அளந்திட்டதூணை அவன் தட்ட ஆங்கே
உளந்தொட்டு (இ)ரணியன் ஒண்மார் வகலம்
பிளந்திட்ட கைகளால் சப்பாணி
பேய்முலையுண்டானே! சப்பாணி !
When Hiranyan tapped the pillar strong
Out you came in imposing form
Of a lion, wide open his chest you tore
With these little hands I adore
Clap my darling!
Who suckled the demoness
Among the several stages in piLLaithamizh, one of the stages is the 'chappANi paruvam' which refers to the phase when the child learns to clap its hands together (chappANi).PeriyAzhwAr's piLLaithamizh songs are among the pAsurams that interest me the most. The philosophic nuances of, say a, nammAzhwAr earns more reverence, on the other hand, some of periyAzhwAr's songs are more visceral in their appeal and direct and simple.
Some examples before I proceed:
ஒரு மகள் தன்னை உடையேன்,Suspending reverence, one can speculate what may have happened to AndAL. When children her age were content with their play and chores, was she the madcap girl who nursed divine fantasies to an extreme end ? Was it her father who passed on his obsessions to her ? (Did he perhaps pass on his poems as hers ?) What became of her ? Why couldn't she be like everyone else and bear him his grandchildren ? Amid these flurry of questions, one can even see the whole of his piLLaithamizh as a longing of a man who never had - or worse still, never would have - grandchildren of his own.
உலகம் நிறைந்த புகழால்
திருமகள் போல் வளர்த்தேன்
செங்கண்மால் தான்கொண்டு போனான்
To all the world's fair praise
Like a princess I did raise
The one daughter I had
The god with lotus-like eyes
Took her from me in a trice
The divinity of children is a motif that springs up across religions. The non-judgemental nature of a child is perhaps a state that the one with a spiritual quest is longing for. Vice-virtue, good-bad, dirty-clean and such classifications clog the way up till the very end. A sample of this is one of my favorites
வட்டு நடுவே மலர்கின்ற மாணிக்க
மொட்டு நுனியில் முளைக்கின்ற முத்தேபோல்
சொட்டு சொட்டென்ன துளிக்க துளிக்க
என் குட்டன் வந்தென்னை புறம் புல்குவான்
கோவிந்தன் வந்தென்னை புறம் புல்குவான்.
Like a pearly tip of bud
Each droplet forms and drops
As my darling slowly walks up and
Hugs me from behind my back
As my Govindan
Hugs me from behind my back
It is a delicate balance that PeriyAzhwAr has passed (and my translation attempt has not) in managing to make you feel the beauty of the moment without evoking your disgust for the little child urinating as he walks to his mother. The poem works precisely because the non-judgemental nature of the child is communicated to the reader. The scene captured appeals directly and at the same time the child-like state (by extension the divine) sparks the reader's longing.
Now, how do we reconcile the child with the omnipotent ? Perhaps the child-like calm itself proceeds from the assurance of strength ? But aren't we traditionally accustomed to seeing strength in demonstration ? In the first poem that I quoted, PeriyAzhwAr doesn't bother reconciling. He depicts the seeming contradictions as they are and just lets us gasp. Imagine such a blood-soaked R rated line being sung to a baby!
Like every good poem reader one is expected to grab it and run away from the original context to make the poem one's own. Forget that he is singing to the Lord but just to any child without an avatar history. These innocent hands have in them a life ahead. What does life have in store for the child ? Not all the possibilities ahead are likely to be cherubic.Will he be guided by will or will he be just reacting to situations (there I go judgemental again !). Perhaps we can leave that all for later. All that is true now is that the child is learning to clap. The beauty of the moment rooted deeply in the present - the only reality. After all, what can be more transient that childhood?
It is inevitable my dear that you will go on to become a man - with all the trappings of adulthood. So what? Clap now!