Most Tamil poetical works began with invocatory verses to the God whom the author worshipped. One of the reasons could have been the desire to ensure a good reception for the work. Another must have been the belief that future generations would preserve the work because of the prayer in it.

Some of the opening verses of prayer stop with just praise of God. Others go on to speak of the benefits that would accrue to a person because of prayers.

According to Avvaiyar, worshipping God endows a person with pure thoughts, pure speech and the blessings of Goddess Mahalakshmi. The Sangam work Kuntalakesi was a Buddhist work. So the prayer is to Buddha, although Buddha is not mentioned by name. The prayer speaks of Buddha’s greatness and says He is always concerned about the welfare of others, and is selfless.

Thiruvalluvar says God has no likes and dislikes, and He is not a slave to the senses. Kuntalakesi also speaks similarly of God, and thus we notice a similarity in thought between the two works. Kuntalakesi says anger, harsh words and coveting other people’s wealth are grave sins.

Tamil has 28 words to indicate a boat. In fact, the word catamaran in English came from the Tamil word Kattumaram, meaning a kind of boat.

Perhaps the reason why the ancient Tamils had so many words for a boat is because life is often compared to a turbulent ocean. To get across this ocean, one needs a boat, and it is our pure thoughts that serve as the boat to see us through, said Malayaman, in a discourse. A boat with sails depends on the wind to take it across the ocean.

Facing destiny

Just as the boat can only proceed in the direction of the wind, we too can proceed only in the direction that fate has destined for us.

We cannot change destiny. But we can face the problems if we have faith in God. Kuntalakesi emphasises this.

Kumaraguruparar says four things are to be avoided if we are to have peace — lying, carrying tales, insensitive words and purposeless conversations. Mere ritualistic observances cannot guarantee mental peace.

Keywords: prayersfaithGodBuddhismworship

More In: Faith | Friday Review