Sitting on its sandy shore, like a child, I marveled at the vastness and depth of the ocean of “Thiruppugazh”. Beneath the vast layer of this ocean, lay precious and priceless treasure of value. I took few steps ahead and remained under the spell of Thiruppugazh for a while. However, like a child not daring to venture deep, I managed to procure whatever little stones and gems I could lay my hands on and returned to share the wealth with my friends. My book, “Thiruppugazh: Glory to Lord Muruga” is a humble attempt at sharing the knowledge that I gathered from the shores of the ocean of Thiruppugazh. I would be happy if the book prompts others to go deeper and obtain more wealth.
The book deals with the life and times of saint Arunagirinathar, his immortal works, Thiruppugazh; its significance as a set of prayer, its power as panacea for all ills, its importance as an expression of devotion, its value as a philosophy of life, its doctrine as a means of God realization and its eminence as an outstanding work of literature. Part II of the book contains translation of Kandhar Anubhuti which is considered as the quintessence of all Arunagirinathar’s works and Kandhar Alamgaram that vividly describes the infinite divine qualities of Muruga, his enormous powers, his weapon, Vel (lance), his transport, Mayil (peacock) and his banner, Seval (rooster).
“Thiruppugazh is a musical mantra, powerful enough to transform a life into one of enlightenment and bliss.” said Sri Seshadri Swamigal. “Oh Arunagiri, who else can compose a word of truth as beautifully as you”, said saint Thayumanavar. “Oh Thiru Perur Kumara, as your enchanting body is adorned with garlands weaved by Arunagiri, I feel the aroma of fragrance from you”, said Chidambara Swamigal. “The songs of Thiruppugazh are so powerful that they would reverberate all over the world and kindle the light of devotion in one‘s heart”, said Arunachala Reddiyar. It is a great privilege and blessings to be able to author book on a subject such as Thiruppugazh which has been hailed by great saints and seers, which, as a prayer is believed to have the divine sanction of Lord Muruga Himself and described by pundits as an outstanding work of devotion. But for the grace of Muruga, the task such as this would never have been possible.
This website, which was first created to introduce the book, reflects my own spiritual journey. It started with Tiruvannamalai, the abode of Arunachala from where Arunagirinathar prayed for and received enlightenment. “Bless me with the bliss of true knowledge”, the saint had sung (“Arul Jnana Inbam Athu Purivaye”). That heralded the beginning of a journey in quest of knowledge, the journey that followed the foot-steps of Sri Arunagirinathar, his life and works. The divine journey has taken me to new vistas, the experience of Arut Perum Jyothi Thani Perum Karunai. It was a rejuvenating experience treading the path of Arut Prakasa Vallalar, the path of Sudha Sanmarga, the path shown by the Divine Grace of Light. I recalled the song of Sri Suddhananda Bharathi, “Eppadi Paadinaro” where he said: “Overwhelmed by devotion, Arunagirinathar and Arul Jyothi Vallal rendered songs in beautiful Tamil verses. Oh Lord Siva, bless me to sing thy praise with equal fervour”. (Arunagirinatharum Arul Jyothi Vallalum, Karunai Kadal Perugi Kadhalinal Urugi, Kanni Thamizh Sollinal Inithunai Anudhinam, Eppadi Padinaro) I too prayed in the same lines and was blessed to sing the glory of Vallalar through my book “Arul Prakasa Vallalar, the Saint of Universal Vision’. The book was released by Padma Bushan, Dr N. Mahalingam; an honour this writer would cherish in his memory for ever.
When I reflect on the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, in the background of my own Thiruppugazh experience, I find that there is a remarkable resemblance between Saint Arunagirinathar and Sri Ramana Maharshi. Though the paths pursued by them were different, there was a common factor that united them. Sri Arunagirinathar said that he experienced the presence of Muruga at the northern side of the temple of Arunachala (Arunai Thiru Gopurathe Antha Vayilukku Vada Arukil Sendru Kandu Konden). Around 500 years later, Sri Ramana Maharshi came exactly here and attained Self realization. While Lord Muruga appeared as a saviour and initiated Sri Arunagirinathar to saint-hood, Lord Arunachala appeared as a stranger and enlightened his devotee, Sri Ramana. Both of them went through ‘a death experience’. While Sri Ramana Maharshi contemplated on the question of death and realized that death occurs only to the body, Arunagirinathar went to the doors of death till he realized that he had a specific role to perform. Though they went different paths; the path of devotion by Sri Arunagirinathar and the path of Jnana by Sri Ramana Maharshi, we find that one often crossed the path of other. Arunagirinathar who took the path of devotion composed a remarkable work of Jnana by the name of Kandar Anubhuti and Ramana Maharshi who took the path of Jnana composed a remarkable work of devotion by the name of “Akshara Mana Malai”. There is a common thread that united these two different works. In Kandar Anubhuti, Arunagirinathar mentions about the advice he received from Lord Muruga and the essence of this advice was “Summa Iru” (Be quiet and still). He said he knew no other means to realize God but the path of silence, solitude and stillness. (Summa Iru Sol Ara Enralume, Amma Porul Onrum Arinthilane Kandar Anubhuti 12) Years later, in his composition, “Akshara Mana Malai”, Sri Ramana Maharshi said: “Oh Arunachala, you remained still, not uttering any word, as if signaling a message, without uttering in words; the message of silence. (Sollathu Solli Nee Sol Ara Nillenru Summa Irunthai Arunachala (Akshara Mana Malai 36). We find many areas where the two great saints echo the same voice. In Kandar Anubhuti Arunagirinathar says: “Oh Muruga, you have swallowed the person who was masquerading as “I” with the result that the real “I” in me stood independently, conscious of my Self (Yaan Akiya Ennai Vizhungi Verum Thanai Ninrathu Tharparame (Anubhuti 60). In Akshara Mana Malai, Sri Ramana Maharshi said: “Oh Arunachala, I was hungry and came to you hoping that you would satisfy my hunger but instead you have swallowed ‘me’. (Sappadunnai Saarntha Unavayyan Santhamai Povan Arunachala..A.M.Malai 28). Smt. Santha Rajan and Sri Sundara Rajan have brought out an excellent book in which they find the fragrance of Thiruppugazh in every 108 verses of Akshara Mana Malai.
The voluminous work of Thiruppugazh which highlights the value of Jnana and devotion cannot be the work of any human and it is believed that Lord Siva himself manifested as Arunagirinathar to sing the praises of his son Muruga. Similarly, there is a view that Lord Muruga has manifested as Sri Ramana Maharshi; a view to which Sri T.K. Sundaresa Iyer, an ardent disciple, fully subscribed. He cited a Sanskrit Sloka in praise of Muruga after substituting the word Ramana wherever the word Muruga appeared. The song originally addressed to adore Muruga as the Destroyer of Ignorance, the Cave Dweller, the resident in the cave of heart and as one who brought pure awareness applied ideally to Sri Ramana Maharshi as well. Sri Sachidananda Swamigal who pioneered the Thiruppugazh movement explained his experience at Ramanshramam thus: “I was sitting in the corner of the Ashram hall with eyes closed, engrossed in reciting Thiruppugazh songs. When I opened my eyes, I could not believe my eyes. Maharshi was standing before me with his Dhanda in his hand. For a moment, I experienced Palani Dhandayuthapani was standing right in front of me.”
Maharshi’s teachings appealed to everyone because it touched the divine natural state of every human being. It said Self as the ever existing reality that causes all movements just as the sun causes movements on earth. It is the consciousness illumined by the Self that make the body, mind and senses to function. The Self which gives the consciousness of our existence is eternal, it is beyond the body and mind, beyond time and space and he who realizes it is truly liberated. This voice of Ramana Maharshi is now heard at Ramanasramam, at Tiruvannamalai and all over the world. I am sharing my impression of Bhagavan’s teachings from my limited perspective in my book “Reflections on Sri Ramana Maharshi”; I hope by the grace of Muruga, this book would see the light of the day. So, the journey which started by tracing the life of Arunagirinathar at Tiruvannamalai seems to have come a full circle and culminated at Tiruvannamalai itself.
The book, “Thiruppughazh: Glory to Lord Muruga” is all sold out and a revised edition is under print. In this improved version, I have given translations and detailed interpretations of Kandar Anubhuti and Kandar Alamgaram. Some new chapters have been added. You would also find translation of Subramanya Bhujangam composed by Adi Sankara. I hope this book would soon find a place in the book stall near you.
Let us seek Jnana wherever it comes from, be it from scriptures, from Guru, from Dhyana, from Upasana, from Satsang, from Nama Sangeerthanam, from Thiruppugazh Isai Vazhipadu or from world wide web but at some stage you can skip it all because ultimately you get your vision from within. Carl Jung had said “He who looks outside dreams and he who looks inside awakens.”
Oh Lord, lead me from unreal to real,
from darkness to light,
from death to immortality.
May there be peace, peace and perfect peace.