Sunday, February 20, 2011

At Church, St. Paul and Thirumular (திருமூலர்)

The exchange of Namaste or Vanakkam (வணக்கம்) in Indian culture, first and foremost, acknowledges the human-dignity and divinity that is impregnated within every human-being one runs into. Naturally, one says Namaste with folded arms, an act that befits worship.

Today, a Hindu Saint occupied my mind, when St. Paul's Epistle was read at Church. The 1st verse from: 1 Cor 3:16: ("Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"), literally brought  this Tamil, Hindu, Shaivite Saint -- Thirumular -- into my mind.

Thirumular's magnum opus is "Thirumanthiram" (திருமந்திரம்), which comprises 3,000 verses. Although a Hindu mystic, his works can appeal to anybody - believers and non-believers alike. This is the verse that brought him into my thoughts:

படமாடக் கோயில் பகவற்கு ஒன்று ஈயில்
நடமாடும் கோயில் நம்பர்க்கு அஃது  ஆகா
நடமாடும் கோயில் நம்பர்க்கு ஒன்று ஈயில்
படமாடக் கோயில் பகவற்கு அஃது ஆமே.


padamAAdak kOyil pagavaRkku onRu EEyil
nadamAAdum kOyil nambarkku aGdhu AAgAA
nadamAAdum kOyil nambarkku onRu EEyil
padamAAdak kOyil pagavaRkku aGdhu AAmAY.

My own translation (which may not be perfect :-)):

Charity done to a God housed in a Temple,
Does nothing to the ordinary person, who is an ambulatory temple of God.
If, charity is done to that ordinary person, who is a temple of God,
That equates to extending it to the God housed in the Temple.

The core-point is "நடமாடும் கோயில்" -- ambulatory temple -- which connotes the person. Precisely, what St. Paul says too.

I ran into this verse, when I was 12 years old. The beauty of the verse lies not just in the point being conveyed, but, in the aesthetics of rhyming words juxtaposed to each other, thereby moving the same words to slightly different positions communicates an entirely different meaning that is very profound. Besides, it makes it very easy to memorize.

Needless to say, to internalize as well.

Thirumanthiram is a cornucopia of mystical ideas that can challenge theists and atheists together. Besides, it helps me understand my own faith better.


Suresh said...

Gr8 post.. pls continue

Rex Arul said...

Thank you. Will do.