Tillai.- In the legends of the Sage it appears that he did not visit Tillai till he had seen the other shrines of Caiva worship, and had become renowned both as a devotee and as a poet. It almost appears as if there existed some rivalry between the great temple of the Pandiyan land in Madura, and the famous shrine of he Cora land in Cithambaram. It is quite certain that this latter in great measure superseded the former. It does not appear, indeed, that Manikka-Vacagar ever revisited Madura after his formal renunciation of his position there. It may almost be inferred that he was never heartily forgiven by the king for the misappropriation of the cost of the horses. Of the fifty-one poems about a half were composed in Tillai, and these may be divided into two classes: the lyrics that express his own feelings and illustrate his life; and those which were composed (as is believed) for the use of others. I wish that it had been possible to re-arrange the poems.
Among the Tillai lyrics are to be found his most impassioned utterances. With this poem (XXXI) must be compared (XL), both of them expressing his enthusiastic joy at being permitted at length to behold the greatest shrine of his Master.
Tillai in the time of the Sage was to the devotees of Civan what Jerusalem was to the Jews of old; and many of the expressions in these two lyrics will remind the reader of Psalm cxxii; and not a few of the expressions are identical with those in the rhyme often attributed to Bernard of Morlaix. One is frequently reminded of ‘Jerusalem the Golden, with milk and honey blest.’
In senses’ power, sure cause of death, I erewhile ‘wildered lay,-
Oft wrapt through realms of boundless space, then plunged in dismal hells!
He gave perception clear, made me all bliss,- made me His own!
I’VE TILLAI SEEN that holds the Gem, which endless rapture yields! || 4 ||
Enmeshed in grievous memories of deeds and fated births
Outworn I lay; nor knew my soul one faintest thought of Him,
The Matchless One, Who cuts off ‘birth’; Who made me His with power!
HIM HAVE I SEEN IN TILLAI’S COURT, where worships all the world! || 8 ||
His form I knew not,- even then He fixed His love on me,
Planted Himself within my thought and flesh,- so made me His!
The Lord of sacred Turutti, I, currish slave, with joy
HAVE SEEN IN TILLAI’S FANE ADORNED, the sweet and blissful seat! || 12 ||
To me, untaught, most ignorant, the very lowest cur,
In mighty grace He came, with heavenly beauty me to clothe,
And loosed my ‘servile bonds of sense’ in sight of many men;
His form I’VE SEEN IN TILLAI’S TEMPLE COURT, where all bow down! || 16 ||
Me whirled about ‘mid ‘caste’ and ‘clan’ and ‘birth’, and sore perplexed,-
Vile helpless dog,- He made His own, all sorrow rooting out;
Destroyed all folly,- alien forms,- all thought of ‘I’ and ‘mine’;
Ambrosia pure, HIM HAVE I SEEN IN TILLAI, where the saints consort! || 20 ||
From birth itself, from sickness, age to ‘scape; earth’s ties to loose;
I went,- I SAW the ‘Only-First-One,’ Owner of the world,
Who dwells, while Vedic sages, hosts of heavenly ones adore,
IN TILLAI-CITY’S SACRED COURT, girt round with leafy groves. || 24 ||
My servile bonds of sense in grace He loosed,- me loveless mean,-
Fast tied He to His sacred Feet by willing mind’s stout bonds,
That never part; made me a fool in sight of men; and now
I’VE TILLAI SEEN, where sportings of the wondrous Mage are known. || 28 ||
Sunk here midst infinite conceits, all ignorance was I;
I lay, poor empty soul, unwetting aught that might spring forth;
Now Him who made me His, bestowing raptures infinite,
I’VE SEEN IN TILLAI, where the guileless heavenly ones bow down! || 32 ||
To me, a dog, who knew not anything of seemly right,
He gave His heavenly grace, took me and cut off actions’ guilt;
He gave unfailing love: light high and higher shone; Him I
IN TILLAI’S COURT HAVE SEEN, where the four mystic scrolls are conned! || 36 ||
The elements, the senses five, He is; and substance too.
All diverse forms He, mighty, wears: knows no diversity.
The gleaming Light that rules, and ill destroys; the Emerald;
HIM HAVE I SEEN IN TILLAI BRIGHT, where Vedas worship and extol! || 40 ||