Periya Puranam – A History And Beyond

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” Michael Crichton

Hello All,

Hope you are doing good. With lock down there is no way out on weekends. Sometimes it’s difficult but at times it does constantly remind me that there is a way in. And to learn or know something new, Sky’s the limit.

Hailing from Srirangam called Bholoka Vaikundam, I know very little about Nayanmars. Do not ask me if I know more about Alwars. I do not know them as well. But I have seen Alwars frequently during Thiru Adhyayana Utsavam also known as Pagal Pathu, Ra Pathu Utsavam, here in Srirangam which is celebrated during Vaikunda Ekadashi every year. But I have never been to Arubathi Moovar Vizha which is the famous festival in Mylapore every year in the month of Panguni. 

So, I thought I should start knowing more about Nayanmars. Hence writing about Nayanmars. And when it is about Nayanmars, it’s nothing but Periya Puranam that strikes my mind. As I learn about them I would like to share with you for two reasons. If you know about Nayanmars please do comment on this blog and let me know if the story is right or wrong. Another is to send some spiritual vibes which are more positive and powerful. And I guess we need this with the situation we are in. 

So, now straight into the introduction for Periya Puranam. 

Periya Puranam is also called Thiruthondar Puranam. It is 12th in the list of 12 Thirumurais (Panniru Thirumuraigal). These are 12 sacred texts of Shaivites. And this Periya Puranam is a treasure, a collection of life histories of all the 63 Nayanmars. This was compiled by Sekkizhar in the era of Kolothunga Chola II, King Anabaya Chola. 

Sekkizhar was the prime minister and poet in his court. Kolothunga Chola II was dazzled by the work Seevaga Chindamani. The work is about how a prince Seevagan conquers his kingdom back, by marrying eight dames exhibiting his heroics and errotics, gains the support of those kingdoms and becomes powerful. Ultimately, he renounces his kingdom realising the impermanence of the world and becomes a hermit. 

But King Anabaya Chola was stuck with the materialistic part of the work beyond the balance. Which naturally happens for any human. All that matters is to be aware of it and strive for balance. But the Chola king has gone so deep to make him aware of his off balance state. To put him back on track, Sekkizhar, a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva wanted to pen about Nayanmars. 

Some Illustrations Depicting Periya Puranam and Sekkizhar. Illustrations inspired from the pins Enrich Minds and 123RF from Pinterest.

To lead a peaceful life being spiritual helps. Too much erotica could spoil and ruin one’s life to destruction. And if a King goes off balance, the entire kingdom is at stake. So Sekkizhar travelled places to collect evidence and life histories of all the 63 Nayanmars. 

Most of the Nayanmars were leading a normal middle class life yet were strong about their spiritual seeking and their devotion to Lord Shiva. Despite hurdles, they were strong willed to go with their conviction.

Periya Puranam is a treasure as it clearly reveals about the time, place, the way of living of all Nayanmars. And Nayanmars are not from the same caste or sex. They are from all castes, creed and sex. The book is an epitome of Inclusiveness.

The book says that devotion, god, the elements of nature is for all. All that it requires is a heart full of love, conviction and purpose.

Most quotes on History say that it is a waste of time to read them and urge people to create one rather. But in Reality, one can read, relate and be inspired from History. And Periya Puranam not only says about devotion to God. Along with that it clearly emphasizes on love, compassion, acceptance. These aspects of life seem trivial but are difficult to put in practice in real life. But Periya Puranam is all about these little things that matter in life through the life histories of Nayanmars. 

So Periya Puranam is much more than to be seen as history as such. 

Planning to read and write about Nayanmars in the coming weeks as well. Hope things go as planned. 

Happy Week ahead! 

With Love,

Rukmini

References

www.shaivam.org

Periya Puranam Aaivu Nool, Vijaya Publications