Tirumurugarruppatai(Tamil: திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை) by Nakkirar,a Tamil poetic work, is one of the most important works of Sangam Literature. It is the first poem of the Pattupattu anthology. Tirumurugarruppatai follows the Arruppadtai style, a device used by most of the books in the Pattupattu anthology. The poems in this book were composed towards the end of the Sangam period - between the fifth and the sixth centuries C.E. Tirumurugarruppatai is also called Pulavararuppatai.
Aarruppatai is a literary device by which a bard or a minstrel who has received bountiful gifts from some wealthy patron is supposed to direct another to the same Maecenas. This gives the occasion to the poet, among other topics, to describe in great detail the natural beauty, fertility, and resources of the territory that has to be traversed to reach the palace of the patron. Tirumurugarruppatai or 'Guide to Lord Murugan' suggests that those who need spiritual guidance should seek out Lord Murukan.
Inclusion on religious books
Tirumurugarruppatai was the first anthology-poem that points to Skanda (kantan in Tamil) worship of that time. Tirumurugarruppatai later included in the Eleventh Tirumurai, a collection of Saiva religious books. Tirumurugarruppatai is lyrical, narrative, philosophical and theological in its style and as a result was instrumental in the propagation of the nascent Muruga worship. Tirumurukarruppatai has been considered as a hymn for protection for the devotees. For this reason alone the poem became a daily liturgy.
There are a number of legends around the composer Nakkirar. One such explains the circumstances under which this book was composed:
- Nakkirar was the court poet of the Pandya king during the Sangam period and had the reputation of being an arrogant man and proud of his knowledge. To teach him a lesson Siva took the form of a poet and came to Madurai. Siva recited a poem in front of all the Sangam poets. Nakkirar found a fault in the poem. While he argued with the poet, Siva revealed his actual form. No doubt startled by this, Nakkirar stood firm saying even if it is the God Himself who had written the poem, the fault remained. In anger the Siva opened his third eye and burned Nakkirar.
- Nakkirar then realised his faults of his arrogance and begged Siva for forgiveness. Siva commanded Nakkirar to go on a pilgrimage . As requested, Nakkirar went on a pilgrimage, but on his way he was captured by a demon and imprisoned. While in prison Nakkirar realised there were already 99 people already in prison and they were all going to be eaten by the demon the very next day. The demon intended to wait until his cave was filled with one hundred humans so that he could eat them all at once. Since Nakkirar was the one-hundredth, all the others prisoners were distressed and blamed Nakkirar for being the cause of their death. Nakkirar begged Lord Murugan to release them all and composed Tirumurugarruppatai. Immediately the Lord appears, kills the giant and releases all the prisoners.
Tirumurugarruppatai has been written in the metre called aciriyappa and is 317 lines in length. The subject matter is the splendour of Murugan and his abodes: the Arupatai Vitu or the six armories of Murugan. It seems that the entire philosophy behind this poem is to motivate devotees towards Murugan. This philosophy then leads to a theological conclusion that, if the devotees wish to obtain salvation, they should visit his holy shrines.
- Mudaliyar, Singaravelu A., Apithana Cintamani, An encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, (1931) - Reprinted by Asian Educational Services, New Delhi (1983)
- http://www.tamilnation.org/literature/ory:Tamil%7CLiterature, Tamil
- Tirumurukarruppatai's place in the Saiva Canon - http://murugan.org/research/jeya_arunagirinathan.htm