Wednesday, December 31, 2014


    It is very much to be regretted that the Senate should have now resolved, though by a small majority, upon abolishing the Vernacular Composition test prescribed by Government, after mature consideration, for the new Intermediate Examination. It is some consolation, however, to see that some of the Senate members who may be looked upon as an authority in their respective vernaculars, as also the Heads of the Educational Departments in Madras and Mysore, very strongly protested against the abolition. Even under the old curriculum, where vernacular text-books, grammar, translation, and composition were all compulsory, students in College and even Graduates have often found it very hard to express their ideas intelligibly and freely in their vernaculars – a fact admitted on all sides, not even the Government excepted. Now I will simply leave it to your readers to imagine what the consequence of the abolition of this surviving vernacular composition also will be. It is to be hoped that the Government will soon come to the rescue of the vernaculars, not only by restoring the composition test, but also by making it compulsory to study a second language.

    Under the paternal care of the University the classical and vernacular languages have flourished for about half a century. If the existing condition are altered, these will die in course of time. If, therefore, the Senate and the Government do not wish to see them come to an untimely end, the only safe course will be to make them compulsory, as was the case hitherto, or, if that cannot be done, at least to allow them to be studied separately and not conjointly, as in the present curriculum. Group IV may accordingly be thus modified: - (a) Ancient or Modern History, (b) Logic, (c) a second language. Of the four Optional groups for the Intermediate Examination, only the fourth group makes a provision for the vernacular and classical languages. Even granting that all the four groups are equally patronized by students, three-fourths will be excluded from them. But on account of the great difficulty in learning a new classical language and its being tacked to a vernacular, not one student had ventured to apply for the fourth group in any of the local Colleges. This is clear evidence to prove that the vernaculars and classical language are doomed.

    Even in the M. A. course under the old Regulations, the students had not to face such a severe ordeal. There, the vernaculars and classical languages were not grouped together but had only to be studied separately. It is true that the vernacular student has to study a second vernacular, but only a superficial knowledge of the latter is required. If vernacular and classical languages are to be studied together, students must be trained in both from the Middle School Classes.    

    T. Walker Esq., Member Text Book Committed writes this subject to the Madras Mail as follows: -

    As one of those who desire the truest welfare of India, may I be allowed to express my sincere regret at the recent Resolution of the Senate of the University of Madras to abolish Vernacular Composition from the schedule of subjects prescribed for the Intermediate Examination? I am quite aware that certain difficulties would be involved in the retention of the subject, from the point of view of the Professors of our Colleges, who very naturally wish to relieve the prescribed curriculum of what some regard as a needless incubus; but the matter should be viewed in its wider bearings.

    In the Order of Government passed on the 31st December, 1906, the following words occur: - "It appears to the Government that, if those who have secured a University education are to do the best for their country with the education they have received, it is imperative that they should preserve a sound knowledge of the vernaculars," and, with this object in view, the composition test in question was prescribed for the Intermediate Examination. The same Order deplores the fact that the ordinary University graduate of the present day notoriously neglects his vernacular. I myself have known the case of one, well-versed in English, who, though a Tamil by birth, was obliged to requisition the services of an interpreter in addressing a Tamil audience, owing to his want of facility in his own native tongue. The University of Madras is the University of the Dravidian Country, and the Dravidian languages are not the daughters of Sanskrit, but represent an antecedent South Indian civilization. In this respect we are unique in this part of India. Surely, therefore, every Indian graduate of our University should be able to speak and write freely in his own beautiful vernacular language. What should we think of a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge who, while well acquainted with Greek and Latin, could not writer with some measure of freedom and elegance in his own mother tongue? No dead "classical language," however beautiful, ought to be allowed to usurp the place of our living vernaculars.

    If it be argued that a position is given to the vernaculars in Group IV of the Intermediate Examination, an optional group comprising (a) Ancient or Modern History (b) a classical language, and (c) a second classical language or Indian vernacular language, I venture to predict that, in practice, any hopes raised by such a contention will be largely disappointed. For example, we shall find, almost certainly, that students who take Sanskrit as their "second language" for the Matriculation will avoid Group IV in their Intermediate Examination so as to escape the study of a further classical or vernacular language. It would be at least worth while ascertaining from Principal of Colleges how many students have taken up Group IV as their optional branch for the Intermediate during the current year. If I am not mistaken, we shall find that, granted Government sanction for the Resolution of the Senate to omit Vernacular Composition from the Intermediate curriculum, the vast majority of our future graduates will be men who have obtained their degree without having studied in the least their own vernacular. Is this desirable either from an educational, or a patriotic, or a common sense point of view? The Japanese teach modern science mainly through the medium of their vernacular. In Ceylon, "classical languages" have had an undesirable predominance in their educational system, and a halt is now being called.

    I trust, therefore, that Government will not sanction the Resolution of the Senate without fuller enquiry into the matter, and that, in any case, some adequate provision may be made to ensure the study by our under-graduates of their own vernacular tongues.

Manikkavacagar and the problem of Tamil Literature.


    In the two numbers of the Malabar Quarterly Review previous to the last, Mr. K. G. Sesha Aiyar fully discussed the question; as my name occurs several times in his article, I ask permission to answer him, or better to express here my actual ideas about the matter, shortly as possible. I must declare, first, that I never pretended to be absolutely right and am always ready to confess my errors, when it is proved I mistook, as for example, in the case of Dr. Burnell's famous foot-note.

    I must be allowed too to say that for long the Tamilian were devoid of what may be called the historical sense; they have no written history and all their records are thoroughly mingled with folklore, popular tales, religious events and mythic legends. Almost all personal names of old days appear as mere surnames or even nick names; so, is it admissible that a child may have been called by his parents, as many great Tamil writers were, Kakkeippadiniyar "the sweet crow singer," or Parimelalagar "the superior beautiful" one?

    Manikkavacagar (St. Manikkavacaka "one whose speeches are precious jewels") is known as a great Tamil Poet, an energetic Saiva devotee, a valiant minister of the Pandiya king Arimarddana. Moreover he is said to have overthrown and converted some Buddhist priests who had come from Ceylon, to Sidambaram. At what time then did he possibly live and flourish?

    We are able to affirm that it cannot be delayed later than the tenth or eleventh century A. D. The Madras Government Epigraphist, Mr. V. Venkayya, inform us, in his last annual report, that one inscription was lately discovered, in which king Vikramachola, about the year 1135, ordered a provision to be made for the singing of one Manikkavacagar's hymns Tiruchchalal. So, in the beginning of the twelfth century, Manikkavacagar was already a celebrated poet and a venerated holy saint throughout the whole Tamil country. He must then have been dead more than a century before.

    Very little is to be got from the works of this renowned saint. And we may perhaps doubt whether he really is the author of all the poems which are ascribed to him. I was ever of opinion that the Kalladam, for example, was composed prior to the Kovei; its style and metre appear more archaic, and we find in it many traces of the primitive manners and beliefs of the lower people, frequent allusions to conjurors, sorcerers, soothsayers &c., on the one hand, and of ghosts, goblins, evil spirits, vampires, on the other. Moreover, Tamil works cannot throw much light by themselves on historical problems because many modern writers have mistakenly copied out old author, according to the rule later formulated by Pavanandi; "On what matters, with what words, in what way, high men – have spoken; so to speak, is the convenience of style."

        "எப்பொருனெச்சொலி னெவ்வாறுயர்ந்தோர்

         செப்பினரப்படி செப்புதன்மரபே."


    But we may believe at best Tiruvacagam is Manikkavacagar's work, and we must see at what period of Tamil Literature it is to be brought up. The problem, to be solved, must be examined at three points of view, viz., the literary, the religious and the historical one.

    Some learned native scholars have said that the Tamilians had attained a high degree of civilization and possessed a rich literature and a perfect writing system of their own, much before the Christian era, at a time when their country extended over a large space of land southward of Cape Comorin. But these statements have always appeared to me as a mere hypothesis, to which nothing affords the slightest support. No fragment whatever of a word, not a single remains of inscription, not even an original tale or tradition, can be produced in its favor. As regards writing for example, Mr. Burnell admitted that the Vatteluthu might have been directly borrowed by the old Dravidians from some Semitic traders or travelers; but one cannot doubt now that it originated from the northern Aryan alphabets: the forms for k, c,
t, the confusion of long and short e, and o, and many other particulars prove it unquestionably. It is almost certain that writing was introduced in Southern India in the third century of the Christian era, and we must observe the oldest documents are in the Sanskrit language only. Old grants and inscriptions generally contain two parts, and eulogistic, mythical and historical one in verse and an administrative or official in prose, sometimes in the Prakrit or spoken language. Later, vernaculars (Tamil, Canarese, and Telugu) are used in the prose official part; still later, Tamil occurs in the poetical eulogy in the agaval metre which is known to be the oldest of all; more recent documents are found to be written in the Vernacular prose only. Are we not authorized to conclude from this that the writers of these documents were originally strangers who generally became acquainted with local idioms and used them more and more? It is highly probable that the Aryanisation of South India was peacefully and progressively made. The Aryan immigrants, being principally Brahmans and warriors, settled themselves in towns and formed separate communities there; it was only by their intercourse with the nature, in subsequent days, that they began to learn, use and write original languages and taught the native to write and compose literary works. The first Tamil, Canarese or Telugu writers were evidently Brahmans of northern origin and religion. Not one Tamil, Canarese or Telugu book now in existence is independent of Sanskrit.

    Moreover, Tamil literature is nearly related to religious events. When we try to get a general view of it, we become bound to the necessity of acknowledging it must be divided in distinct periods, each of which corresponds to a special religious activity, but we must admit, before all, a preliminary, preparatory period; then came the time in which Jainas and perhaps Buddhists were flourishing then, the Saivites grew up and began to engage in a long and violent struggle with these heretics; then Saivism became predominant. In later times we see Vaishnavas interfering, in the same epoch as so many Tamil Puranas were composed embodying many old local primitive deities, uses, superstitions and legends. The last period, - the modern one, can be considered as beginning with the arrival of the European settlers, about the end of the fifteenth century.

    Now, let us turn to Tiruvacagam and other works of Manikkavacagar. They were evidently written in the militant period of Tamil Literature, viz., in the third one. But writing having been introduced in the Dravida about the third century, it cannot have become current and be applied to the Vernacular languages before the fourth; and the preliminary period, the Jaina period, which followed certainly lasted something on two or three centuries. So that, Manikkavacagar cannot have lived and written earlier than the seventh or eighth century.

    Historically, Manikkavacagar was a contemporary of king Varagunapandya, whose name is quoted in his works; and this king is probably the same named prince who, as we know, ascended the throne in the year 862-863. Moreover, in the legends of his life, our great saint is said to have been the prime minister of Arimarddana Pandya. Who this is we cannot decide, as he has not been yet identified. But he appears as the 61st or 63rd in the list of the 74 monarchs who reigned in Madura before the overthrowing of their power by the Chola. This important event look place under the reign of Rajendra Chola, towards the middle of the eleventh century; and if we assign as usual, 20 years to each of the 10 or 20 kings who reigned between Arimarddana and Kun Pandya, the last independent sovereign, we find Manikkavacagar must have lived at the beginning of the ninth century.

    My conclusion will be them that Manikkavacagar's age is very probably the just said ninth century (800-900) of the Christian era.





    In reply to a letter headed "The Sastras and animal sacrifices" published in the Standard of the 12th instant. I wish to offer the following brief explanation which, I trust, will remove the misconception with regard to "animal sacrifices."

    In the sacred books of our Religions, figurative phraseology and symbols are freely used. The animal offerings such as man-horses-cows and goats, simply represent the different 'Sadanas' or religious, psychical practices whereby "Gnanam" is attained. The esoteric meaning of these Sadanas has been forgotten and symbol is mistaken for reality.

    The chronological order of sacrifices as given in the "Aitariya Brahmana" is as follows:-

    "The Gods killed a man for their victims. But from him thus killed the part which was fit for a sacrifice went out and entered a horse. Thence the horse became an animal fit for being sacrificed. The gods then killed the horse, but the part fit for being sacrificed went out of it and entered an ox. The Gods then killed the ox, but the part fit for being sacrificed went out of it and entered a sheep. Thence it entered a goat. The sacrificial part remained for the longest time in the goat, hence it became preeminently fit for being sacrificed."

    The Sadana or practices prescribed for attaining gnanam are: -

    (1) Sarithai, (2) Kriya, (3) Yoga.

    By the 1st two "Sadana" we restrain the 10 external senses of the visible body and they become dead or inactive. This is killing the man. By the 3rd practice we restrain breath or "Vasi" of which the horse is the symbol, thus rendering the 4 internal organs inactive. Of these 4, mind remains for the longest time and its nature being leaping, it is represented by goat or leaper. This is referred to our Thayumanaswami as "துள்ளுமறியா மனதைப் பலிகொடுத்தேன்" which when translated means "I sacrificed my leaping ignorant mind." These internal organs being enfolded in the body they are compared to cattle that we see folded.

    In our religious works "Punyam" is defined as acts tending to give pleasure to sentient beings and "Papam" as those tending to give pain to them.

    We must therefore lift up the veil of symbolism, if we want to fall on the right track of the esoteric explanations of the animal sacrifices prescribed by the Vedas for the gaining of all."

    A religion which advocates "Jivakarunyam" could never have intended the torture which is now being practiced.


[That the ancient Aryans were partaking of animal food and that the system of animal sacrifice is as ancient as the world cannot be doubted. But the movement to give off animal food following an awakening of the higher moral sense began long before the rise of Buddhism and became more pronounced after it. And the system of animal sacrifices also became discredited; about the time of the Upanishads, they called the sacrificed as only a means and not an end in itself and then began to give a new meaning and signification to the whole system of sacrifices. The sacrifice that was required was of the animal (Pasutvam) in man (Pasu), the sacrifice of self, and the agamas took up the idea and invented forms to suit the new philosophical conception such as are found in our modern temples, with the Balipitam. Yupastumbham and Nandi (freed Pasu); there is a Yagna Sala in every saivite temple, and in the course of a Brahma Utsavam (a substitute for the old soma sacrifice) the yagnas are gone through, take the old mantras and finish with the grand car festival (Tirupurasamhara – the burning up of the three Malas or Pasa). But there old institutions die hard, and we find people here and there performing these sacrifices and it is said that the great Appaya Dikshita once cried at the sight of the slaughtered animas, 'Oh Vedas I believed you,' meaning thereby that but for his belief in the Vedas he would not have performed the obnoxious sacrifice. And we are glad to note the explanation of the Aitareya passage in the light of Yoga. We may note that 'Vasi' is one of the synonyms of a horse as given in the lexicon. – Ed]


Tuesday, December 30, 2014


    The gradual degeneracy of the world in its attitude towards religion, in moral behaviour, in the performance of duties in the administration of Government and in the exercise of Justice, has been foretold in every religion worthy of the name. Our Hindu Scriptures have, in unmistakable terms, revealed the character of the different epochs of time and the humanity of the present day are in a position to bear testimony to the truth of the revelations. The characteristic features of the Yugas have been predicted by the inspired Rishis of old with remarkable precisions.

    There is said to be four Yugas – Kreta, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. Of the four Yugas, in the Kreta age, one only religion prevailed over the whole world. Humanity was perfect and each individual had the truest conception of God. It was not necessary, in those times, for men to perform religious ceremonies. All were virtuous and defect there was none. Gods, demons, and Ghandharvas were not, nor do we hear in the Kreta Yuga of Yakashas, Rakshasas, or Nagas. Commerce was a thing totally unknown. Manual labor was not necessary for the gaining of foodstuffs.

    All that one had to do was to think of what he wanted and straightway he had it. Such was the purity of his thought and his knowledge of the potency of thought. Men were not then affected by maladies nor by the infirmities of the senses. The hydra-headed vices of the present day were not heard of in those times, malice, pride, hypocrisy, discord, ill-will, cunning, fear, misery, envy, or covetousness. The merit of the individuals consisted in the right performance of their respective duties ordained by the Holy Writ. All meditated on Brahmam and the one sacred mantra, the Pranava. The Brahmin, Kshatriya Vaisya, and Sudra, each did his work without aiming at any particular object and it was no wonder that salvation was within the access of all, and the times were very appropriately termed Kreta, or perfect.

    Let us next consider the character of the Treta Yuga. The degeneracy was slight but it was none the less marked. Religious perception was less accurate and virtue was said to decrease by a quarter. It was accordingly thought necessary that religious rites should be introduce. Sacrifices and various other religious observations came into existence. While men did not deviate from virtue, and were as given to asceticism as they were in the previous Yuga, the error, however that they committed was that they began in devise means to attain an object. The old way of doing actions without yearning for the fruit was no longer in vogue to the same extent as before. But it is noteworthy that duties were done and rites performed with extraordinary carefulness. So passed the Treta Yuga only twenty five percent deficient in the grandeur and perfection of the previous age.

    Next came the Dwapara Yuga during which the religious condition of men was said to have degenerated by one half. The Veda was no longer one and undivided. Some knew all the Vedas; some were acquainted with three; some had knowledge of one, and there were those who knew not even the Riks. Those that practiced asceticism and such as gave gifts were influenced by motives. Men became less intelligent and could not understand the whole of the Vedas. Certain portions were actually unintelligible to them.

    Men departed from truth and became affected by diseases Cupid began to have promiscuous away over men and women and calamities of no mean kind were the natural outcome. In this state of circumstances, penance was resorted to for the propitiation of sins. Also, sacrifices were performed with a view to obtain more of the good things of this world; and in some cases, the object of such sacrifices was also to obtain heaven. Such then was the degradation of men, such the misery in which they were steeped during the third of the Yugas, the Dwapara Yuga.

    We at last reach the age in which we are today, the Kali Yuga. It is said that only a quarter of the principal virtue discernible in the Kreta Yuga lives in the present age. It is nothing strange therefore that the Vedas, the Institutes, virtues, sacrifices, and the religious observances are held at a considerable discount. Excessive drought, less rain, rats, locusts, famine, plague and hostile rulers who do not care a jot for the welfare of their subjects are the ills to which flesh is heir. As the Yuga wanes, virtue also waxeth weak. Men degenerate and their natures are corrupt. Injustice would be the rule, and justice the exception. We need not go far for a proof of the statement made ages before, but the present events clearly testify to the truth of it. It may be noteworthy that in the Kreta Yuga, Narayana wore a white hue; in the Treta Yuga he looked red; in the Dwapara Yuga, Narayana wore a yellow hue and in the last age, the Kali Yuga known as the Iron Age, he assumes a black hue.

M. D.


"Be ye wise as Serpents." – JESUS.

    The snake has long been considered as a symbol of wisdom, but they are, as a rule, abnormally stupid, sluggish, shortsighted and wanting in all that goes to make up a wise man. Yet in all times and countries mankind has compared its wise ones to the serpent. The ancient Mexicans had their Nargals, the Hindus their Nagas, the Druids in ancient Britain would call themselves serpents, and in distant China, "lang," the dragon, signifies "the being who excels in intelligence." Aesculapius had his serpent wand. Moses, full of magic lore of Egypt, used the brazen serpent as a talisman for the healing of his stricken followers. Since the snake itself lacks wisdom, let us enquire whether its anatomy and natural history may not afford material for the play of that imagination which represents viewless ideas by visible symbols.    A striking fact about every true snake is that he has no eyelids, but, like the fish, sleeps with his eyes wide open. The Initiate has always claimed unbroken consciousness, and while to the common man there is what Wordsworth calls a "barrier, twixt day and day, "the wise man preserves unbroken his thread of continuous consciousness. Though his body sleeps, he lives an active conscious existence, until the time of waking comes round again, when he descends, and merging in his body goes through the daily penance of physical existence. In the "Voice of the Silence" there is an allusion to "the eye that never closes."

    Every few weeks the snake casts his slough, and creeping out of his faded cuticle, appears in new and shining scales, over whose glossy surface play the colors of the rainbow. This proceeding well typifies the evolving soul who takes and leaves one body after another, until "made perfect through sufferings" he incarnates no more unless impelled by compassion for the sake of suffering fellowmen.

    Examine a snake as he crawls on the ground, and note his sinuous, undulating curves. Science shows all force to proceed by waves, rhythmical disturbance in air, water or ether, and as the snake winds his way we are forcibly reminded of the conqueror of his lower nature, who controls and guides the crude energy of his body and devoting it to loftier purposes, becomes indeed an expert in the science of vibrations.

    The serpent is a dumb animal; he has no voice. The well-known hiss is not vocal, and is caused simply by the escape of air under pressure from the orifice of the mouth. The real mystic does not tell what he knows in noisy or uttered speech; the real work is done in silence, and the pupil's inner nature is played upon by those wonderful vibrations of which our gross sense organs can give us no tidings.

    There are two classes of snakes, the poisonous and the harmless ones. There are two schools of magic, the black and the white. How subtle are the workings of the serpent's venom! A tiny prick a drop of innocent looking fluid in the veins, and presently the victim throbs all over, swells and dies in agony. A poisonous serpent of the human race works just so. A hint, a light suggestion couched in a jest, and the poison works its malignant way, till the victim falls by the way, a despairing, doubting, disloyal corpse. The poison should be sucked our immediately, but a better way is to avoid dangerous company, or to protect oneself with the armor of devotion and whole-souled loyalty.

    The serpent can fact for a year or more without any great inconvenience; he would be a serpent of wisdom must cultivate dispassion towards object of sense. Not that the neophyte should abstain from any of his wonted meals, but he must abstain from giving attention to flavors, and should close his mind to the pleasures of the palate.

    All snakes are very fond of milk. Milk is the food of babes and sucklings, and this curious taste on the part of the snake well symbolizes the fact that before he can reach the state of wisdom the pupil must regain the child state he has lost. The simple, innocent tastes of the child are the mark of the Initiate, and in this connection it is interesting to note that Paul is alluded to in the Talmud as "the little one."



(BY M. P. C.)

    Turning over the pages of the "Madras Review" for August last, I came across an article written by Mr. Kanakasabhai, B.A.L.L.B, Madras, and headed "The Conquest of Bengal and Burma by the Tamils" to which Mr. Krishnasamy Ayengar, M.A., has evidently, attempted a reply in his paper headed. "The Chola Ascendancy in Southern India" also published in the same issue of the journal. It would be mere waste of time to endeavor to add to the praises which the first article has already called down on the head of its learned author from Indian epigraphists and the editors of the leading Indian Journals. Mr. Kanakasabhai has done a service to the Tamil people for which they cannot better thank him than by giving him every encouragement to carry on his researches with greater energy in future. Mr. Iyengar's article is, apparently, based more on prejudice than on epigraphical evidence. He is, obviously, unware of the fact that what Mr. Kanakasabhai has now established by epigraphical evidence is fully supported by Tamil literature, for instance by "Kulotunga Cholan Ula, Kalingattu Parani, Vikrama Cholan Ula, and other similar works and it is wonderful that the articles which Mr. Kanakasabhai wrote to the Indian Antiquary years ago on this point has failed to attract the attention of Mr. Krishnasamy Ayengar, who is himself a subscriber to that Journal.

    It is not my intention to pass in review the whole article of Mr. Ayengar in which truth and error are coupled in unholy alliance. The only point which I now propose to notice is the following statement of his viz: "Karikala, the hero of the two poems Pattina Palai and Porunararrupadai, is reputed to have built embankments on the Kaveri River, etc. On the strength of such reference as this we find in Tamil literature, the Hon. Mr. Kumaraswamy of Ceylon would place Karikala in the first century of the Christian era."

    Mr. Iyengar has been very unfortunate in making the above statement. He has evidently not made himself acquainted with what the histories of Ceylon say on this subject. All the extant histories of Ceylon except the Maha Vansa, mention that Gaja Bahu I invaded the Chola country in the year 113 A. D. The omission in the Maha Vansa need not disconcert any honest mind on the reliability of the account as given in the other histories, as the Maha Vansa is more an account of the progress of Buddhism in the island than an avowed political history of the Sinhalese kingdom. The Ceylon histories say that the Cholas invaded Ceylon during the three years of Gaja Bahu's father's reign and carried away 12,000 Sinhalese captive to their country and employed them at work on the banks of the river Kaveri. And it would appear that the Chola king had so much overawed the people of the Island that bands of Sinhalese had periodically to go the Chola Mandalam and work on the bank of the river by turns, until Gaja Bahu succeeded in putting down the power of the Cholas in the Island, promulgated the news of the victory by beat of tom-tom and commanded his subjects not to quit the Island to work on the banks of the Kaveri. The Ceylon histories further state that it was Gaja Bahu I, who introduced worship of Pattini into the Island, and it was, doubtless, this fact that lies at the bottom of the indifference with which the priestly authors of the Maha Vansa treated the victory of Gaja Bahu over the Cholas and the heretical worship of Pattini which accompanied it. There can hardly be any doubt that the orthodox priesthood would have viewed the inauguration on the cult of Pattini in the Island with a sense of alarm and indignation.

    We learn from the Tamil records Karikala I was a great conqueror who subdued even the kings of North India. He was a contemporary of Kannagi and Kovalan. He was the father-in-law of the Chera king, Seralatan, the father of Chenkuttuvan, the brother of the reputed author of the Tamil epic "Silappathikaram" in which the deification of Kannagi is described in detail. Thus it is clear that Karikala, Kovalan, Kannagi, Seralatan, and Chenkuttuvan were contemporaries. Karikala was an ancestor of Ko Chenkannan, an ancestor of Vijayalaya, who was the grandfather of Parantaka I of the eighth century of our era. Karikala is alluded to in Tamil literature as the Chola king "who caused the banks of the river Kaveri to be raised by means of labor exacted from those whom he had conquered in war." These facts are inapplicable to Karikala II of the ninth century whose only exploit was, according to Mr. Iyengar himself, the defeat of the Pandyan V in his early years. There may be some truth in the statement of the author of the Kongu Chronicle that Karikala II constructed a dam across the bed at the river Kaveri. But this has no reference to the work done by the first monarch of that name, which is work done by the first monarch of that name, which is described to have consisted in the raising of the banks, evidently, to prevent floods during the months of heavy flow. The object of the dam built by the second Karikala was quite the reverse of the above, namely, to raise the waters to a level higher than the normal with the view to conducting them into canals of irrigation. Moreover, it is stated in "Silappatikaram" that Gaja Bahu, king of Ceylon, was present on the occasion of the installation of the worship of Kannagi or Pattini by the Chera king Chenkuttuvan in his capital, and that he introduced the cult into the Island on his return. The Ceylon histories mention only two Gaja Bahus, the second of whom lived so late as the twelfth century A.D., while the first was a contemporary of Chenkuntuvan, a grandson of Karikala in whose court Madhavi the sweetheart of Kovalan is said to have danced and won very valuable presents. Further, it is absurd to say that "Pattinapala was composed about two centuries later than the hymns of Sambandar. The style of the former is, palpably, far more archaic than the compositions of Sambandar who himself lived about three centuries before Karikala II, whom Mr. Ayengar seeks to identify with its hero.

    Mr. Krishnasamy Ayengar does not stand alone in the opinion that the Gaja Bahu of the "Slap" was not identical with Gaja Bahu I of the Ceylon historians, Mr. L. C. Innes himself has advocated the same view in the Asiatic Quarterly Review for April last, Mr. Innes arguments are, however, far from conclusive if not altogether faulty. The poem "Pattina Palai" is mentioned by name in Kalingattu Parani composed in the beginning of the eleventh century, or about 140 years before the time of Gaja Bahu II, - a fact which has not at all been taken into consideration by Mr. Innes. The second Gaja Bahu was no conqueror like the first, and it is not even hinted in the records of Lanka that he ever went to India and much less he ever defeated a Chola king. The traditions of Ceylon do not even remotely identity him with the first patron of the cult of Pattini in the Island.

    What is then the obvious conclusion which all the facts above referred to would seem to drive us to? The issue is so plain that even a very neophyte in historical criticism can hardly fail to see it. In other words the statement of Mr. Kumaraswamy that Pattinapalai was composed in the first century of our era contains the most satisfactory solution of the problems connected with the age of Karikala I of the Tamil books.

  • The Ceylon Standard.

Monday, December 29, 2014


    The beautiful hymn quoted below, to which I have added a translation in English verse, is from the Devaram (Garland of Praises for God) of Saint Thirunavukkarasu.* [* This is the honorific title, said to have been given to the saint, on account of the exceeding beauty of his verse, and means literally "Lord of speech."] In this hymn, the saint records some facts of his own spiritual experience and exhorts all men to lead lives of piety and godliness in the world. No one can feel, more than I do, the feebleness and inadequacy of the translation; and I fear I have but vainly tried to reproduce in English the music of the original. Still, the translation is given, as a mere attempt, and not as a finished product worthy of the critical scrutiny.



        மாசில் வீணையும் மாலை மதியமும்

        வீசு தென்றலும் வீங்கிள வேனிலும்

        மூசு வண்டறை பொய்கையும் போன்றதே

        யீச னெந்தை இணையடி நீழலே.                (1)


        The faultless harp,† the evening moon‡

        The fanning breeze the South bestows,§

        The early summer's swelling time, ||

        The pond where bees do humming swarm,¶

  • As soothing is the shelter sweet

Of God my father's holy feet.                    (1)


[† The word in the original is Vinai ( ), an Indian musical instrument for which there is no English name, so far as I know,

The moon that appears in the evening is a full or nearly full moon,

§ The Zephyr of South Indian Poetry.

|| i.e., the season of Spring, when Nature bursts forth in her splendor.

Expanded, the meaning is: -

    "The flow'ry pond where swarm the bees

    With humming tune on honey's quest."]


நமச் சிவாயவே ஞானமுங் கல்வியும்

நமச் சிவாயவே நானறி விச்சையும்

நமச் சிவாயவே நாநவின் றேத்துமே

நமச் சிவாயவே நன்னெறி காட்டுமே.            (2)


Lord Siva's praise** - my wisdom, lore

Lord Siva's praise – the art I know;

Lord Siva's praise – my tongue proclaims;

Lord Siva's praise – the right way shows.            (2)


[** The word in the original is "நமச்சிவாய." – the holy word of prayer to Siva.]


ஆளாகா ராளானாரை யடைந் துய்யார்

மீளா வாட்செய்து மெயம்மையு ணிற்கிலார்

தோளாத சுரையோ தொழும்பர் செவி

வாளா மாய்ந்து மண்னாகிக் கழிவரே.            (3)


These men of world won't serve thee, Lord;

From those that serve, won't learn and live;

Engrossed in works that chain them down,

On truth's firm ground they will not stand;

Think they the men of God to deaf?*

They vainly live, and vainly die,

To dust dissolve, and pass away.                (3)


[* The meaning is that the Lord's servants are not deaf, that they will listen and help ungrudgingly if only men appealed to them.]


நடலை வாழ்வு கொண்டென செய்திர் நாணிலீர்

சுடலை சேர்வது சொற்பிரமாணமே

கடலி னஞ்சமு துண்டவர் கைவிட்டால்

உடலி னார்கிடந் தூர்முனி பண்டமே.            (4)


Unblushing men, what have you done?

You lead a life but wretched, base.

Mere tale† is to grave you go?

If He that saves forsakes you all,

You earthlings grow the country's scorn.            (4)


[† i.e., it is a fact.]


பூக்கைக் கொண்டரன் பொன்னடி போற்றிலார்

நாக்கைக் கொண்டர னாம நவிற்றிலார்

ஆக்கைக் கேயிரை தேடி யலமந்து

காக்கைக் கேயிரை யாகிக் கழிவரே.            (5)


With blooms in hand, they worship not

The holy feet of Hara Lord;

With willing tongue praise not His name

Confounded, wearied,‡ seeking stuff

To feed the flesh, they perish, fall,

Their body feeds the calm'rous crows.            (5)


[‡ cf. Wordsworth: -

    "The world is too much with us; late and soon,

    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers."]


குறிகளு மடை யாளமுங் கோயிலும்

நெறிகளு மவர் நின்றதோர் நேர்மையும்

அறிய வாயிர மாரண மோதிலும்

பொறியி லீர்மன மென்கொல் புகாததே.            (6)


Though signs and symbols, temples fair,

And creeds and thousand scriptures speak

To teach His ways that you may learn,

O stupid men, why, why is it

Your minds to Him do scarce incline?            (6)


வாழ்த்த வாயும் நினைக்க மடநெஞ்சும்

தாழ்த்தச் சென்னியுந் தந்த தலைவனைச்

சூழத்த மாமலர் துவித் துதியாதே

வீழ்த்தவா வினையே னெடுங்காலமே.            (7)


The Lord that gave us mouth to praise,

A head to bow, and mind to think,-

To Him not praying, at His feet

Not laying flowers, lovely, sweet,

Why wasted I long years of life?§                (7)


cf. பிரபுலிங்கலீலை: -

    "பீடுறு மானிடப் பிறப்பு வாய்த்துநல்

    லேடவிழ் மலரினா விறையைட் பூசியார்

    பாடமை நாளெல்லாம் பாழக் கிரைப்பவர்."]


எழுது பாவைநல் லார்திறம் விட்டுநான்

தொழுது போற்றிநின் றேனையுஞ் சூழ்ந்துகொண்

டுழுத சால்வழி யேயுழு வான்பொருட்

டிழுதை நெஞ்சமி தென்படு கின்றதே            (8)


Plough runs in ease where plough has run,

As just I stand prepared to scape

The charm of women like picture fair,

My dullard mind, by habit bound,

To lure me tries to ways of old.                (8)


நெக்கு நெக்கு நினைபவர் செஞ்சுளே

புக்கு நிற்கும் பொன்னார்சடைப் புண்ணியன்

பொக்க மிக்கவர் பூவுநீ ருங்கண்டு

நக்கு நிற்பர் அவர்தம்மை நாணியே            (9)


The Lord abides in hearts of men

That think of Him and love and pine.

He smiles at water, flowers, shed

In worship by the false within;

Ashamed for them He smiling stands.        (9)

விறகிற் றீயினன் பாலிற் படுநெய்போல்

மறைய நின்றுளன் மாமணிச் சோதியான்

உறவு கோல்நட் டுணர்வு கயிற்றினால்

முறுக வாங்கிக் கடையமுன் நிற்குமே.            (10)


As fire in wood, as ghee in milk,

The Lum'nous one lies hid within.

First fix the churning-stick of Love,

Pass round the cord, Intelligence,

Then twirl,* - and God will bless thy sight.        (10)


[* Refers both to drilling out fire, and churning out butter. Note how light, fire and ghee are allied to use another.]


N. B.

Sunday, December 28, 2014



    When the Absolute becomes manifest, it is as Force, Sakti, of which the universe is the product, being from cycle to cycle evolved by Force from cosmic substance (Akasa) and again involved. "All the choir of heaven and the furniture of the earth are the transitory forms of parcels of cosmic substance, wending along the road of evolution from nebulous potentiality, through endless growths of sun and satellite, through all varieties of matter, through infinite diversities of life and thought, possibly through modes of being of which we neither have any conception nor are competent to form any, back to the indefinite latency from which they arose."*

[* Huxley 'Evolution and Ethics.']

    Not brute and blind but fall of intelligence and grace is the Power which thus makes and unmakes, and which by the Sages of India is accordingly regarded as the Universal Mother, and being inseparably inherent in God, is also called the Consort of God.

    "Mother of millions of world-clusters, yet Virgin by the Vedas called."










    "My head I crown with lotus feet of Sivakama Sundari

    Who with the Absolute inseparably is blended

    As flower and scent, as sun and ray, as life and body,

    As gem and lustre, form and shadow, word and meaning,

    Who to the manifested Lord as Consort shines,

    Who ever cures the life-hunger† of her children, all living things,

    With ceaseless bliss ambrosial feeding

    And in Freedom's mansion establishing."‡


    [† Liability of the soul to reincarnation, until it becomes pure and fit and for union with God.

    ‡ Chidambaraswmi, 'Panchadhikaravilakkam.' (பஞ்சதிகாரவிளக்கம்).]


    What do we see or know save this Power? The opening rose bud, its form, scent color the lark "at break of day from sullen earth arising and singing hymns at Heaven's gate," the leaf rotting on the highway, Bill Sykes on his burglarious errand, the hardness of the coal-scuttle that makes his shins tingle, the loving soul that toils among the lepers and seeks a leper's grave, the seer proclaiming the truth "till the world is wrought to sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not," – all, all is Force, the Divine Emanation.

    The various manifestations of Force are grouped by the Saiva Siddhanta School under five heads which are deemed the principal aspects of the Great Mother, Evolution (srishti), maintenance (sthiti), involution (samhara), obscuration (tirobhava), and grace (anugraha). The evolving Sakti (Brahma) evolves for each soul, according to its deserts a body (tanu), organs of knowledge (karana), pains and pleasures (bhoga), and spheres (bhuvana) to experience them in. The maintaining or preserving Sakti (Vishnu) maintains them for a time and enables the soul to experience them. The involving or destroying Sakti (Rudra) withdraws them and makes them disappear. The obscuring Sakti (Mahesa) entangles the soul in them so that, unable to distinguish the real from the unreal, it identifies itself with its fictitious envelopments, calling the body and organs of knowledge 'I' and the pains and pleasures and spheres 'mine.' The Gracious Sakti (Sadasivam) enlightens the soul, delivers it from its delusion and bondage, and establishes it in union with God, the ultimate goal.

    The earliest manifestations of Sakti are Vibration (Nada) and the Word. Among the later manifestations the most venerated in India is gentle, benign Uma, beloved of Siva (Siva-Kami), "mother that yields all the heart desireth." According to an ancient tradition she appeared in response to the prayers of a Himalayan king as an infant floating in a golden-lily lake and was thence taken and reared by the king until given in marriage to the Lord Siva who came to claim her.

    Hence the refrain of the Ode,

    "Lady Uma who levest mountain haunts and wast born.

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye."


    In this character of the Highest Maid, under the same of Malaivalar Katali (மலைவளர்காதலி) she is worshipped at Tevai* (near Ramnad in the Madras Presidency) where the Saint Tayumanavar sang this beautiful hymn which recalls the choral odes of Sophocles and, I think, excels them. The translation which I have added does scant justice to it.

    [* "The city of the Lady" from Tevi (Sansk, Devi)



















    Mansion and wealth, children and friends around,

    Splendour ever and throne, the certainty

    That Death's dark messengers draw not nigh,

    Wisdom's light, purity, wondrous powers, -

    All these are mine, so with Thy feet

    My thought be one, O Mother that hast

    Thy seat beside the dark-throated Lord†!

    Light and Bliss of Knowledge Supreme, that

    Swallowest religions as ocean rivers!

    O Stillness, the Vedas' goal,

    Thy form seen where vibration ends!

    O Wisdom, me of 'I' and thought ridding!

    Lady, beauteous as the moon, Madusudana's ‡ sister,

    Uma who lovest mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    [† Siva, also called Nilkanta (dark throated), from his throat having been stained with a dread poison which he is said to have swallowed in order to save the celestials from imminent destruction by it.

    ‡ Vishnu.]



















    Maiden's wiles, repartees, slender waist,

    Witching* eyes, gait, honeyed† speech,

    Eyebrows like the crescent moon,

    Beauty-spots, silk robes and scents, shapely feet,

    Full breasts erect, ravishing pose, -

    In these my curious mind not to enter

    And wander dazed, but in wisdom's search

    And self-restraint and Thy servants' company,

    Enduring love and knowledge pure and truth,

    Thy feet alone to seek, with Thou gracious

    Grant to me, Queen of fertile Tevai?

    Lady Uma who lovest mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    [* Literally 'like the selfish.'

    † Literally 'milk-like.'




















    From the elements to Vibration Thou showedst

    To me as false; myself to me unveildest.

    In the core of my intelligence standing,

    "Stand still, free‡ in Spirit-space all-filling,

    [‡ i.e., free from thought and sleep: a state of 'pure consciousness.' See note to v, 24 of 'A Revel in Bliss.']

    Without beginning, without end," Thou, saidst,

    And skilfully establish'dst me, O Mother,

    Who vouchsafest pure knowledge and bliss,

    Yielding all the heart desireth,

    Forgetting Thee can I, poor wretch, live?

    Darling of the three-eyed Lord*, of all ills

    The panacea, beyond the reach of them

    That lack the inner eye which illumineth

    The Vedas and excellent Agamas,

    Beyond the deaf who hear not the praise of Thy might,

    Beyond the stricken with the plague of controversy,

    Lady Uma who lovest mountain-haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    [* Siva. The third eye is the eye of wisdom, located between the eyebrows and closed except in the Jnani. Its site is indicated by the spot of sandal or other paste which Hindus usually wear on their forehead to remind them of the latent power of vision which it should be their endeavour to awaken and master.]



















    Body all broken inwardly with lite of affliction,

    My days in pain to spend at the gates of the proud rich, -

    Brahma thus my cruel fate hath ordered. †

    All I do and toil, poor wretch,

    Is for a ragged span belly's sake.

    When, oh when, Thy servants shall I serve?

    Green, ‡ gentle parrot whom the Vedas pure

    Declare to be the base and crown

    Of the Lord who at A'rur gracious paced*

    The peerless woman Paravai's door,

    To pity melted by His servants's strains

    Of rare, pure Tamil Queen of fertile Tevai,

    Lady Uma who lovest mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    [* Siva is said in the 'Periapurana' to have acted as an intermediary to effect a reconciliation between his devotee Sundaramurti and his wife Paravai. For the Lord is "the servant of His servants." Much more then should others serve His servants.

Hardly to be taken literally, for the poet was an honoured prime minister blessed with nearly all the good things mentioned in the 1st stanza. The allusion is to the troubles and distractions of political and court life, usually fatal to spiritual growth.

    ‡ Exoterically the Sakti is represented as of dark green colour.]



















    "All-filling, Ancient, Auspicious, Independent,

    Destroyer of the Triple city, † Three-eyed,

    Beauteous, Excellent, Blissful, Causing bliss,

    Narani on thousand-petaled lotus‡ throned,

    Sovereign Lady beyond the ken of thought,

    Cosmic Force transcending quality,

    Manifest there where Vibration ceaseth": -

    Of Thy servants who thus chant Thy names

    Am I worthy even to utter their names?

    As Mistress of the Vedas hailed by Him§

    Whose locks are wreathed with a'tti flower, -

    Mother of millions of world-clusters,

    Yet Virgin by the Vedas called!

    O Swan || whose form is bliss! Fertile Tevai's Queen,

    Praised of Ganga in whose waters maidens sport!

    Lady Uma who loves mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!

    [† Three strongholds of Asuras (Titans), enemies of the celestials.

    ‡ Siva.

        § Literally 'pea-hen,'

        || According to the Raja Yogi there runs through the spinal cord a canal called the Sushumna, at the base of which is a plexus called the Muladhara (basic) and at the crown in the brain the plexus called the Sahasrarara (thousand-petaled lotus). In the basic plexus is stored the cosmic energy an infinitesimal fraction of which is distributed throughout the body by the sensory and motor nerves, and mainly by the two columns of nerves called Ida and Pingala on either side of the Sushumna canal. This canal, though existing in all animals, is closed except in the Yogi. He dispenses with sensory and motor nerves, opens the canal, sends through it all mental currents, makes the body a gigantic battery of will, and rouses the vast coiled up power (usually called the Kundalini) from the basic plexus to the 'thousand petaled lotus' in the brain. As the power travels up the canal, higher and more wonderful powers pf vision and knowledge are gained till the goal is reached of union with God.]


    பாகமோ பெறவுனைப் பாடவறி யேன்மல

        பரிபாகம் வரவு மனதிற்

    பண்புமோ சற்றுமிலை நியமமோ செய்திடப்

        பாவியேன் பாப ரூப

    தேகமோ திடமில்லை ஞானமோ சனவிலிஞ்

        சிந்தியேன் பேரின்பமோ

    சேரவென் றாற்கள்ள மனதுமோ மெத்தவுஞ்

        சிந்திக்கு தென்செய்குவேன்

    மோகமோ மதமோ குரோதமோ லோபமோ

        முற்றுமாற சரிய மோதான்

    முறியிட் டெனைக்கொள்ளு நிதியமோதேடவெனின்

        முகவரி வண்டுபோல

    மாகமோ டவும்வல்ல னெனையான வல்லையோ

        வளமருவு தேவை யரசே

    வரைராச ணுக்கிருகண் மணியா யுதித்தமலை

        வளர்காத லிப்பெணுமையே.


    To qualify for Thee I cannot sing Thy praise,

    To be ripe for Thy Grace, taint all washed away,

    My mind hath not one jot of goodness.

    To make it pure this wretch sinful body

    Has not the strength, I think not of wisdom

    Even in dream. To seek the Infinite Bliss

    My roguish mind ponder much and vacillates.

    Alas! What shall I do? Lust, pride, avarice,

    Hatred, envy, - of these I am the bond-slave,

    In search of wealth the whole world I dare traverse

    Like bee ever on the wind. Will Thou not me

    Thy vassal enrol, Queen of fertile Tevai?

    Lady Uma who lovest mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    சரளேறு தூசுபோல் வினையேறு மெய்யெனுந்

        தொந்கினுட் சிக்கிநாளும்

    சுழலேறு காற்றினிடை யழலேறு பஞ்செனச்


    நாளேற நாளேற வார்த்திக மெனுங்கூற்றி

        னட்பேற வுள்ளு டைந்து

    நயனங்களற்றதோ ரூரேறு போலவே

        நானிவந் தனிலலையவோ

    வேளேறு தந்தியைக் கனதந்தி யுடன்வென்று

        விரையேறு மாலைசூடி

    விண்ணேறு மேகங்கள் வெற்பேறி மறைவுற

        வெருட்டிய கருங்கூந்தலாய்

    வாலேறு கண்ணியே விடையேறு மெம்பிரான்

        மனதுக் கிசைந்த மயிலே

    வரைராச னுக்கிருகண் மணியா யுதித்தமலை

        வளர்காத லிப்பெணுமையே.


    With the accumulating dust of deeds

    In this body choking, - intelligence

    Daily ravaged like bale of cotton

    Whereon wind-fed fire hath seized, -

    Death-demon, old age, more and more

    Affectionate daily growing, - shall I

    Wander this earth a blind ownerless bull?

    Lady, whose dark locks wreathed with fragrant flower

    Excel the blackness of night, Cupid's charger,

    And drive rain-clouds to hide in shame

    Over the mountain-tops! Bright eyed Uma, -

    Near to the heart of Our Lord* that rideth the Ox, -

    Who lovest mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    [* Siva who rideth the Ox (pasu, also = the soul) and is called Pasupati, Lord of Soul.]


    பூதமொடு பழகிவள ரிந்தரிய மாம்பேய்கள்

        புந்திமுத லானபேய்கள்

    போராடு கோபாதி ராக்‌ஷசப் பேய்களென்

        போதத்தை யூடழித்து

    வேதனை வளர்த்திடச் சதுர்வேத லஞ்சன்

        விதித்தானி வல்ல்லெல்லாம்

    விழும் படீக்குனது மெளனமந த்ராதிச்ய

        வித்தையை வியந்தருள்வையோ

    நாதவடீ வாகிய மஹாமந்த்ர ரூபியே

        நாதாந்த வெட்டவெளியே

    நற்சமய மானபயிர் தழையவரு மேகமே

        ஞானவர னந்தமயிலே

    வாதமிடு பரசமயம் யாவுக்கு முணர்வரிய

        மகிமைபெறு பெரியபொருளே

    வரைராச னுக்கிருகண் மணியா யதித்தமலை

        வளர்காத லிப்பெணுமையே.


    The devils, organs of sense and action,

    Comrades of the five elements,†

    The devils, mind-organs,

    The furious warring demons, anger and the rest,

    Have bred woe, my intelligence destroying

    Thus hath Brahma willed.

    To end all this woe, wilt Thou vouchsafe

    The knowledge of Thy Word of Silence,

    Thou whose form is Vibration and the great Word?

    O Pure space there where Vibration ceaseth!

    O Rain-cloud that maketh true religion thrive!

    Mighty Substance beyond the ken of all

    Brawling religions! Swan‡ of wisdom and bliss!

    Lady Uma who lovest mountain haunts and wast born

    Dear to the Mountain-king as the apple of his eye!


    [† The organs of sense and action (Jnanendriya and Karmaendriya) – not the visible organs but the brain-centres-spring, according to Hindu psychologists, from, and are maintained by, the subtle elements (Sukshma bhuta): hence called their comrades.

    ‡ Lit. 'Pea-hen.']

P. A.