Hymns That Flipped the New Moon into Full Moon

Abirami Pattar, the author of the famous work in the canon of Tamizh literature - Abirami Anthaadi, had an immeasurable devotion towards Goddess Abirami that made the impossible possible!
Keywords: Tamizh, Literature, Shiva, Moon, Etymology, Abirami Anthaadi, Literature
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It is believed that the Grace of the Almighty can make the mute eloquent and the lame climb mountains. It can turn grains into gold and new moon into full moon within minutes. It can also save one’s life from the jaws of death!

Temple Town Thirukkadaiyur

That’s what happened to Subramaniya Iyer, a staunch devotee of Goddess Abirami, who lived in the 18th century Chola land called Thirukkadaiyur in Mayiladuthurai, Southern India, on the banks of river Kaveri. The presiding deity of this beautiful Amritha Ghateshwarar Temple town, is Shiva and His consort Parvati, as Abirami.

Thirukkadaiyur is a birthplace of 2 Nayanmars (poet- saints devoted to Lord Shiva)- Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar & Kari Nayanar; it is also a place of historic importance as stone inscriptions belonging to Medieval Cholas who constructed the temple in the 9th century, have been discovered here. Later expansions of the temple have been attributed to Thanjavur Nayaks in the 16th and 17th centuries

A complete 180-degree flip of the moon

Subramaniya Iyer was mocked as a mad man. Reason – his transcendental devotion to Mother Goddess Abirami. He was often in such reverie of the Goddess that he would go to women devotees in the temple, call them out as “Abirami! Abirami”, and worship them with flowers which would make them all run away from him!

One day the Maratha King Sharaboji I Bhonsle was on a processional visit to the temple. (Sharaboji I Bhonsle (1675–1728) was the son of the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur Ekoji I and the Raja of Thanjavur from 1712 to 1728. He was a great patron of art & literature)

Subramaniya Iyer in a deep trance in meditation, was unmindful of the King’s presence and remained in his meditative state. While some complained and spoke ill of Sunbramaniya, the Archaka pleaded with the King to pardon Subramaniya who, he said was learned and also an astrologer.

Subramaniya Iyer praised loudly the resplendent face of the Goddess as “thousand times more beautiful than the full moon today!”

Irritated by the irreverence of Subramaniya Iyer, the King asked whether it was a new moon or full moon that day?

In a heady frenzy of devotion Subramaniya  Iyer  proclaimed  the  day as full moon day instead of a new moon one, and that  the words were not his but the Mother’s! Outraged by the lack of respect and attention from Subramaniya, the King pronounced a death sentence on him, if the moon did not appear that night. Subramaniya was tied by 100 cords, made to stand on a platform/swing, beneath which a huge pyre was burning. And thus, he started composing hymns in praise of the Goddess. With the completion of each stanza, one cord got cut. When the 79th stanza was sung, the Goddess appeared in all her glory, hurled one of her dazzling earrings that illuminated the benighted sky like the full moon! The spectacle mesmerized the people, and Subramaniya was filled with ecstasy. He continued to compose 21 more verses. 2 more were added; an invocatory prayer to Lord Ganesha (called as காப்பு – Kāppu-protection), and the phala stuti or (பயன்– Payan) the benefits of chanting the verses.

The King humbled and awed by his true devotion, honored him with the title of “Abirami Pattar” meaning – the worshiper/pujari/pontiff of Goddess Abirami.

Abirami Anthaadi – The etymology

The verses composed by Abirami Pattar are called Abirami Antaadi.

அந்தாதி – Anthaadi, is a poetic form in which the last word of a previous verse becomes the first word of the next verse. Thus this kind of poem gots its name, Antam (அந்தம்,the end) + ādhi (ஆதி, the beginning) = Anthaadi

The Tamizh canon is a body of high culture literature; works that have achieved the status of classics. Although there are many forms of intricate poetry, Abirami Anthaadi is a treasured one.

The  Special 16 benediction prayer of Abirami Pattar

The following blessings asked by Abirami Pattar for one’s well-being and  happiness are considered  very special:-

01. கலையாத கல்வியும் – kalaiyaadha kalviyum

 Single minded learning

02. குறையாத வயதும் – kuraiyaadha vayadhum


03. ஓர் கபடு வாராத நட்பும் – oru kabadu varaadha natpum

Friendship without malice

04. கன்றாத வளமையும் – kandraadha valaimayum

Growing Prosperity

05. குன்றாத இளமையும்  – kundraadhu ilaimayum

Healthy youth

06. கழுபிணி இலாத உடலும் – kuuzhupinni illaada udalum

Disease-free body

07. சலியாத மனமும் – shaliyaada manamum

Steadfast determination

08. அன்பு அகலாத மனைவியும் – anbu agalaada manaiviyum

Increasing love of a wife

09. தவறாத சந்தானமும் – thavaraadha santhanamum

Righteous children

10. தாழாத கீர்த்தியும் – thazhaadha keertiyum

Undiminishing fame

11. மாறாத வார்த்தையும் – maraada vaarthaiyum

Unreneging Promises

12. தடைகள் வாராத கொடையும் – thadaigal varaada kodaiyum

Uninterrupted generosity

13. தொலையாத நிதியமும் – tholaiyaada nidhiyamum

Undisturbed affluence/prosperity

14. கோணாத கோலும் – Konnaada kollum

Uncrooked traits/conduct

15. ஒரு துன்பம் இல்லாத வாழ்வும் – oru thunbam illaada vazhvum

Life without misery

16. துய்ய நின் பாதத்தில் அன்பும் – thooya nin paadathil anbumm

Steadfast devotion to your Feet

கலையாத கல்வியும் குறையாத வயதும்…….மதுரையை அரசாளும் மீனாட்சி…….

Kalaiyatha Kalviyum Kuraiyatha Vayathum – Sudha Raghunathan

Even till today, in the Tamizh month of ‘Thai Amavasai’ that falls in January – February, the temple town of Thirukkadaiyur comes alive in great festivity and celebration to commemorate the celestial event and the devotion to goddess mother Abirami.  The nama Abirami means – “one whose beauty cannot be measured”.

Abirami Pattar had a devotion that could not be measured.

Abirami Anthaadi is hence immortal in the famous Southern land of Thirukkadaiyur and is regarded as a major poetic work of the Tamizh Literature.

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Pavithra Srinivasan

Pavithra Srinivasan is a Visiting Fellow of India Foundation. She is an acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer, and founder of Arsha Kala Bharathi.

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