Chennai: Bharatiar said the test of greatness of a piece of literature was its appeal beyond geographical boundaries. Looked at from this angle, Manickavachagar’s Thiruvachagam is a great piece of literature, for it earned the admiration of G.U. Pope, a Scottish missionary who came to Tamil Nadu in the 1800s, said K. Sambandan.
Pope was particularly moved by the line wherein Manickavachagar says Lord Siva does not leave his heart even for a second. That constant preoccupation with God appealed to Pope. The observation that he who does not melt when he reads the Thiturvachagam will not moved by anything is well known. During the pralaya, when everything is destroyed, there will be nothing to keep the Lord company, and hence He wrote down the Thiruvachagam. Lord Siva is the One who gave us the Vedas. And yet He chose to make a copy of a book to protect it from being destroyed by the deluge, and also to keep Him company. ‘Pusthakam hastha bhooshanam’, goes a Sanskrit quote. There can be no greater ornament than a book. And the book that Lord Siva chose as His adornment was the Thiruvachagam.
The poet Kambar describes the Godavari river as resembling the literary works of the morally upright. The writings of such people will be full of meaning. Their writings will reflect deep thought. On these grounds too, the Thiruvachagam scores.
The Thiruvachagam has no descriptions of any kind, no geographical or historical details. It only has Manickavachagar’s cry for union with Lord Siva. The word ‘Porul’ has many meanings in Tamil. It means ‘meaning.’ It also means ‘wealth.’ It could also just be a reference to any object. But it has a greater and more significant meaning. ‘Porul’ is a reference to something that is never destroyed. That is what is called ‘Paramporul.’ That is the Paramatma, and it is for oneness with the Paramatma that Manickavachagar cries in his Thiruvachagam.
He also shows us that we must approach God with humility and with the realisation that to reach His feet, we need His grace. Manickavachagar’s humility is evident in many verses. In one, he says he is as undeserving of God’s grace as a dog would be if it were seated in a palanquin.