|The Nayanmars. Picture taken at KL Mariamman Devasthanam.|
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)
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.
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.
19. Chandra Jnana
20. Mukha Bimba
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.