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Hindu Devotional Literature in Tamil By G.E. Phillips


G.E. Phillips

[We know very little about G.E.Phillips. He was a Christian missionary who took to the cultivating of devotional literature in Tamil. Even here his attention was drawn more towards Saivism than Vaishnavism.

The substance of the article printed hereunder was embodied in a paper which he read before the Madras and Bangalore Missionary Conferences in March, 1910. It was later published in the Madras Christian College Magazine, Volume XXVII. No. 10 (April, 1910).

To err is human, and the errors of the author stand rectified by the foot-notes appended to this article. Ed.]

Since the extent of Tail literature is so vast, and the greater part of it can included under the heading ‘devotional literature’, it is plain that any paper on the subject can only be kept within reasonable limits by the method of selection. I shall aim at selecting typical poets, giving a brief account of them with typical extracts from their works.

Following this method, it is chiefly the Saivite literature which I attempted to describe, not because there is not an abundance of Vaishanavite literature which thoroughly deserves attention, but bcause it is the Saivite literature, which is most distinctive of the Tamil country, and Saivism is the living system which exerts the greater power today over the great majority of the best Tamil people. I shall make no reference to a large body of literature which is chiefly theological or philosophical, though much of that is devotional in character, but shall restrict myself to the literature which is simply devotional and nothing else. As specimens of this literature, I propose to deal with ---

1. Manikkavasagar and the three great writers of the Devaram Hymns, who represent ancient Tamil literature.

2. As representing mediaeval Tamil, written probably about the same period as some of the masterpieces of English literature, Pattanattu Pillay and Tayumanavar.

3. As representing Tamil poetry of modern times, in fact of the last generation, Ramalingaswami.

The Devaram proper consists of seven collections of songs composed by the three great writers Sambandar, Appar, and Sundarar; but very frequently there is bound up with them a copy of the Tiruvasagam of Manikkavasagar. These eight collections are regarded as matching the Sanksrit Vedas, and are in fact called the Tamild Vedas. It is these songs which are daily sung before the idol in respectable Saivit temples throughout The Tamil districts, and a special class of Vellala priests called othuvar is maintained for their recitation. The mere learning of them by rote is held to be a virtue, and Tamil parents compel their sons to memorise them in much the same ways as Christian children are made to learn Psalms.

We must first refer to Mannikkavasagar, who is almost certainly the most ancient of the great Tamil poets1. As to his date there is much controversy, but the members of the Tamil Antiquarian Society, a body which is doing very useful research work into the past history of Tamil literature, seem to be fairly agreed in fixing him somewhere about the fourth century A.D. Since the publication of Dr. Pope’s magnificent edition of the Tiruvasagam, Manikkavasagar has become the best known of the Tamil poets in European circles. Moreover various papers on different aspects of his life and work have been published in the Christian College Magazine from time to time. I therefore omit any account of Manikkavasagar, merely saying in passing that he occupies the foremost place in the reverence and love of the Tamil people, and turn at once to the three great composers whose songs form the Devaram proper, or Adangalmurrai.

1) Sambandar, or to give him his usual full title Tirugnana-Sambandhamurti Nayanar.

According to a careful investigation by the late Professor Sundaram Pillay, he cannot have lived later than the opening years of the seventh century A.D. His name indicates that he was reputed to have some special connection with deity, and is explained by the story told about his early years. His story is that of an infant prodigy, and summarised runs as follows:- Born of good Brahmin parents, one morning at raw age of three he accompanied his father to the temple tank. His father was absorbed with his own ablutions, and the youthful prodigy left on the bank evidently felt lonely and wept aloud, whereupon Siva’s consort Umapati2 appeared before him and gave him a cupful of her own milk. The boy drank the holy draught and forthwith became Tiru-Gnana-Sambandar, or the one related to the godhead through wisdom. When his father came and asked him for an explanation for the cup in his hand he pointed upwards to the divine figure vanishing in the sky, visible to his eyes alone, and uttered a stanza, the first in the Devaram. Unfortunately the said stanza when studied seems to yield no reference whatever to this incident3. However, I presume that the story is really a symbolic representation of the fact that the divine Muses had touched the youthful lips. WE are then told how the inspired infant went from sanctuary to sanctuary followed by reverent crowds, uttering ten stanzas in praise of Siva in every place which he visited. So he spent his years until he reached the age of sixteen; he must have used his time well, for he is said to have composed 10,000 hymns, and 19,000 lines of his poetry are extant to-day. At the age of sixteen, he married the daughter of a pious Brahmin called Nambandar. At the end of the wedding, a miraculous fire appeared in answer to the prayers of the bridegroom, who apparently did not wish for earthly married bliss, and all present, including the married couple, departed this life for heaven. Numerous miracles are recorded to have been performed by him, but we need not occupy our time with them here. That which is related of him, and which most probably has a solid foundation of truth underneath it, is that he was a great and successful opponent of Buddhism and Jainism in South India. We find that the tenth stanza of all his poems is devoted to a condemnation of those systems. There we probably have the key to the real significance of the Devaram hymn-writers in the religious history of South India. They came at a time when Buddhism had deteriorated; they preached Hinduism with fire and fervour, and it is to them more than to any others that the downfall of Buddhism is due. So thoroughly successful were they that today we regard relics of Buddhism in South India as interesting curiosities.

I wish I could reproduce some of these hymns in a translation, which would give any adequate idea of them, but it is impossible. They are songs, intended to be sung to tunes which no longer exist, accompanied by instruments the exact description of which we do not possess. Much of their charm depends upon assonance, upon plays upon words, upon close knitting of word with word, upon intricacy of metre, almost as much as upon the substance. Take any well-known song or popular hymn in English, and endeavour to reproduce its meaning in a decent and careful English paraphrase, and you will have but a faint idea of the difficulty in the way of presenting the Devaram hymns in English. But it could doubtless be done by a literary genius, and I hope that someday it will be attempted. Meanwhile, in order to give some idea of the subject matter of the songs, I add here once or two bald and very imperfect paraphrases which I have made. In some cases I have tried to give a little metrical form, but for many I have not had the necessary time and ability. In order to understand them at all we have to bear in mind the description of Sivan in manifestation which the Puranic stories have left with us. With the crescent moon, the snake, and the descending river Ganges in his locks, his throat black with the poison which to save mankind he drank from the churned sea of milk, his body smeared with ashes from the burning-ground, and clad in a tiger skin. The origin of these curious accessories of deity would be worth investigating. Dr. Pope thinks that we have in them a relic of the ‘the pre-Aryan deity, had god, half demon, coming forth from the burning-ground where he holds his midnight orgies, dancing in the midst of his rabble rout.” They recur constantly throughout the Tamil poems in striking juxtaposition to phrases worthily describing God’s infinity and His grace.

This is the substance of the stanza said to have been uttered by the little three-year-older as described above.

Devaram I.I

Thine ears are adorned with gems, bull-rider, thy locks with the pure white moon.

Thou’rt smeared with ash from the burning-ground; Ostealer of hearts, take mine.

With flowers I worshipped Thee many a day; by Thy grace I sang Thy praise.

For Thou and none else in Brahmapuram great hast shewn thyself Lord divine.

Devaram 1st Thirumurrai, p.125.

	Cool man and hissing snake and falling steam are on His brow;
	Man-woman, great in grace, the eyes that never turn for Him,
	But worship ever in His house, shall look from far on grief and sin,
	For those shall flee away: good deeds alone with dare come nigh.

Devaram 2nd Thirumurrai, p. 135.

	Flashing locks and glittering snake has the rider of the bull,
	Secret, everlasting scriptures are the sounding of His voice,
	Golden kondrai wreaths are round His poisoned throat, in East Velur
	Whoso fix on Him their minds forsake their deeds and gain release.

2) Tirunavukkarasar or Apparswamy

This poet was an older contemporary of Sambandar, who addressed him on meeting him as ‘Appar’ or Father,” and the name remained with him. The other names by which he is known are titles indicative of literary mertis. It is interesting to note that he was a Vellala, not a Brahmin; also that he was converted to Jainism and afterwards reconverted to Hinduism by the power of his sister Thilaka Vathiar, an unmarried female sannyasi4. He is said to have been subjected to a series of tortures by the Jain King of his country, but he miraculously escaped from them all, converted the king to Saivism, and then went on pilgrimage to shirne after shirne, singing divine praises in each place. Some of the miraculous deeds ascribed to him are of a very interesting kind, but would take too long to narrate here. He died at the ripe old age of 81. Of the 49,000 hymns said to have been composed by him only 315 are extant, and these form the second of the three collections in the Devaram or Adangalmurrai.

Devaram 5th Thirumurrai, p.119.

	Lord of holy writ, and Lord of them that read it,
	Lord of the mind, the Lord of the mighty austere,
	Lord from the beginning, Lord of earth tand sea,
	Lord of all creatures, Thou very form of Good.
	O honey-sweetness, sweeter than the sugar-care,
	O shining one, whose form is as the lightning
	O golden one, brighter than the kundri seed,
	O mine, nevermore will I forget Thee.

Devaram 4 th Thirumurrai, p.30

	No true devoutness is in my song; Lord supreme Yogi supreme,
	How can devoutness grow in me? O my lord, despise me not.
	Ancient of days, First of all, dancer creative in Tillai’s hall
	Father, lo, to see Thy dance, I Thy slave have come to Thee.

Devaram 6 th Thirumurrai, p.30

O Precious one; the Brahman’s meditation; inwardness of holy writ, subtle, uncomprehended, honey, milk, gleaming light, king of the gods, pervading Indra and Brahma, the fire, the wind, and the resounding sea, yet greater than all, O lord of Perumapattra Puliyur, the day when I speak not of Thee is as though I had not been born.

3) Sundaramurti Nayanar

Apparswami is often called the servant of God, Sambandar the child of God, but Sundaramurti Nayanar is called the companion of God. But that term does not carry with it a reverential connotation such as belongs to the title ‘Friend of God’ given to Abraham in the Old Testament. Rather it gives full play to the whimsical and occasionally unethical element in Hinduism which Europeans find so difficult to understand5. Sundarar’s story, summarised, runs as follows:-

Born of good Brahmin parentage, he was brought up in a prince’s palace, and when he grew up his father arranged a suitable marriage for him. Decked as a bridegroom the young man took his seat in the marriage pandal but there appeared an aged Brahmin who forbade the marriage, claiming that Sundarar was his slave according to an ancient contract, a contract which he proved with cadjan-leaf evidence. This ancient Brahmin was simply Siva in disguise; the young man saw the vision; the marriage came to an untimely end, and from that day Sundarar became a religious devotee. The strange thing is that later on this Brahmin religious devotee married in succession Parvai, born and brought up in a dancing girl’s house, and Sankili, born and bred as a Vellala girl. In the complicated and vexatious conjugal difficulties which ensued, Sivan played the obliging friend in a manner which hardly commends itself to our ethics6. But at the age of eighteen Sundarar departed this life for Kailasa on a white elephant. His hymns are full of music, simple, and of far higher tone than this story would account for. The following is a paraphrase of a few typical stanzas:-

Devaram 7 th Thirumurrai, p.1 (Sundarar’s first hymn.)

	Currish many days I wandered; then I never thought of Thee-
	Mad and ruined; yet Thou gavest grace I never had deserved.
	South of Pennar’s river bamboo-fringed in holy Vennainallur
	I became, my Shepherd, Thine, and Thine for ever will I be.
	Now, O Lord my mind can ne’er forget to think and think on Thee
	For the holy Vennainallur became the haven of Thy grace.
	South of Pennar’s shining stream, rolling down its gold and gems,
	I became my Mother, Tine, and Thine for ever will I be.
	But I fear the future births; old age I fear, Lord of the bull;
	I am foul and many a lie I speak; yet mark me for Thine own,
	For in holy VEnnainallur, south of Pennar’s wooded stream,
	 I became, my Lord, Thine own, and Thine for ever will I be.

Devaram 7 th Thirumurrai, p.9

	You may come on your elephant fierce, and crowds of the great may attend you;
	But at death you will go out alone; this truth fix firm in your mind.
	O change not your thoughts from the Lord; come hither, all men of good will,
	In Ethir-kol-padi take refuge, the temple of God our great sire.

So far I have spoken of the great name of ancient Tamil literature. The place assigned to these songs in the ordinary temple worship is sufficient evidence of the esteem in which they are held by Tamil people, and yet I venture to think that it is not this literature which exerts the greatest influence over Tamil people to day. Far more commonly quoted and read are the works of some of the more modern writers such as Tayumanavar or Pattinattu Pillay, to the consideration of which we now proceed. I will take Pattinattu Pillay first.

His story is full of interest for us, telling how he forsook all that he had to follow the light that he saw. He was a rich merchant named Tiruvengada Chetti in the fifteenth or sixteenth century6 in the Tanjore district, and owned ships which did a flourishing sea-trade. Once after he had received new that his boats had all foundered, they were sighted laden with gold off the shore, and full of joy he ran down to the beach to meet them. During his absence Siva disguised as a sannyasi went to his house and begged alms. His wife told him to wait till her husband’s return. AT that he gave to her a broken eye-less needle tied up in a rag with a note bearing a couplet the meaning of which is-“No ill-gotten wealth, no miser’s hidden treasure, nay not even an eye-less needle will serve a man at the long last”. The sannyasi bade her give this to her husband on his return, which she did. The husband accepted this as a divine call to the religious life, forsook all his riches and his home, and for the rest of his days wandered from place to place as a religious mendicant, and sang the praises of Siva who had saved him from a worldly life. He seems to have spent his later years in Tiruvottiyur six miles from Madras, where a rich growth of legends has accumulated around his name. At his death he is said to have been changed into a Siva-lingam, which is the object worshipped at a temple dedicated to him. I have visited the temple, and the continual stream of worshippers, each bringing his offerings, and the groups of pilgrims, some from Tanjore, with the flourishing well-kept appearance of the temple generally, bear testimony to the place which Pattinattar holds today in the popular imagination. Unfortunately one did not find the people around the temple possessed of any intelligent understanding of the saint or his works, but presumably the same kind of remark might be made with regard to this monuments in some Christian cathedrals.

Pattinattar’s poetry is full of strong and pathetic statements of the uncertainty of human life, and of the folly of the pursuit of riches. He has a noble conception of God, and trusts in one God alone, though recognising the existence of others. Like most of the Tamil writers he is convinced that God graciously took a human form in order to deliver him from bondage to the world and he is full of a sense of the grace of God, and of his own unworthiness. Probably the parts of his poetry which are least acceptable to us are his verses about women, and his strong denunciation of the human body as a foul and vile instrument of evil7. He could never have written what he has done on this point had the mere possibility of a true divine incarnation ever dawned upon him. There are traces in his book that at one time he had formerly been immoral, and that he still felt temptations to immorality, and also to anger when he was refused alms. But that only deepens the impression which a study of his works leaves with us, that here was a true and living soul striving after God with an intensity which may well make some of us ashamed.

Tiruvekamba malai, 28.

	For the fault of my speech and the wrong of my thought,
	For the sin of the sight of evil deeds,
	For my wicked hearing of harmful books.
	For this and for all, O Kanji’s only Lord,
	Graciously bear with me.

Tirutillai (4,p.59)

Lest I run and toil for naught, and leave the good
To join the men of lying works; lest hot with wrath
I fail of good, but grow too full of anxious cares,
O Sithambaram’s Guru, grant to me Riches of grace.

Tirutillai, 5

	Lest my hand gudge help, and tongue speak evil things,
	Lest sins o’erwhel, soul sleep, and leaving Thee,
	I serve Thee not, but join the crew that love not Thee,
	O Sithambarama’s Guru, grant to me Riches of grace.

Tirutillai 13

	Your wealth and your prosperity will leave you in your house;
	Your weeping gentle women will leave you at the street; sobbing sons
	With hands upraised will leave you at the burning ground;
	But the merit and the evil of your deeds will follow after you for ever.

Pothu - 21
	Aim thou at the foot of the Guru; in thy mean body
Have no faith, see in it a puppet play, think thy relations
To be the market crowd that soon will scatter, and your wealth.
To be the water spilling from a pot overturned.
  O soul of mine, This is the teaching for thee.

Pothu - 39
To what end is thy smearing of ashes? To what end thy continual bathing?
Thou know’st not second birth, and all the loads
Of myriad mantrams in the scriptures tell thee naught.
Finding no ford in life’s river, thou’rt swept in peril away.

The other great poet of this middle period whose words are constantly on the lips of Tamil people is Tayumanavar. He is no Saivite, but a Vedantist, and is regarded by some Tamilians as teaching philosophy by means of his poems, but it is the religious interest in them which is decidedly predominant8. He was born at Vetharaniam in the Tanjore district about 180years ago as the son of the chief manager of the then King of Trichonopoly’s estates. IN his youth he is said to have sat at the feet of a Guru name ‘Mauna’ or Silence’, and his poety is full of references to this Guru. I would hazard the conjecture that this may be a poetical way of saying that he learned his deepest lessons in silent contemplation. On the death of his father, Tayumanavar was called upon to take his place in the King’s household, which he did out of a sense of duty until the King’s death some years later. After the King’s death it became clear that the young widowed queen was enamoured of Tayumanavar, whereupon he quietly left the city and withdrew to Ramnad to his elder brother’s home. Pressed by his brother to many and lead a domestic life he consented, and married a girl there. But his wife died ere long and Tayumanavar renounced his household, and led a wandering medicant life. He seems to have conceived of God as a burning mass of Light and Love, whose grace is the real cause of all that transpires in the universe. His poems are wonderfully attractive in the original, especially those in the form of kannis, i.e., polished couplets each complete in itself concisely and powerfully expressing some particular truth or sentiment.

He opening song is very majestic, and the following is a paraphrase of it:-

Who is He of whom you cannot say ‘Lo here, lo there’, who shines everywhere the perfection of bliss, filled with grace?

Who is He that like the atmosphere graciously condescends to dwell in all his myriad worlds, spreading among men, the life of their life?

Who cannot be touched by word or by thought?

Who is He concerning whom the multitudinous sects pursue one another in every place with warring cries of ‘Their God’, ‘My God’?

Who is He about whom is contention sore; yet He is the spirit all-powerful and the bliss never-ending?

Who is He with whom is neither night nor day?

He it is who sweetly mingles with the mind of devotees. All that wer see is His form. Let us think of Him as He is revealed in the form of Silence, and worship Him with folded hands.

I give here a short poem of the class just mentioned, which bears for a title the pathetic question ‘Is there not?” which forms the refrain of each couplet. It is the cry of the soul for a peace which the world cannot give.

1. Naught know I, in deep dark of error shrouded; But Lord, hast Thou no wisdom lamp for me?

2. Light of my eyes, is there no flood of glory; For me, when, never moved, I cease from deeds?

3. My knowledge ended, hast Thou no contrivance; That with Thee only I should rest in peace?

4. Lord, worse than dog am I, is there no magic; That will bestow on me Thy form of bliss?

5. I think this flesh is I, is there no secret; For me to change to Thee, and so abide?

6. O form unseen, is there for me no teaching; That day and night I may be joined to Thee?

The following are a few stanzas from a long poem of similar form, bearing the title “Lord of all”:

1. Great river-flood of bliss, unstaing sweetness; My king, Thou wealth of silence, Lord of all.

2. ‘Who knows Thee?’ cry the scriptures never-ending Great Wisdom, bliss abundant, Lord of all.

3. O light in hearts of speechless saints increasing, O shoreless sea of bliss, O Lord of all.

4. North, South, East, West, Thou’rt there, yet are within me, A fount of honey’d bliss, O Lord of all.

9 . Pearl, coral, pure gold-shining radiant glory, Thought, knowledge, in my mind, O Lord of all,

10. My vision, longing, horn of plenty, wonder; Of bliss, full heaven above me, Lord of all,

14. O love abounding, who did’st come to save me: O bliss abounding, king, O Lord of all.

127. Thou gav’st Thyself redeeming me, what profit; Had thy grace in me, Father, Lord of all?

Tamil poets like to figure the soul as a bird, and I cannot refrain from adding a few lines from a poem in which the author in each refrain addresses his soul as his ‘parrot green.”

3. Soul of my soul, the Wondrous, will His bliss; Come nigh to sinful me, O parrot green?

4. Unknown to all, in secret bid my Lord; To visit sinful me, O parrot green.

5. My tears like rivers flow; grief wastes my frame; And why hast thou not told Him, parrot green?

6. Foul grab is mine, but will the king endue me; With heaven’s pure raiment blissful, parrot green?

8. No town, no name, has He, no friends, nor kindred; And how will He know me, O parrot green?

And last as an example of quite a modern poet, let us take Sithambaram Ramalingam Pillay or Ramalingaswami as he is commonly called. He was born in 1833 in a village in the South Arcot District, but his father died when he was there years old, and he was taken by his elder brother to Madras, where he spent the years of his youth.

In due time he married, became a teacher, and had many disciples in Madras. At this time he was zealous Saivite, and made pilgrimages to most of the famous shrines, writhing at them songs which form the first five Tirumurrai, or sections, of his collected works. But he must have been an original thinker, and was unable to remain a pure Saivite. He gradually became a kind of Tamil Brahmoist, and began to teach what he called the Samrasa-margam, or essence of all religions. In 1868 he is said to have laid the foundations at Vedalur near Sithambaram of a new kind of temple, which was to be in three portions, one portion reserved for works of charity to the poor, the next for preaching to the public, and the third for more private teaching of disciples; no offerings more gross than that o incense were to be permitted in this temple. Unfortunately the subsequent history of this interesting project is not available. In 1874 he disappeared from his house, and nothing clear is known about his death.

He was a great opponent of caste, of sectarianism, and of idol worship. He was not a Vedantist, for he regarded the world as real, but limited and absolutely dependent upon God. He used Saivite terms, but always with some allegorical and spiritual significance; for example, the sport of deity which he refers to is plainly merely a term for God’s creative activity. He wrote a great essay in prose upon the subject of ‘kindness to all living creatures, a subject about which he felt very strongly. NO Tamil poet expresses more forcibly than Ramalingam the sense of sin and of the grace of God in salvation. He firmly believed that God had come as a Guru to save him. One day, he tells us, when he had fallen asleep in hunger of body and longing of soul, God came to him in the form of a Guru, and gave him rice for his hunger, the fit of sonship for hi soul’s longing, and the understanding of the Samarasamargam for the good of the world at large. He had a very strong missionary spirit that made him desire the salvation of all mankind. He preached moreover doctrine of the second coming of the heavenly Father, and said that bodies should not be burned but buried, in hope of a coming Resurrection. The following are paraphrases of stanzas taken almost at random from his works:

p.670 (8)
	One light alone, in earth and sky, is shining ever bright,
	In earth and sky, in all beyond, within and yet without,
	Transcending our ‘within, without, and yet perfading all,
	In inmost mind it shines and drives the darkness all away.
	All the world knows it; know’st not thou, my friend, the only light?
	The truth of all the sacred writ, ‘tis this, and only this.

P 549 (7)
	Caste, sect and creed, I have done with them all,
	Shastras I have forsaken as dung.
	Justice and constancy, truth, bliss eternal,
	First, last, and midmost, what is it all?
	All is the radiance of glorious grace.
	All I have sung, friend, thou knowest so well,
	Why need I sing it to Thee o’er again?

P 506(3)
	Hard, deceitful-minded, yea, evil, stony-hearted,
	Like fruitless male-palmyra my useless body stands.
	An ape, a wretch, naught know I of constancy unswerving,
	But fast in bondage am I. Like poisonous mango tree,
	In evil branching outwards, I’ve calmly chosen wrong.
	Then how cans’t thou choose me, O dancer, what any I thee?

P 523(1)
	Shail I forget Thee? Ne’er could I forget,
	Forgetting Thee I could not live an hour;
	Wilt Thou forget me? Then what could I do,
	O whither could I turn, to whom complain?
	O Father, kinder far than earthly sire,
	Shouldst Thou forget, Thy grace that gave the world
	Could ne’er forget me. Therefore I abide
	In blissful thought of Thee. Forget me not,
	But no, O glorious grace, speed Thou to me.

P 635(10)
	For me is no more toil or care, no anxious fears for me,
	No re-birth’s law has power o’er me, no sleep or pain or death,
	Disciple of the Lord am I, I wear the title clear
	Of child of the assembly’s Lord, child near and dear and true.
	Enough the meed of penance old has yielded harvest rare.

P 577(39)
O Gladness that gladdenest the learned and the fools,
O Eye that givest sight to the seeing and the blind,
O Might who givest strength to the mighty and the weak,
O Constancy unswearving to the evil and the good,
O Blessing that blesses both gods and men,
O Sivan who sportest in creation for us all,
My king, wear Thou in grace the garland of my song.

In closing this summary review of Tamil devotional literature, there is on reflection which ha Christian cannot refrain from making, and it is this. When India really understands Jesus Christ it will seem to Indians incredible that for so many years Jesus should have been supposed to be alien to Indian life, and destructive to India’s religious past. Every religious sect in the Tail country has firmly believed that God can be seen in the form of some religious teacher that whosoever so sees God must joyfully make any sacrifice in order to follow his Satguru, whom he must faithfully follow to the end of his days. Again and again, while reading some of these Tamil poems, the writer has felt that there is a heart-beat in them which beats towards Jesus Christ, that Jesus is the crown and consummation of India’s long and glorious religious past, that the Tamil country has been wonderfully prepared to receive Him, and that the word ‘I came not to destroy but to fulfil,” which He spoke in reference to the sacred traditions of His won land, He speaks again no less truly of the Sacred traditions of the country in which we live9.

1. Maanickavasakar is the last of the Samaya Kuravar.

2. The milk of Gnosis was given to the divine child by Mother Uma.

3. The evidence for the theophany is implicit in the hymn. Again the verse beginning with the words: “Pothaiyaar porkinnathu…” bears eloquent testimony to this divine event.

4. Tilakavatiyaar was not a female sannyasi. She was a tapaswini of unexampled greatness.

5. The apparently antinomian element that characterises the Hindu saints is beyond the ken of an ordinary European’s comprehension. Many Christians fail to see that the line of Adam could not have bee perpetuated save by incestuous relationship. However, no true Hindu condemns this.

6. There were more Pattinatthu Pillais than one.

7. For a proper understanding the reader should consult “St. Pattinatthar in English” by T.N.Ramachandran, I.I.S.S.R.,Dharmapuram (1990)

8. The assessment by the author is incorrect. The reader will dod well to study in depth “Harmony of Religions” by Thomas Manninezhath, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited (1993)

9. A true Hindu loves Jesus. For that reason he will not become an apostate.

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