Here lines 1-12 are very intricate, and emphasize two thoughts (1)
that the Supreme in His greatness embraces all, and pervades the minutest things
in His universe; and (2) that He is the unique Being, whose wondrous and admirable
sublimity is not to be fully comprehended by any finite beings, gods or men.
The two epithets the the Great One (line 6), and the Beautiful one. (line 12).
The idea of lines 13-16 is peculiar to the Caiva system, which
teaches that there are three great processes carried on by Civan, the Supreme,
in the Universe. In the beginning of each aeon He evolves the phenomenal
universe, and through countless ages sustains it as the theatre of births and
deaths - of the whole drama of metampsychosis; and at the end of each aeon He
involves the phenomenal universe in its primal elements. These three
processes of evolution,conservation and involution, are commonly assigned to three
deities, of whom BrahmA is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Civan the
Destroyer. This however was seen to give to Civan an office apparently inferior, and
certainly less gracious, than that which belongs to the other Gods.
The South-Indian Caiva system boldly faces this difficulty. According
to it there is really but one God. He is called, among many other names, Civan 'the
Blessed One'. Vishnu and BrahmA and the other so-called gods are but dependent
'souls' like the rest, and at the beginning of each aeon their place and office for
that aeon are assigned them by the Supreme as the result of merits accumulated.
The BrahmA of the present aeon is the Demiurge or fashioner of
The evolved Universe: he puts it into shape, and is the mere agent of Civan.
This system invites us to contemplate the universe at the beginning of
each aeon awaiting the action of the Supreme. Existence is eternal; it is subject to
what are called deluges, or overhelming catastrophes, in which all the heavens,
and all the regions of the abyss, all worlds, and all beings are restored to their
rudimental condition, after which, by the will and operation of Civan
they resume their normal manifestations. What exists at the beginning of an
First, we have the Lord, Pathi, Sivan, PerumAn. He is the First Cause
of all things; the only God.
Inseparable from Himself, dwelling in Him,is His personified energy or
Sakti --- his bride said to be the originator, source, fountain, beginning of
all emotion, action, wisdom, and grace.
Secondly, we have Souls, lives, atomic existences,the flocks, pacu. These have
now no embodiment , no powers, energies, or faculties,abiding like birds
sleeping in the night on the branchces of some mighty tree, hardly to be
distinguished from the tree itself, save that they live. These are definite in
number, and are eternal; no addition can ever be made to the number of souls
that are alive in the universe, none of them can ever die. Since, as we shall
see, these may gain absolute identification with Civan-PerumAn and thus be
embodied no more, the number of embodied souls diminishes; but no soul ceases to
exist even after obtaining release, and being taken into God. It may be,
according to this system, that the time shall arrive when all embodied lives
have obtained release, and then the worlds will for ever cease and Civan be all
in all. Each of these souls has its load of deeds which are stored up, and are
a' parte ante, eternal; the result of which, in pleasure or in pain, each soul in
some embodied form must experience. As the Caiva system says, The fruit of deeds
must be eaten '
These souls, at the beginning of each aeon, crouch waiting for their
embodiments. There are now no evolved worldsno heaven, no hell, no gods and demons, men.
All these have been, and shall be,but now are not. That SOULS may be furnished with
embodiments, and with worlds in which they may experience their fate, we have
thirdly, the Bond, pAcam the eternal material cause of the creation. This is
threefold, pure maya, impure maya and prakrithi, the of offspring of the latter,
which is undefined. These three categories PATHI, PACU and PACAM - which we call
roughly 'The God, SOUL AND MATTER' Are the subjects expounded in the Caiva
Civan's palpable and subtle existence
The developement of the sphere of the elemental universe,
Its immeasurable nature, and abundant phenomena,
If one would tell their beauty in all its particulars,
As when, more than a hundred millions in number spread abroad,
The thronging atoms are seen in the ray that enters the house, (5)
So is He the GREAT ONE, Who exists in the minutest elements.
If you would know Him, BrahmA and the rest with MAl,
His greatness, source, glory, and end,
Conjoined with His eternity, His extent, His abiding essence,
His subtile ant palpable manifestations, (10)
They sought to understand. As the rush of a mighty whirlwind
The Beauteous One drave them far in whirling course !
The operations of the Supreme
He is the Ancient One, Who creates the Creator of all;
He is the God, Who preserves the Preserver of things created;
He is the God, Who destroys the Destroyer; (15)
But, thinking without thought, regards the things destroyed.
To the six sacred sects with their six diverse kinds of men
He is the attainment of deliverance; and Source of being to the heavenly ones
He is the Possessor of all, Who resembles an insect.
Day by day He to the sun its lustre gave. (20)
In the sacred moon He placed its coolness;
Kindled in the mighty fire its heat;
In the pure ether placed pervasive power;
Endued the ambiant wind with energy;
To the streams that gleam in the shade their savour sweet, (25)
And to the expanded earth with its strength He gave;
For ever and aye, me and millions other than me,
All in their several cells hath He enclosed.
See Him the First! See Him the Whole !
See Him Himself, Being without compare ! (30)
See Him adorned with the wild boar's ancient tusk !
See Him Whose girdle is the forest tiger's skin !
See Him with ash besmeared ! Whene'er I think and think,
See, I cannot bear the thought ! I perish overwhelmed !
See, in the sweet voiced lute He is the melody ! (35)
See, each thing, as its essence is, He knows !
See Him, the Infinite ! See Him, the Ancient One !
See Him, the Great One Whom BrahmA and MAl saw not !
See Him, the Wonderful! See, the Manifold !
See Him, the Ancient One, transcending words ! (40)
See, He dwells afar where human thought goes not !
See, He is taken in the net of piety !
See Him that One, Whose title is 'the only One' !
See, He extends throughout the wide extended earth !
See Him, more subtile than an atom small ! (45)
See Him, the King incomparably great !
See Him, the Precious One, rarest of all that's rare!
See, mingling with all beings, each one He cherishes !
See Him, the Subtile One, Whom science fails to see !
See Him, above, below, He spreads ! (50)
See the beginning and the ending He transcends !
See, the 'bond' and 'loosing' He ordains !
See, He is That that stands, and That that goes !
See, He discerns the aeon and its end !
See Him, the Lord Whom all may gain ! (55)
See, Civan Whom the gods know not !
See Him. the Male, the Female, and 'neither one'!
See, even I have seen Him with my eyes !
See, the ambrosial Fount, yielding abounding grace!
Lo, I have seen His mercy s might ! (60)
See, His roseate Foot this earth hath trod !
See Him, even I have known, the Blessed One !
See, in grace He made me His !
See, her His Spouse whose eyes are dark-blue lotus flowers !
See, Her and Him together stand ! (65)
The Sea and the Cloud
Lines 66-95 are well nigh untranslateable, for they contain a subtle and
intricate allegory, by means of which the grace of the manifested Civan, who is
praised under the title of the 'Cloud' is set forth. The idea is that the
Infinite sea of rapturous supreme felicity is Civan, but - as the Cloud in the
monsoon season sucks up water from the sea, and rises in black masses that cover
the sky, while all the phenomena of the wonderful outburst of the beneficient,
but also fearful, monsoon are exhibited - so does the Supreme manifest Himself
as the Guru, the Object of Love, and Give of grace to His worshippers. In the
monsoon season, lightnings flash from one end of the sky to the other, crested
torrents sweep down over the hills, bearing with them uprooted plants and trees,
and not unseldom huge snakes that have been disturbed from their rocky mountain
hiding places. The various kinds of 'Gloriosa' spread forth their beautiful
flowers like supplicating hands, while every valley and hollow is filled with
water. Meanwhile, as the heat is most intense just before the burst of the
monsoon, the poet pictures a troop of thirsty antelopes, deluded by the mirage
which seems to offer them refreshing streams and shade: disappointed they are
left to die of thirst in the wilderness. Meanwhile the pain of the fierce heat
has ceased. Down the gorges of the hill the torrent rushes, and is received
into tanks prepared for it by the expectant husbandmen. These lakes are
fragrant with beautiful flowers, and on their banks the maidens have kindled
fires with aromatic woods, at which they dry their hair and garments after the
refreshing bath. The cultivators may now sow their seed and expect a rich
harvest. All this is the work of the black clouds which drew water from the sea
to fertilise the earth. In these lines every particular of the description has
its mystical meaning, which hardly needs illustration. The student will compare
The ancient sea of bliss supreme is THAT indeed !
Appearing like a black vast CLOUD,
Arising in the hill of Petun-turrai blest,
Whilst sacred lightnings flash frorn every point -,
While serpent bright of sensual bondage dies -, (70)
While the sore sorrow of the fervent heat hides itsellf;
While the all-beauteous Hibiscus shines forth,
Swelling in its wrath like our mortal pain,
It sounds forth in mighty grace as a drum.
While the kAnthal stretches out supplicating hands, (75)
And the tender drops of sweet unfailing grace distil,
While the gleaming torrent swells on every side,
And rises to the highest banks of every lake -;
The 'demon-car' of the six sects
Excites the thirst of the large-eyed antelope throng. (80)
And they with eager desire crowd to drink;
And faint with unquenched thirst haste hither and thither:-
Meanwhile, the heavenly mighty stream
Rises and rushes, crowned with hubbles of delight,
Eddies around, dashes against the bank of our 'embodiment, (85)
And twofold deeds of ours growing from age to age, -
Those mighty trees, roots up and bears away.
It rushes through the cleft of the high hills,
Is imprisoned in the encircling lake,
Where grow the expanded fragrant flowers, (90)
In tank, where rises smoke of the agil, where beetles hum;
And as it swells with ever-rising joy,
The ploughmen-devotees in the field of worship
Sow in rich abundance seed of love
Hail, CLOUD-LIKE god, hard in this universe to reach ! (95)
Ascriptions of Praise
God Who wear'st black snake for girdle, hail !
First One, giving grace to the devout ascetics, hail !
Warrior Who dost remove our fear, all hail !
Thou Who dost ever draw us to Thee, make us Thine, all hail !
Thou Who dost wipe away sorrows that gather around, all hail ! (100)
Thou Who giv'st ambrosia rare to those that gain access to Thee, all hail !
Thou Who in thick darkness dancing dost bend down, all hail!
Lover of Her with shoulders like the swelling bamboo, hail !
Thou Who art hostile to the hostile one, our King, all hail !
Thou Who to thy lovers art treasure in distress, all hail ! (105)
Praise to Thee, our Own, waving the envenomed snake !
Praise to Thee, Great One, Who fill'st our souls with pious rage !
Praise to Thee, mighty in Thine ash-smeared form !
In every part what moves, Thou mov'st it; what lies still, Thou lay'st to rest
What stands, Thou dost establish. (110)
Thou Ancient One, transcending speech,
Not grasped by apprehension of the soul !
Not by the eye perceived, nor by sense-organs all.
Thou didst arrange in order, manifest the ether and all elemcnts.
Like fragrance of the flower uprising everywhere, (115)
Thy greatness without cease all things pervades,
This day to me in condescending grace Thou cam'st
Making this body of destruction fall away, O Being glorious !
To-day to me in condescending grace Thou cam'st; I praise Thee ! (120)
Thou Who did'st fashion this decaying frame; I praise Thee !
As fountain springing in my soul Thou mak'st me glad, I praise Thee !
Whlle pleasure beyond bound like flower expands
I know not how to bear this body vile !
His hidings of Himself
Bright gems flash'd emerald splendour forth,-
The lightning's play mingling with gleam of gold,- (125)
BrahmA went up to seek Thee; Thou didst hide Thyself !
From them who toiled with mystic scrolls didst hide Thyself!
From those who in their homes practised virtue, Thou didst hide Thyself
From those who, in union with Thee, fixed their contemplative soul
Wlth painfiul effort; Thou didst hide Thyself ! (130)
From those who boasted to see Thee by some rare device,
By that same device, there, -didst Thou hide Thyself!
Benign, regarding all, receiving with abundant grace
As male appearing Thou dost change to neutral form,
And in a bright-browed female form dost hide Thyself ! Far off (135)
Bidding the senses five depart, passing over every trackless hill
With frames scarce living, spurning all delights,
Ascetic saints in contemplation dwell;-in their souls Thou fitly hid'st Thyself!
Seeming one thing, then not, eluding knowledge, Thou dost hide Thyself !
When e'en of old I strove to find Thee, when to-day I strive, (140)
Thou hid'st Thyself, Deceiver ! But we've found Thee now !
Haste, haste ye, garlands of fresh flowers
Around His feet to bind !
Assemble, go around, follow hard on, leave ye no gap.
Lay hold of Him, although He hide Himself, avoid your grasp ! (145)
The Incomparable told out His nature as it is,
That those like me might hear.
He called, in grace He made me His,
He as a BrAhman showed His glory forth,
Then, while undying love dissolved my frame, I cried; (150)
I raised enraptured voice above the billowy sea's loud waves;
In utter wilderment I fell, I rolled, I cried aloud,
Madman distraught, and as a maniac raved;
While those who saw were wildered, who heard it wonder'd sore.
More than the frenzy wild of raging elephant (155)
Bore me away beyond endurance far. 'Twas then through all my limbs
A honied sweetness He infused, and made me blest.
The ancient city of His foes with fire lit by His beauteous smile
He caused to fall. Ev'n so that day
With mighty fire of grace our humble dwellings (160)
He destroyed that none were left.
To me as the ripe Nelli fruit in palm He was.
What to say I know not, Hail !-to Thee complain.
I mere cur cannot endure ! What He hath done to me
I understand not ! Ah I'm dead ! To me Thy slave (165)
What Thou in grace hast given I know not, tasting am not satiate,
Though I've imbibed I comprehend it not !
Like flowing billows swell from out the sea of milk
Within my soul He made deep waters rise,
Ambrosia surpassing speech filled every pore. (170)
This is His gracious work !
In every body in this currish state
He filled me full with honied sweetness;
Ambrosial drops most marvellous
He caused throughout my being to distil. (175)
With tender soul, as though He'd make me as Himself,
He formed for me a frame where grace might flow.
And as an elephant explores fields of sweet cane, at last
He sought, and found, and made even me to live. In me
Mercy's pure honey while He mixed, (180)
He gave in grace supernal food: -
Ev'n He Whose nature nor BrahmA knows nor MAl !
Hymn 4 poRRith thiru agaval
THE SACRED AGAVAL OF PRAISE.
THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.
HE CAUSED THE PHENOMENAL UNIVERSE TO APPEAR.
(This seems to the translator to read more like a work of UmApathi,
than of our sage!)
Lines 1-10 The Feet of Civan
While the Four-faced and other heavenly dwellers rose,
Adoring, sacred MAl, whose head with rays is crowned,
With His two feet measured the threefold world,-
While saints from the four quarters praised with all their sentient powers,
Eager that day Thy foot and crown to know, (5)
He then became a fierce strong boar, and rushing on
Dug down through sevenfold regions, wearied cried at last:
Eternal Source of all, to Thee be triumphs manifold !'
Yet though He worship paid, Thy pair of Feet-flowers saw he not;
Yet Thou to me Thy worshipper art easy of access ! (10)
Lines 11 - 35 Human embodiment
On earth girt by the watery seas, from elephant to ant,
Through many matrices I passed,
Obtained a human form within my mother's womb.
Thus was I born into the sad sea of th' afflictive life. (25)
Then during each year as it met me
I gained and hoarded gains. How varied was my life!.
Morning's routine, hunger in noontide hour, and night
For sleep. In journeys oft I lived.
Jet black locks, and crimson lips, and radiant smiles were hers; (30)
Into love's sea I plunged.
In the wide marts where foolish worldlings toil
I lived, still slave to fierce desires.
I lived by sea of learning multiform;
I lived in sorrow men call wealth;
I lived 'mid ancient stings of poverty, (40)
And thus in varied forms and fortunes spent my days.
Lines 42-51 The idea of God comes into his life
Then wondrous thought of the Divine, so-called, arose.
Soon as I knew that BEING, free from hate, unique,
Delusive powers in ever-changing millions
Began beguiling varied play. (45)
Relations, neighbours, came around,
With fluent tongue they urged their 'atheism'
Friends around (such herds of cattle old !)-
Seiz'd me, call'd, hurried to and fro;
The BrAhman said 'the way of penance is supreme'; (50)
And others showed the law of trusting love !
Sectarian disputants complacently
Discordant tenets shouted loud and fought.
Then haughty VedAnt creed unreal came,
Whirled, dashed, and roared like furious hurricane. (55)
LOkAyathan a glistening mighty snake
Brought cruel poisoned heresies.
Whilst these delusions, endless, girt me round,
Lines 59 - 86 His conversion
Lest I should go astray, He laid His hand on me !
As wax before the unwearied fire (60)
With melting soul I worshipt, wept, and bent myself,
Danced, cried aloud, and sang, and prayed.
They say: 'The tooth of elephant and woman's grasp relax not,'
So I with love, real, interrnitting never,
Was pierced, as wedge driven into soft young tree. (65)
All tears, I like the refluent sea was tossed;
Soul was subdued, and body quivered with delight.
While the world called me demon, mocking me,
False shame I threw aside; the folk's abusive word
I took as ornament; nor did I swerve. (70)
My mind was rapt;-a fool, but in my folly wise,-
The goal I sought to reach infinity ! All wondering desire,
As cow yearns for its calf, I moaning, hurried to and fro.
Not ev'n in dreams thought I of other gods.
The One most precious Infinite to earth came down; (75)
Nor did I greatness of the Sage superne contemn,
Who came in grace. Thus from the pair of sacred feet
Like shadow from its substance parting not,
Before, behind, at every point, to it I clung.
My inmost self in strong desire dissolved, I yearned; (80)
Love's river overflowed its banks;
My senses all in Him were centredl; 'Lord !' I cried.
With stammering speech, and quivering frame
I clasped adoring hands; my heart expanding like a flower.
Eyes gleamed with joy and tears distilled. (85)
His love that fails not day by day still burgeons forth !
To the end : Praises
Like mother, Thou hast brought me up, I praise !
God, strong to cancel deeds of ours,
Who didst become in truth a Sage, I praise !
King of golden Madura ! (90)
Guru Pearl, in KUdal shining bright !
Dancing in southern Tillai's court,
This day to me precious ambrosia Thou !
Source of the fourfold mystic Scroll that ne'er grows old !
Civan, whose conquering banner is the Bull ! (95)
Thy varied form gleams as the lightning;-Thee I praise !
In me the stony heart Thou softenest.
Guard me, Thou guarded hill of gold !
Ah, give Thy grace to me !
Thou dost create, Thou tost preserve, Thou dost destroy ! (100)
Father, who dost remove all griefs, I praise !
Ruler, I praise ! My King, I praise !
Mount of shining crystal,-praise !
Monarch, to Thee be praise ! Ambrosia,-praise !
Unfailing refuge are Thy fragrant-feet ! (105)
Thee VEdic Sage, I praise ! Spotless One,- praise !
Thee First, I praise ! Wisdom, I praise !
Thou Goal I seek,praise ! Sweet fruition, Thee I praise !
Our Lord, on Whose bright crest the river flows,
Our Master, praise! Understanding,praise ! (110)
Thou hast beheld the servitude of lowliest me,
O Teacher,-praise ! Minute as atom,-praise !
O Caivan, -praise ! Our Chief, I praise !
Our Sign, I praise ! Virtue, I praise !
ThouWay, I praise ! O Thought, I praise! (115)
Balm, hardly by celestials gained, I praise !
King, easy of access to others, praise !
Monarch in grace, Who savest lest we sink
In hell's hated one-and-twenty rounds, I praise !
Companion,-praise ! My Helper,-praise! (120)
O Bliss of life, I praise ! My Treasure,praisc !
O free from bonds,praisc ! First One,praise !
Father,praise ! Haran,praise !
Thou One, transcending word and understanding,praise !
Yield of the world girt by the extended sea, praise! (125)
Beauty rare, yet easy of access, I praise !
Eye like an azure cloud, I praise !
Abiding Mount of sacred grace, I praise !
Me, too, Thou mad'st a man,Thy twin feet
Thou placed'st on my head, O Warrior,praise ! (130)
Thou dost wipe off all sorrow from adoring hand, praise !
Sea of imperishable rapture, praise ,
Thou dost transcend all forms that pass and come renewed, praise !
First One surpassing all, praise !
Bridegroom of Her with fawnlike eyes, praise ! (135)
Mother of the Immortals in the heavenly land,praise!
Fivefold Thou dost in earth extend,-praise !
Fourfold Thou dost exist in the water,-praise !
Threefold in fire Thou shinest,-praise !
Twofold in the air Thou art all glorious, -praise ! (140)
One in the ether Thou hast sprung forth,praise !
Ambrosia of the troubled mind,praise !
Hard to be approached by gods e'en in a dream,praise !
In waking hour to me a cur Thou gavest grace,praise !
Father, Who dwell'st in Idai-maruthu,praise ! (145)
Thou bearest Gangai on Thy crest, praise !
King in ArUr abiding,praise !
Lord of glorious Tiru-aiyAru,praise !
Our Prince of AnnAmalai,praise !
Sea of ambrosia, filling all the place,- praise ! (150)
Our Father dwelling in Ekambam, praise !
Thou Who in form art half a woman,-praise !
Who dwell'st supreme in Perun-turrai,-praise!
Civan Who dwell'st in Sira-palli,-praise !
None other refuge here I know, -praise ! (155)
Our Dancer in KutRAlam,-praise !
Our King dwelling in GOkazi, praise !
Our Father of IngOy's Mount, praise !
Beauteous One of seemly Paranam, praise !
Idangan Who dwell'st in KadambUr, praise ! (160)
Father, gracious to those that come to Thee, praise !
Beneath the Itti tree to six,
King, Thou wert gracious, and to th' elephant,-praise !
Civan, Lord of the southern land,praise !
King of our country folk,-praise ! (165)
Thou wert gracious to the litter of the boar,-praise !
Lord of glorious Kailai's Mountpraise !
Father, Who grants us grace,-praise !
King, Who our darkness dissipates,-praise !
I Thy slave languish all alone,-praise ! (170)
In grace remove my guile,-praise !
In grace say to me ' Fear not,-‘praise!
Poison became ambrosis by Thy love,-praise !
Father,-praise ! Guru,-praise !
Eternal,-praise ! Pure One,-praise! (175)
Brother,-praise ! Existent One,-praise!
O Great One,-praise ! O Lord,-praise !
O Rare One,-praise ! O Pure One,-praise !
Glorious Path of Vedic sages,-praise !
I make my plaint,nor can endure, O First One,-praise ! (180)
Kinsman,-praise ! Life,-praise !
Glory,-praise ! Bliss,-praise !
O Cloud,-praise ! O Bridegroom, praise !
Spouse of Her whose feet are soft,-praise !
I, a cur, Thy slave am perplexed,-praise ! (185)
Our Master Thou, all dazzling bright,-praise !
Eye apprehending forms diverse,-praise !
King, dwelling in the circling, sacred town, I praise !
Lord of the mountain land,-praise !
Thou in Whose locks is the crescent moon,-praise ! (190)
Blessed Lord of the sacred Eagle-mount,-praise !
Aran of hilly PUvanam,-praise !
Formless, in form revealed Thou art,-praise !
Mountain of mercy ever nigh,-praise !
Light transcending utmost bound,-praise ! (195)
Clearness, hard to understand,-praise !
Ray of the flawless Gem, praise !
Loving to those Thou mak'et Thine own,-praise!
Ambrosial grace that satiates not,-praise !
Our Lord, the bearer of a thousand names,-praise ! (200)
Thou Whose garland is the TAli-arrugu,-praise !
Dancer in light expanding far,-praise !
O Beauteous with the santhal wood perfume,-praise !
Bliss, hard for thought to reach,-praise !
On Mandira's mighty mount Thou dwell'st,-praise ! (205)
Thou Who dost undertake to save us,-praise !
Thou Who in grace didst give the tiger's dug to th' antelope,-praise !
Thou Who didst walk upon the billowy sea,-praise!
I hou didst give grace that day to the black bird,-praise !
Thou didst appear by sense discerned,-praise ! (210)
Fiery One on earth displayed,-praise !
Thou art the First, the Midst, the Last,-praise !
Hell, Paradise, or-pendant Earth not entering,
The heavenly goal Thou gav'st unto the PAndiyan,-praise !
Thou that fillest all, to Thee be praise ! (215)
King of Civa-puram rich with clustering flowers, to Thee be praise !
God, garlanded with purple lotus flower, to Thee be praise !
Thou dost cut off bewilderment of those that worship Thee,-praise !
Praise ! Take in grace this wreath of babbling words
From me, mere cur, that know not to distinguish false from true ! (220)
Ancient of days Burner of many towns,-praise !
Infinite Lord of splendours infinite,-praise !
Praise ! Praise ! Bhuyanga-PerumAn !
Praise ! Praise ! Ancient-cause of all !
Praise! Praise ! Triumphant praise ! (225)
HYMN V - thirucathakam
THE SACRED CENTO.
Introduction to the Sacred Cento
This remarkable poem contains a hundred especially flowing and harmonious verses
of varying metres. These are divided into ten decades, and the whole are
connected by the law which requires that the last word of each verse shall begin
the following verse. The whole ten lyrics with their hundred verses are thus
linked together. This arrangement, which is very common in Tamil, is called
AnthAthi, which I venture to translate 'anaphoretic verse'. This cento is
intended to exhibit the progress of the soul through the successful stages of
religious experience till it loses itself in the rapture of complete union with
the Supreme. The general titile given by one editor is equivalent to 'The
Varying Phases of Religious Enthusiasm' at least this is the nearest expression for
it that I can find in English. The poem is supposed to have been composed in
Tiru-peran-turai immediately after the departure of the Saints, for some time
MAnikka-VAcagar's companions, who passed through fire and went home to Civan.
From the border of the tank, where the divine conflagration had arisen, into he
midst of which his companions had thrown themselves, he returned to the Kondral
tree, where he spent a long period in solitary meditation, of which these poems
are the sum. He surveys his past experiences, contemplates the work assigned
him and while he begins the series of sacred poems by which he was to establish
the Caiva system n the hearts of his fellow-countrymen, he never ceases to
complain in most touching language, that he is not permitted at once to follow
his Master and brethren into the rest and glory of Paradise. This is indeed the
burthen of much of his poetry.
The titles of the ten decades, into which the poem is divided, indicate in
some measure the course of his thoughts and the character of his mental
conflicts. There is a most pathetic alternation of rapturous and realising
devotion with coldness and apathy, and even, it seems of temporary abandonment
to gross sensuality. It is to be doubted whether the whole of these verses are
of one period, and I should prefer to think that they really embody his
meditations and solloquies up to the period of his final settlement in
THE COGNITION OF THE TRUE.
1. Humble access to the New Master
My frame before Thy fragrant foot is quivering like al1 opening bud;-
My hands above my head I raise; while tears pour down, my melting soul,
The false renouncing,, praises Thee; with songs of triumph praises Thee,-
Nor suffer I adoring hand to rest;-O Master, look on me ! (4)
II. Self-surrender. He accepts the ascetic life.
I ask not bliss of Indra, MAl, or Ayan;-though my house and home
Be ruin'd, friendship form I none save with Thine own; though hell's abys
I enter, I unmurmuring go, if grace divine appoint my lot;-
O King I no other god save Thee I ponder, our Transcendent Good ! (8)
III. He is despised as a mad enthusiast.
Transcendent Good ! Owner and Sire ! Thy servant melting thinks on Thee.
In raptures meet I utter forth my fever'd soul's ecstatic joys,
Still wandering from town to town; while men cry out, 'A madman this;'
And each one speaks, with mind distraught, discordant words. O, when come death ? (12)
IV. None to be worshipped but Civan
Erewhile was Dakshan's offering death. They ate the flesh, and poison feared
' Our Father,' cried our friends and worshipt Him with suppliant voice.
And yet 'Three are the gods that rule in heaven and earth,' they vainly deem.
What sin is this your haughty minds breathe out, ye errirng penitents ? (16)
V. I plead no merit- am no real devotee.
No penance have I done, nor bowed, with hand unstinting scatt'ring flowers;
Born all in vain,-to ' cruel deeds ' a thrall,-the bliss of Civan's heav'n,
Amongst Thy loving ones, I've fail'd to gain; see, and in grace bestow
On me, Thy slave, consummate life beneath Thy feet, Supernal Lord ! (20)
VI. Grace unfailing to the faithful
They roam'd and cull'd choice varied flowers to lay in worship at Thy feet,
They deemed that all they sought they should obtain; and from these loving
In mystic guile Thou hidest still, abiding not ! In grace bestow,
Love to Thy glorious foot, that I may ceaseless praise with perfect song ! (24)
VII. Civan was an ascetic,as am I now.
Erewhile the Maker's-maker bowed, brought blooming flowers, and everywhere
Sought for Th' All-seeing One, nor found. Our mighty One, Who dwells beyond,
Here in the wilds with demons danced, a homeless, friendless one; and there
In tiger-skin arrayed Himself, as madman wand'ring to and fro ! (28)
VIII. Save Thy servants in the day of doom!
The wand'ring wind, the fire, the flood, the earth, the heaven,-a time shall be
When these adown the gulf shall go ! After that hour unknown has come
The deeds-mighty the soul to bind-Thy slave in wand'ring days has done
Let the time come for these to pass ! Guard us from these, our Guardian then ! (32)
IX. Bhavan's our Lord.
Bhavan's our Lord, Whose garland is the cool vast moon, of heavenly one the Bull is Thine, Lord of the heavenly ones ! -
The Prince. Civan's our Lord,Who made me His, my meanness though He saw
Our Lord Supreme is He, and I, His lowly servant, thus declare !
That earth may know, sound out that Bhuvan is our Lord ! (36)
X. 'Tis wondrous grace that sought me out.
Unmeet was I to enter 'mongst Thy loving ones, my flawless Gem !
Ambrosia rare ! The way Thou took'st me for Thine own and mad'st me meet
The very meanest lifting high, Thou didst the heav'nly ones bring low !
What Thou our Lord to me hast done is as a play men laugh to see ! (40)
THE IMPARTATION OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.
XI. A prayer for perfect love-
'Midmost of Thy devoted ones, like them in mystic dance to move;
Within Thy home above to gain wish'd entrance, lo, I eager haste !
O golden-glorious Hill of gems ! Give grace, that ceaseless love to Thee.
Our Master, in my heart of hearts, melting my very soul, may 'bide. (44)
XII. Longing for grace alone.
I dread not any birth. To death what should I owe ! Nor do I crave
Even heaven itself to gain. No power to rule this earth do I esteem.
O Civan, crowned with cassia-flowers that sweets distil; our PerumAn !
Our only Lord! I fainting cry: ' When comes the day I find Thy grace ?' (48)
XIII. Without Thy presence I pine
I ever pine Thy flow'ry feet to see, -Thy slave, dog though I am !
I sit, no fitting flowers present, my tongue no rising raptures speaks.
Thou Who the well-strung golden bow didst bend ! Ambrosia of Thy grace
If Thou give not, I PINE,-a wretch forlorn,-what other can I be? (52)
XIV. Deadness of soul.
My inmost self PINES not, as were befitting, for Thy sacred Foot;
Nor melts in love; I bring no wreath; speak out no worthy word of praise
Within the shrine of Him, the King of gods, perform no service due;
Nor move in dance. To death I haste ! Thou Whom true wisdom bringeth nigh! (56)
XV. God all in all
Thou art the Heaven; Thou art the Earth; Thou art the Wind;Thou art the Light!
The Body Thou; the Soul art Thou; Existence, Non-existence Thou;
Thou art the King; these puppets all Thou dost make move, dwelling within
That each one says: ' Myself and mine. 'What shall I say? How render PRAISE (60)
XVI. My praise is pure. Free me from embodiments.
The heavenly ones adore Thee still heaven's bliss to share ! Their minds to Thee
They lowly humble that, on high exalted, men may worship them;
Thou round whose flower-wreath hum the honey-bees ! Thy slave, I praise
Thee, even I, that Thou may'st save from idle round of earthly birth ! (64)
XVII. The bliss of Civan's heaven of presence.
The heavenly dwellers chaunt Thy praise; the fourfold VEdas utter song;
She of the shining locks that shed perfume is sharer of Thy seat;
There in true love Thy servants all commingling dwell; there, more and more,
Thy feet with sounding anklets girt do they behold, Thou hard to know !(68)
XVIII. This abandonment is unendurable.
Thou Whom 'tis hard to know, in sky and in the golden court revealed,-
Our mighty One ! beneath the jewelled feet where I was made Thine own,
No more I scatter fragrant flowers, nor wondering weep, nor melt in love.
'Tis past my power to bear ! How can it be ? I die, insooth, I die ! (72)
XIX. He is above; we earthly still.
With flow'ry arrows in the spring-time comes the god of soft desire,
And witching smile of maidens fair, with rosy mouths and flower-wreathed locks !
Poor soul, that pants and melts through these, Who made thee His, and thrilled thy frame,
To-day hath gone and dwells in heaven; yet see, thou still art lingering here ! (76)
XX. O soul be wise!
O soul, that livest here in joy ! Of life's true joys bereft, in mire
Thou sink'st of 'mighty deeds '! Him Who guards men from sinking praisest not !
Thou art devising ruin to thyself,I tell thee so full oft;
Thou'rt sinkcing even now beneath the FLOOD of the distressful sea! (80)
DYING TO SENSE AND SELF.
This decad describes the mystic experience known by Caiva Siddhantha, as
NAna-Carithai, in which the devotee, though able to discern God in and above and
beyond all things, continues to perform outward rites (Carithai) and to avail
himself ofall means of grace. See Civa-PragACam II.48. Since Civan so deigns to
manifest, and yet vell, His presence, the devotee is assiduous n performance of
all prescribed acts of worship, while his soul transcends the visible, and by
NAnam (in this connection = divine faith) sees God.
XXI. I have relapsed into apathy.
Through Thine expanding locks the FLOOD pours down;
They sang, and stood, with panting, melting souls,
like torrent, plunging in th' abyss ! and I,
With yearning soul I heard ! Thou mad'st me Thine ! Yet now
from head to foot, I melt not;from my eyes
The rushing waters pour not down;my heart
is stone;both eyes are wood to SINFUL me ! (84)
XXII. Deadness has come over me.
Thou ent'ring stood'st by me fast bound IN SIN;
as one who says, ' I'm sin's destroyer, come !'
Thyself announcing thus, Thou mad'st me Thine,-
becam'st my mighty Lord. Like iron statue, I
Now sing no praise, nor dance, nor weep, nor wail,
nor faint with bliss. Behold, O Primal One,
To Thee I make my plaint; nor know how this
with me shall end, Thou Who art First and Last !(88)
XXIII. Very vile, but Thine, save me!
Thou'rt Ayan, Thou the fourfold VEdas' Lord;
I know Thee,-I, lowest of men that live;
I know,-and see myself a very cur;-
yet Lord, I'll say I am Thy loving one !
Though such I was, Thou took'st me for Thine own
Thy saints are here no longer, only I,
Vile wretch ! and is it thus Thy greatness shines ?
Our PerumAn, what shall I say to Thee ? (92)
XXIV. Thy votary, though full of sin.
And if I spake, ' Thou'rt ICan, Father, Sire
great PerumAn ;' thus have I ever said;
If I besmear'd, 'twas sacred ash alone
I smear'd, still praising Thee, our PerumAn;
Who erst made those Thine own who'd passed by love
o'er birth and death. In torrent plunged of lust
And guile, behold me, spotless Hill of gems !
Father ! 'Twas such an one Thou mad'st Thine own ! (96)
XXV. The mystery of His being.
Thy colour is not red,-nor white Thy form;-
Thou'rt Many, One; Atom, than Atom far
Subtler; the heavenly host in 'wildered thought
know not the way, Father, to reach Thy feet.
Thou showd'st Thy form, Thy beauty didst display
didst show Thy now'ry feet ! Me wandering, Thine
Thou mad'st, safeguarding me from future ' birth ' !
Our PerumAn, what shall I say, what THINK ? (100)
XXVI. Wonders of grace.
Thou mad'st my THOUGHT Thy THOUGHT ! Of me, mere cur,
Thou mad'st the eye rest on Thy foot's blest flower,
Thou mad'st me bow before that flower alone ! My mouth
Thou mad'st to speak abroad Thy gem-like word !
My senses five to fill Thou cam'st, and mad'st me Thine.
Ambrosial Sea of magic might ! O Mount ! Thyself
Thou gav'st, Thy form like wild of roseate lotus flowers,
to LONELY helpless me. Thou Only-Light ! (104)
XXVII. The voyage
I, LONELY, tost by billows broad of anguish sore,
on the great ' sea of birth,' with none to aid;
Disturbed by winds of mouths roseate like ripened fruit,
lay caught in jaws of the sea monster lust !
' Henceforth,what way to 'scape ? ' I frequent cried ! then thought,
and seiz'd the raft of Thy Five Letters ! So to me,
O Primal One, Thou showd'st a boundless fertile shore,
and mad'st the rash insensate one Thine own ! (108)
XXVIII. What He did for me.
Him none by hearing know; He knoweth no decay;
He hath no kin; naught asking, heareth all !
While people of the land beheld, here on this earth
to me, a cur, He gave a royal seat;
To me, a dog, all things not shown before, He showed;
all things not heard before, He caused to hear;
And guarding me from future ' birth,' He made me His.
Such is the wondrous work our Lord hath wrought for me ! 112
XXIX. His appearing.
The WONDER this ! Say, is there aught like this ?
He made me servant of His loving saints;
Dispell'd my fear, ambrosia pouring forth, He came,
and while my soul dissolv'd, in love made me His own;
The Sire, Male, Female, Neither, Ether pure, was He;
as wondrous Fire; as End of all; beyond all far;
His body like a flower of golden hue;
our Civa-PerumAn, our Lord, OF GODS THE KING ! (116)
The GOD OF GODS, to king of gods unknown;
King of the ' Three '; what teeming worlds create,
Preserve, destroy; the First; Essence divine;
the Sire of sires; Fa,ther, whose half the Mother is;
The King of all ! He came, and made me, too, His own.
Henceforth I'm no one's vassal; none I fear !
We've reached the goal; with servants of His saints
in sea of bliss we evermore shall bathe ! (120)
THE SOUL'S PURlFICATION.
XXXI. The sluggish soul.
Thou dancest not; thou hast no love for the DANCER'S foot;
with melting thrill
Thou singest not; thou throbbest not; thou bowest not down;
the flower of His foot
Thou wearest not; thou crownest it not with flowers; there's none like Thee,
DEAD HEART !
Thou seekest Him not through every street; thou wailest not; nothing know
I thou dost ! (124)
XXXII. The ungrateful, treacherous heart.
My Sire came, entered, made His own me who knew naught; in mercy taught
Caused me to know the higher path; He loos'd my every bond !
Despite the gain of changeless, sweetest gifts of grace,thou'rt changed,
DEAD HEART !
RUINED by thee, to all that's false subjected, thus I RUINED lie ! 128
XXXIII. Heart unworthy of trust; insensible to complaint
My foolish senseless HEART, that changing, RUIN bringst to me,
Henceforth I trust thee nevermore;-assuredly on Civan's mighty arm
The ashes thickly smeared thou saw'st, yet melted'st not; this, body's bonds
Thou rendest not,-nor can I bid restore the ruin thou hast wrought. (132)
XXXIV. The utter folly of the fickle mind.
Perish, O restless mind ! before the Master Absolute,
A dog I lay; Thou didst enjoy His fragrant flowery Foot;
But now thou'rt severed like a young and tender shoot; all former bliss
Hast lost ! Truly I deem Thy wisdom and Thy greatness measureless ! (136)
XXXV. Insensible to infinite mercy.
When He to heavenly ones inscrutable, of acce~s easy to His saints,
Our hidden sin destroyed, and made me His, thou knew'st the melting joy !
Yet, HEART thou hast not, hating all thy hidden sin, prepar'd an ample field for Him,
Nor bow'd before the Master's healing Feet, the heavenly goal to gain !
XXXVI. What remedy?
If 'tis not given to pass the golden gate,-where all may entrance find,
And whence none e'er departs;-nor yet to melt in love before the foot
Of Him, my Sire, my Lord;-if there to me abound no more
Ambrosia, every honied sweet;-a sinful man, what can I do for this ? (144)
XXXVII. A sinner - I quit thee not.
What other sinners are there like to me, cur at the Master's Foot?
Yet not a whit from me to sever is Thy sacred will; and thus,
O Primal One, Thy Foot's fair flower if I should quit, arld yet live on,
My soul is iron, stone my mind; my ear to what shall it compare ! (148)
XXXVIII. Life, a long exile.
The others all have reached the goal, yet I, who know not anything,
Haste not to Thee who art all sweetness, Civan, King of Civa-world;
Thou Spouse of her whose eye is like the tender fawn; long time
I still abide, cherish this flesh, and so my death-in-life drags on !
XXXIX. How do I bear life?
O bliss that ceases not ! O bliss beyond compare ! His bright flower-foot
He gave; to me of kind more base than dogs, He showed the perfect way
My Chief, who gave me grace sweeter than mother's love, I see not now !
Yet in the fire I fall not, wander not o'er hills, nor plunge me in the sea !
XL. Still the senses' slave.
'When Cupid's dart in springtide wounds, moonlight will scorch ;' of this I took!
No heed; like milk 'neath churning stick I'm stirred by wiles of those of
fawn like eyes.
To Civan's city go I not, where grace as honey to the soul is given;
To cherish soul within the body, still I eat, and garments still put on!
THE RENDERING A FIT RETURN
XLI. I did not clearly apprehend Thine appearing.
Like elephant two-handed I saw not
My mind's true germ; I saw but sore distress.
Thou bad'st me, 'come'; yet, 'mid the heavenly ones
'Twas l alone passed not, the senses' slave. (164)
XLII. It must have been illusion. Is HE man?
To all who apprehend that one bright Essence truly is,
As female, male, or lifeless thing Thou art not known;-
To me Thy servant, coming as Thou art, Thou didst appear !
I saw Thee, yet I saw Thee not ! What visual juggle this !(168)
XLIII. When shall I really see Thee as Thou art?
Thou Form unique, to even heavenly ones
Unknown ! Thou Mystic Dancer, Who didst make me Thine !
Me Thine ! On earth, in heaven, or when all these
Have passed away,-WHEN shall I see Thy face? (172)
XLIV. I am of earth, earthy.
Thou Infinite, by men yet seen ! Beyond eye's ken
Thou Essence gleaming bright ! Here, like a fledgling, I
Would gladly leave this faulty frame; yet know I not
Dweller in this sense-world-how I may Thee put on.
XLV. Deadness of soul.
I call not on Thee filled with mighty love,
Nor render praise, nor fall in ecstasy
'Tis with me as when death confronted Thee,
Bowing before those lotus flowers Thy feet. (180)
XLVI. Call me, take me once more.
Call, take me 'midst Thy loving ones, Thou crowned
With cassias, home of sweets and humming bees !-
In 'midst, beneath, above, in all contained,
Thou art, my Sire, ' like oil within the seed ! '(184)
XLVII. The Self-sufficing sought out me.
Fathcr and Mother, Lord ! To all besides.
Sire, Mother, Lord: to Him all these are not !
Erewhile within my inmost soul He entered,
Whom none by thought can know, the Ever-blissful One ! 188
XLVIII. I had but a glimpse of His glory.
To Thee, nor wealth, nor want ! From heavenly ones to worms,
And grass, (no limit), all Thou fillest, -Being rare !
I saw Thy Foot-gem limitless, yet swerved from Thee.
This is the grief I stony-hearted have endured ! (192)
XLIX. An appeal.
My bonds Thou loosed'st, mad'st me Thine ! And all
The loving saints who ashes gave beheld.
Thou didst exalt, within the temple court,
Ev'n me Thou didst exalt, who knew not anything.(196)
L. I was not chosen for my wisdom or might.
Thou Only-Wise ! Ambrosia ! me, a servile cur,
When Thou didst take and make Thine own, was I then wise ?
Thou saw'st my ignorance that day Thou mad'st me Thine !
Ah, Lord of grace, was I then wise ? was I then strong ?(200)
OVERFLOWINGS OF JOY.
LI. No possible return for such mercies.
O Master, O my Mighty One, my Father, PerumAn, my births'
Destroyer, Thou Who mad'st me Thine,-an evil wholly worthless dog,
And throughly base; I cannot think, Thou see'st,-of any meet return to Thee,
O Shining One, Lord of the Porch,-nor know I aught that I can do. (204)
LII. I am still the senses' slave
Mean cur, that knew not what to do, I gave myself to gain those things
That false ones gain, who ne'er have seen Thy flowery Feet of ruddy gold.
I saw and heard that Thy true saints set free from lies, had gained Thy fragrant Foot;
Yet I,-false one,-O Warrior strong ! still eat, am clothed, and here abide.
LIII. I only left !
Thou Warrior strong from out Thy golden city cam'st, mad'st darkness flee;
With Her the beauteous Queen didst deign to come. The glorious devotees
Who grace had gained, approached Thy Feet. I saw, yet like a sightless hog
That roams the village street, shall I still roam a wretch doomed to live on ?
LIV. My love is weak
Full many a saint through deathless time wrought penance,members mortified
With frustrate hope to see Thee here ! Yet Thou didst sinful me Thy servant make.
O Gem ! This frame with foulness filled wears not away. To see Thy face,
The strong desire and love 'bide not in me; my Prince, how may I rise ?(216)
LV. Still I live this loathed life.
Thy bride is Umai with the fawn-like eyes ! Thou cam'st and mad'st me Thine
Ambrosia Thou, essential sweetness shed ! O Civan, southern Tillai's King
Thy saints assembled 'neath Thy sacred sign have gone to gather round Thy feet
This loathsome body still I guard, still here I dwell, O MASTER MINE !(220)
LVI . Thy will ordains my exile.
O MASTER MINE ! They think on Thee, Thy loving ones, with rapture filled
They're Thine, Thy Foot I saw them join. Yet here more mean than village cur
I dwell; my heart no rapture feels; my mind is stone, nor melts within.
This body vile I still must guard and here abide,-such is THY WILL ! (224)
LVII. My old life of earthly love.
The way THY WILL ordains befits me well ! Faithless I strayed, I left
Thy saints. A reprobate was I I How did I watch the one belov'd,
The quiverings of the lip, the folds of circling robe, the timid bashfull looks
To read love's symptoms there ! My mind thus ruin to myself wrought out. (228)
LVIII. Was my vocation a mockery then?
Thou honied Sweetness, purest Joy, Souls' Light, Master Who fill'st with bliss
The frame of those that trust in Thee, Giver of endless gifts ! Of worth.
I void am yet Thy slave; Thou me hast made Thine own; if this be so
Thy servant's state would show, I plead, Thy gift of grace was but Thy sport.
LIX. What other refuge have I ?
Thy nature others know not ! Lord ! Me evil cur, lowest of all,
Hast Thou not made Thine own ? And wilt Thou let me go cast out from Thee?
Then who will deign to look on me ? What shall I do, O PerumAn ?
Father, whose sacred form is gleam of gold, where shall I refuge find? (236)
LX. I have sure hope; yet how unworthy!
I shall enter beneath Thy Foot which is mine ! 'mid saints that adore I standing
Shall laugh, glad as I gaze on the well-known form! shameless dog tho' I am !
No melting love is here! To see Thee - to be made Thine own, - can I
Be meet ? This abject state, Father ! behold, 'tis past my power to BEAR !(240)
THE OVERWHELMlNG SENSE OF THE DIVINE COMPASSION.
I BEAR no more these joys of sense; Hail I CangarA !
Hail ! heaven's ancient Lord. Hail ! our Vidalai !
Hail ! Matchless One ! Hail ! King of heavenly hosts !
Hail ! Tillai's Dancer ! All hail ! our Spotless One ! (244)
All hail ! Na ma-ci va ya ! Buyangan ! My senses fail !
All hail ! Na ma ci-va-ya ! Other refuge is there none !
All hail ! Na-ma-ci-va-ya ! Send me not forth from Thee !
All hail! Na-ma-ci-va-ya! Triumph, triumph, Hail! (248)
LXIII. All in all !
Hail ! Loving One, Who deign'st to make false ones like me Thine own !
Hail ! to Thy Foot ! Hail ! O Lord ! Hail, hail !
Hail ! Sweetness new of mercy's flood ! Earth, water, fire,
Wind, ether, the two lights of heaven,are Thee, O GOD ! (252)
LXIV. Come quickly !
Hail, O my GOD ! In grace behold me; Hail !
Hail ! I pray Thee melt my soul within me, make me Thine !
Hail ! This body strip from off me; quickly give the heavenly realms !
Hail ! CangarA, Who in Thy braided lock hast GangA placed ! (256)
Hail ! O CangarA, other refuge have I none !
Hail ! Partner of the Queen of glorious form, of ruddy lips,
And gleaming smile, and black bright eye ! Hail ! Rider on the mighty Bull
Here these earthly joys I bear not, Embiran,I all renounce ! (260)
I have myself renounced, even I; Hail, hail, Embiran !
I have not done Thee wrong ! Hail ! Foot to which I service owe !
Hail ! Faults to forgive is duty of the great !
O cause this earthly life to cease ! Hail, Lord of heaven ! (264)
Hail, Lord ! Hail ! Thou King of heavenly saints !
Partner of the Queen's graceful form, Hail ! Wearer of the sacred ash !
Hail ! Worthy Prince ! Hail ! Thou of Tillai's sacred court !
Hail! ! King of heaven ! My only Ruler, Hail ! (268)
LXVIII. Take me
Hail !, only Deity ! lncomparable Father, Hail !
Hail ! Guru of the heavenly ones ! Hail ! ! Tender Branch !
Hail, bid me come, receive me ! grant Thy Foot to gain;
And thus remove my lonely friendless woe ! (272)
Hail, to those who love with perfect love, Giver of love surpassing theirs !
Hail ! Greatness that oft my falsehood pardon'd, granted grace, and made me Thine !
Hail ! Prince, Who drank the outpoured poison,-to the heavenly ones ambrosia gave !
Hail ! Thy perfect Foot on me, a wretch, in grace bestow ! (276)
LXX. The Universal Lord.
Hail ! Thou Who art earth, water, fire, wind, ether too !
Hail ! Thou, all life's phenomena,-Thyself invisible !
Hail, all living beings' End,-Thyself without an end !
Thyself reaching through all, by senses five unreached ! (280)
LXXI. Sinking in rapture.
Sire, as IN UNION strict, Thou mad'st me Thine; on me didst look, didst draw me near;
And when it seemed I ne'er could be with Thee made one,-when naught of Thine was mine,-
And naught of mine was Thine,-me to Thy Feet Thy love
In mystic union joined, Lord of the heavenly land !-'Tis height of BLESSEDNESS.
LXXII. All bliss in God.
For BLESSEDNESS I seek; not Indra's choice delights, nor those of other gods;
Thou Only-One, I live not save with Thy Feet twain ! Our Lord,my breast is Riven,
With trembling seized; my hands in adoration join;
And from my eyes a ceaseless stream pours down, as of a river, O MY SAGE !(288)
LXXIII. Prayer for consummation.
MY SAGE, save to Thyself there's none to whom I cling;-in me, deceitful one
No part from mingled falseness 'scapes; I'm falsehood's self !Partner of Her whose dark
Eyes gleam, come Thou to me ! the love Thy true ones feel,-
Who at Thy jewell'd Feet in love commingling rest,-mine be it too, I PRAY ! (292)
LXXIV. Give me essential oneness.
I PRAY for love of Thine own jewell'd Feet; remove the false; Thine own
Make me in truth; dog though I am,O bid me come, in grace join to Thyself
For ever more Thine own ! So let me ceaseless praise,
Thro' every world returning ever come; my King, that I may WORSHIP THEE !
LXXV. Thou art sole actuality
THEE WORSHIP both the earth and heaven, with shouts of joy, and fourfold mystic scroll:
They yearning pine for Thee. For they who gain Thee know naught true exists but Thee.
Ah ! since we vow to quit Thy service never, come
And grant Thy grace,Thou Partner of the lovely Queen ! Pausingwhy PONDER so ?(300)
LXXVI. He transcends thought and speech.
WHEN PONDERING Thee the thought goes forth, to reach the bound desired by fitting word
Is not a whit attainable; nor are these things one hears through forms of speech.
Thee, Who art all the world, the senses five know not.
How GAIN the Father's Foot that rests in all that is and every sphere beyond?
LXXVII. Pity me !
To me, a guileful soul, who thought to GAIN Thee, Lord, salvation save by Thee
Is none. No other Being truly is, save Thee ! Lest pining sorrow come,
In mercy to my sin, my soul vouchsafe to guard.
'Tis pitying grace like this alone RULER SUPERNE ! Thy glory doth beseem. (308)
LXXVIII. My soul clings to Thee.
' RULER SUPERNE, there's none butThee, or here or there,' and thus I ever spake,
Fool though I was, there was no difference ! Our Lord: Thou Spotless One,
Make me, an outcast wretch, Thine own, my Teacher Thou,
The THOUGHT, that other god exists than Thee the One, my mind shall never THINK !(312)
LXXIX. Old days of ignorance.
BY THOUGHT, by deed, by hearing, or by speech, or by these wretched senses five
I failed in days of old Thy truth to reach;- I, low and foolish one.
I passed not through the fire, my heart burst not with shame.
To Thee, O Father, even yet may I attain ! May I yet dwell with Thee ! (316)
LXXX. Strange command: 'Tarry yet below.'
Me iron hearted and deceitful one, Thine own Thou mad'st; Thy foot's sweet bliss
Filled me with joy; with me Thou didst commingling join. The fire was there and I
Was there: that was which was ! Though this was so that day,
There was in Thee desire for me, in me for Thee;-what ignorance was mine?
LXXXI. Falsehood lingers yet.
'The seed of lies is not destroyed ;'-so saying, Thou hast placed me here !-
All those that were to Thy desire have come, and reached Thy sacred Foot ! -
ln depths of fear I sink O God, Who didst in ArUr ask for alms,
What shall I do ? SPEAK Thou to me ! (324)
Thou SPAK'ST to me, amid Thy saints with sacred ash I was besmeared;
By men on earth as Thy poor slave I've been abused; henceforth, if what
I suffer pleases not, 'tis what my soul desires, because I am
Thy SLAVE, whom Tho~ didst make Thine own ! (328)
LXXXIII. Yet I know not why I'am left.
And am I not Thy SLAVE ? and didst Thou not make me Thine own, I pray
All those Thy servants have approached Thy Foot; this body full of sin
I may not quit, and see Thy face,-Thou Lord of Civa-world!-I fear,
And SEE NOT HOW TO GAIN THE SIGHT ! (332)
LXXXIV. Tell me the hindrance to my instant freedom.
I SEE NOT HOW THY SIGHT TO GAIN; though Thee THAT DAY I saw ! Speak Thou
In music say what 'tis that weighs my spirit down,-O Light Superne !
Male, Female, rare Ambrosia, Sire ! I die, a dog, of power bereft,
By what may I rise up, my Lord ? (336)
LXXXV. Falseness keeps me out.
Thou Partner of the fawn-eyed Queen; Thou Word, whose end the Word
Ambrosia sweet, to thought unknown; King, faults of wretched me Thou bear'st
I babbling tell my woes. Thy saints have reached the city blest. OUTSIDE
I and my FALSENESS wander here ! (340)
LXXXVI. But O, the pity of it.
OUTSIDE We go, FALSENESS and I !True love to gain I've lost the power.
This is my gain! Thy saints to Thee who utterly are joined now,
Know nothing else but Thee; in acts all glorious on their way they go !
O Civan, they have reached Thy FOOT ! (344)
LXXXVII. Failure !
O Master, give Thy slave to love Thy FOOT; Thy servants now have gained
The world from which they come not back; outside I have remained, I've tried
'To crown the village cow, and so have crowned the blind !' From love, of
Thy twain Feet
Estranged, a slave I 'wildered WEEP ! (348)
LXXXVIII. I am unworthy to be numbered with Thy saints.
I WEEP ! With loving mind towards Thee, like wax before the fire were they.
Thy gleaming, golden, jewelled Foot have they beheld, and worshipping
Have followed Thee; not following on with them, in vain have I been born !
Wherewith shall I before Thee bow? (352)
LXXXIX. At least, take my sin away.
In grace Thou hast put far all ills of those that bowed; on ancient saints
Thou didst bestow Thy Foot adorned ! If that's too great for me, my guilt
(Who'm like a tough bambu) destroy; come swiftly, give Thy healing Foot
Thou only True, from FALSEHOOD free ! (356)
XC. Teach me Thy way.
All FALSE am I; FALSE is my heart; and FALSE my love; yet, if he weep,
May not Thy sinful servant Thee, Thou Soul's Ambrosial sweetness, gain ?
Lord of all honied gladness pure, in grace unto Thy servant teach
The way that he may come to Thee ! (360)
THE OVERFLOW OF RAPTURE.
XCI. The true ones blest - but I!
O Flood of mighty changeless grace ! They came,
who gain'd erewhile the gift immutable
Of station 'neath Thy twain flow'r-wreathed Feet.
They, LOVING THEE IN TRUTH, HAVE REACH'D THE TRUE !
Thee, Endless One, benignly manifest,
diffusing light,-as Man, I saw Thee come !
Yet I, a dog, of heart by fate unblest,-
lie at the gate, ah me ! in low estate. (364)
XCII. Deny me not Thy truth.
O Half of Her with eyes of glist'ning jet,
Thou cam'st and mad'st me Thine, with tender hand
As feeding me from golden cup, since when
hard of access I deem Thee never more;
Thou on Whose Body gleam the ashes white !
They, LOVING THEE IN TRUTH, HAVE REACH'D THE TRUE !
But, tell me, is it MEET that Thou should'st go
and leave me here, in falsehood thus to fall ? (368)
XCIII. Take 'deeds' away.
MEETNESS I'd none,-the false I took for true;
but when with loving glance Thou had'st me come,
Afflictions ceased ! Yet now deceit seems truth.
I have not died, O blooming lotus Foot !
Thou with Thy loving ones-to whom Thy grace
was given, O roseate Form,-on high
Hast gone, and left me here. Lord, hear my plaint:
there is no end of deeds for worthless me ! (372)
XCIV. No limit to Thy power.
There was no love in me towards Thy FOOT,
O Half of Her with beauteous fragrant locks !
By magic power that stones to mellow fruit
converts, Thou mad'st me lover of Thy Feet.
Our Lord, Thy tender love no limit knows.
Whatever sways me now, whate'er my deed,
Thou can'st even yet Thy Foot again to me
display and save, O Spotless Heavenly One ! (376)
XCV. My course laid out by Thee.
Thou Whom the lords of heaven themselves know not !
Thy source and end the VEdas cannot trace !
Tlou Whom in every land men fail to know !
As Thou hast sweetly made me Thine hast called
This flesh to dance on stage of earth,-
me to enjoy Thyself with melting soul,-
In mystic drama, too, hast caused to move,-
pining on earth, Thou Lord of magic power ! (380)
XCVI. 'I am Thine, save me!?
Without a seed, the fruit Thou causest spring;
th' entire of heaven and earth, and all therein
Thou didst ordain, and wilt destroy ! Me too,
deceitful, mean, within Thy temple gates
Thou fill'd'st with frenzy; mad'st to join the band
of Thy great loving ones ! Ev'n should the tree
They plant yield poison, men destroy it not;-
and thus am I, MY OWNER AND MY LORD ! (384)
OWNER AND LORD, all hail! Besides Thyself
support to cling to hath Thy servant aught ?
I serve Thee, hail ! Transcendent Being, Lord
of those in heavenly courts who dwell, all hail !
Lowest of all have I become, all hail !
Giver.to me of every grace, all hail !
Thou Who didst make me Thine own servant, hail !
the First Thou art, and Last, my FATHER, hail ! (388)
XCVIII. Earnest appeal.
My FATHER ! unto me Ambrosia Thou !
O Blest Supreme ! Thou art to honey like
That flows abundant, thrills the soul with bliss I
Thy loving ones enjoy Thee as their own !
Helper Thou art ! with glist'ning glory crowned,
in weary anguish of Thy worshippers.
O Treasure ! tell me, wilt Thou leave me here,
in this poor world to pine away, our KING ? (392)
XCIX. Come !
O KING, our Lord, come Thou to me, to me !
Who art before the four-faced One and MAl,
And all the gods. Our Lord, come Thou to me, to me !
After the day when all things have their end
Thou art ! Our Lord, come Thou to me, to me !
I at Thy jewell'd feet would utter praise
With loving tongue ! Our Lord, come Thou to me, to me I
that I, Sin's-slayer, may Thy glories SING ! (396)
C. Longing desire.
THY PRAISE TO SING I long, all hail ! Thee sing !
while all my being sinks and melts in love.
I long to dance, all hail ! in Thy blest courts,
before Thy flow'ry dancing Foot ! A dog,-
I long to join, all hail ! Remove me from
this nest of worms, all hail ! The false I long
To Ieave, all hail ! Grant me Thy home, all hail !
Hail Thou who art to THY TRUE SERVANTS TRUE !
HYMN VI - neethal viNNappam (prapanja vairakkiyam)
'FORSAKE ME NOT'
This title, which forms the burthen of the poem, is given to one of the Sage's
most interesting compositions. It consists of fifty quatrains, constructed in a
beautiful metre (see my Second Grammar 192) which is in fact epichoriambic (as is
explained in the notes to the Tamil text).
It is called AnthAthi poem. This means that it is anaphoretic, the last
word of a verse is to be repeated in the beginning of each following verse, and
very often striking its keynote. Hymn V is the same). This has a beautiful
effect in Tamil, but the difference of Idiom often forbids translator to attempt
to reproduce it in English.
The poem throughout is a genuine human cry for Divine help in the midst of
a terrible struggle and is full of the most vivid emotion. It was composed,
according to tradition, immediately after the wonderful cento that forms the
fifth poem, and gives expression to the youthful devotee's feelings after
his guru had finally departed, and the company of the 999 (?) saints who
attended him had thrown themselves into the fire. He is said to have gone round
the Civan shrines in the PAndiyan Kingdom, and first of all to have spent some
considerable time in the ancient city of Tiru-uttara-kOcamangai, which was at
one time a PAndiyan capital, situate eight miles south-west of Ramnad, where the
ruins of an important Civan shrine are yet to be seen. There he suffered from
the reaction naturally consequent upon the excitement produced by the
wonderful events of the preceding months. He had been till now the petted,
highly gifted favourite and prime minister of the PAndiyan Kingdom living in the
midst of pomp and luxury, invested with almost absolute power; and was still in
early manhood. He finds himself at once a Caiva mendicant, who has renounced
everything subsists on alms, and must spend his days and nights in solitary
Meanwhile the circumstances in which he finds himself placed the lives of
his companions, the whole environment of the temple, are not favourable to pure and
high devotion. The lofty ideal is not realized here. Then, as now, the
influences surrounding and emanating from the shrine itself were in many ways
deteriorating. From the evidence of these verses, we conclude that there were two
things from which he suffered. One of these was the allurements of the female
attendants who, in bands pertained to the temple. We have noticed this elsewhere.
Hindu commentators will often find mystic meanings, which are harmless, - if
unfounded. Again and again in this and other poems he deplores the way in which he
has been led to violate his vow. The other difficulty, often referred to was the
way in which mere ceremonial acts had to be performed, affording no relief to
his conscience. He thus fell into a desponding and well-nigh despairing state of
mind, and sent forth this cry like that heard in the Psalter, and reiterated by
the greatest Being that ever trod the pathway of this human life. Few things in
literature have such a genuine ring as some of the verses in which young noble
bewails his apparent desertion by his Master. Yet he never quite lost his
confidence and love; and afterwards, as many of the lyrics show, exchanged for
the 'spirit of heaviness the garment of praise'.
I do not think that any one can be found who will withhold his sympathy
from the Sage. It may be noticed, though it is in connection with the Tamil text
that the matter must be more fully discussed, that there is a great difference,
as it seems to me, between the style of the first twenty stanzas (where
indeed it may be conjectured that the poem originally ended) and those that
follow. Notably in verses 21-50 there is only reference to Uttara-kOca-mangai,
which city in verses 1-20 is a part of the perpetual refrain. These latter
verses, too, are more ingenious and subtle, and are more ful of poetic fancies.
Sometimes, indeed, they may seem to be even more beautiful than those that are
the undoubted composition of the Sage. Their language, rhythm, and manner seem
to me, however, to be different. But I readily acknowledge the difficulty that
lies in the way of all merely subjective criticism, especially by a foreigner.
Yet the exceedingly uncritical way in which these texts have been hitherto
handled necessitates and justifies the attempt.
The writer did a great part of these translations at beautiful Lugano, not
unfrequently relieving the toil by the enjoyment of an hour in the church of S.
Maria degli Angoli, before the marvellous frescoes of Bernardino Luini; and
could not help wishing oft times that the Tamil Sage and Seeker after God could
have stood there, or haply knelt by his side. Could Manikkavacagar have traced
that history of the Great Master, of His passage from Gethsemane to the glory of
His heavenly dwelling place, how would he have been affected?. One wonders!.
It may be that he, and the weaver of MailApUr, and the wandering sages of the NAladiyAr, and
others whose legends we recall, have since, freed from the flesh, visited that
spot. Certainly they know those histories now! Shall we not in regard to our
poet-sage, wherever his ashes are scattered, say hopefully and tenderly,
Requiescat in pace?
I. The foresaken one's petition
Me, meanest one, in mercy mingling Thou didst make Thine own,-
Lord of the Bull ! Lo, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME! O Thou Who wear'st
Garb of fierce tiger's skin ! ABIDING UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING
Thou of the braided lock ! I fainting sink. Our Lord, uphold Thou me ! (4)
The crimson lips of maidens fair, in ripeness of their charms,
I press no more; yet, Lo ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME; though in,
Not out Thy worthy service, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING,
I am ! Thou mad'st false me Thine, why dost Thou leave me NOW ? (8)
A tree on river bank of dark eyed maiden's senses five
I rooted stand ! LO, ME THOU HAST FOKSAKEN; Thou who dwell'st
In ArUr's shrine renowned; O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S KING !
Half of her form, the beauteous one ! Thou FOSTERER of my life ! (12)
Thou took'st me in Thy gracious FOSTERING hand; and then, withdrawn,
LO ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN me lost here; Thou Whose lofty crown
Bears the pale crescent moon, O UTTARA KOCA-MANGAI'S KING !
Thou radiant Beam as lightning seen 'mid sheen of GLISTENING gold ! (16)
Like moth in GLISTENING flame, to those of gentle speech, long time
I fall a prey ! LO, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME! In Thy flower-crown
Sweet bees sip fragrant honey; UTTARA KOCA-MANGAI'S KING !
Since with ambrosia of Thy grace to feed me I REFUSED ! (20)
Through ignorance I have Thy grace REFUSED; and Thou, my Gem!
Hast loathed me ! Lo, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! My throng of 'deeds '
Suppress, and make me Thine, O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S KING !
Will not the great-soul'd bear, though little curs are FALSE ? (24)
FALSE me Thou mad'st Thine own, as though some worth I had; didst mend
Me, O Thou True ! LO, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME! Thy throat is black
With swallow'd poison ! STATELY UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S KING!
O roseate One, Civan, who PUTT'ST AWAY my mortal pains ! (28)
What is Thy way of glorious grace that PUTS AWAY my sin ?
I ask with awe; THOU'ST LEFT ME, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING;
Before whose jubilant Bull flower-crown'd foes fearing fled !
The senses 'five' and fear in ways DIVERSE draw guilty me ! (32)
Like ant on firebrand lit at DIVERSE ends, sever'd from Thee,
Distraught, Lo ! ME THOU HAST FORSAKEN, Thou the only Lord
Of the vast triple world, strong UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING !
Whose BRIGHT right hand uplifts the warrior's triple-headed spear ! (36)
I gained access to Thy BRIGHT Feet, freed from this mortal frame !
Yet me who pine, THOU'ST LEFT; O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S KING,
Around Whose beauteous flowery groves the swarms of beetles hum;
Thou Who with bow of might didst burn the city of, Thy FOES ! (40)
MY FOES, 'the five' deceived me; from Thy jewelled flower-like Feet
I parted; LO! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou honey of
My sinful soul ! O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S KING !
O WORTH, Whose golden form gleams 'neath the hallowed ash ! (44)
O WORTHY ONE, Thou mad'st me Thine; by senses ' five ' deceived,
I worthless left Thee ! UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S KING ! And Thou
Hast left me ! Thou Whose mighty javelin slays Thy trembling foes;
Great SEA of clear Ambrosia given for worthless me to taste ! (48)
As dog laps water from the lake, my soul Thy mercy's SEA
Quits not; me THOU'ST FORSAKEN, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING;
Who dost as in a home abide in those who leave Thee not,
Wine of the palm ! Ambrosia ! Gem ! My FLOOD of bliss ! (52)
Like one whose tongue amid the FLOOD is parched I gain'd Thy grace,
Yet sorrow springs; ME THOU'ST FORSAKEN; UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING;
Who ever dwellest in Thy servants' hearts that Thee desire !
To me in guile immersed grant grace ! My joy is JOYLESS all ! (56)
With JOYOUS thought I saw Thy Foot, drew near, and gained Thy grace;
Yet am not free ! ME THOU'ST FORSAKEN, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING,
Whose flowery jewell'd Foot is Light of all true lights that gleam !
Father accessible ! Lord, Who didst make me all Thine own ! (60)
I wandered weary, none to say 'Fear not !' Like lightning's flash
Behold, THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou Truth beyond compare;
Great UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING, that like Thyself abides:
Like Mother Thou, like Father Thou, my soul's most precious WEALTH ! (64)
O WEALTH ! Sole Refuge of my lonely heart ! By those who spurn
Thy glories fear'd ! Lo, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME; O Grace by eager heart
And true enjoyed; THOU KING OF UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI'S SHRINE,
With fair groves girt ! Darkness and light, this world and that, Thou art ! (68)
'Be with me ! Govern, use, sell, pledge me,' thus I cried,
Yet me, erewhile Thy guest, THOU HAST FORSAKEN, Who didst drink
The poison as ambrosia; UTTARA KOCA-MANGAI'S KING !
Thou healing Balm for those bowed down by 'changeful birth's' disease ! (72)
Fire of Thy 'biding grace my sins' thick springing wood burns up,
Vidangan ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME; O UTTAR-KOCA-MANGAI'S KING;
Who dost destroy the root of human 'birth,' and make me Thine;
The hill-like elephant didst flay, and fright the Vanji-BOUGH ! (76)
Like climbing plant with no-supporting BOUGH, I wavering hung !
Lo, Tender One, me-tremblulg THOU'ST FORSAKEN; Thou Who dwell'st
Where heavenly ones come not; strong UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAl'S KING;
Thou Who art Ether, Earth, and Fire, and Wind, and watery FLOOD ! (80)
Like little shrubs where elephants contend, by senses five
I've been sore vexed; lo, THOU, my Father, HAST FORSAKEN ME !
To sinful me commingled honey, milk, sweet cane, ambrosia,
LIGHT of my soul, thrilling my flesh and inmost frame,-Thou art ! (84)
The LIGHT Thou art: the White One, gleaming bright. with sacred ash
Besmeared. Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME; Thou to Thy servants true
Art near; from others ever distant; hard to know;
The Feminine, the ancient Male, the neutral One art Thou ! (88)
The form Thou gav'st I wore, in faults abounding, scant of love,.
Me, worthless slave, THOU HAST FORSAKEN, see ! But, if Thou leave,
I perish; none but Thee upholds Thy slave; Source of my being's bliss;
This clear perception hath Thy servant gained, Indwelling Lord ! (92)
Things true abiding, folly-stirred, for vanities I burn'd;
And THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME; Thou Who as robe dost wear the hide
Of fiery mighty-handed elephant !-I joys of sense
Seeking gain not, like ANTS that noiseless round the oil-jar swarm. (96)
Like worm in midst of ANTS, by senses gnawed and troubled sore,
Me, utterly alone, Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN; Thou Whom fiery death obeyed;
Whose fragrant flowery Foot the heavenly ones attain, and they
Who know; O MIGHTY One, Who from Thy servants partest not ! (100)
'When the GREAT waters fail, the little fishes faint; ' so reft of Thee
I quake. Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! The moon's white crescent borne
On Ganga's wave, like little skiff on mountain stream,
Is hidden in Thy braided locks, O CHOICEST GEM of heaven ! (104)
CHOICE GEMS they wore, those softly smiling maids; I failed, I fell.
Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou gav'st me place 'mid Saints who wept,
Their beings fill'd with rapturous joys; in grace didst make me Thine !-
Show me Thy Feet, even yet to SENSE revealed, O spotless Gem ! (108)
While SENSES made me quake, I trembling swerved to falsehood's way.
Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! While heaven and earth the poison feared
From out the mighty sea, Thou madest it ambrosia; Home of grace !
Thy servant I, O Master, stand distraught; sole Worship of my heart ! (112)
Thyself from every fetter free, Thou freed'st me from all fault, O Sire,
Whose bow victorious is the mighty mount ! Lo, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME !
Thy lotus-form the cassia's gold wreath wears; O matchless One !
By fivefold-evil am I stirred like milk by CHURNING STAFF. (116)
The senses' fire burns fierce; I'm stirr'd as the cool curds by CHURNING'STAFF,
Lo ! ME THOU HAST FORSAKEN I Thou Who wear'st chaplet of skulls
And clustering wreaths of flowers, and the long entrails' twine; and dost Thyself
Adorn with ashes, and sweet sandal-paste, O ESSENCE PURE ! (120)
XXXI. Thou art with all ! - but me !
PURE ESSENCE Multiform, Who art cool flood, sky, wind, earth, fire;
THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! White, black, and azure art Thou seen !
Roseate Thy form ! Thy girdle is the glistening hooded snake !
O WARRIOR ELEPHANT, with dripping brow and mighty foot ! (124)
XXXII. Sensuality was my bane.
Those WARRING ELEPHANTS, the senses five, I feared,-was lost.
THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME, Thou, hard to leave,-hard to attain,
Save by Thy worthy saints, bright Gem ! While fierce fire raged,
Poison hard won from out the sea, Thou mad'st Thy food, O Azure-throat! (128)
XXXIII. Pardon my waywardness !
That I wished to do I did,-wine of Thy grace I drank,-rejoiced;-
Then swerved ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! Thy fragrant flowery Foot,
As in the days of old Thou gav'st, command and bid me serve !
Take me, my Father ! O remove this wayward FOND DESIRE ! (132)
XXXIV. I was fickle and self-witted
Sitirred by no strong DESIRE I did my will, nor clung to Thine !
And, lo ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! When wilt Thou yet as wine
Of joy meet me, and all my mind with fragrant sweetness fill,
As of the plantain fruit,-TRANSCENDENT LORD of Kailai's hill ? (136)
XXXV. I am, though faulty, Thine !
TRANSCENDENT LORD, with Thine own ancient saints, me faulty one
Thou didst desire ! O Aran, yet LO ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME !-
Thou didst me place near Thee, like the hare spots thou wear'st,-
O mighty Warrior 'gainst birth's five-mouth'd snake, my soul would shun! (140)
XXXVI. Quench sensual fires.
Like flames in forest glade sense-fires with smoky glare burn fierce !
I burn ! LO, THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! O conquering King of heaven,
The garlands on Whose braided lock drip honey, while the bees
Hum softly 'mid MandAra buds, whence fragrant sweetness breathes. (144)
XXXVII. Is there no pity?
O King, to me poor ignorant, 'Fear not for faults,' Thou didst
Not say, but HAST FORSAKEN ME, O Thou with fragrance crowned !
Spouse of the sea-born maid with sparkling gems and jet-black eyes !
Bhuyangan ! Golden Foot ! My 'deeds' PRESS round like clustering hills. (148)
XXXVIII. I have erred through weakness.
By senses PRESSED, fearing I left Thee, weak to quit the charms
Of sweet-voiced maids. Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou radiant Beam
King of the burning ground; Ambrosia to Thy worshippers;
Hard to be gained; sole HELP, removing loneliness of lonely me ! (152)
XXXIX. Help me in this conflict with flesh.
SOLE HELP, whilst Thou wert there I wandered wanton,-'deeds' my help !
THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME, Thou Helper of my guilty soul;
Thou Source of all my beings bliss; Treasure that never fails !
No whit bear I this grievous body's mighty NET ! (156)
XL. The pain of sensuality.
Caught by those eyes whose timid glance is like fawn's in the NET,
'Wildered I grieved. Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou on Whose head
The pale moon's crescent thin is seen ! Ocean of grace ! Thou Lord
Of Kailai's hill ! Spouse of the mountain Maid ! Source Of my being's joy ! (160)
XLI. Woe is me, in this vile fleshy prison.
In the hot flood of lust for those of ruddy lips, like crocodiles,-
I eager plunged. Lo ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! This body foul,
Ant-eaten, I endure not; Civan, list to my complaint !
Thou Bridegroom of the beauteous Bride; my joyous Goal of bliss ! (164)
XLII. Grace once given, now withdrawn.
Thou gav'st indeed to me in grace to gain my goal, Thy Feet;-
Yet THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME, not fated to shake off this flesh !
The moon beheld the serpent bright in skull-cave hid, and feared;-
Then plunging hid his swelling crest within Thy braided lock, O KING ! (168)
XLIII. I adore Thee, though forlorn.
O KING, to wretched me, who know not any path, the Light
Of joy ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME !-Thou the true VEdic Lord
To me didst speak, Who passed speech ! To steadfast worshippers,
Thou art the First, the Last too,-Thou this universal Whole !(172)
XLIV. Tormented by lust.
Like oil was I poured in fierce fire of glancing dartlike eyes,-
LO ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME! Whose word erst joined me to Thy saints,
Who ever worship at Thy fragrant flowery Feet; my Lord !
My Master, faulty though I am, forsake me not ! Thee will I SING. (176)
XLV. Spiritual desertion
I SANG Thee not, nor worshipped Thee, O hidden Gem,-nor left this flesh.
LO ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! All wonderment I wept, yet sought Thee not,
Nor, 'Where is Civan,' 'Who hath seen Him?' did I haste to ask.
I lay supine, my soul no raptures knew;-I suffered sore ! (180)
XLVI. Still will I adore the mysteries of Thy nature.
Like fly in jack-fruit caught, I fell a prey to fawn-eyed maids !
LO ! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME ! But if Thou leave, I'll utter loud reproach !
I'll call Thee 'Black-throat,' 'Who ate poison from the sea,' 'The Unqualified,'
'The man,' 'Crowned with the waning moon,' 'The mighty God gone wrong.' (184)
XLVII. Various wanderings.
The ancient worship of Thy blameless Feet I gained; then fell;
Reviled Thee; woke once more; and, LO ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME !
Greatness, that heavenly Ganga stirs to shed bright gems and pearls !
Thy WREATH'S the crescent in the water seen, caught in Thy braided lock ! (188)
XLVIII. I will boast Thy name.
Hero, Who wear'st the fiery snake-WREATH on Thy starlike head !
Lo I THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME; But if Thou leave when others ask
'Whose servant Thou ?' 'Slave of the glorious slaves
Of Uttara-kOca-mangai's King,' I'll name myself, and cause them SMILE at Thee. (192)
XLIX. Ever praising.
I'll make them SMILE, unfolding faults and service to the Lord !
Lo! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME; but if Thou leave, I shall ABUSE Thee sore !
'Madman, clad in wild elephant's skin;' 'Madman, with hide for his garb
'Madman, that ate the poison;' 'Madman of the burning-ground-fire
'Madman, that chose even me for His own !' (196)
ABUSING Thee or praising,-crushed by sin, and grieved am I !
LO! THOU'ST FORSAKEN ME, Thou Brightness on red coral hill !
Thou madst me Thine; didst fiery poison eat, pitying poor souls,
That I might Thine ambrosia taste,-I, meanest one ! (200)
HYMN VII - thiruvempaavai
THE MAIDENS' SONG OF THE DAWNING
The mystic 'Song of the Maidens' forms a pendant to the 'Morning Hymn' (XX). It
has always been attributed to Manikka-vACagar without any hesitation, though in
many respects it is certainly unlike most of his other lyrics. It is said to
have been composed for the use of the women at ArunACalam, among whom it is, and
was, the custom to celebrate with great demonstrations of joy a festival in
honour of the god Civan and the goddess Catti in the month of Margazhi, which
corresponds to the second half of December and the first half of January. At
that time the females of the city of all ages for ten successive days rise
before dawn, and perambulate the precincts, arousing their companions from house
to house, and proceeding to bathe (in rigidly decorous manner) in the sacred
tank. There are passages in this poem which I have been obliged somewhat to
veil, and modify, carefully preserving, however, the full and exact meaning of
the original, as I conceive it. There is, however, connected with the Caiva
worship, it must be said, a series of rites which is sometimes called the
tantric, and sometimes the Cakti system. No doubt, in connection with this, many
unspeakable abominations have been, and are at times perpetrated; and every
thoughtful Hindu is sincerely anxious that all trace of these corruptions should
be swept away. In all nations Similar things have existed, and it would be
quite superfluous to enumerate the ancient rites of a similar character that
have been enthusiastically celebrated. From such things the Caiva system must sever
itself absolutely, which it can the more decidedly do, because they have no real
root in the Caiva Siddhanta philosophy itself.
In one edition of these poems there is the introduction to the
'Maidens' Reveille,' which gives a mystic interpretation to a large portion of
the lyric. According to this author, from the month of Adi to the month of
Margazhi (i.e. from July 15th to January 15th) is the night season; the other
half of the year being the daytime; the whole year forming a single day of the
Gods. The former half of the year, in which there is rain with black clouds, is
the representative of the secular period of involution or destruction, when all
things have been re-involved in the ripple veils of darkness, which period
precedes that of the recreation, or evolution. The other half of the year
represents the period of creation, i.e. the time during which the phenomenal
universe is re-evolved from its eternal elements as the sphere of the activities of
all things that have life. The month of Margazhi is then the symbol of the
awaking of the universe from its slumber of involution. It is the dawn of the
new creation,— of secular evolution. [NOTE XIII].
Now this creation is the work of Catti, the manifested energy of
Civan:—his wife, who is the author, not of life indeed, but of the whole
phenomenal system in which and by which life exerts its energy, and achieves its
destinies. Civan himself can come into no personal relation with matter and its
veiling delusions and darkness. It is, therefore, Catti that accomplishes the
work; she is an energy of activity, of knowledge, and of desire; and through her
alone the Supreme evolves all things. But this tantric system, like the gnostic
systems of old, does not permit Catti as the Partner of the Supreme, to
accomplish directly the work of evolution. This would be far too simple and
direct for Hindu philosophy. There is a long chain of feminine manifestations
(aeons evolved in succession, each coming into a relation to the Supreme that
constitutes a distinct stage in the process; and it is only at last that BrahmA
and Vishnu are evolved, to be respectively the fashioned and the maintainer of
the cosmic world. The writer here enumerates nine of these Cattis amongst whom
are numbered the chief female divinities that, under various names and epithets,
are worshipped or propitiated in various parts of India. Among them is the
dreaded KAli. No doubt there are hints of all this in this poem, but its plain
and obvious interpretation is the only one known to the majority of those that
use it, and I imagine the composer himself was innocent of anything like the
gnosticism and mysticism that his interpreters have given him credit for. As the
hymn stands it is a beautiful composition, but in some parts it will seem to be
somewhat obscure. I have tried to give a version that still be as literal as
possible, but only the Tamil reader can feel how great a poet its author was;
and only the student of the South-Indian Caiva philosophy can expect to enter
into its spirit. we sing; Thou hear'st the song, yet still sleep'st on;
Metre: veNTanaiyAnvanta iyaRRavinaik koccackalippa
I. The temple worship
(The waits sing at the door)
The Splendour rare and great, that knows nor first nor end,
O lady of the large bright eye ! is thine ear dull
that it perceives not sound of praise that hails
The great God's cinctured feet ?—She hears the strain resound
through all the street, yet in forgetful sleep
On her flower-couch she muttering turns ! —
See, here she nothing noting lies ! Why thus, why thus ?
doth this our friend beseem ?-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (4)
II. Trifle not.
'Hail to the heavenly Light,' thou ever say'st, as we,
by night and day. Now of this flowery couch
Art thou enamour'd, maid with faultless gems adorned ?
Shame I jewell'd dames, are these things trifles too ?
To sport and jest is this the place, when He in grace
Hath come to give the foot-flower, shame fast angels praise ?
The Teacher, Lord of Civa-world, in Tillai's porch He rules.
Who are His lovers all ?-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (8)
O thou whose smile as pearl is bright, arise, present
thyself before the Sire, the blissful One, th' Ambrosial,
And with o'erflowing sweetness speak ! Come, ope thy doors !-
[She joins them. They enter the temple porch]
'Ye men devout, the Ruler's ancient saints, ye reverend men,
Will't be amiss if ye our weakness aid, us novices admit ?'
[in the temple]
No cheat is this know we not all Thy wondrous love ?
Who sing not what they beauty deem ? Our Civants form
ev'n so we yearn to see.-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (12)
[ They all henceforth sing their morning song to the goddess,
imploring HER to arise in grace]
O thou of radiant pearl-like smile, is't not now dawn ?
have not the sweet-voiced come, like parrots many-hued ?
Thus thinking, as is meet, we speak; meanwhile in sleep
close not Thine eye; let not thy time in vain be spent ! -
Sole Balm of heaven, the VEda's precious Sense, the Dear
to eyes that see, we sing, our melting minds
In rapture all dissolved; nor deem thou should'st remain
for ever thus asleep !-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (16)
V. Say not, 'Civan is unknowable!'
The 'Mount' that MAl knew not, and Ayan saw not,-we
can know; so Thou dost utter falsities,
O guileful one, whose mouth with milk and honey flows,
ope thy door! He Whom earth, heaven, and other realms know not,
In glory makes us His, cleanses our souls in grace.
His goodness sing ! 'O Civan, Civan,' hark ! they cry.
Thou understandest not; thou understandest not !-
So's she with perfumed locks !-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (20)
O fawn, but yesterday thou said'st, 'At dawn I come
to rouse you up;' but now, all unabashed
Tell us, what quarter didst thou seek ?-is't not yet dawn ?
He Who is sky, and earth, and all things else, to men unknown:
Himself will come, will guard, and make us His; to us
who coming sing His-heavenly cinctur'd Foot, speak thou !
In rapture melt I The King of thee, of us extol;
of all the worlds ! -OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (24)
Mother, are these too trifles? Many heavenly ones
know not, the One, the mighty glorious Lord.
Hearing His signals, ope thy mouth, and 'Civan ' cry,
Cry Southern-One.' Like was before the fire
Melting,-'My own, my King, Ambrosia,' we all
have sung! Hear thou ! apart from us yet dost thou sleep ?
Dost thou yet speechless lie, like the hard-hearted silly ones ?
What grace is in this sleep ?-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (28)
While cocks are crowing, small birds chant on every side;
while trumpet sounds, sound out the conch-shells everywhere;
The heav'nly Light without compare, the Grace without compare,-
the Being great without compare, we've sung; hear'st not ?
Bless thee, what slumber's this ? Thou openest not thy mouth ?
is such the recompense for our King's love we bring ?
Th'Eternal, First of Beings; Him Who'bides the Only-One;
the Lady s Partner sing we all !-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (32)
Ancient of days, existing ere the ancient world!
Whose nature shares the newness of created things!
Thy worshippers devout, who've gained Thee for their Lord,
adore Thy servants' feet.-to them give reverence due.---
And these alone shall be our wedded lords; joyous
ev'n as they bid, due service will we render meek.
Thus, if Thou grant to us this boon, our King, no lack
Thy handmaids e'er shall know!-OUR LADY FAIR, ARISE ! (36)
Beneath the sevenfold gulf, transcending speech, His foot-flower rests;
with flowers adorned His crown of all the universe is crown !
The Lady's at His side !-His sacred form dwells not alone !
The VEdam, heavenly ones, and earth, praise Him; and yet
He's our one Friend, Whose praise ne'er dies; within His saints He dwells;
pure He sustains the 'clan '; ye temple-ladies, say
What is His Town ? His Name ? His kin ? and who His foes ?