1. HE who is not to be comprehended by any one
For ever abides in the divine peak of the great Kailas
Which is atop the wide, snowy and awesome mountain
That bears on its golden frame white stripes
Like unto those of the holy ash. (11)
2. As the Lord is here enthroned
The triple worlds and the four Vedas
Have come hither to perform endless askesis;
So does it look like Piety's own congregation. (12)
3. If with all the innumerable regions
As bright and shining leaves, the world is
Wrought into a lustrous liana
The awesome mount will be (like) its white bloom. (13)
4. There resound the chanting of the four lofty Vedas
The strumming of vinas by celestial musicians,
The trumpeting of tuskers as the clouds rumble
And the ever-glorious music of the celestial tuntupis. (14)
5. Behold here numberless billions of chaplets
To adorn the crown of the Lord
Worshipfully held by the immortals of cool skyey realms,
Garlands of golden blooms from the holy Karpaka
And garlands of prayer by saints galore. (15)
6. Billions and billions of Bhootas -- small and short --,
Here sing and dance in sheer ecstasy;
These can, if they so desire, usher into existence
The five elements and fill the offices of Gods too. (16)
7. Unable to worship the Lord as the hour is not propitious
Brahma return and stands baffled.
He cannot discern his swan, totally lost
In the pure and white luster of the awesome mountain. (17)
8. He knows not that Vishnu is abiding his time
To adore the feet of Siva decked with white ear-rings;
He beholds in the slope of the dazzlingly white Kailas
A bandicoot -- the mount of the Tusker-God --,
Surface up from a cavern.
Deeming that to be the primal boar that this day
Is out to bore the earth to reach the foot
Of the red column of fire now turned white,
Garuda wings his way to it. (18)
9. There dance the heavenly danseuses to the beat
Of muzhavu and the roar of cataracts;
With palms full of melliferous flowers of the divine tree
And with loving minds seeking boons
Indra and other gods ascend the ever-crowded steps
Of the long and lofty way dight with mantapams and vimanas,
Hymning all the while His divine praise. (19)
10. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and other countless gods
Come thronging to adore (Him) in boundless love:
These stand at the first tower wrought of lustrous gems;
There they are restrained by Nandi -- the Chamberlain
Of Lord Siva, the Primal God who dances in the Court
Adored by Bhootas, Vetalas and Gananatas. (20)
11. By the grace of the Lord of matted hair, Nandi
Is invested with the office of guarding Kailas;
He is the Chief of the great many who are forehead-eyed,
Four-shouldered and who wear the holy ash on their bodies,
Also the devotees of Lord Siva who rides the Bull
Decked with pinggnakam, and all others too;
He wields in his flowery hands
The sword and the divine cane. (21)
12. The Lord holds an antelope in His (left) hand
And a mazhu in His (right) hand.
His matted hair where courses Ganga, is decked
With the young crescent
And a chaplet of (Konrai) flowers.
By reason of His enthronement here,
The presence of measureless glory
And the flourishing of the sheer purity of truth's luster,
The wide range of Kailas is like unto the mind divine
Of Anapayan of triumphant parasol white --
The fearless King that wields a righteous scepter. (22)
13. Seated on its divine slope
Saint Upamanyu of inconceivable glory
For ever meditates in blissful ecstasy
On Siva whose nature none can know. (23)
14. This saint placed his feet on the crown
Of Yadhava, the king of Dwaraka;
Peerless is his service to Siva, the Lord of Bhootas,
And it knows neither beginning nor end. (24)
15. The Saint, of yore, was fed by the Ocean of Milk
By the grace of Lord Siva, the Father;
He grew solely sustained by the milk of Siva's grace;
Myriads of holy saints and suddha yogis sat encircling him. (25)
16. Before them all, gushed forth a growing light
With the great brilliance of a thousand suns;
The great tapaswis pure and others
Who sat encircling the Saint
Marvelling said: "What wonder is this!" (26)
17. Thereupon the Saint invoked in thought the feet
Of the Lord -- the wearer of the crepuscular crescent --,
And said: "By the grace of our Father,
He who incarnated in the South as the Lord of Navaloor
-- Gloried Van-tondan --, doth now return." (27)
18. As the great Saint of matted hair -- long and ruddy --,
Folding his hands in adoration rose up and walked
Toward the direction whence gushed forth the great light,
All athrill, as if immersed in a sea of joy,
The holy ones, to have their doubt resolved,
Implored him thus: (28)
19. "You, Our Lord, never adore aught but the lotus-feet
Of Sambhu; what may this be?"
Thus questioned, he said; "Nambi Arooran
Hath enshrined in his bosom the great Lord;
He is verily worthy of our adoration." (29)
20. Hearing this they worshipfully beseeched him;
"Great is our desire to hear of the gloried tapas
Of him who blazes forth in triumphal luster great!
May you, in grace, be pleased to narrate it." (30)
21. Then the Saint began his true narration thus:
"Unto the True Ens, the Lord of Munificence
In whose crest courses the flood of Ganga,
His service was to gather honey-laden blooms
And weave them into garlands;
He was also the bearer of His Holy Ash. (31)
22. "His name was Alala Sundarar.
One day, of yore, to gather fresh flowers
Wherewith to deck the Primordial Lord
He fared forth to the flower-garden. (32)
23. "Thither came a pair of women, passing beautiful,
With visages like unto the full-moon bright,
To gather flowers, rich in pollen,
For the Lord's Consort whom they served. (33)
24. "When Anintitai of boundless glory and Kamalini
Of dark and dense hair adorned with a fragrant wreath,
Were gathering choice flowers from the bunches,
It happened like the grace of the Lord of Gods. (34)
25. "For the great thriving of the South
That indeed had wrought immense tapas,
He who was to incarnate thither and hymn
The flawless Tiru-th-tonda-th-Tokai,
Did set his mind on them both;
The loving lasses also reveled in the joy
Of beholding him. (35)
26. "He gathered many many flowers -- fit for the Lord,
That were about to bloom and sought by bees,
And went away; like him the pen-like lasses
Also gathered cool flowers and hied away. (36)
27. "The Primal Lord beheld him and said:
"You set your mind on the damsel-pair;
Be born in the southern realm;
Be linked with them in loving joy, and then return." (37)
28. "Hearing this he was dism_yed;
Folding his hands in worship, he addressed Him thus:
"O Lord, if in my confounding human state
I stand bewildered, do redeem me
By Your gracious intercession." (38)
29. The Lord of great compassion said: "Let it be so."
Then he hand the damsel-pair, as gracious mortals
Took birth in the South and lived in connubial joy.
They have now hither returned."
To his holy audience Upamanyu fully narrated their lives. (39)
30. The saints of loving kindness,
Who were listening to him said:
"All the eight directions are realms where souls
Get embodied befitting their karma; what especial piety
Has indeed been wrought by the South
To merit in its realm, his incarnation?" (40)
31. The great tapaswi then replied thus:
"Perumpatra-p-Puliyur is here situate, adored by
My father Vyagrapada, the great saint of peerless tapas;
It flourishes as the treasure of those
Who adore the Lord with single-minded devotion. (41)
32. "In that holy realm, the eternal Lord dances willingly
In the great Ambalam, for ever, in the presence
Of our Mother, the divine liana of true tapas.
Which other direction can rival the South in its glory? (42)
33. "In every embodied soul, the heart burgeons
Even as a bud blossoms; from the lotus-heart
Of the lovely Mother-Earth
Whence effloresces the seed of the Vedas
Aroor of Ardhanariswara has blossomed. (43)
34. "My Deity -- the Mother of the seven worlds --,
Attained here, the Lord by Her unique tapas
And adored Him on the banks of the river Kampai
At Kanchi hailed by all the celestials. (44)
35. "It is here in the South, our Lord -- Guru Nandi --,
Performed tapas, and came by ever-growing grace eternal;
The Lord who sports the flood in His matted hair
And wields the fire in His hand,
Abides here in Aiyaru. (45)
36. "It is in the South, the Lord's hallowed Tonipuram
That illumines all realm, and holy shrines galore
Fit for the adoration of Siva, are situate.
Truly no direction can match the South in its glory." (46)
37. Thus spake the Saint, of the glorious history
Of Van-tondar; in union with his explication
And in accordance with the Tiru-th-tonda-th-Tokai
Which historicises the gloried lives of the devotees
We now elaborately indite this work in love. (47)
38. The truly divine decad of Van-tondar's Tiru-th-tonda-th-Tokai
Wrought with the grace of the Ancient One
Enshrined in the Ant-Hill,
Is the base and source of this work;
We humbly hail it and commence our work. (48)
39. Our Lord Nambi-Andar-Nambi, with all his heart
Adored in verse the devotees hailed by
That divinely true decad; with his work too
As our guide we compose this work -- unflawed. (49)
40. For the world to flourish and Saivism
To soar aloft and thrive, Nambi - Aroorar
Of infinite glory hymned the holy company
Of devotees, and we now proceed to hail
Their great country, watered by the cool Cauvery. (50)
1 The mountain referred to is the Himalayas. The golden peak is
suggestive of Siva, and the snow, the stripes of the holy ash on
His divine frame.
3 The world, its demesnes and the Kailas are respectively the creeper,
its leaves and the white bloom.
4 4 Tuntupi : A musical instrument.
5 4 Karpaka : The wish-yielding celestial tree.
5 Garlands of prayer are Gitanjali.
6 1 Bhootas : They form a section of Siva's host
and are almost omnipotent.
3-4 cf. "...... the least of whom could wield
- Paradise Lost, Book Vi, II. 221 - 22.
7 3 Swan : The mount of Brahma.
8 1 He : Garuda: "A Hindu demigod, part
man, part bird."
- Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary.
He is the vehicle of Vishnu. It is said that when
Brahma, the Creator and Vishnu, the Sustainer
quarreled with each other, each claiming to be the
Supreme One, Siva appeared before them as a Column
of ruddy flame. Confronted thus by the fiery pillar,
they cried a halt to their quarrel and wanted to f_nd
out what the pillar was. Brahma took the form of a
swan and flew up to behold the top of the column.
Vishnu assumed the form of a white boar (sveta-varaha)
and burrowed the bowels of earth to reach its foot.
9 2 Muzhavu : A percussion instrument.
6 Vimana : The crown of a mantapam.
Mantapam : Temple-porch.
10 Vetalas : A division of Siva's host.
Gananatas : The captains of Siva's hosts.
11 6 Piggnakam : An ornament of the head. Some scholars opine that
as Siva wears His matted hair as a crown, He is
3-4 The forehead-eyed and four-shouldered are the holy ones who have attained
Siva-Saroopya (Siva's form).
12 2 Mazhu : A burning rod. It also refers to a battle-axe.
4 Konrai : Cassia fistula. It has long, bright yellow leaves.
7 Purity of truth's luster refers to the holy ash according to Siva-k-kavi
C.K. Subramania Mudaliyar.
8-9 Like unto the mind divine of Anapayan
The Big temple at Thanjavur bears eloquent testimony to the immensity
as well as greatness of the mind of Raja Raja, the ancestor of
Stanzas 8 to 12, it is said, are not by St. Sekkizhar. The authorship of stanza 18 is
erroneously attributed to Velli Ambala Tampiran.
13 3 Blissful ecstasy : This is born of Siva-yogic comprehension.
14 2 refers to Vishnu. When he incarnated as Krishna, he was initiated in
Siddhanta Saivam by St. Upamanyu.
3 Bhootas : This word comprehends all lives.
4 None can say when St. Upamanyu's service to the Lord began and when it
would end. It goes on for ever and ever.
15 1-2 Upamanyu's father is St. Vyagrapada. When Upamanyu was a tender child,
he once cried, smitten by hunger. At the request of his father, Siva
directed the Ocean of Milk to flow gently towards the child and feed him.
4 Suddha yogis : Yogis of the Suddha Marga. According to
Dr. V.V. Ramana Sastrin, Appar, Tirugnanasambandhar,
Sundarar and Manickavachakar are apostolic Siddhas of
the Suddha Marga.
17 Stanza 13 says that St. Upamanyu for ever meditates in blissful ecstasy on
Siva. "How is this", one may ask, "compatible with his present invocation?"
The answer is that the saint invokes Siva, for leave, to narrate to the holy
company, what he already knows.
4 Van-tondan : Wild devotee. Siva named St. Sundarar thus.
Service to the Lord is of two types, mild and
wild: (van-tondu and men-tondu). The mild
devotee serves the Lord, never once transgressing
the bournes set by the Sastras. The wild devotee
sometimes goes beyond the limits prescribed.
19 2 Sambhu : Siva.
3 Nambi Arooran : St. Sundarar.
21 4 His : St. Sundarar's.
23 1 Passing beautiful : Surpassingly beautiful.
25 4 Tiru-th-tonda-th-
Tokai : The garland of hymns composed by St. Sundarar in
praise of Nayanmar.
5 The act of St. Sundarar was divinely purposive. His action was willed by
Siva for the benefit of mankind.
30 4 Karma : "noun, the conception of the quality of actions,
including both merit and demerit, determining the
future condition of all sentient beings; the theory
of inevitable consequence generally; the result of
the actions of a life."
- Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary.
31 2 Perumpatra-p-
Puliyur : Chidambaram; also know as Tillai.
32 3 Liana : The comparison of a woman to a slender creeper is
common in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.
33 The seed of the
Vedas : Om.
4 Ardhanariswara : The androgynic form shared by Siva and His Consort.
24 2 Here : Here in the South.
35 4 Aiyaru : Thiruvaiyaru, the shrine of the five streams, they
being Siva-Pada Ganga, Devi Ganga, Rishabha
Ganga, the Cauvery and the Stream of Bliss that
issues from Nandi.
36 1 Tonipuram : Sirkazhi, the birth place of St. Tirugnanasambandhar.
Sincere thanks to Sri. T N Ramachandran of thanjavur, for permitting his En_lish rendering of the holy text periyapurANam be published here.