This title, which forms the burthen of the poem, is given to one of the Sage’s most interesting compositions. It consists of fifty quatrains, constructed in a beautiful metre (see my Second Grammar 192) which is in fact epichoriambic (as is explained in the notes to the Tamil text).
It is called Anthathi poem. This means that it is anaphoretic, the last word of a verse is to be repeated in the beginning of each following verse, and very often striking its keynote. Hymn V is the same). This has a beautiful effect in Tamil, but the difference of Idiom often forbids translator to attempt to reproduce it in English.
The poem throughout is a genuine human cry for Divine help in the midst of a terrible struggle and is full of the most vivid emotion. It was composed, according to tradition, immediately after the wonderful cento that forms the fifth poem, and gives expression to the youthful devotee’s feelings after his guru had finally departed, and the company of the 999 (?) saints who attended him had thrown themselves into the fire. He is said to have gone round the Civan shrines in the PAndiyan Kingdom, and first of all to have spent some considerable time in the ancient city of Tiru-uttara-kocamangai, which was at one time a Pandiyan capital, situate eight miles south-west of Ramnad, where the ruins of an important Civan shrine are yet to be seen. There he suffered from the reaction naturally consequent upon the excitement produced by the wonderful events of the preceding months. He had been till now the petted, highly gifted favorite and prime minister of the Pandiyan Kingdom living in the midst of pomp and luxury, invested with almost absolute power; and was still in early manhood. He finds himself at once a Caiva mendicant, who has renounced everything subsists on alms, and must spend his days and nights in solitary meditation.
Meanwhile the circumstances in which he finds himself placed the lives of his companions, the whole environment of the temple, are not favorable to pure and high devotion. The lofty ideal is not realized here. Then, as now, the influences surrounding and emanating from the shrine itself were in many ways deteriorating. From the evidence of these verses, we conclude that there were two things from which he suffered. One of these was the allurements of the female attendants who, in bands pertained to the temple. We have noticed this elsewhere. Hindu commentators will often find mystic meanings, which are harmless, – if unfounded. Again and again in this and other poems he deplores the way in which he has been led to violate his vow. The other difficulty, often referred to was the way in which mere ceremonial acts had to be performed, affording no relief to his conscience. He thus fell into a desponding and well-nigh despairing state of mind, and sent forth this cry like that heard in the Psalter, and reiterated by the greatest Being that ever trod the pathway of this human life. Few things in literature have such a genuine ring as some of the verses in which young noble bewails his apparent desertion by his Master. Yet he never quite lost his confidence and love; and afterwards, as many of the lyrics show, exchanged for the ‘spirit of heaviness the garment of praise’.
I do not think that any one can be found who will withhold his sympathy from the Sage. It may be noticed, though it is in connection with the Tamil text that the matter must be more fully discussed, that there is a great difference, as it seems to me, between the style of the first twenty stanzas (where indeed it may be conjectured that the poem originally ended) and those that follow. Notably in verses 21-50 there is only reference to Uttara-koca-mangai, which city in verses 1-20 is a part of the perpetual refrain. These latter verses, too, are more ingenious and subtle, and are more ful of poetic fancies. Sometimes, indeed, they may seem to be even more beautiful than those that are the undoubted composition of the Sage. Their language, rhythm, and manner seem to me, however, to be different. But I readily acknowledge the difficulty that lies in the way of all merely subjective criticism, especially by a foreigner. Yet the exceedingly uncritical way in which these texts have been hitherto handled necessitates and justifies the attempt.
The writer did a great part of these translations at beautiful Lugano, not unfrequently relieving the toil by the enjoyment of an hour in the church of S. Maria degli Angoli, before the marvelous frescoes of Bernardino Luini; and could not help wishing oft times that the Tamil Sage and Seeker after God could have stood there, or haply knelt by his side. Could Manikkavacagar have traced that history of the Great Master, of His passage from Gethsemane to the glory of His heavenly dwelling place, how would he have been affected?. One wonders!. It may be that he, and the weaver of Mailapur, and the wandering sages of the Naladiyar, and others whose legends we recall, have since, freed from the flesh, visited that spot. Certainly they know those histories now! Shall we not in regard to our poet-sage, wherever his ashes are scattered, say hopefully and tenderly, Requiescat in pace?
1) The foresaken one’s petition
Me, meanest one, in mercy mingling Thou didst make Thine own,-
Lord of the Bull ! Lo, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME! O Thou Who wear’st
Garb of fierce tiger’s skin ! ABIDING UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING
Thou of the braided lock ! I fainting sink. Our Lord, uphold Thou me ! (4)
The crimson lips of maidens fair, in ripeness of their charms,
I press no more; yet, Lo ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME; though in,
Not out Thy worthy service, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING,
I am ! Thou mad’st false me Thine, why dost Thou leave me NOW ? (8)
A tree on river bank of dark eyed maiden’s senses five
I rooted stand ! LO, ME THOU HAST FOKSAKEN; Thou who dwell’st
In ArUr’s shrine renowned; O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S KING !
Half of her form, the beauteous one ! Thou FOSTERER of my life ! (12)
Thou took’st me in Thy gracious FOSTERING hand; and then, withdrawn,
LO ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN me lost here; Thou Whose lofty crown
Bears the pale crescent moon, O UTTARA KOCA-MANGAI’S KING !
Thou radiant Beam as lightning seen ‘mid sheen of GLISTENING gold ! (16)
Like moth in GLISTENING flame, to those of gentle speech, long time
I fall a prey ! LO, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME! In Thy flower-crown
Sweet bees sip fragrant honey; UTTARA KOCA-MANGAI’S KING !
Since with ambrosia of Thy grace to feed me I REFUSED ! (20)
Through ignorance I have Thy grace REFUSED; and Thou, my Gem!
Hast loathed me ! Lo, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! My throng of ‘deeds ‘
Suppress, and make me Thine, O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S KING !
Will not the great-soul’d bear, though little curs are FALSE ? (24)
FALSE me Thou mad’st Thine own, as though some worth I had; didst mend
Me, O Thou True ! LO, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME! Thy throat is black
With swallow’d poison ! STATELY UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S KING!
O roseate One, Civan, who PUTT’ST AWAY my mortal pains ! (28)
What is Thy way of glorious grace that PUTS AWAY my sin ?
I ask with awe; THOU’ST LEFT ME, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING;
Before whose jubilant Bull flower-crown’d foes fearing fled !
The senses ‘five’ and fear in ways DIVERSE draw guilty me ! (32)
Like ant on firebrand lit at DIVERSE ends, sever’d from Thee,
Distraught, Lo ! ME THOU HAST FORSAKEN, Thou the only Lord
Of the vast triple world, strong UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING !
Whose BRIGHT right hand uplifts the warrior’s triple-headed spear ! (36)
I gained access to Thy BRIGHT Feet, freed from this mortal frame !
Yet me who pine, THOU’ST LEFT; O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S KING,
Around Whose beauteous flowery groves the swarms of beetles hum;
Thou Who with bow of might didst burn the city of, Thy FOES ! (40)
MY FOES, ‘the five’ deceived me; from Thy jewelled flower-like Feet
I parted; LO! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou honey of
My sinful soul ! O UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S KING !
O WORTH, Whose golden form gleams ‘neath the hallowed ash ! (44)
O WORTHY ONE, Thou mad’st me Thine; by senses ‘ five ‘ deceived,
I worthless left Thee ! UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S KING ! And Thou
Hast left me ! Thou Whose mighty javelin slays Thy trembling foes;
Great SEA of clear Ambrosia given for worthless me to taste ! (48)
As dog laps water from the lake, my soul Thy mercy’s SEA
Quits not; me THOU’ST FORSAKEN, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING;
Who dost as in a home abide in those who leave Thee not,
Wine of the palm ! Ambrosia ! Gem ! My FLOOD of bliss ! (52)
Like one whose tongue amid the FLOOD is parched I gain’d Thy grace,
Yet sorrow springs; ME THOU’ST FORSAKEN; UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING;
Who ever dwellest in Thy servants’ hearts that Thee desire !
To me in guile immersed grant grace ! My joy is JOYLESS all ! (56)
With JOYOUS thought I saw Thy Foot, drew near, and gained Thy grace;
Yet am not free ! ME THOU’ST FORSAKEN, UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING,
Whose flowery jewell’d Foot is Light of all true lights that gleam !
Father accessible ! Lord, Who didst make me all Thine own ! (60)
I wandered weary, none to say ‘Fear not !’ Like lightning’s flash
Behold, THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou Truth beyond compare;
Great UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING, that like Thyself abides:
Like Mother Thou, like Father Thou, my soul’s most precious WEALTH ! (64)
O WEALTH ! Sole Refuge of my lonely heart ! By those who spurn
Thy glories fear’d ! Lo, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME; O Grace by eager heart
And true enjoyed; THOU KING OF UTTARA-KOCA MANGAI’S SHRINE,
With fair groves girt ! Darkness and light, this world and that, Thou art ! (68)
‘Be with me ! Govern, use, sell, pledge me,’ thus I cried,
Yet me, erewhile Thy guest, THOU HAST FORSAKEN, Who didst drink
The poison as ambrosia; UTTARA KOCA-MANGAI’S KING !
Thou healing Balm for those bowed down by ‘changeful birth’s’ disease ! (72)
Fire of Thy ‘biding grace my sins’ thick springing wood burns up,
Vidangan ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME; O UTTAR-KOCA-MANGAI’S KING;
Who dost destroy the root of human ‘birth,’ and make me Thine;
The hill-like elephant didst flay, and fright the Vanji-BOUGH ! (76)
Like climbing plant with no-supporting BOUGH, I wavering hung !
Lo, Tender One, me-tremblulg THOU’ST FORSAKEN; Thou Who dwell’st
Where heavenly ones come not; strong UTTARA-KOCA-MANGAl’S KING;
Thou Who art Ether, Earth, and Fire, and Wind, and watery FLOOD ! (80)
Like little shrubs where elephants contend, by senses five
I’ve been sore vexed; lo, THOU, my Father, HAST FORSAKEN ME !
To sinful me commingled honey, milk, sweet cane, ambrosia,
LIGHT of my soul, thrilling my flesh and inmost frame,-Thou art ! (84)
The LIGHT Thou art: the White One, gleaming bright. with sacred ash
Besmeared. Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME; Thou to Thy servants true
Art near; from others ever distant; hard to know;
The Feminine, the ancient Male, the neutral One art Thou ! (88)
The form Thou gav’st I wore, in faults abounding, scant of love,.
Me, worthless slave, THOU HAST FORSAKEN, see ! But, if Thou leave,
I perish; none but Thee upholds Thy slave; Source of my being’s bliss;
This clear perception hath Thy servant gained, Indwelling Lord ! (92)
Things true abiding, folly-stirred, for vanities I burn’d;
And THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME; Thou Who as robe dost wear the hide
Of fiery mighty-handed elephant !-I joys of sense
Seeking gain not, like ANTS that noiseless round the oil-jar swarm. (96)
Like worm in midst of ANTS, by senses gnawed and troubled sore,
Me, utterly alone, Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN; Thou Whom fiery death obeyed;
Whose fragrant flowery Foot the heavenly ones attain, and they
Who know; O MIGHTY One, Who from Thy servants partest not ! (100)
‘When the GREAT waters fail, the little fishes faint; ‘ so reft of Thee
I quake. Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! The moon’s white crescent borne
On Ganga’s wave, like little skiff on mountain stream,
Is hidden in Thy braided locks, O CHOICEST GEM of heaven ! (104)
CHOICE GEMS they wore, those softly smiling maids; I failed, I fell.
Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou gav’st me place ‘mid Saints who wept,
Their beings fill’d with rapturous joys; in grace didst make me Thine !-
Show me Thy Feet, even yet to SENSE revealed, O spotless Gem ! (108)
While SENSES made me quake, I trembling swerved to falsehood’s way.
Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! While heaven and earth the poison feared
From out the mighty sea, Thou madest it ambrosia; Home of grace !
Thy servant I, O Master, stand distraught; sole Worship of my heart ! (112)
Thyself from every fetter free, Thou freed’st me from all fault, O Sire,
Whose bow victorious is the mighty mount ! Lo, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME !
Thy lotus-form the cassia’s gold wreath wears; O matchless One !
By fivefold-evil am I stirred like milk by CHURNING STAFF. (116)
The senses’ fire burns fierce; I’m stirr’d as the cool curds by CHURNING’STAFF,
Lo ! ME THOU HAST FORSAKEN I Thou Who wear’st chaplet of skulls
And clustering wreaths of flowers, and the long entrails’ twine; and dost Thyself
Adorn with ashes, and sweet sandal-paste, O ESSENCE PURE ! (120)
31) Thou art with all ! – but me !
PURE ESSENCE Multiform, Who art cool flood, sky, wind, earth, fire;
THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! White, black, and azure art Thou seen !
Roseate Thy form ! Thy girdle is the glistening hooded snake !
O WARRIOR ELEPHANT, with dripping brow and mighty foot ! (124)
32) Sensuality was my bane.
Those WARRING ELEPHANTS, the senses five, I feared,-was lost.
THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME, Thou, hard to leave,-hard to attain,
Save by Thy worthy saints, bright Gem ! While fierce fire raged,
Poison hard won from out the sea, Thou mad’st Thy food, O Azure-throat! (128)
33) Pardon my waywardness !
That I wished to do I did,-wine of Thy grace I drank,-rejoiced;-
Then swerved ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! Thy fragrant flowery Foot,
As in the days of old Thou gav’st, command and bid me serve !
Take me, my Father ! O remove this wayward FOND DESIRE ! (132)
34) I was fickle and self-witted
Sitirred by no strong DESIRE I did my will, nor clung to Thine !
And, lo ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME ! When wilt Thou yet as wine
Of joy meet me, and all my mind with fragrant sweetness fill,
As of the plantain fruit,-TRANSCENDENT LORD of Kailai’s hill ? (136)
35) I am, though faulty, Thine !
TRANSCENDENT LORD, with Thine own ancient saints, me faulty one
Thou didst desire ! O Aran, yet LO ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME !-
Thou didst me place near Thee, like the hare spots thou wear’st,-
O mighty Warrior ‘gainst birth’s five-mouth’d snake, my soul would shun! (140)
36) Quench sensual fires.
Like flames in forest glade sense-fires with smoky glare burn fierce !
I burn ! LO, THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! O conquering King of heaven,
The garlands on Whose braided lock drip honey, while the bees
Hum softly ‘mid MandAra buds, whence fragrant sweetness breathes. (144)
37) Is there no pity?
O King, to me poor ignorant, ‘Fear not for faults,’ Thou didst
Not say, but HAST FORSAKEN ME, O Thou with fragrance crowned !
Spouse of the sea-born maid with sparkling gems and jet-black eyes !
Bhuyangan ! Golden Foot ! My ‘deeds’ PRESS round like clustering hills. (148)
38) I have erred through weakness.
By senses PRESSED, fearing I left Thee, weak to quit the charms
Of sweet-voiced maids. Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou radiant Beam
King of the burning ground; Ambrosia to Thy worshippers;
Hard to be gained; sole HELP, removing loneliness of lonely me ! (152)
39) Help me in this conflict with flesh.
SOLE HELP, whilst Thou wert there I wandered wanton,-‘deeds’ my help !
THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME, Thou Helper of my guilty soul;
Thou Source of all my beings bliss; Treasure that never fails !
No whit bear I this grievous body’s mighty NET ! (156)
40) The pain of sensuality.
Caught by those eyes whose timid glance is like fawn’s in the NET,
‘Wildered I grieved. Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! Thou on Whose head
The pale moon’s crescent thin is seen ! Ocean of grace ! Thou Lord
Of Kailai’s hill ! Spouse of the mountain Maid ! Source Of my being’s joy ! (160)
41) Woe is me, in this vile fleshy prison.
In the hot flood of lust for those of ruddy lips, like crocodiles,-
I eager plunged. Lo ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! This body foul,
Ant-eaten, I endure not; Civan, list to my complaint !
Thou Bridegroom of the beauteous Bride; my joyous Goal of bliss ! (164)
42) Grace once given, now withdrawn.
Thou gav’st indeed to me in grace to gain my goal, Thy Feet;-
Yet THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME, not fated to shake off this flesh !
The moon beheld the serpent bright in skull-cave hid, and feared;-
Then plunging hid his swelling crest within Thy braided lock, O KING ! (168)
43) I adore Thee, though forlorn.
O KING, to wretched me, who know not any path, the Light
Of joy ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME !-Thou the true VEdic Lord
To me didst speak, Who passed speech ! To steadfast worshippers,
Thou art the First, the Last too,-Thou this universal Whole !(172)
44) Tormented by lust.
Like oil was I poured in fierce fire of glancing dartlike eyes,-
LO ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME! Whose word erst joined me to Thy saints,
Who ever worship at Thy fragrant flowery Feet; my Lord !
My Master, faulty though I am, forsake me not ! Thee will I SING. (176)
45) Spiritual desertion
I SANG Thee not, nor worshipped Thee, O hidden Gem,-nor left this flesh.
LO ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! All wonderment I wept, yet sought Thee not,
Nor, ‘Where is Civan,’ ‘Who hath seen Him?’ did I haste to ask.
I lay supine, my soul no raptures knew;-I suffered sore ! (180)
46) Still will I adore the mysteries of Thy nature.
Like fly in jack-fruit caught, I fell a prey to fawn-eyed maids !
LO ! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME ! But if Thou leave, I’ll utter loud reproach !
I’ll call Thee ‘Black-throat,’ ‘Who ate poison from the sea,’ ‘The Unqualified,’
‘The man,’ ‘Crowned with the waning moon,’ ‘The mighty God gone wrong.’ (184)
47) Various wanderings.
The ancient worship of Thy blameless Feet I gained; then fell;
Reviled Thee; woke once more; and, LO ! THOU HAST FORSAKEN ME !
Greatness, that heavenly Ganga stirs to shed bright gems and pearls !
Thy WREATH’S the crescent in the water seen, caught in Thy braided lock ! (188)
48) I will boast Thy name.
Hero, Who wear’st the fiery snake-WREATH on Thy starlike head !
Lo I THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME; But if Thou leave when others ask
‘Whose servant Thou ?’ ‘Slave of the glorious slaves
Of Uttara-kOca-mangai’s King,’ I’ll name myself, and cause them SMILE at Thee. (192)
49) Ever praising.
I’ll make them SMILE, unfolding faults and service to the Lord !
Lo! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME; but if Thou leave, I shall ABUSE Thee sore !
‘Madman, clad in wild elephant’s skin;’ ‘Madman, with hide for his garb
‘Madman, that ate the poison;’ ‘Madman of the burning-ground-fire
‘Madman, that chose even me for His own !’ (196)
ABUSING Thee or praising,-crushed by sin, and grieved am I !
LO! THOU’ST FORSAKEN ME, Thou Brightness on red coral hill !
Thou madst me Thine; didst fiery poison eat, pitying poor souls,
That I might Thine ambrosia taste,-I, meanest one ! (200)