Thursday, October 27, 2016

Literary Treasure - Thandialangaram - Part 1

Tamil literature is so rich with its works on Grammar with Tholkaapiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்) by Tholkaapiyar (தொல்காப்பியர்) being the oldest work on Tamil Grammar. There were other great works on Tamil Grammar during different periods of time that includes Nannool (நன்னூல்), Yapparum Kalakaarigai (யாப்பருங்கலக்காரிகை), Veera Chozhiyam (வீரசோழியம்), Maaran Alangaaram (மாறனலங்காரம்). I recently had a chance to read another great work on Tamil Grammar - Thandialangaram (தண்டியலங்காரம்). Actually it is a book on Ani Ilakkanam (அணி இலக்கணம்), the Grammar on Poetical Decorations.

Before I begin getting deeper into this, I would like to mention that I am not a scholar in Tamil nor am I an expert in Tamil Literature, so I would request the readers to bear with me if there are any mistakes or errors.


Thandialangaram is written by Thandiyaasiriyar, however not much is known about this person. Some scholars say that he was the son of Ambikapathi, son of the great poet, Kavichakravarthi Kambar making Thandiyaasiriyar the grandson of Kambar. They quote the following song as a supporting evidence of that information  


'வடதிசை யிருந்து தென்மலைக் கேகி
மதிதவழ் குடுமிப் பொதிய மால்வரை
இருந்தவன் தன்பால் அருந்தமிழ் உணர்ந்த
பன்னிரு புலவரின் முன்னவன் பகர்ந்த
தொல்காப் பியநெறி பல்காப் பியத்தும்
அணிபெறு மிலக்கணம் அரிதினில் தெரிந்து
வடநூல் வழிமுறை மரபினின் வழா அது
ஈரிரன் டெல்லையின் இகவா மும்மைப்
பாரத விலக்கணம் பண்புறத் தமீஇத்
திருந்திய மணிமுடிச் செம்பியன் அவையத்து
அரும்பொருள் யாப்பி னமைவுற வகுத்தனன்
ஆடக மன்றத்து நாடக நவிற்றும்
வடநூ லுணர்ந்த தமிழ்நூற் புலவன்
பூவிரி தண்பொழிற் காவிரி நாட்டு
வம்பவிழ் தெரியல் அம்பி காபதி
மேவருந் தவத்தினிற் பயந்த
தாவருஞ் சீர்த்தித் தண்டியென் பவனே.'


However some other scholars say that is a different person who lived in a period earlier than Kambar. Most people agree that he lived during the period of Kulothunga Cholan II of the 12th century


Thandialangaram consists of 3 parts


  1. பொதுவியல் - Describes the general rules/grammar about poetic decorations
  2. பொருளணியியல் - Describes the different types of expression/meaning
  3. சொல்லணியியல் - Describes the various forms of word usage


When one reads the Thandialangaram, they can not just see the grammatical rules of the languages but appreciate the beauty of the language as well, as to how flexible and creative it can be. The following song illustrates such a beauty of the Tamil language

ஓங்க லிடைவந் துயர்ந்தோர் தொழவிளங்கி
ஏங்கொலிநீர் ஞாலத் திருளகற்றும் ஆங்கவற்றுள்
மின்னேர் தனியாழி வெங்கதிரோன் றேனையது
தன்னே ரிலாத தமிழ்

Ongal Idai Vandhu Uyarndhor Thozha Vilangi
Yaengoli Neer Gnalathu Irul Agatrum Aangavatrul
Minnaer Thannazhi Ven Kadhiron Yaenayadhu
Thannaeriladha Thamizh


meaning, The ones that rise from the mountains and worshipped by all great men, illuminate and enlighten this world covered by the high seas; One is the electrifying and the bright Sun, the other is the language Thamizh. The analogy here is that the Sun rises above the mountains and removes out the darkness from the world, likewise, Tamil, which originated from the Kudagu Mountains removes the darkness of ignorance and enlightens the mind.


Thandialangaram is so dense and vast that it has figures of speech, poetic decorations which can be discussed at length and there are many books written with the explanation for its contents. However, in this post, we will get on to the more interesting bits first.


Tamil poetry primarily has four forms - Aasu Kavi (ஆசுகவி), Madhura Kavi (மதுரகவி), Chithira Kavi (சித்திரக்கவி),  Viththaara Kavi (வித்தாரக்கவி). Aasu Kavi is spontaneous overflow where the poet sings the song on the spot complying to the grammatical rules, these songs can be one of the other three forms as well. Madhura Kavi is a song that has a good rhyme. Chithira Kavi is the poem that can be represented in a drawing. Viththaara Kavi is the form that has a song within a song, for example, if the odd letters are gathered, it forms one poem and if the even letters are gathered it gives another poem, as a whole the song itself is one poem - there are many such permutations which we will see in the upcoming posts. 

One of the sections that Thandialangaram describes is the Chithira Kavi, a poetic form, that can be represented as a drawing. Such form of poetry are classified as Rathabandham, Thani naaga bandham, Irattai Naaga Bandham, Komoothri Bandham, Murasu bandham, Chakkara Bandham etc The Rathabandham or the Chithira Thaer can be found in this post. The others, we will see here in this post


Komoothri Bandham


This is an interesting form of Chithira Kavi where the poem can be read in different ways yet we read the same poem

பருவ மாகவி தோகன மாலையே
பொருவி லாவுழை மேவன கானமே    
மருவு மாசைவி டாகன மாலையே
வெருவ லாயிழை பூவணி காலமே

Paruvam Aaga Idho Ganam Maalaiyae
Poruvila Uzhai Meivana Kaanamae
Maruvum Aasai Vidaa Ganam Maalaiyae
Veruvu Alaa Aayizhai Poovani Kaalamae


meaning, the friend of the lady in the song, is consoling her because her husband/lover has gone away on some business and has not returned yet. The friend says that season the lady’s husband mentioned he will return has started to show up - which is, the clouds of rain has gathered, the deer in the forest are seen and so, not to worry that the man will soon be there to adorn her with the garlands
   
The poem above is drawn as shown in the following diagram, the first two lines are written in the top row and the second two line are written in the bottom row.  


Komoothri Bandham - High resolution picture HERE.

There is another way to read this poem. For the first two-lines follow the orange line and for the second two-lines follow the blue line in the diagram.


Ko - Ox, Cow, Moothri - Urine. Meaning when the ox urinates while walking, the urine’s path will be zigzag. Likewise the drawing to interpret the song resembles the zigzag pattern of the urine and hence the name

Maalai maatru (Palindromes)

Tamil language has its own share of Palindromes at least a thousand years ago. A Palindrome is a textual construct that reads the same even in the reverse



நீவாத மாதவா தாமோக ராகமோ
தாவாத மாதவா நீ'

Neevaadha Maa Dhava Thaa Moga Raagamo

Thaavadha A Maadhu Ava Nee

meaning, You are a great person with an undisturbed meditation, however you will have to bestow on the wishes of the lady who is thinking about you

வாயாயா நீகாவா யாதாமா தாமாதா
யாவாகா நீயாயா வா'

Vaaya Yaa Nee Kaava Yaadhu Aam Maadhu Aam Maa Thaa

Yaa Aagaa Nee Aayaa Vaa

meaning, What is there that we would not get when you guard us. If you don’t bless you, she will become very sad, So Lord Krishna (the cow herdsman) please come.
Thirugnanasambandhar has done all forms of these poetry here is one from his Thevaram called the Seergaazhi Thirupathigam

Each verse in this pathigam is a palindrome




சீகாழி - திருமாலைமாற்று

யாமாமாநீ யாமாமா யாழீகாமா காணாகா
காணாகாமா காழீயா மாமாயாநீ மாமாயா.

யாகாயாழீ காயாகா தாயாராரா தாயாயா
யாயாதாரா ராயாதா காயாகாழீ யாகாயா

தாவாமூவா தாசாகா ழீநாதாநீ யாமாமா
மாமாயாநீ தாநாழீ காசாதாவா மூவாதா

நீவாவாயா காயாழீ காவாவானோ வாராமே
மேராவானோ வாவாகா ழீயாகாயா வாவாநீ

யாகாலாமே யாகாழீ யாமேதாவீ தாயாவீ
வீயாதாவீ தாமேயா ழீகாயாமே லாகாயா

மேலேபோகா மேதேழீ காலாலேகா லானாயே
யேனாலாகா லேலாகா ழீதேமேகா போலேமே

நீயாமாநீ யேயாமா தாவேழீகா நீதானே
நேதாநீகா ழீவேதா மாயாயேநீ மாயாநீண

நேணவராவிழ யாசைழியே வேகதளேரிய ளாயுழிகா
காழியுளாயரி ளேதகவே யேழிசையாழவி ராவணனே

காலேமேலே காணீகா ழீகாலேமா லேமேபூ
பூமேலேமா லேகாழீ காணீகாலே மேலேகா

வேரியுமேணவ காழியொயே யேனை நிணேமட ளோகரதே
தேரகளோடம ணேநினையே யேயொழிகாவண மேயுரிவே

நேரகழாமித யாசழிதா யேனனியேனனி ளாயுழிகா
காழியுளானின யேனினயே தாழிசயாதமி ழாகரனே.
- திருஞானசம்பந்தர்

Likewise, Ramalinga Adigalar also known as Vallalaar has also written a thirupathigam where each verse is a palindrome.


வள்ளலார் மாலைமாற்றுத் திருப்பதிகம்

திருஅருமரு தூராகாரா வாடாகரு ணாசாகா
காசாணாரு கடாவாரா காராதூரு மருஅருதி (1)

தாபாதா தாமருத ராலூடவ மேதவமே
மேதவமே வடலூரா தருமதா தாபாதா (2)

யாரிது காளாவ டுகூகையோ கியோ
யோகி யோகைகூடு வளாகா துரியா (3)

யாகாஆகாங் லிமராயா காயமாமாய
யமாமாய காசயாரா மலிங்கா ஆகாயா (4)

யாபாசனஞானா மதாதீதா ஓதாநாதா சாதாகாசா
சாகாதாசா தாநாதாஓதா தீதாமனா ஞானசபாயா (5)

யாதிஜோதியா ராவாராக சீவசாதீயா மசனாபோ
போனாசமயாதீசா வசீகரா வாராயாதி ஜோதியா (6)

யாசாயாமா சாபூதைவாதே காமலாலீ காமுறுஆ
ஆறுமுகா லீலாமகா தேவாதைபூசா மாயாசாயா (7)

காலபாதீ சோகாடபாப தீதாஈராநீ யாடிமுடிய
யடிமுடியா நீராஈதா தீபபாடகா சோதீபாலகா (8)

ராகாவியா விகாடாமடு கூவிலக திருகு
குருதிகலவி கூடுமடா காவியா விகாரா (9)

யகழ்வா களையா கருணீகா சமரசா
சாரமச காணீருக யாளைக வாழ்கய (10)


Nagabandham

This is one of the complex forms of poetry, in which letters of the poem are represented along the body of a snake from head to tail, the shape of snake is convoluted to form a symmetric Kolam. When you trace the letters from the head to tail of the snake, you get the poem. There are many variants in the Nagabandham

  • Thani Nagabandham - Poem written on 1 snake
  • Irattai Nagabandham - Poem written on 2 snakes
  • Naangu Nagabandham - Poem written on 4 snakes
  • Ashta Nagabandham - Poem written on 8 snakes
First let us look at the thani naagabandham. The following image is the representation of the Thani naagabandham, if we trace the letters from the head of the snake to its tail we get the song mentioned below. 



Thani Naagabandham - high resolution picture HERE


The beauty of this form of poetry is the convoluted shape is what we call the “Kolam” and with colours added becomes Rangoli.

The complexity is that shape is symmetrical and the cells at the intersections of the path have the same letter


வந்தறந் தோய்ந்தி வையமுய தந்தநம் வாமிசுதன்
தந்திரஞ்சேர் மதமார்வார் முன் சாய்ந்தவபோதனுசன்
சந்ததம் சீர்த்திவதிதுதி  மாதவர் தந்தன்புசெய் செந்தில்
வந்தந்த நந்தந்தமிழார் நஞ்சிதாசிவனே

Vandhu Aram Thoindhu Ivvaiyam Uyya Thandha Namm Vaami Sudhan
Thandhiram Saer Madham Aarvaar Munn Saai Thava Podhanusan
Sandhadham Seerthi Vadhi Thudhi Maadhavar Thandha Anbu Sei Senthil
Vandhandha Nandham Thamizhaar Nanjidha Sivanae

meaning, For the salvation of this world, Lord Murugan came with all the noble characters. Those with evil minds would fall at his feet. He who bestows for the devotees who worship Him. We praise Lord Shiva who begot him for us Tamil people


Irattai / Thuvi Naaga Bandham (இரட்டை/துவி  நாகபந்தம்)

The next form is the Irattai Naaga Bandham, where there are two snakes are involved, still the shape is symmetrical. Here in this there are two songs, one that runs on the body of one snake and the second song on the other


அருளின் றிருவுருவே யம்பலதா யும்பர்
தெருளின் மருவாசீர்ச் சீரே பொருவிலா
வொன்றே யுமையா ளுடனே யுருத்தரு
குன்றே தெருள வருள்

Arulin Thiru Uruvae Amabalatha Umbar
Therulin Maruva Seer Seerae Poruvlia
Ondrae Umaiyaal Udanae Uruththaru
Kundrae Therula Arul

meaning, You are the manifestation of grace, the One who has the Thiruchitrambalam Stage. The One who cannot be perceived even by the Devars. The One who is a flawless Universal Being. The One who stands like a mountain with Umayaal (Goddess Parvathi). Enlighten our minds to understand/perceive You.


மருவி னவருளத்தே வாழ்சுடரே நஞ்சு
பெருகொளியான் றேயபெருஞ் சோதித் திருநிலா
வானஞ் சுருங்கு மிகுசுடரே சித்த
மயரு மளவை யொழி

Maruvinavar Ullathae Vaazh Sudaraee Nanju
Perugu Oliyaan Aeya Perum Jothi Thirunila
Vaanam Surungum Migu Sudarae Siththam
Ayarum Alavai Ozhi

meaning, Lord Shiva, You live as the light in the hearts of those who worship you. You have the great poison in Your neck, yet you shine in all brightness that dwarfs the brightness of the moon.  Bestow me with the wish that my mind does not forget You.



Irattai / Thuvi Naagabandham - High Resolution Image HERE

The following is another version of the Irattai Naagabandham, the only difference from the former is that there only one song that runs through the two snakes where the intersections share the letters. The first two lines run on one snake and the last two on the other.


சேயா சேயாதே தேயா சேயாசே
மாயா மாயாவா வாயா மாயாமா
வாயா மாவாயா  மாயா சேமாசே
யோயா நோயாவோ யாயே தேயாளே

Seyaa Seyaadhae Theyaa Seyaase
Maayaa Maayaavaa Vaayaa Maayamaa
Vaayaa Maavaayaa Maayaa Semaase

Yoya Noi Aavoi Aayedhae Aayaalae

The poem above is believed to cure any curse that relates to snakes. Kaalasarpadosham, etc and also to attain peace in life, if the poem is recited in front of Lord Muruga daily, it is believed to bring peace and betterment in one's life

Unfortunately, I am not able to successfully interpret and provide the meaning for this poem. I tried interpreting it, but it leads to multiple interpretations, so to avoid giving any wrong interpretation / meaning I have not posted the meaning for the song. I request the reader to help me and I would be very grateful to anyone who provides the meaning. Please post it as a comment. The song was sung by Pamban Swamigal who has also sung many such songs in praise of Lord Murugan. Those songs especially is of the Chithira Kavi form - Mayura Bandham, Kamala bandham etc.





Irattai Thuvi Naaagabandham - High resolution image HERE


Naangu / Chathur Naagabandham (நான்கு / சதுர் நாகபந்தம்)

The next naagabandham form is the Naangu or the Chathur Naagabandham, where there are 4 snakes and the verses of the poems run along the bodies of 4 snakes.


தன்னை யறிதல் தலைப்படுத்துங் கல்வியதாலெங்ங னறித லுலகியலை - முன்னுவந்துன்னை யறிக முதல்.

நீக்கு வினைநீக்கி நேர்மைவினைக் கின்னலையாதீங்குநீ நன்மனத்தால் நன்னயங்க ளுன்ன வுடன்பெறு வாயுய் தலை.

ஓங்குபனை போலுயர்ந் தென்னே பயனுன்னத்தீங்கு தனைமனத்து ளெண்ணித்தீ நீக்காதார்தீங்கினைத் தீப்படுந் தீ

உன்னை யறிதற் குனதூழ் தரப்பெற்றபொன்னைப்பெண் மண்ணாசை போக்கலைக் காணாயேலென்னை பயக்குமோ சொல்


Thannai Aridhal Thalaipaduththum Kalvi Adhellam Enganam Aridhal Ulagiyalai Munnu Vandhu Unnai Ariga Mudhal


Neeku Vinai Neeki Nermai Vinaikku Innalai Yaadheengu Nee Nanmanaththaal Nann Nayangal Unnavudan Peruvaai Uyidhalai


Ongu Panai Pol Uyarndhu Ennae Payanunna Theenguthanai Manaththul Enni Thee Neekaadhaar Theenginai Thee Padum Thee


Unnai Aridharkku Unadhoozh Tharapetra Ponnai Penn Mannaasai Pokalai Kaanayael Ennai Payakkumo Sol

meaning, One’s self realisation, Elevating Knowledge can be acquired when one reaches You realising your Supreme Beingness


The Supreme Being will eliminate one’s past karmas, the ones that will occur in the future once you get to realise that He is the route to salvation


What is the use even if one is exalted to the height of a palm tree, if one cannot remove the evil thoughts from their mind, which in turn will cause evil back to them


To attain self realisation, one will have to forgo following even if it the fate to have those - the wealth, the better half, the land, which is materialistic, If not what is the use in attaining self realisation. 

In the image below, each of these verses run through each snake. with the intersections having the same letters



Naangu / Chathur Naagabandham - High Resolution Image HERE


Ashta Naagabandham (அஷ்ட நாகபந்தம்)

In this form there are 8 snakes, and each line/verse of the poem runs along each of the snakes. I was not able to find an illustrative song / drawing for this form. Any help from the readers would be much appreciated. However the following is the rulefor an ashta naagabandham song

ஒருநான்கக் கரத்தொடுநாற் பத்தொன் றாமா
றுடனாற்பத் தைந்தாமெட் டுடனைந் நான்காம்
இருளறுபன் னிரண்டுடனே பதினெட் டாகும்
இருபத்தி ரண்டுடனே நாற்பத் தேழாம்
பரவுமிரு பத்துநான் குடன்முப் பத்தொன்
பானாமுப் பான்மூன்றோ டைம்பத் தொன்றாம்
அருமுப்பத் தேழுடனே நாற்பத் தொன்பா
னாமட்ட நாகபந்த மாஞ்செய் யுட்கே.

There are even more complex poetry forms, which we will see in the upcoming posts, no wonder there were people who carried the Anna Kavadi for more than 6 months to learn this masterpiece from a sanyasi

To be continued...

More to come, until then...

Images / Drawing Credits: B. Karthikeyan

Monday, November 16, 2015

Saraswathi - Goddess of Knowledge




Saraswathi - The Goddess of Knowledge, enlightenment, wisdom, music, arts, and learning. She is the consort of Lord Brahma and also part for trinity Goddesses - Mupperum Deviyar - Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi. Saraswathi is also the name of a river that flowed in the Indian subcontinent and was considered sacred on par with River Ganga. Moreover, many civilizations flourished on the banks of the river before it dried up. Be it a Goddess or a river, Saraswathi was a revered and worshipped and She has bestowed all the goodness, more importantly, knowledge with which mankind has come this far. In fact, this country - India - has another name Bharath that denotes land of Bharathi (Another name for Saraswathi) and hence it was the Land of Scholars.

Many wise men, poets and sages have prayed and worshipped Her for the blessings of knowledge that She bestows. And that is the reason, Knowledge comes first  of the three primary qualities that humans must possess, the other two being Wealth and Courage, in order. All the scholarly people would want wisdom and knowledge more than anything else, because wealth and weapons can be coveted but the knowledge dies with the person who has it. And hence, knowledge was equated to Goddess Saraswathi.

If we look back in the age old Tamil literature, many poets have sung lots of songs in praise of Goddess Saraswathi that proves the fact that Knowledge was more revered. As a matter of fact, people consider that one has to keep on learning throughout his life, rightly said by Avvaiyar in one of her songs - “Kattradhu Kai Mann Alavu, Kallaadhadhu Ulagalavu” which is engraved in one of the buildings in NASA - “What one has learned is a handful, what one hasn’t is like the earth”

கற்றதுகைம் மண்ணளவு கல்லாத துலகளவென்
றுற்ற கலைமடந்தை ஓதுகிறாள் மெத்த
வெறும்பந் தயங்கூற வேண்டாம் புலவீர்
ஏறும்புந்தன் கையாலெண் சாண்

Kattradhu Kai Mann Alavu Kallaadhadhu Ulagalavu Endru
Uttra Kalaimadandhai Odhukiraal Meththa
Verum Pandhayam Koora Vendaam Pulaveer
Erumbum Thann Kayyaal Enn Saan

meaning, “What you have learned is like the handful of sand, but what you haven’t is like the whole earth. Even the  Goddess of Knowledge (Saraswathi) realises this and is learning eternally. You being mere poets, don’t draw everyone into some lame competition to prove your mettle. Even the ant measure eight Jaans (Unit of measurement - From the tip of middle finger to the tip of the thumb with the palm stretched out wide open) measured with it own hand”

This song by Avvaiyar has a small story to its background. Avvaiyar was a poet who did not sing songs for money or wealth, she was a noble poet who appreciated people with good heart even though they were poor, so she sang a few songs in praise of those poor people who showed great amount of hospitality to her, in spite of their poverty.
A mischievous poet thought that she has been singing for the poor, when poets sing in the praise of of Kings and get their bounties. So in order to mock her, he picked up some sand and thought she would sing in praise of worthless handful of sand, if she is already singing in praise of the poor people. But, Avvaiyar, taught a lesson for that poet with the same sand in his hand. The lesson is not just for the poet, but for all of us, thereby also emphasising the importance of learning throughout one’s life

In the Thirukural, Thiruvalluvar has dedicated an entire chapter for learning and knowledge. He said that people are blind if they are not learning, even if they have physically proper eyesight. A few couplets from Thirukural that emphasises about knowledge

கண்ணுடையர் என்பவர் கற்றோர் முகத்திரண்டு
புண்ணுடையர் கல்லா தவர்

Kannudaiyar Enbavar Kattror Mugathirrandu
Punnudaiyar Kallaa thavar

“The learned alone are said to have eyes.
The ignorant/unlearned have merely two disgraceful sores/wounds called eyes”

தொட்டனைத் தூறும் மணற்கேணி மாந்தர்க்கு
கற்றனைத் தூறும் அறிவு

Thottanaith Oorum Manarkeni Maandharkku
Kattranaithoorum Arivu

“The deeper you dig the sand, the more the spring flows
The deeper you learn the wisdom flows”

The next Kural emphasis the same point Avvaiyar has mentioned that one has to learn until the end of his life

யாதானும் நாடாமால் ஊராமால் என்னொருவன்
சாந்துணையுங் கல்லாத வாறு

Yaadhanum Naadaamaal Ooraamaal Ennoruvan
Saandhunaiyum Kallaadhavaaru

“All lands and towns are learner’s own
Why not till death, the learning go on”

There is even a saying in Tamil, that one should not give up learning until his death

“பாடை ஏறினும் ஏடதை கைவிடேல்”

Paadai Yaerinum Edu Adhai Kaividael

meaning, “Even if you get on to the deathbed, don’t give up the books that you read”.

Kambar was a very ardent devotee of Goddess Saraswathi and he had Her blessings that crowned him with the name Kavichakravarthi (Emperor of Poets). He has written the Saraswathi Andhadhi (An interesting form of poetry where the last word of the first song becomes the first word of the next song and finally the last word of the last song will be the first word of the first song, and one could imagine the entire sequence as a garland of songs).

Kaalamegam has sung the following song in praise of Saraswathi that instantly provided him a seat to the level of the King who insulted Kaalamegam in front his court members. Reciting this song is believed to bring the blessings of the Goddess and get good knowledge

வெள்ளைக் கலையுடுத்து வெள்ளைப் பணிபூண்டு
வெள்ளைக் கமலத்தில் வீற்றிருப்பாள் வெள்ளை
அறியா சனத்தி லரசரோ டென்னைச்
சரியா சனம்வைத்த தாய்

Vellai Kalai Uduthu Vellai Pani Poondu
Vellai Kamalathil Veetriruppaal Vellai
Ariyaasanathil Arasarodu Ennai
Sariyaasanam Vaitha Thaai

meaning, My mother of knowledge who wears the white attire of purity, and adorns the white ornaments and sits on the white lotus, would bless me with the knowledge that will seat me on par with the kings.

The great poet of recent times, Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiar, was adorned with the title Bharathi (blessed by the Goddess of Knowledge). As with most poets, who sing the first song in praise of Goddess Saraswathi or the second song after the praise of Lord Vinayagar, Bharathi has song a lot of songs in praise of Goddess Saraswathi. One of his famous songs is the Saraswathi Devi Pugazh or the Vellai Thaamarai. Bharathiar emphasizes the importance knowledge and the importance of the people in the society being educated. The following are the few stanzas from the poem

வெள்ளைத் தாமரைப் பூவில் இருப்பாள்
     வீணை செய்யும் ஒலியில் இருப்பாள்;
கொள்ளை யின்பம் குலவு கவிதை
     கூறு பாவலர் உள்ளத் திருப்பாள்!
உள்ள தாம்பொருள் தேடியுணர்ந்தே
     ஓதும் வேதத்தின் உள்நின் றொளிர்வாள்;
கள்ள மற்ற முனிவர்கள் கூறும்
     கருணை வாசகத் துட்பொருளாவாள்.


இன்ன றுங்கனிச் சோலைகள் செய்தல்
     இனிய நீர்த்தண் கனைகள் இயற்றல்,
அன்ன சத்திரம் ஆயிரம் வைத்தல்
     ஆலயம்பதி னாயிரம் நாட்டல்,
பின்ன ருள்ள தருமங்கள் யாவும்
     பெயர்வி ளங்கி யொளிர நிறுத்தல்
அன்ன யாவினும் புண்ணியம் கோடி
     ஆங்கோர் ஏழைக் கெழுத்தறி வித்தல்.

நிதிமி குந்தவர் பொற்குவை தாரீர்;
     நிதிகு றைந்தவர் காசுகள் தாரீர்;
அதுவு மற்றவர் வாய்ச்சொல் அருளீர்!
     ஆண்மை யாளர் உழைப்பினை நல்கீர்!
மதுரத் தேமொழி மாதர்க ளெல்லாம்
     வாணி பூசைக் குரியன பேசீர்!
எதுவும் நல்கியிங் கெவ்வகை யானும்
     இப்பெருந் தொழில் நாட்டுவம் வாரீர்

In the last stanzas he says that providing education is much more important than establishing orchards, water resources, religious places of worship, establishments that provide free food for everyone. And he openly asks for donations from people who can afford and those who cannot just give good words in support of the effort to provide education for the needy. And it is true, the the literacy rate determines the growth of a country.

Kumaragurubarar who couldn’t speak until he was six years old, starting singing Kandhar Kalivenba with the grace of Lord Murugan who gave the start of the collection by uttering the word - Poo. Kumaragurubarar when he went to Kasi sang the Sagalakalavalli Maalai comprising of 30 stanzas in praise of Goddess Saraswathi.

Though Goddess Saraswathi is venerated and revered throughout history by all the learned and knowledgeable people, She has only one temple in Tamil Nadu where She is the main deity as she wanted to undergo the curse of Her consort Lord Brahma, who was cursed by Lord Shiva that Lord Brahma will not have any temple where He will be the main deity. However on the request of Ottakoothar, She fulfilled his wish by being the main deity at Koothanoor.

Koothanur Maha Saraswathi
Knowledge is one differentiation factor that has taken mankind this far in the evolution, and it is not surprising to see that man  has deified the differentiator as the Mother and the Goddess of Knowledge. In India, there are celebrations that are held yearly to worship the Goddess of Knowledge along with the Goddess of Wealth and the Goddess of Courage - The Dussehra or the Navarathri - Nine Nights of Worship.

Knowledge will take us even far if we remember “Kattradhu Kai Mann Alavu” and worship the Goddess of Knowledge

More to come, until then...