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Home / Hinduism Perspective / Hymn XV Sivapuranam Tiru Tonokkam Translation in English

Hymn XV Sivapuranam Tiru Tonokkam Translation in English

There is an amusing illustration drawn by a native artist, of this game as played in South India. Its name literally means ‘aiming at the shoulder,’ for it ends up with placing the hands of each opposing pair on the shoulders of the other. In some lines this is used as a symbol of the approach of the soul to Civan’s feet.

1) The cleansing from delusion.

The demon-car allures: ‘a stream flowing from flowery lake,’
Men think, and rush to draw, in ignorance and folly lost!
Thou hast such fond delusions far removed, O Dancer blest
In shining Tillai’s court! As we Thy roseate Foot would reach,

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 4 ||

2)

The Lord of Tillai’s court, whose glory never wanes;
Whom ‘he who hurled the calf at fruit,’ and Brahma could not see;
Lest I in endless births and deaths should sink, made me His own;
Praising His excellence, ye maids with thickly clusterig locks,

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 8 ||

3) Kannappar.

As in the worship paid true ministrations HE discerned:-
The glorious slippered-foot, the chalice-mouth, the flesh for food;-
Such gifts acceptance gained! He knew the woodman’s pure desire;
And as the saint stood there, with joyous mind, fulfilled of grace,

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 12 ||

4)

So that my stony heart was melted, He all tenderly
Compassionate stood by, and came within my soul in grace,
Led me in way of good; and then, as all the country knows,
He here drew nigh, spake with me face to face; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 16 ||

5) God manifold, yet One.

Earth, water, fire, air, ether vast, the wandering moon, the sun,
And man, – to sense revealed: EIGHT WAYS He joined Himself to me;
Throughout seven worlds, in regions ten, He moves: yet One alone
Is He! As manifold He comes and ‘bides with us; and so

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 20 ||

6) Various sectaries.

Buddhists, and others,- in their wisdom fools,- the men of many sects,
All with their systems worthless and outworn, bewildered stand;-
My every power He fills with bliss superne, makes all life’s works
Devotion true,-through His compassion, FATHER seen! And thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 24 ||

7) Candecuvara Nayanar.

The Neophyte from evil free, cut off the feet of him
Who rashly overturned the work in Civan’s honour done:
A Brahman he in caste, His father too! Through Ican’s grace,
While gods adored, his crime was utterly consumed; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 28 ||

The Legend of Candecuvara Nayanar: The Young Brahman Cowherd.- In a town in the Cora country, called Ceynalur, a Brahman boy was born, whose name was Vicara-carumar, who from his earliest days instinctively understood the whole Caiva creed; so that when the sages came to instruct him he met them with the recitation of the essential doctrines of the system, which he had grasped by a divine intuition. It may be permitted to repeat the articles of his creed, as these are summed up in the legend: ‘All souls are from everlasting fast bound in the chains of impurity. To destroy that impurity, and to give to these souls infinite felicity and eternal release, He who is eternal is revealed. He performs the five Acts of creation, preservation, destruction, “envelopment,” and gracious deliverance. He is the one Lord (Pathi), Who possesses the eight attributes of absolute independence, purity of form, spontaneous understanding, absolute knowledge, natural freedom from all bonds, infinite grace, endless might, and boundless blessedness. His name is Civan, the Great Lord. He performs his gracious acts by putting forth the energy (Catti), Who, as a person, is one with Him, and is therefore the divine Mother of all, as He is the divine Father, and must with Him be loved and worshipped. Nor can we say “we will do this in some future birth,” for we are born here as human beings for this and no other purpose; and the human form in the infinite series of transmigration is hard to attain unto. Nor should we defer till to-morrow our dedication of ourselves, since we know not the day of our death. Therefore must we avail ourselves of Civan’s gift of grace, studying the sacred Agamas and other works, without doubting, or commingling of perverse interpretation. This is the WAY of life!

One day, together with his school companions, he went down to the bank of the river where the village cows were grazing in charge of a man of the herdsman caste. This rustic, having no sense of right and wrong, beat one of the cows with a stick; but Vicara-carumar was vehemently stirred by this outrage, and rushing up to him in great wrath, restrained him from striking the sacred animal: ‘Know you not,’ said he, ‘that cows have come down from the world of Civan to this earth? In their members the gods, the sages, and the sacred purifying stream dwell. The five products of these sacred creatures are the sacred unguents of Civan. And the ashes which are the adornment of the God and his devotees are made from their refuse!’ Dwelling upon this idea he conceived a desire to devote himself entirely to the task of herding and caring for the troop of sacred cows; and accordingly sent away the rustic, who reverentially departed. And thus our hero became a self-dedicated Brahman. As such he easily obtains permission of all the Brahmans of the town to take charge of their cows, and daily along the bank of the beautiful river Manni, he leads forth his troop in the green pastures, allowing them peacefully to graze their fill, and supplying them with drinking water. When the fierce heat of the sun oppresses, he leads them into the shady groves, and guards them well, meanwhile gathering the firewood necessary for his household worship; and then at evening, leaving each cow at its owner’s door, he goes to his home.

While things went on in this manner, the cows increased daily in beauty, waxed fat, were joyous, and by day and night poured forth abundant streams of milk for their owners. The Brahmans found that they had more milk than formerly for their offerings and were glad. The cows, tended with such solicitude, were brisk and cheerful, and though separated for awhile from their calves that remained tied up in the houses, grieved not a whit, but with joy awaited the coming of their young herdsman, following him gladly, crowding around him like tender mothers, and lowing joyfully at the sound of his voice. The youthful Brahman, seeing the exuberance of their milk, reflected that this was a fitting unction for the head of the God; and conceiving a great desire so to employ it, constructed a lingam of earth on a little mound beneath the sacred Atti tree on the bank of the river, and built around it a miniature temple with tower and walls. He then plucked suitable flowers, and with them adorning the image, procured some new vessels of clay, and took from each of the cows a little milk, with which he performed the unction prescribed for the divine emblem (the Lingam); and Civan, the Supreme, looked down and received with pleasure the boy-shepherd’s guideless worship. All essentials of the sacred service he supplied by the force of his imagination. Though this was done daily, the supply of milk in the Brahman’s dairy was no whit diminished.

For a long time this continued, until some malicious person saw what was going on, and told it to the Brahmans in the village, who convened an assembly before which they summoned the boy’s father, and told him that his son Vicara-caramar was wasting the milk of the Brahmans’ sacred cows by pouring it idly on the earth in sport. The father feared greatly when he heard the accusation, but protested his entire ignorance of the waste and democration, and asking pardon, engaged to put a stop to his son’s eccentric practices. Accordingly the next day he went forth to watch the boy’s proceedings, and hid himself in a thicket on the bank of the river. He soon saw his little son ceremonionaly bathe in the river, and then proceed to his minutine of Civa-worship, and then pouring a stream of anointing milk over the earthern lingam. Thus convinced of the truth of the accusation, he was greatly incensed, and rushing forth from his concealment inflicted severe blows upon the boy, and used many reproachful words. But the young devotee’s mind was so absorbed in the worship,- so full of the rupture of mystic devotion,- that he neither perceived his father’s presence, nor heard his words, nor felt his blows. Still more incensed by the boy’s insensibility, the infatuated father raised his foot, broke the vessels of consecrated milk, and destroyed the whole apparatus of worship! This was too much for the young enthusuast to bear; the god of his adoration was insulted, and the sacred worship defiled. He regarded not the fact that it was his father, a Brahman and a guru, who was the offender; but only saw the heinous sin and insult to Civan. So with the staff in his hands he aimed a blow at the offender’s feet, as if to cut them off; and, behold, the shepherd’s staff became in his hands the Sacred Axe of Civan, and the father fell maimed and dying to the ground. The enthusiastic boy then went on with his worship as if nothing had occured, but the Lord Civan, with Umai, the goddess, riding on the sacred White Bull, immediately appeared hovering in the air. The young devotee prostrated himself before the holy vision in an ecstasy of joy; when the Supreme One took him up in his divine arms, saying, ‘For my sake thou hast smiten down the father that begat thee. Henceforth I alone am thy father,’ and embracing him stroked his body with His sacred hand, and kissed him on the brow. The form of the child thus touched by the divine hand shone forth with ineffable lustre, and the God further addressed him thus: “Thou shalt become the chief among my servants, and to thee shall be given all the offerings of food and flowers that my worshippers on Kailaca’s mountain present.’ His name there upon became Candecuvarar (‘the impetuous Lord’). The manifested God finally took the mystic cassia-wreath from His Own head, and with it crowned the youthful saint. And so he ascended to heaven with Civan, and was exalted to that divine rank. The father too, who had been guilty in his ignorance of such impiety to the God, and had been punished by the hand of his own son, was forgiven, restored, and with the whole family passed into Civan’s abode of bliss.

8)

Our pride is gone, forgotten reason’s laws; ye maidens fair!
We think but of the cinctured foot of Him, Lord of the south,
Whom heaven adores! The rapturous Dancer’s grace if we obtain,
His slaves,- even so in rapture lost, we then shall dance; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 32 ||

9)

The Three in story famed, of giant race, escaped the fire,
And guardians stand before my ‘Brow-eyed’ Father’s door; since when,
Indras beyond compute, and Brahmas || who can count the sum? ||
Behold! And many Mals, too, on this earth have died; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 36 ||

10) Vishnu’s devotion and reward

From out a thousand lotus flowers one flower was wanting still;-
His eye Mal straight dug out, and placed on Aran’s foot, our Lord!
To Him then Cankaran forthwith the mighty discus gave,-
A gracious recompense. Thus everywhere extolling Him,

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 40 ||

11) The Bhairava.

Kaman his body lost, Kalan his life, the fiery Sun his teeth,
The Goddess of the tongue her nose, Brahma a head, Agni his hand,
The Moon his crescent, Dakshan, Eccan too, a head they lost.
These holy deeds in righteous wrath He wrought; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 44 ||

12) Arunacalam.

Brahma and Hari through their foolishness said each:
‘The Deity! the Deity supreme am I;’
To quell their swelling pride, Aran in form of lustrous fire,
In grandeur measureless stood forth, the Infinite; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 48 ||

13) A wasted life.

Poor servile worshipper,- how many, many a time
I’ve watered barren soil,- not worshipping the Lord Supreme!
The Eternal-First, th’ imperishable flawless Gem, to me
Came down; and bar of my ’embodiment’ destroyed; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 52 ||

14) Deliverance.

The inner Light, past speech, the Worthiest entered within
My soul, and brought me through lust’s mighty sea that knows no shore,
And then the craving senses’ sateless vultures routed fled!
Sing how a royal path in glory was made plain; and thus

PLAY WE TONOKKAM! || 56 ||

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