Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Paul Younger
This study is about the nature of two Tamil Śaiva poems. "Tiruppaḷḷiyeḷucci" and "Tiruvempāvai", their structurc as text, the style in which they are interpreted, and the way in which they are used in ritual events. These two poems are narrative moments rather than longer narrative sequences. They are interpreted in commentarial literature, and in ritual, by situating the utterance of them as events in different narrative worlds. The significance of the poem is the significance of the event in a particular world. The meaning therefore changes from narrative world to narrative world, and even within the same narrative world if the poem is situated as a number of different events. In this study, the poems were generally situated in one or more of six narrative worlds: the akam world of love, the puṟam world of heroism, the theological world of Śaiva Siddhānta, the world of the hero's biography, the world of the poet-saint's (Māṇikkavācakar) life and the world viewed from the perspective of one's own life.
This study contributes to scholarship firstly as an understanding of Tamil Śaivism, by studying the interaction between the Tamil Śaiva poems, their interpretation and their use in ritual, which illustrates a basic style of interpretation within which there is a considerable interpretive freedom. Secondly, this research contributes to the wider area of "Tamil Studies" in that it shows links between this style of interpretation, and that of the classical Tamil akam and puṟam poems. Thirdly, this research contributes to performance and ritual studies by focusing on the "ritual text" as a text in itself, and by suggesting that the significance and principle of coherence of the "ritual text" lies in the specific situation in which it is created and interpreted, rather than in the nature of the source texts. Lastly, this study includes field research on two relatively new temples in the village of Nākamalai Putukkōṭṭai, west of the city of Madurai.
Waldock, Deborah Louise, "Text, Interpretation and Ritual Use of Tamil Saiva Poems" (1995). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2297.