THIRUVILAIYADAL PURANAM
THE NATIONAL PURANAM OF PANDYA NADU
BY
PARANJOTHI MUNIVAR





    Hinduism has a very rich body of religious works and literature.
Vedas and their associated works and their branching sciences and fields,
etc.
    There is a body of literature called Puranas and Ithihasas.
They are collection and compilations of stories, history, descriptions,
explanations of rituals, geography, etc.
    The Puranas are 18 in number. They are the major puranas.
Apart from these there are the minor puranas.
    Then there are the sthala puranas. These deal with the
greatness of a particular holy place or religious centre.
    There is one unique purana which is of a different calibre.
    This the ThiruViLaiyaadal PuraNa.
    This purana describes the 64 Divine Sports and Exploits of 
Lord Siva of Madurai known as Chokanatha or Sundaresvara.
    There have been several puranas which dealt with the same theme. There is a Sanskrit version known as Halasya Mahathmiyam.
    The stories which form the corpus of the latest version of the Thiruvilayadal puranam are ancient. Some of the stories go backwards in time to the period of the second Tamil Sangam.
    Many of the 64 stories have been mentioned by Thirugnyanasambandhar and Thirunavukkarasar. That would take them back before the 6th century AD.
    Which would mean that whatever puranas about them that existed, must have vanished.
    The latest version was composed by Parajothi Munivar in the 16th - 17th century.    

    ThiruviLaiyAl puraNam is the national puranam for Pandya nadu.
    The present version was composed by Parajothi Munivar in the 16th century.
    He was a native of Vedaranyam of Tanjavur District. He was Tamil scholar. He wrote the Vedaranya Puranam in Tamil from the original Sanskrit form. After its completeion, he started on an itinery which took him to many Saivite pilgrimage centres. He went to all the important places like Chidambaram, Thiruvanaikkaa, Thiruvannamalai, Thiruvarur and finally reached Madurai. He became very popular with people of Madurai who revered him. He stayed in Madurai and was performing his worships to the Siva of Madurai.
    One day the people of Madurai made a popular request. They wanted Paranjothi Munivar to compose a puranam involving the 64 Divine Sports of Siva which took place in Pandyanadu centred around Madurai.
    While he was cogitating upon this proposal, SriMeenatchi Amman appeared in his dream. She ordered him, "Sing the sporty exploits of My Lord".
    Thereupon, he woke up and started immediately, singing the first hymn which he dedicated to SiddhiVinayaka.

saththiyaay sivamaagi thanipara
muththiyaana mudhalai thuthi seya
siddhiyaagiya soRporuL nalguva
siddhiyaanai than seyya poRpadhamE

It started with sathi - sakthi being the mangala vacaka which denotes the dynamic motivational force which induced him to compose the epical poetry.

    He impregnated the epic with all forms of suvai - finesse and beautiful verses. The epic which he named 'ThiruviLaiyadal Puranam'. He sang a total of 3363 verses of all styles. 
Together with preliminary essential parts of an epic, such as the SiRappu Paayiram, Praise to God, Merits of the Country, Merits of the City, Greatness of Mount Kailas, History of the Purana, etc. He composed it into three major kantams - Madurai kantam, Kudal kantam, Thiruvaalavaay kantam. Madurai, Kudal, and Thiruvaalavay are names of Madurai. Each kantam was constituted of patalam. Each patalam described each of the 64 Divine Sports. Apart from these, the first patalam contained special chapters on the thalam - holy town, thirtham - the holy water springs, and murthi - God of the place and also a decade of 10 songs. It contains 18 of the 64 Holy Sports. The second kandam called the Kudal Kandam contains the ninteenth to the forty-eighth patalas. The third or Thiruvaalavaay Kandam contains the forty-ninth to the sixty-fourth kantams. As an epilogue, he has composed some verses which extoll the virtues the Thiruvilaiyadal and a composition of one hundred verses for Madurai.
    The Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam was the National Purana for the people of Pandya Country.

    When Thirumalai Nayakkar was building the PuduMandapam @ Vasantha Mandapam, Paranjothi was always staying in that Mandapam. He spent his time there watching the progress of the work.
    The Pudhu Mandapam is a pavilion hall of sold stone masonry.
It is beautifully carved with intricate designs.
It is 333 feet by 105 feet. The height is 25 feet.
If you look at the dimensions, you will notice that the Naayakkar's
architect had used the Golden Mean - Fibonacci ratio.
It has 124 beautiful carved and sculpted pillars.
Twelve of the pillars have big statues of all the Naayakkar kings
upto Thirumalai Naayakkar.
    At the eastern end of the hall, is a very ornately carved throne
pavillion - 'kolu mandapam'. This is made of polished granite and woodwork.
    The shrines of Minnatchi Sundareswarar are kept kere on the pattabhishekam day. Thirumalai Naayakkar receives the sceptre of Madurai from the Goddesss Miinaatchi to rule as Her Viceroy.
    Out of the 124 pillars 50 of them contain big statues.
    Rare forms of Siva are to be seen. Out of the sixty four divine sports - Thiru ViLaiyaadal - of Siva, seven of them are depicted
in seven of the pillars.

    The Madurai Miinaatchi Sundareswarar Temple was renovated
extensively by Thirumalai Naayakkar who ruled Madurai country from
1623 - 1659. He lived upto a ripe old age in pomp and glory. He also
made many embellsihments and additions to the temple.
    Among the many structures that he caused to be put up, were
two notable buildings
    Both were built as an additional complex to the Eastern Gopuram.
Just in front of this gopuram, is a splendid building called PudhuMandapam.
    In front of the Pudhu Mandapam the Naayakkar anted to build a very huge and tall tower. If it had been completed, it would have been the tallest structure in South Asia for several centuries. This, however, was not to be.
    Because it was never completed.

    The subject of our discussion is the PudhuMandapam.

    The Pudhu Mandapam is a pavilion hall of sold stone masonry.
It is beautifully carved with intricate designs.
    It is 333 feet by 105 feet. The height is 25 feet.
    If you look at the dimensions, you will notice that the Naayakkar's
architect had used the Golden Mean - Fibonacci ratio.
It has 124 beautiful carved and sculpted pillars.
Twelve of the pillars have big statues of all the Naayakkar kings
upto Thirumalai Naayakkar.
    I have already written an interesting account of the building of
Pudhu Mandapam with reference to the subject of Saamudrikaa Lakshanam and the minister, NiilaKanta Diikshitar.
    At the eastern end of the hall, is a very ornately carved throne
pavillion - 'kolu mandapam'. This is made of polished granite and woodwork.
    The shrines of Minnatchi Sundareswarar are kept kere on the pattabhishekam day. Thirumalai Naayakkar receives the sceptre of Madurai from the Goddesss Miinaatchi to rule as Her Viceroy.
    Out of the 124 pillars 50 of them contain big statues.
    Rare forms of Siva are to be seen. Out of the sixty four
divine sports - Thiru ViLaiyaadal - of Siva, seven of them are depicted
in seven of the pillars.
    The sixty four Thiru ViLaiyaadals have formed the theme of a big
literary work called 'Thiru ViLaiyaadal PuraaNam'. This was composed by ParanjOthi Munivar.
    The sculptors were incorporating scenes from ThiruviLaiyadal Puranam and sculpting them as panels in the pillar faces. According to Dr.A.V.Jeyachandrum,  the great genius and scholar who is an authority on Madurai and Miinaatchi Temple says, in his post doctoral thesis, these panels and works would have acted as further inspirational catalysts to his creative genius. He says:
    "A traditional account relates that Paranjothi was an eye witness to the construction of Pudhu Mandapam by Thirumalai Naayakkar and while it was taking shape, he used to linger around the place, when one day he met an old ascetic who in palm leaves gave the direction for the composition of this literary work on ThiruViLaiyaadal. It is likely that the Pudhu Mandapam, an edifice of such architectural magnitude and sculptural elegance had inspired Parajothi to compose the work of ThiruViLaiyaaadal PuraaNam - a work rich in diction, spiritual outburst and in poetry of superior order".

    Paranjothi was a multifaceted all-round genius of great calibre.
    His sweep of knowledge was very wide. He had mastred many of the branches of knowledge which were extant at his time.
    When he deals with the chapter wherein Siva appears as a Gemstone Merchant, he describes all the classifications of the various gem stones - not only the nine important types but the subclasses which are within those classes. He also explains the types good stones and types of blemishes in them. In another place he deals with everything about gold. He even explains the origins of gold. Mined gold, washed gold, gold nuggets, gold sand. And most surprising of all, gold which was produced from copper or mercury through rasavadham - alchemy, the transmutation of base metals into gold.
    There are some important chapters which deal with the history of Saint Manikavasagar. Manikavasagar was sent by the King Arimardhana Pandya to buy Arabian horses for his cavalry and chariot division.
    In this chapter, Paranjothi describes about various classes of horse in minute and accurate detail. He also describes how the Arab merchants of those days were dressed like.
    We will go into a precise expostion of the Thiruvilayadal Puranam.......

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