Author Topic: Periya Puranam  (Read 3906 times)


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Periya Puranam
« on: January 17, 2009, 05:36:34 PM »
Periya Puranam, "the great epic" was sung by Sekkizhar by the end
of 10th century.  On seeing Kamba Ramanyanam, of Poet Kamban,
which was written around early 10th century and on seeing that
the King Anabhaya Chozha was patronizing Vaishnavism at the cost
of Saivism, Sekkizhar prayed to Dancing God of Chidambaram and wanted to compose a work on Saiva Saints.  His source book was
Tiru Thondathokai of Saint Sundaramoorthy.  Siva gave Sekkizhar the first phrase, Ulahelam, "meaning in all these worlds."  He quickly completed Periya Puranam, and requested the king to go through it.
The King was pleased and wanted him to read in the Dancing Court of Chidambaram.  Thus, the epic was first read out in Chidambram, in the precincts of the golden court.  Sekkizhar kept the twelve Siva Canons inside the temple and then in the presence of great scholars and sages, he read out the epic.  The book was taken into the streets of Chidambaram, on a decorated palanquin, with the Chozha King as one of the palanquin bearers!

The twelve books of Siva Canon are:

Books   I, II, and III - Tiru Jnana Sambandhar  (Tevaram)
Books IV, V, and VI - Tiru Navukkarasar (Tevaram)
Book VII - Sundaramoorthy (Tevaram)
Book VIII - Manikkavachagar (Tiruvachakam and Tiru
Book  IX -  Songs by various saints
Book X   -   Tirumantiram, (3000 verses)
Book XI  -   Songs by various saints
Book XII -  Periya Puranam

Tiru Jnana Sambandhar, Tirunavukkarasar and Sundaramoorthy lived between 4th and 6th Century, before Sri Sankara.
Manikkavachagar's period is a historic mystery.  He must have lived either around 4th Century or around 11th Century.  Manikkavachagar never quotes anyone of the others. The others have also not quoted him. Periya Puranam does not make mention of him.  Only later poets like Arunagiri Natha and Guhai Namasivaya quoted him.  The 64 divine plays of Siva in Madurai mentioned in Tiruvilaiyadal Puranam, speak of many sports for the sake of Manikkavachagar. The divine plays are reported during the period of Harimarthana Pandya King, who ruled in 4th century.

In Chidambaram, Nataraja icon and the stone image of Vishnu in
milky ocean were side by side.  There were clashes between Saivites and Vaishnavites.  King Anabhaya himself afer great penance is
said to have removed Vishnu's idol and kept it in a separate shrine outside the Dancing Hall of Nataraja.

Periya Puranam verses are available from Saiva Siddhanta Book Publishing House, Chennai. A lucid English prose translation is available from Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai.  A prose Tamil translation is available, written by Krupananda Variyar, a great Skanda bhakta who lived a few years back.  This Tamil prose translation is also being sold by Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai.

Arunachala Siva.