The title – “காதற்ற ஊசியும் வாராது காண் கடைவழிக்கே” “Kaadhatra Oosiyum Vaaraadhu Kaan Kadaivazhikkae”meaning, This eyeless needle is useless and will not go to the market. And, even this useless needle will never accompany you in your final destiny (after death). These verses that changed Pattinathar’s life.
நாபிளக்க பொய்யுரைத்து நவநிதியம் தேடி நலனொன்றும் அறியாத நாரியரைக் கூடி
பூப்பிளக்க வருகின்ற புற்றீசல் போல
புலபுலென கலகலெனப் புதல்வர்களை பெறுவீர்
காப்பதற்கும் வகையறியீர் கைவிடவு மாட்டீர்
கவர்பிளந்த மரத்துளையிற் கால்நுழைத்துக் கொண்டே
ஆப்பதனை அசைத்துவிட்ட குரங்கதனை போல
அகப்பட்டீரே கிடந்துழல அகப்பட்டீரே
Naapilakka Poiuraiththu Navanidhiyam Thaedi
Nalanondrum Ariyadha Naariyarai Koodi
Poopilakka Varugindra Puttreesal Pola
Pulapulena Kalakalavena Pudhalvargalai Peruveer
Kaapadharkkum Vagai Ariyeer Kaividavum Maateer
Kavarpilandha Maraththulaiyil Kaalnuzhaithu Kondae
Aapadhanai Asaithuvitta Kurangadhanai Pola
Agappatteerae Kidanthuzhala Agapatteerae
meaning, You gather all the nine kinds of wealth by uttering lies until your tongue gets split. You get together with women who don’t even know what is good and what is bad. And like the termites that fly out cracking up the earth, you beget a lot of children. You don’t know how to save them, you won’t leave them and go away. This act is like the monkey that inserts its leg in the gap of a tree branch split up by a wedge and trying to shake that wedge.
Recently , almost the same week, the victory of controversial US presidential candidate Donald Trump and the announcement of demonetization of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes which led to panic among investors and poor respectively, I realized that some things should be changed in the way I live my life.
The earlier mentioned disastrous events has led to heightened market volatility and though the impact of the two events is spread across asset classes, with whom I majorly conduct my business , we (Shankar* and me) were never much bothered about that impact on us, mostly because we were lost in discussions about a great sage who lived many years back in same Dravidian land that we live in now.
Till this time, I had only rarely read or heard about him in Kalki’s ‘Ponniyin Selvan’. As our discussions went intense, I fell in love with this legend.
The life history of the legendary Pattinathaar who was born as a wealthy man, but renounced everything on realization that nothing in this world is permanent. He has left us his life experiences and his realizations as songs that will serve as a reminder that one should not be attached to the materialistic possessions in this world.Tamil Nadu has a lot of poets, siddhars, sages and many wise men who have left behind their experiences as the great wealth that future generations to learn and follow. However, Pattinathaar is unique to the list of great people that Tamil has as its pride.
Pattinathar is one of the greatest Shidda poet. But unlike most of the Shiddas, he hates even his body(Shiddas are known for preserving their body).He is pessimistic,cynical and frustrated.One of the main features of his poems is his pathological hatred of women but is reasonable and relevant even today.
Similarity in Buddha , Jesus Christ, and Pattinathar
It is so interesting to note that , though there were differences in cultures and era , Jesus Christ , Buddha and Pattinathar thought in the similar lines when it comes to spirituality.
“Let us live most happily, possessing nothing.” (Dhammapada 15:4)
Greatly disturbed by the suffering he saw in the world, 29-year-old Prince Gautama Siddhartha (563-483 BC), who was later called the Buddha (enlightened one), left his wife and young child and set out on a search for the meaning of life.
You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. (Mark 10:21)
Jesus and the Buddha agreed that pursuing ultimate happiness in transient things is futile. But they direct us to opposite solutions. The Buddha says satisfaction is treasuring no thing. Jesus says it is treasuring God. In God we get all things. In no thing we get, well, nothing.
Just like Jesus Christ and Buddha, Tamil saint Pattinathar warns us about the impermanence of life. He insists that Life is short and we must do everything good within that short period.
Pattinathar inspired me to follow him mainly because his poems are happily free from the violent denunciations of idol worship, temples, rituals, caste, Vedas, Agamas etc. which Sivavakkiyar indulges in. He has shown an excessive desire to extol the virtues of unqualified asceticism and Yogic mysticism in language that can be understood by the masses. He shows leanings towards Bhakti in his later poems. As a poet, he is far superior to Sivavakkiyar, in my opinion.
PATTINATHAR AND KANNADASAN
Thanks to Shankar for giving me a deep insight on his inspirations from Pattinathar.
As a poet, he is far superior to Sivavakkiyar. Pattinathar has a greater command over imagery and language. His poetry has sweetness, simplicity and emotional appeal. He has sung of his religion and philosophy with freedom, vigor and breadth of outlook. He has good mastery over form, especially Ahaval metre, in which some of his most brilliant poetical passages have been written. Pattinathar is the most widely read Siddhar in the Tamil language. A man on the street can pick a song, depending on the situation he is in and fully identify himself with it. The interplay between tradition and modernity has always been a driving force behind great literary works. Tamils who take great pride in their tradition have also embraced modernity as a vehicle for exposition. Kannadasan’s deep knowledge of Pattinathar, who sang about the human life and its complex dimensions, made his lyrics more appealing to the common man.
Oru Mada Maathum (ஒரு மட மாதும்)
Pattinathar’s poem Oru Mada Maathum (ஒரு மட மாதும்), is the reason to write this blog.
Part 1 – Birth -Utarkurruvanam
Utarkurruvanam or The harmony of components parts of the Human body is a poem written by the great Cittar Patinathar. This poem retains the cynical view of life typical to him. The poem details life from an embryo to death and finally ashes. I am posting the translation of this poem in 4 parts – Life, Youth,Old Age,Death.
Non-Tamil readers please watch this YouTube video, to get this meaning right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZP4DkP2Dr8
This beautiful translation of the Patinathar poem by Kamil Zvelebil follows,
an infatued woman
and enamored man
and unite in affection
which yields the pleasures of sweet passion,
out of his agitation
his white semen spurts
and springs forth
and soaks her womb
mixing with her flow,(1)
and a small drop,
not bigger than a dew drop,
enters and gyrates in her womb-
that which was like a lotus-bud,
and like a tiny tortoise,
has eyes and body, mouth,
and ears and legs and arms,
a human shape!(2)
It grows, the life inside,
and after ten months
the womb of the woman opens,
and a man is born.
They set his horoscopy, his destiny,
an army of serfs around prepare his bed,(3)
and women dress him, caress him,
and he jumps and leaps and kicks and crawls
and falls upon the floor
and turns legs up and upside down
and sucks the nectar from the breasts
which are like a pair of young peacocks.
And day by day he grows,
and gathers knowledge, this and that.(4)
His wet lips with radiant smile
kiss happily the female servants; round,
he sits in their laps and babbles,
saying such simple words like
‘come’ and ‘go’ and ‘stay’
and utters a few names:
thus his speech is born.(5)
And then he runs about,
in lovely dress, and with a belt of gems,
cats with the grown-ups,
and in the street plays games
with dust and clay,
and with his friends runs here and there
and so, in games and frolicking,
reaches the age of five.
Part 2 – Youth -Utarkurruvanam
Then the teacher comes.
He learns the glories of his mother-tongue,
Tamil in her three shapes,
and how to write and count,
and growing up, resembles,
as so many say,
the growing crescent of the moon:
and thus he reaches sixteen years.(7)
Praised by the poets,
with fair jewels beautified,
with a well-grooms knot of hair
and wearing garlands full of humming bees,(8)
he stands in front of women,
desirous and young,
fair like the love god,
and loses his strength-
while they, who are like peacock elegant,
devour him with their fiery eyes.(9)
He’s unable to carry his desire,
he will pursue them,
he will embrace their splendid breasts,
which are like broad round pitches firm,
and he will suck the nectar off their lips,
and senselessly spend all his properties
And then the remnants of his disappear
in suits and quarrels, action, fueds.
And soon the pleasures go,
the youthful charm,
the fires of passion freeze.(11)
Riches are lost
and all his youth is spent,
string teeth fall out
and eyes will lose their shine,
his hair grows grey
and wrinkled is his face
angers and hatred of disputes arrive.
He will now hold
an omnipresent stick
in his cold reddened hands.(12)
Part 3 – Old Age -Utarkurruvanam
Bent with the weight of age,
he roams about,
squatting and moving like an ape,
losing his wits,
all stiff, all deaf, and almost blind,
blabbering incongruous words.(13)
When it is time for sleep,
he coughs, his throat is dry,
and his chest is burning.
In torn rags, all numb and blunt,
mocked at by women and by boys,(14)
He wobbles’ round and his perplexity grows,
and he will fart and piss
unable to hold his urine and his stools,
he will crawl about
in filth and dirtiness.(15)
Confused and puzzled,
staggering in speech,
his thoughts and feelings wandering about,
shaking and trembling,
he will realize
that there’s no consolation in this world,
no kindness, only pain.(16)
As it is written in the Vedas four,
by the Great Teachers said:
Now the great Calamity comes,
what will he do now,
whence will come the help?
There is now no more life on earth,
all he must do is to repay his debts.(17)
While talking, his tongue goes to sleep,
and he talks with gestures of his hands,
soon is unable to eat
and food drips out,
and the four elements
and his breathing stop.
Part 4 – Death -Utarkurruvanam
And lo, behold,
the Messenger of Death,
like a huge mountain,
shining and black shape,
all hairy, terrible,
teeth like the crescent moon-
He throws his net
and takes the life
the others come with bowed heads,
the wife falls in his lap and weeps,
The neighbors stand around and speak:
‘Well, he was very old.’
and then they, too, disperse
like cotton in the wind;
And a few stay,
propose to build a shed.
Then comes the Paraiyar
bringing his drum.
They wash the corpse,
dress it and anoint,
and decorate with sandal and with wreaths.
The youngsters come and bend and take the corpse.
and they walk swiftly till they reach
the burning ground.
what is this human life?
They place the body on the pyre
and cover it with fuel, bathed in oil,
and then kindle the fire.
It burns and the fat melts,
and the limbs fall apart;
The bones, cracking and scorched,
sink down, deep down
and now the body
that was man
is hardly a handful
Be gracious to me,
who am your slave,
o Lord, to me who trusted
this body of mine!