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Commentary on a hymn

THIRUPPUGAZH VIRIVURAI: Kripananda Variar Swamigal; Guhasri Variar Pathippagam, 107, Singanna Street, Chintadripet, Chennai-600002.Rs. 130.

ST. ARUNAGIRINATHAR flourished during a period when religious minded people were quarrelling among themselves regarding the supremacy of their personal Gods like Siva and Vishnu, the grandeur of their religion like Saivism and Vaishnavism and the greatness of the religious scriptures and the languages in which they have been composed like Sanskrit and Tamil.

To alleviate such apparent contradictions and to infuse new vigour into the understanding of the Puranic lore, religious dogmas, ritualistic elements, philosophical doctrines and spiritual expositions, the saint composed many devotional hymns especially attributed to highlight the grace of Lord Muruga, his personal and propitious deity, through his mellifluous and unique styles of composition with "santham" and "virutham" as the melodies endeavoured to reconcile these peripheral differences among the devotees.

As he got enlightenment at the Tiruvannamalai Siva temple by the grace of Lord Murugan, it was but natural for him to incorporate these two major Gods in the Hindu pantheon wherever possible as father and son. Similarly Saivism and Vaishnavism received equal treatment from the saint since he has hailed Muruga as the son-in-law of Mahavishnu at various places.

In his Tiruppugazh, Kandaralankaram, Kandaranubhuti, Vel Virutham and Mayil Virutham, the saint had copiously used Sanskrit terms in Tamil alphabets to describe the glory of Lord Muruga to show that language is a prelude to experience and not to proclaim its inferior or superior nature.

Thirumuruga Kirupananda Variyar has done yeoman service to Hindu faith by way of popularising its religious doctrines and philosophical ideologies. He had undertaken the arduous task of commenting upon the works of Saint Arunagirinathar in his own unique style so that even a common man can study them.

Through his excellent elucidations, elegant expressions, humorous illustrations, apt analogies, appropriate allegories, thought provoking statements both in writing and oratory, the scholarly saint had made more complicated texts simple and gave a new orientation to religious discourses. Variar Swamigal has rendered a commendable job of commenting upon the hymns of Thiruppugazh pertaining to Tiruvannamalai and Tirukkalathi temples. He has uniformly given the meaning, general gist of the verse, explanatory notes and essential truths for all the verses. The songs of Arunagirinathar are really difficult to read and tough to comprehend the contents and reflect upon. It is highly remarkable that the commentator has made them understandable in a more lucid way. He also culls out the implicit meanings of the terse verses.

The commitment, dedication and involvement of both the saintly author and the commentator to bring ashore the drowning masses in the whirlpool of worldliness, by invoking the ever-abiding abundant grace of Lord Muruga are revealed throughout this work. All Tamil lovers, especially in the religious moorings, must read this book.

R. GOPALAKRISHNAN

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