Thiruppugal - Introduction continued...
By N.V. Karthikeyan
As Arunagirinathar was ordained by Lord Murugan to sing His glories, the Saint's main work is the Thiruppugal songs. Thiru- is "God" or "Divine" and -Pugal is "glory." Hence, true to the title, Thiruppugal stands for "The glory of God." It has been estimated that Arunagirinathar had composed over 16,000 verses of the Thiruppugal poems. Today, however, only about 1,300 are available to us. Even from these one can get a glimpse of the extraordinary capacity of Saint Arunagirinathar. These Thiruppugal songs contain information on different subjects like religion, art, music, and literature; the different systems of Yoga, like Bakthi, Jnana, Raja, Kundalini, Hatha, etc.
Though Lord Murugan is the sole object of praise, each Thiruppugal being addressed to Him and ending with "perumaaLE" (my Lord), etc., Arunagirinathar so dexterously brings in all other deities like Vinayaka, Vishnu, Siva, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Parvathi, Kali, Rama, Krishna, etc. in the capacity of their relation to Skanda as this or that, and thus, glorifies everyone of them. In so doing, Arunagirinathar brings in innumerable anecdotes, incidents, and episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad-Bhagavata, Periya Puranam, Skanda-Purana, etc. It is believed that, apart from the purpose of turning the minds of people from sensuality to spirituality and devotion, Arunagirinathar heralded a new era of religious unity, tolerance, and understanding between the Saivites and Vaishnavites, through his Thiruppugal songs which, in glorifying Lord Skanda, praise Him as the Son of Siva, Uma Devi, etc., as also the son-in-law of Vishnu, Lakshmi, etc., thus bringing about a compromise between the two sects. Indeed this is no small achievement. This praise of all Gods and Goddesses is one of the outstanding features of Arunagirinathar's Thiruppugal songs, and is rarely seen in the works of any single saint or poet of the Tamil country.
Another salient feature is the free employment of Sanskrit words, phrases, and even complete lines in Thiruppugal and also in Kanthar Alangaram, which exhibits not only Arunagirinathar's mastery over that language but also his skill to blend it with Tamil, and thus, show that the two languages are not incompatible with each other.
The Thiruppugal songs are in Santham metre and Arunagirinathar is the pioneer of these type of poems in the Tamil language.
If the available 1,300 Thiruppugal songs themselves disclose so much of the superhuman skill of Arunagirinathar and his vast range of knowledge in different fields, we can imagine the mine of information and wisdom that could be inherited by us if all the 16,000 songs were to become available to us. The cadence and rhythm, the elegance of his diction, the meaning and sweetness, the lilt and dance of his words have even today such a magical effect. Arunagirinathar is always living with us. His works Thiruppugal, Kanthar Anubhuthi, Kanthar Alangaram, Kanthar Anthathi, Thiru Vaguppu, Vel Viruththam, Mayil Viruththam, Seval Viruththam, Thiru Elu Kootrirukkai, and other divine literary works have survived centuries and are still sung in temples today! Long live the fame and works of Arunagirinathar!
Karthikeyan, N.V. Kanthar Anubhuti (God-Experience) of Saint Arunagirinathar. 2nd ed. India: Divine Life Society, 1990.
Sivananda, Swami. Lord Shanmukha and His Worship. World Wide Web edition. India: Divine Life Society, 2000.
Venkataramiah, K.M. Sivan Arul Thirattu. 2nd ed. Republic of South Africa: Natal Tamil Vedic Society, 1990.