O heart! Avoid abiding here all wilted and scared
And reduced to bones (when) assailed by the sweeping
Onslaught of cruel misery; hail Him unwearied;
He is the Lord-God whose crest is adorned
With the Ganga that flows dashing against its banks,
The white crepuscular crescent and the madar flower. 1
The Lord never causes them to get born on earth
Who firmly think that there is no God but He
And instal Him in their manam in humble bashfulness
And also articulate His praise never forgetting Him.
Note : The Tamil word : “Koosi” is associated, in meaning,
with bashfulness. The devotee feels ashamed of his past
forgetfulness. Whenever he thinks of his littleness and the
Lord’s greatness, he feels put out.
His matted hair of ruddy gold is adorned
With Konrai flowers which are buzzed and kindled
By chafers; there the serpent of venomous sacs stands hissing:
Such is He, the long-haired Brahmin.
He is indeed the Lord who will not passively witness
The misery of worshippers who hail Him
For days on end as the Lord God. 3
He, the Brahmin, is the mighty One that comes to them
Who take refuge in Him and saves them from rebirth;
Lo, He but wears the killer-serpent and not the flowers
Of auric konrai which burgeon in bunches; O heart,
What may this be?
Konrai : Cassia ; Indian Laburnum (Cassia fistula). 4
O our Sankara who fixed well a long and peerless dart
To the bow in your hand to gut the triple, resentful citadels
Of the sky with ruddy fire! Tell me what will betide you
Should She—the daughter of the Mountain, the one
Whose lips are ruddy like kovvai fruit and the one
Who is concorporate with you--, now behold
Lady Ganga in your long and flowing matted hair?
Kovvai : According to G.U. Pope, it is a king of Bryonia.
Its fruit is blood-red. 5
O heart, for ever hail Him who is Sankara, the One
Of matted hair that dangles low, the righteous One who
On that matted hair sports a soaring serpent and the One
Who on that day saves you from the onslaught of misery.
Note : That day; The day of death. 6
O Brahmin who sports on your ruddy matted hair
The Ganga that flows down and spreads everywhere
With great waves, melliferous konrai and fragrant vanni
Wreaths! If you be pleased to listen to what I say
I have something to convey you. Pray, do not sport
On your crest the hissing and wrathful snake
That crawls on your ruddy and beauteous garlands.
Note : The words ªêõ¢õ£ù¢ ªî£¬ì (ruddy and beauteous garlands)
are interpreted as “the crepuscular crescent” by Tiru. Vi. Ka., and
Pattuswamy Otuvaar. My translation follows the interpretation of Pandita
Mani Kadirecacchettiyar and Arunachala Mudaliyar.
Vanni : Indian mesquit tree (Prosopis spicigera). 7
He is Vediyan; He is the import of the Vedas; He is the One
Who authored the Vedas; Betelgeuse is His asterism;
To behold His feet, Vishnu as a puissant boar burrowed
Into the earth in vain and eventually owned his inability.
Vediyan : The one of Vedas; its reciter. The one who is
acknowledged as the supreme by the Vedas.
O ye who seek to avoid the base and miserable flood
(Of birth and death) and gain entry and abiding life
In the world of eternal bliss, do what I bid you.
He, the Hero annihilated the triple citadels of His-foes;
He is eight shouldered, Bow, with delay none, at His feet
Which are like pure and fresh gold; be poised
In His worship for days without end. 9
He is the Lord of the supernal world; His asterism is betelgeuse;
His throat is dark with the aalaalam that He ate; they that chant
His mystic pentad—the chief of mantras--, adore Him and come by
The true import, can (alone) behold His feet of ruddy gold.
aalaalam : The Haalahaala Venom that emerged out of the milky main when it was churned.
Even when the mere shadows of those that had beheld Him
Of the roseate feet—the Wearer of the heroic anklet--,
Are eyed, Karma will cease to be. While so, will
Our hoary karma stick to us at all
If we, with our hands scatter choicest flowers
In the worship of our peerless Lord whose body
Is ruddy an radiant like fire? 11
Before the hoary Karma ‘gins to engird you, in all celerity
And without delay, adore and think on Him—the One
Concorporate with Uma of the soft mien--, the One that smote
Yama and the One that is adorned with the Holy Ash. 12
O heart, reflect on the futility of wife and sibling! He is
Our Father whose crown of matted hair ever gets wet though
A river courses through it; He is the inextinguishable fire;
He is the Lord of the celestials; He is Andavaanan; His feet are
An unfailing refuge: think of Him thus, even thus, and adore Him.
Andavaanan : The Lord of the supernal worlds. 13
You sport a river in Your head; You dance in the undying fire;
You adorn Yourself with the fire’s ash; You bathe in ghee;
Such are You: how then is it that You, of yore crushed
With Your foot the head and the twenty shoulders of the Asura? 14
O Righteous Lord that wears the heroic anklet!
The dry and strong-mouthed ghouls standing sing Your praise;
Bhootas stand and adore You; the great crematory is
Your theatre where You dance and dance. How is it
That You sped an arrow from Your bow and caused
The triple citadels of the Asuras to get gutted with fire? 15
Thanks to our five senses which by true analysis kept away
From false faiths, performing righteous acts only, our love
Of servitorship for the Lord who peeled the hide
Of the pachydermatous tusker and mantled
His triple from therewith, is on the ascendant.
Note : His triple form : Somaaskandar (Siva, Parvati and Skanda) 16
How are we to attain Him in love?
The snake that dances on His person
Will suffer none to come near it;
Moreover, all that we behold before us
Are only a row of skulls and white bones.
Besides He but rides, in delight, a bull. 17
He has crest of bright matted hair where courses a river;
His mount is but the bull; when of yore, the celestials gathered
And churned the great ocean He ate the venom spat out
By a hooded snake different from the one worn by Him; He is our Lord.
He is peerless; He ever rides a young white bull;
He seeks not a similar mount for His
Consort Uma whose lips are ruddy like kovvai
But rides His bull with Her; He is the noble One.
I render Him service sweet for ever.
If one day I importune Him to bless me,
Will He not bless me? 19
If you die, your noble kin will pile up dead wood and burn you;
O heart like unto the sea, while yet alive live loftily;
Listen with zest to the glory of Him—the Bather in ghee
Who ate the venom of the vast sea--, and stand redeemed. 20
Sincere thanks to Sri. T N Ramachandran of thanjavur, who has translated this holy composition to English, for permitting English translation of Thiru-Irattai Manimaalai be published here.