Thiruppugazh Through Generations

Muruga worship, done through different means, is very ancient. It dates back to several centuries. From the day Muruga blessed him and Arunagirinathar composed his brilliant work of devotion, ‘Thiruppugazh’ became synonymous with Muruga worship. Thiruppugazh was hailed as wonderful verses in eastern, western, southern and northern regions even in Arunagirinathar’s time (bathargal arbudha mena vodhum….Batharganapriya). The Tiruvannamalai region King, Prabuda Thevar honoured Arunagirinathar at his royal court and Arunagirinathar helped the King to experience the presence of Muruga by rendering the song “Athala Seedanar”. We find reference to Thiruppugazh from the songs of Thayumanavar. Even though Thiruppugazh form of worship was not patronized widely for some time, it used to be rendered continuously at temples by the singers (Othuvars). It came through different generations at different levels of practice. When Sri V.T. Subramanyam Pillai and his son, Sri Chengalvarayan recognized the full value of Thiruppugazh and procured the songs and Vallimalai Sachidananda Swamigal extolled its significance, Thiruppugazh reached its pristine glory. There were also saints, scholars and luminaries who appeared at different time and highlighted the glory of Thiruppugazh, like Saint Pamban Swamigal, Sri Vaidyanatha Desikar, Sri Arunachala Reddiyar, Poet Veera Raghava Mudaliar, Poet Sahaya Devar, Sri Chidambara Munivar, Sri Kandappa Desikar, Sri T.M. Krishnaswamy Iyer, Calcutta Thiruppugazh Sri Mani Iyer, Sri Murugadas, Sri Krupananda Variyar etc. They gave new interpretation to the songs and propounded the doctrine of Thiruppugazh through various means like recitals, discourses, poems, works etc. They defined what the ideal way of devotion towards Muruga is. Thus, Thiruppugazh came through different generations, acquiring new value and new meaning at every stage.

It was during Guruji’s time, during his generation; Thiruppugazh reached its zenith of glory. Guruji’s contribution in giving Thiruppugazh the classical style of music, in creating a greater awareness and involvement is immense. New Delhi, the national capital of India from where he carried forward the Thiruppugazh culture, became a Thiruppugazh capital as well. Apart from giving each song of Thiruppugazh a distinct identity of Raga and Thala, he gave an impetus to the Thiruppugazh form of worship. He explained how by reciting the verses of Thiruppugzh with devotion one could free himself from various obstacles and reach the Lotus Feet of Muruga. The Uttara Swami Malai temple was the venue for many Thiruppugazh Satsang headed by Guruji. Gradually, the movement gained momentum. In the year 1975, on the occasion of Arunagirinathar’s Jayanthi, a grand Thiruppugazh festival was organized at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi which was attended by Sri R. Venkataraman, former President of India. The Golden Jubilee Celebration of Arunagirinathar Vizha was held at Sri Swaminatha Swamy Temple. Thanks to the initiative taken by Guruji, Thiruppugazh culture gradually spread to different parts of the country. Perhaps, Mumbai can be ranked as the first place where the Thiruppugazh movement grew by leaps and bounds. With the blessings of Chembur Murugan, Thiruppugazh recitals were held under the leadership of Sri A.S. Subramanian, known as Thiruppugazh Thatha. The rich legacy he established is carried over by his daughter and son-in-law. The Silver Jubilee of the region was celebrated in a grand scale in the year 1997. In the year 2004, Valli Kalyanam was solemnised in the temple town of Palani in a spectacular manner. Devotees from all over India came down to participate in the event.

Those who learned direct from Guruji and moved over to other places, started conducting classes from wherever they have settled. When Thiruppugazh wind was sweeping across the country, would not Chennai, already known as the ‘Thiruppugazh Thai Veedu’ (the home of Thiruppugazh), come under its spell? It began in the year 1973 with a small class at the residence of a devotee and over a period many new centres came up. Guru Samarpana Thiruppugazh Isai Vizha was conducted in a grand manner on 22nd April 2017 and many Anbargal participated in the event. The Thiruppugazh movement initiated by Bangalore Anbargal had witnessed many colourful events. Late Sri R. Venkataraman who took up an assignment at Bangalore, happened to listen to Guruji’s bhajan. He was instantly attracted by the divine power that emanated from Thiruppugazh. He established a disciplined and devoted team who carry on the Thiruppugazh legacy with great dedication. Bangalore had the honour of hosting the Golden Jubilee Celebration on 19th July 2008. Many Anbargal drawn from different parts of India participated in the event. While Sri K.N. Krishnamurthy welcomed the guests, Sri Senthil Thuravi rendered his special address and Guruji Sri Raghavan addressed the gathering. March 16, 2019 was an important day in the glorious journey of Thiruppugazh. It was on this day, the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Thiruppugazh movement of Hyderabad got on to a colourful start. Devotees from all over India participated in the event and experienced the grace of Lord Muruga.

Just as many lamps are lit from one lamp, from the voice of Guruji, many other voices were created. Now, we find teachers who acquired mastery from Guruji creating many more masters across the nation and beyond. In almost all major cities and towns in India, there is a group of Thiruppugazh Anbargal learning and singing Thiruppugazh.
Those who are blessed with the knowledge and talent and teach Thiruppugazh in accordance with the practice prescribed by Guruji are many and we avoid mentioning the names. May Lord Muruga continue to bless them to carry forward their noble mission. Guruji did not differentiate between masters who teach Thiruppugazh and students who learn Thiruppugazh. For him, all are equal before God. Once, a Thiruppugazh bhajan was organized at a school in Pusa Road, Delhi. When Guruji found arrangement made at the stage for singers and separate sitting arrangement for listeners, he said there should not be a difference between singers and listeners. All singers and listeners come under one category, ‘Thiruppugazh Anbargal”.

Changes continue to take place in this Bharat Varsha but one thing that never changes and that forms our foundation is our culture and our age-old tradition of venerating and learning from Guru (Guru Parambara). Thiruppugazh Anbargal also followed this tradition. Having learned from Guruji, they carried the Thiruppugazh tradition forward, passed it on to next generation. The Thiruppugazh Anbargal pay obeisance to Guruji and also consider the Masters who teach them with equal veneration. It is heartening to see that the tradition of learning established by Guruji is carried forward with great zeal and enthusiasm in this generation as well.