You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : December 1998

Re: information on Tiruvempavai

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Thu Dec 17 1998 - 12:50:36 PST

Sri K.M. Narayanan wrote:
> Thiruvembavai is not in the vaishnavaite literature at all.

> it is written by saivaite nayanmar(Manikka vachakar?) exactly as in the 
> same lines of tiruppavai of Sri.Andal on Siva.

> it also deals about the paavai nonbu aspect , but on saivaite bakthi .

Tiruvembaavai is by the Saiva saint Maanikka vaacakar, as stated
above.  Maanikka vaacakar's time period is dated by scholars
as being two or three centuries after Andal. He is also well after
the three primary Tamil Saiva saints, Appar, Sundarar, and
Jnana Sambandhar.  After him, in the Tamil Saiva tradition,
the mudhal moovar (first three) became naalvar or four.

I am no Tamil scholar, but it seems to me that Maanikka 
vaacakar was very much influenced by the poetic themes of
the Divya Prabandham.  He composed a Tiruppalliezhucci
on the same lines as Tondar-adi-podi Alvar, ending each
verse with the same refrain as the latter, "emberumaan
paLLi ezhundhu aruLaayE".  But perhaps this was a common 
refrain used in sangam court poetry in honor of kings.

Maanikka vaacakar's Tiruvembaavai is only 20 verses, and
is similar to Andal's Tiruppaavai. However, the "paavai
nonbu" theme suffers a bit in his work, in my opinion.
In Saivism, there is no tradition analogous to the
gopikAs of Brindavana who did penance to achieve union
with Krishna.  Therefore, Maanikka vaacakar makes the
women of his poem perform the nonbu to attain Siva-bhaktas
as their husbands.  This to me is a little contrived,
and indicates that the saint wanted to compose a Saiva
work on the same lines as Andal's Tiruppaavai.

One other difference is that Maanikka vaacagar does not
have any introductory verses discussing the nature of the nonbu,
the fruit, etc., straightaway proceeding to wake the lazy
girls up early in the morning to worship Siva.  Andal spends
the first five verses of the Tiruppaavai discussing the
reason, nature, and goal of the nonbu.