Author Topic: Tiru Em Paavai:  (Read 1294 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 47995
    • View Profile
Tiru Em Paavai:
« on: December 07, 2012, 01:24:30 PM »
There is a beautiful article on Tiru Em Paavai ( I pronounce it as Tiruvembavai) by Robert Butler in the Advent 2006 issue of
Mountain Path. This gives the verse translation of all the 20 verses. I propose to cover the Introduction and one Verse today.


The Tiruvempaavai, named from from its recurring refrain El Or Empaavai, was written by the Tamizh poet and sage Manikkavachagar
during his visit to Tiruvannamalai on his way to Chidambaram, where according to tradition, he was to merge with ultimate reality,
Lord Siva, in  a blaze of light, leaving no physical trace behind. The purely ecstatic mood of the poem seems to prefigure that final
apotheosis. The genesis of the poem is described as follows in an early biography of the Saint, the Tiruvadavur Adigal Puranam.

It was the month of Margazhi , when the ten days before the ardhra asterism, beautiful maidens go from house to noble house
each other forth in the early dawn, just as darkness is dispersing, and, banding together, go to bathe in the holy tank. On observing
their  noble qualities, the poet sang the immortal hymn Tiruvempaavai.

There have been many more esoteric or less esoteric interpretations of this work, but the simplest, and least controversial, if
indeed any interpretations be required at all, is to regard it as a divine allegory in which the individual soul or jiva calls upon
its fellows to awake from the darkness of delusion, and gain salvation by coming to bathe in the blissful waters at the dawn
of the Lord's grace, personified in the form of his consort Uma-Parvati.

The refrain has not been translated and it is not usual to do so. If translated it might mean something like: Fair Maid of ours,
embraced and now the Lord. One may assume that it was already fossilized as a ritual refrain at the time of the composition,
expressing in a multifaceted way the exhilaration and heightened spiritual awareness of the participants in the bathing ritual.


Arunachala Siva.