SamnyAsin names

Lakshmi Srinivas lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM
Sun May 7 19:06:05 UTC 2000

--- Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <Palaniappa at AOL.COM>
> Of course, one man's saint often is another man's
> bigot.

> Both zaiva and
> vaiSNava saints belong in this category.

It is not clear what Dr SP wants to say here. I think
one needs to take into account qualitative and
quantitative indicators of bigotry in the case of
Campantar, the original topic of discussion.

"The hymns of Campantar are generally made up of
eleven verses, the first seven given over to a
description of the site and to the eulogizing of ziva,
the eighth to the episode in which rAvaNa attempts to
lift KailAza, the ninth to the legend of
lingodbhavamUrti, the tenth is invective directed
against Buddhist and Jain heresy".

(from Tevaram, F Gros, Introduction, p lxiv)

Of the 383 hymns of Campantar in the Tevaram, that
makes it a cool 380 odd verses of invective against
the Jainas. (Wonder if the recently discovered
tiruviTaivAy hymn attributed to Campantar has the same
structure. Does anybody have the text of this hymn or
of the one found in palmleaf MS in 1932?)

Qualitatively too, Campantar's verses seem to lack the
devotional poet's preoccupation with dwelling on his
own internal state.

The religiosity of a devotional verse may be
understood using the following analytical framework
developed by KVZ in his "Smile of Murugan":

"S1- the interior state of the subject of the cult;
S2- the external actions of the subject of the cult
O1- the responsive reaction of the object of the cult
in relation to the subject
O2- the state, qualities or actions of the object of
the cult" etc  (p. 199)

It is interesting to see what KVZ says of Campantar's
hymns ... "... there is in his songs a definite
predominance of the segment O2. The content of S2 is
mostly Campantar's struggle with the Jainas. On the
other hand, the intimate lyrical part of religious
experience is relatively weakly developed in his
work". (p. 202)

On the other hand, "in contrast to Campantar, the
poems by Appar are almost exclusively emotional. ...
There, apart from O2, which is also strongly developed
in Appar's poetry, there is a strong element of S1 and
S2." (ibid.)

It may be instructive in this regard to compare the
tone of viTam tIrtta patikam by Appar and the
poompAvai patikam by Campantar where the context is
roughly similar ... bringing a dead person back to
life ... in both cases snake bite victims. (Perhaps a
typical test case presented in those days to would be
miracle workers.)

Suffice it to say that, whereas Appar dwells at length
on the various physical attributes of civan in very
line of the patikam; a patikam that is btw
characterised by repetition of numbers from one to ten
as if in a nursery rhyme and also by delightfully
ordinary language whereas Campantar dwells largely on
the festivals of the civan temple of KapAliccaram and
a patikam where he fails to eschew anti Jaina
invective. It is clear that whereas Appar wants to
raise the dead by the power of Civan, Campantar wants
to achieve the same effect (for supposedly his virgin
bride) by the temporal power of the grandeur of the
temple festivals.

At the same time, "one of the diagnostic features of
his (Campantar's) poetry is also his preoccupation
with Ziva's abodes". (ibid.) About 278 hymns "deal
with deities of shrines. The cult of pilgrimages to
holy places belongs uniquely to Campantar." (J
Parthasarathi, Ency of Tamil Lit., v. 1, p. 307). In
fact, "the repetition, without intermission, of
practically the same details of Civan's form and the
same puranic stories, found in Campantar's large body
of verses, goes to the limit of boredom, taxing the
patience of a reader". (ibid., p 308)

With the above analysis, the following features of
Campantar's poetry stand out:

1. Conscious provision of a slot in the rhetorical
structure of his works for anti Jaina invective
2. Lack of emotionalism in his verses. The phrase " en
uLLAm kavar kaLvan" in 1.1.1 stands out as an
exception. Perhaps the poet having made a token
acknowledgement of the love theme seems to more or
less avoid it for the rest of this large  body of work
as if to say that's not the point. Hence the very
small number of akattuRai verses, I suppose
3. Exceptional preoccupation with Civan's abodes.

The structural incorporation of bigotry, I suppose,
is not purposeless; it has a fundamental role in a
proselytizing religion viz., that of getting mind
share of the kings of the time. The preoccupation with
Civan's abodes may be viewed in relation to the fact
that 1) the temple was the focus of men and resources
of the Tamil society of that time and 2) the
articulation of a concept of kingship in the context
of the close parallel between the god in the temple
and the king in his palace (cf the pATAN tuRai of
puram poetics).

In this context, it may be worthwhile to bear in mind
the close connections between the First Three (mUvar)
saints of Tamil caivism and contemporary kings. This
proximity to the kings of the time is a hallmark of
Tamil caivism viz., from the chief compiler (nampi)
and the chief hagiographer (cEkkizAr), to the chief
patrons  viz., the Imperial Cholas.

The proximity to the kings of the time can also be
viewed in the context of a cult relatively new to the
Tamil country (comparatively sparse notices to civan
in the oldest Tamil texts) and a rather late
exegetical tradition (mostly post Imperial Chola).

So bigotry, for want of a more acceptable term, imho
had its uses.

Thanks and Warm Regards,


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