Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Culavamsa - Some References On The Mukkulathor Community



The history of the Sinhalas of Sri Lanka begins with the arrival of Prince Vijaya from Kalinga. The island's history is recorded in the Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa and Culavamsa.

Prior to the arrival of Vijaya, the Tamils have already established their kingdoms there. Vijaya's marriage to the Tamil princess of the Pandyan kingdom helped him to establish a new Sinhala kingdom in the island. 

Few centuries later, there were battles between the Pandyas, Cholas and the Sinhalas. The Sinhala army occupied parts of southern Tamil Nadu in the 12th century during the time of Parakramabhu I. They were eventually defeated by the Tamils. 

I managed to find some of the names of these places and their chieftains in the Culavamsa. The places are located in present day districts of Madurai, Sivaganga, Tirunelveli and Ramanathapuram. There were great battles involving many people particularly the ancestors of the present day Mukkulathor people.




Kandadevi Swarnamoortheeswarar festival.
PICTURE CREDIT: S.James

One of the places mentioned as ruled by a feudal chief named Kangeya (Gangaiyar/Kangeyar) is Kandadevi. This place is located in the district of Sivagangai near the Devakottai area.

Kangeya divided his domain into 4 Nadus. The Nadus are Unjanai, Semponmari, Thennilai and Eravuseni. The Nadus were ruled by 4 Kallar brothers.

The descendants of these 4 brothers still live in this part of Sivagangai. They are known as Nattar. These Nattars have the right to pull the chariot in the Kandadevi Swarnamoortheeswarar temple festival as they were the ambalams (local rulers).

Another place mentioned in Culavamsa is Anjukottai. This place is located near Tiruvadanai of Ramanathapuram. There is also a branch of Maravar people known as Anjukottai Maravar.


Pudukottai inscription which refers to the Kallar chief as Nadalvar

The Culavamsa also mentioned Mukkulathor family names such as Karambarayar, Madhavarayar, Mundiyarayar, Muvarayar, Kalingarayar, Kallakavelar, Kanasirayar, Thondaiman and many more. 

There were also specific references to the Nadalvars who are also known as Nattar in the present era. Names like Kandiyuru Nadalvar refers to the ancestors of the present day Kandiyar family of the Kallar community. 

It is also stated in this Sri Lankan chronicle that the Kalingarayar, Munayadarayar and Kallakavelar were brother-in-laws of the Thondaiman. The names such as Kallakavelar shows their Kallar origin.

I have included some references from the Culavamsa below.










Thursday, 13 August 2015

Tamil Saivism & Vedas

The Nayanmars. Picture taken at KL Mariamman Devasthanam.
The Tamils are largely Hindus. The Hindu philosophy is based on the teachings of Vedas, Agamas, Upanishad, Itihasas, Puranas, Gita and various other texts. Veda and Agama fall into a class known as Sruthi meaning not of human origin or heard. 

Today we also have Tamils who are Christians and Muslims. In the past, we also had Tamils who were Jains and Buddhist. The Bhakti movement revived Hinduism among the Tamils who at one point of time embraced Jainism and Buddhism. It was the Bhakti movement headed by the Alwars and Nayanmars which returned the Tamils to Hinduism.

The Tamil Hindus can be divided into the principles of Shan Matham meaning 6 Religion. Most of them are either Saivites or Vaishnavites. The Saivites have Thirumurai as their holy book while the Vaishnavites have the Nalayira Divyaprabandham.

The present day Tamil Saivites follow the Saiva Siddhanta school of Saivism. In the past, there were other schools such as Pasupatham, Vamam, Bhairavam and a few others.

There is a Saiva Siddhanta movement in Malaysia which promotes the Thirumurai. They are also doing more than just promoting this. They are portraying Vedas and Agamas as something alien to the Tamil people. 

They do this because both the Vedas and Agamas are in Sanskrit. They also claim that the Siva worshipped by the Tamils is not the same as the Rudra mentioned in the Vedas.

Since this movement claims that their teaching is based on the Thirumurai, let us examine some hymns from the Thirumurai to confirm if their claim is valid.

The Thirumurai is a collection of teachings and hymns of the saints known as Nayanmar. There were 63 Nayanmar. Their work is collected into 12 volumes. The volumes were arranged without following the chronological order for some mysterious reason.

Among the oldest is Thirumular's Thirumantiram. This is also known as the 10th Thirumurai. Thirumular dedicated a chapter for Veda and Agama. It is known as Veda Sirappu (Greatness of Veda) and Agama Sirappu (Greatness of Agama)

Veda Sirappu
வேதத்தை விட்ட அறம்இல்லை வேதத்தின்
ஓதத் தகும்அறம் எல்லாம் உளதர்க்க

வாதத்தை விட்டு மதிஞர் வளமுற்ற
வேதத்தை ஓதியே வீடுபெற் றார்களே

Vētattai viṭṭa aṟamillai vētattiṉ
ōtat takumaṟam ellām uḷatarkka
vātattai viṭṭu matiñar vaḷamuṟṟa
vētattai ōtiyē vīṭupeṟ ṟārkaḷē

Thirumular mentioned that there is no Dharma other than the one prescribed in the Vedas. It shows how much importance is given to the Vedas as it is seen not only as a divine revelation but also as a complete knowledge system. 

Agama Sirappu
அஞ்சன மேனி அரிவையோர் பாகத்தன்
அஞ்சொ டிருபத்து மூன்றுள ஆகமம்
அஞ்சலி கூப்பி அறுபத் தறுவரும்
அஞ்சாம் முகத்தில் அரும்பொருள் கேட்டதே

Añcaṉa mēṉi arivaiyōr pākattaṉ
añco ṭirupattu mūṉṟuḷa ākamam
añcali kūppi aṟupat taṟuvarum
añcām mukattil arumporuḷ kēṭṭatē

Here, Thirumular explains that the Agama is born from the 5th face of Siva (4th line). The 2nd line states that there are 25 + 3 Agamas. So there are total 28 Agamas. 

1. Kamiga
2. Yojana
3. Sivithia
4. Karana
5. Ajitha
6. Deeptha
7. Sukshma
8. Sahasra
9. Hamsuma
10. Suprabeda
11. Vijaya
12. Niswasa
13. Swayambuva
14. Agneya
15. Vijaya
16. Raurava
17. Makuta
18. Vishala
19. Chandra Jnana
20. Mukha Bimba
21. Purorgeetha
22. Lalitha
23. Siddha
24. Santana
25. Sarvokta
26. Parameswara
27. Karana
28. Vathula

The Sanskrit Agamic text contains rules on rituals and even temple construction. Tamil temples generally follow the Kamiga Agama. 

Another Nayanmar, Thirunavukarasu @ Appar who is considered as among the 4 main Nayanmars, also referred to the Vedas.

அரியானை அந்தணர்தம் சிந்தை யானை
அருமறையின் அகத்தானை அணுவை யார்க்கும்
தெரியாத தத்துவனைத் தேனைப் பாலைத்
திகழொளியைத் தேவர்கள்தங் கோனை மற்றைக்
கரியானை நான்முகனைக் கனலைக் காற்றைக்
கனைகடலைக் குலவரையைக் கலந்து நின்ற
பெரியானைப் பெரும்பற்றப் புலியூ ரானைப்
பேசாத நாளெல்லாம் பிறவா நாளே.

Ariyāṉai antaṇartam cintai yāṉai
arumaṟaiyiṉ akattāṉai aṇuvai yārkkum
teriyāta tattuvaṉait tēṉaip pālait
tikaḻoḷiyait tēvarkaḷtaṅ kōṉai maṟṟaik
kariyāṉai nāṉmukaṉaik kaṉalaik kāṟṟaik
kaṉaikaṭalaik kulavaraiyaik kalantu niṉṟa
periyāṉaip perumpaṟṟap puliyū rāṉaip
pēcāta nāḷellām piṟavā nāḷē.

The 2nd line describes Siva as an Atom (the core) of the Vedas. Vedas are also known as Marai in Tamil.

Thirunganasambanthar said the following in the 6th Thirumurai.

பார்மலிந்தோங்கிப் பருமதில்சூழ்ந்த பாம்புரநன்னக ராரைக்
கார்மலிந்தழகார் கழனிசூழ்மாடக் கழுமலமுதுபதிக் கவுணி
நார்மலிந்தோங்கு நான்மறைஞான சம்பந்தன்செந்தமிழ் வல்லார்
சீர்மலிந்தழகார் செல்வமதோங்கிச் சிவனடி நண்ணுவர்தாமே

Pārmalintōṅkip parumatilcūḻnta pāmpuranaṉṉaka rāraik
kārmalintaḻakār kaḻaṉicūḻmāṭak kaḻumalamutupatik kavuṇi
nārmalintōṅku nāṉmaṟaiñāṉa campantaṉcentamiḻ vallār
cīrmalintaḻakār celvamatōṅkic civaṉaṭi naṇṇuvartāmē

The word Kavuni in the 2nd line refers to the Kaundinya Gotra of the Brahmins. Sambanthar was born in this lineage. The 3rd line describes Sambanthar as a person who has knowledge in the 4 Vedas and he has written the verses in refined Tamil. Those who recite it will attain the feet of Siva.

The following verses are by Appar. He describes Siva as Vethiyan or the giver of Vedas in the first line. In the final line, he describes NaMaSiVaYa as the companion which will give salvation.

சொற்றுணை வேதியன் சோதி வானவன்
பொற்றுணைத் திருந்தடி பொருந்தக் கைதொழக்
கற்றுணைப் பூட்டியோர் கடலிற் பாய்ச்சினும்
நற்றுணை யாவது நமச் சிவாயவே

Coṟṟuṇai vēthiyaṉ cōti vāṉavaṉ
poṟṟuṇait tiruntaṭi poruntak kaitoḻak
kaṟṟuṇaip pūṭṭiyōr kaṭaliṟ pāycciṉum
naṟṟuṇai yāvatu namac civāyavē

The Rudra of the Vedas is Siva. They are the same. The terrifying aspect is Aghora while the auspicious aspect is Siva. The word Siva can be found in the Namakam and Chamakam of the Sri Rudram in the Yajur Veda.Take a look at the following final lines of the 1st Anuvaka of the Namakam

namaste astu bhagavan viśveśvarāya mahādevāya
tryambakāya tripurāntakāya trikāgnikālāya
kālāgnirudrāya nīlakanthāya mrtyuñjayāya sarveśvarāya
sadāśivāya śrīmanmahādevāya namaha

The Sanskrit Panchakshra NaMaSiVaYa occurs in the 8th Anuvaka of the Namakam

namah śivāya ca śivatarāya ca 

Pancha means 5 and Akshara means syllable. When this is written in Tamil, it will become NaMaChChiVaYa with 6 syllables. This is because in Tamil, when the first word ends with a vowel, it has to take the base syllable of the 2nd word for a proper continuation. 

So Nama Sivaya becomes Namach Chivaya in Tamil. Si is written as Ich and expanded as Cha or Sa. You can take a look at the last line of Appar's verses shown above.

So although written with 6 syllables in Tamil, it has to be still be correctly pronounced as 5 syllables in the Sanskrit way. The pronunciation of Chi happens because of conversion from Sanskrit to Tamil as explained above. If we were to separate Tamil Saivism from any Sanskrit influence, the pronunciation of NaMaSiVaYa can become inaccurate. 

There was a Nayanmar known as Pasupathi. He recited the Sri Rudram daily in the temple water tank. He did this with great intensity. For this reason, he was addressed as Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar. 

These are some of the examples taken from the Thirumurai. It shows that the authors of Thirumurai, the Nayanmars glorified the Vedas and the Agamas. 

The Nayanmars accepted it as the source of our knowledge system. They then wrote their own hymns and explanation based on this knowledge system for the benefit of the common people.

Even in the annals of the Tamil people, our kings are known to be not just patrons of Tamil language, but also guardians of the Vedas and Vedic practices. 

Kings like Palyagasalai Mudukudumi Peruvazhuthi Pandya was famous for his patronage of Vedic sacrifices. The Pandya, Chera and Chola kings were even mentioned in the Mahabaratha, a Sanskrit Itihasa. They participated in Yudishtira's Rajasuya sacrifice (Vedic sacrifice).

It only shows that the Tamil society had deep Vedic roots. 

Based on all these, it makes no sense for any present day Tamil Saivite association to distance itself from the Vedas or even the Agamas simply because they are written in Sanskrit. The Thirumurai which they held with high regards is linked with these scriptures. 

Siva worship transcends all boundaries and that includes linguistic boundaries. Love towards ones language should not become an obstacle to embrace complete Siva worship. 

Unfortunately, some are trying to make it exclusively Tamil. There should be an end to this extremism which is spreading like cancer among the present day Tamil society.



Friday, 7 August 2015

Who is Karupanasamy?

Karupanasamy with his two main weapon. The Aruval and Gadam (Mace). The Mace is generally seen as a weapon of Vishnu and Krishna.Photo Credit : BMShrini Vasan

There are many deities worshiped by the Tamils. Some of these deities are considered as Vedic Gods while some are considered as Folk Gods. 

Among these various deities, Karupanasamy has a very special place. He is among the oldest deities worshiped by the Tamil people. 

Karupanasamy is also called as Karupusamy or Karupar. The Tamil word Karupu means Black. He is described as a fierce looking warrior in black clothes, dark skinned, with a thick moustache and carries an Aruval (Billhook - curved machete).

The worship of Karupanasamy is very ancient. 

During the Sangam Ages (2000 years and beyond), the Tamils of the Mullai region (forest) worshiped a deity called as Mayon or Maal.

ninaindhu naindhu ulkaraindhu urugi imaiyor palarum munivarum 
punaindha kanni nir sandham  pugaiyodu endhi vanangkinal 
ninaindha ellap porulgatkum viththay mudhalil sidhaiyame 
mananjsey njanaththu un perumai  masunadho? Mayone! 
(Verse 2720 of Nalayira Divyaprabandham)

This Mayon or Maal is none other than Vishnu himself. He is also addressed as PeruMaal (the great Maal) and TiruMaal (the respected/sacred Maal).  Like Karupanasamy, Maal is also described as a dark skinned God.

Murugan or Subrahmanya being the nephew and son-in-law of Vishnu, is called as Maal Marugan.

Various Tamil clans worship Karupanasamy. Among them, the most prominent one is the Kallar. They worship him as their tutelary clan deity. 

Karupanasamy is also worshiped by Maravar, Vellalar, Agamudayar, Yadavar and others. Today, many Tamils including those outside India worship him as a guardian deity.

The Kallars are not only people of the Paalai (dry land) region. They were also people of the Mullai region (forest).

The Sangam literature confirms that they once ruled the forest areas around Venkata Hills which is the northern boundary of Tamilakam. The famous Tirupati temple is located on these hills. 

A Kallar chieftain named Maavan Puli was mentioned in Sangam literature.

kalalpunai tiruntatik Kalvar koman
malapulam vankkiya Mavan Puli
vilavutai vluccir Venkatam perinum
(Ahananuru 61:11-13)

The Kallar clan were also known as Kalvar and Kalavar in ancient literature. Koman means king. 

The forest God of the Kallar people, Maal, was also the lord of the Venkata Hills which they ruled. For this reason, he is known as Venkateswara (Eswara here means Lord). 

At present, the Kallar people don't live in the Venkata region. They live in the south. There is an oral history about their migration from north and this is told among the Melur Kallars in Madurai.

The worship of Maal in Venkata Hills and Karupanasamy in the south by the same group of people shows that both can be identical. It connects to Vishnu.


Maal as Venkateswara

It also explains why Karupanasamy is often shown as a Vaishnavite deity with TiruNaamam on the forehead. This is the main form of Karupanasamy although there are other variations including Saivite versions.

The Karupanasamy shrine is located in Madurai near the Azhagar Temple. This shrine is also connected to another Vaishnavite tradition .

I am referring to the worship of Kallazhagar. He is a warrior form of Vishnu who is also worshiped as the tutelary deity of the Kallar community. 

Karupanasamy is also considered as the guardian deity of the Kallazhagar temple. 


Maal as Kallazhagar in his warrior form, riding a horse just like Karupanasamy.
Picture Credit : http://anudinam.org/

The ancient Tamils are also very familiar with Krishna who is considered as an incarnation of Vishnu. They called him Thuvarakai Koman which means King of Dwarka. 

According to Periya Azhwar (circa 785 AD), Arjuna had a Kallar army in the Mahabaratha war. That army was helped by Krishna. This was mentioned by the Azhwar in the Divya Prabandham. 

vellai vili sanggu ven chudar tiruchakkaram endu kaiyan
ulla idam vinavil umakkirai vammin suvaduraikken
vellai puravi kurakku vel kodi ter misai munbu ninru
Kallapadai tunaiyahi paratam kai seyya kandar ular

We can also connect Karupanasamy with Krishna. Krishna is also dark skinned. The people who venerate him would have addressed him as Karupana-Samy which means the God who is dark. 

People venerate heroes according to their own culture. So the thick moustache, Aruval, liqour, animal sacrifice etc are made part of the ritual by these Kallar people who happened to be warriors. 

(Animal sacrifice is not done in Azhagar temple)
As time goes, some of the devotees who worship Karupanasamy named their sons and daughters as Karupan or Karupayee. 

This is how we get Sanggili Karupan.

Sanggili Karupan lived around 400 years ago. He was a hero for the Piranmalai Kallars. After his heroic death, they venerate him as a deity. He then becomes Sanggili Karupanasamy.

Today he is worshiped by a large section of Tamils.

Similarly, many versions of Karupanasamy emerged after the original Karupanasamy. They would have been devotees or warriors who were given the same name. 

Back in the past, warrior communities from Tamil Nadu also migrated to Kerala to serve the local kings. So some of them named Karupan would have been in the army.

They could have been personal bodyguards of kings. This may explain the existence of Karupar shrine in Sabarimalai. 

The Karupar of Sabarimalai is believed to be the bodyguard of Lord Ayyapa. There could be a possible historical explanation for this. The origin of Karuppar-Ayyapan/Ayyanar partnership can be traced back to Kanda Purana. Ayyappan/Ayyanar who is also called as MahaSastha appears to protect the Gods. His bodyguard MahaKala (Great Black) appears to protect Indrani, wife of Indra. This MahaKala is none other that Karuppar himself.

But the main Karupanasamy remains in Azhagar temple. He is connected to Maal, Mayon, Vishnu, Kallazhagar or even Krishna. All pointing to the Vaishnava tradition. 

This Karupanasamy's history is probably as ancient as the people who worships him.

The dark skinned Krishna and Arjuna in the Mahabaratha war