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thiru mazhisai aazhvaar and sivavaakkiyar

From: Badrinarayanan Seshadri (
Date: Wed Dec 27 1995 - 11:01:27 PST

thamizh words in this mail follow the madhurai transliteration

The vowels are

a  aa/A  i  ii/ee/I  u  oo/U  e  E  ai  o  O   au/ow  ah

The consonants are

k/g  c/ch/s  t    th   p    R
NG   NY      n^   N    m    n
y    r       l    v    zh   L

Some more naturally parsable combinations will be used which
can be easily resolved using the thamizh grammar. Thus 'n^'
will be replaced by a mere 'n' if it occurs in the beginning
of the word and 'panchu' instead of 'paNYchu', 'sangu' instead
of 'saNGgu' etc. will be used.


In the life history of thiru mazhisai aazhvaar (TMA) in my
copy of the 4000, there was a reference that TMA learnt and
followed various disciplines (vedic as well as non-vedic)
until eventually he was converted to vaishnavam by

Elsewhere, (in the book "The smile of Murugan - On Tamil
literature of South India by K.Zvelebil, pp 229) I saw the
following footnote:

     A strange story (in Kuruparampara pirapavam, ed.
     K.Kirusnamacariyar, 1909) maintains that Civavakkiyar the
     siddha converted to Vaisnavism and became one of the
     greatest Vaisnava poets under the name Tirumalicai
     Alvar. It is a fact that his poems are in tiruccanta
     viruttam metre just like the poems of the Vaisnava poet;
     even more curious is the fact that there is a number of
     stanzas ascribed to both the poets which are nearly
     identical. Were these two indeed one and the same person,
     or did the iconoclast Saivite cittar copy the Vaisnava

I intend to learn more about this. If any of you happen to
know more on this, please do share them with me. To give a
flavour of poems associated with each, here is one famous
verse from sivavaakkiyar:

kaRandha paal mulaippukak kadaindha veNNey mOrpuka
utaindhu pOna san_kinOsai uyirkaLum udaRpuka
virindha poo udhirndha kaayum meentu pOy marampuka
iRandhavar piRappadhillai illai illai illaiyE!

[Milk doesn't go back to the udder, nor butter back to buttermilk.
 The life that comes out when a sea-shell breaks
                             doesn't go back to the shell either!
 A blown flower or a fallen fruit never returns back to the tree!
 Likewise, the dead are never reborn, never, never, never, never!]

Here is another one:

akaara kaaraNaththilE an^Ekan^Eka roopamaay
ukaara kaaraNaththilE uruththaRiththu ninRanan
makaara kaaraNaththilE mayangukiRa vaiyakam
sikaara kaaraNaththilE theLindhadhE sivaayamE!

Through the sound 'a', he stands in many many forms
Through the sound 'u', he takes on many shapes
Through the sound 'm', the universe is confused
Through the sound 'si', however,
   the confusion is cleared and 'sivaayam' remains.

The first letters of the verse taken together shows
"aum si(vaya nama)".

One can see even more amazing, and obscure symbolism in thiru
mazhisai aazhvaar's thiruch chandha viruththam. There was a
posting by Parthasarati Dileepan earlier. I haven't saved that
posting and can not find it offhand from the archives with
Mani. thiru mazhisai aazhvaar uses numbers all over his poems
which needs careful study:

aaRum aaRum aaRumaay or ainthum ainthum ainthumaay,
ERuseer iraNdum moonRum Ezhum aaRum ettumaay,
vERu vERu NYaanam aagi meyyinodu poyyumaay,
ooRodu Osaiyaaya ainthum aaya aaya maayanE!      (TCV - 2)

I can't provide a meaning right away since I do not know the
meaning and is just too complicated and I do not have any
commentaries with me.

Rough literal meaning goes like:

Oh Lord with magical powers born in a shepherd family! You became (?)
a six, a six and another six, a five, a five and another five
in syllables, a two, a three, a seven, a six and an eight
You became of various knowledge, truth and even falsehood too
and all the people and the sound, and a five as well !!

Now, I have no idea what various numbers above represent. The
last of the fives, I suspect are the water, earth, firmament,
fire and air. The numbered syllables could very well represent
things like 'Om', 'naarayaNaaya nama:' etc.

I hope to learn (with the help of various commentaries), the
hidden meaning in thiru mazhisai aazhvaar's works and any
possible connection between him and sivavaakiyar. I appreciate
any help from you in this connection.


Graduate Student
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Cornell University