Siva's Demon Devotee
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: State University of New York Press
Siva’s Demon Devotee
First and foremost I want to thank Dr. R. Vijayalakshmy, Professor Emeritus at the International Institute of Tamil Studies, with whom I read Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār’s poetry. Without her generosity of spirit and willingness to share her vast knowledge of Tamil literature with me,...
Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār, the “Mother from Kāraikkāl,” was probably the first poet to write hymns to the god Śiva in Tamil, in approximately the mid-sixth century, when the boundaries between Śva’s devotees and competing groups were just starting to be articulated in a self-conscious way. Speaking to god in one’s mother tongue, rather than ...
1. The Place of Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār in South Indian History
Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār’s poetry bridges the classical Tamil world and the devotional milieu in which Sanskritic myths are localized in a Tamil landscape and infused with Tamil modes of relating to the divine. Although Ammaiyār does not directly praise the Tamil land or Tamil language as the later Śaiva poets do, her poetry is animated ...
2. Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār Through Her Poetry
The standard stories about Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār stress that she is a beautiful and devoted wife before her husband renounces her and she is free to devote her life to Śiva. But in her poetry, Ammaiyār gives no personal history, other than to say to Śiva that she has worshiped him as soon as she could speak, in the first verse of her long poem ...
3. Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār Through Her Stories
The Śaiva saints or nāyaṉmārs were first listed by Cuntarar (in approximately the late eighth or early ninth century) in an eleven-stanza poem called Tiruttoṇṭattokai, “The List of the Holy Devotees,” in which he names sixty-two saints. In this hymn Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār is...
4. The Temples and Their Festivals
There are two towns that are closely associated with Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār and that contain temples that specifically honor her. Kāraikkāl (or Karikal) is the medium-sized coastal town south of Puducherry (Pondicherry) in which Kāraikkāl Ammaiyār was born. Tiruvālaṅkāṭu is the small village approximately 50 kilometers west of Chennai in ...
5. The Poems
Page Count: 205
Illustrations: 7 b/w photographs
Publication Year: 2010
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