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Siva-vakkiyar’s Padal

June 28th, 2011 by admin



Why, honey is the bee's saliva;

the beetle's saliva is on the flower,

the cow's milk itself is mixed with the saliva of the calf!

why should there be so much fuss over it? 




 Milk does not return to the udder, nor butter to the butter-milk;

Nor the life within the sea-shell, if it breaks, to its body;

The blown flower, the fallen fruit, do not return to the tree;

The dead are not born, never, never, never, never! 


Sivavakkaiyar, known to laugh at those who bathe for cleanliness' sake and yet are unclean at heart, comments on pollution associated with human saliva. It is considered terribly unclean and forms a core ritual avoidance in brahmanism. Sivavakkiyar refuses to consider saliva unclean in itself in the above excerpt (48) from one of his padal (songs). In the next padal (36), Sivavakkiyar refutes another central tenet of brahmanism, the theory of transmigration. 

Source: A history of Tamil literature. C Jesudasan and Hephzibah Jesudasan.

Read Sivavakkiyar's anti-caste poem here

Sivavakkiyar the Siddha poet, belonged to the cult of Tamil Siddhas which dates back to the 8th century. The Siddha teachings are often excluded and made obscure as heresy. These poet saints were radicals.

Because Siddhas scoff at the Vedic sacrifices and rituals and all forms of worship of icons they were considered to be iconoclasts. They are constantly at war with the upholders of the caste system and violently oppose the practice of untouchability. A tamil Siddha scoffs at untouchability by raising a pertinent question whether the bones, flesh and skin of an upper caste woman (brahman) and a lower caste woman (paraiya) are distinguishable on the basis of caste. He asks: are they numbered on the basis of caste? 

The above reference is attributed to Sivavakkiyar. His heretical approach of opposing any kind of orthodoxy particularly that of the brahmanical order, caste system and idol worship, ensured the exclusion of his work from the Saiva canonical literature. Some of his poems though have survived. 

Source: a) Hindu Spirituality: Postclassical and modern. K.R. Sundarajan, Bithika Mukerji. b) The poets of the powers. Kamil Zvelebil.


One Response to “Siva-vakkiyar’s Padal”

  1. Muthu Ganapathy Nathan says:

    Great Words!!! Vaalga Tamil. Thankyou for posting here.

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