........ MURUGA IN CILAPPATHIKARAM
0.2. In Cilappatikaram there are references to Murukan temples present in the Chola and Pandya capitals, and some other famous temples of Lord Murukan are also mentioned in the epic. The types of temples and the types of the icons enshrined are worthy of study. A large collection of materials based on the fine arts and folklore is present in the epic. From them the music, dance and folk songs in connection with the cult of the Murukan provide ample material for study. An analysis of the mythology related to the cult of Murukan present in the epic may also shed light on the cult of Murukan as it was during the period when the epic was written. The various names attributed to Murukan and the epithets associated with them may also help us to determine the status of the cult during that period.
0.3. The traditional descriptive approch is followed. The epic Cilappatikaram serves as the primary source. The secondary sources are the Cankam anthologies and idylls, including the epic Manimekalai, the counterpart of Cilappatikaram. Commentaries of the commentators and the researches done by modern scholars serve as tertiary sources.
1.0. Names and phrases denoting Murukan:
pan teytta moliyinar ayattup parattik
kan tettum cevvel enru icai pokki1
(Women whose speech is sweeter than music praised Kovalan's beauty among themselves. They said that in Kovalan's beauty they could identify Murukan's personality).
The music of velan who performed veriyattu for Cevvel was heard in the Colaimalai.2 Paripatal stands parallel to Cilappatikaram in specifying Murukan as Cevvel.3
1.1.3. Arumuka Oruvan
Paripatal adores Murukan as having six faces and twelve arms.12 Muviru kayantalai is another term equivalent to Arumukam found in Paripatal (muviru = six; kayantalai = young faces).13 Tirumurukārruppatai gives a detailed description of the six faces and twelve arms.14
1.1.4. Cilappatikaram stands unique in attributing the name Arumukaccevvel to Murukan. A temple of Lord Murukan is referred to as Arumukaccevvel Anitikal Kōvil.15
1.1.5. The women of the hills while dancing sing of Murukan as:
kark katappan tarem katavul16
Katampun teyvam17 and iraivan18 (the god who wears a garland of katampu flowers that blossom in the rainy season. Katavul = Iraivan = teyvam = deity). Besides the terms iraivan, katavul and teyvam, the Cankam anthologies and idylls use the terms kuricil and iyavul also to denote Murukan.19 They are also common terms used to denote all gods.
1.1.6. The explanatory phrases used by women of the hills to denote Murukan are as follow:20
alamar celvan makan, son of Lord Śiva who sits under the al tree.
Antanar verukkai = the riches of the brahmins.
1.3. We can tabulate the names of Murukan and their usages in the Cankam literature (see Table I). The new trend of addressing Murukan as Cevvel, Arumuka and Arumukaccevvel is found in Cilappatikaram. Only Paripatal, a collection of songs which belong to a range of periods, gives us data resembling those of Cilappatikaram
The names Muruku, Cey and Vel are the base forms used as such to denote Murukan:
Muruku = fragrance.
Muruku + an = Murukan
where the suffixes, on and, an are allomorphs that denote masculine singular noun. The name Netiyon is formed from the adjective netumai (i. e. greatness) and the suffix, on. The base form Vēl was given prefixes which explain the nature of Murukan.
am + vēl -> Avvēl (am = beautiful)
In Cilappatikaram the way of addressing Murukan took a different direction while framing Cevvel from two base forms. Cey + Vēl, > Cevvēl. Likewise, the way of addressing Murukan took a different dimension when the mythology of the birth of Murukan as one outspring from six persons came into vogue (4.1). In the name Arumukaccevvēl found in Cilappatikaram, the new direction and dimension seem to mingle with each other.
2.0. Places of worship and the holy images enshrined:
the kōyil and
Malati was a midwife. While she was feeding a brahmin child, the child died due to hiccups. Malati was scared to face the brahmin and his wife. So she took the corpse of the baby in her hands and went to Amarar Tarukkottam, Velyanaikkottam, Nilakkottam, Uccikkilan kottam, Urkkottam, Velkottam, Purampanaiyan Val kottam, Nikkantakkottam, Vaccirakkottam, and Pacantaccattan kottam. She prayed to all the gods to give life to the dead child. All the temples visited by her were kottams and Vel kottam is one among them.32 It should be the temple where Vel the weapon of Murukan was enshrined and worshipped. Drums were beaten and conch (kolicceval = cock; kotiyon=He who holds the flag) was blown announcing the sunrise in koliccevar kotiyon kottam at Madurai (1.1.6). Murukan enshrined in the kottam is called Kolicceval Kotiyon.
2.1.2. A Murukan kottam is referred in pura. also.33 Though the terms kōyil and kottam are not found in Tirumurukārruppatai; the differences between those two types of the temples are mentioned. Nakkirar the author of Tirumurukārruppatai, lists the temples of Murukan temples at Parankunram, Alaivay, Avinankuti, and Erakam. The explanation given for the temple at Alaivay clearly states that one of the faces of Murukan was watching the velvi (i. e. the sacrifice done through fire chanting mantras) performed by the brahmins as per the vedic traditions.34
The explanation given for Avinankuti also has a hint of velvi. Intiran who had finished hundred velvis visited the temple at Avinankuti to worship Murukan. This means that the temple of Avinankuti also gives place to the vedic way of worship. All the thirty-three crores of devas came to Avinankuti to worship Murukan.35 They are considered as followers of the vedic cult. The temple at Erakam is specified as the place where brahmins who follow the practice of sacrifice through fire came to worship.36 So these three temples should be considered as koyils as per the explanation given by Cilappatikaram.
Tirumurukārruppatai mentions hillocks sacred to Murukan, each town where festivals for Murukan were celebrated, places where veriyattu was performed, including forests, gardens, lagoons, banks of rivers, lakes, junctions of either three, four, or five roads, the blossoming katampu tree, town halls, trees amidst town halls, symbolic pillars for worship and other nakars as the places of worship of Murukan.37 This long list of places of worship is worthy to be categorised as kottams. So there are both kottams and koyils for Murukan in Tamilnad during the period of Cilappatikaram.
2.2.0. It was beleived that Murukan dwelt in the flowering katampu tree that blossoms in the rainy season. There was also the practice of garlanding Murukan with katampu flowers. References to Murukan associated with the flowers of katampu are already dealt in this paper (1.1.5 & 1.1.6). Alar katampan is a similar phrase found in both Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai.38 Details about Murukan associated with the katampu tree are found in many Cankam anthologies and idylls.39 There was the practice of garlanding the katampu tree and worshipping it as Murukan.40 The flowers were then worn by the vēlan who performed the ritual veriyattu.41
Botanists name this tree as Wendlandia notoniana.42 It is also called as Wendlandia thyrsoidea by another school of scientists. The katampu flowers are pale yellow in colour with remarkable fragrance.43 This fact coincides with the term narun katampu (naru = fragrant).44 The phrase urul inark katampu (the katampu flowers which resemble the wheel and axle of a chariot), can be explained on the basis of the type of corolla and androecium of the flowers.45 They have a tubular corolla with epipetalous stamens, which is the reason for the garland of katampu resembling the wheel and the axle of the chariot.
2.3. Vel the weapon of Murukan was enshrined and worshipped in kottams. It is very common to find references of Murukan associated with his vel. The vel was bright and had the shape of a leaf. The vel kottam where the vel was enshrined for worship is already mentioned in this paper (2.1.1). Cenkotu the hill where Murukan was worshipped is also referred as venvēlan kunru (venvēlan = He who holds the vel victoriously; kunru = hill).46 Kovalan, the hero of the epic, praises the beauty of his wife Kannaki's eyes, saying that they resembled the weapon of Murukan, the vel.
(The incomparable great vel that frightens enemies was donated by Murukan to frame your dark eyes which have red edges). Murukan who holds the vel was worshipped in Centil, Cenkotu, Venkunru, and Erakam.48 He who has the bright and leaf shaped great vel dwells at Netuvel Kunram.49 Because of his vel, Murukan is addressed as Velenti.50 The anthologies call Murukan Velan, Veloy, and Velvalan as he is holding the weapon vel.51 The weapon was described as being bright and leaf shaped.52
2.4. There were Murukan temples in Centil, Cenkotu, Venkunru, and Erakam. The women of the hills sang and danced in praise of those four temple towns. The hill Cenkotu is given various names like Netuvel Kunram, Venvelan Kunru, and Mancucul Colaimalai in Cilapatikaram.53 A series of events mentioned in the story of Kannaki is said to have happened here. The famous temple of Murukan in Centil is mentioned in the Cankam poetry also.54 The appearence of Murukan there is described in detail in Tirumurukārruppatai.55 He was sitting on the elephant with six faces and twelve arms. The other name used for this town was Alaivay as it is situated on the seashore (alai = waves). Tirumurukārruppatai speaks in praise of Erakam also. Details about the Murukan temple there has already been dealt in this paper (2.1.2).
The present name for the temple town Centil is Tiruccentūr. Even now the Murukan enshrined there is called Centilāntavar. The hill Cenkotu had been identified at present in the Curuli hills which is a part of the stretch of Palani hills. The place is now called Venkaikkanal.56 It is very near to the place of origination of the rivers Vaigai and Periyar. Venkunru is a small hillock with two cave temples 80 kilometers from Chennai. The hillock is now called Tavalakiri (tavalam = white, i. e. venmai; kiri = kunru = hill). The village adjoining the hillock is called Venkunru. There is some controversy over declaring Erakam as Swamimalai.57
3.0. Arts related to the cult of Murukan
There is a chapter named Kunrakkuravai in Cilappatikaram. The women of the hills perform a group dance in that chapter. As they are common folk who belong to a community lower than the brahmins, kshatriyas and vaishyas, the dance performed by them is a vinōtakkūttu.58 There was no king or his kith and kin to witness the dance. So it is a potuviyal item.59 All the songs of kunrakkuravai are composed in Tamil, so it is a iyalpukkūttu.60 The commentator Atiyarkkunallar clearly states that it is a varikkūttu. It is mentioned as one among the varikkūttus listed in the anonymous song quoted by him.61 There are many folk elements also present in the songs of kunrakkuravai to confirm the fact that it is a varikkūttu. The specific songs sung during the performance deal with love. The women took bath in the spring of the hills are started their performance.
erronrum kanem pulattal avarmalaik
ennonrum kanem pulattal avarmalaip
yatonrum kanem pulattal avarmalaip
(The waters of the spring descend flowing over the rocks of the hills of my lover. I found no reason to be in a tiff with this water. So, let as take a nice bath in this spring whole-heartedly.
The waters of the spring reach here after crossing the precious things in this hill. I found no reason to be in a tiff with this water. Let us enjoy a nice bath.
The waters of the spring come running with the blossoms of his hill. I find no reason to be in a tiff with this water. So came on, let us have a satisfying bath.)
These three songs talk about the same matter three times using different words. This is a character found in folklore and hence this dance is a varikkūttu. The rhythm of the songs reveals that it can be sung in the kummi tune folk tune, which is still in vogue to this day. During festive occasions ladies of the countryside stood in a circle and performed kummi accompained by the kummi song. The action in kummi is to clap the hands according to the rhythm. The difference in between kummi and kuravai lies in the action of clapping. In kuravai the ladies did not clap but they joined hands and went around according to the rhythm. The way in which they joined hands is also explained by the early grammarians.63 The technical term used is Karkatakak kai Kottu. The equivalent term used by the commentator is nantukkai (katakam = nantu = crab; kai = hands; kottu = joined). He adds that while joining hands in that fashion, the central finger and the ring finger face oneself. Holding each others hand in the style of the limbs of the crab is quite a natural way in practice.
The specific kalaiyar koyil kummi tune is very apt to be sung for these three songs. The rhythm is
tannanna natinam tannanna natinam
Then the women started singing in praise of Murukan's heroic deed of slaughtering Curan:
cirkelu Centilum Cenkotum Venkunrum
(It is the vel in the hands of the Lord who dwells in the meritorious Centil, Cenkotu, Venkunru and Erakam that is bright and leaf shaped. Once He went into the sea which surrounds the world to demolish Cūran in the form of a mango tree).
The matter is dealt in two more songs using different words, epithets and explanatory phrases. Thus there are two types of songs; one that deals with love and the other that deals with heroic deeds. Then the ladies sang and laughed at their mother's ignorance. Without knowing the affair of her daughter; the mother proceeded to arrange for velanveriyattu. There are four songs sung with this theme.
iraivalai nallay itunakaiya kinre
ayvalai nallay itunakai yakinre
(O! my friend with bangles in the forehands! Isn't it a comedy?! While the reason for my illness is my lover who lives in the cool hills where pepper grows in plenty, my mother finds no way to cure me. She thinks that it is due to Lord Murukan who dwells in the flowered katampu tree that I am ill. So she calls velan to come and perform veriyattu.
Oh, my friend with choice bangles! Isn't it a comedy? The velan will be coming to cure the illness caused by my lover who lives in the great hills. If velan comes, he is foolish. If he is going to be possessed by Murukan; then Murukan is more foolish than velan.)
Usage of words of rebuke is a common motif found in folklore. The ladies call both Murukan and velan as matavan, i. e. fool. So we have another reason to describe kunrakkuravai as a folk art, hence varikkūttu. Besides the satirical comment of the love-stricken girl about Murukan and velan, it makes it clear that a part of kunrakkuravai belongs to the category vacaikkūttu.66 Then the subject of their songs turn to be a prayer wishing success to their love.67 There are three songs which have the following rhythm.
tanatana tanatana tanatana tanatana
tanatana tanatana tanatana tanana
tanatana tanatana tanatana tanana
tanatana tanatana tanatana tanana
(Oh! the son of the Lord who dwells on Kailasa! We worship the lotus like feet of your wife Valli, who belongs to the clan of Kuravars, the lady with the elegance of the peacock and moon-like forehead, to bestow good wishes to marry my lover and to prevent any allaiance with other men). Thus kunrakkuravai proves to be an art related to the cult of Murukan.
3.2.0 Kutaikkūttu and Tutikkūttu:
3.2.1 Matavi performed eleven types of dances in the city Pukar during the festival for Indra. Two among them are kutaikkūttu and tutikkūttu.
. . . makkatal natuvan
(Admist the great sea, in the beach of an islet which served as a stage, he who competed with the worthy opponent Curan danced tuti. The army of avunars won over by Murukan were subjected to torment. The kutai was broken down. He performed the dance of kutai in front of them).
The author of the epic continues that she had specific make-up for these dances. Tuti is a type of drum. It was usually beaten in battles to evoke the feelings of valour. The dance of Murukan for the drum beats of tuti was called tutikkūttu. The esteemed kutai (umbrella) of the enemy was broken down. When he danced with the kutai in his hand it was called kutaikkūttu. As these dances deal with war and victory they are termed purakkūttus (counterpart of akakkūttu). The people of Pukar saw Matavi's dance. So these dances belong to the potuviyal category. Matavi was a professional dancer. She systematically learnt the art from the age of 5 to 12. Her arankerram or first solo performance was before the king. So these dances performed by her were classical in nature. Hence they are variccantikkūttus (counterpart of varikkūttu). Ilankovatikal also states that these dances have to be performed either in a erect posture or in a seated posture.70
3.2.2 The difference between tutikkūttu and kutaikkūttu mentioned by the early grammarians (quoted by Atiyarkkunallar) is that kutaikkūttu has to be danced in the seated posture. There are fields yet to be studied regarding these dances. Does the story of Murukan slaughtering Cūran belong to Aryan mythology or to Tamil mythology or is it a combination of both? Depending on the answer they can be categorised either as ariyakkūttu or Tamilkkūttu or a different one.71 The social status of a kanikai (e. g. Matavi) is above the ilikulam, i. e. lower community. So these two dances have to be categorised as cantikkūttus (counterpart of vinōtakkūttu).
3.3.0. Velanpani and Veriyattu:
3.3.1 Cilappatikaram specifies the velanpani heard in the Colaimalai where Cenkūttuvan with his wife came to enjoy the beauty of nature.72 The women of the hills sang among themselves that the mother is arranging for veriyattu (3.1.1).
Here the vēlan who is expected to perform veriyattu belongs to the clan of kuravars who live in the hills, a community lower than the brahmins, kshatriyas, and vaiśyas. So veriyattu is a vinōtakkūttu. Neither a king nor his relatives was expected to witness it. Only the people of the hills indulge in the ritual. So veriyattu falls under the category potuviyal. As it is a ritual performed by the common people it is invariably a segment of folklore. So veriyattu is one among the variety of varikkūttus. The anonymous song quoted by Atiyarkkunallar (cf. note 61) refers to velanpani as kantanpattu. (velan = kantan; pani = pattu).
3. 3. 2. Tirumurukārruppatai speaks about the appearance of vēlan in detail.73 Not only vēlan but women were also possessed by Murukan74. Perfumes, flowers, grain and goats were offered to Murukan.75 The place specified for veriyattu was decorated with clean sand.76 A rustic orchestra (with songs) was arranged for the performance.77 The practice of determining a doubtful matter with the use of numerology-based kalanku preceded veriyattu.78 The dance named kuravai proceeded veriyattu.79 Lovestruck girls, when subjected to veriyattu, call Murukan as matava (i. e. fool) satirically.80 There are plenty of stray references too in the Cankam poetry about this veriyattu.81
4.0. Mythology related to Murukan:
4. 1. 0. Murukan's birth:
4. 1. 1. Instances of the parents of Murukan are already dealt in this paper (1.1.6). The Lake Śaravana and the six Krttikā maidens who delivered and nursed Murukan are praised by the women of the hills during the performance of kunrakkuravai.
caravanap pumpalliyarait taymar aruvar
(He was delivered on the flower beds in the Lake Śaravana by the six Krttikā maidens. They gloriously nursed him)
4.1.2. The term alamar celvan for Śiva, the father of Murukan, is found in the epic Manimekalai and elsewhere in Cankam poetry.83 His mother is denoted by the same term malaimakal besides korravai and palaiyol in Tirumurukārruppatai.84 Paripatal gives a detailed account of the Lake Śaravana and the six nymphs who nursed him.85 Lake Śaravana was in the Himalayas filled with blue waters. Murukan was born on the lotus flowers there. The six rishis agreed with their respective wives who wished to bear Murukan in their womb. They gave birth to six infants as Murukan. Tirumurukārruppatai tells of Agni bearing the precious seed delivered by Lord Śiva in his hands, so that the six rishis' wives could conceive Murukan and deliver six children, namely Murukan.86
4. 2. 0. Murukan's childhood:
4. 2. 2. Paripatal explains in detail how Murukan had his cock and peacock. God Agni, pleased to see the valour of the child Murukan, created the cock from his body and presented it to him. He held the cock in his hands.88 Indran, the king of heaven, was amazed to see the valour of the child. So he created the mayil from a part of his body and presented it to Murukan. He held the mayil also in his hands. The cock served as his flag too.89 The cock flag was erected in places where Murukan was worshipped.90 He was called by the name of his flag too. The detailed account of how Murukan had his mayil is also dealt in Paripatal Tirumurukārruppatai seems to be unique in saying that mayil serves as his flag.91 Purananuru also refers to his mayil.92
4. 3.0. Valli, Murukan's beloved:
4. 3. 2. Paripatal says that Murukan loved the flower-like damsel Valli. It explains that Murukan married her and she is a lady of the kuravar clan.95 Tirumurukārruppatai speaks of Valli sitting beside Murukan as his wife. 96
4. 4 Murukan slaughtering the cūran:
On tabulating the above-mentioned mythological elements found in the Cankam anthologies, idylls and the twin epics, it is evident that their significance attains a new dimension in Cilappatikaram, Paripatal and Tirumurukārruppatai (see Table II).
The mythology of Murukan's birth, his cock flag, mayil vehicle, his wife Valli, and the destruction of hill Krauncam are the later elements that mingle with the cult of Murukan.
The tradition of worshipping the katampu tree as Murukan was prevalent in the days of Cilappatikaram also. There were famous Murukan temples in Centil, Cenkotu, Venkunru and Erakam. Kunrakkuravai, velan pani and veriyattu were the folk arts related to the cult of Murukan performed by the common folk. Tutikkūttu and kutaikkūttu were classical dances performed for the common folk. Kunrakkuravai can be categorised under akakūttu, vinotakkūttu, potuviyal, varikkūttu, vacaikkūttu and iyalpukkūttu; veriyattu can be categoried under vinotakkūttu, varikkūttu, potuviyal, tutikkūttu and cantikkūttu. The mythology of Murukan's birth, his cock flag, mayil vehicle, his wife Valli and the destruction of the hill Krau&ntiled;cam are the later elements that mingle with the cult of Murukan. Paripatal seems to be parallel with Cilappatikaram in every aspect.