1. Omneity is He who is rare to be comprehended
And expressed in words by all the worlds;
In His crest rest the crescent and the flood;
Limitless is His effulgence;
He dances in the Ambalam.
We hail and adore His ankleted flower-feet.
2. Life abiding in the tabernacle of flesh
Can sure attain its goal, the end of embodiment,
If it adores the golden feet of the Dancer
Who enacts the dance -- great and grand --,
In Tillai dight with melliferous gardens.
3. To come by the grace that will guide us to indite
The great hagiology in dulcet Tamil verse,
We enshrine in our thought
The ichorous Tusker-God endowed with
A pentad of arms -- long and strong --,
Dangling ears and a huge crown.
The Holy Assembly
4. May the lofty and sublime Assembly
Of the holy devotees who revel
In the wealth and weal
-- The pure flower-words of Nayanmar
Who have, of yore, hymned the Lord of Ambalam
Whose matted hair sports the crescent --,
For ever triumphantly flourish, and run
Their destined course illuminant in the world!
The Author’s Apology
5. I proclaim the boundless glory
Of the immeasurable devotees;
I cannot come near the fringe even;
Yet limitless love impels me to indite this opus.
6. I am to proclaim the incomprehensible glory
Of the divine and non-pareil devotees;
My act is to be likened to an avaricious cur’s
That means to lap the vast ocean-stream, dry.
7. By reason of the greatness of the theme
All will be avid to receive it.
My exposition may indeed be jejune
Having due regard to the theme;
Yet great ones poised in truth
Will relish it by reason of their greatness.
8. Wide and extensive is the earth ruled by the Chola
Who gold-plated the divine roof of the great Ambalam
Where is enshrined the Ruddy One.
As Anapayan’s royal court, in love, willed it
(We compose this opus).
9. “The gracious nature of (Nayanmar’s) service to God
Is indeed incomprehensible: you lack clarity;
How can you dare attempt this?”
Thus confronted, we but submit
That it is the flawless Logos,
The unbodied celestial voice
That hath initiated us in this service.
The Work Christened
10. Twyfold in this world, is the abiding hoary darkness;
The ruddy sun dispels the outer darkness;
Even so, this work will chase man’s inner murk.
We name this Tiru-th-Tondar Puranam.
1 We have so contrived to introduce the first word of this stanza that
its first two letters constitute the ineffable ‘OM’.
1 Omneity : “That which is essentially all; that
-- Webster’s Dictionary.
According to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary,
Omneity Means: “The condition of being all;
“allness”. Though God is all, all is not God.
Though Pati comprehends all, according to
St. Sekkizhar all the worlds can seldom
comprehend Him, much less express Him in
words. Pati is even beyond the Vedas and the
Agamas. These point the way which leads to
Him; but these are not the destination.
2 flood : The river Ganga.
4 His effulgence is not only limitless but is verily the source of all
5 The Ambalam : Tillai-Ambalam, the shrine of Nataraja (the
Lord-Dancer) at Chidambaram. Mystically
speaking the Ambalam is the soul. In Saiva
Siddhanta Tillai is the center of the universe.
6 Flower-feet : According to Maha Vidwan Meenakshisundaram Pillai,
மலர் சிலம்படி the word “malar” grammatically speaking, is an
instance of “vinai-th-tokai” which is indicative
of the past, the present and the to-come.
St. Sekkizhar’s வாழ்த்தி வணங்குவோம் (vazhthi
vanangkuvam) are the very words of St. Appar who
in his Tiru Murukal Tevaram says: வாழ்த்தி
வணங்கவே (vazhthi vanangkave).
3 The Dancer : Called Bharata by the Rig Veda. He is known as
(Varatar> வரதர் Tandaweswara, the Lord of Dance. Varatar may also
mean: “He who grants boon.”
3 St. Sekkizhar calls his work a “ma-k-kathai”, a great (hi) story. It is a
history of saints and the facts narrated by the saint are hundred percent
The huge crown worn by Ganapati is an indicant of His Viswarupa.
4 4 Nayanmar : Plural of Nayanmar. Nayakan became Nayan (by
elision) and Nayan acquiring the respectful
suffix “aar” became Nayanar. The message
of this stanza is as follows: May the light
issuing from the Holy Assembly of the great
devotees guide the destiny of this, our world.
5 2 The devotees are Nayanmar whose greatness is immeasurable.
6 Kamban, the celebrated author of the Ramayana in Tamil, compares himself
to a cat which is out to drink clean the Ocean of Milk.
8 3 Ruddy One : Lord Siva.
9 Even though King Anapayan and his royal court requested our saint to
compose the work, he awaited the divine sanction. Then he heard the
unbodied celestial voice proclaiming “Ulakelam”, an with this term forming
the first words of his work the saint began to ply his stylus. The dictum
of Dr. G.U. Pope which says that the entire first line of the hymn was
dictated by God is to be understood in this light.
Sincere thanks to Sri. T N Ramachandran of thanjavur, for permitting his English rendering of the holy text periyapurANam be published here.