The Thirukkural

The first of a three-part series looking at a Tamil treasure.

The symbolism of Vinayaka

A detailed exposition of the sacred symbols associated with Vinayaka is given by Swami Subramuniya in his modern classic “Loving Ganesha” (Himaayan Academy Press). Vinayaka has 108 names including, Ganesha and Ganapati (“Lord of the Ganas or hosts” in Tamil) and Pillaiyar (“Sacred Child” in Tamil). There are 32 forms of Ganapati in various colours and postures, with differing numbers of arms, holding different symbols. Shown below, for example is ‘Bhakti Ganapati” where bhakti means devotion. Of the many symbols associated with Vinayaga here are a few mentioned in the Vinayagar Agaval: The...

An introduction to Auvaiyar’s Vinayagar Agaval

The Vinayagar Agaval (‘Song of Vinayaga’) is a stunning example of Tamil sacred poetry. It is thought to be the greatest poem of the Chola era poet Auvaiyar, written shortly before her death. The Chola dynasty, which emerged around the ninth century, went on to rule most of South India for the next four hundred years. The Cholas presided over an important renaissance in Tamil literature, art and architecture, particularly temple construction. The name Auvaiyar has been given to a number of important female poets, of whom three in particular stand out as literary giants. Whereas Auviayar I...