. M.A.. I). I).








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A. n. 1900






PKKKAII ........


LiFi: A.ND Legends ok M.\.nikka-\'a\ acau


I. ^ivan's Operations; Sacred Sports; The ' Lowly Devotee;'
Bhairava ........

II. I'lif Five Syllables: Q'i-va-ya-na-ma ; The C^^aiv-i Ro.s.iiv
riru-aruj-payan, Chapter IX.
111. The Soul's Emancipation : Miitti ; Muksha
1\'. The Guru ........

Tiru arul-payan, Chapter W
W Cessation of Energy : Qatti-nibathani

\T. r.race

Tiru-arulpayaii, Chapters 1\', \'l, \1I, \111, X.
\'II. C'ithambaran : its Legends, Tiger-foot and Serpent
devotee ........

\11I. Bhakti

IX. ManikkaA'afagar and the Buddhists in ^ithambarani
X. (^ivan Enthroned on the Silver Mountain
XI. The (^aiva Siddhanta System of Philosophy and Religioi
in South India .......

Xll. llu Three (^aiva Categories ....

Tiru-arul-payan, Chapters I, II.

XIII. The Bride; Qatii

XIV. Evolution, Preser\'ation, and Involution
XV. Anavam : the Bond of Finite Ignorance.

Tiru-arul-payan, Chapter III.

Metrical Svste.ms

References and Bihli»)grapiiicai. Nori s

Transliteration ofTamii WoRDb, and their Pronunciation

Additions and Corrections ....




.\ .\ .\ i .X















Hymns in Tamil and English —

1. (^iv'an's Ways of Old, pp. 1-7 .

2. (J!ivan's Fame, pp. 8-16

3. The Universe, pp. 17-29 .

4. Praise (the ' Agaval '), pp. 30-43

5. The Sacred Cento, pp. 44-84

6. * Forsake me not,' pp. 85-102

7. The Maidens' Song of the Dawning, pp. 103-11

8. The 'Ammanai,' pp. 1 17-127

9. The Gold Dust, pp. 128-138

10. The Humming-Bee, pp. 139-151

11. The Tambour-Song, pp. 152-158

12. The ^aral, pp. 159-167

13. The Lilies, pp. 168-174

14. The Unthiyar, pp. 175-182

15. The Tonokkam, pp. 183-189

16. The Golden Swing, pp. 190-193

17. The Mother-Decad, pp. 194-197

18. The Kuyil-Decad, pp. 198-202 .

19. The Ten Insignia, pp. 203-206 .

20. The Morning Hymn, pp. 207-212

21. The Ancient Temple-Song, pp. 213-218

22. The Temple-Lyric, pp. 219-224

23. Weariness of Life, pp. 225-230 .

24. The Refuge- Decad, pp. 231-231.

25. The Desire-Decad, pp. 235-238

26. The Wonder-Decad, pp. 239-242

27. Mystic Union, pp. 243-247

28. ' No joy in life,' pp. 248-253

29. Grace, pp. 254-259 ....

30. The 'Eagle-Mount,' pp. 260-263

31. 'Mine e3'es have seen,' pp. 264-267 .

32. The Supplication, pp. 268-272 .

33. The Bruised Heart, pp. 273-277

34. ' Mysoul is consumed,' pp. 278-281 .

35. The Decad of Dread, pp. 282-286
3G. The Sacred Pandi, pp. 287-290 .

37. The Decad of the 'Tenacious Grasp,' pp. 291-297

38. Sacred Sadness, pp. 298-301

39. The Sacred Lament, pp. 302-303

40. The Decad of 'Glorious Tillai,' pp. 304-307

41. The Miracle-Decad, pp. 308-313

42. The Hcad-Decad, pp. 314-318 .



•13. The Sacred Word, pp. 319 323 .... Liiu s 40

41. Devout Musings, pp. 324-326 ... ,,2}

45. The Pilgrim-Song, pp. 327-332 ....,, .\n
40. The Sacred March, p. 333 ,. H

J 7. The Sacred Vcnha, pp. 334-33? 44

IS. The Ancient Mystic Word, pp. 338-340 . ,, 28

4J>. The Marshalling of the Sacred Host, pp. 341-346 ,, 64

50. The Garland of Rapture, pp. 347-350 ,,28

51. Tile Woiuler of Salvation, pj^- 35'~354 • • .. 36

Total lines 3327

Lexicon and Concordancf.





1 1 has been rc[)calci.ll3' Ubkcd, ' Ut what pohhiblc use can
the repiibhcation, translation, and editing of books like the Tiru-
vapgam be?' — and. 'Who can be expected to desire to niakr
themselves acquainted with such works?' This consideration
has delayed the publication for some time ; and it is not at all to
be anticipated that the circulation of the book, at least in Europe,
will, for some time to come, be encouraging. Still, this is a wurk
that ought to be done! If the Tamil people and the English are
ever in any degree to understand one another, and to appreciate
each other's thoughts and feelings regardmg the highest matters ;
if any progress is to be made in the developement of a real
science of Hinduism, as it now is, our English people must have
the means of obtaining some insight into the livini^ system which
exercises at the present da}' such a marvellous power over the
minds of the great majority o'i the best Tamil j)eople.

For, under some form or other, (^aivism is the real religion
of the South of India, and of North Ceylon; and the Qaiva
Siddhanta philosophy has, and tkscn'es to have, far more influence
than any other. The fifty-one poems which are here edited,
translated, and annotated, are recited daily in all the great ^aiva
temples of South India, are on every one's lips, and are as dear
to the hearts of vast multitudes of excellent people there, as
the Psalms of David arc to Jews and Christians. The sacred
mystic poetry of a people reveals their character and aspirations
more truly than even their secular legends and ballads ; for
sacred hymns are cctntinually sung b}- the devout of all ages,
and both sexes ; and all classes of the community are saturated
with their influence. The attentive consideration of the system
here developed must lead to a. sympathetic appreciation of what the
hopes, fears, aspirations, and yearnings of the devcjutest Hindu
minds in the South arc, and have been from time immemorial.
I have occasionally ventured in notes to go beyond the province
of editor and translator, and have criticized many things here and
there ; yet I feel quite sure that my kind and candid friends in


South India will be in no danger of misunderstanding the spirit
in which I have written. These are times when in regard to all
religious systems thorough rational investigation, searching his-
torical criticism, and a careful candid consideration of the meaning
of the symbols by which doctrines are supposed to be expressed,
are quite necessary everywhere. The result of this searching, j^t
reverent, analysis has been and is, — ever more and more, — of the
utmost value in the West. Whatever is true will bear the test of
the severest scrutiny, though men may feel obliged from time
to time to modify the expressions of their behef, and to readjust
their most cherished formulas. There is an evolution of religion.
Meanwhile, true Divine faith lives on, and grows more vigor-
ously for the conflicts in which it is ever, of necessity, engaged.

It is much to be desired that our friends in South India should
recognize this, and consent to enter upon a thorough scientific
investigation of the historical foundations of their popular beliefs,
the precise import of symbolical expressions, and the practical
bearing of every portion of their wonderful 'Siddhantam.'

In matters of religion the greatest hindrance, — and the most
truly irreligious thing, — is the spirit of ignorant, unreasoning,
uns3'mpathetic antagonism. Every system has its truths and
profounder thoughts; and these lie deeper than 'full fathoms
five ' in man's nature ; and must be fundamentally and essentially
in large measure the same for all men, and for all time. It is
onl}' by recognizing these common truths, and making them the
basis of inquiry, as to further alleged Divine communications,
that it is possible to gain a true religious developement.

Very many things celebrated in these remarkable poems are
doubtless without even the shadow of historic foundation, but it
is 3^et possible to feel a lively interest in some, at least, of them
as poetic fancies. What seems graceful and touching to one
people often excites laughter, or scorn, or even detestation, among
others. So, in regard to s3^mbols, it is quite certain that many
expressions, figures of speech, and allegories, very dear to
peoples in the West, have no significance whatever to those of
the East. And very, very much that seems to Oriental minds
edifying, is repellent to those of the West. Still, I think the
time has really come when thoughtful and candid people may
do much to remove the hindrances, that undoubtedly exist, to
the closer union of the convictions and sentiments of devout men
in East and West. I may add that nothing can be further from


my j)iii"[)i).stj in this work, ami more iiltciiy distastclul to iiu-, than
theological controversy; and if in this wovk an\- oiir word ot
mine should give pain to any of ni}' valued Tamil friends, I ask
forgiveness in advance.

It seems also most desirable that all lunopeans whose lot
it is to dwell in the Tamil lands, or who anywhere set themselves
to benefit their Tamil fellow-subjects,— and especially missionaries
and teachers,— should take pains to know accuratel}' the feelings
and convictions of those for whom, and in the midst of whom,
they work. For many years I have not ceased to say,— there in
India, and here in Oxford,— to successive classes of students, 'You
must learn not only to ///////• in Tamil, but also io feci in Tamil, if
you arc to be intelligible and useful among the Tamil people.'

This publication (the fruit of much weary toil) ma}- help, it
is trusted, all who desire to be helped, along this certainly
difficult road.

It must be confessed, moreover, that I \ery earnestly wish
also that my valued Tamil friends may be led to make the
closer acquaintance of some of the magnificent collections of
'sacred poetry' existing in English. And this not only for the
benefit (which must be great) of the individual student, but of
Tamil literature. For no liicralurc can stand alone.

I may safely take it for granted that my indulgent Tamil
friends will not shrink from these Christian compositions, because
they are full of the unstinted praises of Him Whom all acknow-
ledge as the noblest, purest, best, and most self-sacrificing of
those who have worn the garment of our mortality, — any more
than I have shrunk from long and appreciative stud}' of poems
containing verj' much with which I can have but scanty sym-
pathy ^ 'Scrutinize all things: hold fast that which is good!'

I ma^-add that my experience as a translator has taught me that
to get even a glimpse of the thought of a real poet, the student
must often go down into the depths, must use every means to put
himself in sympathy with his author, must learn to think anil feel
with him, and so — it may be — at last come to understand him.

Some German and Latin hymns were translated 150 jears
ago by that wonderful Tamil scholar and poetic genius, the
missionary P'abricius ; and * Fabricitis* liyninhook ' has been, and
dcscr\-e(l to be. the basis of nearly all the Christian Tamil

' S«t iin .V'i/it^ijrih , p. 91, anil Introduction, w \iii


hymnology. I'hough it is hardly classical, it is so vigorous and
real in its tone, that it does not seem likely ever to lose its
hold upon the affections of the Tamil Christian community.
Nevertheless it is to be earnestly desired that the transfusion
of much great European and sacred poetry into popular, easy,
rhythmic Tamil verse resembling that of Mariikka-Va9agar,
should be attempted. If a foreigner has bestowed infinite pains
(would that it had been with greater results!) on the study of
the Tiruva9agam, perhaps some of the native scholars of South
India, versed in English and Tamil, may be induced to inquire
whether they cannot find fitting material for study, imitation, and
translation in that inexhaustible mine of beauty and profound
thought which is opened up in English sacred verse, from the
Hebrew psalms down to the Christian poetry of the present day.
Nothing of this sort can be expected to live and be effective
among a people if not expressed in their own vernacular language,
the ' vulgar tongue,' ' in which they were born.'

The speech of a dying people may, perhaps, be allowed to
die; but this cannot be said of the Tamil race. Heaven forbid!

Dead languages have great uses. ' Even in their ashes live their
wonted fires.' De mortuis nil nisi bonmn ! — yet, in many ways, the
living tongues are better ! One cannot tell what flowers may yet
bloom, what fruits may yet ripen, on the hardy old trees. Let
Tamilians cease to be ashamed of their vernacular !

There exists now much of what is called Christian Tamil,
a dialect created by the Danish missionaries of Tranquehar ;
enriched by generations of Tanjore, German, and other mission-
aries ; modified, purified, and refrigerated by the Swiss Rhenius
and the very composite Tinnevelly school ; expanded and har-
monized by Enghshmen, amongst whom Bower (a Eurasian) was
foremost in his day; and, finally, waiting now for the touch of
some heaven-born genius among the Tamil communit}^ to make it
as sweet and effective as any language on earth, living or dead.

Of that unique genius Beschi (see Preface to m}'- Kurral,
for a history of this great man), and of De Nobilibus, and (in
after days) of Ellis and Stokes, — with a multitude of others, such
as Drew, Caldwell, and Percival, who advanced Tamil culture, —
space forbids me here to speak.

Beschi — with his unnamed collaborators — has left what is
a literature in itself, but — except certain prose books— tending
more and more to become obsolete.


There has been at least one real native Christian poet, Vetha-
nayaga Sastri^-ar of Tanjore, whose writings should be collected
and edited. Christian lyrics, of unequal value, abound. Mr.Webb,
an able American missionar}' of Madura, did much to develope
these. The ' Pilgrim's Progress ' has been versified ; and the
first book of ' Paradise Lost,' by \'. P. Subramanya Mudaliar,
is a courageous attempt. Many more works mii^ht be cited, but
this must suffice for Christian Tamil.

Amongst many others, Tirumular's Tirumantra.Tayumanavar's
poems, Pattanattu Pillai's poems, the Devaram, theTiruvi9aipa, with
various articles in 'The Light of Truth,' by N. B. and by P. A.,
exhibit at once the capabilities and needs of popular Tamil poetr}'.

Of old classical Tamil and its stores I have spoken elsewhere.

I am afraid I cannot recall more than two recent works
which seem to me to give promise of a veritable re-descent in
more modern attire of the Tamil Sarasvati.

The distinguished author of Man«3manl3'am, P. Suntharam PiUai,
has — too early for us — passed into the unseen. The copy he sent

me (inscribed with characteristic modesty), 'Submitted to with

the author's best respects,' is to me a \alucd companion.

The little anonymous' volume — a first instalment — entitled
' Tani-pa<;ura-togai ' seems to herald the advent of a new school
to be heartily welcomed.

But Tamil— like Latin m the early Christian ages — must learn
to adapt herself to the new order of things! Horace and \'irgil
would hardly have consented to part with their metrical S3'stem
for the rhythms and rhymes of a later time ; yet ' Dies Irae' and
X'eni Spiritus,' the poems of Richard and Adam of St. X'ictor,
St. Bernard, and a multitude of others, came to dwell in the world's
heart for ever; while Dante and all the great Italians are Latins!

The work of translation was here and there difficult, and I had
to compare a great number of similar verses to get at the meaning.
An anonymous scholar-, who has written the only commentary
I know on the Tiruva^agam, confesses himself at a loss to explain,
among others. Poems I-I\'. I have altered a few things in accord-
.ince with his interpretations, but have often seen reasons for
difTcring. The work is very able and learned.

' The anthor'* nunc is now given. The vena are Ly V. G. Surj-anarayana Sastriar, R. .\.,
Head T.imil Tandit of the Madras Christian CoUcfjc. An enlargc<l ctlition with English
rcrdcrinfj^ will «oi)n Iw iisued.

* This was not published till my translation was in the press. IndectI the editor gives
in his preface as one reason for the publication the fact that an Angafiyar Englishman) was
patting forth an English translation.


Generally my translation runs line for line with the original,
and preserves something of its rhythm, where this did not interfere
with fidelity to the sense.

Of the Tiruva9agam itself nothing need be added to what is
elsewhere said.

My thanks are due to the Secretary of State for India for
a liberal subsidy ; to the Delegates of the Clarendon Press ; and to
many Tamil friends (who do not desire their names to be mentioned).

A full list of subscribers and donors will be duly published.

To Mr. Pembrey (as in my former writings) I owe very much
for his indefatigable co-operation.

I date this on my eightieth birthday. I find, by reference,
that my first Tamil lesson was in 1837. This ends, as I suppose,
a long life of devotion to Tamil studies. It is not without deep
emotion that I thus bring to a close my life's literary work.

Some years ago, when this publication was hardly projected,
one evening, after prayers, the writer was walking with the
late Master of Balliol College in the quadrangle. The conver-
sation turned upon Tamil legends, poetry and philosophy. At
length, during a pause in the conversation, the Master said
in a quick way peculiar to him, * You must print it.' To this
the natural answer was, ' Master ! I have no patent of immor-
tality, and the work would take very long.' I can see him now,
as he turned round, — while the moonlight fell upon his white
hair and kindly face, — and laid his hand upon my shoulder,
saying, ' To have a great work in progress is the way to live
long. You will live till you finish it.' I certainly did not think
so then, though the words have often come to my mind as a pro-
phecy, encouraging me when weary; and they have been fulfilled,
while he has passed out of sight.

To the memory of Benjamin Jowett, one of the kindest, and
best, and most forbearing of friends, — to whom I owe, among
much else, the opportunity of accomplishing this and other
undertakings, — I venture to inscribe this volume with all gratitude
and reverence.

May the blessing of his Master and mine crown the very

imperfect work!


Balliol College,

April 24, 1900.


riii- lilGhndar\ history



WITH NOTES ON llll. t..\I\A MDDilANTA ^V.sTl M i)|- Khl.U.luN

This life of the Sage, with the notes appended, was presented in substance
to the members of the Victoria Philosophical Society, read before them, and
printed by them. With their consent these are now reprinted in a considerably
enlarged form. The writer has to offer his warmest acknowledgments to the
Council of that excellent Society, and especially to their Honorary Secretary,
Captain Petrie. To them the publication of this work is in great measure due.

riii'. iiisrom' oi' m.wikka'A'acagar.

§ i. To /lis Conirrsion. T.V. T. P. I.

TuF liistory of tliis remarkable man is involved in considerable
obscurit}'; but, although we can only discern the dimmest
outline of his figure amid the mists of South-Indian poetical
tradition, it is quite certain that he actually cxisti-d ; that these
legends, interesting in themselves, have a consitlerable foundation
in fact ; and that this sage was the first in the long and every
way remarkable series of devotees of (j^ivan who engaged in
the arduous work of recovering the south of India from the
Buddhists and Jains. He is not however regarded in the l\amil
lands as the greatest of the (|^aiva saints, that honour being
resen'ed for Tini^ Adna Sanibafuiliar, some of whose legends
I have elsewhere given (/;/</. Mag. and Rivictv, 1897). Nor is it
possible with even an approximation to certainty to fix his tlate.
As he evidently flourished at the time when the influence of
Buddhism in South India was decaying, if not d3ing out, there
is good reason to suppose that he lived somewhere about the
-rventh or eighth century of our era. Some further confirmation
wf this supposition will be forthcoming. The authorities for his
histor}-, if we may call them such, really resolve themselves
into two: his own writings, which are but sparingly autobio-
graphical ; and the very modern legendary poem called the
I'litliai'itrar^ Purdtiani (T. \'. 0. P.). This latter again is an
amplification of the sections fifty-eight to sixty-one of the
Madura Sthala Piinlnani, or, as it is commonly called, 'fi'nt
rilaiyiuIaP PtttdNam; and is utterly unhistorical. This latter

' ' Manikya ' is more correct Sanskrit ; but in Tamil the name has always been written as
I haTc given it. It menn*, ' He whose utterances .ire rtibics.' A re«|>rctc<l Tnmil scholar has
gravely in the ttQmaS)itMt<etm*, Jan. 1900, p. ijS) announce<l its ilcrivation to l>c from «•*
(-'exallcnt') * A'tg v->' sweetness'). This is ingeniou;, and bravely patriotic; but obviously
untenable I

' Tiru is the Tamil equivalent of the .Sanskrit f r»", ' l)leMe<l,' ' sacrctl,* and when prefixed to
the names of persons corresponds to Saint. The Tamil form of SanskrityirUMu is<\ Jwa, ortv.

• I'dtham ■ 'disputation ' [.Sanskrit I'difa]. The town where the saint was bom was called
' dbpulation town' The country was full of polemics in those days. See Xdlaifi, p. 201.

• See Note I. 'Sacretl sports' of the god, of which sixty-four are given. This work has
been printed in Tamil. .V «ummar%- is given in Taylor's Oriental Historical Ntsnuscripts,



professes to be a translation of a portion of the Sanskrit
' Skandam/ and cannot itself be ancient, dating from about
A. D. 1750 probably. The sixt3^-second and sixty-third sections
give a summary of the sage's Madura experiences. Like other
collections of the legends of Hindu temples, the Tim Vilaiyadal
is full of the most extraordinary stories, from which it is
well-nigh impossible to sift out any grains of historical truth.
And the very florid Vdthavurar Purariam is professedly a poetical
romance. We must therefore rely chiefly upon the poems for
a picture of the devotee, and even here a grave difficulty meets us
at the outset. Multitudes of spurious writings, in India (as indeed
elsewhere), are attributed to nearly every person of historic repute;
and interpolations too are always to be suspected. The rivalry
between opposing sects has greatly tended to this result ; for
each Glint must be represented as having left greater works than
those of the Gurus of rival systems ; and also his writings must
be brought up to date, so as to lend unequivocal support to the
most recent developement of the tenets of the sect.

I shall give the story as I find it.

The sage was born at the town which goes by the name of
Tiru-Vatliavur on the river Vaigai, near to Madura; and it is
said that, in consequence, the name given to him by his parents
was Tiru -Vdthavurar {=he of Sacred Vdthavur). This is very
doubtful. But he has two other names, as will appear in the
sequel. The epithet by which he is chiefly known is Manikka-
Va9agar (Sans. Manikya-Vachaka = //^ whose utterances are rubies)]
and the title of his poems is Tiruvagagam (= divine utterance).
His father was a Brahman of the Amdttiya tribe (Sans. Amdtya
■= Councillor), v^hose name is not recorded. The king of Madura
at the time was Arimarttanar (Sans. Crusher of foes^).

The boy is represented as being from the first a prodigy of
intellect, and it is gravely stated that in his sixteenth year he
had exhausted the circle of ordinary Brahmanical learning, and
especially was consummately learned in the Agamas^ of the
^aiva system. The fame of his learning and genius soon reached

I. 55-192. The Tamil verse translation is by Parafijoti-mamunivar. See also Nelson's

Online Library9th cent ManikkavacakarThe Tiruvaçagam; or, Sacred utterances' of the Tamil poet, saint, and sage Manikka-Vaçagar; → online text (page 1 of 41)