Lord Skanda-Murugan

Abstract: Tirumurukarruppatai: “Directing on the Way to Holy Murukan”
A Systematic Interlinear Arrangement of Mulam-Transliteration, and a New Translation

Amirthalingam Selliah, Uppsala University, Sweden

This investigation highlights a systematic interlinear arrangement of mulam, "the original text", the standard transliteration and a new translation of Tirumurukarruppatai, "Directing on the Way to Holy Murukan”. With reference to an additional translation of the tirumurukarruppatai, one may interrogatively raise the issue why a new translation of the original text, would be necessary when already many translations are available. In the light of the study of major concepts/themes of the worship of God Murukan in Malaiyakam, “the Hill Country”, of Sri Lanka with its relation to Tamilakam (Tamilnadu) in India, from the perspective of field research and study of textual sources in combination of the historical, comparative and philological methodology, the following factors are important.

  1. In the gradual development of Murukan worship in Malaiyakam, I have in this volume shown how some of the themes, namely Murukan, kunrutoratal “one who dances one every hill”, malaikilavan / kurinci kilava, “you, Lord possessor of a mountainous region”, kurincik katavul, “God of Kurinci” (Malaiyakam), cevalankotiyon, “one who is having the cock on his banner”, avan paricu kotuppan, “he who will bestow gift”, etc., and sacred onomatics and toponomy based on Murukan etc., continue among Tamilar in their camaya neri, "the way of religion", through oral transmission. Hence, Malaiyakam has become the land of temples. However, some of the themes are explicitly or implicitly associated with the earliest comprehensive source of Tirumurukarruppatai, Paripatal in the context of Pattuppattu and Ettuttokaii anthologies, Arunakirinatar’s Tiruppukazh, Kacciyappar’s Kantapuranam and other relevant sources.
  2. It is necessary, as a precondition to substantiate the argumentation regarding the weight of my own translation of the original tirumurukarruppatai in the context, to point to Kamil Zvelebil’s observation that “neither the anthologies nor the lays have even been really adequately translated into any major Western language. The only translation which is sensitive enough to do justice to the original is a short selection of love-poems from Kur [kuruntokai] which appeared in 1967 as The Interior Landscape under the name of A K Ramanujan”.
  3. The earlier translations of tirumurukarruppatai are in many ways useful, but some of them are apologetic and partial to the ideologies of Caivam and Vainavam in the encounter with Sanskrit tradition, and others represent various disparate motives, so it is not easy to get closer to the text in the context due to the fact of the projection of the later mythical and puranic elements in the original text of the commentary. Hence, a closer critical examination of the translations is required.
  4. From the standpoint of the rediscovery of the pre-Pallava Cankam literary evidence of the Pattupattu and Ettutokai anthologies, the study of Murukan has reached a new turning point in the academic discipline and discourse in the interreligious relation. Subsequently, the scholarly critical study of the theme has gradually developed since the 19th-20th century. Some important controversial issues were/are raised from the perspective of the first International Tamil Conference in 1966 (followed by a sequence of conferences), the first World Hindu Conference in 1982, and the International Conferences on Skanda-Murukan in l998, 2001, 2003 in particular. Not only the International Centre for the Study of Murukan is born, but also information on the study of Murukan is regularly updated on www.murugan.org and www.kataragama.org, etc, since 1998. Thus the theme of the adoration of God Murukan remains a topic of vital interest in the present millennium.
  5. The author of this volume in accordance with the observations, represents the view that some of the literature on Murukan and also some of the bilingual Tamil-English dictionaries must necessarily be revised in the light of the latest historical evidence of the scholarly critical research programme of Tamil civilization in general, and the study of Tiru Murukan in the inter-religious relations in particular.
  6. Consequently, first, I present brief outline which reflects Nakkirar`s purpose in the systematic arrangement of the content and structure of Tirumurukarruppatai with reference to some of the major themes. Secondly I concurrently provide the systematic interlinear arrangement of mulam, the original tirumurukarruppatai, and the standard transliteration of the text. Subsequently, a new translation of Tirumurukarruppatai follows Thus, this attempt is potentially fruitful to historically advance further academic research on murukak katavul calpu, “the excellence of God Murukan”, with reference to the belief and practice of Murukam, “Murukaism”, in the encounter with religions of various multi-ethnic communities in the sociopolitical conditions from the perspective of the history of camaya neri, “the way of religion”, of Tamil civilization.

Amirthalingam Selliah, Ph.D. (candidate), M.A., B.A.
Uppsala University
Box 1031
E-mail: selliah.amirthalingam@swipnet.se

See also the author's article "The Worship of God Murukan in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka"