[THE GROWTH OF RAPTURE]
The Lyric of the Sacred Pandi.- Note IV should be studied as introductory to this very dramatic poem, which is in every way a remarkable composition; yet I should hardly venture to affirm that Manikka-Vacagar was its author. In order to understand it, it is necessary to call to mind the strange legend of Civan’s appearance at Madura as a horseman, or as He is here called a warrior. The first stanza is supposed to be uttered by the poet as he contemplates the God entering Madura on that occasion, surrounded by the other gods, all on splendid chargers. Civan Himself is mounted upon leader of a band of foreign merchants, the graces of the accomplished knight, and the majesty of a king. He has come, according to His promise, to save His servant from suffering, and to vindicate His fidelity. The poet in his soul adores his Deliverer and his God.
In the remaining stanzas he addresses the assembled multitude, and expounds the mystery. ‘Fear not as though it were the Avatar of some ruthless conqueror! This horseman is Civan,’- the founder, according to legend, of the dynasty of Pandiyan kings. ‘He is the abiding King of Madura, and now He comes in grace to the mortal king of Madura, Arimarttanan.’ The whole typifies the sacred war that He wages as the Pathi against the enemies and tormentors of His people’s souls. The third stanza skilfully, though by an anachronism, allegorizes the flood that Civan brought upon the city, when at His command the Vaigai overflowed its banks. In the fifth stanza he spiritualizes the idea that Civan appears here as a merchant, a seller of horses. The sixth, referring to His previous appearance at Perun-turrai, hints at His character as a Guru, a giver of spiritual light; and the whole ends with an urgent call to the people to throw aside all foolish delusions, and to march boldly forward under His banner, and accept Him as their King. The way in which the whole legend is allegorized points, it may be thought, to a later period, when the Caiva Siddhanta system had been more developed; and when, under the influence of the Santana Teachers, the whole system was being harmonized. There is here a disposition to make little of the myth, and to bring into prominence its spiritual teaching. This was the second stage of the Caiva development. This however is mere conjecture, and there seems to be scarcely any means for its absloute verification.
The metre is to my ear the most rhythmical of all the species of Tamil poetry. The student should learn to recite and enjoy the verses, if he would fully understand them!
1) The God appears, and is recognised by the Sage.
The Bridegroom of the mountain Maid,- the Pandiyan’s Ambrosia rare,-
The One,- Who is from all diverse,- I worship at His flow’ry Feet!
Made manifest in grace, He on a charger rides, and thrills my soul
In Warrior-guise ! no other form beside my inmost soul doth know ! || 4 ||
2) ‘Behold His condescension.’
They gather’d round, bewilder’d all, as in a waking dream;- I spoke:
‘Like sun that veils its beams He comes, His hand divine holds warrior’s spear.
He on a charger rides ! Ye see our race with ruin threatened sore !
‘Tis thus for Madura’s king he stays the flowing tide of future birth !’ || 8 ||
3) The Flood in Madura.
‘Ye who a soul possess that swims and bathes in rapture’s rushing tide !
A Pandi-king, He mounts His steed, to make all earth the gladness share.
He takes the form of flood of joy unique, and holds His servants’ hearts.
Plunging in flood of heavenly bliss, O cherish ye His sacred Foot!’ || 12 ||
4) The Holy War.
‘Good friends, persist not in this round of BIRTH ! This is the time ! The King
Of the good southern land shines forth, and ever draws from out its sheath
His gleaming sword of wisdom pure, His steed of rapture urges on,
Makes war with warring BIRTH through the wide world, and foes confounded flee !’ || 16 ||
5) ‘How are His good gifts to be gained:’ a merchant.
‘While there is time, give Him your love, and save yourselves ! Hate ye to Him
Who ate the poison, Whom ’tis hard for him who ate the earth,
And him of faces four, and all the heavenly ones, to draw anigh;
Who to His servants stores of grace dispenses, our good Pandi-lord !’ || 20 ||
6) ‘This is His day of grace:’ a teacher.
‘That gathering darkness may disperse, illusions cease, and all be clear,
The Splendour urges on His steed. The Minavan himself knows not
To utter all His praise. Would ye all joy obtain, seek His blest Foot !
This is the gift in rarest grace the Pandiyan gives, – RELEASE for aye ! || 24 ||
7) “He gives audience:’ a conquering king.
‘When on illusion’s charger He in beauty rides, and gathers round
His waiting hosts; the enmities whose name is “earthly birth” shall cease
To those who refuge find He gives grace, glorious, vast, inscrutable.
Draw near the South-king’s mighty Foot, Whose conquering banner proudly waves!’ || 28 ||
8) ‘Receive His gracious gift.’
‘In deathless rapture’s flood our souls He plunges, shows His changeless grace;
Drives far away our DEEDS, dissolves the bonds of old impurity;
And makes us His! Come draw ye near the Pandi-ruler’s mighty Foot.
Press forward, take the gracious boon of Him Who made the circling world !’ || 32 ||
9) The magic power of His appearing.
‘That men may cross the mingling sea of evil DEEDS and future BIRTH,
The Pandi-king supreme, Who melts the soul of those that love and praise,
Upon His charger came. When this the slender flower-like maidens knew,
Like trees they stood,- their senses rapt, themselves forgot, and all beside !’ || 36 ||
10) ‘In faith and love cling to Him.’
‘As once He conquered death, so now the five sense-kings He conquered too;
And then, in beauteous state, Himself,- and the great Goddess with Him,- sat !
Strong Warrior, on the Bull he came to Minavan, and slew his foes !
O ye of weak and wavering faith ! Draw near, hold fast His roseate Feet !’ || 40 ||