"I am a servitor to Mei-p-Porul, puissant and victorious"
- The Tiru-th-Tonda-th-Tokai
1. His capital was Tiru-k-Kovalur in goodly Sethi realm;
He hailed from Malayaman dynasty which served
Ammai-Appar from generation to generation;
He, the Prince was poised in the noble way true, of the Vedas
And served the Lord’s servitors divining their true wish. (467)
2. He adhered flawlessly to the righteous way of monarchic code;
He quelled his foes by the valour of his shoulders strong;
He swerved not from the plighted word and ruled gloriously;
He for ever contemplated the habit of devotees
Of the Lord whose matte hair sports the billowy flood. (468)
3. In all the temples of Ammai-Appar, poojas were
Gloriously and unfailingly performed;
In temples flourished music sevenfold and dance;
Thus ruled the adorable prince adoring,
Whose sole sustaining force was the feet of the Lord’s servitors.(469)
4. All the riches and wealth he came by as a prince
Were ear-marked for the devotees of the Lord
Who dances in Tillai Ambalam;
When devotees sought him to supply their wants
He gave them aplenty and in soaring joy. (470)
5. Whilst thus he flourished, a hostile king
Fired by a desire to vanquish him,
Waged wars against him many a time, only to lose
His elephantry and cavalry and infantry.
Thus repeatedly defeated he was sunk in shame. (471)
6. The worsted king who could not think of victory
In the field of battle, coming to know
Of the religious piety of Mei-p-Porul, desired
To ape his great habit of wearing the goly ash
And thus win by deception; his mind
Nurtured such unspeakable evil, and he
Prepared for his infiltration into Tiru-k-Kovalur. (472)
7. He smeared all over his person the holy ash;
He had his hair matted and tied it into a crow;
He held a mega biblion which concealed a dagger;
Like a lamp thick with black at the wick, his mind
Harboured deception; thus in his false habit of tapas
Mutthanathan barged in. (473)
8. In the mansions of the long and dazzling streets
Danced damsels, liana-like, whose coiffures
Were with flowers wreathed; over the mansions
From their flag-poles wafted white flags bright;
The cruel-hearted one in the desguise of a great tapaswi
Passed through these and arrived at
The beauteous palace of the King of Sethi realm. (474)
9. The guards of the palace adored him with folded hands,
And said: “The Lord Himself is come! Be pleased to step in!”
He crossed many a threshold and arrived at the last one;
Thither stood Thatthan who beseeched him thus:
“Be pleased to regard the hour; the King slumbers.” (475)
10. When he spake thus, he countered him thus:
“I am to initiate him in the way of salvation;
You be here.” He passed beyond him into the chamber
Where the king was sleeping on a cot wrought of gold;
He also beheld seated by his side his queen,
The one of soft mien and perfumed locks. (476)
11. When he neared him, the queen swiftly descended
From the cot and woke up the garlanded king;
The king rose up, and folding his hands over his head
Said: “To the servitor of the God of gods, praise be!”
And he stood bowing before him as was his wont. (477)
12. “For my life to thrive auspiciously and be crowned
With its fruit, I am blessed with your visit!
To what good luck do I owe this?” Thus spake the King.
“I have come here to instruct you in the Agama
Authored of yore by your God and not to be seen
In orbis terrarum.” Thus he replied. (478)
13. “Can there be a beatitude greater than this?
Be pleased to bless me by reading out
The peerless Agama of the Lord.” Thus spake the king.
“Your queen decked with fragrant garlands
Must first part from you, and then, you and I
Must seek a different sport lonely.” Thus he. (479)
14. He commanded in love his consort, Lakshmi-like,
To hasten to the gynaeceum, and then had him,
-- The one robed in the weeds of a tapaswi --,
Installed on a seat, while he himself sat on the ground.
Then he said: “Be pleased to grace me.” (480)
15. He placed on his lap the treacherous scroll
And pretended to unwind the rope binding it.
When the king bowed low reverentially, he drew out
The dagger and did what he intended to do;
The king exclaimed, still adoring:
“The true habit of askesis is indeed the truth supreme.”
(Surely it is) the king (who) triumphed! (481)
16. Thatthan who kept surveillance over him,
Even when he who concealing himself in the garb
Of a tapaswi broke into the king’s chamber,
Now darted into the room, and was about to smite him
With his sword; the king who was to fall down
As blood profusely gushed forth from him,
Stretched out his long arm, prevented his deed
And exclaimed: “Thattha, he is our own.” Then he fell down. (482)
17. Thatthan the servitor who was thus restrained
By the prince who suffered pain and fell down,
Bowed low, and said: “What should I do?”
The prince replied him thus: “Let none obstruct
The devotee of our Lord on his way back.
You go with him and see to his safe passage.” (483)
18. All those that came to know of the happening
Hemmed them on all sides and said:
“We’ll kill him, the false saint who had harmed the king.”
Thatthan prevented them form harming him, took him with him
And said: “He is permitted to go by the king’s command.” (484)
19. When they heard this they moved away by reason
Of the dread command; Thatthan took him
Through the royal highway and crossed the city;
With the sword drawn protectively, he reached
The forest by men unfrequented, and left him there,
And then returned. (485)
20. With effort great, the prince still bore his ebbing life
Only to hear the news that the one of deceptious habit
Had been conveyed safe, unmolested by opposing hordes;
Before him came he who carried out the royal mandate. (486)
21. He hailed his feet and said: “I had safely escorted
Him who by his make-believe habit had won.”
Hearing this the prince said: “Who can ever do
Like unto what you -- the great one --, had this day
For me done.” His eyes rained on the one that stood there
Immense loving-kindness soulful. (487)
22. He addressed his parting words of message
To the ministers, to the loving and languishing wife
And to the kin, and said: “Honour the rule which bids you
Foster love for the holy ash.” This said,
He meditated on the flower-feet of the Lord
That dance in the Ambalam. (488)
23. To the devotee-prince, the Lord of Himavant’s daughter
Granted darshan in the form in which
He contemplated Him for many a day.
The Lord graced him to attain the shade
Of His ankleted feet inaccessible to the celestials,
And also blessed him with the beatitude
To adore Him for ever. (489)
24. Even when his dear life was done away with,
Deeming him a devotee of the Lord-God
The prince of Sethi realm fostered the great way.
I hail his glory in my humble way;
With the golden feet of contentious Viran Mindar
Set on my crown I now proceed to narrate his divine service. (490)
2 4 Habit : The Tamil word is Vetam. This is translated as
‘habit’ by Gordon Matthews. Habit means
‘outward appearance’. Vide Chambers’s
Dictionary. Habit here means guise.
5 St. Sekkizhar describes the elephants as decked with golden covers.
7 The adage which says: “Mega biblion, mega kakon” (Big book, great evil)
literally applies here.
9 The word ‘thatai’ means ‘a threshold’. It also means: ‘Obstruction’.
Every threshold in a palace will be guarded. The last of these
thresholds is the one leading to the King’s bed-chamber. This will be
guarded by the most trusted of the king’s bodyguards.
12 This stanza is a marvel of double entendre. Every line is charged with a
double significance. Auspicious paths may flourish. However as Thomas
Gray says: “The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
The phrase “Vazhvu vantu anainthatu” means: “Life is being fulfilled.” It
also means: “Life is getting extinct.” Mutthanathan says that he has come
with an opus of God. But he also says that it is by “Your God.” A devotee
will always say: “Our God.”
He further says that the work is not to be seen in orbis terrarum (the whole
world). Indeed a book concealing a dagger is not at all an ordinary sight.
cf. “In hands that worship weapon often hidden lies
Such are the tears that fall from foeman’s eyes.”
- Kural. 828.
13 2-3 It is the Agama which truly confers liberation on a soul. The king is to
gain liberation eftsoon.
4-5 “Your queen
part from you” : This is indeed a dramatic irony.
5-6 different spot : After the event the king is to be received into the
abode of bliss and the pseudo-saint into bottomless
15 1-2 In olden days the writing was done with a stylus on palm leaves and these
were tied together with strings. Again to keep the leaves in position, they
were secured by a fairly long thread. One should unwind the thread to enable
onself to read the book.
21 2 Won : this refers to the fancied achievement of
Sincere thanks to Sri. T N Ramachandran of thanjavur, for permitting his English rendering of the holy text periyapurANam be published here.