குவலந்தாங்கு சாதிகள் நாலிலும்
நலந்தா னிலாதசண் டாளசண்
வலந்தாங்கு சக்கரத் தண்ணல்
கலந்தார், அடியார் தம்மடி
யாரெம் மடிகளே. 3.7.9
The four caste
uphold all clans ;
go down,far down
to lowliest outcastes
of outcastes :
if they are intimate henchmen
of our lord
with wheel in his right hand ,
his dark body as blue sapphire,
then even slaves of their slaves
are our masters.
Translated by A.K.Ramanujan ( Hymns of Drowning )
This poem was written by a Sudra poet(He was born in a peasant (Vellala) family) . His birth name is Maran and was also known as Catakopan. He was best known as Nammalvar or ‘our own Alvar’. He is considered to be the greatest of the 12 Alvars(Alvars were the Tamil saint poets who sang the praise of Thirumal or Vishnu). He is period is assigned between 880-930 AD.
He composed four works out which Tiruvaimozhi(“Word of the Holy mouth”) is considered to be the most important. Thiruvaimozhi has been hailed as the “ocean of Tamil Veda in which the upanishads of thousand branches flow together.”
He is said to have given the essence of Rig veda,Yajur veda,Atharva Veda and Sama Veda in his Tiruviruttam,Tiruvaciriyam,Tiruvanthathi ant Tiruvaimolzhi respectively.
His Tiruvaimozhi was intended to replace Veda. In Tiruviruttam he adapted the moods of classical Tamil love poetry (Akam) to religion. In Tiruvaciriyam he is said have described the appearance and qualities of Thirumal.
Nammalvar had great fame that after his death , images of him were installed in South Indian Vishnu Temples and revered as the feet of god. One can see his statue today in the temple at his birth place in Thirunelveli district – Alvarthirunagar.
Another very interesting bit of news , many of us when we go to Vishnu/Perumal Temple the priest keep a crown on our head. we usually know that crown represents the feet of the Lord. But what most of us don’t know is that , the crown actually represents the Feet of the Lord and Nammalvar. Hence till date the crown is called Catakopam after the name of Nammalvar.
Hymns of Drowning by A.K.Ramanujan
Tamil Literature by Kamil Zvelebil
கவிதையும் கோவிலும் by S.Ramakrishanan
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