Let me begin with my song on Murugan, though this is not the first poem that I wrote. I don’t remember the date exactly, but I wrote it when we were living at Trichy North Rock Fort street (circa 1972).
Our co-tenant was a staunch devotee of Murugan. As a retired person, every day he would do puja for more than four hours from 7 to 11 am. His wife and daughter would help in cleaning the old flowers, arranging new ones, preparing Prasad to offer etc. They kept a big framed picture of Murugan with his two consorts.
After his bath, the man would begin his puja by chanting many slokas, mantras and singing beautiful bhajans. His daughter would join in singing with him, before leaving for her work. We had one separate room on the first floor, where I did my studies, but we could hear their singing since the house was very small without any partition.
One day, when I was doing my regular college studies, I heard the singing and got some inspiration and the first sentence of this song came in my mind. As it continued to echo in my brain, I stopped my studies and immediately wrote it down on the backside of my paper:
உலகு விரைந்து சென்றாலும்
பக்தி மட்டும் வேண்டிநின்றேன்
Give me wisdom
Muruga whose is ‘Jnanappazham’.1
Six-headed Muruga bearer of a spear.
Remove my ignorance
I want true wisdom
I want to become famous in the world
Come and rule over me
by removing my ignorance
However the world moves fast
In the path of science
Without your darshan of wisdom
Nothing makes sense
I am not talking any philosophy
I didn’t come to argue with you
I only request bhakti
In my turbulent heart.
1972, திருச்சி (Trichy)
1. Like all other deities, Murugan too has many names. This name ‘Janappazham’ should not be translated as ‘wise fruit’. When he failed to get the fruit from his parents in the competition with his elder brother Ganesha, he became upset and went to Palani to live there alone. Then Awaiyar, the famous Tamil poetess tried to pacify him by pointing out how he opened her eyes by asking the question ‘whether she needs hot or cold fruit’.
[This is another story. As Awaiyar become proud about her knowledge, in order to humble her, one day Murugan, in the form of a shepherd, sat on the branch of a fruit tree. When Awai asked him to drop some fruits for her, he asked her whether she needs ‘hot or cold fruit’. Not understanding this and also to tease him, she asked for hot fruit. When Murugan shook the branch, some ripe fruit fell on the ground. When Awai picked up some and blew the dust off of it, Murugan asked with a laugh ‘Are they too hot’? Then Awai realized how ignorant she was before a shepherd.]
At that time Murugan revealed her who he was. So when Murugan become upset about not getting the fruit from his parents, she praised him by saying ‘being a Janappazham’ where is the need of an ordinary fruit for him.