Saturday, October 25, 2014


    Nobody who has the least insight into the pages of the sacred Kural will fail to endorse the remark of the veteran Tamil scholar Rev. Dr. G. U. Pope that this is a work unparalleled in any language. The merits of the work are so apparent that even at its very birth, it received the highest encomiums of the proudest scholars of the day, the Pundits of the far famed Madura College or Sangham. The tradition that the author was of low birth only heightens the value of the appreciations thus showered on him. One of the Collegians compares it to the Veda, and another says, unlike the Veda, Tiruvalluvar's words don't lose their merit by anybody repeating them. One speaks of it as containing everything worth knowing, and another that there is nothing which is not contained in this work. One says that the words are sweeter than the Heavenly Ambrosia, and unlike the latter, can be partaken of by everybody. And as the poet utters these words even our own mouth begins to water. Another says they are sweet food to the mind, sweet to the ear and sweet to the tongue, and the great panacea for the ills of Karma. One compares it to the sun who dispelling the deep darkness of ignorance makes the lotus of the heart bloom forth. Another compares it to the lamp dispelling our mental darkness, with the oil can of Dharma, and wick of Artha, and ghee of Kama, words of perfection, the flame, and the short metres the lamp-stand. Its brevity, not bordering on unintelligibility or ambiguity as do most of the sutras in Sanskrit, its perfection of expression and style, its deepness are all matters taken up for praise by these learned Collegians. And what is more, the poet Kalladar brings out in his verse its most prominent character, its universality. People wrangle about this or that being the truth, and they range themselves into various schools, but all are agreed about the truth of the words uttered by Tiruvalluvar. And since his time, all religionists, Buddhists and Jains, Saivas and Vaishnavas have all claimed him as their own. And we need enquire wherefrom he derived his truths. It is enough to acknowledge that it is perfection of Truth, if one can say so, a Perfect Ethical and Religious Code, a perfection of art and thought. Indeed, a close study of the work will bring out its perfect scientific basis, and each part, and each chapter, and each verse is placed one after the other in a perfect chain of logical arrangement and argument. And may we hope that some ardent student of the Kural will work out from it a perfect theory of ethics, both private and international.

    One more remark, and this will introduction us to the chapter of the book we have taken up for translation and elucidation. It is usually remarked following the main divisions of the book into Dharma, Artha and Kama
அறம், பொருள், இன்பம்
, that the author has left out the discussion of the last Purushartha or Moksha, வீடு
on the ground that religion is a matter which will give room for difference and dispute. But is it true that there are no universal truths of religion and did our author leave them unsaid? His own contemporaries did not understand him as doing so but have stated in their encomiums that he has explained all the four Purushartams and that he has shown the path to Moksha. And the Rev. Dr. Pope in his short paper on the Ethics of Kural holds that Tiruvalluvar bases his ethics on the grand truths of Thripadartha, Pathi, Pasu and Pasa. In fact his creed is not a godless creed like that of the Jains or Buddhists. In this respect, there is disparity between the Naladi and this work. Our author's God is the first Cause and Lord 'ஆதிபகவன்
..,' 'He is 'Intelligent,' வாலறிவன்; He resides in the heart of his creatures 'மலர்மிசையேகினான்,' He is Immaculate, untainted by likes and dislikes, 'வேண்டுதல்
,' He is the 'Lord of Lords' and 'king of kings' 'இறைவன்,' He is 'incomparable'. 'தனக்குவமையில்லாதான்,' He is the source of all Dharma and Beneficent, 'அறவாழி
.' He has eight attributes. எண்குணத்தான் (i.e. self-dependent or self-possessed, the Pure, Self-Luminous, the All-Knowing, the Ever-Free, the Beneficent, the Infinitely Powerful, and Infinitely Blissful. Parimelalagar rejects all other interpretations of எண்குணம்) and the Eternal Truth மெய்ப்பொருள் and the Perfect and good Being. 'செம்பொருள்.'* [* Pandit Savariroyan derives 'Sivam' from 'செம்,' and our Saint uses
very frequently.] No amount of learning is of any good unless a man believes in the existence of God and worships His feet in all love and truth. And without such knowledge and such conduct, the mere attaining of ethical perfection is of no use ("
ஐயணர்வெய்தி" &c.) The true way to get rid of our bonds is to reach the feet of the Ever Free. And these bonds are not mere myths but they are caused by our own ignorance. Avidya, Ahankara or Anava which is eternal, Anadi. And then, the chain of causation following karma into endless births and suffering is worked out, and the means or Sadana required to get freed from these bonds are fully shown, and of all the means, the greatest Sadana is to reach Him who is past all thought and speech and unless this is done, it is useless to hope to get our cares destroyed. And as all these principles are fully explained in the chapter 36 on 'மெய்யுணர்தல்,' 'How to perceive truth,' we have translated the same below, adopting almost the language of Dr. G. U. Pope, together with the famous commentary of Parimelalagar, with some running notes, to show how far this is embodied in the Advaita-Siddhanta. Of course the language of the Kural is the language of the Saivite writers of the past 2000 years; and no wonder, the truths expounded by all of them should be the same.

How to Perceive Truth?

    That is we know the truth when we know the nature of Birth and Freedom (Moksha) and the causes thereof, free from error and doubt. This the Sanskritists call Tatvagnana. As this knowledge arises after desiring the desire of Him who has no desire, this chapter is placed in consequence after the chapter on 'துறவு,' 'Sannyasa.'

    1.    பொருளல்லவற்றைப்



    The delusion whereby men deem that the truth which is not,

    That is the cause of hapless birth.





Parimelalagar's Commentary.

    This delusion consists in believing such books and doctrines which hold that there is no rebirth, no fruits of both kinds of Karma, and that there is no God and such like, to be the true books and doctrines. This delusive belief is same as when one mistakes one thing for another, a block for a man, shell for silver.
மயக்கம், விபரீதம், உணர்வு,
error, அவிச்சை, Avidya or ignorance are all synonymous words. As it is only sorrow that is reaped in all the four kinds of birth as Devas, men, animal and astral, this couplet explains that birth is sorrowful and Avidya or error is its cause.

    By altering only a single letter in the first line a ',' 'a'' into ', 'i' (பொருளல்ல into பொருளில்ல) the meaning of the whole passage will be altered, and we will have a new system of philosophy directly opposed to our author's. Instead of it being then the truth, it will become the opposite of it. This is the same question which has arisen in interpreting the negative prefix in the word 'Advaita.' This 'a' or 'us' is interpreted in two ways either as meaning 'அல்ல' 'not' or இல்ல
'no,' though the distinction in the English equivalents will not be very apparent. This is its 'அன்மைப்பொருள்' or 'இன்மைப்பொருள்.' Siddhantis, of course accept the former interpretation, and most followers of Sankara prefer the latter one. This latter view involves the negation of one of the two or may be both of the postulates in 'Advaita.' With this question, a huge war has raged and volumes have been written by the late Sri-la-Sri Somasundara Nayagar and his followers on one side, and the late Ratna Chettiar and of his ilk on the other side. Anyhow, Saint Tiruvalluvar's meaning is clear. He does not mean to repudiate anything as unreal or non-existent. To him, delusion or error consists in mistaking one existent thing as the shell, for another existent thing as silver. To him, to know the truth, is to understand the true nature of each one thing. The question of reality or unreality does not come in. Only one must not mistake one thing for the other or doubt its nature. It will be sufficient requirement of the definition, if one understands the true nature of God and man and the world, and one need not believe any of these to be unreal. One of such truths is that birth is sorrowful. This can be proved to be true. But one's ignorance or delusion comes when he take this actual sorrow as happiness. You think that with the body, there is an end altogether when in fact there are future births. Believing that there is no future life and future birth, one does not believe that there can be a soul' and if there is one, he thinks the body itself is the soul and believing so, all his energies in this world are directed solely towards what would procure the greatest pleasure and gratification of his sense, and he does not care what means he adopts provided his passions are gratified. As it is, the whole foundation of morality will be undermined and one need have neither feat of men nor God. All this is the result of want of knowledge of the true nature of his body and himself, and this ignorance is the cause of his birth. This ignorance is a fact and to believe that this ignorance is itself unreal will be error or false knowledge. It is only when a man known that he is ignorant, that he will learn and try to remove his ignorance. But can this ignorance be removed! Yes. If so, how? This question is answered in the next couplet.





        Darkness departs and rapture springs to men who see

        The mystic vision pure from all delusion free.


Parimelalagar's Commentary.

    இருள், darkness is hell. The mystic vision pure is the supreme object of knowledge. By this couplet is explained that by freedom is meant Niratisayananda and the Nimitta Karana, for this the Supreme Being.


    Darkness and ignorance, Light and knowledge have at all times and in all climes been used synonymously and no two things are so analogous in nature as these two pairs of words. When will darkness vanish? When the sun rise? After the night is past. When will ignorance cease? When the source of all lights arises in his heart? When will this be? When he has attained to a well balanced mind (இருவினையொப்பு). The Pasatchayam and Pathignanam are distinct facts, though the first is not possible without the second. This couplet answers all those who say if the ignorance was eternally attached to the soul, it cannot be removed, and even if it b removed what follows is only a blank and that no Divine Power is required to give one freedom. This couplet and verse 4 below which gives a most distinct reply to the Buddhist view will remove all doubts as to whether he is a Siddhanti or a Buddhist or a Jain. But some of these truths even when known to a man, doubt often opposes him, environed by a host of dogmatic who each assert his own dogma is the only truth. In the next couplet it is stated that even this doubt is the cause of birth, and the means of getting rid of this doubt is also stated.

    3.    ஐயத்தினீங்கித்



        When doubts disperse and clearness is gained,

        Nearer is heaven than earth to sage's soul.


Parimelalagar's Commentary.

    Doubt (ஐயம்) is knowing a thing variously. That is doubting if there is or is not God and Karma and Rebirth and without definite belief in anything. This is the same as doubting a thing as water or a mirage, rope or a snake. As it is natural to every system to refute other doctrines and establish its own, the doubts arising from such a multitude of doctrines, those sages well practised in Yoga will remove, by their Svanubhuti or experience, and attain to real knowledge; and hence they are called ஐயத்தின்நீங்கித்தெளிந்தார். As they reach higher and higher Yogic experience, their attachment to the world will grow less and less, hence, the author's statement that "heaven is nearer" etc. By this couplet is explained that doubtful knowledge is a cause of birth.


    Yoga is a means and not an end. Till Yoga merges into knowledge, no real knowledge is gained. Even the highest Yoga is no good unless the final goal is reached from whence there is no return. The attainment of Yoga is really difficult, but this not all. One can subdue his passions and desires, and control his senses, but unless he has the "Vision pure," 'The only Truth,' then this attainment will be only for a first time, and the man will again be a prey to his senses. To meet this special Buddhist view that the attainment of mere extinction of all desires is Nirvana and that there is no such thing as Brahma-Nirvana, is the special object of the next couplet.

    4.    ஐயுணர்வெய்தியக்



        Five-fold perception gained, what benefit accrue

        To them whose spirit lacks perception of the true.



    Five-fold perception is the Manas. By 'gained' is meant, the controlling of the manas and concentrating of it in Darana. As training of this alone is not sufficient, the author says there is no benefit, and he brings out by the 'உம்,' how difficult a feat even this attainment of Darana is. By these two couplets, the greatness of Pathignana is explained by pointing out that without this attainment, no Moksha is possible. (And the nature of this Pathignana is the subject of the next couplet).




        Whatever thing, of whatsoever kind it be,

        'Tis wisdom' a part in each the real thing to see.



    That is, one must perceive the truth immanent in everything, after getting rid of our ordinary notions of them. In the phrase "கோச்சேரமான்
," the words may mean ordinarily the name of king Seraman of a particular description, but they may mean more particularly the Tatvas from earth to Purusha. When examined and rendered into their final causes, what finally remains is none of this cause and effect, but the Highest Truth and His knowledge is the true knowledge. By this couplet, is explained the nature of this true knowledge.


    This is one of the most oft-quoted couplets of Kural, and is put to more general uses than what is intended here. One has not to go far to discover the Supreme Being and know Him. He is in everything; but one must lose light of the apparent to gain the real. God is in the earth but the earth is not God; God is in water but water is not God, and so through every Tatva, and lastly, God is in the soul, but the soul is not God. When one has so learned to discriminate and distinguish, thereby will he attain to Pathignanam. In the next three couplets, the Sadana required for attaining this Pathignanam is given. And the first requisite is hearing or learning.

    6.    கற்றீண்டு



        Who learn and here the knowledge of the true obtain,

        Shall find the path that cometh not again.



    By 'learn,' the author means learning from every body and at all times. By 'here,' the author brings out the greatness of human birth wherefrom alone one can attain Moksha.

    "The path that cometh not again" is the path to Moksha. The means or Sadana for knowing The First cause, the cause of one's attaining Moksha are of three kinds, they are கேள்வி, Hearing or study, விமரிசம், Reflection, பாவனை Bavana or Realising. (In Sanskrit, Sravana, Manana and Nidhidyasana). This couplet explains Sravana.


    Though the commentator's idea of what is to be learnt is very large, yet the correction conveyed in the following stanza of Naladyar is important.






    "In this matchless verse, says Dr. Pope, "not a syllable could be spared; while almost every word is common and easy, yet is the very fittest, and is used in its exact meaning. It is somewhat archaic; - has a fascinating air of mystery; - pleasantly exercises and amply rewards the student's ingenuity; - seems dark at first, but once lit up, sparkles for ever.

    "This கரை– shore suggests a metaphor: 'learning is a shoreless – infinite – ocean.'

    "Then comes the simple antithesis, 'the learner's days are few.' In Tamil the use of the same root twice (in கல்வி and கற்பவர்) and again in the third line (கற்பவே) imports an added charm.    

    "Into these perfectly (to Tamil ears) harmonious lines is compressed a whole chapter:

    'The subject of study (கல்வி with a plural verb) are infinitely numerous; but the learner's days are few; and if it be calmly thought out, men ae liable to many diseases. [பிணி natural infirmities or "bonds" that enfeeble and restrict]. Youthful enthusiasm may lead men to anticipate great and varied triumphs; calm reflection teaches them their natural weakness. So, men should learn with discrimination (தெள்ளிது) examining closely (ஆராய்) things befitting (அமை suit, satisfy, gladden) them, with intelligence, (தெரிந்து) like that of the bird (the semi divine Hamsa) that drinks only the milk and leaves the water when these mingled are presented to it?"

    7.    ஒர்த்துள்ளமுள்ள



        The mind that knows with certitude what is (First-Cause)

            and ponders well

        Its thoughts on birth again to other life nee not to dwell.



    This explains manana.

    8.    பிறப்பென்னும்



        When the folly of desiring birth departs, the soul can view

        The exalted Home of The Good Being, this is wisdom true.



    Birth and ignorance, and Exalted Home and Truth are really related as effect and cause, they are given inversely in this couplet. Of the five faults, as ignorance is the cause of even the other faults, the author has stated this as the cause of birth. As Moksha is higher than all other things, it is spoken of as the 'exalted.' The First Cause is spoken of as the 'Good Being,' inasmuch as He is eternal without birth and death, as all other things are too significant to taint him by their contacts, and as he remains the same without change or taint at all time, though immanent in all things. Hence also He is spoken of above as the 'True Being' (மெய்ப்பொருள்) and the Existent (உள்ளது). The "viewing" is the soul losing its Mala and constantly realising or practising, (பாவித்தல்) so that it may become one with God (ஒற்றுமையுற்). This Bavana is also called Samadhi or Sukla Dhyana. As it is commonly held by all schools of people that the soul when it leaves the body becomes that which it fancied at the time (அதனால்
) (i.e., is born assuming that body to which it yearned at the time of death), and so, too, as it is necessary for people who aspire after Moksha to contemplate in the Transcendent Being so that their thoughts on birth may cease, there is no better means than this Sadana for practice beforehand always. Thus Bavana is explained in this couplet.


    The commentator proves his thesis by taking the common form of belief held by all people. Every one believes that the form he sees, the object he is after, the idea which possesses him at the moment of one's death will give him a similar form at the future birth and stories are current about a rishi who was fondling a deer being born a deer etc. But these do not know on what principle this is based; and except in the Siddhanta works this principle is now here expounded. The principle involved regards the nature of the soul, which is stated briefly and tersely by St. Meikandan as 'அது
' "that, that becomes" as 'சார்ந்ததன் வண்ணமாதல்' "that becomes that to which it is attached" by St. Arul Nanthi, which is paraphrased again by St. Thayumanavar as




    Like the dirt-removed crystal which becomes of the nature of that to which it is attached. St. Tiruvalluvar himself has clearly expressed this principle in Kural verses "பற்றுகபற்றற்றான்
& c" of the last chapter, and second verse of this chapter and in the next verse (சார்புணர்ந்து
& c) and verses 4, 5, 7 and 8 of the first chapter, wherein he shows that unless the soul leaves its clinging to one, it cannot cling to another from whence is deduced the principle (பற்றுக்கோடீன்றி
) that the soul cannot have any independent existence or form unless it is clinging to one thing, (the world or body is Bandha) or the other (God in Moksha), and while so attached, it identifies itself so thoroughly that it is impossible to discover its separate personality. Hence it was that a Tyndal, a Huxley, a Bain with all their minute anatomical, biological and psychological analysis were not able to discover a mind in the body different from the body, though they could not feel that the result was not very satisfactory. The express language used by the commentator "அதனால்
" as will appear from the beautiful stanza we quote below from St. Arul Nanthi, will show to whom he is indebted for the explanation.









    "The word பாவனை (Bavana) is important, Bavana, Sadana, Dhyana, Yoga are all move or less synonymous terms. It means practice by symbolic meditation or realization. You fancy fixedly you are one with that and you become that. And this is the principle which underlies all the Mahavakyas 'Tatvamasi" &c for fuller treatment.

    See Sivagnanabotham; and Siddhanta Deepika Vol. II, the article 'Mind and Body.'

    9.    சார்புணர்ந்து



        The true support who knows – rejects support he sought before

        Sorrow that clings shall cease and cling to him no more.



    ஒழுக்கம் 'conduct or practice' here means practice of Yoga. This Yoga is of 8 kinds: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratiyakara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Their explanations are too long to be given here. See them in the books on Yoga. 'The sorrows that cling to us' are the fruits of Karma which have yet to be experienced, which are the result of infinite Karma performed in births dating from eternity, and which give rise to fruits already eaten in past births and in the present births. "Shall cease and cling no more," as they will vanish before Yoga and Gnana like darkness before Light. This Jains call 'உவர்ப்பு.' As even Good Karma is the seed of birth, it is called a 'disease.' The author holds that birth will cease when the supreme is perceived by the above mentioned three means. When the births cease, what can all the ills do, as they cannot cling to these gnanis well practised in Yoga, and there being no support, they will die. This is the purport of the stanza.


The word 'சார்பு' in this verse and 'பற்று,' in the previous chapter mean a support or hold. The soul has two such supports, one in Bandha and one in Moksha and without such supports it cannot stand. This may be compared to a piece of iron held between two magnetic poles one positive, and one negative, or better still to a fruit growing on a tree. The fruit is held up by the tree so long and so long only as it is raw and immature (undeveloped) but so soon as it is ripe it reaches the ground (Force of gravity) fruit as such plant be united to the tree or the ground. What happens is, as the fruit grows riper and riper, the sap of the tree does not rise up to the twig and the twig dies, and it falls off. So too as man rises higher, and his desire of the world decreases, and the bonds are sundered, he drops into the Feet of the Lord. பாசங்கழன்றாற்பசுவுக்கிடம்பதியாம்." The author of திருக்களிற்றுப்படியார் explains சார்புணர்வு as Dhyana, and சார்புகெடஒழுக்கம் as Samadhi, the highest Gnana Yoga practices. In the next verse this Pasatchaya is further explained.

10.    காமம் வெகுளி மயக்கமிவை மூனற

னாமங்கெடக் கெடுநோய்


The eternal ignorance, avidya, the consequent achankara, the feeling of 'I' and 'mine,' the hankering which desires this or that, the excellent desire of this or that object, and dislike or hate arising from unsatisfied desire, these five faults are enumerated by Sanskritists. The author enumerates only three, as 'Ahankara' can be brought under 'Avidya' and 'hankering' can be comprised under 'Desire.' As these faults are burnt up before Gnana Yoga practices, like cotton before a wildfire, so the author speaks of the disappearance of the very names of these three faults. As those who do not commit these faults, will not commit good or bad Karma caused by them, the author states accordingly in this verse that they suffer no pain therefrom. As a result of the attainment of True Knowledge, the ills of past births and of future births are destroyed, and thus there two verses find a place in this chapter. We learn from this also, that what remains to those who have perceived the truth is the present body and ills attaching thereto.


    And the next chapter discusses the means of even getting rid of this bare bodily infirmity and of guarding against what is called Vasana Mala.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

King Bhoja's Head-ache.

    The myths that have clustered round the personality of the Ancient Hindu King, Bhoja, might only be paralleled in the West by those of King Arthur or Emperor Charlemagne. A great mass of clumsy fugitive stories for whose inception no more adequate reason could be given than the wanton activity of human fancy, were, time out of mind, tacked on to kings and chiefs of no authentic existence. The same miraculous adventures were now and again attributed to individuals of totally different generations, or, as was more frequently the case, legendary occurrences of a contradictory nature become the whole-sale property of a single shadowy king. Thus of Bhoja many stories are told by the old gossips of the Indian village tree, which are equally believed to apply to the Ujjain Monarch, Vikramaditya. Again, a series of miraculous legends, of practically the same import, though divergent in the form or texture of narration, were attributed to the self-same king. And of this typical nature is the varying versions of King Bhoja's headache. A unique mode of its cure resulting in the liberation of a phlegmatic amphibian from cranial immurement was sketched for us in a recent issue of the "Madras Mail." We will not take up for treatment a different version of the headache and its cure, interesting alike for the splendid romance and the exquisite folly.

    King Bhoja was, like Emperor Julian, an austere man given to the cultivation of stern virtues. Never was there the least swerving from the path of duty and moral rectitude in the days of his golden rule; so much so, he was believed to be helped by the very Devas in his administrative tactics. As in Tradition holds to be models of regal piety and philanthropy, he was wont to spend six months of every year in his urban head quarters looking to his kingly office, and the remainder, in sylvan retreats meditating on the eternal spiritual verities, uncontaminated by the breath of any other man. Thus, he ruled, looked upon by his reverent subjects as a king and, philosopher, as a legislator and an ascetic.

    One day he returned home from his busy Hall of Justice late in the evening, and lay on his cozy, velvety quilt, quite fagged, fanned by the fair maidens of his harem. He went to sleep apparently fatigued with the day's hard work. When he rose at night for his meal after the short slumber, his head was heavy, and Lo! a fit of migraine had seized him. The pain increased hour after hour, till at last, he smarted under the agonies, and by the next morning he could not even taste his food. In an instant the king's serious indisposition was noised abroad throughout the length and breadth of his kingdom, and the loyal subjects came flocking to the palace-door, sorrowing and moaning. The king's dormitory was crowded with physicians of first-rate abilities, and none of the thousand and one remedies which they prescribed was able to relieve the God-protected Monarch from the fell complaint. So far from the pain subsiding from the administration of medicines, it was rising by leaps and bounds in intensity. By noon, it reached its climax, the king swooned in the presence of the kabirajs, and lay torpid and motionless on his downy bed. As could be expected, the inmates of the palace were panic-stricken to see this unprecedented event and as a last remedy a number of Brahmin were ordered to invoke the gods by means of loud prayers for blessing the king with a ready cure. The Brahmins, to show their last act of duty to the dying king, congregated inside the city-temple to pharisaic pomp and standing knee-deep in the tank water hard by, chanted the sonorous Vedic hymns. The rich volume of sound issuing from the prayer-offering Brahmins throats went up piercing the sky. The grand Vedic antiphonal assonance pleased the gods, and they heard the Brahmins supplicating in dismal despair. The gods were at once moved by the Brahminic devotion, and they, in turn, requested their chief, Indra himself, to descend to the earth and save the king Bhoja.

    Indra mounted in the twinkling of an eye his golden car drawn by horses of cerulean sheen, and with the silver-bells of the vehicle chiming delicate notes, dashed athwart the blue vault of the sky. When he neared the earth, he assumed, by an effort of celestial magic the appearance of a Brahmin mendicant, with matted looks, flowing beard and care-worn pinched-up face. Thus impersonating himself, Indra entered the sick-room of the king. In the meantime the physicians in the palace had given the king up for lost, and they were ever watching with sullen discomfiture and bated breath the last moments of a saintly monarch. So, when Indra entered the sick-room, the obdurate attendants there took him for a fanatical wiseacre and stoutly objected to his doing anything that might disturb the king's peace. Withal, he managed by cringing and coaxing to be allowed to treat the king. And yet, there was one more difficulty in his way. The anchorite demanded that none else should be allowed into the sick apartment when he treated the king. And after a good deal of remonstration on his part, and dogged discussion on the part of the physicians and inmates of the palace, the disguised Indra gained his point and was let into the king's chamber alone. He locked the doors of the room fast behind him before he sat by the bedstead of the patient.

    In a few minutes the king regained his consciousness, and sat up on his bed, completely cured of his head-ache, while opposite to him stood the mute celestial Yogi beaming with superhuman effulgence. A thrill ran through the king's body to see the holy apparition pointing its hand to a fat dead fish lying on the floor. When the king questioned Indra as to how the fish chanced to come there, the sage laughed a good-humored laugh, and related to him the entire history of his complaint ending with an account of the manner in which the fish was extracted out of the king's brain-box. The sage added that the fish had grown for sometime too big for the capacity of the king's cranium, and with the increase of proportions in the size of the piscine parasite the head ache became intense. The king then shrewdly requested the pseudo-hermit to tell him the method that was employed to remove the pate for getting at the fish. The sage began "There is no need of medicament or operation for the Devas in such cases, but, as for mortals ……." When, reflecting suddenly that his inadvertent words had betrayed his genuine nature, vanished out of sight in a haze, leaving the king solitary in the room. Bhoja concluded from the amazing disappearance of the hermit, that his physician was no other than a divine messenger sent by the Devas in their overflowing sympathy for him, and rising from the bed ran up to the door-way in eagerness, which he found shut and fastened securely. Unlatching the bolt, he opened the doors ajar and found himself in the open hall, where, his subjects, quite astonished at this miracle of the king's resurrection shouted uproariously with the chorus "May the King Live Long."


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prof. Julien Vinson's Review of the Siddhanta Movement.

    At present there is taking place in India and especially in the central parts, a religious movement or rather a philosophic one, extremely important, which may be called the renaissance of Civaism, that is, if that religion can ever be said to have ceased to be the predominant one in these regions. An active propaganda is being made in favor of the Saiva Siddhanta Doctrine by certain exceedingly distinguished Hindu gentlemen who have been educated almost according to European ideas. In the month of June 1897, a special journal was even started at Madras with the object of promoting the Siva Siddhanta doctrine and it is at present in full prosperity.

    It is known that Sivaism reposes entirely on the conception of three beings (entities): Pati "The Chief, God, the Great, the Whole, Pasu (the soul, the individual being) and Pasam "the lien" that is to say, the totality of the causes which differentiate Pasu from Pati. The supreme object of life is the liberation of the yoke of Pasam, and the absorption of the individual entities in the Great Whole. The doctrine is set out chiefly in 14 Tamil works of which the guiding spirits of the movement in question have published a complete edition.

    The learned Munsif of Nandyal, Mr. Nallaswami Pillai has already translated into English three of these works – the Tirunanasittyar (San. Sridjnasiddhi), the publication of which is being made in the Siddhanta Dipika and the two others which I notice below. The Sivajanabotham (Civadjnanabodha) is considered to be the principal work. It is believed to have been composed probably at the commencement of the 13th century A.D., by an ascetic of Tiruvennainallur, who was surnamed Meikandadeva (the divine who has seen the truth). He is supposed to have translated it from Sanskrit, and added explanations and a commentary. The text includes 12 Sutras which contain in all 41 Tamil verses of four feet, in the Agaval metre. Mr. Nallaswami gives us a close translation in English as well as a translation of the commentary, and he adds numerous explanatory notes. An American Missionary, the Rev. Mr. H. N. Hoisington had published in 1850 a summary in 18 pages in an American review. If may be interesting to compare the two translations.

    The 11th sutra is translated as follows by Mr. Hoisington: "When the soul has escaped from the influence of the body and becomes pure, Siva will look upon it and show himself to it, just as the soul acts as the cause or the power of vision to the eye. Therefore Siva, by thus revealing himself, will show his sacred foot to the soul with a love which it never forgets to exercise." Here is the new translation: "As the soul enables the eye to see and itself seen, So Hara enables the soul to know and itself knows. And this adwaita (non-dualistic) knowledge and undying love will unite it to His feet." The text is worded as follows: kanum kannukku kattum ulam pol kana ulattei kandu kKuttain' ayara anbin aran kejal celme, which literally means: who sees by-the-eye, who shows the deepest meaning as, in order to see, the internal idea having been seen by the action of showing, unforgettable in-the-affection of Haran, the anklet-of-the-foot, will reach.

    It is evident that the translation made in 1895 is better than the translation of 1850. The book by Nallasami is very well-written and its perusal is highly instructive. In addition to the text the book contains, translation and notes, with a learned introduction and a preface regarding the author. There are also given a list of the Agamas, a list of the principal Caivite works in Tamil, the text of the Sanskrit slokas in Devanagiri and Telugu character, and also a glossary of special Sanskrit and Tamil words.

    The Tiruvarutpayan, "Benefit of the holy grace," is a dogmatic treatise in 100 distich's of which Dr. Pope has added a translation as well as a commentary in his edition of his Tiruvacagam. All these works are indispensable to those who wish to have an exact knowledge of the Caivite philosophy – Translated from "Revue de Linguistique."



    Our learned friend Mr. M. Narayanasami Iyer evidently ranks himself with those who think that the noise made by the late Prof. P. Sundaram Pillai's brochure on the age of our Saint was disproportionate to its importance. No wonder, he seeks to demolish his arguments by the query which he propounds in the last number of this journal. He unearthed a work of Sivagnana Vallalar (we must confess we have never board of this book till now) and gathered a tradition from the eulogistic verses that this Vallalar was a disciple of St. Gnana Sambantha, and found internal evidence in the verses themselves supporting the tradition. He received a shock however when he read in the same work references to the Santana Acharyas, but that does not deter him in any way from doubting the tradition itself, but straightway proceeds to add that our Saint should at best have been a contemporary of these Samaya Acharyas &c., and that he should have lived about the 14th Century A. C. This is certainly a great score for our friend, but unfortunately a little historical perspective and knowledge of the Tamil Literature would have disclosed the utter absurdity of the position.

    The first point to notice is that our friend himself has not discovered the actual age of the Vallalar, so that we may be enabled to fix the age of Sambantha. At any rate, he lived subsequent to, or was a contemporary of, Saint Umapathi (vide verses quoted) and the Vallalar suggests that the books of St. Umapathi will make one a Jivan Mukta. This, by the way, shows what great respect and reverence he had for Umapathi, and the greatness of St. Umapathi was beyond question if he received such praise in his own life-time from such a person as Vallalar, a reputed disciple and contemporary of St. Gnanasambantha. But St. Umapathi was only the fourth of the Santana Acharyas and his master was St. Maraignana Sambantha, (so there was another Sambantha before St. Gnanasambantha) and his master was St. Arul Nanthi, whose master was St. Meikandan; and it is hardly likely that all the four were contemporaries, and we have no tradition to this effect. Any how St. Gnanasambantha was only sixteen years old when he entered the great Jyoti, and so he could not have been contemporaneous with St. Umapathi's predecessors. But who was this St. Umapathi and what were his works? Any edition of Periapuranam or திருத்தொண்டபுராணம்
will contain several of his works, namely 'திருத்தொண்டர்
' In the first, St. Umapathi gives the life of Sekkilar and how he came to write the திருத்தொண்டபுராணம். In the 2nd, he gives the story of Nambiandar Nambi of Naraiyur and how he discovered the famous Devara Hymns of St. Sambantha, St. Appar and St. Sundarar. And it was Nambiandar Nambi, The Tamil Vyasa who arranged the Tamil Veda into 11 books, the first three of which were the Hymns of St. Sambantha, the next three of St. Appar; the 7th book was that of St. Sundarar; the 8th consisted of திருவாசகம் and திருக்கோவை of St. Manicka Vachakar; the 9th, that of St. Tirumular's Tirumantram, the 10th
திருவிசைப்பா and திருப்பல்லாண்டு, and the 11th book consisted of a miscellaneous collection including the poems of God Somasundarar, and Karaikalmmaiyar and திருவெண்காடர் or Pattinattar and Nambi's own poem. Nambi lived in the reign of Kulasekara Chola. From the following stanzas (38 and 39) of திருமலைச்சிறப்பு in St. Sekkilar's Periapurana,

        "மற்றிதற்குப்பதிகம், வன்றெண்டர்தாம்










we gather that the materials from which he wrote his history consisted of the Devaram hymns themselves, and from study of the திருத்தொண்டத்தொகை of St. Sundarar and the திருவந்தாதி of Nambiandar Nambi we are driven to the conclusion that St. Sekkilar lived in the time of king Anabaya. And from Nambiandar's life, we learn that the image of St. Gnana Sambantha had been set up even in his time. So that, we have it that St. Sambantha is referred to in St. Sundarar's திருத்தொண்டத்தொகை, which formed the original for the short history drawn up by Nambiandar Nambi; St. Sekkilar wrote his materials from all these sources and st. Umapathi wrote Sekkilar's life and Nambiandar Nambi's life. In Nambi's time, the Devaram Hymns had been lost and were rediscovered by him. We know for certain also from St. Umapathi's work itself, when he lived. It was about 1300 A.D. We know for certain also from a copper plate, the age of Gandaraditya, one of the authors of திருவிசைப்பா (10th Veda or collection of Nambi). It was about 950 A. D. (Vide C. M. Duff's chronology of India p. 283). And St. Sundara lived before him. So that between St. Sambantha and St. Umapathi there was at least a difference of 5 or 6 centuries. And yet if our friend's story is true, St. Sambantha, Sundara, Gandaraditya, Pattinattar, Nambiandar Nambi, and a Sekkilar and Meikandan, Arul Nambi, Maraignana Sambantha and Umapathi, in fact nearly all the Saints of the Saivite calendar, should have lived at about the same time! A contingency never likely to be true unless History itself is going to run mad!! The திருத்தொண்டத்தொகை itself contains the names of many of the contemporaries and followers and disciples of St. Gnanasambantha, and it is a pity our Vallalar's name is conspicuous by its absence in this long list. Our thing more, திருவெண்காடர் or Pattinattar referred to by our Vallalar has himself sung the praises of St. Sambantha and others in the following lines.





    The fact is, our Vallalar is quite a modern author, (his modernity apparent from his praising சடகோபர் in the same stanza) who thought, of course, he derived his inspiration from St. Gnana Sambantha. This is a common practice with Religious people, to pay homage to some Saint and invoke him as their Guru. And of all the Saints, St. Gnana Sambantha has had the largest number of such votaries and disciples, the fact that he was considered as an Avatar of God Subramanya giving additional stimulus to the worship. More famous that our Sivagnana Vallalar, among such pupils of St. Sambantha, was another Vallalar called Kannudaya Vallalar, the author of Ozhivilodukkam (ஒழுவிலொடுக்கம்), a book which the late Prof. P. Sundaram Pillai, characterized as brimming with intellectual similes. And the first verse devoted to the praise of Guru (குருவணக்கம்) is the following,






    In it, the author praises the uplifted finger of the 'Divine Child,' which pointed to the 'Parents of the World' 'Bhuvanesa Pitaram,' as 'பெம்மானிவனன்றே.' "This fore-finger is that of the Dancer when it pointed to the Lord of the Lords in the Hall of the Vedagamas. This is the crown which rests on the top of the six Adaras. This is the Sun which rises to dispel my mental darkness. This is the Rain cloud showering his gracious Bliss when I lost my 'I'"

    The verse is a sublime one, both sound and sense befitting the subject. There are a number of other verses in which the author directly sets forth how St. Sambantha taught him this or that; and a typical verse is the following as it sets forth the highest doctrine of the Advaita-Siddhanta –

        என்னாணைஎன்னாணை யென்னாணையேகமிரண்

        டென்னாமற்சும்மா திருவென்று – சொன்னான்

        திருஞானசம்பந்தன் சீகாழிநாடன்

        அருளாளன் ஞான விநோதன்


    "This is my command! This is my command! This is my command!!! Never say it is one or two and be still. So said my Tirugnana Sambantha, of Sheerkali. The gracious Lord, wondrously wise." We may state the latest votary and pupil of our saint was the late lamented Sri-la-Sri S. Somasundara Nayagar who composed also many poems in a similar strain in praise of Gnana Sambantha.

    In Prof. Sundaram Pillai's own time, his theories were fully corroborated by the discoveries of Dr. Hultszch and Mr. Venkayya, and today his conclusions are only receiving greater corroboration. Nay, the evidence brought forward by Mr. T. Veerabhadra Mudaliar, based on metrical tests, goes to show that the upper limit fixed by the Professor was too high. If the metres used by Sambantha had become obsolete even in a Sekkilar's time and was not understood, and later grammarians had rejected them as (வழுவமைதி) instead of knowing the ancient character of the metre and its great beauty, then is it too much to say that the upper limit was the 6th century.

J. M. N.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Some Notes on Tirukkural.

    There is a quatrain in Tamil which eulogizes Tirukkural and the commentary thereon of Parimelalagar. The quatrain may be rendered into English as follows: - All milk is not cow's milk: all work is not Valluvar's work; all commentary thereon is not Parimelalagar's commentary. We do not question this eulogium. But every man has a right to give free expression to his own sentiments. There can be no doubt that Parimelalagar is a master-hand, and that his commentary, which has superseded its nine predecessors, is a master-piece. But every man had got his own point of view.

    Parimelalagar seems to view Kural through Sanskrit spectacles. There are also those who view it with Christian eyes. We gaze on it with catholic eyes. Man's work is not complete it is always susceptible of improvement. The indigenous literature of any nation is not complete; it is always susceptible of improvement. We are only beginning to enjoy the blessings was universal from time immemorial; but it was never so widely advocated as in these present enlightened times. Translations and adaptations, mutual exchange and barter enliven the literatures of nations. The Dravidian group of languages and Sanskrit must have affected each other. Sanskrit has been for a very long time a dead language, and scholars scoop out Dravidian elements from Aryan cliffs. One nation does not lose credit by exporting its superfluous products and importing other useful ones. One language loses no merit by borrowing from another. The infusion of fresh blood adds energy and vigor. Currents of water flow with greater life and glow than stagnant pools. A progressive nation cannot but absorb and assimilate foreign materials. A progressive literature cannot but absorb and assimilate foreign thoughts and foreign ideas. Original elements and foreign elements may fuse together and create a new product. This is our point of view. Valluvar was a Tamil scholar. He might have read Sanskrit, or he might have read translations from Sanskrit, or he might have heard discourses in Tamil by Sanskrit scholars. We cannot get ourselves to believe that Kural is a mere compilation from Sanskrit moral codes. Kural is the product of the deep study of man and books. It is not the creation of a mere literary glutton, nor is it the work of observation pure. It is not the fruit of a few days or a few months toil. It is the life-work of Tiruvalluvar. The work is one connected whole with the author's own design and plan binding the parts all together. It is not for us to say that Valluvar echoes others, or the reverse. We only wish to note here two points where we differ from Parimelalagar. Our readers are at liberty to dissent from the opinions expressed here.

    1.    The first chapter – கடவுள்
(divine praise) is taken by Parimelalagar and others to be an invocation addressed to God. "According to established rule, all do composition ought, and, with few exceptions, all do commence with an invocation of the Deity, varying according to the sect of the writer." This invocation is for the work to be completed without hindrance. There is also a kind of invocation which is in accordance with the theme undertaken. The invocation is Kural is said to be of the latter sort. Our contention here is that this chapter is not an invocation of any kind of Deity in order that the work may safely reach its end. We say that Tiruvalluvar makes no invocation here.

    The first four chapters of Kural from the author's introduction to his work. In the fourth chapter, he emphasizes the all important power of Virtue, before entering upon the First Book of his work, which treats of Virtue. The preceding chapter is allotted to the Greatness of Ascetic, because they are the best fitted to advise the world about Virtue. The second chapter speaks of the Importance of Rain, as without it the world cannot go on. In the first chapter, the author speaks of God – His nature and the good of obeying and praising Him, and does not invoke his aid. The author is desirous in his work to give the clue to salvation. Virtue, Wealth, and Domestic Happiness form the steps of the Stair-case to Heaven. God is the First cause of the Universe, and reaching His Holy Feet is the goal of Man. So the author hints in the first chapter the summum bonum of his work. That the author nowhere in this chapter speaks of himself in the first person, nor of God in the second person serves only to strengthen our view of the chapter. It is the faulty apprehension of this chapter which has given rise to many a hot controversy among sectarians. View the chapter with our spectacles and you will find no Aruha or Siva or Vishnu or Brahma moving before your eyes. We may therefore assert that in this chapter Valluvar only speaks of the existence of God and of the way of obtaining His Grace.

    2.    The Second Book is named – பொருட்பால் the Book on Wealth. Parimelalagar states that wealth comes under and is included in Sovereignty which is the means or instrument of wealth that Sovereignty is the administration of a country, and that Valluvar discusses the subject under the headings names Sovereignty, the constituents of Sovereignty, and appendix. We dissent from this view. The author is of opinion that wealth is essential for Virtue and Happiness. An organized country has a king and subjects. Without wealth the king cannot do anything; without wealth the subjects cannot live as men ought to. The king is an ideal king; the subjects are ideal citizens. The king must earn wealth and this is treated in பொருள்
. The subjects must earn wealth, and the best means for them to produce wealth is agriculture – உழவு. In this book the author discusses Sovereignty in all its aspects, and also Citizenship in all its aspects, the central point being the importance of wealth. Chapters 59 to 95 are devoted to Sovereignty and its accessories; chapters 96 to 108 to Citizenship. Citizenship is only an epitome of Royalty. The king will find some hints for himself in the chapters on Citizenship, and the citizens will find some hints for themselves in the chapters on Sovereignty. In திருவள்ளுவமாலை, a collection of panegyrics by the scholars of the Madura Academy on Kural, we find that the quatrain No. 25 explains the classification, as made by Valluvar, of the First Book; the quatrain No. 27 that of the Third Book. The quatrain No. 26, by போக்கியார் states the classification of the Second Boom (Wealth): -






that is, அரசியல் (royalty -25), அமைச்சியல் (ministers -10), அரண் (fortification -2) கூழ் (பொருள்செயல்வகை - the way of earning wealth -1), படை (the army -2). நட்பு (friendship -17), and குடியியல் (citizenship – 13). Though Parimelalagar adopts the original classification in the other two books, he sets aside the above classification, and has his own in the Second Book What is குடியியல் in the above classification is ஒழிபியல் for Parimelalagar, and what is குடி in "படை குடிகூழமைச்சு நட்பரணாறு முடையானரசருளேறு" is நாடு by synecdoche. The author must have had some purpose in discussing அரசியல் first, and குடியியல் last, putting the rest in the middle. The wealth of the state and the wealth of the nation, the prosperity of the king and that of his subjects – these are the subject proper of this Book. It cannot really be sovereignty which is of course instrumental in safeguarding wealth. If the author, as stated by Parimelalagar, intended only this to be the subject of the second book, he would not have discussed the essentials of a good citizen, namely, honour, nobility, benevolence, etc., and concluded the book with poverty, begging, and baseness. We have no crusade against the great Parimelalagar. Only in the big harvest of his commentary, he hath missed an ear or two which has, fallen for our share to glean.