Thiru means Holy. Ammaanai means an indoor game played by girls. The games is played with five or seven cowries or pebbles which are tossed into the air and caught on the back of the hand. It is played usually to the accompaniment of a song sung exultingly by the player and ending with the refrain ammaanaai. The songs are usually in praise of The Lord Civan and His exploits.




The Decad

175.    Let us play ammaanai
        SINGING
        ABOUT THOSE bliss over-flowing blossomy FEET –
        feet not possible of being seen
        by even the red-eyed Vishnu
        though he went down as a boar
        and burrowed for it –
        ABOUT THOSE SUBLIME MERCY-EXUDING FEET
        of the Lord of the South
        teaming with coconut-groves,
        of Him of Perunthurai,
        of the One with beauteous eyes,
        WHICH, graciously coming down on earth
        as the Most Compassionate One,
        SEVER the chain of our births,
        ENSLAVE even people like us,
        BESTOW on us mukti –
        deliverance from death and birth.

176.    Let us play ammaanai
        SINGING OF HIM,
        rare to be seen by earth-dwellers,
        heaven-dwellers, dwellers underground,
        or those in regions beyond these,
        by none of these at all,
        but to us an easily accessible Celebrity –
        the Southerner, Perunthurai’s Lord.,
        the exceedingly covetable, ocean-line One,
        Who cast His fishing-net on the surfy sea –
        WHO, making me god-mad,
        came, and, entering my heart,
        as unsatiating ambrosia,
        graciously bestowed on me
        the path-of-no return.


177.    Let us play ammaanai
        SINGING of the endless bliss bestowed on me
        by Civan, the Lord of merit-abounding Perunthurai,
        who came riding on a horse to sever by bonds,
        who, while Indra, Vishnu, Brahma,
        the heavenly ones, and the rest stood
                by in suspense,
        graciously came down on earth
        in the guise of one
        with ash-covered shoulders,
        and enslaved even a person of my sort,
        and (now abiding in me) melts my mind!


178.    Let us play ammaanai SINGING OF
        the honey-oozing, ambrosial-essence-like,
        anklet-girt, far-reaching,
        luminous, meritorious FEET –
        rare to be beheld by the devas from heaven
        along with Vishnu, Brahma and Indra,
        even though they stayed in forests
                    (engaged in austerities),
        with body withering away
        and anthills growing over them –
        WHICH came of their own accord,
        and, showing signal love to this cur
        like a very mother,
        ENTERED MY BODY
        and infused life into its very hair-roots.


179.    Let us play ammaanai
        SINGING OF the mighty One, the Southerner,
        the Lord of Perunthurai,
        the Compassionate One,
        the Rider on the swift-footed bull,
        Who, entering Thillai,
        is established in the dance hall;
        and Who, made me –
        a cur of a laggard with a stony-mind –
        god-mad, and, kneading that stone of a mind
        into a ripe fruit,
        immersed me in the flood of His mercy
        and rid me of all my karma.


180.    Did you hear, O my chum,
        how the unique One enticed me?
        The Southerner, the Lord of Thirupperunthurai
        surrounded by lime-plastered ramparts,
        showing me everything hitherto never shown,
        showing His form as Civan,
        showing His lotus feet
        and showing His honeyed Mercy,
        Himself took us into His service
        and assumed lordship over us
        to the merriment of the people of the country
        and to the end that we gain the heaven above,
        singing about this supreme act of Grace
        let us play ammaanai.


181.    Of the Indweller Who dwells inside those
        Who contemplate Him unceasingly,
        of the Far One, the Knight, the Southerner
        Who abides in Perunthurai,
        of the Veda’s Lord,
        of Him with the Dame abiding in one half
        of his Body, of the Bridegroom
        Who enslaved even curs like us,
        of Him Who is a veritable mother to us,
        of Him Who Himself is the seven worlds,
        of Him Who rules the same,
        let us sing and play ammaanai.


182.    Of the Magnificent One
        Who graciously endowed a prize
        for the melody-bearing song,
        of Him with one part of His body bearing a woman,
        of the Lord of Perunthurai,
        of Eesan of the famed vast spheres
        Borne by the sky,
        of the God bearing an eye on the forehead,
        of the golden-hued Body
        Which, carrying a hod of mud
        on its back for wages in bustling Madurai,
        was struck by the King with his cane
        and carries to this day the scar thereof,
        of Him let us sing and play amaanai. [1]


183.    He with the crescent moon,
        the Bard of the Vedas,
        the Lord of Perunthurai,
        He with the thread of several strands
        (across his body) –
        on stately steed He rides; dusky is His throat;
        red-golden His form; ashes white thereon;
        first in all worlds is He.
        Bliss unceasing –
        the traditional boon –
        to his veteran devotees He graciously gives,
        That all the world may amazed be,
        of Him let us sing, and play ammaanai.


184.    Of the Veda’s Lord,
        Greater than the devas ruling the heavens,
        of Him Who stands as an ideal of magnanimity
        to the Kings who rule the earth,
        of Him of cool Paandinadu
        which gives (to the world)
        sweetness-abounding Tamil,
        of Him with part of His body ruled by a woman,
        of Him of Annaamalai
        Who, in Perunthurai held in high regard by all,
        showing His eye-delighting anklet-girt feet,
        enslaved this cur,
        of Him let us sing, and play ammaanai.


185.    Of the Partner of Her with cup-shaped breasts,
        of the Southerner, of the Lord of Perunthurai,
        of Him of the nature
        of unfailingly melting the hearts of those
        who have sought (refuge at) His feet,
        of Him with the water-logged matted locks
        Who turned Paandinaadu into the Land of Bliss,
        of the Farthest of the farthest,
        Who yet is inside those
        with minds assigned to Him
        as collateral
        for the blissful far-reading anklet-girt feet,
        of Him let us sing and play ammaanai.


186.    A collyrium-glittering-eyed one, listen!
        Of Him Who –
        while Brahma, Vishnu and Indra
        sought Him in every birth –
        enslaved even me in this very birth
        by his sweet grace,
        and saved me from being born again,
        of Him who manifests Himself
        in the real thing – the soul,
        and Who has that same real thing as His abode,
        of that Being Who (nevertheless) Himself becomes
        the ultimate eternal abode to all things,
        and the foundation to all things,
        of Him, our Civan,
        let us sing, and play ammaanai.


187.    As we play the ammaanai
        to the jingle of the bangles loaded on our arms,
        to the dance of the rings adorning our ears,
        to the tossing about of our black gleaming tresses,
        to the exuding of honey from flowers thereon,
        and to the humming of the bumble-bees
        hovering over those flowers,
        Let us sing
        of the rosy-hued One,
        of Him Who wears the white ask (on His body),
        of Him with palms never known
        to have been joined (in supplication to anyone),
        of Him Who fills everywhere,
        of the Lord of the Vedas
        Who is Reality to those who are His devotees,
        Who is not to those who are not,
        of Him Who abides in Aiyyaaru.


188.    Let us play ammaanai,
        singing of the anklet-girt flowery feet of Him,
        the Lord of Heaven.
        WHO, graciously pleased to put to rout
        The karma of me,
        who was wearied of birth and death
        as elephant and worm, as men and devas,
        and as other creatures as well,
        ABODE IN MY FLESH melting it,
        AND, coming in the guise
        of honey, milk and candy-equalling sweet King,
        TOOK me, in His grace, into His galaxy of devotees.


189.    Let us play ammaanai,
        singing of the garland of mandhaara flowers
        of the red-garlanded Southerner
        of Perunthurai surrounded by groves,
        Who, in the sacrifice performed by Thakkan,
        graciously ground the Moon under His heel,
        crushed the shoulders of Indra,
        cut off the head of Echchan,
        knocked down the teeth of the radiant Sun
        who runs his course in inter-stellar space,
        and delighted in putting to rout
        the devas in several directions. [2]

 
190.    Let us play ammaanai relating in song how
        the honey-filled kondrai-garland-wearing Knight
        Who, mingling in me
        as flesh and life, and EXPERIENCE,
        as honey, ambrosia and candy of the sweet
                    sugar-cane,
        graciously bestows on us
        the path not known by the devas even,
        and becomes resplendent enlightenment-endowed
        eternal gnosis to us;
        and to the countless manifold creatures,
                    their King.


191.    Wear shall I in my hair the kondrai blossom;
        wearing it, Civan’s brawny shoulders
        shall I embrace.
        embracing it tightly, swoon shall I;
        pausing, I shall sulk;
        sulking, I shall yearn for those rosy lips,
        Search shall I for Him, melting inwardly;
        searching,
        I shall think of Civan’s anklet-girt feet alone.
        Droop shall I;
        bloom shall I again.
        The rosy feet only of that fire-bearing Dancer
        let us sing and play ammaanai.


192.    Let us play ammaanai singing
        of Him with one half of His body
        gleaming like the radiance of Her
        of parrot-like soft speech,
        of the wise One unseeable by Vishnu and Brahma
                    who set out to see Him,
        of the clear Honey (of enlightenment),
        of the Compassionate One
        Who, coming down condescendingly
        and abiding in splendour-abounding Perunthurai,
        took pity on me,
        and, through inconceivable sweet grace,
        appeared as an effulgent One
        and was moved with compassion
        to make His light shine
        inside my innermost being.


193.    Let us sing
        of Him Who is prior to the Trinity,
        of Him Who is the Whole,
        of Him Who
                    exists after the end of everything,
        of the Pinggahan,
        of Him established in Perunthurai loved by me,
        of the Lord of Heaven,
        of Him with one half of His body
        occupied by the Dame,
        of Him of Aanaikkaa in the South,
        of Him of South Paadinaadu,
        of Him my Beloved,
        of Him Who is like ambrosia
        to those who call Him their Father,
        of that magnificent One,
        and play ammaanai.


194.    Let us PLACE OUR TRUST IN THE time -
        Immemorial repute of the MAGNIFICENT ONE
        Of qualities rare to be found in others –
        The Lord of Perunthurai,
        Who, graciously coming
        On the victorious charger,
        sets aside the foibles of His devotees
        but takes into account their good qualities only,
        and cherishes them and severs
        the encircling link of kinship
        (called I and mine) –
        and play ammaanai
        singing all the while
        about the Form of Supreme bliss
        which the Lord has taken
        that we may cling to Him
        SO THAT THE BANDS OUR PASSAM
        MAY BE SEVERED.



[1] Who endowed a prize for the . . . song – probably refers to the occasion when Lord Civan composed a poem for Dharmi, a poor Brahmin, and helped him to obtain a prize offered by the Panandiyan King.

[2]  The incidents referred to in this stanza occurred during a sacrifice which Thakkan, the father of Parvathi in one of her incarnations, conducted. He had not invited Civan, his son-in-law, to the sacrifice. This was a deliberate insult. But the devas, including Brahma and Vishnu, partly from greed for the presents usually given away at a sacrifice and partly from fear of Thakkan, attended the sacrifice ignoring the insult to Civan. Civan arrived at the sacrifice in a great rage and laid was the sacrifice and punished the devas in the manner stated in this stanza.