It is crematory of burning pyres girt with cactus;
Yetti, ilavam, eekai, soorai and kaarai abound here
Where ghouls draw out and eat the exposed intestines
Of corpses; it is here the Bhootas sing
Accompanied on muzhavam by ghosts whose eyes
Are like those of the drum,
And the handsome One dances
Yetti : Strychnos nuxvomica
Ilavam : The silk cotton tree / Eriodrendron
Eekai : A species of mimosa.
Soorai : Zizyphus Napeca
Kaarai : Webera tetrandra.
Muzhavam : A percussion instrument.
Fat melts and wets the ground; beholding this
The long-toothed and sunken-eyed ghouls
Enact the dance of tunangkai; then they throw their lookd
Around, put out the fire in the pyres,
Eat the corpses to their hearts’ content and feel
Delighted; it is in such a fitting crematory,
Holding fire in His hand, the handsome One dances.
Jackals tug at and draw away the stinking
White heads punctured by birds;
Owls raise a hue and cry; owlets wave amain their wings;
Barn-owls stare and cause fright in beholders;
Foxes howl everywhere in great urgency; such is
The great charnel-house; it is here
The Lord desires to enact His dance.
Note: Üì¢° (Atku) is an onomatopoeic word indicating harsh sound. This word was
used only by St. Peyar. The Tamil Lexicon, in the first instance, omitted to mention
this word. It however repaired the omission its Supplement.
It was a corpse; yet a ghoul was not sure of it;
So it came near it, pointed a finger at it, cried aloud,
Roared and threw at it a fire-brand; even then
It was not sure of aught; affrighted it fled far away
And began to beat in bewilderment its stomach
Like unto a picottach; this witnessing, many a ghoul
Took to their heels in sheer fear; it is in such a crematory
Our Lord, in the guise of a mad man, dances. 4
Scorched are mulli plants, charred is the firewood;
Brains seep out of broken crania; cacti wilt;
Such is the fierce crematory where wood-apple trees
Abound; it is indeed His place of rest.
It is in this wilderness, the Supreme One dances
Girt with the skin of an antlered
And spotted antelope, the tiger-skin
Dangling on His shoulder.
Mulli : a thorny plant; Indian nightshade
The colourful owlets of bright teeth – bent and ensate--,
Gobble up heads, brains and bodies of corpses
And hoot in the crematory; there ghouls whose
Spreading hair is like the leaf of the taali-palm
And whose fire-red eyes are ablaze, make
Fluten music with their mouths along with
The Bhoota hosts; it is here the handsome One
Enacts His dance. 6
The ghostlings feel the burnt-out pyres and come by
Flesh none, alas; dazed, they fall asleep there;
Such is the crematory where the young ones of ghosts
Endure much hardship; it is here the handsome One,
Holding fire in His hand, enacts the evening-dance
Keeping time to the sound
Of muzhavam played by the celestials
That had come thither, in time.
The evening dance: The dance enacted
during the hour of Pradosha. 7
It is a crematory where bodies burn crackling
And where lofty bamboos scatter white pearls!
There the huge and loud-mouthed ghouls
Of dry and dangling hair and tired bodies
Foregather and eat to their hearts’ content
The corpses; it is in such a great crematory
The One of gramarye dances; the Daughter
Of the Mountain witness this is wonder. 8
It is a crematory through which male monkeys
Leap about; it is girt with bamboos; it is full
Of ghouls and vultures; here abound the white
Skulls and the smoke of the pyres; it is here
The supreme One dances whilst His crooked,
White mazhu and crescent wobble,
The white tudi and the drum resound
And the basic note of music hums: “Koll”.
Mazhzu : A battle-axe; a burning rod.
Tudi : A little drum shaped like an hour-glass.
“Koll” : See preface. 9
The hollow-stomached ghouls—short and small--,
Of huge mountains and the ghouls of fiery mouths
And fierce teeth abiding in the crematory imbrowned
By indai plants, sometimes coddle and sometimes resent
Their infants. To the singing of these whose basic note
Sounds ‘Koll’ the pure One dances whilst His
Dense and bright matted strands of hair dangle low. 10
He sports crescent in His matted crest; He, for ever,
Dances His twirling dance; His waist is cinctured
With a serpent. Lo, whoever, by His grace,
Is able to sing and dance out this decad
Of Karaikkaal Pey of fiery mouth and sharp teeth
That abides in the crematory,
Will freed clean of all sins. 11
Sincere thanks to Sri. T N Ramachandran of thanjavur, who has translated this holy composition to English, for permitting English translation of Thiruvalangattu Moodhtha Thiruppadhikam (part-2) be published here.