Life of Appar....
Development of the Story....
Date of Appar....
Appar as a Poet – An Eval....
Vedic Nature of Appar’s S....
Saiva Philosophy as Glean....
Music and Dance Gleaned f....
Festivals Gleaned from Te....
Appar in Art....
Festivals Connected with ....
Conclusion – Siva Bhakti....
It is proposed in this chapter to study various iconographic concepts mentioned in Appar’s Tevaram. The origin and evolution of icons of Siva are dealt with by competent authorities, like T.A. Gopinatha Rao, J.N. Banerjee, Stella Kramrisch and C. Sivaramamurti. It would therefore be advantageous here to confine to the legends and forms connected with Siva, as known to Appar. The legends, narraged here are from Appar’s own verses and have thus a chronological value. Sincce the date of Appar is fairly certain the accounts given by the Saint indicate how far the Puranic versions have been assimilated and become popular in the Tamil country. The legends of the Mahapuranas apart, local legends were also assuming popularity and some like the story of Candikesvara, Kannappan, the spider being born a Chola king etc. were so commonly known that they are frequently mentioned. Even contemporary events like Appar and sambandar receiving coins at the temple on Thiruvilimilai; and Appar meeting Appudi Adigal mentioned by him are of great interest to historians. What would seem to be minor characters in the context of the iconographic studies like Nandikesvara, Kshetrapala were so well known to the Tamils of the 7th Century indicating that the process of assimilation has been takking place over a long period of centuries. The integration of the Northern traditions with the southern is thorough and is reflected in the frequent sayings, “Lord Thou manifest as both the southern Tamil and the northern languages, Ten Tamilum Vadamoliyum anan. As a matter of convenience, the iconographic aspects of Siva are first listed alphabetically, followed by the secondary deities and local legends.
Several verses of Appar extol the forms of Lord Siva, his complexions, attributes, garments, jewellery, weapons, mounts etc. thus giving a complete picture of Siva’s iconographic features. He is a column of fire (6.74). He stood as an unimaginable column of fire (6584). These are references to his Rudra aspect.
Siva is said to be coral-like in complextion indicating his form of agni. In another place he is said to be both golden red and emerald in colour, an obvius reference to his Ardhanari form (6569). The same is expressed in a different way when He is said to be both mani (crystal like) and emerald (4706). In one instance his four faces are mentioned. Another verse attributes five colours to him viz. blue, diamond, green, gold and sphatika. This is obviously a reference to his Sadasiva form of Tatpurusha, Aghora, Sadyojata, Vamadeva and Isana. Thus that the five forms of Sadasiva had five different colours is well known in the Tamil country before the 7th Century A.D. In another place Siva is said to be of the nature of water (nir tiral) (6873). His matted locks shine like lightning (4315). He has nine Jatas. He wears Ganga and a snake emitting fire on his Jata. He wears a garland of golden Konrai flowers in his twisted locks of hair (4595). His hairs resemble flames of fire (4297). He wears on his head bird’s feather particularly that of crane (Kokku) (6635). Also wears a skull on his head, as a symbol of purity (6152). He wears a Patta on his forehead (4171). In another place it is called Rudrapatta. Agamas make special reference to the Pattams to be made of gold or silver and used in daily rises. Several inscriptions of the Chola period, refer to the gift of Pattams to Siva temple. The great Emperor Rajaraja Chola, gifted the costliest and most precious pattams to the temple of Tanjore, built by him. It is called a Virapattam in inscriptions. F.9. The reference to Rudrapattam by Appar indicates the importance given to it even in the 7th Century. Siva has three eyes, the three eyes representing the three fires sun, moon and fire (7131). The crescent moon appears on his head as the crest jewel – the Chulamani. He wears golden ear ornaments, and a costly Olai, made of chank (4175). He wears vibhuti ashes as priceless paste (4238). He wears a Vatakandikai as necklace (4171). He also wears a golden ornament, in the shape of a turtle. He wears a boar’s teeth. The feather, teeth of wild board etc. worn by him as ornaments, are suggestive of the Kirata – hunter form of Siva. The Kapalin aspect of siva, is brought out by the ornaments like bones and human hair owrn by him as Vata necklace (4780). He also wears an angamalai (4857), the limbs of the dead (6656). Another interesting ornament is the teeth of he dead (6766). He wears Pancavati on the chest (7135) and also the ashes of the smasana, bones skull, and a thread of hairs (6743). Siva is alled as one who wears bones – Elumbu abharanan (6320). Siva’s garment is said to be of beautiful colour. He wears the dreadful tiger’s skin as the garment. He wears only a rag of cloth (Kovana) to cover his private part (4177). He delights in wearing deer’s skin (6460). A snake is used as silk encircling his waiste (4177). He wears an Uttariya pattu (4211) the upper garment. He wears the skin of spotted deer and tiger (5206). Siva also wears the tiger’s skin as ekasa (6458). A snake is also worn as ekasa (6562). He besmears his shoulder with sandal, Kumkum, and pastes (6914). A moonlike upavita goes over his broad and high shoulders. He wears the sacred thread punnul (4777). His sacred punnul has nine threads (4343). He wears a five hooded cobra around the waist (6596). He has four hands and three eyes. In the right hand he has the axe and the antilope in the left (7137). He carries in his arms the great axe, the deer and fire (6869). He is Parasudhara panin (6878). He holds snake in his hand (5613). He also carries in his arms Kokkarai, Caccari and Vina (6983). His parasu(axe) cuts asunder the deep darkness (of ignorane) (5.113). He wields the trident, calf deer, parasu, snake and a vina in his arms. His trident resembles the three sacred fires (4324). His trisula is smeared with ghee (6456). He also holds a harp (Yal) in his hand (4452). In some place Siva is said to have eight hands (4342). His arrow is the three (made of Vishnu, Agni and Vayu) (4337) so also the thread of the bow in his hand (4337). He carries the dead over his shoulder (7132). One verse also mentions the Kundikai and Kokkari carried in his hand (5204). He is said to wear a Kapala Vata (garland of skulls) as Katisutra (waist thread) (5205). He wears both Kalal and Silambu on his feet (6666) which are lotus like (4760). His flag carries the figure of a bull (4534). In another instance it is said to bear the Katvanga drawn on it. His weapons are personified as Bhutaganas (5197). He is the leader of the army of Bhutaganas (6736). He carries a pouch of Vibhuti (6363). He mounts the bull.
Siva in the embrace of Parvati is a quite common theme. In sculptural representation, particularly in metal, this form is met with in most of the temples and goes by the name Pradoshanayaka. Siva in such representations is shown embracing Parvati with his left arm, drawing her close to his chest. In two verses of Appar there is an allusion to such an embrace, of Alingana Chandrasekhara
Malaimagal Kaikonda marbum (4175) Malaimagalai marpattanaittar polum (6459)
Though not frequently mentioned Andhakasura vadha is also mentioned by Appar. Andhaka was killing several lives. So Siva pierced his body with the trident and rolled it (7074). Probably this story though known was not so pupular.
Siva as Ardhanarisvara is sung in almost every hymn of Appar. There is no need to give details of references. However it is interesting to note that Appar narrates the circumstances under which Siva became Ardhanari. The daughter of Himavan (Haimavati) did severe penance when she was separated from the Lord. Siva married her and took her as a part of his body - a rare form arum thirumeni (4865). The legend is not developed beyond this. The same story is alluded to at another place as one who emains as part of Uma who did severe penance “Arun tavattal ayilaiyal Umaiyal bagam amarntavan (6898). As Ardnahari he is called Nari bhagan (5997). Siva showed his respect for women by giving Parvati a part of himself, Matinai madittan oru bagamah (5546); madittal i.e. to show respect. This expression is interesting and emphasize the honour bestowed on woman by the Hindu community, especially the Saivite. Ardhanari is called Umaiyoru bagan, Nangaiyai bagam Vaittan etc. Uma is said to have soft and sweet words like that of milk, Palotta men moliyal pangan (4345). Another aspect frequently referred to in the context of Ardhanari form of Siva is his yogic nature. Though he has a woman as a part of his body he remains conquering his senses and is a Paramayogi; “Nerilaiyai Kalantiruntu Pulankal aintum Venran (6744). Also, Mangaiyai Keluvina Yoginar (4256).
Referring to the form of Ardhanari, Appar at places, states that Siva carries Vina in his hand. Idam Kai Vinai enti Kurudai madavalor bagam kondu (6335).
Siva as Ardhanari carrying Vina is to be noted. In the Pallava sculptures of the age of Rajasimha, we come across Ardhanarisvara carrying Vina. For example in the Kailasanatha temple of Kanchi, and the sea Shore temple of Mamallapuram such a representation is seen; the best illustration comes from Thirukkalukkunram, near Mamallapuram wher in, the sanctum of the Upper Siva temple, we notice the Ardhanari with a beautiful Vina. Such a representation is not found in later periods.
The hymn addressed to the Lord of Thiruvenkadu, begins with the praise of Ardhanari both in the compositions of Appar and Sambandar. This has influenced the devotees of the Chola period to make a beautiful form of Ardhanari in metal. This is discussed in the chapter on Art. (F.12)
In a remarkable hymn of ten verses, called Sivan enum Osai Appar praises the Ardhanari aspect of Siva (4231-4239).
One of the heads of Brahma, violantly argued at the beginning. Siva severed the head with the sword in his hand (6444). One head of Brahma was plucked as he did not follow the righteous path. Because of this action, Siva came to be called Kapali (7095). He carried the severed head of Brahma (4845). With this skull in hand, Kapalin, Siva went from village to village begging for bali (food) (4761). Though he obtained food thus he never ate it (4761). While going round with the skull-bowl for begging he recited the Vedas (4582). Having cut the head of Kamalaja- Brahma, the Lord undertook the ‘Mahavrata’ (6917). He severed one of the five heads of Aja (Brahma) (6157). Eating with skull- bowl and roaming alone, he resorted the penance-tapas (4238). It may be noted that cutting the fifth head of Brahma, Kapala, roaming alone begging ith Brahma’s skull in hand, undertaking the Mahavrata and observing austerities, are pointedly mentioned by Appar. The skull in the hand of Siva is not always the one of Brahma. There are occasions when he carried the skull of the dead (6374, 6719).
Brahma’s head was severed as he was unrighteous (6911) arattinil nilla Brahma. It is an obvious reference to Brahma’s love for his daughter, a story found in Skandapurana (Stella Kramrisch) (NSP 259) that Siva cut off the head with the sword inhand is also mentioned in it.
Brahma is the son of Lord Siva (6896).
Siva as a begger is a well known theme and it occurs atleast in two important legends. The first relates to Siva having severed the head of Brahma, took the skull in his hand and went round the world begging to expiate the sin. The second relates to the Darukavana episode, in which, he goes begging as a beautiful naked youth among the Rishi patnis, the wives of the sages of the Daruka forest. Appar’s references – there are many, relate mostly to the former. (F.13)
Siva carried the skull of the dead(Brahma) as a receptacle and resided in the forest. The people despised him for his bad deed – Ilindavar orruvar enru elka valpavar (4258). He roamed alone, performing severe austerities eating in the skull bowl (4238). That this was an expiatory rite, is alluded by the term- Tavavanar. As he moved begging bali at every house he sang the Vedic hymns (4717). He moved from house to house begging Piccai (Skt. Bhiksha) and at the same time singing vedas (4582). As he moved as Bhikshatana, he wore the moon’s digit on his head. (4671). Though he carried the white skullbowl in his hand, and wandered through several villages receiving bali he never ate the same. If at all he ate, he ate only the poison (4761). Siva is therefore called Piccan.
Siva wearing the crescent moon on his head is a frequent reference. The digit of the moon on the head of Siva is called a Chulamani the head ornament Cudar tingat Chulamani (4169). The form of Candrasekhara is meant by the specific use of the word Tarunendu sekhara, Tarunendu sekharan kan(6548). In another place Siva is called Candra dhari, Candiranai darittan kan(6445).
Daksha did great penance and started doing a great sacrifice. The Devas came there to partake the avis (sacrificial food offering). Yaman – Agni and moon were severely punished by the Lord. Vishnu and Brahma, seeing the plight of others, got frightened and prayed to the Lord, that they came out of ignorance and they be pardoned? So saying they escaped. The Lord obtained victory (4298). Indra, Brahma, Agni and the eight Vasus adored the Lord reciting the mantras in the sacrifice performed by Daksha, who did not know how to do the sacrifice properly. When this sacrifice was destroyed, the moon was spared (4791). The sacrifice of Daksha was destroyed and his head severed. The body of Candra was tarnished, a hand of Agniddeva was severed, the teeth of Aditya was smashed.(6.62). An eye of one of the deva was plucked and the body of Lord Vishnu was pulvarised (Podiyakkudal). Candra was kicked with the feet, the head of Eccan was severed and the shoulders of Indra broken (6506).
Uma, the daughter of the mountain was not treated with due respect by the Devas, who came to partake the avis in the sacrifice offered by Daksha. The Lord severed the head of Daksha. His sacrifice was trampled. The Sun tried to escape by rolling away but he was pursued and his teeth were knocked off. All the Devas were destroyed along with the sacrifice (7092). As the Devas did not join Rudra, but joined and happily took the offerings of Daksha, the Lord destroyed the whole sacrifice, severed the head and took away the teeth and eyes. The Lord acted as a Kantaka punisher (7133). Daksha was destroyed ferociously which created terrible fear. The head of Yagna purusha was severed. The eye of Sun removed. The teeth of one of the Adityas was knocked out. The hand of Agni was cut. The leg of Yama who tried to protect the sacrifice chopped off - Candra was kicked out (7191).
Siva as Dakshinamurti is an off repeated form, particularly in Tamilnadu. Right from the beginning when sculptural forms begin to appear, Dakshinamurti, occupies an important place in Tamil Saivism. His figures are found invariably in the southern niche of all the Siva temples of Tamilnad. Appar has several references to Dakshinamurti form of Siva. Siva is seated under the Ala tree and teaches all aspects of aram – dharmas to the sages. (4517). The four sages he taught are andanar – Brahmins. The Lord expanded the meaning of different Vedas, the padas the sandhis, and their meanings (4227). He not only taught the four vedas, but also the six angas (4451). He taught the four goals of life – the aram (dharma), porul (artha), inbam (kama) and vidu (moksha) (6905). He carries a pouch of sacred ash. He is called the Tennavan, the southern God referring to his Dakshinamurti form. He is also called Gurumani (6533). The teacher par excellance, Dakshinamurti is often shown in sculptures carrying a bundle of manuscripts in his hand. Appar refers to Siva carrying pustaka (6374).
Siva stands as Ekapada engulfing the seven worlds. Elulahumayninra Ekapada (6594). The saint uses the very same word Ekapada which shows that form of Ekapadamurti icon was known.
Bagiratha, did severe penance for a long time with absolute control over his senses indriyas. The lady Ganges of beautiful waist, appeared on the sky with one thousand faces, streams and fell with ferocious force. Siva received her on the Jatas (4868). As he wore the Ganga on his head, Parvati grew jealous and parted. To appease her anger, Siva sang the delightful Samagita and also danced (4428).Siva is called he consort of both the daughters of Himavan and also the Lady Ganga (4238).
The Harihara aspect of Siva comes in for praise, quite frequently in the hands of Appar. Narana was made his left half (6774). He has as his half Krishna who swallowed the earth (4588). Siva delighted with Thirumal as his half (4.124). Such references could be multiplied but suffice it to say that the Harihara aspect was a popular theme in the 7th Century A.D.
In this connection, a significant reference needs elaboration (6826). Siva carries on one half the figure of fire (Agni) and on the other the figure of Hari. I have in my key-note address to the Shanmattha conference, organized by the Anantthacharya Institute Bombay 198 has shown that the concept of Harihara and Ardhanari, arise from the Vedic concepts – Agnavishnu and Vasordhara. Agni and Vishnu are described as syncritic deities.
It may be seen that Appar uses he same terminology as Agna Vishnu to devote the Harihara aspect.
Tikkurnta Timeni Orupal manni
Orupalun ari uruvam Tihalnda Selvar.
At another place, the identity of Agnauvishnu concept with the Ardhanari concept is made evident by Appar when he says that there is no Devi to Siva other than Hari i.e., Vishnu.
Jalandhara vadha and Cakalana
Jalandhara was arrogant (7007) and a fierce fighter (6774). He challenged Vishnu to fight (6774). Vishnu realizing that adoration of Siva alone would bestow the might (4795) worshipped him with 1000 lotus flowers. As he counted the flowers one was found wanting (4638). He realised that one of his eye would make good the shortage (4638). So he plucked one of his eyes and offered it as a flower. Siva pleased at the worship of Vishnu, created the Cakra (6576) resplendent like the Sun. He hurled the same at Jalandhara, pierced and clove his body and heart into two (4638). He presented this fiery Cakra (surrounded by a halo of flames) to Vaikunta-Vishnu (4458). He gifted the cakra.
Siva did not severe the head of Jalandhara, but split his body into two. (See Stella Kramrisch P.391)
Though Siva is said to carry the dead body on (Sava) on his shoulder (7132) and called Kankala and a carrier of mundam (4743), the story connected with this form is not mentioned with any detail.
Markanda, the Bahmin boy (5174) a great Muni and Mani (5174) and bala (4297) performed nitya niyamas (4635) which included bathing, smearing his body with sacred ashes, and uttering the panca mantras. He performed abhisekha to the Lord with river water and did arcana with flower garlands in hand. The last day of him approached. On that morning, the Kurru, Kala, dark in complexion with red eyes, fiery hair loliking tongue and protruding teeth, arrived when Markanda was performing Puja, to take away his life (4297, 4635). He chased the boy here and there and terrifed him. Carrying the trident and snooze in his hand (5174) he came on behalf of Dharmaraja (4635) and threw the snooze around Markanda to fetch his life (4297). Siva kicked the Death with his sacred feet, rolled him and made him shed tears. (5174). Finally Siva, destroyed Death and made Markanda an immortal (4635). All the verses in the Thirukkadayur hymn are addressed to the Kalasamhara aspect. The presiding deity of the temple is worshipped as Kalasamhara.
Siva’s marriage with Parvati is sung at a number of places by Appar. Himavan’s daughter did severe penance when she was separated from Siva. Siva married her (4865). This alludes to Uma being bon as the daughter of King off Himalayas. Himavan is praised for his great wealth Perumtiru. The wealth mentioned here is the auspicious nature of Himavan, obtaining Uma herself as his daughter. Uma not only did penance but also regularly worshipped Siva (F 16, 17). Mattar Kulali malai mahal Piyai mahilndarulum Sitta (5097). Uma has a sweet voice like that of enchanging flute. She has long and captivating eyes like a spear. The Bhutaganas that assembled at the time of marriage, circumambulated her. Sive held her hand and went round the fire. Circumambulating the sacred fire is an important ceremony. The other important rite is holding the hand of the bride called panigrahana. In the sculptural representation of Kalyanasundara, Siva is always shown holding the hand of Uma. The sacred fire is shown in front where Brahma used to be sown as the officiating priest. The picturisation of the scene of Kalyanasundara is thus interesting ”Kulal Valamkonda Collal Kolavel Kanni tannai Kalal Valamkondu ninga ganangal akkanangal ara alal valam konda kaiyan” (4666).
The marriage of Siva with Uma followed the burning of Kama, when he disturbed Siva’s austerities, with his floral arrows. Siva after burning Kama sweetly embraced Uma. Uma beautified her hairs in five ways. Siva smiled as he embraced Uma after the destruction of Kama.
anjanai Kalalinanai alal ura anru nokki
anjanai Kulalinalai amudama anaintu nokku(4672)
Siva appears always as Kalyanasundara. Appar calls him Nitta manalan (5855). Siva is also called Manavala Nambi (7717) Umaiyal Kadal manavalan (6284) F.18. Appar sings the praises of the mangalakkudi temple where Siva is seated with Devi, Selvan Deviyodum tihal Koyile (5962). In some of the Chola temples, Uma Mahesvara – Siva with Devi is shown seated in the sanctum behind the Linga. Though the figure is Uma and Siva seated, the local tradition calls the form as Kalyana Sundara. In another verse of Mangalakkkudi, Appar calls the deity as Mangalakkudi meya Manala(5959) i.e. the Kalyanasundara of Mangalakkudi. The popular tradition seems to have its root in Appar’s Tevaram.
When the gentle South wind blew and the cuckoos sang in the forest, at the request of Vishnu and Indra, Kama aimed his five flowered arrows at the Lord Siva, who burnt his beauty to ashes by opening his fiery third eye on the forehead. The Devaganas, trembling and bowing down left the place crying fire – fire. Kama with Rati approached Siva to strike him with arrows. When he was burnt (according to L.P.) Rati accompanied Kama. When he aimed the arrow (L.P.I., 101,39) Siva burn Kama to ashes and embraced Parvati (4672) Kama carried a sugarcane bow (6279) Kama has Suravakkodi (makara dhvaja) (4320).
The efforts of Brahma and Vishnu to fathom the head and feet of Siva, is alluded to in a general way in most of the hymns of Appar. However the full leend is also given at places. Caturmukha and Vishnu quarreled among themselves. It is at that time Siva created that unparalleled Pillar of fire (4460). There appeared great floods everywhere swallowing everything. It covered the whole universe (anda). At that time appeared the supreme God, unparalleled Stthambha from earth. On either side stood the world adoring the great sthamba. Brahma and Vishnu were unable to see the head and foot of this great God Periyon(4293). The Parama who slept over the serpent couch (Pampanai) and the Purana who appeared on the lotus flower, adored the unique Shaft of fire as they were unable to measure its form (5916). According to the Lingapurana, the quarrel between Brahma and Vishnu arose when the great floods appeared when Brahma challenged him. Appar alludes to that situation here. Brahma is described as Ajan constantly repeating treatises. Nunangunul vayan (6030, 4044), mechanically reciting the Vedas. Brahma and Vishnu, each claimed that he was the supreme God. They shivered when they found the unfathomable form of fire (5706). The Lord Pundarikaksha riding on the Garuda, and Caturmukha who constantly resides in the lotus flower, adored the God who stood as the glowing shaft of fire (6558). The nature of the glowing shaft of fire is beyond the comprehension of the mind, ninaippariya tippilambay nimirnta nalo (6584). He appears as the unmeasurable fire in the LINGAPURANA. It is interesting to note that among many bronze images set up in the temple of Rajaraja Chola I at tanjore, one represented Lingodbhava. The image is mentioned in the inscription as ”Linga purana deva”. At another place it is stated that Siva emanated from the Linga in front of Brahma and Vishnu ingurren enru lingatte tonrinanai (6173). Mention has been made earlier that Lingapurana was popular long before Appar in Tamil country. The Lingga in the temple of Tunganaimadam is called Jotirlinga (6577).
Nataraja (C.14, F.19, 20, 21, 22)
He is Chokka accompanied by dancing Bhuta ganas (7105). Chokka is a term used to denote Siva performing the 108 Nritta Karanas mentioned in Natyasastra. It is also called Suddhanrtta. As the Kuli sings He dances (6872). He delights dancing in the smasana (7024, 6922). The dwarfish Bhutas sing and play flute, kokkarai, Kaittala and Mondai as the Lord dances (6282). At another place he is said to dance the great dance, Makkuttu as the little Bhutas sound tala, Kudamula and play on vina. (6280). He wears different dresses and dances (5014). He wears a colourful Vasika – head dress, firmly on the Jata (5577). He dances to the tune of Jati, played in the Kudamula (7068). He dances, singing Pancamam. He danced the great dance – Perumkuttu, as Kali witnessed the same (7070) that was a dance impossible for any to dance (Seytarkkariya thiru natam seydar) (5125). He delights in performing the Catura Nata (6995). He himself is called Natam adum caturan (6141). The Lord performs Nritta, as the Bhuas sing, and play the Parai drum, so loudly that the whole world trembles (4951). There is no greate dancer than the Chirrmabaolakkuttar, who dances, as the bees sing beautifully humming ‘Tetta’ the several dwarfish Bhutaganas, sound the drums jubilantly and jump, other ganas danced, and the flower garlands in the reddish jatas twinkle like gold (4943). He uses Ambalam as the temple (7024). He made the Chitta as the temple (6803).
He dances as the fire glows. He is the Lord of Tillai and that he performs the great dance in Chirrambalam (4938). He is fond of Tillai, which is like the northern Meru (Vadameru) (5099). That the Tillai Vimana is gilded with pure gold is also mentioned by Appar. Lord Nataraja white in omplexion danes at Tillai golden hall, which looks beautiful as though silvere appears in a golden mountain. Chirrambalattu Nattam pon Malaiyil Vellikkunratupola (4940).
Dance of Siva
On reaching Chidambaram and seeing the dance of Nataraja. Appar was thrilled and overjoyed. He could not control his emotions and out came these most moving poems, extolling Siva’s dance, exclaiming “Lord I have come to see your dance”.
“You Parama-Paramayogi, I am unable to sing as a Bhakta. With what have I in me to offer as devotion. Don’t laugh at me. You the mukta, the foremost, Father! Dancing in the Tillai ambala. I have come to see your dance.”
“You the consort of Parvati, I am unable to sing songs with any purport. You have a resplendent form which cannot be perceived by any. I have come to behold your Nritta in the Chirrambala of Tillai. Tillai is a Tirtha. What can I do? You grace me with your look to do your service like a slave. Let me not be puzzled. My mind agitates to see your dance during the days and evenings at Tillai Chirrambala, where the Vedic sacrifices never cease. I shall, move about, and ever retain your sacred feet in my mind, I shall sing and dance and reach your dance, extolled by people of all quarters. I shall behold, your Kuttu. As a servant I shall adore you, singing and dancing. I shall call you ‘Oh Murti’ .’. I shall call you “the First among the three gods”. You remove the sufferings of your devotees. I come to see Oh Kutta your Kuttu at Tillai Chirrambalam. You Lord grant me strength to discard falsehood and grant me ability to serve you. You are the First, Adimurti, you are the Supreme Parama. I have approached gently to behold your dance at Tillai Chirrambalam the holiest in this world How can I join those who follow unworthy path, confused in their mind, you Nilakantha! I have come to see all your laya danced in Tillai Chirrambala, where the Vedas never cease to be recited even for a moment. Don’t make my mind think of what it likes, makes it pure. You, the Lord of Devas, are dancing beautifully in Chirramnbala as Parvati witnesses he same. Both Vishnu who swallowed the earth and Brahma who is seated on a lotus, desired but failed to see the sacred from that pierced the heaven. Oh, the supreme Lord Parama, you dance to the delightful tune of sings, in Tillai Chirrambala, full of auspicious beauty.” In this song, a few points of historic interest deserve to be noted. In one verse Siva is said to dance with his consort. Kuvimulaiyal Kuda ni adumare, an obvious reference to Kali’s dance with Siva. In another verse, the Devi is said to witness the dance. Anjolal Kana ninru Alaga ni Adumare. Ths is a reference to Sivakami witnessing the dance. Both are said to take place in Chidambaram. Even today there are two shrines at Chidambaram, one the Tillai, Kali temple and the other Sivakami temple, being connected with Siva’s dance.
In modern times, the Chidambaram Dikshitars, do puja in the Nataraja temple according to Vaidika system. They claim it is the Vedic path and not the Agamic path. Two verses in this poem are significant, both say that the Vedas were constantly being recited without break and also that the Vedic Yagnas were performed continuously. Further the Dancer is called frequently, Parama, Paramamurti, and Adimurti. In the temple of Chidambaram, though there is a Linga in the temple, the image of Nataraja is the Principal Deity receiving foremost attention. The reference in Appar’s songs to the Dancing form as the Supreme, Parama takes this concept to the 7th Century A.D. The dance of Siva as Nataraja is called in some text as Yogananda Tandava. In this connection, Appar’s address to the Lord as Paramayogi is in conformity with the ancient concept. Further, dance is called adal, Nrittam, Kuttu, and Leyam. Another aspect that deserves notice is Tillai Chirrambala is considered the most supreme, Vaiyaham Tannul mikka. In One hymn (6244) Appar brings out his devotion to Nataraja, graphically, statting in each of the ten verses, that the days spent without extolling the greatness of the Dancer of Perumparrappuliyur are to be counted worthless.
The Lord wears the skin of the deer as garment and has the digit of the moon on his jata. He carries the fire in his hand. His legs sound the jingle of the kalal. With his high shoulders swing and dance swaying. The Goddess with beautiful eyes witnesses seated. The Devagana adore his dance. He is the Adukinra Peruman of Perumparra Puliyur. He dances engulfing the wavy ocean, the lofty mountains, the earth and heaven, the shinng stars (Tarakas), the eight directions, the revolving sun and moon and other things. The Dancer of Perumpara Puliyur is the Vedas and remains as the inner meaning of the sacred texts. He is the beautiful light that dispels the delusion off the mind. He is indeed the glorious light that transcends the earth akasa, the heaven and he seven worlds.
He is Tattvatita, the Tattva that remains beyond the comprehensions of any. He is indeed the sweet honey and milk. What else is there to see once we behold feet of Chirrambalava of Tillai that dances. He has the bull as the munt, wears the tiger’s skin as the dress. He is the husband of the beautiful Parvati. The Brahmins residing at Tillai are the real wealth of the universe. What else is there to see once the beautiful golden silken garment of Chirrambalavanan is seen. What is there to see after seeing the girdle tied on the navel of lord, Picca who dances. If you see the glow of the fire in the hand of the Dancer, what else is there, The Devi stands witnessing the dance with her bewitching eyes. On the throat is worn the teeth of the wild boar, the smile on the face – the eye on the forehead, the gems and the umattai flower on the Jatas and finally the little toe that pressed Ravana.
One of the verses about Nataraja that has assumed fame, reads:-
“The earthly life in this world is no longer necessary if one beholds the curved eyebrows, the enchanting smile on the reddish lips, the swaying Jatas, the milky sacred ash on the coral like body, and the dear lifted leg (4941). Meditate and with single minded devotion think of him. (You will suffer nothing, adore the leg that destroyed the death, go and worship at Tillai Chirrambalam, the dance that symbolise the Lord’s gesture to the devotee ‘when did you come?’ The Umattai flower on the head, the graceful look of three eyes, the gentle smile, the little drum in hand, the ash smeared on the body the half that has Parvati of curling hairs, the tiger’s skin and the lifted leg of Tillai Chirrambalam, have taken a parmanent abode in the feeble mind of mine. There is no greater dancer than Chirrambala kuta. It is the leg lifted for dancing that has blessed us.”
“If I praise you Lord! in your presence it would amount to flattery, but are you not Lord, the effulgent light, the mother and father of these three worlds. My life would wither away thinking only about you and when it is so dead, I have a request to you Oh Lord, please do not forget me. (5210).”
“The Lord resides in heaven. He is in the great Vedas. He is in the earth surrounded by water. He resides in the heart of Vishnu. He is in the sweet pan fit to be remembered. He is in the mind of devotees, Bhaktas. He is in me the wretched fellow’s eyes, mind and head (5213).”
Here the poet vividly describes the process of realisation. Kannahattan. The eyes first beholds his form. Secondly his form is mediated upon in the mind of the devotee and finally knowledge dawns in the head.
A significant verse of Appar, refers to four different places as dancing halls – the space where he performs his cosmic dance. They are the cosmos, the expansive sky, the cemetry and the mind of the spectator.
He establishes the cosmos as the hall of dance
And makes the sky the ceiling and outer wall
Expanding he pervades the wall
Delights in converting the cemetry as the dance-hall
And in the eyes and mind of Parvati
Serving as the centre of the Dancing hall (4198)
In a numbeer of places, Appar refers to Supreme Siva as Akasamurti. He whose nature is Akasa, Akasattar etc. The word Paramakasa is also employed. In one instance, Siva is said to be Akasamantra. This is a clear allusion to the Upanishadic statement, identifying Akasa with Brahman. Akasa Sariram Brahma. Akasa is also identified with the Supreme Bliss by upanishads. Appar’s terminology includes Paramananda, Paraparananda and Ananda. In several passages, Appar holds that the dance of the Lord takes place in the mind of the devotee. The Dance supreme takes place both in the cosmos, the akasa, and in the mind. The chid is frequently referred to by Appar. This concept of combining chid with ambara and calling it Chidambara also called Chirrambala is not unknown to Saint Appar. It is called Tillai Chirrambalattu nattam. Since Akasa is identified with ananda by the upanishads, it is also called Ananda Tandava.
Appar, went into spiritual ecstacy on beholding the image of the Dancer. H calls the Dance as Kuttu and the Dancer, Kuttanar. He further states that even experts fail to comprehand he fullness of the cosmic Dance performed by the Lord in the Aranga – the theatre.
‘Arangidai nul araivalar ariyppadador Kuttu’
His dance is called Nritta and Siva called Nrittanar.
nrittanar nrittam ceyya
Yet in another place, Apapr gives a description of Siva’s dance sttatng that the performs Karana with his leg and ar which perhaps is the earliest Tamil definition of Dance Karana. Kalalodu Thiru viralal Karanam ceydu(Kalal i.e. foot-pada;Thiruviral-finger). Obviously a dance pose shown with the leg and hand was, known as Karana as early as 600 A.D. in the south, and this perhaps was the reason why in the Chola period, Siva is shown in sculptures, performing various karanas.
In another verse Appar states that the canopy of Chidambaram is gilded with gold. What is the significance of covering the superstructure ith gold?
Siva’s dance, symbolic of creation, sustenance and distruction is said to take place in cosmos, conceived as the vast expansive sky, called the Akasa or Ambara. According to Indian tenets, the Supreme Existence, knowledge and Bliss is called Brahman (Sad-Chid-Ananda). This Brahman is visualised in Akasa, the cosmic space – and hence Akasa is metaphorically called the body of the Brahman – (Akasa Sariram Brahma) in the Upanishad. In other words, the Akasa is the body and Brahman, the Supreme Soul (Paramatma). These metaphysical concepts are beyond the comprehension of the lay worhipper. A visual representation is given to these upanishadic thought in the concrete form of the Temple. The temple structure, also called the measured space (Vimana), is the physical frame to enshrine the Supreme, who is installed in the sanctum and adored. The temple structure the walls, towers etc. are the Sarira, the space (Akasa) measured and brought within the comprehension of human eyes and mind. The Lord radiates from the innermost sanctum. He is within and yet is also outside, one with the space.
The Saivite faith defines the Supreme form of Siva as Paramananda Tandava and in the worship of Him a gradual upward trend isd visualised, from the mundance creation personified by Brahma, followed by Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesa and Sadasiva, the five forms. The Supremme point (bindu) and the cosmic sound (Nada) are in a higher plane and so are the Parasakti and Parasiva. These nine aspects are called the Nava tattvas and above, in the uppermost sphere is the God’s supreme sport, called Paramananda Tandava. The temple priest, offers worship stage by stage to this supreme and points to the highest sphere, the Akasa. The devotees eyes are drawn towards the frame of the temple the high tower (the sarira of the supreme) and to the image of Lord of Dance, the personification of the Supreme Brahman, beyond which he experiences the akasa – the vast space, the undefined.
There are two major types in Hindu temple structures. One called the Kailasa type and the other called the Meru type. Siva dances on the Kailasa mountain according to puranic versions. His dance portrayed on the temple tower is the personification of His Kailasa Tandava. Similarly the mount Meru is the golden peak on which the Lord dances. It is also called the Meru cakra mandala.The Dance off Siva portrayed on temple towers is a visual imagery of this concept. It is for this reason the golden hall of Chidambaram is gilded with Gold.The Golden Hall of Chidambaram, where the delightful dance of Siva takes place is called the Centre of the Universe. To perceive this Dance is this hall is a spiritual and soul elevating experience.
Vishnu with Devas and Asuras churned the ocean, the mountain was the churning rod, and the snake Vasuki, the rope. The rising waves roared when the ocean was churned. During the churning, the Devas left the snake trembling. An enormous poison, that could char the body of Vishnu and burn the heaven appeared and started expanding. The Devas seeing the terrible poison prayed to the Lord to protect the Devas. Lord Siva swallowed the poison and became Nanccundakandan or Nilakanta. Siva swallowed the poison, which enabled the Devas to drink nectar (6774). He gifted ceyyaval-Lakshmi to Vishnu (7110). This is an allusion to Lakshmi emanating from the churning ocean.
Pasupata Murti (F.24)
Vijaya-partha, of the great bow undertook severe austerities for a very long time, and worshipped the sacred feet of Lord Siva (4867). To test his devotion (4821) and penance and astonish him in battle, Siva assumed the form of a hunter, (6839), carrying a great bow (4790) and sounding the drum (4647), Siva entered the forest with (Parvati) the daughter of the mountain (6942), in the guise of chasing a (Varaha) wild boar (6942) and hunted it. There ensued a quarrel between the hunter and Dhananjaya about the ownership of the hunted animal (4790). A fierce battle took place between the two (4790). Arjuna was astonished at the skill of the hunter.The hunter won the battle (Venri-kol-veda) (4867). The great Vijaya was vanquished (6687). Bestowing grace on Partha Siva presented him with a bow, arrows and a charriot (4644). The gift was made to the chanting of mantras (4644). He gifted a quiver full of arrows (4790). It is the Pasupadam (4774). Siva who presented this to Partha is Pasupatan (4567), (6862). Arjuna is called Partha, Dhananjaya,Vijaya and Arjuna by Appar.
Ravana is a great creation both in Saivite and Vaishnavite faiths. In the Saivite tradition, it is his arrogance, an finally turning into a great Sivabhakta, that receives attention though the role he played as a Villain in the Ramayana is known. Appar refers often and often to the Ravana episode. Before the significance of this episode is taken up, it is proposed to give first the version given by the saint.
Ravana was the ruler of Lanka surrounded by oceans. He had the Parasol, the sign of royalty. He had ten heads and twenty arms. He was arrogant, and cared for none. He could catch hold of even the planets. He was a matta, and fellow and was foolish (arivila arakkan). With his unassignable power and arrogance, he drove on his charriot Pushpaka. His driver told him that they have reached Sri Kailasa mountain and that their charriot won’t fly over it. It was of no use getting wild, and gloat over on his heroism, as it was the abode of Siva. Ravana got angry and shouted who this fellow Siva was and what an object the mount Kailas was before his valour. So saying he lifted Siva’s mountain with all his twenty arms. The Devi got terrified when suddenly the mountain started shaking. The Bhuttaganas started running hither and tither. Siva laughed, consoled Parvati and put down the mountain by pressing with his toe. Ravana never thought for a moment that he would be put down beneath the mountain. His ten heads and twenty mighty shoulders were crushed under the mountain. His ten lofty crowns were pulverized. His cry filled the world wih a terrific sound. He fell wailing and crying with all his ten mouths. He plucked seven nerves from his fore-arm made it into a Vina and started singing gita in praise of Lord Siva. He sang the Vedagita to please the Lord. Listening to his music, Siva took pity on him, brought him to senses (Samampera) and gave him the name Ravana (namam indar) and also the weapon (sword). He bestowed on Ravana grace in the form of knowledge. Ravana not only lost his senses but also his heroism. Appar says that all his ten heads were the embodiments of bandha, bondage which is ignorance. So he says that the Rakshasa was senseless – ignorant. The saint also says that Siva bestowed on him grace, by granting him knowledge. The use of the terms arivila arakkan and also arivinal arulkal ceydar by Appar brings out clearly the significance of this episode.
When Siva received the Ganges on his matted locks, Parvati grew jealous, picked up a love quarrel, and moved away from the Lord. It was at this juncture Ravana came and shook the mountain. Parvati out of fear embraced Siva. This made Siva laugh.
Somaskanda and Umamahesvara
Siva is shown in most of the temples as Somaskanda in bronze, representing Siva and Uma seated with Skanda as a child in between them. In sculptural representation this motif was very common in the Pallava temples, particularly in the reign of Rajasimha in whose temple Somaskanda is shown in the sanctum behind the Linga. Occasionally Ganesa is also shown as a child with Siva, Parvati and Skanda particularly in northern part of India. This representation is not commonly found in Tamiland, though not unknown. In both these representations Siva and Parvati are figured as parents – father and mother. In many places Appar sings Siva as the father of Kumara, an obvious reference to the Somaskanda form. Kuravi tol mananda Selvakkumaravel tatai (4738) i.e. the father of Selva Kumara, who married the huntress (an allusion to Kumara marrying Valli, the huntress) Koli Kodiyon Tatai i.e. the father of Kumara who has the cock as his standard (7122). Samara Surapamavai tadita Velkumaran tatai i.e. the father of Velkumara, who killed Surapanma, the great fighter(5878). Also Arumuganodu Anainutharku Appan tannai (6983). Arumugan i.e. Shankukha and Anaiimugan i.e. Gajamukhan, Murugavelku Tatai kan Kadama mukattinarku Tataikan (6902). The mention of the two sons Kumara and Ganesa, frequently point to the popularity of their story long before the time of Appar 600 A.D. (C.5, 6)
The suggestion of some scholars, that the Ganesa cult came to the south in the 8th Century is not correct. In fact four sons of Siva are known. Besides Kumara and Ganesa, Ayyanar and Kshetrapala are also held the sns of Siva and they are called Pillaiyar Ganesa is the Mutta Pillaiyar (elder), Kumara (Ilaya Pillai). Siva has Cendan as son. Cendan is another name of Kumara (4589). Siva is the father of Kadamban (another name of Kumara) (4583) Kumaranaiyum mahanah udaiyar. He has Kumara as his son (6774). These may be taken as references to the Somaskanda form of Siva.
There are references to Parvati and Ganesa appearing with Siva, Melliyalum Vinayakanum tonrakanden (7015). There are also reference in Appar’s Tevaram to both Kumara and Ganesa appearing Sattanai mahanay kondar (4475). When Kshetrapala appeared as a child to subdue the anger of Kali, he is called Pillaiyar. Kali Venkopan Bangap paduttan (5125). The Linga Purana, mentions the appearance of Kshetrapala as a child to subdue Kali’s anger, when Siva performs the great Tandava called Siva Tandava. Appar in the above mentioned verse refers to the same Tandava after subduing Kali’s ferrocious anger.
Kali Venkopa bangappaduppana
Ceydarkkariya Thiru Natam Ceydan (5125).
Kshetrapala is also called Pillaiyar in Tamil. Thus by the time of Appar, the stories relating to the four sons of Siva were well known.
The Great Tandava – Tarakasuravadha
Tarakasura afflicted heaven and earth; the seven worlds, oceans and the hills trembled. The Devas with folded arms, prayed to Siva and took refuge in him. Kali, wearing a corpse as an earring, chased Taraka with great fury, split his body and finally killed him. Even after the annihilation of Taraka, the rage of Kali remained unabated. To bring it under control and subdue her, Siva performed the great and difficult dance (4295).
Parvati sportively covered the eyes of Siva with hr hands. Immediately all the seven worlds were plunged into darkness. To dispel this darkness, Siva opened an eye from his forehead, which emitted fire. Terrified Parvati, removed hurriedly her hand and begged pardon. Siva the three eyed, laughed (4299). He is three eyed.
Tripurantakar (C.7, F.25)
The earth and heaven were tossed here and there in total destruction by the three cities, fearng which Vishnu with other devas took refuge in Siva. Siva took Meru mountain as the bow (7131), Vasuki the five hooded snake (6766) as the string and with the fiery arrow, destroyed the three cities (4296). The arrow was made of fire, wind andVishnu (4780) and (6882). The three cities (Tripuras) were constantly moving (6281). While destroying the Tripuras, Siva ascended the Vedic Charriot (5128) with the four vedas yoked as horses (6876). At the request of the Devas, Siva with nandi and Makala standing in attendance burnt the Tripuras to ashes (4703). The Tripuras the demons who forgot to worship Siva were destroyed (6439). By destroying the Tripuras, Siva bestowed grace on the three Asuras (6852, 6984).
The Linga purana (1.72) gives a detailed description of the Charriot, the bow, arrow, etc. that were made for the Tripuradaha. The sun and the moon are the wheels. The sun wheel with 12 spokes and the moon with 15 spokes representing 12 Surya, and 15 Kalas. The four Vedas are the horses.
Vishnu is arrow (ishu), Soma is arrow head, Kalagni fire is its point. The edge is poision and wind its (Vajakas) feathers, Namta is Mal ans (6882). As the Tripuras were burnt in a moment with his arrow, Siva laughed (4819) the attahasa.
Appar refers to a rare form of Siva who is said to carry a lotus in hand.
Tam Kaiyil Yalum Vaittar
Tamarai malarum Vaittar (4452)
The agamas give the dhyana sloka of Siva who is called Vagisa and the accompanying devi as Vakdevi. While invoking the form in the sacrificial fire during daily worship in temples, Siva is invoked as the Supreme master of speech and Devi appears as the Goddess of speech. Vagisa Siva is seated on a lotus, has heads and weilds a lotus in hand.
There are some stone sculptures ascribable to 9th century which are shown with four heads like that of Brahma, holding a lotus in hand. These are mistaken for Brahma sculptures. They represent Vagisa aspect of Siva. It is of interest to mention that Appar is called Vagisa.
Vrshabharudar (C.9, 10, 11 & 13)
That Siva moves on his bull mount is mentioned frequently. This would account for the Vrshavahana deva, images in bronze made in large numbers in the Chola times. That the bull appears also in Siva’s standard is mentioned.
Siva is the lover of music and dance. He not only delights in listening music but also himself sings. His love for music is brought out in many significant verses by Appar. As a musician himself (Gitar) Siva listened to the gitas and created kinnaras. They very art of singing was created by Lord, who made the kinnaras to sing them. He is fond of Vedic gita. He is like the pupil of the eyes to the devotees. He dances and sings delectable pans. He himself sang the four sacred Vedas and is Veda gita. Even when he went abegging as Bhikshatana, seeking bali, with a skull in hand he used to sing the Vedas delightfully. He is also said to wander singing Kamaras (6525). He is fond of Varimuri and the Kolli (4639) and sevvali pans (5351). The palai yal was his favourite (5351). He is the very embodiment of Antaliraga. He also delights in singing Pancamam (4444). The art of music is called Gandharva. He is fond of listening to Gandharvam (4471).
Siva’s love for Vina is also a favourite subject of Saint Appar. He calls Siva a master of Vinai, Vinai Valavan (6476). He carries Vina and sings Gandhara (6331). Siva plays on Vina, the samangita, i..e. the Samavedic chants. This refers to the Vinadhara form of Dakshinamurti when the entire surrounding is quiet and calm, the whole world is withdrawn, Siva listens to the Vedic sounds in the Vina. (6594).
Daksha started performing a great sacrifice (6837). He was a great tapaswin (4298). But he did not realize the greatness of the Lord Rudra (7092). Nor did he realize the Tantra of Yagna (4791). The Devas without joining Siva came to the Yagna to partake the havis (4298) Indra, Brahma, Vishnu, the eight vasus, Agni (4791), Surya, Chandra, Yecca (4298) and others thus accepted the havis (7092). Siva obstructed (6837), shattered and trampled Daksha’s sacrifice (4791) (7092), and destroyed it (7133) Indra’s shoulders were broken in the battle (6771). Sura with his teeth knocked out (6648) rolled and ran for life (7092). Chandra’s brighness was shattered to digits (6648) by trampling under foot (6751). The Lord knocked out his teeth, and eyes (7133). In the battle all the Devas were killed (7092). Daksha’s head was chopped off (6771, 7092). Seeing the misery of Eccan, Agni, Candra, Brahma, Vishnu and others prayed to Siva to pardon their foolishness (4298). Siva, the vanquisher, bestowed grace on all the Devas, and gave back their lives (6648, 6771).
Several forms of Vishnu and his incarnations are mentioned by Appar. Vishnu is called Maya, Thirumal, Kesava, Naranan and so on. Among his avatars, Krishna incarnation is frequently referred to. He as Maya, killed the demoness Putana, by sucking her breast (6242). He is Kannan (Krishna). He swallowed the earth (4588). His incarnations as Varaha, Narasimha (Iranyan aham kinda emman), Rama, Krishna and Trivikrama are mentioned. He reclines on a snake bed. He also sleeps on a pippal leaf. As Krishna, Kovala, he destroyed the Kurnta tree at the back yard and played on flute (6274). He drives on Garuda (5184). He has Garuda as Vehicle Garudaruda (5184). He begged a Kani of land from Mahabali (5184).
The Lord delights in ascending the bull that moves faster than wind (5845). The Bull is white in colour and resembles the silver mountain (an allusion to Kailasa mountain) (6266). The colur of the bull is white like that of conch or pearl (6445). Siva prefers the Bull to Airavata, the royal elephant of Indra. (6495). His bull is in fact the red eyed Vishnu Sengan mal Vidai (6902). Siva’s vehicle, the bull, is a four legged animal (4338). While the impressive elephant and the majestic horse are there, Siva prefers to ride on the great Bull with thunderous yell.
Pidi mada varanam perum turagam nirpa Periya
Idikural Vellerudu erum idu ennai kol emmiraiye (5151).
The bull is described as a ferocious animal-Sina Vidai, and deadly Kolvidai. The bull roars like a terrible thunder. Idiyar kadu (6970) mulakku era. The Bull is sturdy and lofty, Paruttu uyarnta van erran (6279)
The story of Upamanyu is referred to atleast in three places. Upamanyu as a child, cried for cow’s milk. On seeing it, the Lord called the milky ocean and gave it to the child (5179, 5795).
According to the Linga purana, Upamanyu as a child, once tasted a little of cow’s milk in his uncle’s house. The uncle’s son drank all the milk himself and did not shae it with Upamanyu. So he went and asked his mother to give him cow’s milk. His mother poor lady, could not get cow’s milk. So she obtained rice by begging, made into white flour, mixed it with water and gave it to Upamanyu as cow’s milk. Upamanyu, who had tasted earlier the real milk, realised that the one given to him was now cow’s milk. He askedher again for the real cow’s milk. She thereupon told hat one should have worshipped Siva in his previous birth, to obtain all wealth in he present life and that she had not done that punya to get wealth in this birth. Upamanyu, though a child, consoled her, undertook himself to do severe penance towards Siva to obtain milk. First Siva appeared before him as Indra and promised to give him all wealth if only he became his (Indra’s) devotee. Upamanyu, refused to adore any except Siva; pleased with his steadfastness, Siva took him as a child, called the milky ocean and other delicious foodstuffs and gave it to him. But now Upamanyu has realised godhood and so prayed that he be blessed with constant presence of the Lord. Siva blessed him. Parvati took him on her lap and taught him the Pasupata knowledge. The Linga purana concludes that Lord Krishna learned the Pasupata Jnana from Upamanyu. This story to Upamanyu was well known to Appar. It is not unlikely that this tory inspired the life of Jnanasambandar, as well.
Various manifestations of Lord Subrahmanya come in for special praise in the hands of Appar. Subrahmanya is called Kumara, Velava, Murugavel, Selvakkumara, Arumukha and so on. In all these instances, the main intention of the poet is to describe Siva as the father of Muruga or Guha as the son of Siva, the importane being given to Siva. The following ar some of the intresting references. Siva is the fathr of Murugavel and the elephant headed God Ganapathi (6902). He is the father of Kadamban (4583), the father of Selvakumara vel who married the Kuratti (valli the huntress) (4738). The father of Velavan, the killer of Sura (Surapadma) (5164); the father of the one having cock standard-Kolikkodiyon tatai (7122) and the father of Arumuka. Muruga is the Pillai (son) with twelve hands (6425). Siva made the husband of Valli be born in the world. In some instances Muruga is mentioned with Ganesa as Mumaranum Vighna Vinayakanum (6379, 6902). In the Siva temples, Ganesa and Subrahmanya appear as subsidiary deities, i.e. Parivara devata. Appar seems to allude to this when he says Kumara, Vigna vinayaka, Indra, Brahma, Vishnu and thr devas adore Lord Siva (6379). Guha had htte peocock as his vehicle is also noted (5386). That he destroyed the Surapanma is known (5878).
Parvati worshipping Siva
Parvati, in order to obtain Siva as her husband worshipped Siva on the Himalayas. This story is known to early Puranic writers. The great work Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa extols this aspect is known. In the Tamil country, here is the popular legend that Parvati worshipped Siva at Kanchipuram on the banks of the river Kampa. The Devi at Kanchi, is therefore praised as Tapah Kamakshi. Appar refers to the puja of Parvati. When he says that Lord Siva remains pleased with the puja performed by the daughter of the mountain (5097). It is difficult to say whether this refers to the Kanchi talapurana or Uma’s worship at the Kailasa mountain. Probably it refers to the later.
In this connection, it is necessary to refer to ‘Kamakodi’ alluded to in Appar’s verses (6285). ‘Kamakoti with her lips like a sweet fruit and red like coral, embraced Siva in her love sports. During the amorous embrace, she left a deep mark of her breasts on Siva;s body’s says Appar. In the Kanchi talapurana, Parvati is said to have made a Linga out of sands on the banks of the river Kampa. Siva caused floods in the river when the waters rose, encircling the sand Linga. Parvati embraced the Linga which left the maks of her breasts on it. So she came to be called Taluvakkulaindal i.e. one who embraced with intense love. The use of the word Kamakkoti by Appar and also the fact that the Devi left her breast impression on Sia, are taken by some scholars as referring to the Kanchipurana. But to us to seems that it is the amorous sports of the Divine couple, as the one described by Kalidasa in his Kumara Sambhava (Nagaswamy R. Tantric cult of South India-Delhi-1982 P.205).
There is a pupular version that Kalidasa adored the breasts of his consort as Sivalinga. Appar in a verse states the Lord Siva played with Paravati’s breasts as great flowers (Mamalar) (5131). In another place Appar says that Siva wore as ornament the breasts of Uma. (6459).
The fight between Ganesa and Gajasura is considered a South Indian myth, “Gajasura had obtained the privilege of not being killed by a beast, a man, a god, or a demon. Pulliyar (Ganesa) not being one of these, as he was half god, half elephant, was the only one who could deal with him victoriously. The gaint broke of the god’s right tusk, but Pulliyar, using it a Javelin, transfixed, Gajamukha, who transformed himself into a rat and became the vehicle of the God”. Paul Courtright does not discuss the antiquity of this legend. (Ganesa; Oxord 1985-pp.80-81). He, however, gives also other legends, which make Siva the enemy and destroyer of Gajasura which are found in other Puranas. But in the Tamil country, as early as 7th Century A.D., the legend that Gajasura was killed by Ganesa as pupular. Appar says that Siva created Ganesa and through him killed Gajasura.
Kaivelamukattavanai padaittar polum
Kayasuranai avanal kolvittar polum
In this allusion, Siva is said to have created Ganapati and got Gajasura killed by him. In the common tradition Parvati created Ganesa but there are also legends in which Siva created Ganesa. (Ibid pp. 62-70). From Appar’s version it seems that the later legend was pupular in Tamilnadu.
Parvati and Ganesa appear together is also referred to by the Saint who uses the term Vinayakar to denote Ganapati. This would be Umamahesvara aspect (7015). Ganapati, Vinayaka, Vignavinayaka, Velamukha, Kadamamukha are the names used by Appar to denote Ganesa. People longing for the fulfillment of various desires, pray to him. In the mind of those who suffer intensely Ganapati manifests and remove their impediments.
Kalam Alakittu tiriyum ganapati ennum kalirum
The word require slight correction. It haas been taken as – but it should be read as Kalam alakittu tirital
With reference to Ganesa referred to by Saint Appar there is a lively controversy. There is a pupular tradition that the worship of Ganesa was brought to the Tamil country from Vatapi – the modern Badami, the apital of the Chalukyas. The image was said to have been brought by Saint Siruttonder – a contemporary of Appar and Sambandar. According to Sekkilar’s Periya puranam, Siruttondar was first a commander under the Pallava ho invaded Vatapi and then turned a saivite saint. It is conjectured that this general when he conquered Vatapi should have brought the worship of Ganapati to Tamilnadu. To further substantiate this stand, it is pointed out that the Ganesa image at Thirucchengattankudi is even now alled Vatapi Ganapati. Thirucchengattankudi is the place where Sirutondar lived. Furthr a great composer of carnatic music – hailed as one of the trinity of carnatic music – Muthuswami Dikshitar snag a delightful song on Ganapatis as “Vatapi Ganapatim baje”. This is being sung in every mysic consort. Dikshitar lived in the beginning of 19th Century A.D.
There are several objections to this theory orr Siruttondar bringing the Ganpati worship. Sekkilar who gies the biography of ‘Siruttondar, Appar, Sambandar and other saints has no reference at all to the bringing of Ganapati image from Vatapi. Sekkilar is no writer of a casual work. There is no reference either in the early period to the story of Siruttondar bringing Ganapati.
There are other reasons as well to reject this suggestion. Whatever the data of Siruttondar might be, it must be admitted that he was the contemporary of Appar and Sambandar, both Appar and Sambandar refer several times to Ganesa, and the legend connected with his origin. It is impossible to believe that a newly introduced cult has become so localised even beore introduction.
There is some confusion about Nandi, the bull mount of Siva, and Nandikesvara, the Chief attender of Siva, mainly because of the name Nandi. Nandi, the Bull is the animal, Vahana whih serves as the mount of Siva. It is seen fully in animal form, with four legs, a hump, a tail etc., and is placed facing Siva in a reclining pose. But Nandikesvara is a human figure who is the leader of Sivagana, and carries out all orders of Siva. He is considered an amsa, a manifestation of Lord Siva himself. He is the guardian of the main entrance to Siva’s chambers and without his permission nothing moves in the place of Siva. He appears as the main dvarapala. He is shown with the three leaves of the trident, Trisula behind his head. In some cases he is shown with a bulls’ head. He is called in South India, particularly in Tamilnadu, Adhikaranandin. His role in the history of Saivism is enormous. In the field philosophy, literature, music, dance, medicine, Kamasastra and other fields, he is laimed to be the very originator of these sastras. He seems to have been a tremendous personality in the history of India and it is impossible to know fully any aspect of Indian thought without a reference to him. And yet he is often mistaken for the bull, the Vahana of Siva. For example Nandisvara is mistaken for the bull, the Vahana of Siva. For example Nandisvara is mistaken for Nandi the bull, in the story of Ganesa. Siva is said to have sent nandin to fetch a suitable head to Ganesa, in the brahad-dharma-purana. (Courtright – Ganesa-p.36). Here the actual person sent is Nandisvara, the leader of Siva’s gana and not Nandi the Bull. The full story of Nandisvara is given in the Linga Purana in three chapters 42 to 44. (F.28).
From very early times Lord Siva himself is called Nandi. Appar in several verses refers to Siva as Nandi. There are also references to Nandisvara, the Chief attendent of Siva. Siva is said to have conferred grace on Nandi, obviously referring to the crowning of Nandin as the leader of Sivagana. (4,143)
According to the Linga Purana, Nandi as the leader of the Ganas, went with Siva, when Siva destroyed the Tripuras (Linga Purana, Trans – Delhi 1973. Chapt. 72 verse 51-52 – P. 351). “Mounted on a charriot as huge as the Lord of mountains Nandin went ahead of Devas and the Chief of Ganas in order to strike terror to the cities.” (P. 351). So also Mahakala went with Svia (P.352). According to another Purana, the three Asuras, were killed by Siva, who bestowed grace on them, two of them were made the gate keepers and one made a player of drum the mula, while Siva danced. Appar in his verses, refers to Nandi an Makala as the gate keepers – Nandi Makalan ennum Naduvudaiyargal nirpa. Appar refers to this while mentioning the Tripurasamhara episode.
Muntiya vanorkalv antu muraimaiyal vanangi etta
Nandi makalar enpar naduvudaiyarkal nirpa
Cintiyate olindar tiripuram erippar polum - 4703
But it is not clear whether the two of the Asuras became the gatekeepers. At another place, Nandi is said to play on Kudamula – the percussion instrument, Kudamula nandisanai Vayil Kappayk kondari.
According to this statement, the Nandisa playing on kuda mula served also as Siva’s gate-keeper. This is a clear reference to the presence of both Nandi and Mahakala when Siva destroyed the Tripuas, as mentioned in the Linga Purana.
The story of Sattan-Aiyanar was also known to Appar. In one place he says that Lord had Sattan as his son (4475) and at another place, says, that Sendan (Jayantan) was his son (4589). Sasta is also called Bhutanatha. Appar calls Siva himself as Bhutanatha. It is not out of place here to mention, that Sasta – Aiyanar is endowed with the emblems of Siva, including the third eye and is considered an amsa of Siva. So the name Bhutanatha appearing for both Siva and Aiyanarr is appropriate.
In this connection it is interesting to draw attention to a passage in the Linga Purana (1.8). It is called Vyapohana Sthava, hymn of Purification, said to have been learnt by Lord Kumara from Nandin. All gods who adore Siva are invoked in this hymn in order. The translators of the Linga Purana (P.408-verses 92.95- give the following account:
“May Senapathi(Skanda) son of Lord of Devas dispel my sin. He is conversant with the reality of the teaching of the Vedas and Sastras. He ponders over all actions, he is richly endowed with all attributes. He is the eldest and the Lord of all. He is gentle and has the body of Mahavishnu, he is the noble commander of the army. He is the mysterious suppressor of sacrifice. He rides on the elephant Airavata he has black curly hairs, his limbs are black, his eyes are red, moon and serpent constitute his ornaments, he is surrounded by goblins, ghosts, evil spirits and kushmandas, and he is engaged in the worship off Siva.” (p.-408). The translators have mistaken him to be Skanda. The Sanskrit part is clear enough, which calls him Arya i.e. Aiyanar. That he has the body of Mahavishnu, rides on Airavata. Airavata gajaruda, wears digital moon on his head, and is surrounded by bhuta, Preta, Pisaca and kushmandai, clearly confirm further that the God spoken of here is Arya, Hariharaputra. Further, Skanda has already been extolled in verse 38.
That the Linga Purana gives Arya – Ayyanar as the son of Siva is interesting. We find in the Tamil epic, Silappadhikaram, a reference to Purambanaiyan kottam (1-9-12). The commentator holds that it refers to Masattan temple. He is also called Satavahanan. Appar refers to him as Sattan. That this diety is identical with Revanta, known in Northern India has been discussed by this writer elsewhere.
Siva is fond of Saint Agastya (6744) says Appar. It is well known that when the marriage of Parvati was to be celebrated on the Himalayas, all the celestials assembled there. The weight of such a great congregation started tilting the earth. To effect a balance Siva requested Saint Agastya to go to the south which he did. This story obviously illustrates the great regard Siva had for Agastya and his learning. In the early temples built from about 7th to 13th century Agastya’s sculptures formed part of Siva temples. But after 13th century worship of Agastya seemed to have received a setback. However in the far east, it assumed greater significance.
Jackals turn into horses
The elephants move in front to the sound of drums
And the devotees pay obeisance in front
The lord of Aryr, weariing a snake as belt
Would turn Jackals into horses
And mortals into immortals
And would bring forth sprouts without seeds
And dance observing austerities. (4191)
In this verse occurs the line – Jackals would turn into horses. Nariyai kutirai ceyvanum. This line is taken by some scholars to establish the date of Saint Manikkavacaka. According to legends, he Pandya ruler sent his minister Vadavur Brahmadiraya (who later became Manikkavacaka), with money to buy horses to the royal cavalry. The minister on his way, became a great devotee of Siva, spent all the money in god’s work, and returned empty-handed. The enraged ruler, put the minister behind the bars. To save his devotee Lord Siva, appeared as a horse trader, converted Jackals into horses, led them to the king and presented them to him as the ones bought by the minister. The king happy to receive beautiful horses, set the minister free. But on the same night, the horses assumed their original forms as jackals caused havoc in the royal stable and disappeared. The king further enraged, started torturing the minister when Lord Siva appeared with his consort Meenakshi, before the king and narrated the greatness of the minister who then on beame Saint Manikkavacaka. This is one of the famous stories listed in the sixtyfour sacred sports of Meenakshi Sundaresvara of Madurai.(F.27)
Alluding to this story occurring as a Thiruvilaiyadal, some scholars try to lace Saint Manikkavacaka, earlier than Appar. But reent researches have proved that the saint lived in the 9th century. A.D. and was a contemporary of Pandya Varaguna II. It is necessary to mention that this Pandya ruler has paid visits to several Siva temples and gifted money for worship, which is found recorded in inscriptions. It thus becomes necessary to give an explanation to the statement ‘Jackals turning into horses’ mentioned by Appar. It seems to us a clear echo of the upanishadic conepts which hold the five senses of the Indiryas as the horses, Indriyani hayanahu vishayan teshu gocaran. The senses mislead the individual surreptitiously and in hat sense are also compared to cunning Jackals. The reference here then is to the cunning Jackals that could be transformed into horses, which in turn would take us swiftly to path divine. This interpretation is justified by the next line in the same verse of Appar, who says that the “Lord is capable of changing mortals into immortals by his grace”.
Amarniti Nayanar was a merchant who established a charitable in at Nallur, and fed Saivite devotees. Once Lord Siva came to him as a Brrahmana, Amarniti invited the Brahmana to take food at the inn. The mendicant left his loin cloth with Amarnitti asking him to keep it safely till he returned from a bath. When Siva came back, he asked for the loin cloth. The merchant found the cloth missing. After a search and astonishment, he promised to give a new cloth equal in vaue to the lost one. Thereupon the Brahmana, put his other loin cloth on a scale and asked the merchant to give a cloth of equal weight. The merchant piled several cloths on the other pan of the scale and found to his surprise, that the one piece of cloth, put by the mendicant could not be equaled. So he sat himself with his family on the pan of the scale; then only the scale showed equal weights on both the pans. Then Lord Siva appeared before the merchant and blessed him. This merchant Amarniti was anterior to Appar who mentions him and the episode in his verse. Appar refers to Nallur as the place where the episode has taken place, mentions the piece of Kovanam, i.e. the piece of loin cloth, and also both the merchant and his wife ascending the scale. Appar calls him a Vanika. (98.7).
There is no greater and moving episode in the history of Tamil Saivism that the story of Kannappan, the hunter-devotee of Siva. He lived a few centuries earlier to Appar. All the Tevaram saints and also Manikkavacaka pay glowing tributes to the devotion of this forest dweller. They say Kannappan’s devotion is unparalleled. It is a legend, which dramatically contrasts the spontaneous devotion of a forest hunter with the ritual devotion of a born-Saivite Brahmin priest and establishes that the former’s devotion is by far superior and dearest to the heart of the Lord.
Kannappan was born as the son of a hunter chief – near the Kalahasti hill. He was brought up in a ruthless surroundings. Once he happened to go on top of the hill, while chasing a hunt. There he found a Siva linga, beautifully decorated with flowers after puja. He was greatly attracted towards it and immediately beame its devotee. He learnt from his friend that these flower offerings etc. were made by a priest. “He became concerned for the lonliness in which the God abode. And there was none be unused to serve him the meat for food. He wanted to do this, but his mind was unwilling to leave him alone.
He will come back, go away again, embrae him, again go away, will keep looking at Him with welling love like a cow abandoning a calf. “Oh Lord, I myself shall carefully choose and bring good tender meat for your dinner”. He brought tender fresh meat in a cup of leaves, water in his mouth and flowers in his head. He brushed aside with his shoes the flowers placed on the head of the Linga by the priest, spat the water he brought in his mouth on the Linga, dropped the flowers brought in his head on the linga, and offered the meat as food. He stood guard with his bow and arrow and refused to leave the hill. The Brahmin priest, who came the next day when Kannappan was away, was shocked. He cleaned the whole area, and did puja as prescribed in the Agamas. This continued or several days. To show the Brahmin priest what true devotion meant Lord Siva directed the priest to come the next day and remain hidden. When Kannappan came as usual with tender meat for Siva, his mouth full of water, one off the eyes of the Siva linga started bleeding. This he saw from a distance and came running in haste. “The blood he saw and fainted, the water in his mouth spurted out, the boww and leaf bowl of meat fell to the ground, the bunch of flowers stuck in his tuft dropped down and he fell shuddering to the ground. He rose as fast as he fell, rushed forward, wiped the blood, saw not any stoppage of the flow, knew not what to do and fainted again. He rose up and went in search of herbs he had seen hunters use to heal arrow wounds. He brought them and crushing the juice thereof he poured the juie into the bleeding eye but in vain. Finally he gouged out one of his eyes with the tip of an arrow and applied it on the bleeding eye of the Lord. He jumped in joy when he found the bleeding eye of the Lord. He jumped in joy when he found the bleeding stop. Suddenly he found the other eye bleed. Now he knew the remedy. He decided to give the ther. He wondered how to see after he had plucked out the other eye. So he placed his left foot on the Lord’s bleeding eye and with intense love took up a sharp arrow and put it to his eye. Seeing this supreme devotion and sacrifice of this hunter, even Lord Siva could not control himself. The Lord shouted “Stop Kannappa, stop”. So saying the Lord caught hold of the hand of Kannappa, gave back his eyes and embraced him as the best of his devotee. The Brahmin priest, who witnessed these happenings realised that internal true love and pure devotion is far superior to rituals” (G. Vannikanatthan-Periyapuranam, Madras-1985-Pp.517-31). In devotional literature, art and rituals, Kannappan has come to occupy a unique place. Appar, Sambandar, Sundarrar and Manikkavacakar and all others who came lataer adore Kannappa as the supreme embodiment of devotion.
A great devotee of Siva who burnt the lamp according to the Perriya Puranam, was Nami Nandi Adigal. He used to lit the temple lamp regularly, in the temple of Thiru Ara neri iccuram, at Thiruvarur. Once he went to a house and begged for oil to burn the lamp. That house happened to be that of a Jain who despised Saivism. “If Siva could carry always fire in his hand, then why should he be in need of a lamp? The lamp could burn even with ater?” ridiculed the Jain. Hurt by this Nami Nandi sought the grace of Siva and used water to burn the temple lamp. The miracle did happen. The lamp burnt with water. Appar alludes to this story and calls the saint Nambi Nandi. Later Sundarar and Sekkilar call him Nami Nandi. Appar addressed Nambi Nandi as the great devotee.
Arur narumalar Nathan Adittondan Nambi nandi
Niral Thiruvilakkittamai ninadariyumanro
Appar specifically mentions the miracle and says that the world knows that the great Nambi Nandi made use of water to burn the lamp (5145).
Spider – Koccengannan
A spider made a pandal bower over the Linga to provide shade. When it whithered it was made to be born in the Cholakula, family of Cholas as Kocengannan, the ruler of Chonadu, made fertile by the Kaviri waters (4637). With the thread from its mouth, the spider wove a web of bower with dried leaves. Siva made it to rule a kingdom (4765).
It has been noted earlier that Appar and Sambandar were contemporaries. Appar mentions Jnanasambandar in his own verse as Kalumalavurar. Three episodes connected with the life of Sambandar are mentioned by Appar. At the temple of Thiruvilimilalai, both Appar and Sambandar obtained from Lord Siva, Coins with which they fed the Saiva devotees during a drought. The coin obtained by Sambandar was not as pure in standard as the one got by Appar. So Sambandar sang the hymn vasi tirave kasu nalkuvir. Here the term Vasi is taken to mean Vattam i.e. interest, and so the verse is taken to mean that Sambandar is asking for Kasu i.e. coin, which will fetch interest. Vasi is used in the sense of Vattam i.e. interest but in this context it doesn’t sound to be correct. It seems that the coin was not of standard fineness. Hence Vasi may stand for verdigree. Sambandar himself sings in the next verse Karaikol kasu i.e. the stained coin. Appar refers to the coin obtained by Sambandar as Palamkasu i.e. old coin. Appar says
Padip perra parisel Palamkasu
Vadi Vattam tavirparvar (5733)
i.e. “Old coin was obtained by singing hymns. Lord Siva removed the distresses caused by the Old coin”. The reference is found in Thiruvaymur hymn. This is almost an autobiographical reference, as both Appar and Sambandar received the coins.
The second episode, is also connected with Sambandar receiving coins but this time for another reason. Sambandar’s father Sivapadahrdayar wanted to perform a Vedic sacrifice and was in need of money for the same. Jnanasambandar, sung the praises of Siva at Thiruvavaduturai and received gold coins for his father. Appar sings this episode as Kalumalavurarukku ampon ayirm Koduppar Polum Avaduturaiyanare i.e. the Lord of Avaduturai, gifted thousand gold coins (ampon) to Kalumala urar, the person from the village Kalumalam. Among several hailed from Kalumalam. This is thus a positive reference to Sambandar.
The third episode mentioned by Appar, happened at Vedaranyam. Appar and Sambandar went to the temple of Vedaranyam called Maraikkadu in Tamil. According to the legend the doors of the temple remained closed ever since the days of the Vedas. When the Vedas worshipped the God, the doors remained opened, but after that they remained closed. Both Appar and Sambandar went together to this temple and found the doors closed. Appar sang a hymn of ten verses. When the tenth verse was sung the doors opened. Both the saints went inside and worshipped the Lord and came out. When they were out, Sambandar sung one verse and immediately the doors closed. Whereas Appar has to sing ten verses to get the door opened, one verse of Sambandar was sufficient to close the door. Appar felt that he has not reached the level of devotion as Sambandar had and felt sad and left of Thiruvaymur. Sambandar not knowing the reason for the sudden disappearance of Appar, searched for him and followed him to Thiruvaymur. Appar refers to this event in his poem
Tirakkap padiya enninum centamil
uraikkap padi adaippittar unninrar
Maraikka Vallaro tammai Thiruvaymur
Piraikkol Cenjataiyar ivar pittare (5734)
“I sang for opening the door but he sang centamil (good Tamil), and got them closed. Whether the God of Thiruvaymur wearing the cresant of the moon on his locks of hair, could conceal himself. He is indeed mad-‘Pittar’.”
The name Maraikkadu, Vedaranyam has lend itself beautifully to this legend. There is an allusion here to the point that the works of these saints are equal to the Vedas. Both the Vedas and the hymns of these two saints throw open the doors to Godhood.
The Airavata – the royal elephant of Inda, lost its tusks I the fight between Asuras and Devas. It went to Thiruvenkadu, did penance, worshipped Siva and obtained salvation.
“Vittahattai Vellanai Villai anbu
Viraviyava kandatarkke Vidukattu”
says Appar i.e. “the white elephant (Airavata) showered very great devotion. Siva showed it the path of liberation”. In the Thiru Venkadu temple, the episode is depicted in the 10th Century temple structure.
There was a Brahmin boy, Dharmi, belonging to the family of Saivite priest. He was poor and wanted to marry. Once the ruling Pandya King announced a prize of one thousand gold coin for those who could dispel his doubt by composing poems. His doubt was “whether women’s hair posses natural fragrance”. Lord Siva composed a poem and gave it to the Brahmin boy Dharmi and asked him to present it to the King as his own composition and obtain the prize. When the poem was sung in the court of the Pandya it was challenged as a defective composition by Poet Nakkirar. Lord Siva himself appeared in the court on behalf of Dharmi, expounded the merit of the composition and won the prize for Dharmi. This is one of the popular legends, connected with the temple of Madurai and is listed as one of the 64 sports of Lord Sundaresvara. Appar mentions this legend in his composition as
Nan pattupulavanay Sangam eri
Nar Kanakkakkili Dharmikku arulinon kan.
i.e. He appeared as a good poet in the Sangam (assembly of poets) and gifted the gold prize to Dharmi. This suggests that some among the 64 sports – were well known before the time of Appar.
Sakya was a great devotee. He used to live on porridges (kanji). He worshipped Siva using stones as flowers. He was bestowed grace (4639).
Rat as a devotee
At the Vedaranyamm temple, Maraikkadu, in Tanjore district a rat used to kindle the wick of the dipa lamp to keep it constantly burning, inspite of the fact that the light’s glow used to burn its nose. Pleased at its devotion, Siva bestowed on it, heaven (4641).
Candikesvara (C.8, F.29)
Under the shades off an Atti tree, Candi made a linga (tapara) of sand, milked the cows and used the milk for abhisheka of the linga. His father, enraged at this, disturbed the worship. Candi with a dreadful axe cut the leg of his father. Siva bestowed immortality on Candi (4636).
Candesa performed arccana with cow’s milk and ghee, and adored the Lord with a Konrai flower-garland. His father got fury at that. So he cut the leg of his father with a sharp axe. Sive bestowed on him a garland of Konrai flowers (4792).
The same story is repeated, in (4869), but it adds that Candi was given the beautiful name Candisa.
The story of Candikesvara is given by T.A. Gopinatha Rao, in his work-Candesanugraha murti.
Candikesvara is also kown to Northern Indian traditions – The Lingapurana states that Canda was born of Sambhu’s face, is the leader of Ganas, and is always doing arcane to Siva. (1.82.25)
Kanampullar was a devotee of great penance, arumtavattar. Kanampullar used to cut a kind of grass, Kanampul, sell it in, the market and utilize the proceed to burn a perpectual lamp in a Siva temple. One day the grass he brought as wick to burn the temeple lamp but the grass was quickly exhausted. So he used his own hair and made it burn. It burnt his skull. He attained the feet of Lord.
Thus the following are the forms of siva and other Gods and devotees mentioned by Appar in his verse. For want of space, detailed discussion of each is no attempted and only the outline given by the saint are given:
Alingana Candrasekhara Vinadhara Ardhanari Nataraja Candrasekhara Vishnu Kalyanasundara Brahman Somaskanda Virabhadra Umamahesvara Upamanyu Lingod bhava Subrahmanya Vagisa Parvati worshipping Siva Andhakasuravadha Ganesa Bhairava Nandikesvara Dakshasamhara Aiyanar Dakshinamurti Agastya Ekapada Amarnitthi Naynar Gangadhhara Kannappan Harihara Naminandi Bhikshatana Spider Jalandharavadha Sakya Cakradana Rat Kankala Candikesvara Kalakala Kanampullar Kamantaka Sambandar Nilakanta Dharmi Pasupatamurti Airavata Ravananugrha Tarakasuravadha Trinetra Tripurantaka Vrshabharudar
List of Jewels and Emblems mentioned by Appar
1. Chulamani Siramala (Talaimalai) Kandikai Kati sutra Kapalavata Kathvanga patakam Silambu Mekhalai Pattam Vasikai Tilaka Jatamakuta manimakuta Angamalai Ekasa Pancavati Malai Vellippuri (Silver puri) Vellik-kulai Vellit-tahadu Vellip-Podi Kanakavannap-padal Malu Parasu Sirai Valai Indaimalai Sulam Mani Cendu Kulai Todu Mettai Porvai Elumbu abharanam Erukka Vatam Nan Arainan Kanni Thirumudi velli malai Kaccu Tudi Sankha Kalan