தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 


 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search

HomeSathyam - Truth is a Pathless Land  > Unfolding Consciousness > Arumuga Navalar - M.K.Eelaventhan  > Arumuga Navalar and the Hindu Renaissance Among the Tamils - D.Dennis Hudson

Arumuga Navalar 
and the Hindu Renaissance Among the Tamils

D. Dennis Hudson
in *Religious Controversy in British India : Dialogues in South Asian Languages 
(Suny Series in Religious Studies)
by Kenneth W. Jones (Editor) 

* indicates link to Amazon.com

From a submission in 1994: " D. Dennis Hudson is Professor of World Religions Department of Religion, Smith College. He teaches the religious history of India and South Asian religious literature in translation. His research interests focus on the Tamil-speaking peoples of South Asia from their earliest appearance to the present, with special attention to two period: the 8th-9th century period of Alvar and Nayanar developments in the context of temples and expansion into Southeast Asia; and the 18th-19th century period of interaction between Christians, Hindus, and Muslims, notably between the Protestants and others. He is completing a detailed study of the Vaikuntha Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram and  applying its Bhagavata code to other Vaishnava temples in India and in Southeast Asia. He seeks to understand the history of the Bhagavata religion and its diffusion as manifest in written texts and in built texts in the form of temples and sculptures. Involved is the relation of bhakti to Tantra or Agama, with particular attention to the Pancaratra Agama as the most ancient and pervasive liturgical dimension to the Bhagavata religion, whose origin appears to date at least to c.400 BCE."

"In the context of Western and Christian influence in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century India, what did Tamils say about what it meant for them to be Hindu - not in English or in French, but in Tamil? A full and satisfying answer will have to include the little known but highly influential work of one man, Arumuga Navalar of Jaffna (1822-1879). He is regarded as the “father” of modern Tamil prose and a staunch defender of Shaivism against Christian missionary attacks. Less well known are his attempts to reform Shaivism itself. This chapter will examine his career as a religious activist between the ages of nineteen and thirty-two, when he plowed the social and intellectual fields he cultivated the rest of his life. (1) Arumuga worked within the heritage of Shaiva scholars as he responded to the newer challenges of an intrusive Western Civilization."

The Religious Context of the Shaiva Literati

In the early centuries of the common era, Buddhists and Jainas provided the occasion for the Tamil Hindu literati to define their own cults and literature. Most notably they produced the Tamil poems of the bhakti saints, the Nayanars and Alvars. Devotees consider these poems the “Tamil Veda.” By the twelfth century, Tamil Shaivas and Vaishnavas - with their literature in Tamil and Sanskrit, their monastic systems, their networks of temples and pilgrimage sites, their elaborate public and private liturgies, and their Brahman and non-Brahman leadership had systematized the definition Hindu and institutionalized it as the basis for Tamil literary culture.

The Vellala and Brahman literati were mostly Shaiva members of  the largest and most influential religious tradition (camayam) among sectarian groupings. Any religion not based on the traditions that Shiva had revealed in the Veda and the Agama, they believed, was founded on delusion. During the thirteenth through eighteenth centuries, Shaiva theologians defined the details of their religious tradition and called it Saiva Siddhănta, or “Shaiva Orthodoxy.”

The way the Shaiva Siddhanta literati perceived themselves in relation to other traditions is instructive for our discussion. Their perception used the common Indian idea of the mandala, a center that expands outwards into peripheries bounded by barbaric and demonic powers.(2) At the center of the mandala stood Shaiva Orthodoxy. Around it four circles expand concentrically, (3) three inside the realm of dharma (puram), and a fourth outside of dharma (purappuram). 

This was the realm of darkness and delusion, where those sects reside that altogether reject the Veda and Agama. Shaiva theologians did not formally include the Muslims and Christians in this classification, but it was evident that they fall in the outermost circle to dwell in the wilderness with the Buddhists, Jainas, and demon worshippers. Intellectual encounter with Muslims and Christians, it seems, was a task never taken by the monastic leaders who had provided this scholastic mapping. (4) It was left to “lay” Shaivas, who encountered an increasingly aggressive Muslim and Christian presence in their everyday lives. They felt pressed to address such issues as the “monotheistic” nature of their theology, their own definition of a ‘heathen,” and the relation of Shiva and his temple to the cults of the popular and violent deities of the villages.(5) Arumuga Navalar was the first of these Tamil laymen to undertake as his life’s career the intellectual and institutional response of Shaivism to Christianity.

Hindus opposed the Christian missions from the earliest days they were established among the Tamils; literary evidence for it is indirect, (6) largely because the printing press was not available to Tamil ownership until 1835. (7) Hindus, who wrote anti-Christian literature during this period, circulated it as oral literature or in handwritten copies, few of which survive.(8) Hindu works that did appear before 1835 were printed on government or missionary presses and were written generally by Tamil scholars who worked for Europeans.(9) Once Tamil Hindus gained ownership of presses, they immediately used them for two religious purposes. One was to strengthen the realm of dharma (puram) in those places where its social basis was eroding, namely Madras and Jaffna. They transferred currently popular Hindu literature from palm leaf to printed book, sometimes adding new commentaries. The second was to attack Christian propagandists who had used the press to condemn dharma from a position of privilege in the European domain.(10) Arumuga Pillai became adept in this propaganda war; he was the Shaivas’ most successful strategist who served them as social organizer, apologist, and reformer.

Hindu-Christian Disputes in Tamil

Arumuga Pillai, Navalar’s original name, belonged to a high-status caste known as Vellalas, a class that along with Brahmans had produced most of the Tamil literati for centuries, perhaps millennia. (11) Born in 1822, he grew up in the Tamil regions of Sri Lanka where the total population was less than two hundred thousand.’2 His home was in the town of Nallur on the Jaffna peninsula, a forty by fifteen mile strip of land separated from southern India by the Palk Strait.’3 Jaffna—the name of both the principal town and the peninsula—was predominantly Shaiva with a Tamil Shaiva culture distinct from that of the Sinhalese Buddhists elsewhere on the island, but closely linked to the Shaiva culture of southern India.

Because his father was a Tamil poet, Arumuga Pillai received a solid foundation in Tamil literature at an early age. Like many high-sta­tus boys of the second generation to live under British rule, he entered a Christian mission school to study E.nglish. Mutiiuga ~ias t~tW~ ~htn he attended this school as a day student. He did so well that he was asked to stay on at theJaffna Wesleyan Mission School to teach English and Tamil. More importantly, the missionary principal. ‘the gifted and plodding” Peter Percival, asked him to serve as his own Tamil pandis, to assist him in writing and editing treatises and hymns and, most impor­tantly, in translating the prayer book and Bible.’4 Arumuga Pillai worked with Percival from 1841 to 1848, eight years in his late teens and early twenties, when he wrestled seriously with the question, What does it mean to be Hindu?

At the time of Arumuga Pillai’s birth, Protestants from England and America had established stations in nine villages on theJaffna peninsula from whence they conducted vigorous campaigns to convert the Hindus and Muslims into Christians.’6 The first significant Hindu opposition to these efforts emerged in 1828 when the teachers of the American Mis­sionary Seminary at Batticotta (Vattukkottai) began to stress the Shaiva scripture Skanda Purana (Xanla Purănam) in their school. The decision angered Jaffna Hindus, who doubted that in such a foreign setting the sacred quality of this Tamil story of Murugan, the warrior son of Shiva, would be respected or that its esoteric meanings would receive a sympa­thetic hearing. A missionary report of this incident’6 noted that the Christians had difficulty obtaining a copy of the text, for

The Scanda Purana is in the hands of but few persons in the Country, excepting those immediately connected with the Hindoo Temple, as it is generally thought unsafe to have the book in the house, lest it should be in some way defiled.

Once they had received a portion of this text, the report continued, the principal Tamil instructor of the Seminary refused to teach it.

He urged that the Scanda Purana is one of the most sacred books used in the Country—that it should be taught only in sacred places— that the Mission premises are, in the estimation of the people, very far from sacred—that it would not be possible to perform on them those ceremonies which ought ever to precede, accompany, and fol­low, the reading of that book—that the members of the Seminary were not fit persons to be instructed in the Purana, and finally, that he could not subject himself to the odium that would be cast upon him by the people, for thus teaching it.

The study nevertheless took place.

Christians had their portion translated from poetry into prose and trained a senior student to teach it. The classes immediately created a stir. Though they were voluntary, social pressure caused attendance to gradually dwindle until they were abandoned. From the Shaiva point of view, this act by Christian educators had pulled a text from the sacred center (akam) of dharma out into the darkness of the wilderness (purappuram), stripping it of its ritual context and laying it bare for profanation. Indeed this is what the educators had intended, as the end of the report said:

"Enough, however, was read to convince all who would reflect, that the book is filled with the most extravagant fictions, many of which are of an immoral tendency, (just as the Bible says,) “for the people will walk every one in the name of his god."

Two long anti-Christian poems appeared around this time in Jaffna. They reflected an increasingly vocal opposition. The Vellala poet, Muttukumara Kavirajar (1780—1851), wrote the ‘Kummi Song on Wisdom” (Jnanakkummi) and ‘Abolition of the Jesus Doctrine” (Yesumataparikaram). The timing of their publication suggests a con­nection with this opposition.’7 The “Kummi Song on Wisdom,” more­over, attacked the Christian Bible and Christians just as the Christians had criticized the .Skanda Purdna and Shaivas.’8

Events inJaffna had their effect in Madras. Polemical literature cir­culated widely, it seems, even when it was not printed. Muttukumara Kavirajar’s ‘Kummi Sang on Wisdom” received a rejoinder in Madras from a recently baptized Shaiva sddhu’9 whose own ‘Kummi Sang on Wisdom” (jnanakkummi) appeared in print in 1827. It was followed in

1840 by a kummi on the Hindu scriptures written by the Vellala Protes­tant Vedanayaka Shastriar: Shă.stirakkummi: A Satincal Poem on the Super­stitions of ghe Hindoos~’ In 1840 or 1841, Hindus in Madras organized the Association for the Philosophy of the four Vedas, which resembled the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj in its worship. It was led by educated Chris­tians who had renounced their conversions. The Samaj proceeded to defend Hinduism against Christian attacks.2’ In this charged atmo­sphere, a Madrassi Vellala Hindu published a condemnation of the Bible entitled The Misunderstanding of Veda (Vetavikarpa) and a Vellala Catholic responded with Contempt for ‘The Misunderstanding of Veda’ (Vetavikarpa tikkaram) .~

In Jaffna, meanwhile, the Christian assault on Shaivism intensified. Just like the Shaivas’ view of Christianity, Christian leaders saw Shaivism as in a dark wilderness. In 1841, two Tamil Christians at the American Mission Seminary launched a semimonthly and bilingual periodical. They devoted The Morning Star (Utaya Tarakai) to ‘Educa­tion, Science, and Literature, and to the Dissemination of Articles on Agriculture, Government and Religion, with a Brief Summary of Important News.” The intentions of the editors were clear. Europeans, they observed in volume one, were politically and economically power­ful and prestigious because of their secular and religious knowledge. Tamils did not have this knowledge since most of the ‘useful sciences and arts” were not written in Tamil. Only a few science courses were taught to “the higher classes of society and Brahmins,” except for those who attended English schools. Therefore, the editors intended this periodical to fill the educational gap between ordinary Tamils and Europeans, “imitating the Europeans in the improvements they have made by such means.”23

Because they were Protestants of the early nineteenth century, the Tamil editors were naively confident that the emerging knowledge and values of modernizing Anglo­American culture were perfectly consis­tent with their interpretation of the Christian Bible. They assumed that the fulfillment of human nature depended upon knowing the truths about God and the world and that assumed that all people had the innate ability to learn to read and understand those truths found in a single text, the Christian Bible. As devout Protestants, they took great efforts to translate the Bible and distribute it among the Tamils. The editors of The Morning Star were confident that those who read the Bible would see the truths, choose them, reject evil, and undergo an improvement in moral character. These aggressive Tamil Protestants persistently challenged Catholics, Muslims, and Shaivas to open their sacred books for public scrutiny and judgment. The fact that they did not do so could only mean that these non-Protestant religious leaders believed their own scriptures were too weak and obscure to withstand public scrutiny.’4

This dualistic, black-and-white point of view admitted few gray areas. Shaivas, Muslims, and Catholics all lived in the darkness of false­hood. But of the three, Shaivism was the most evil system in the moral wilderness. These religious journalists stated that:

There is nothing in the peculiar doctrines and precepts of the Siva religion that is adapted to improve a man’s moral character or fit him to be useful to his fellow men.... If the world were to be converted to the Siva faith no one would expect any improvement in the morals or the happiness of men. Every one might be as great a liar and cheat— as great an adulterer—as oppressive of the poor—as covetous—as proud, as he was before—without sullying the puniy of his faith.’~

Believing that Shaivism was a creation of the Brahmans and contained nothing of value, these converts admitted of no middle ground:

We repeat, for we wish all our readers to understand it, if the Siva reli­gion is true, Christianity is false, and will be overthrown; for that which is of God will stand, and that which is of the devil will fall, and human effort will be unavailing to sustain the false or to destroy the true system.’6

In this struggle between God and the devil, they intended the Morning Star to reveal the falsity of Shaivism.

The Tamil Hindu literati of Jaffna could not deny the power of Christian civilization as they experienced it, but they rejected the valid­ity of the Morning Stat’s judgment about Shaivism. In the long run, the Tamil Hindus’ task would be to use the instruments of Western civiliza­tion’s knowledge without undermining their own traditions in the pro­cess. Could they bring elements of the barbarian wilderness (purappu­ram) into the center (akam) of the mandala without polluting Shaivism’s world view and removing its sacred power? The Christians thought not, for they believed true knowledge to be all of a piece and in harmony with the Bible. The Shaivas in Jaffna had not yet tackled the issue formally, but in 1842 they made a beginning.

In September of 1842 over two hundred Hindu men of high status gathered at the monastery (matam) of the Shiva temple inJaffna to dis­cuss plans for establishing a Veda and Agama school to teach Shaivism. Five wealthy leaders had called the meeting and spoke to this question. According to a letter to the Morning Starwritten by a Hindu sympathet­ic to the idea, probably Arumuga PiIlai himself, the speakers declared that Christian doctrine was the creation of the missionaries and that Tamils converted because they knew little about Shaivism. The gather­ing expressed pity and compassion for the converted. At the third

meeting it was decided to collect money to open a school to help ward off future conversions of students.27 They agreed to purchase a print­ing press, if possible, in collaboration with “the white men of this place,” the Eurasian burghers, and to publish tracts on the absurdities of the Christian religion, “which would effectually shut the mouths of the missionaries and stop their abuse.”’8 The school opened in Octo­ber. The organizers planned to send to India for a man to teach the Agamas and in the meantime appointed a former teacher from the Christian Seminary as an instructor of grammar and literature.29 The twenty-year-old Arumuga Pillai may have reported these developments to The Morning Star. Subsequent events suggest that Arumuga Pillai had been part of these educational efforts all along.30

Arumuga PiIIai’s Emergence as a Shaiva Activist

In October 1842, when the Veda and Agama school opened, Arumuga Pillai had been teaching Tamil and English at the Wesleyan Mission School and working with the British missionary Percival for a year. He read the Morning Starand Wrote to it. His first published letter appeared in September 1841, with a question about the science of the eyes and the nature of “vision.”3’ But almost twelve months later, eleven days after the first meeting to discuss the idea of a Veda and Agama school, he wrote a letter to explain what the speakers at the meeting meant when they said “Christian doctrine is doctrine fabricated by the mission­aries.” He dated the letter October 10, 1842 amid signed it anonymously as The lover of good doctrine who is the son of a Shaiva.”32 The name suggests that his father was on his mind.33 In the letter, Arumuga Pillai presented himself as a Shaiva who had heard the preaching of the American missionaries and had read their books. Sympathetic to their arguments,34 he studied the Christian path. He read the Bible regularly, he said, but while doing so began to have questions about it.

The first question arose from the striking parallels he noticed between the liturgies of the temple in Jerusalem and the temples of Shiva in Sri Lanka and India. After providing many examples of ritual injunctions in the Old Testament, he asked, What are the differences between the rites and ceremonies of Shaivas and those of the Bible? Using the words of the editors’ translation, modified slightly, he drew parallels between the Shaiva worship of God in the linga, and the Mosa­ic worship of God in the tabernacle and temple:

The Israelites who were chosen by God as his own children believed that the Lord who dwelt in the ark made of wood, and who lived bctwccn the cherubims had bestowed grace upon them. The Shaivas

believe that God dwells in the image. They [the Israelites] made a sanctuary for the worship of God. The Shaivas build temples. The Israelites worship Cherubim and bronze serpent The Shaivas worship the images made of gold, and silver. The Israelites had shew bread and wine in their sanctuaries. The Shaivas keep fruit as prasada. The Israelites had incense. The Shaivas have it too. The Israelites burnt heifer and took its ashes for their use. The Shaivas use ashes from the dung of a heifer.ss

Given their similarities, he next asked, Why do the missionaries mock as meaningless the Hindu distinction between the pure and the polluted and other observances? They are analogous in many ways to what the Lord commanded through Moses.

Upon investigating these matters, the Christian missionaries do protest against the idol worship, rubbing ashes, observing the immemorial custom and usage, and other similar rites, and say that these ceremonies are not in the way to please God, and God will never command or order such kind of unmeaning ceremonies, and they are against our own understandings, and also ridiculous even to children.

But should the missionaries argue that the Mosaic rites were only sym­bolic and were pedagogically useful, the same maybe said of the Shaiva rites:

if you say that their [the Israelites’] rites and ceremonies are not the idol worship, but as God is an invisible Being they performed these ceremonies in order that the thoughts of God may be more indelibly impressed upon their heart.. .will not the Shaivas have the same rea­son to answer so?

Arumuga Pillai then made a personal confession, ending with a metaphor expressing his intellectual dilemma.

When I heard the teachings by the gurus of the Christian path, my mind was very sympathetic and changed and I thought for a time that the Tamil sect might be false and the Christian true, and so I studied the Vedagama called the Bible.

But while reading the Bible he found a striking resemblance between temple worship in the Bible and temple worship in Shaivism. The simi­larities were so strong, he said, that he felt like the demon who came up from a well. The demon was afraid to go to the village of the tiger, SO he went to the village of the jackal, only to find that the jackal’s vil­lage belonged to the tiger too.

This brought him to his third question: since God in the Bible said that the rites and ceremonies of temple worship should continue for-

ever and Christ and the early Christians followed them, how could the missionaries abandon them? The Bible makes it clear, he reminded the reader, that it is the duty of every Christian to observe those cere­monies it describes, just as did Christ for his disciples. Thus it was unreasonable for Christians to scoff at them when they were practiced by Shaivas. 1-Ic concluded that the Lord of the temple in Jerusalem and Shiva in the temple icon were both able to give grace to all. And that the Shaivas’ ceremonies were not ridiculous unless Christians said that God was ridiculous in setting up the temple in Jerusalem and Jesus ridkulous, in v~omh~p there.

It was significant that Arumuga PilIai admitted that at one time he had been moved by the Christian teachings and had entertained the possibility that Shaivism was false and Christianity is true. Probably this occurred during his student years at the Seminary. It indicated that he was not deaf to Christian teaching, but that having opened himself to it in the way Protestants urged—by studying the Bible directly—he turned away in favor of his own heritage. His reaffirmation of his fami­ly’s tradition was thus self-conscious. It was linked to a penetrating insight into the vulnerability of a Protestant system that staked every­thing on doctrines found in a book that had been divorced from the cultic context that produced it. Indeed, because of his own temple-cen­tered culture, Arumuga Pillai probably thought he had a greater understanding of the liturgical context of Jesus’ own life and worship than did the Protestant missionaries.

Peter Percival had provided Arumuga Pillai the occasion to analyze the Christian Bible in detail as Protestants interpreted it. Pillai’s analy­sis, however, did not focus only on the domain of doctrine, which the Protestants cherished, but also on liturgical behavior, which Shaivas cherished and Protestants largely ignored. His was a comparative study of religions, one that led him to the conclusion that at the basis of both religions there was temple-centered worship with similar liturgical pat­terns. From this point of view, the Protestants were inconsistent with their own Bible when they insisted that Shaiva worship was false and only Protestant worship was true. Protestants need not give up their path and follow Shiva’s, he maintained, but they did need to see that on the basis of their own scriptures they had every reason to respect the Shaiva path and to leave it alone.

Arumuga Navalar presented his interpretive stance at the begin­ning of a letter that expressed a Shaiva Siddhanta docti~ine but in a manner that a Protestant could have affirmed as well:

The eternally joyful and holy Supreme Being who created, protects and rules all the worlds, is gracious to this land and sends gurus from the distant land of America where a prosperous order and the Christian path prevail, and in order to bring the people of this place to a high and full condition, he chastises them. May the Supreme Being be greatly praised for this boundless compassion.

The missionaries interpreted the “high and full condition” as conver­sion to Christianity and to Western civilization. Arumuga Pillai meant it differently, viewing Shiva as the one who had brought the missionar­ies to chastise Shivas disciples and to awaken them to his own path, from which they had departed. The missionaries did not know it, he suggested, but Shiva was using them to punish the Shaivas and to awak­en them to the truth that he had revealed in the Agamas. Christianity belonged to Shiva too, as Arumuga Pillai said in a veiled way when he referred to himself as the demon who came out of a well: Just as the royal tiger rules both his own village and that of the wild jackal, so Shiva rules both the realm of dharma (puram) and that of the barbaric Europeans (purappuram).

The editors of Morning Star knew they had a difficult task in responding to this long and carefully wrought document. It took them three issues to do so. They understood this calculated challenge, for they referred to its contents as “the pretended Resemblance between the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation and those of the Sivas.”’6 Whether they knew that the man who wrote it was in mission employ and was translating the Bible, however, is not clear.

Arumuga Pillai worked with Percival until September 1848 when, nearly twenty-six, he quit to devote himself fully to his own projects. He had studied in depth the Agamic literature forming the scriptural component of Shaiva orthodoxy, a task that required him to learn Sanskrit. He was now adept in the three literary languages of modern religious discourse in the Tamil world: Tamil, Sanskrit, and English; he would draw upon the religious literature of all three for his pro­jects. Not surprisingly, his reputation had been growing among local Shaivas as a man who knew more about obscure Agamic literature than anyone else.37

It was his immersion in the Agamas, which began years earlier, that fueled his desire to turn into realities the projects that the Hindu literati had gathered to discuss in September 71842. The Veda and Agama school had not survived and a printing press was still a dream. The press required considerable funds, but teaching was cheap. In January 1846, therefore, Arumuga Pillai began night and early morning classes in the primary and secondary literature of Shaivism. His students were a few of his friends, young Vellala, Brahman, and Cettiyar men.N The classes were free and informal. He also persuaded two Vellalas not to take Christian baptism from Peter Percival, despite the fact that it could have cost him his job.3~ In June he crossed the Palk Strait and went with a companion to Madras to look at schools and to meet scholars, perhaps his first trip to the continent.40 A Shaiva school was clearly on his mind.

His knowledge of the Agamas also led him into conflict with the leaders of the temple of Murugan near his home. The Kandaswami Temple in Nallur had been built about a century earlier, but not in accord with the Agamas. During its festival in the month of Ati (July—August), Arumuga Pillai took it upon himself to advise its trustees that they violated the Agamas in three ways: by the manner of the temple construction, by using a spear as the primary icon of Muru­gan rather than an image, and by employing Brahmans ‘who had reject­ed Agamic initiations to conduct the worship. The trustees did not accept his advice, and this disagreement ultimately led to a lifelong conflict.41 At the heart of the dispute was the authority of local custom, which the Kandaswami Temple followed, versus the authority of the Agamas: this contest pitted unwritten and immemorial practice against revealed and written scriptures.

The issue of revealed scriptural authority for the religious life had been alive in Shaiva Orthodoxy for centuries. The aggressive Bible-cen­tered tradition of the Protestants, however, had intensified its impor­tance in Arumuga Pillai’s mind as he reconsidered the meaning of Shaivism. He seems to have decided that Shaiva practice demanded possessing a written and revealed set of scriptures that paralleled the Christian Bible in its comprehensive authority. On the one hand, Agama scriptures eliminated some elements of popular Shaiva culture, such as animal sacrifices and the worship of malevolent deities and demons, that the missionaries attacked ceaselessly and that had no scriptural basis. On the other hand, they provided a sophisticated and profound theological interpretation of temple worship and of the Puranic stories of the gods that nullified the sneers of the missionaries. Arumuga believed that the Sanskrit and Tamil scriptures of Agamic Shaivism purified popular and Puranic religion, elevated the ignorant, and inspired the literati.

Struggling against Christians and some Hindu reformers as well as orthodox priests, he made a dramatic move at the end of 1847 to spread the “Splendor of Shiva” (Sivaprakäsam) and disperse the dark­ness” shared by Hindus and Christians. Religious tensions at this time were high. The Christian assault on Hindu culture had accelerated dra­matically through the preaching of a catechist convert from Point Pedro and through missionary insistence on integrating an untouch­able student into the Wesleyari Central School. Vellala and Brahman students, nearly half the student body, left the school in response and formed their own. Moreover, they persuaded the chief Tamil tutor at the Wesleyan school, a Christian, to be its headmaster.42

On December 31, 1847, Arumuga Pillai took the preaching meth­ods of the Methodists into the Shaiva temple. He became a circuit preacher. Every Friday evening at the Vaidishvaran Temple in the sub­urb of Vannarpannai, Arumuga Pillai read sacred texts and preached. He was assisted by the Brahman Karttikeya Aiyar of Nallur (his friend and former student at the Wesleyan school) and by his students. Preaching (prasanga) was not new to Shaivism, but Pillai’s systematic and scripturally based style was, as was the circuit of preachers he even­tually developed. He intended to educate and morally reform his largely Vellala and Brahman audience. He believed that if they knew the rudiments of Agamic Shaivism and acted on them, they would strengthen dharma and weaken the Christians. He threatened to sue the Morning Star if that paper published any unauthorized report of the meetings.43 The sermon topics were mostly ethical, liturgical, and theological and included the evils of adultery, drunkenness, the value of non-killing, the conduct of women, the worship of the linga. the four initiations, the importance of giving alms, of protecting cows, and the unity of God.44

He attacked Christians and Hindus as well, specifically the trustees and priests of the Kandaswami Temple in his home town; they accused him of slandering Murugan himself.45 The lecture series and its circuit continued regularly for several years and produced a “Shaiva revival,” for an informed piety developed and grew among many Jaffna Hindus.46 Inevitably, such openly public work on behalf of Shaivism brought him into conflict with Peter Percival. Arumuga Pillai was no longer anonymous. When missionaries complained to Percival that his own Tamil pandit was successfully undermining the very reason for their being in Jaffna, Percival raised the issue with him: “I hear that you preach every Friday right in the Shiva temple. And I hear that now and then you talk as an enemy of our sect. What about it?” Arumuga Pillai’s reply was simple and to the point: “Is there is anything wrong in my fulfilling my duties? If there is, please tell me.” Percival said noth­ing. He told the other missionaries that his pandit was too valuable a scholar to lose.4’

Arumuga Pillai was indeed invaluable to Percival. From the end of 1845 the missionary scholar had been devoting himself entirely to Bible translation, working six hours a day with his Tamil assistants, of whom Arumuga Pillai was the chief.48 Even after Arumuga Pillai had launched his preaching sessions, Percival took him to Madras between March and July of 1848. Their Bible translation was being considered for publica­tion by the Madras Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. It was in dispute, and he needed Arumuga Pillai to help him defend the majestic literary style they had created, a style shaped by Arumuga Pillai’s own immersion in Shaiva literature.49 His break with Percival finally came, but it was not because of their disagreements. Arumuga Pillai decided to devote full time to his work for Shaivism. In August 1848, he founded a Veda and Agama school, the School of Shaiva Splendor (Saivaprakasa Vidyasala), and in September he left Percival.

Navalar Arumuga Pillai, “The Learned” 

Twenty years later Arumuga Pillai briefly described the desire that had driven him during his early twenties.50 His sole source of income at the time, he recalled, was the salary from Percival and the Wesleyan school. He had received no patrimony and nothing from his four brothers, though they had money and jobs. Nevertheless, Arumuga quit his teaching position even though Percival urged him again and again to stay at a higher salary. He knew that he could easily get ajob commen­surate with his abilities and live prosperously, as had many who had studied English under him. Arumuga knew that not holding ajob would only bring him disrespect, but he did not wish to do so. Nor did he want to get married, for in Jaffna, he said, the bride provided the bridegroom with everything—house, lands, garden, jewels—and took in return, presumably, his independence.3’ He left his secure job and future family life, because he wanted to use his learning to make Shaivism prosper, a desire that had been with him since childhood.

Having abandoned future prosperity and the householder’s life, the very basis of dharma, he must have appeared socially irresponsible to others in the community. Few gave him their support.32 He began the school of Shaiva Splendor in a house opposite the Vaidishvaran Temple in Vannarpannai and after six months moved it to the temple’s monastery (matha). Its teachers were his own students, and they received no salary except what came by way of donations. Their task was to teach the pupils not only the curriculum common to the tradi­tional schools, but sectarian texts as well, for Arumuga Pillai sought to produce Shaivas who were grounded in their own tradition and had the ability to dispute others when necessary.

Navalar’s concept of the school was something new in Tamil Shaivism; it was an adaptation of the Protestant schools he knew inti­mately. The traditional Tamil school primarily served the educational needs of the higher castes, It taught the values of dharma shared by those who lived within its cultural borders (puram). These values were imparted through Tamil texts like Valluvar’s Kural and Auvaiyar’s Atticüti, texts that avoided divisive doctrines that split the inhabitants of the puram into various sects.53

Writing, reading, arithmetic, literature, and ethics were taught to a group of boys according to a fixed syllabus. Each pupil progressed according to his ability to imitate, memorize, and comprehend. The teacher explained the texts in vernacular Tamil, but the texts them­selves were in poetry, often accompanied by prose commentaries in a style difficult to understand. Perhaps twenty boys would be taught by one man, and each pupil advanced at his own rate; success was affected by pressure from the teacher and other students, since each boy was rewarded when he began a new book or chapter of a text.~ Compared to the method of instruction used by the British and Americans, in which all the students were instructed simultaneously in the same sub­ject and progressed at the same rate, the Tamil system, one British scholar observed. “turns out every pupil a fair scholar, though at a great waste of labour. The class system ensures a much higher average, but permits confirmed dullards.”55

Once an unusually motivated and talented student completed this education, he might want to pursue higher studies in Shaivism without becoming a sadhu. He was left to find a teacher. In some cases it might be a relative or a local resident, in others someone affiliated with a monastery, but not necessarily a sadhu.~ The degree of sophistication that any student attained, therefore, depended entirely upon his indi­vidual talent, motivation, and personal circumstances. Tamils might be Shaivas by birth and yet know little about their tradition, except what they absorbed through stories, songs, festivals, and family instruction, or through whatever expositions of the epics and Puranas they gained from temple attendance. Among these aspirants, some would receive one or more initiations into the Agamic worship of Shiva from a guru. Such rituals included instruction in the specific doctrines of Shaiva Orthodoxy and explanation of the esoteric meanings of the rites to which they committed themselves. A very few, the motivated intellectu­als who may or may not have received Agamic initiation, would study Shaiva texts in Sanskrit and Tamil and become, eventually, the local Shaiva scholars from whom others would seek out private instruction.

Arumuga Pillai believed that the traditional system would not offer the kind of education Shaivas needed in the modern world. As he had indicated in 1842, Shiva was chastising the Tamils through the mission­aries in order to elevate them. Educating Shaivas was his response. To be efficient, Shaiva education had to use the classroom system of the West, and to be modern, it had to include some imported subject mat­ter, but that meant a complete revision of teaching methods. Instead of relying on palm leaf books that students would copy out by hand and memorize at their own rate, Shaiva education needed printed books that everyone in the same class could read, memorize, and

understand simultaneously. This meant that difficult poems and com­mentaries had to be transformed into comprehensible prose, but the prose itself had to be sufficiently elegant to convey the contents of the poems in order to improve the thinking of the students. When Navalar founded the School of Shaiva Splendor, he assumed three enormous tasks: constructing a Shaiva curriculum designed for sequential classes, creating an appropriate style of Tamil prose in which to write it, and establishing a press inJaffna on which to print it.

In July 1849, Arumuga Pillai, together with his former student and colleague, Sadashiva Pillai, set out for Madras to purchase a printing press. The money had been donated by wealthy benefactors. On the way they visited the important Tiruvavatuturai Atinam monastery (in Tanjore District), whose leaders periodically sent specialists in the “Tamil Veda” (Thvăram) to recite it publicly in the temples ofJaffna.57 Through this channel and others, the monastic leaders (mathddipati) had heard of Arumuga Pillais unusual knowledge of the Agamas and his efforts on behalf of Shaiva Orthodoxy. When he arrived, they exam­ined his knowledge and heard him preach. Impressed by his mastery of the tradition, they conferred on him the title ndvalar, “the learned.” Considerably enhanced in his status among Shaivas by this “honorary degree” from the scholastic heart of Orthodoxy, he has been known ever since as Arumuga Navalar, or simply as Navalar.

Arumuga Navalar: Writer, Publisher, Polemicist

While waiting for his press in Madras, Arumuga Navalar published two texts he had been editing from various copies. One was an important educational tool, the Cüdămani Nikantu, a sixteenth-century lexicon of 1,197 easily remembered verses giving approximately eleven thousand words in both their verse and prose forms.~8 The other text, Saun­datyaLahań, a poem in praise of the goddess, was important for devo­tion, and was published with explanatory comments (uraO.59 These first efforts at editing and printing Taniil works for Shaiva students and devotees reflected a talent for producing unusually reliable editions, a talent for which he was to remain famous.

Returning toJaffna by way of the monastery at Tiruvannamalai, he set up the printing press in a building near the monastery where the school met, a building that a wealthy Cettiyar of Vannarpannai had turned over to him late in 1849.60 He named it The Preservation of Knowledge Press (Vidya-anubalana-yantra-sala) and hired workmen to operate it who had been trained by the American mission press at Manepy.61 In order to direct both the press and the school, he spent his nights in the monastery, which became, in effect, his residence.62

The new press started publishing early in 1850. It produced a list of pamphlets and books that Arumuga Navalar had been working on for years.ta His two-volume Lessons for Children (Bala Patam) appeared in 1850 and 1851. They were graded readers, simple in style, similar in organization to those used in the Protestant schools.~ A third volume appeared in 1860.65 It consisted of thirty-nine more advanced essays in clear and dignified prose, discussing subjects such as God, Saul, The Worship of God, Crimes Against the Lord, Grace, Killing, Eating Meat, Drinking Liquor, Stealing, Adultery, Lying, Envy, Anger, and Gam­bling. Contrary to one missionary’s judgment, these three volumes of Lessons for Children were not the “blending in conflict and compromise of Hinduism and Christianity,”66 but were simply the presentation and explanation of values imparted in the traditional Tamil schools and in the teaching of Shaiva Orthodoxy. Some of those values were shared by both Shaivas and Christians.

Other texts published in 1860 included “The Prohibition of Killing” (Kolaimansttal) by Shantalingaswami of Tirutturaiyur,’7 a devo­tional poem about Murugan with his own commentary (uras),U and a grammar.66 Navalar wrote and published “The Rule for Darshana in the Shiva Temple” (Sivălaya-darshana-vidhi), a manual to teach Shaivas the ways to worship Shiva in a temple, as the Agamas prescribe it, for the four social classes (varnas) and the four stages of life (ăsrama) ?~ He also published small bits and pieces known collectively as “The Essence of the Shaiva Religion” (Saiva-samaya-sdram) for their doctri­nal education.7’ His first major literary publication appeared in 1851, the 272-page prose version of Cekkilar’s Periya Purdnam, a careful retelling of the twelfth century hagiography of the Nayanars, the saints devoted to Shiva.72 Periya Purănam set a new standard for prose in Tamil, a standard Navalar maintained the rest of his life.

Like “The Rule for Darshana in the Shiva Temple,” his version of the Periya Pisrdnam revealed to Navalar the importance of piety and how far from satisfactory it seemed to be in mid-nineteenth-century jaffna. In “The Rule,” for example, he gave the following evaluation, beginning with the traditional affirmation of how fortunate one was to be born a Shaiva:

Human birth is rare to obtain, even more so birth in this meritorious land of Bharaia (South Asia) where the Vedas and Agamas, the true books are esteemed. Birth among those who perform asceticism is even rarer. And most rare of all is birth in a lineage of Shaivas.

Then he described the indifference some Shaivas felt towards this great blessing:

Nevertheless, many Shaivas do not value these things in the slightest. They have studied and heard about the greatness of Lord Shiva, the treasure of compassion, and about meritorious deeds (punya) and sins (pdpa) and their fruits, but they do not comprehend them. They detest sins but they do not perform meritorious deeds. They thus spend their lives in vain, turning themselves into food for burning hell.

He observed how ignorance could trap even those who make some effort to be pious: “A few, however, do try to perform a few meritorious deeds one way or another, but they have no idea at all how to perform them correctly.. .and so they only go on gathering more sins for themselves.”?S

By “meritorious deeds” (punya) he meant liturgical acts that, like those of the Vedic fire sacrifice, brought well-being when performed correctly and harm when performed incorrectly. Navalar intended the pamphlet to instruct the devotee how to behave when he or she went to see Shiva in a temple. By being so informed, he believed, the Shai­va’s educated acts of worship would focus his or her mind, speech, and body on love for Shiva and would bring the devotee eternal joy.

The same concern fueled the enormous labor required to turn the lengthy Periya Purdnam into prose. In the introduction to his prose ren­dering he noted that Cekkilar wrote the work in finely wrought poetry that was now useless to anyone except scholars. He intended-his prose version, he said, for everyone—learned scholars, failing scholars, liter­ate lay people, and illiterates who could listen to it being read. Although it was in prose, it was still a Shiva Purana and would confer its benefits only on those who read it or listened to it in the proper ritual context and with the appropriate attitude. First they must have received initiation from a Shaiva ăcdr)Ia and they must have lived in purity by abstaining from meat and liquor, by applying sacred ash daily to their bodies, by using consecrated rudrdksa beads for reciting the five-syllable mantra, and by worshipping regularly in the temple. He then described how it should be read:

Those who want to read aloud any books that speak of Lord Shiva’s majesty should first purify their bodies and perform the required rites, and then place a throne in a pure place, set the sacred scripture on it, worship both it and the teaching priest (acdya) who will explain it, sit down, and with love that softens and melts thc heart begin reading. Anyone who wants to listen while it is being rcad should listen in the same manner. The Shiva Agamas and Shiva Puranas declare that anyone who does not recite it or listen to it in this manner will not receive the fruits that such acts produce.74

The analogy, of course, is to the way Protestants used the Bible in their worship services. And Navalar’s motivation in this task of “translation.” as in his later prose renditions of sacred texts, was analogous to the work of translation he had assisted Peter Percival with for eight years. In his case the translation was from medieval poetry to modern prose, a style he largely had to create, but to his mind the prose did not alter the sacred nature of the work.

His most dramatic use of the press, however, was the publication of anti-Christian tracts between 1852 and 1854. In 1852, Navalar, together with Ci. Vinayakamurtti Cettiyar of Nallur, printed the “Kummi Song on Wisdom” (Jnanakkummi) that Muttukumarakavira­jar had composed about twenty years earlier. It immediately angered some Christians, and they wanted to get rid of the press. Christian preachers and papers—presumably the Morning Star—attacked the “Kummi Song on Wisdom,” and one minister started vilifying Shaivism as he made his circuit. Navalar could not tolerate this, so he wrote “The Diamond Axe” (Vajra-damda) against them and published it in Vinayakamurtti Cettiyar’s name.75

In 1853, Navalar printed Nakkirar’s “Tirumurukarrupatai,” adding his own commentary.7’ It was a devotional poem to Murugan that was part of the canon of Shaiva Orthodoxy. Whether this prompted the attack by Christians on Murugan that appeared in their preaching and newspapers at the time is not clear, but the missionaries aimed their verbal weapons at this portrayal of God who married one woman and seduced another who became his second wife.” To missionary minds, Murugan-Skanda was neither God nor a moral example for people to follow. Navalar, of course, would not abide this sneering slander at the Lord whom he believed to be Shiva himself. So that same year he pub­lished “Radiant Wisdom” (Subhra-bodha), his explanation of how the stories embody differing levels of meaning.78 He also matched the mis­sionaries’ treatment of Puranic lore by compiling with a Brahman col­league, Ci. Centinatha Aiyar, examples of indecent language from the Bible and published it as “Disgusting Things in the Bible” (Bibiliya Kutsita).” Another Brahman, Nirveli Civa. Shankara Panditar from Cunnakam, aided him in these disputes. He wrote three attacks on the Christians under Navalar’s direction during this period, but they were not published until about 1877.~

Arumuga Navalar’s most effective weapon, however, appeared in 1854. It was a booklet published for the use of Shaivas in their opposi­tion to the missionaries—a training manual of sorts—entitled “The Abo­lition of the Abuse of Shaivism”(Saiva-dusana-parihara), which he signed in the name of “the members of the Splendor of Shaivism Associ­ation” (Saiva-prakasaSamajiyar) rather than his own. He wanted to focus attention on the subject instead of on himself.8’ The booklet was a fur­ther development of Navalar’s approach to Protestant teachings taken twelve years earlier in his letter to the MorningSiarof October 1842.

AWesleyan missionary, who had worked in Jaffna, described “The Abolition” thirteen years after it had appeared:

displaying an intimate and astonishing acquaintance with the Holy Bible. (the author) labors cleverly to show that the opinions and cere­monies of Jehovah’s ancient people closely resembled those of Shaivism, and were neither more nor less Divine in their origin and profitable in their entertainment and pursuit. The notion of merit held by the Hindus, their practices of penance, pilgrimage, and lingam-worship, their ablutions, invocations, and other observances and rites, are cunningly defended on the authority of our sacred writ­ings! That a great effect was thus produced in favour of Sivaism and against Christianity cannot be denied.82

“The Abolition of the Abuse of Shaivism” was widely used in Sri Lanka and Madras; it was reprinted at least twice in the nineteenth century, and eight times by 1956.83 It appears even to have influenced the formation in 1857 of a Christian sect in South India that employed Israelite and Hindu rituals and called their leader “Rabbi.”84

In the booklet Navalar admonished Shaivas to study its contents for their own salvation—”do not leave piety off for the next birth,” he urged, “for this birth as a Shaiva is the boundary of the end of all births”—and to study it to use against Christians when they abused Shaivism. His comparative discussion of the ritual practices recorded in the Bible and those prescribed by the Agamas took up most of the booklet. It was a sophisticated counter to the Protestant argument that the rituals of this “Old Dispensation” were symbols whose meaning was the crucifixion of Jesus, which, now that the crucifixion had taken place, no longer served a valid function in the “New Dispensation.” What was significant for this discussion, however, was the manner in which he urged Shaivas to oppose the missionaries.

Without bothering to study Shaivism on its own terms at all, he observed, missionaries described it incorrectly and then attacked their false understanding in printed pamphlets that circulated widely.M The Agamas and Tamil hymns, he said, proclaim it was a great sin for Shaivas, for reasons of fear, friendship, or wealth, to sit back and accept such abuse. Shaivas did not need to fear punishment from the English government if they openly opposed missionary excesses, he noted, for even though the government was Christian, it protected all religions equally and had even threatened to expel the missionaries from the country if they continued to harass Hindu temples. Even if Shaivas did suffer because they opposed the abuse aggressively, Shiva was in charge: “He controls all events, he knows all of our deeds, and he determines what we shall experience at a given time. The purpose

of this birth was to serve him and to attain moksa, not to gain pleasures for the body.” He added,

Have not the Shiva scriptures themselves confirmed that those who give up their bodies in order to get rid of such great sins as the abuse of Shiva are certain to attain release?

Therefore, he said, fearing no one but Shiva, contemplating him alone, and relying only on his grace, ‘it is our duty to oppose the mis­sionaries who abuse Shiva, to refute their vile Christian doctrine, and to endeavour to establish Shaivism, the true religion (Sot Samaya) .“~

Like the Methodists, Navalar used a method based on the regener­ation of the individual. First, he said, pray everyday with deep devotion for Shiva to remove the obstacles to this virtuous deed. Second, help each other out generously for the expenses of this work. Third, with this money purchase the books we print and read them carefully over and over. Fourth, explain what you read to others very clearly so they will not fall into the Christian pit. Fifth, whenever missionaries and their catechists abuse Shiva and preach Christian doctrine, ‘do not seek to please them in anyway, but stand up against them, refute the abuse they heap on Shaivism, oppose their doctrine, and shut their mouths.” Sixth, do not allow your children to associate with those of other doctrines (maiam) and at the right age have them initiated and properly instructed in Shaivism. And seventh, select men outstanding in their knowledge and devotion to the Guru, to the lingo, and to the Assembly of Sadhus (piru-linga-sanghatna.bltakt:), appoint them as Shai­va propagandists, and have them conduct weekly teaching sessions for everyone in the temples, monasteries, and other pure places of the vil­lages. In this way, he concluded, we can spread the great light of Shaivism throughout the land of the Tamils, destroy the darkness of other doctrines, and many will attain salvation (muhti).88

In 1857, “The Abolition of the Abuse of Shaivism” received a rejoinder from a Protestant Tamil, D. Carroll Vishvanatha Pillai, in his essay “The Dazzling Light” (Subhradipa).89 This sixty-page refutation may have convinced others, but in the long run, it was not persuasive to its own author. He later repented and became a Shaiva?~

Arumuga Navalar had now laid out the lines of work he would con­tinue the rest of his life: writing, publishing, preaching, teaching, and reform. As the result of his growing fame, pressures on him to marry increased. He had no intentions of marrying, yet he had no intentions of becoming a sddhu, for that would prohibit his active involvement in society. Late in 1854, therefore, he and his student Sadashiva Pillai closed the door to marriage by receiving the final initiation in the series of four rituals conferred by dcdryzs, the nirvana diksa. It required

daily liturgical acts that the normal pollution of the householder’s life would not allow. Now the two men were officially recognized as reli­gious celibates, naistika brahmdcănns, each committed to the daily and private service of a lingo appropriate to his varna status and to his level of knowledge.91 Carrying his personal Shiva lingo with him wherever he went, Arumuga Navalar was always in Shivas temple.

The Impact of Navalar: The Later Years

Arumuga Navalar lived his most active and productive twenty-five years after his initiation as a naistika brahmdcărin. He did not open any new fields to work; however, he vigorously weeded and harvested the ones he had already sown. A full examination of his life is yet to be done in a Western language,92 but a sketch of some of his achievements will indi­cate his significance in the history of religions in South Asia.

Although Navalar began in Jaffna, he worked both sides of the Palk Strait, establishing twin centers for his reforms. To the printing press he set up inJaffna, he added one in Madras; the School of Shaiva Splendour he established in Vannarpannai was matched by one in Chi­dambaram; he battled non-Agamic Brahmans in Jaffna and struggled against Dikshitars of the Nataraja Temple; a challenger to the devotees of ‘erroneous” Shaivism in Sri Lanka, he also opened conflict against the followers of a Siddha saint in Madras; and everywhere he disputed the claims and refuted the abuses of the Christians. His financial sup­port in both places came from wealthy benefactors to whom he fre­quently made ardent appeals for money. Much to his personal distress, he was opposed not only by Christians but also by some Hindus in both places.

His literary production was amazing. Among his approximately ninety-seven Tamil publications, twenty-three were his own creations, eleven were his commentaries (urai), and forty were his editions of those works of grammar, literature, liturgy, and theology he thought Tamils should know.93 With his recovery, editing, and publishing of ancient works, Navalar laid the foundations for the recovery ol’ lost Tamil classics, a task his successors continuedY~ In his own writings he created a style that ‘bridged” medieval and modern prose, as Kamil Zvelebil characterized it:

Although today we would probably describe his prose as dry, pcdan tic and monotonous, colourless and full of restraint, he deserves praise and gratitude for some of the great changes he introduced, and thus paved way for the writers of the ‘Tamil renaissance”.... (In) an over­all assessment of his work, one has to agree with T. P. Mecnakshisun­

daran who says: “Arumugakanavalar of the nineteenth century is the father of modern literary prose—the simple, elegant but grammati­cally correct prose.~

Navalar was the first in Jaffna to establish a Hindu school adapted to the modern world that succeeded and flourished. No doubt its success was due in large measure to his skill in adapting Protestant meth­ods of education to Shaiva institutional and curricular needs and to his ability to gain patronage for it. While the school he established in Chi­damharam in 1865 has survived to this day, similar schools seem to have spread only to two nearby towns.96 In Sri Lanka, however, the School of Shaiva Splendour became the center of eleven schools, all but one in the Jaffna region; and one was an experiment in using English as the medium of instruction.97 Eventually more than one hun­dred and fifty primary and secondary schools emerged in Sri Lanka from his work.96 Navalar, however, viewed the school in Chidambaram and that in Vannarpannai as parts of one establishment; both were administered by a single man and shared funds.96

The students educated by these schools were the measure of their impact. It appears that their influence was considerable. Many of Navalar’s students articulated a temple-centered Shaivisrn in bothJaffna and Madras Presidency that, by the end of the century, stood up con­vincingly to the neo-Hinduisms of the Brahmo Samaj and the Theo­sophical Society. Navalar’s temple-centered Shaivism effectively engaged the minds of young intellectuals through The Association for Shaiva Orthodoxy (Saiva Siddhanta Sabha) founded in 1886, seven years after his death. Due to Navalar’s scholarship and reform, intellec­tuals of the early twentieth century, like the householder Tim. Vi.

Kaliyanasundaram (1883—1953), and the sddltu Maraimal Adigal (1876—1950), were able to develop their own independent thinking without leaving the context of the Shaiva temple and its devotional her­itage.’00 Also, the prolific Tinnevelly Shaiva Siddhanta Works Publishing House that emerged in 1920 can be traced back to Navalar’s vigorous lit­erary productivity, for it took his flawless editions as its standard.’0’

In Summary

The impact Arumuga Navalar made on missionary efforts to spread Protestant Christianity among the Tamils is difficult to assess. How does one count people who might have converted if he had nc t exist­ed? Judging from the literature of dispute that continued throughout the century, however, Navalars own intellectual critiques and his orga­nized preaching circuits were powerful weapons that Shaivas used

effectively to win the loyalty of the Shaiva literati in Jaffna. As Bishop Sabhapathi Kulendram observed, when comparing the promise Chris­tian conversions showed in Jaffna at the beginning of the century to their disappointing results, this low rate of conversion was largely due to Navalar.’96

In the larger Madras Presidency, he could not have such a decisive impact. But his aggressive preaching of a Shaiva cultural heritage led by properly initiated Vellalas and Brahmans no doubt contributed to the growing Tamil “nationalism.” This movement had a specifically Shaiva component that fostered the idea that Shaiva Siddhanta preced­ed all others as the original Tamil religion.’03 Navalar’s insistence on the Agamas as the criteria of Shaiva worship, moreover, gave momen­tum to the tendency among high-status Tamils everywhere to subsume local deities under the Agamic pantheon and to abandon animal sacri­fice altogether.’~

In today’s Tamil world, Arumuga Navalar’s reform would be seen by many as too conservative. On the one hand, his affirmation of caste ideology is officially unacceptable to “secular nationalism,” while on the other hand, his affirmation of the status of initiated Brahmans and of Sanskrit is unacceptable to “Dravidian nationalism.” Nevertheless, in the middle of the nineteenth century he articulated and nurtured the belief shared by many of the literati that the meaning of being Hindu lies in Shiva’s temple and in the culture it generates at the center of dharma (purarn); and he did enable that belief to thrive in the twentieth century and to continue to face the “wilderness” (purappuram) of modernity on its peripheries. From the viewpoint of this belief, Navalar was a model of devotion like the great saints of the past; his response to Shiva’s compassionate chastisement of the Tamils by the missionaries was to strengthen the temple at the center (akam) and to weaken the Christians on the edges. Now, many believe, he dwells with Shiva eter­nally, freed from these issues. Today Tamil Shaivas, however, are any­thing but free from them, confronted as they are by nationalisms of various sorts that Arumuga Navalar no doubt would say are the ways Shiva is now dancing his Tripura Tandava to bring them inoksa.

Bibliographic Essay

Works in English about the life and thought of Arumuga Navalar are relatively thin. A small summary of his life based on a Tamil biography was written by S. Shivapadasundaram, Arumukha Navalar (Jaffria, 1950) and published at the press Navalar had founded. The most extensive English biography was likewise based on earlier Tamil biographies and is summary and laudatory: V. Muttucumaraswamy, Arumuga Navalar:  The Champion Reformer of the Hindus (1822-1879): A Biographical Study. new rev. ed. (Colombo, 1965). Two studies that I have not yet seen may be more scholarly and analytical: K. Sivathamby, ‘Hindu Reaction to Christian Proselytism and Westernization in 19th Century Sri Lanka,” Soaal Saerne Review (Colombo) 1 (1979): 41—75; and S. Thanajeyarajasingham, The Educational Activities of Arumuga Navalar (Colom­bo, 1974). 

Bishop Sabapathy Kulandran analyzes Navalar’s contribution to the translation of the Christian Bible in “The Tentative Version of the Bible or ‘The Navalar Version,’” Tamil Culture 7 (1958): 229-50.

The Tamil studies of Arumuga Navalar are rich resources for historical detail. The most traditional biography was written as a poem by a student the Tiruvavatuturai Atinam: Sivakasi Arunacala Kavirayar, Ydlpănauu Nallür Sri La Sri Arumukandvalar carittiram (The Life of the Venerable Arumuga Navalar of Nallur.Jaffna) (Madras, 1898). There is a copy in the Swaminathaiyar Library. 

The earliest prose biography was by a disciple: Ve. Kanakrattina Upattiyayar. Arumukanăvatar c.ariitjram (The Life of Arumuga Navalar) (Jaffna: 1882; reprint, Jaffna: 1968). A nephew of Navalar later wrote a biography with the same title: T. Kailasa Pillai, Arumukanăvatar Carittiram (Madras. 1918; a slightly expanded ver­sion appeared in 1955). Perhaps the most useful biography, its appendix contains valuable primary sources in English and Tamil. At an unknown date a dramatic play depicting Arumuga Navalar’s life was published: Suttananta Paratiyar, Ndvalar Ndtakam (The Drama of Navalar) (Madras, n.d.). 

There is a copy in Swaminathaiyar Library. A life of Navalar addressed to students was written by Ka. Mayanti Parati, Năvalarperuman (The Noble Navalar) (Madras, 1955; reprint 1962).

The single most useful tool for analyzing the data provided by the biographies is a memorial volume commemorating the centenary of his death: Navalar Nürrdngu Malar 1979. edited by K. Kailasapati (Chunnakam, Sri Lanka, 1979). It contains thirty-four essays examin­ing Navalar from a variety of perspectives, including a useful chronolo­gy of his life and work and bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.

A valuable collection of Arumuga Navalar’s prose tracts addressed to events in Jaffna and Madras between 1853 and 1876 is T. Kailasa Pillai comp., Sri La Sn Arumukanăvalar Perumdnin Pirapantauirattu (The Collected Works of the Noble and Venerable Arumuga Navalar), 3d cd. ‘2 vol. (Madras, 1954—1955).

These and other works by Arumuga Navalar have been reprinted frequently by the press he founded in Madras, the Arumuga Navalar Vidyanubalana Accakam (25 Tangasalai Teru, Madras 600 001). An organization that fosters his work is the Sri Ia Sri Arumuga Navalar Saivaprakasa Vidyasalai Arakkattali in Cidambaram (24 Malaikatti Teru, Cidambaram 608 001). 

Many of his publications are available in the British Library, London, and are listed in the three volumes of A Catalogue of Tainil Books in the British Libraty: Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books (1909 Supplementary Catalogue, 1931; Second Supplementary Catalogue, 1980). 

Many works are also avail­able at two libraries in Madras: The Tirumaraimalai Adigal Library tLingi Chitty Street) and the Ii. V. Swaminathaiyar Library (liruvan­miyur, Madras 41). Other archives and organizations dedicated to Navalar’s memory and career exist in Jaffna, but I am not yet acquaint­ed with them directly.


1. To facilitate recognition of Tamil words, I have modified their transliteration in this essay to conform to their Sanskrit counterparts where appropriate and to conform to standard English usage. Their purely Tamil trarisliterated forms will appear in the notes. Aspects of this essay have been included in my examination of Arumuga Navaiar’s response to Protestant missionaries as compared to that of Vellalas who became Christians: ‘Tamil Hindu Responses to Protestants: Among Nineteenth Century Literati in Jaffna and Tinnevelly,’ in Steven Kaplan ed., Indigenous Responses to Western Christianity. Forthcoming.

Research for this study has been generously aided by a Fulbright Fellowship for research in Madras (1983—84), by the Committee on Faculty Compensation and Development of Smith College, and by the Inter Library Loan Staff of the William Allen Neilson Library of Smith College.

2. For the social distinctions between Brahmans, non-Brahmans, and untouchables in Madras Presidency, see Eugene F. Irschick, Politics and Social Conflict in South India: The Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism, 1916 - 1929 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969). pp. 5 - 12.

3. According to E. I. Robinson, in 1857 the inhabitants of the northern and eastern provinces totaled 184,714. Hindu Pastors: A Memorial (London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1867), p. 5.

4. Robinson, Hindu Pastors, p. 7.

5. Robinson, Hindu Pastors, p. 122.

6. For the idea of the ur, see E. Valentine Daniel, Fluid Signs: Being a Person The Tamil Way  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 61-104.

7. These divisions are discussed by Capapati Navalar, in ‘Varalaru,” Civa­camavdtavuraimaruppu by Civajnana Yoki (Citamparam: Cittanta-vittiyanu. palana-yantira-calai, 1893), pp. 1—6.

8. For a discussion of these monastic heads, see V. A. Devascnapathi, Salvo Siddhänks: As Expounded in the Sivajnana-Siddhiyar and its Six Commentaries (Madras: University of Madras, 1966), pp. 1—15.

9. For example, the first Protestant missionary to India, Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg, learned from Tamil Hindus in the early 18th century that “sin” is an immoral life and the worship of village deities rather than the One God, Shiva; and that the word “heathen” refers to anyone who does not wear the ashes ofShjva, does not recite the (ive-sy(table mantra ofStfva, does not sacri­lice and fast, and is without mercy, love, humility, and patience. See H. Grafe, “Hindu Apologetics at the Beginning of the Protestant Mission Era in India,” Indian Church History Review, 6, No. 1,(june 1972): pp. 5940, 65—66. See also, Dennis Hudson, “Luther’s Voice in India,” paper presentcd at Smith College, October SO, 1984, in “Martin Luther: An Interdisciplinary Symposium Com­memorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformer’s Birth.” 

10. The Jesuit missionary in Madurai, Roberto dc Nobili, responded to thirteen abuses in a work he wrote in Tamil about 1640, see Tattuva Potakar (Roberto de Nobili], Tüsanqt Tikltdram, ed. by C. lracamanikkam (Tuttukkuti:Tamil Ilakkiyak Kalakam, 1964). The Lutheran missionary in Tranquebar, Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg, recorded various Hindu views of Christianity in the early eighteenth century. Se~ H. Grafe, “Hindu Apologetics,” pp. 4349.

11. John Murdoch provided a description of Tamil printing in 1865 in his Classified Catalogue of Tamil Printed Books with Introductory Notices (Vepery,Madras: The Christian Vernacular Education Society, 1865 (reprint ed. by M. Shanmukham and published in Madras by the Tamil Development and Research Council, Government of Tamilnad, 1968]), pp. lvii—lxxx.

12. One example is the manuscript in the British Museum by mamapa­main PilIai, Induc-clitiyärin-t,etänta.vitakkam, completed in 1801. The author, a Vellala, was a former Christian in Tranquebar who became a Shaiva and was hung by the British two years later for spying.

13. For a further discussion of this in the overall context of Tamil intellec­tual responses to the West, see Dennis Hudson, “The Responses of Tamils to Their Study by Westerners 1600—1908,” in Bernard Lewis, Edmund Leites, and Margaret Case (eds.), As Others See Us: Mutual Perceptions, East and West (New York: International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations, 1985), pp. 180-200.

14. Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg, for example, circulated palm leaf writings among Tamil Hindus in 1710 which he then printed on the new Tamil press as a pamphlet in 1713. It consisted of eight chapters “in which is shown how great a horror heathenism is and how those who live in it may be saved and go to heaven.” It was reprinted in 1729 and 1745. See Hans-Werner Gensichen, “Abominable Heathenism’, a Rediscovered Tract by Bartholomeus Ziegen­balg,” Indian Church History Review, I, no. 1 (1967), pp. 29—40.

15. Listed by Kailasa Pillai, An.smukanăvalar Canuiram, (Madras: 1918 and 1955), p. 53. Robinson describes those belonging to the Wesleyan Mission in Hindu Pastors, pp. 7—16.

16. The decision and immediate controversy is reported in The Second Tri­ennial Report of the American Missionary Seminary, Jaffna, Ceylon (Nellore, 1830), pp. 23—24, from which the following quotations come. H. R. Hoisington (1801—1858), a serious scholar of Tamil and Shaivism, was head of the semi­nary from 1836 to 1842 and responsible for having the Kantapurănam pre­scribed for study. See K. Meenakshisundaram, The Contribution ojEuropean Scholars to Tamil, Madras University Tamil Dept., Series No. 33 (Madras: Uni­versity of Madras, 1974), Pp. 45—46.

17. Between 1836 and 1839, H. R. Hoisington, Principal of the American Mission Seminary in Jaffna, lectured on a “List of popular objections to Chris­tianity” called kummi, which probably was Muttukumara Kavirajar’s poem, “Jnanakkumnii.” See the F~fth Tneirnial Repo~1 oftheAmencan Mission Seminary, Jaffna, Ceylon, with an Appendix, January, 1939 (Jaffna: Press of the American Mission, 1839), P. 12. This “Jnanakkumini” was attacked by a Christian in a poem called Ajjnănakhummi which in turn was attacked by Cilampunata Pillai in Ajjnänakkusnmi Maruppu. See Ci. Kanecaiyar in his Ilandttut Tamilppulavar Carttam ((NP.): Na. Ponnaiya, 1939), p. 44.

18. Thc two poems are contained in the collection of Muttukumara Kavi­rajar’s poems in the volume commemorating the centenary of his death, Mut­tukkusndrakavirdcar Pirapantattirattu, ed. Cunnakain Ku. Muttukkumaracuvamip Pillai (Mayilani/Cunnakam: Pulavarakam, 1952).

19. Arumuga Tambiran of the Dharmapuram Atinam was baptized in Madras as Wesley Abraham in 1836. His “jnanakkummi” (also listed as Ajjnńnakkumma) was published in Madras in 1837 according to the Second Suppl.e­mentary Catalogue of Tamil Books in the British Library by Albertine Gaur (London: The British Library, 1980), p. lb. See also Cu. A. Iramacamip Pulavar, Tamilp­pulavar Vwicar, vol. 6 (Cennai: Tirunelveli Tennintiya Caivacittanta Nurpatip­puk Kalakam, Ltd., 1958), pp. 27—29, where it is listed as Ajjnănahhummi.

20. Published in Madras in 1840 and reprinted at the American Mission Press in 1850 and again in 1862. The 1840 publication date is given by Murdoch, Catalogue, p. 21.

21. It went by the Sanskrit name Catur Veda Siddhanta Sabha and was also called the Salay Street Society from its location. See George I1ettitt, The Tinnevelly Mission of the Church Missionary Society (London: Church Missionaiy Society, 1851), pp. 255—257; and R. Suntharalingam, Politics and Nationalist Awakening in South India, 1852—1891 (The Association for Asian Studies: Mono. graphs and Papers, No. XXVII) (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1974), pp. 42—43.

22. Vitavikarpa was composed by Ponnainpala Cuvami of Purusavakkarn and Vita vikarpa tiithăram by Muttucami Pillai of Pondichery. The latter died in 1840 and the response may actually have been written by the head Tamil teacher at the College of Fort St. George, Tantavaraya Mutaliyar. See Chcngalvaraya Pillai, History of the Tamil Prose Literature (Madras, 1966 (1904]), pp. 58—59; and Simon Casie Chitty, The Tamil Plutarch (Jaffna, 1859), pp.55—56.

23. The Utayaidrakai—Morning Star, Vol. 1 (184]). (Jaffna: American Mis­sion Press), p. 1. Henry Martyn edited the English and Seth Payson the Tamil sections.

24. Morning Star, vol. 3, (1843), pp. 114—15.

25. Morning Star, vol. 2, (1842), p. 287.

26. Morning Star, vol. 2, (1842), p.272.

27. Reported by Atdinarayana Cettiyar Shivaprakashan in Supplement to the Utayatdrakai—Morning Star, Thursday, October 20, 1842 (vol. 2, No. 20), p. 249. with response from the editor on p. 250. A very different version of the meeting is given by a disenchanted Shaiva, “S. Tannayerperagasan,” in vol. 2, pp. 284-87 together with editorial comments.

28. From the English version ol’ the letter by A. Shivaprakashan in Morn­ing Star 2. (1842), p. 271b.

29. Morning Star, 2, (1842), p. 27]a. According to Robinson, Hindu Pas­tars, p. 119, the school was at Vannarpannai and did not Survive.

30. Another connection between the school and Arumuga Pillai was the priest Arunacala Gurukkal, known commonly as Vedakutui Aiyar. He was pre­sent at the meetings in 1842 and about ten years later Arumuga Pillai’s broth­ers tried to use his influence to talk Aruinuga Pillai into getting married. See Morning Star, vol. 2, (1842), p. 270-71; and Kailasa Pillai, Antmukanăvalar Cant­tiram, p. 17.

31. Nayana-sdstra according to Ntsstalar nOn-dntu major 1979, p. 299. The following biographical information on Arumuga Navalar comes from “Navaiar valkkaiyil mukkiya campavankal’ in Ndvojar nüwbntu moLar 1979 (Navalar Cente­nary Souvenir 1979), ed. by K. Kaitasapati (Colonsbo and Kottavil, 1979), 299—304, and from three biographies: Ve. Kanakarattina, Anamukand valor cant­tiram (JafTna 1882, reprinted 1968); T. Kailasa Pillai, Avumukandvalar canttiram (Madras. 1918, with an expanded edition in 1955); and V. Mut­tucumaraswamy. Sn La Sn Arumuga Navalar, The Champion Reformer of the Hin­dus (1822—1879) A Biographical Study, new rev. ed. (N.p., 1965).

32. Cowan kumd ran nanmatarapitcan. His letter appeared in its Tamil orig­inal with an English translation in the Supplement to the Utayatarakai—Morning Star,January 26, 1843 (vol. 3, No. 2), pp. 21—23. The editors’ lengthy reply to it is included in vol. 3, Nos. 3—6.

33. His  father was P. Kanta Pillai of Nallur and the drama was Irattinavalli Vi Id cam.

34. “manam unarca ataintu.” 

35. The quotations follow the English translation which I have amended with reference to the Tamil original for greater accuracy. The translator omit­ted some sentences and phrases and used “Shivas” instead of “Shaivas”.

36. Supplement to the Utayatdrakai—Monsing Star, vol. 3, no.3 (February 1843), p. Ia.

37. Kanakarattina, Arumukandvalar Carittiram, pp. 8—10.

38. They included Sadashiva Pillai, Swaminatha Aiyar, Nataraja Aiyar, Vishvanatha Aiyar, Arumtiga Pillai, Kantaswami Pillai, and Arumuga Cettiyar, according to Kanakarattina, Arumukanăvalar Canttiram, p. 10.

39. One was Mu. Tillainatha PiIlai who had studied English with Arumuga Pillai and was now a teacher in Percival’s English school; the other was Cu. Cinnappa Pillai. According to Kanakarattina, because they refused baptism, the one lost his teaching job and the other did not receive one. Aru­muka ~ui valor Canuiram, pp. 13-15.

40. The companion was Ansbalavana Mutaliyar. See Năvalar Major, p. 299. Kailasa Pillai reports a story that as a young boy he went to Nagappattinam and expounded a portion of the Skanda Pură no. See Kailasa Pillai, Ansmugandvalar Carittiram (1955), Pp. 36—37.

41. See Kanakarattina, Arumukandvalar Canttiram, p. 16. In 1875, for example, he published three pamphlets addressed Io the officials of the tem­ple, contained in Sri La Sn An*mukandvalar Pensmdnin Pirapantaurauas, ed. T. Kailasa Pillai. 2 vols. (Cennai: Arumuka Navalar Vittiyanupalana Accakam, 1954), vol. 2, pp. 1—97.

42. He resigned when he found that the Shaivas would not let him teach the Bible as English literature. The school then became totally Tamil and many students returned to the mission school. See Robinson, Hindu Pastors, pp.119—21. 

43. Robinson, Hindu Pastors, p. 123.

44. Robinson lists the topics as Richard Watson recorded them for twenty nine sermons between February 18 to November 17, 1848, in Hindu Pastors, pp.124-25. Kanakarattina gives examples in Arumuka Ndvaior Carittiram, p. 20, which Muttucumaraswamy repeats in Sn La Sri, p. 20.

45. Kanakarattina, Atumukandvalar Cavittiram, p. 18.

46. For examples, see Kanakarattina, Arumukanävalar Carittiram, pp.20-24.

47. Kanakarattina, Arumukandvalar Carittiram, pp. 18—19; Mut­tucumaraswamy, Sri La Sri, p. 19.

48. Sabapathy Kulandran, “The Tentative Version of the Bible or The Navalar Version’,” Tamil Culture, vol. 7 (1958), pp. 229-50, especially p. 2.39.Kulandran also discussed Arumuga Navalar’s work with Percival in Catapati Kulentiran, Kiristava Tamil Vëtdkamattin VaraLănt (A History of the Tamil Bible) (Bangalore: The Bible Society of India, 1967), pp. 117-49.

49. Kulandran, “The Tentative Version of the Bible,” p. 249. On the British and Foreign Bible Society in India, see D. Rajarigam, The History of Tamil Christian Literature, Studies in Indian Christian Theology. no.2 (Madras: The Christian Literature Society. 1958). pp. 27—28.

50. His statement is reprinted by Eailasa Pillai, Arumukandvalar Canttiram, pp. 19-21.

51. This was probably a form of the “shifting matri-uxorilocal pattern” typ­ical among Tamils on the east coast of Sri Lanka. See Dennis B. McGilvray. “Mukkuvar vanniasmi: Tamil caste and matriclan ideology in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka,~ Caste Ideology and Interaction (Cambridge Papers in Social Anthropolo­gy, No. 9), (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 34-97, espe­cially pp. 43—46.

52. Kanakarattina, Arumukandvalar Carittiram, pp. 25-28.

53. Charles E. Cover described this system in “Pyal Schools in Madras,” The Indian Antiquary, vol. 2 (February 1873), pp. 52—56. Other literature com­monly taught included Krishmantüiu, Pancatantra, Kompar Rdmdyanam, and Kaid Cintdmani. Grammar was learned from NannüI and vocabulary from a Nikantu, usually the Cütdmani Nikantu.

54. Gover, “Pyal Schools in Madras,” p. 536.

55. Cover, “PyaI Schools in Madras,” p. 551.

56. On the matha in south India as an educational institution, see S. Gurumurthy, Education in South India (Ancient and Medieval Periods) (Madras: New Era Publications, 1979), pp. 13—25. Contemporary mathas are described briefly in “Maths in South India,” The Vedanta K.esan, vol. 44, No. 4 (August 1957). pp. 148—81. For an example of a nineteenth-century householder teach­er at a matha, see the English versions of U. V. Swaminatha Aiyar's autobiography, The Story of My Life 1~ Dr. U. V. Swaminatha Aiyar. trans. S. K. Guniswamy, ed. A. Rama Iyer (Madras: Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. U. V. Swaminathaiyar Library. 1980), and his biography of his teacher, A Poet’s Poet: Life of Maha Vidu,an Sri Meenakshisundaram Piliai: Based on the Biography in Tamil hy Mahamahupadhyaya Dr. U V. Swaminatha Aiyer (Madras: Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. U. V. Swaminatha lyer Library, 1976).

57. Kailasa Pillai, Arumuhanä valor Canttiram, p. 16.

58. The first ten parts contain about eleven thousand words and they con­stitute the section Navalar appears to have published. It was republished five times before the last two parts were added. See S. Vaiyapuri Pillai, “History of Tamil Lexicography,” Tamil Lexicon, vol. 1 (Madras: University of Madras, 1982 11936]), pp. xxv—xliv, especially pp. xxi—xxviii; and Cfltămani Nikantu mütamutn uraiyum, 1—10 tokutikal Yalppanam Nallur Sri La Sri Arumukandvalar Avarkal Paricotittanu; Ponnampala Pillai, Avarkal Pai-icotittanu (Cennai: Aru­mukanavalar Vi. Accakam, 1966).

59. Virai Kaviracapantitar. Cauntariyalahari: Ikatu Caiva Ellappa Ndvalar ceyta uraiyutan (Nunkampakkam (Madras], 1864).

60. Vannarpannai A. Arumuga Cettiyar. See Kanakarattina, Aru­mukanavalar Canttiram, p. 31.

61. Robinson, Hindu Pastors, p. 125. “Tr~itor-sepoys of the press” he called them.

62. Kailasa PiIlai, Arumtshand valor Carittiram, p. 32.

63. Following the date given in the Nd valor Malar, p. 300.

64. At the end of volume one he included Auvaiyar’s Atticdti and Konraivëntan, and in volume two his own commentaries (uraa) on them. See Kanakarattina, Arumukand valor CarUtiram, p. 31.

65. This dating is given in Pdlapdtam: Ndnktim Puitaham, Yalppanam Nal­lur Arumukanavalar Avarkal ceytatu (Cennai: Sri Arumukanavalar Vittyanu­palana Accakam, 1969), p. I. The PdIa Pdiam has been reprinted numerous times and its three volumes are now four: Navalar’s third volume has become the fourth and K. C. Ponnambalam Pillai has compiled a new third volume. Today the lessons are considered appropriate up through the sixth and sev­enth classes.

66. Robinson, Hindu Pastors, p. 125.

67. Tirutturaiyur Cantalinkacuvamikal, Kolaimarutial (Tinspportir Guam­paracuvdmikal anslicceyta uraiyutan), 7th cd. published by Vicuvanatapillai (Ccn­napattanam: Vittyanupalana Yantiracalai, 1924).

68. The Tiruccenti-niröttaka-yamaka-v-antdti by Turaimankalam Civapraka. cacuvamikal, 5th ed. published by Catacivapillai, (Cennapattanam: Vittiyanu­palana Yantiracalai, 1882).

69. Pavananti, Nanndlum—Viruttiyuraium (Nannul with the Virttiyurai by Cankaranamaccivayappulavar as corrected by Civajnanacuvamikal of the Ati­nain), ed. Arumukanavalar (Cennapattanam: Vittiyanupalana Yantiracalai, 1902). A tenth edition appeared in 1974.

70. Arumukanavalar, Civdlayataricanaviti, 5th ed. (Cennapattanam:Vittyanupalana Yanttiracalai, 1882).

71. Noted by Kailasa Pillai, Arumukandvalar Carittiratn (1955 ed.), p. 75. 1 have not located these small printed pieces; they may have become part of his latcr and larger publications.

72. See Dennis Hudson, “Violent and Fanatical Devotion Among the Nayanars: A Study in the Penya Purdnam of Cekkilar,” Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees, ed. by Alf Hiltebeitel. Forthcoming.

73. Arumukanavalar, Civdlayataricanaviti (1882), p. 40.

74. Arumuka Navalar, Tiruttontar Pertyapuranam. . .kattiya rüpamnakac ceytu (1852), p. 5.                

75. Kanakarattina, Arumukandvalar Canttiram, p. 34. The Nürrdntu Molar, p. 300, places this publication in 1854. I have not been able to locate this pam­phlet; the British Library’s Second Supplementary Catalogue of Tamil Books (1980), p. 16, lists Kiristumata Kanana Kutari, Vajratankam (“Vajra Dankam, The Dia­mond Axe.”) A Tamil pamphlet for the use of Hindus against Christianity. (Madras, 1888), p. 24.

76. Based on that of Naccinarkkiniyar. See Nakkirar, Tirumurukdimppatai mülamum...Arumuka Ndvalar...putturaiyum, 19th ed. (Ccnnai: Sri Arumuka Navalar Vi. Accakam, 1967).

77. For a sympathetic discussion of the story, see David Dean Shulman, Tamil Temple Myths: Sacrifice and Divine Mamage in the South lndian Saiva Tradi­tion (Princeton: I’rinceton University Press, 1980), pp. 275—85. For a discussion of the festivals in Sri Lanka that celebrate the story, SCC Gannanath Obeyesekere, The Cult of the Goddess Pattini (Chicago: The University of Chicago Prcss, 1984), pp. 470-74, and Medusa’s Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

78. Cupirapotam (1853), reprinted in Arumukanävalar Pirapantattirattu, vol.1, Nallur T. Kailasa Pillai, cd., 3d ed., published by C. Ponnusvami (Ccnnapat­tanam: Vittyanupalana Yantiracalai, 1954), pp. 3—16.

79. Kailasa Pillai, Arumukanăvalo,r Carittiram, p. 55.

80. According to C. Ponnusvami in Civa. Cankarapantitar Pirapantattirattu,C. Ponnusv~mi, comp. 2d ed. (Cennai: Vittiyanupalana Accakam, 1957 11882]). The pamphlets are Krnstumata Kantanam, Carpiracdnl€am, and Miliccamata Vikapam. See also Kailasa PiIlai, Angmukandvalar Canttiram, p. 55.

81. As he notes in his letter to John Walton ofJanuary 18, 1856, reprinted in Kailasa Pillai, An.~muAandvalszr Canttiram, p. 102.

82. He adds hopefully: “...but it was one of those victories which are equivalent to defeats, a suicidal advantage prompting to devout research per­sons who might never otherwise have been led to examine the Scriptures, and conducting inquirers beyond such limits as the apologists would have allowed.” Robinson, Hindu Pastors, pp. 127—28. The immediate response to the booklet, including letters exchanged between Navalar and the missionary John Walton, are contained in the appendix to Kailasa Pillai, Arumukană valor Carittiram, pp.101—108.

83. Navalar, Caivatüsana Parikăram (Cennai: Vittiyanupalana Accakam, 1956). The India Office Library lists the 1868 edition and the British Library lists the 1890 edition.

84. The Hindu Church of the Lord Jesus founded by Arumanayagam, known commonly as Sattampillai among the Christian Nadars in Tinnevelly DistricL See Hudson, “Responses of Tamils to Their Study,” pp., 189-90.

85. He names specifically “Blind Way” (KuruttuvalO. “Attributes of the Hindu Triad” (MOmflrtti Lahsanam), and “News of Depravity” (Tuvicdravind­tăntam).

86. Arumuga Navalar, Cait,atfisana Parikăram, p. 9.

87. Navalar, Caivatfisana Pankdram, p. 10.

88. Navalar, CaivatOsana, Parikdram, p. 11.

89. D. Carroll, Cuppiratipam: Ikatu Caivatflsanaparikeira Nirăkaranam (Jaffna: Ripley and Strong, 185’7).

90. Kanakarattina, Arttmukanăt,alar Canttiram, p. 36, note.

91. Arumuga Navalar was initiated into the worship of his own quartz lingo (spatika lingam), the utaiyavarpucai, and Sadashiva Pillai was initiated into the worship of the impermanent lingo, the ksimikalizgrim p~cw. Kanakarattina, An.jmukanăvalar Carittiram, pp. 38—39~ Kailasa Pillai, Arumuhantlvalar Canttiram, pp. 81—82.

92. I am working on a long-range study of him tentatively entitled, For the Love of Shiva: Ammuga Navalar and Hindu Reform ira the Nineteenth Century.

93. Listed in Molar, pp. 308-15.

94. Damodharam Pillai in particular continued this work, himself having been a Christian who became a Shaiva because of Navalar. Tiru. Vi. Kaliyana­sundaram says that Animuga Navalar dug the foundations for the recovery of Tamil classics, Damodharam Pillai built its walls, and Swaminatha Aiyar roofed it and made it into a temple. The temple is in Tamil literature the house of Shiva. See Tiru. Vi. Ka. Valkkaik Kurippukkal, Autobiographical Notes of Tint. Valkkaik Kurippukkal, vol. 1 (1944; reprint, Madras: South Indian Saiva Sid­dhanta Works Publishing Society, 1969), p. 160.

95. Kamil Zvelebil, The Smile of Murugan: On Tatnil Literature of South India (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1973), p. 259.

96. Mayuram and Vedaranyam. See Muttucumarswamy, Sn La Sri, p. 35.

97. It lasted from 1874 to 1878 in Vannarpannai. See Kailasa Pillai, Ant­mukandvalar Canttiram, pp. 52—53; and Muttucumarswamy, Sri La Sri, pp. 83, 86, 101.

98. K. M. de Silva, ed., Sri Lanka: A Survey (Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1977), p. 389.

99. Muttucumaraswamy, Sri La Sri, pp. 97—99.

100. Navalar’s student’s student, N. Katirvel Pillai ofJalTna (d. 1907), was influential on Tiru. Vi. Ka. in Madras. In his youth, Maraimal Adigal (formerly Swami Vedachalam) participated in the Shaiva Siddhanta Sabha in Nagapatti­nam led by a friend of Navalar’s, Virappa Cettiyar. See Tiru Pulavar Aracu, Tint. Vi. Kaliydnacuntarandr (Madras: South India Saiva Siddhanta Works Pub­lishing Society, 1982), pp. 21—22; and Tavattiru Alakaratikal, Maraimalaiy­atikcdar Varaldru Mătci (Madras: South india Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society, 1977), pp. 185-91.

101. Pulavar Ira. Ilankumaran, KaLaka Atciyar V. C. Varaläru (Madras: South India Saiva Siddhanata Works Publishing Society, 1981), p. 112.

102. Capapati Kulentiran, Kiristava Tamii Vëtdkamattin Varalăru, pp.148-49.

103. See Irschick, Politics and Social Conflict in South India, pp. 292-94.

104. For Sri Lanka, see Gananath Obeyesekere, The Cult of the Goddess Pattini, p. 599, n. 7.


Mail Us up- truth is a pathless land - Home