Question on Patanjali (Kashmir and P's MB)

Palaniappa at Palaniappa at
Mon Mar 24 08:50:31 UTC 1997

Dear Dr. Aklujkar,

The following may not be exactly what you requested. But they give some
background about how some of the Tamil texts were preserved.

Tamilnadu ceased to be ruled by any Tamil king circa 13th century. So, if
there was any tradition of association of any text with any particular
principality or kingdom, it is lost. But there are stories of some kings
playing important roles in the search for some texts and creation of some

The earliest story deals with the academy of poets in Madurai. One of the
Classical Tamil (CT) poems by a Pandyan king has him swearing that if he does
not defeat his enemies let the poets who have �mAGguTi marutan� as their
leader not sing his kingdom (puRanAnURu 72). This is the closest to an
indication of a group of poets in the CT period. In the list of the poets of
the CT, one can see several from Madurai. Associated with the Pandyas is the
story of how a Pandyan king was dejected that even though they had the
grammatical texts dealing with phonology and morphology, they had lost the
grammatical texts dealing with the �subject matter� of Tamil literature. Then
a text, �iRaiyanAr akapporuL�, dealing with this is �authored� by ziva
himself and is discovered in the temple at Madurai. Zvelebil has discussed
all this in his Smile of Murugan. (I do not have Smile of Murugan. Ganesan on
this list may be able to give you the exact reference.) A shorter discussion
of the Academy and  �iRaiyanAr akapporuL� is given in �The Eight Anthologies�
by John Ralston Marr.

In the medeival period and later, the association of Tamil with zaivism had a
major influence on the survival of Tamil literature, music and dance
traditions. Because the post-Classical Chola kings were devotees of ziva,
there are stories of their involvement in some texts. In �tiruvAcakam�,
mANikkavAcakar (ca. 9th century CE) in his pORRit tiruvakaval, praises ziva
as belonging to southern or Tamil country, but Lord of people all over
(�tennATuTaiya zivanE pORRi, ennATTavarkkum iRaivA pORRi�). In fact, whenever
Tamil zaivites gather to worship ziva, they start with this. (I do not have
the exact reference. Glenn Yocum has done work on �tiruvAcakam�.) This
linkage between Tamil and zaivism was strengthened further during the reign
of the Cholas who came after mANikkavAcakar. I am giving below two stories
narrated by Zvelebil in his work Ananda-tAnDava of ziva-sadAnRttamUrtti.

�However, one literary Tamil legend at least should be mentioned here because
of its close connection with Chidambaram, and because of its importance for
Tamil culture. There was a boy-devotee, nampi ANTAr nampi of tirunAraiyUr (9
miles southwest of Chidambaram). His patron-deity VinAyaka (pollAppiLLaiyAr)
revealed to him a maha rahasyam, �great secret� : the Tamil Veda, i.e., the
hymns of the Tamil zaiva saints (tEvAram), including the famous hagiography
of these saints by Cuntarar, is hidden in a sealed room in the Chidambaram
temple on the north-western side of the sabha where Lord naTarAja dances
forever. Accompanied by the Chola king Rajaraja Apaya KulacEkara (probably
KulOttunga I, 11th Cent.), nampi ANTAr proceeded to Chidambaram, the sealed
door was opened, and the holy Tamil books were found hidden under ant-nests.
nampi ANTAr arranged the hymns in seven books, in a work entitled tEvAram,
and in addition composed the lives of the saints entitled
tiruttoNTarTiruvantAti which he based on Cuntarar�s short biography (called
tiruttoNTattokai) composed some two centuries earlier at tiruvArUr.......
Not only the origin- or rather, the rediscovery - of tEvAram but also the
origin of the �national� Tamil purANa, the periyapurANam, is intimately
connected with the lore of Chidambaram. 

The Chola king AnapAya (kulOttunga II, 12th Cent.) had for his minister in
tiruvArUr a man called aruNmozittEvar alias cEkkizAr. Regretting the great
respect paid by his ruler to a Jaina epic, cEkkizAr resolved to narrate the
glories of zaiva saints, and he left tiruvArUR, went to Chidambaram and
there, with the grace of Lord naTarAja, composed, in the thousand pillared
hall of the temple, his periyapurANam. He commenced the work on the Arudra
asterism day in the month of Chaitra and completed it on the same day next
year. He also spent the rest of the days in Chidambaram.� (Zvelebil, 1985,
pp. 59-60)

(Coincidentally, it is Chidambaram where Patanjali is supposed to have come
and watched ziva dance.)

I think the re-discovery of tEvAram should have happened at least by 10th
century. According to tradition, when the hymns were rediscovered, nobody
knew what were the �pan�s or ragas associated with the hymns. So the king
located a lady, matanka cULAmaNiyAr, belonging to the lineage of the
bard-saint �tirunIlakaNTa yAzppANar� (one of the 63 zaiva saints) and had her
set the �pan�s for each hymn. The Chola kings set up endowments for these
hymns to be sung in the temples. In Rajaraja Chola�s inscription no. 66 of
the Tanjore temple, Rajaraja sets up endowments for singing �Ariyam�
(Sanskrit) as well as Tamil which must refer to tEvAram hymns. In the same
inscription, Rajaraja sets up endowments for about 500 dancing ladies and
other temple employees including bards. (Ironically, even though the hymns
were set to music by a female of the bardic community, the people who became
the upper caste singers (called OtuvAr) in the zaivite temples forbade the
learning of music by women of their own caste.)

After the control of Tamilnadu passed into non-Tamil hands, it was the
zaivite mutts which largely fostered the study of Tamil. These mutts were
controlled by upper caste non-brahmins. (Of course, they fostered the study
of Sanskrit also.) The mutts controlled major temple complexes and
considerable amount of land. As for one of the major mutts, in 1863, �The
pandarasanidhi of the non-Brahman math at Thiruvadathorai in Tanjore, for
example, controlled 3000 acres in his home district, 25,000 in Tinnevelly,
1,000 in Madura and lesser amounts in several other districts. He also
possessed rights of appointments of priests and trustees to fifteen other
temples each with its own considerable endowments.� (in page 185 of The
emergence of provincial politics: The Madras Presidency 1870-1920 by D. A.
Washbrook). It was this particular mutt at tiruvAvaTutuRai which had the
great Tamil scholar Meenakshisundaram Pillai, an upper caste non-Brahmin, as
its AstAna vidvAn. U. V. Swaminatha Iyer, a SmArtta Brahmin,  who played a
major role in the rediscovery of Tamil Classical Literature was supported by
this mutt and was a student of Pillai. The mutt had a library where a lot of
manuscripts were available and U.V. Swaminatha Iyer made good use of them. He
has written a wonderful autobiography in Tamil which gives a lot of
information about Tamil scholarship in late 19th and early 20th century. This
has been translated into English by Kamil Zvelebil as �The Story of My Life:
An Autobiography of Dr. U. V. Swaminatha Iyer". In fact, even Zvelebil traces
his Tamil scholarship lineage to Pillai.(See his "Companion Studies to the
history of Tamil Literature")

In the autobiography, U. V. Swaminatha Iyer describes a religious custom
among the Jains of Tamilnadu which involved their copying manuscripts and
donating them. But for this custom, CilappatikAram, the national epic of
Tamilnadu would have been lost. Iyer also describes the efforts he undertook
searching for manuscripts all over Tamilnadu and how manuscripts of important
works which he once saw were later lost.

The OtuvAr community of tEvAram singers also played a major role in the
maintenance of the Tamil music and dance. It is their singing which helped
correlate the Carnatic music ragas with their Sanskrit names and the ancient
Tamil �pan� counterparts. Also, under the patronage of Maharashtrian rulers
of Tanjore, Tulaja (II?) and Serfoji II, four OtuvAr brothers, Ponniah,
Chinnaiah, Vadivelu and Sivananandam called the Tanjore Quartette, formalized
the Bharatanatyam dance format of Tamilnadu. (In Bharatanatyam performances,
there is almost always an item describing the dance of ziva at Chidambaram
which may allude to Patanjali.) 

I have to note that even though most of the extant zaivite hymns were
produced by Brahmins, these hymns were not given much importance by the
SmArtta Brahmins who gave importance to Sanskrit texts instead. On the other
hand, the Sri Vaishnavites who elevated Tamil hymns of AzvArs to a level on
par with the Sanskrit  Vedas severed the link between the hymns of AzvArs and
their Tamil �pan�s and they did not seem to have the identification of
Vaishnavism with Tamilnadu like the zaivites.    

I think the role of zaivite mutts and their role in the Tamil field could be
a dissertation topic in itself.

I hope this is helpful.


S. Palaniappan  

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