Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Archive for the category “Siddhar Songs”

Siddhar – Sivavakkiyar – 521

Worshiping a put up stone as God, showering it with flowers
and intoning mantras under your breath – what’s the use?
Will the put up stone speak when He is within you?
Will a cooking pot know the taste of food?

நட்டகல்லை தெய்வமென்று நாலுபுட்பஞ் சாத்தியே
சுற்றிவந்து மொணமொணென்று சொல்லும் மந்திரமேதடா
நட்டகல்லும் பேசுமோ நாதனுள் இருக்கையில்
சுட்டசட்டி சட்டுவங் கறிச்சுவை அறியுமோ.

Siddhars were the iconoclasts of Tamil society. They were rebels against organised religion. Siva Vakkiyar of 10th Century is a well known Siddhar amongst them all. In this poems he mocks those who worship idols. “God is inside each one of us. What’s the point in worshipping a stone and going round it intoning mantras?” The last line is what stands out in the poem. “Though tasty food is cooked in a cooking pot, it does not know the taste of that food. So are the idols we worship. They are but stones which we have made into God. The God whom you worship is inside us”

Rightly, the Siddhars were considered heretical by the society. However they are an important strand of Tamil society that accommodated differing view points.

Siddhar – Sivavakkiyar -48

Fresh milk can’t go back to udder, nor churned butter to buttermilk;
sound can’t go back to the conch nor can a departed soul to the body;
bloomed flowers and fallen fruits can’t go back to the tree;
The dead are never never never ever born again.

கறந்தபால் முலைப்புகா கடைந்தவெண்ணை மோர்புகா
உடைந்துபோன சங்கினோசை உயிர்களும் உடற்புகா
விரிந்த பூஉதிர்ந்த காயும் மீண்டும் போய் மரம்புகா
இறந்தவர் பிறப்பதில்லை இல்லையில்லை இல்லையே.

Siddhars were the iconoclasts of Tamil Society. They stayed outside the pale of organized religion and were considered rebels. They made fun of all that was considered sacred by the religious. Siddhar poetry is an important strand of Tamil literature. Their poems were written in simple words and easily understood by common men. At the same time it was claimed that their poems had mysterious meanings too. There are not commentaries for their poems. Some of their poems are misogynistic and some are very controversial. This poem was written by Siva Vakkiyar in 10th Century.

He directly attacks the concept of rebirth. Things that have left their birthplace cannot go back. Like milk from the udder of a cow, churned butter from butter milk, sound of a conch, a soul departed from the body, flowers that have bloomed and raw fruits that have fallen. Similarly a dead person is not going to be born again.

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