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Singing of a Place: Pilgrimage as Metaphor and Motif in the Tēvāram Songs of the Tamil Śaivite Saints

Indira V. Peterson
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 102, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1982), pp. 69-90
DOI: 10.2307/601112
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/601112
Page Count: 22
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Singing of a Place: Pilgrimage as Metaphor and Motif in the Tēvāram Songs of the Tamil Śaivite Saints
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Abstract

The Tēvāram is the collection of the Tamil devotional songs of the three principal saints (Campan̄tar, Appar and Can̄tarar, 6th-8th c. A. D.) of the Tamil Śaivite cult. The songs are addressed to Śiva in particular shrines in Tamil country, and were composed by the saints when they visited these shrines. This article suggests that, besides being a literary record of the pilgrimages of the saints, the songs reveal a conceptual orientation to pilgrimage as being central to the Tamil Śaivite cult and that through this orientation the songs have played a powerful role in shaping the Tamil Śaivite community's view of itself as a separate linguistic and regional culture. The use of places, landscapes and mythology in the songs is analyzed to show that, by blending local and pan-Indian myths of Śiva in the arena and context of particular Tamil landscapes identified with the real and ideal landscapes of classical Tamil poetry, the saints establish for Tamil devotees the presence of Śiva as a Tamil deity in particular places known to them.

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