This poem has an introduction of twenty eight lines, after which the praises of Civan are intermingled with somewhat intricate but ingenious allegories. The whole partakes of the nature of a rhapsody, - not without some sublimity, - and can be fully appreciated by those only who have studied the whole Caiva system as shown in Notes I-XVII. It is an imitation, it would seem of the Sanskrit Catarudriya or Hyme to Rudra. Yet, Civan - the Auspicious - is imagined by the Tamil Caivaites quite otherwise than by the northern and more ancient authorities Civan in the south is the Guru, the friend, ulmost the familiar companion, of His votaries, and is addressed with a mixture of awe and of simple affection that has a peculiar effect . Through all MAnikkaVacagar poems this personal relation of the God as manifested Guru to His devotees or disciples is, of course most prominent. I am not aware of anything quite like this in the mythology of the north though among the worshippers of Vishnu in His various incarnations something analogous may exist. Here lines 1-12 are very intricate, and emphasize two thoughts (1) that the Supreme in His greatness embraces all, and pervades the minutest things in His universe; and (2) that He is the unique Being, whose wondrous and admirable sublimity is not to be fully comprehended by any finite beings, gods or men. The two epithets the the Great One (line 6), and the Beautiful one. (line 12).
The idea of lines 13-16 is peculiar to the Caiva system, which teaches that there are three great processes carried on by Civan, the Supreme, in the Universe. In the beginning of each aeon He evolves the phenomenal universe, and through countless ages sustains it as the theatre of births and deaths - of the whole drama of metampsychosis; and at the end of each aeon He involves the phenomenal universe in its primal elements. These three processes of evolution,conservation and involution, are commonly assigned to three deities, of whom BrahmA is the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Civan the Destroyer. This however was seen to give to Civan an office apparently inferior, and certainly less gracious, than that which belongs to the other Gods. The South-Indian Caiva system boldly faces this difficulty. According to it there is really but one God. He is called, among many other names, Civan 'the Blessed One'. Vishnu and BrahmA and the other so-called gods are but dependent 'souls' like the rest, and at the beginning of each aeon their place and office for that aeon are assigned them by the Supreme as the result of merits accumulated. The BrahmA of the present aeon is the Demiurge or fashioner of The evolved Universe: he puts it into shape, and is the mere agent of Civan. This system invites us to contemplate the universe at the beginning of each aeon awaiting the action of the Supreme. Existence is eternal; it is subject to what are called deluges, or overhelming catastrophes, in which all the heavens, and all the regions of the abyss, all worlds, and all beings are restored to their rudimental condition, after which, by the will and operation of Civan they resume their normal manifestations. What exists at the beginning of an aeon
First, we have the Lord, Pathi, Sivan, PerumAn. He is the First Cause of all things; the only God. Inseparable from Himself, dwelling in Him,is His personified energy or Sakti --- his bride said to be the originator, source, fountain, beginning of all emotion, action, wisdom, and grace.
Secondly, we have Souls, lives, atomic existences,the flocks, pacu. These have now no embodiment , no powers, energies, or faculties,abiding like birds sleeping in the night on the branchces of some mighty tree, hardly to be distinguished from the tree itself, save that they live. These are definite in number, and are eternal; no addition can ever be made to the number of souls that are alive in the universe, none of them can ever die. Since, as we shall see, these may gain absolute identification with Civan-PerumAn and thus be embodied no more, the number of embodied souls diminishes; but no soul ceases to exist even after obtaining release, and being taken into God. It may be, according to this system, that the time shall arrive when all embodied lives have obtained release, and then the worlds will for ever cease and Civan be all in all. Each of these souls has its load of deeds which are stored up, and are a' parte ante, eternal; the result of which, in pleasure or in pain, each soul in some embodied form must experience. As the Caiva system says, The fruit of deeds must be eaten '
These souls, at the beginning of each aeon, crouch waiting for their embodiments. There are now no evolved worldsno heaven, no hell, no gods and demons, men. All these have been, and shall be,but now are not. That SOULS may be furnished with embodiments, and with worlds in which they may experience their fate, we have thirdly, the Bond, pAcam the eternal material cause of the creation. This is threefold, pure maya, impure maya and prakrithi, the of offspring of the latter, which is undefined. These three categories PATHI, PACU and PACAM - which we call roughly 'The God, SOUL AND MATTER' Are the subjects expounded in the Caiva Siddhantha Philosophy.
Civan's palpable and subtle existence
The developement of the sphere of the elemental universe,
Its immeasurable nature, and abundant phenomena,
If one would tell their beauty in all its particulars,
As when, more than a hundred millions in number spread abroad,
The thronging atoms are seen in the ray that enters the house, (5)
So is He the GREAT ONE, Who exists in the minutest elements.
If you would know Him, BrahmA and the rest with MAl,
His greatness, source, glory, and end,
Conjoined with His eternity, His extent, His abiding essence,
His subtile ant palpable manifestations, (10)
They sought to understand. As the rush of a mighty whirlwind
The Beauteous One drave them far in whirling course !
The operations of the Supreme
He is the Ancient One, Who creates the Creator of all;
He is the God, Who preserves the Preserver of things created;
He is the God, Who destroys the Destroyer; (15)
But, thinking without thought, regards the things destroyed.
To the six sacred sects with their six diverse kinds of men
He is the attainment of deliverance; and Source of being to the heavenly ones
He is the Possessor of all, Who resembles an insect.
Day by day He to the sun its lustre gave. (20)
In the sacred moon He placed its coolness;
Kindled in the mighty fire its heat;
In the pure ether placed pervasive power;
Endued the ambiant wind with energy;
To the streams that gleam in the shade their savour sweet, (25)
And to the expanded earth with its strength He gave;
For ever and aye, me and millions other than me,
All in their several cells hath He enclosed.
See Him the First! See Him the Whole !
See Him Himself, Being without compare ! (30)
See Him adorned with the wild boar's ancient tusk !
See Him Whose girdle is the forest tiger's skin !
See Him with ash besmeared ! Whene'er I think and think,
See, I cannot bear the thought ! I perish overwhelmed !
See, in the sweet voiced lute He is the melody ! (35)
See, each thing, as its essence is, He knows !
See Him, the Infinite ! See Him, the Ancient One !
See Him, the Great One Whom BrahmA and MAl saw not !
See Him, the Wonderful! See, the Manifold !
See Him, the Ancient One, transcending words ! (40)
See, He dwells afar where human thought goes not !
See, He is taken in the net of piety !
See Him that One, Whose title is 'the only One' !
See, He extends throughout the wide extended earth !
See Him, more subtile than an atom small ! (45)
See Him, the King incomparably great !
See Him, the Precious One, rarest of all that's rare!
See, mingling with all beings, each one He cherishes !
See Him, the Subtile One, Whom science fails to see !
See Him, above, below, He spreads ! (50)
See the beginning and the ending He transcends !
See, the 'bond' and 'loosing' He ordains !
See, He is That that stands, and That that goes !
See, He discerns the aeon and its end !
See Him, the Lord Whom all may gain ! (55)
See, Civan Whom the gods know not !
See Him. the Male, the Female, and 'neither one'!
See, even I have seen Him with my eyes !
See, the ambrosial Fount, yielding abounding grace!
Lo, I have seen His mercy s might ! (60)
See, His roseate Foot this earth hath trod !
See Him, even I have known, the Blessed One !
See, in grace He made me His !
See, her His Spouse whose eyes are dark-blue lotus flowers !
See, Her and Him together stand ! (65)
The Sea and the Cloud
Lines 66-95 are well nigh untranslateable, for they contain a subtle and intricate allegory, by means of which the grace of the manifested Civan, who is praised under the title of the 'Cloud' is set forth. The idea is that the Infinite sea of rapturous supreme felicity is Civan, but - as the Cloud in the monsoon season sucks up water from the sea, and rises in black masses that cover the sky, while all the phenomena of the wonderful outburst of the beneficient, but also fearful, monsoon are exhibited - so does the Supreme manifest Himself as the Guru, the Object of Love, and Give of grace to His worshippers. In the monsoon season, lightnings flash from one end of the sky to the other, crested torrents sweep down over the hills, bearing with them uprooted plants and trees, and not unseldom huge snakes that have been disturbed from their rocky mountain hiding places. The various kinds of 'Gloriosa' spread forth their beautiful flowers like supplicating hands, while every valley and hollow is filled with water. Meanwhile, as the heat is most intense just before the burst of the monsoon, the poet pictures a troop of thirsty antelopes, deluded by the mirage which seems to offer them refreshing streams and shade: disappointed they are left to die of thirst in the wilderness. Meanwhile the pain of the fierce heat has ceased. Down the gorges of the hill the torrent rushes, and is received into tanks prepared for it by the expectant husbandmen. These lakes are fragrant with beautiful flowers, and on their banks the maidens have kindled fires with aromatic woods, at which they dry their hair and garments after the refreshing bath. The cultivators may now sow their seed and expect a rich harvest. All this is the work of the black clouds which drew water from the sea to fertilise the earth. In these lines every particular of the description has its mystical meaning, which hardly needs illustration. The student will compare VII, 61-64.
The ancient sea of bliss supreme is THAT indeed !
Appearing like a black vast CLOUD,
Arising in the hill of Petun-turrai blest,
Whilst sacred lightnings flash frorn every point -,
While serpent bright of sensual bondage dies -, (70)
While the sore sorrow of the fervent heat hides itsellf;
While the all-beauteous Hibiscus shines forth,
Swelling in its wrath like our mortal pain,
It sounds forth in mighty grace as a drum.
While the kAnthal stretches out supplicating hands, (75)
And the tender drops of sweet unfailing grace distil,
While the gleaming torrent swells on every side,
And rises to the highest banks of every lake -;
The 'demon-car' of the six sects
Excites the thirst of the large-eyed antelope throng. (80)
And they with eager desire crowd to drink;
And faint with unquenched thirst haste hither and thither:-
Meanwhile, the heavenly mighty stream
Rises and rushes, crowned with hubbles of delight,
Eddies around, dashes against the bank of our 'embodiment, (85)
And twofold deeds of ours growing from age to age, -
Those mighty trees, roots up and bears away.
It rushes through the cleft of the high hills,
Is imprisoned in the encircling lake,
Where grow the expanded fragrant flowers, (90)
In tank, where rises smoke of the agil, where beetles hum;
And as it swells with ever-rising joy,
The ploughmen-devotees in the field of worship
Sow in rich abundance seed of love
Hail, CLOUD-LIKE god, hard in this universe to reach ! (95)
Ascriptions of Praise
God Who wear'st black snake for girdle, hail !
First One, giving grace to the devout ascetics, hail !
Warrior Who dost remove our fear, all hail !
Thou Who dost ever draw us to Thee, make us Thine, all hail !
Thou Who dost wipe away sorrows that gather around, all hail ! (100)
Thou Who giv'st ambrosia rare to those that gain access to Thee, all hail !
Thou Who in thick darkness dancing dost bend down, all hail!
Lover of Her with shoulders like the swelling bamboo, hail !
Thou Who art hostile to the hostile one, our King, all hail !
Thou Who to thy lovers art treasure in distress, all hail ! (105)
Praise to Thee, our Own, waving the envenomed snake !
Praise to Thee, Great One, Who fill'st our souls with pious rage !
Praise to Thee, mighty in Thine ash-smeared form !
In every part what moves, Thou mov'st it; what lies still, Thou lay'st to rest
What stands, Thou dost establish. (110)
Thou Ancient One, transcending speech,
Not grasped by apprehension of the soul !
Not by the eye perceived, nor by sense-organs all.
Thou didst arrange in order, manifest the ether and all elemcnts.
Like fragrance of the flower uprising everywhere, (115)
Thy greatness without cease all things pervades,
This day to me in condescending grace Thou cam'st
Making this body of destruction fall away, O Being glorious !
To-day to me in condescending grace Thou cam'st; I praise Thee ! (120)
Thou Who did'st fashion this decaying frame; I praise Thee !
As fountain springing in my soul Thou mak'st me glad, I praise Thee !
Whlle pleasure beyond bound like flower expands
I know not how to bear this body vile !
His hidings of Himself
Bright gems flash'd emerald splendour forth,-
The lightning's play mingling with gleam of gold,- (125)
BrahmA went up to seek Thee; Thou didst hide Thyself !
From them who toiled with mystic scrolls didst hide Thyself!
From those who in their homes practised virtue, Thou didst hide Thyself
From those who, in union with Thee, fixed their contemplative soul
Wlth painfiul effort; Thou didst hide Thyself ! (130)
From those who boasted to see Thee by some rare device,
By that same device, there, -didst Thou hide Thyself!
Benign, regarding all, receiving with abundant grace
As male appearing Thou dost change to neutral form,
And in a bright-browed female form dost hide Thyself ! Far off (135)
Bidding the senses five depart, passing over every trackless hill
With frames scarce living, spurning all delights,
Ascetic saints in contemplation dwell;-in their souls Thou fitly hid'st Thyself!
Seeming one thing, then not, eluding knowledge, Thou dost hide Thyself !
When e'en of old I strove to find Thee, when to-day I strive, (140)
Thou hid'st Thyself, Deceiver ! But we've found Thee now !
Haste, haste ye, garlands of fresh flowers
Around His feet to bind !
Assemble, go around, follow hard on, leave ye no gap.
Lay hold of Him, although He hide Himself, avoid your grasp ! (145)
The Incomparable told out His nature as it is,
That those like me might hear.
He called, in grace He made me His,
He as a BrAhman showed His glory forth,
Then, while undying love dissolved my frame, I cried; (150)
I raised enraptured voice above the billowy sea's loud waves;
In utter wilderment I fell, I rolled, I cried aloud,
Madman distraught, and as a maniac raved;
While those who saw were wildered, who heard it wonder'd sore.
More than the frenzy wild of raging elephant (155)
Bore me away beyond endurance far. 'Twas then through all my limbs
A honied sweetness He infused, and made me blest.
The ancient city of His foes with fire lit by His beauteous smile
He caused to fall. Ev'n so that day
With mighty fire of grace our humble dwellings (160)
He destroyed that none were left.
To me as the ripe Nelli fruit in palm He was.
What to say I know not, Hail !-to Thee complain.
I mere cur cannot endure ! What He hath done to me
I understand not ! Ah I'm dead ! To me Thy slave (165)
What Thou in grace hast given I know not, tasting am not satiate,
Though I've imbibed I comprehend it not !
Like flowing billows swell from out the sea of milk
Within my soul He made deep waters rise,
Ambrosia surpassing speech filled every pore. (170)
This is His gracious work !
In every body in this currish state
He filled me full with honied sweetness;
Ambrosial drops most marvellous
He caused throughout my being to distil. (175)
With tender soul, as though He'd make me as Himself,
He formed for me a frame where grace might flow.
And as an elephant explores fields of sweet cane, at last
He sought, and found, and made even me to live. In me
Mercy's pure honey while He mixed, (180)
He gave in grace supernal food: -
Ev'n He Whose nature nor BrahmA knows nor MAl !