Campantar Analysis

Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Campantar (sham-PAHN-tar) was born to Bhagavathiyar and her husband, Sivapadahirudayar, a devotee of Lord Śiva who prayed for the eradication of Jainism in India. According to legend, as a baby, Campantar was blessed with the “divine milk” of goddess Pārvatī, Śiva’s consort, and composed his first tiruppatikam in Panniru Tirumurai when he was barely three years old. Explaining Śiva’s act of kindness in chaste Tamil verse, the highly sophisticated poem starts with the first consonant of the vedas (th) and the first vowel of the vedas (o). It also enumerates the five major actions of Śiva: creating, protecting, destroying, hiding, and blessing. The child continued to sing a total of eleven verses. Later, at age seven, when Campantar was blessed with the “sacred thread ceremony” (upanayanam, or initiation), he sang the glory of Pañcāksaram (the five holy syllables) and not the Gāyātri Mantra, which is traditionally taught to the novice. Every major saint in the Saiva Sidhantha tradition has composed a song on the Pañcāksaram, as it forms the core of the Vedas.