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The Age of Manicka-Vachakar

The Age of Manicka-Vachakar

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Published by Shanmugasundaram
The Age of Manicka-Vachakar
The Age of Manicka-Vachakar

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Published by: Shanmugasundaram on Aug 25, 2013
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With an account of the third academy at Madura.By S. A. Tirumalai Kolundu Pillai. B. A., Thompson & Co., Madras, 1899, Price Rs. 2
It is quite opportune that Mr. Tirumalaikolundu has brought out this work and he hasappropriately dedicated it to the Rev. Doctor G. U. Pope, the Veteran Tamil Scholar and thetranslator of Saint Manicka Vachakar’s Hymns. The author tries to follow and further theresearches carried on by scholars like the Professors Sundaram Pillai and Seshagiri Sastrigal,and in doing so bestows unlimited praise on the former, and depreciates too much the work of the latter Mr. T. K. Pillai should have taken a leaf from Professor Sundaram Pillai himself asto the purely, scholarly and gentlemanly way he treats the authors from whom he had differed and severely criticized, and we regret very much indeed the tone Mr. T. K. Pillai has adopted in dealing with Professor Seshagiri’ s views. The latter is a great scholar and Philologist, and one who has spent his precious time and money for the sake of the Tamil language and literature, and proposes to de even greater things, provided he can command time and moneyand it is therefore unmannerly to treat his views as mistakes other than honest. We do not saythat the learned Professor has not committed mistakes and in a perfectly untrodden field, likethe Tamil, who could not commit mistakes? And we are not sure if even Professor SundaramPillai did believe in the existence of the Sangam; and all the evidence accumulated by Mr. T.K. Pillai only goes to show that there is very strong tradition in support of it and that about adozen of the Sangam Pundits could be shown to be contemporaries by mutual reference in their works. And the value of such evidence cannot be said to be conclusive. Nothing is gained byassuming a fighting attitude, and moderation is quite consistent with one’s feeling of patriotismand truth; and the author would have done well to remember the motto he has himself chosen.In other respects, the small volume before us shows considerable study and patientresearch among the almost forgotten times of the Tamil ancient classics, and it is only to behoped that the author will pursue in right earnest the path he had chosen and show greater results as time passes. To go into the contents of the book, the author remarks that it can beeasily shown that the
Religion was the most ancient religion of India, and especially of the Tamil land and refers to the position occupied by the four great Acharyas.
, and 
in the conflicts with the Buddhists and the Jain Religions, and to the great adoration paid to these Saints in the Tamil land. There is aTemple specially dedicated to the worship of Saint Manickavachaka, in which grand festivalsare celebrated in his name, namely, Tiruperundurai or Avadayar Coil, about some 20 miles tothe south of Pudukota. He points out how much he had influenced the poetry of 
, but this is only mentioning one out of the whole body of the Tamil singers and  poets both Saiva and Vaishnava who have come after him.
is the Tamil equivalentof 
and one beginning to read the former newly discovers how almost every line
of it is full of the sound and sense of the latter. Saint Thayumanar owes not a little to SaintManickavachakar; and the late Ramalinga Swamigal of Vadalur was a special votary of his,and his
is but a commentary on
. Mr. Pillai also refers to the pleasing lines* in
in which Professor Sundaram showers his praise onTiruvachakam.*[*
.”In the heart-melting sin-removing Tiruvachakam once losing, can one blindly bellowforth in ganam and Jadai of Vedic chants.]The sources for compiling the biography of the Saint are mainly
Kadavul mahamuni’sVathavurar puranam
and Paranjoti muni’s
and the corresponding work in Sanskrit,
 Halasya Mahatmyam
. The great Pandit Minakshisundaram Pillai’s work,Tiruperundurai Puranam, though a work of art, is of no historical importance. Our author fixesthe upper limit for Saint Manickavachakar’s age as the beginning of the second century after Christ or the close of first century and all things considered this time so fixed does not seem to be extravagantly too near or too remote.The first point he urges to prove the priority of Saint Manickavachaka over SaintGnana-Sambantha is an old argument which we ourselves urged in a letter to Professor P.Sundaram Pillai, namely, that Jainism was of a later growth from Buddhism and was of a later introduction into Southern India and flourished more vigorously in the South even about the 6& 7
centuries at the time of the Chinese travelers visit to Southern India, though by that time,Buddhism was in a great decline. But we were told that it was quite certain that Jainism was anoff-shoot of Buddhism and that it was as old and independent as Buddhism itself and that itsintroduction into Southern India was much earlier. But this we may point out that as theBuddhist disputants are stated to have come directly from Ceylon to meet and vanquish SaintManickavachaka it would seem to point to a time when Buddhists had not settled themselvesin the Tamil land and very near to the time of the introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon itself,which would in fact make his time earlier than the first century. And our author further notesthat our Saint must have influenced by the Sangam Poets, and that the great commentatorsfreely quote from
and had commented on
, whereas no referencesare given from the
. Saint Appar’s Devaram contains a reference to the incident of the jackals having been transformed into horses, a story which we meet nowhere else than in SaintManickavachakar’s life. And he quotes parallel lines from Saint Appar’s
and from
to show how far Saint Appar’s language had also been influenced by the latter,such as.
” (St. M).
” (St. A).
The author then goes into the much debated question connected with the Vanni treemiracle and he agrees with Professor Sundaram Pillai in thinking that the Thiruvilayadal storyconnecting
Gnana Sambantha
with the Purambayam* tradition is not correct.[*
is not to be translated “spot where many charities were performed,” but its true meaning is found in a similar sentence occurring in the Devara Hymn of TirugnanaSambanthar 
” “
Thou explained the nature of Dharma to the Four great Rishis
was not identified by Professor Sundaram Pillai, but this is a smalltown near Kumbakonam; and referring to the
Kshetra Mahimai
, we find the local traditionfollows the Thiruvilayadal account and the name of the Local God is called 
, ‘TheWitness-Lord,’ and the strictly limited his sacred history to whatever could be gathered byinternal evidence from the Devaram itself, and it is well-known he has omitted many another well-known local tradition. And in none of the hymns connected with
is thereany reference to Gnanasambanthar’s miracle, though the miracle is set forth in the Hymnconnected with Maruganur near Negapatam.Then he discusses the vexed question why Saint Manickavachakar’s name is omitted in the list of saints by Saint Sundarar and those who followed him, and he suggests that it wasincluded in the class enumeration of “
” referring to theSangam Poets such as Narkirar, Kabilar and Paranar, &c. All that we can say is that this is notimprobable, though the reason that the name is omitted for the reason that Saint Sundarar himself scrupled to call him an
servant of God, in as much as Saint Manickavachakar represents the Highest Path of 
when no separate identity is perceivable as servantand Lord, cannot be left out of account altogether.The rest of the pamphlet is taken up with the discussion as to the existence of the TamilSangam and the author shows that 11 at least of the 49 Sangam Poets were contemporaries, butthe author himself is not prepared to accept the tradition that these very 49 poets lived for 1850years, but he suggests that there were 49 seats always provided in the Sangam and by thesenames and that different individuals assumed these names, and filled it from time to time. Or rather would it not be more reasonable to hold, that these 49 poets were the chiefest lights of the last Sangam which flourished for about 1000 years and more and who have left the stampof their genius for ages to come, though some of these might have been contemporaries also.When giving an account of a public Sabha and giving the names of those present, it is onlycustomary to mention the leading persons and not all. Much reliance cannot be place on the 49 poets having sung the praises of Tiruvalluvar, and literary forgeries are only too commonamong our people. As an instance, a small book also called “
” is attributed to

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