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Tirumurai: Verses that seize Tamil tradition

Tirumurai: Verses that seize Tamil tradition

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The e book Tirumurai – Glimpses into Tamil Saiva Poetry, in each Tamil and English, goes past devotion to replicate on historical past, artwork and custom

The e book Tirumurai – Glimpses into Tamil Saiva Poetry, in each Tamil and English, goes past devotion to replicate on historical past, artwork and custom

The Panniru Tirumurai type an important a part of the priceless legacy of historical Tamil poetry. After the Sangam works, this may maybe be the following voluminous corpus. The 18,000 verses that it includes are a invaluable archive of not solely the artistic output of a number of Saiva saints but additionally of the varied shrines they visited, their observations of life and the evolution of our language. Additionally they present us details about a number of different issues, together with wildlife.

In her introduction to the e book Tirumurai – Glimpses into Tamil Saiva Poetry (by Sharda Narayanan and Madhangi Rathnavel; printed by Ambika Aksharavali), Dr. Sudha Seshayyan, famous scholar and Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical College, observes that “aside from devotion and unstinted religion, the Tirumurai hymns additionally encapsulate the historical past of the Tamil land and custom, the genesis and growth of Tamil Isai, the expansion and elegance of Tamil tradition, the habits and lives of Tamil individuals — in toto, the options and specialities of the Tamil world.” There may be no higher summation.

One of the best ways to learn the Tirumurai is within the unique Tamil, with a very good information to elucidate the knotty passages. However what occurs when persons are more and more minimize off from their mom tongue and grow to be depending on English alone? To such individuals, Tirumurai, and different such works, are closed books — items of show in a museum, to be peered at by way of glass instances and admired from afar. That’s when English primers grow to be essential, and this e book admirably fulfils such a task.

A twelve-part compilation

For many who aren’t accustomed to Tamil literature or poetry, it might be essential to elucidate right here that the Panniru Tirumurai are, because the identify suggests, a 12-part compilation. This was a piece in progress for over 600 years because it begins with the Thevaram — the hymns by Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar (the foremost of the 63 Tamil Saivite saints collectively often known as the Nayanmar or Arupathumoovar).

The primary seven sections of the Tirumurai comprise the works by the above saints. These had been compiled within the eleventh century by the scholar Nambiyandar Nambi. The eighth Tirumurai is devoted to the creations of Manikkavachagar, whose timeline continues to be being debated upon. The ninth Tirumurai includes the works of 9 lesser-known poets of the time of King Raja Raja Chola I (r 992-1014 CE), collectively often known as the Tiruvisaippa. The tenth part is devoted to the Tirumantiram, the deeply philosophical and infrequently esoteric work of Thirumular, a siddha.

The book also contains works of the main four Saivite saints of South India, Sambandar, Appar,  Sundarar, and Manickavachagar.

The e book additionally comprises works of the primary 4 Saivite saints of South India, Sambandar, Appar, Sundarar, and Manickavachagar.
| Picture Credit score: Picture: V.V. Krishnan/ The Hindu Archives

The eleventh is an ideal illustration of the blurring traces between the devotees and the Lord, for it consists of one verse attributed to Shiva himself. A number of the others on this part are poets, together with among the Arupathumoovar. It additionally has ten songs by Nambiyandar Nambi. The final part is Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam, the hagiography of the Arupathumoovar written within the twelfth century. Thus, in 600 years, Tamil Saivite spiritual poetry codified itself.

This 380-page e book faithfully follows the structuring of the Tirumurai. By the use of an introduction, it takes the readers by way of a masterly survey of the rise and observe of Saivism, the significance of the Chidambaram temple as a centre for the evolution of Tamil arts, the iconographic representations of Shiva, the event of Pannisai or Tamil Isai. The one unfavorable is the extreme use of Sanskrit phrases to elucidate Tamil equivalents, particularly within the introductory passage.

The e book then takes up every part of the Tirumurai, with a quick life sketch of the poets featured, adopted by chosen verses with which means. On the finish of the learn, it is rather seemingly that those that have perused this quantity will need to delve deeper into the Tamil unique. Presenting the lyrics each in Tamil and English is commendable. The utilization of diacritical marks within the English script is indicative of a lot forethought and allows correct pronunciation. Additionally praiseworthy is the painstaking rationalization of the varied metres to be discovered within the Tirumurai. Too usually, Tamil publications take such data without any consideration and merely present the names of the metres, leaving the bewildered reader to grope round for a proof.

Lately, the Divya Prabandham of the twelve Azhwars have seen many English translations. Following the lead of this e book, maybe an entire translation of the Tirumurai too ought to be taken up.

The Chennai-based creator, a historian, writes on music and tradition.

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