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Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam - Introduction

Shiva family

Those who read the title may reasonably raise the question: Is sporting reconcilable with the divine attributes of God?" It will not take long for us to solve it by merely saying "we cannot have an insight into the purpose of God." Such an answer is as easy to be given as it is sure to be slighted. If Divine actions cannot be understood, they should have no place on this earth. If by man, God's actions cannot be interpreted, to what purposes are those actions done ar all? Not capable of being interpreted God's actions would become purposeless and therefore vain. But it is man's actions that are so. Even the sports of God are purposive. They are useful. This is one of the main points of difference between man's sports and the sports of God. It may not be given to us to understand fully or to interpret thoroughly the actions done under divine influence but it is no reason why we should rush into the conclusion that the sport of God is the work of human fancy. Doubtless, the human mind has shaped it in its own way in describing it later on, but the main outlines which can necessarily fall within the creation of man are still discernible. Although the events described may seem to be commonplace, there is still running an undercurrent which course the human intelligence seeks in vain to retard, and whose purpose it vainly attempts to understand. To a careful thinker, however, many of such subtle ideas are on the surface. It is not at all desirable to prejudice the minds of our readers by presenting here any interpretations of our own and thus not to give them room to think. We choose therefore, simply to present the miracles or the divine sports as they were performed, and we reserve all our remarks to the close of the book.

It may not perhaps be out of place here to say a few words regarding the probable dates of the various performance of Siva. The sports of Siva at Madura are regarded to have been sixty-four in number but some of them are not properly speaking sports and some others have been performed by a great devotee of Siva, Jnana Sambantha. The majority of them, however, are of Siva and are ascribable to different ranging between the prehistoric era and the most recent days of the seventh century. The prominent Tamil work which contains a record of these sports is the Tiruvilyadapuranam composed about the sixteenth century by Paranjoti Munivar of Madura. There is a tradition that work was composed at the instance of Ativirarama Pandya, a Pandyan King whose time has been fixed to have been the sixteenth century. This Tamil work is professedly a translation from the Sanskrit Halasya Mahatmya. The Sanskrit work could assuredly not have been composed before the 8th or 9th century for it records events of the 7th century. The original for all kinds of works bearing on the Sacred sports is only the inscriptions at the temple of Madura and some manuscripts on the same subject. It is unnecessary as we have already said to waste much time over our introduction but let us straightway proceed to the narration of the holy stories.


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