Thiruchanda Virutham | 1-40


Thiruchanda Virutham by Thirumaḻisai Āḻvār.

Who is God? What is God? What is the nature of God?


You are five things—taste, light, touch, sound and smell in earth.
You are four things—taste, light, feeling of touch, and sound in water.
You are three things—taste, light and heat in fire.
You are two things—the touch and the sound of the wind.
You are the unique ancient one.
You are many things on the earth.
You are the dark-coloured one.
Who has the power to know who you are?


You are the six actions—
learning, teaching, performing sacrifices,
making others perform sacrifices, giving and receiving.
You are worshipped by the fifteen sacrifices.
You are the beautiful two—wisdom and renunciation,
and the three devotions, devotion for god,
the devotion that gives knowledge to know god,
and the highest devotion that gives moksha.
You are the seven and six and eight.
You are many wisdoms.
You are the true and the false.
You are taste, light, touch, sound and smell.
You, Māyaṉ, are everything on earth.
You are Māyaṉ, who can see you?


You are the chief of the twenty-four philosophies,
the five elements water, land, fire, wind and the sky,
the five sense organs, body, mouth, eyes, nose and ears,
the five organs of action, mouth, legs, hands, the unclean organs,
the five senses, taste, sight, hearing, smell and touch
and the four organs of knowledge,
mind, ego, knowledge, and ignorance.
You stay in the sky.
You are all these and more.
O Māyaṉ, who can see you?


You are the thirty-three Sanskrit sounds.
You are the five consonants.
You are the sixteen vowels.
You are the lord of the five special sounds in Tamil.
You are the mantra with twelve sounds,
“Om Namo Bhāgavate Vāsudevāya.”
You are the three faultless lights—the sun, the moon and the stars.
You have entered into my heart—why, O my lord?


You are everything on the earth.
You are the life of all creatures.
No one knows who you are
but you are in everyone and everything.
There is no limit to you.
You are the ancient one.
You created Nāṉmukaṉ on your navel
who creates all creatures of the world.


Ādiśeṣa carries the earth and you.
The mountains burden the earth.
The sky carries the Ganges and the clouds.
You contain in yourself water, fire, wind, sky and the earth.
You protect them all and all are in you.


You are the three forms of the gods,
Shiva, Vishnu and Nāṉmukaṉ.
You are sleep.
You are feelings.
You are the two times, night and day.
You are the oceans.
You are the earth.
You are the three fires.
You are Māyaṉ, the cowherd.
The three-eyed Shiva praises you.


You are the most ancient of the ancient gods
and you abide across the worlds.
You know the birth of the ancient gods.
Who can tell the time when you became the ancient one?


Shiva whose red jaṭa
is decorated with kondrai garlands that sprinkle pollen
worships your feet, following the rules of the Vedas.
You are the pure one.
Those who know the Vedas well
and those who recite the sacrificial spells
worship you in the ways that the Vedas instruct.


Just as the white waves born in the wide ocean
rise and go back into the ocean,
everything that is in the world is born from you,
stays and lives in the world by your grace
and goes back into you. Such is your nature.


You are the sounds that form the words of the Vedas
and you are the meaning of all the words in the Vedas.
You are the light that cannot be described by words.
You created Nāṉmukaṉ and he creates
all the creatures of the world by your order.
Can words even begin to describe your nature?


You create the world,
you take it within you,
and again you create the world.
You do not remain in one place.
The world is within you
and you are separate from it also.
Who knows how you are in this world?


No one can say just what or who you are.
Some say that you are the beloved of Nappinnai.
Some say you are only a cowherd
and you play with cowherd girls.
Who can know your name, your place,
your birth and what form you will take in the future?
No one can know your nature.


You, decorated with Tulasī garlands, are pure yoga,.
You took the form of a turtle.
You are the ancient god who sleeps on the deep ocean.
We do not know what your name is,
but we say you are the creator of the Sāmavēda
and are praised by songs of the Vedas.
You carry in your hands the Śārngam bow.


You are the four Vedas and the six Upanishads
and you are their meaning.
You sleep on the wide ocean on many-headed Ādiśeṣa.
You are precious wealth.
Aren’t you the god who carries a white conch
and the Śārngam bow?


You are the souls of the gods,
plants, people who do good and bad karma and animals.
Even though people do not know who you are,
they hear of you from the Vedas and the scriptures of the sages
and they know you in their hearts.
Your greatness is like that of high mountains.


You are the unique god,
but you are the three gods, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma,
and you are the four gods.
You are the god who gives joy and goodness to all.
You are the god who is the source of good karma.
No one can comprehend your form.
You are the god who sleeps on Ādiśeṣa on the wide ocean.
How can you, the ancient god,
come to the world in human form?


You sleep on the ocean
on the snake bed of Ādiśeṣa who has a thousand mouths,
and two thousand fiery eyes.
He makes a roof for you and is never apart from you.
You have the colour of the ocean.
Why do you sleep on the ocean?


You took the form of a swan
and taught the Vedas to the sages.
You split open the mouth of the Asura
when he came in the form of a bird.
Why do you ride on the eagle
even though you carry an eagle flag?
O god, you carry a shining discus!
Why do you love to sleep on the ocean on Ādiśeṣa,
the snake that is an enemy of the eagle?


Without being shy,
you sleep on a snake on the ocean
and the gods come there and sing and praise you.
O Keśava! You took the form of a turtle
that lives in moss-covered water.
Why did you do that and allow others to say bad things about you?
Tell us so we can understand you.


You are the god of Srirangam.
When you churned the ocean of milk
the waves were wild, the water was stirred up,
trees fell and the great earth shook
as the snake Vāsuki suffered.
What did the Asuras do then?
When you went to Lanka to fight with Rāvaṇa,
you were happy to get the help of the monkeys.
You are our father!
Tell us how all that happened so we can understand you.


You are the past, present and future.
You are the ancient god.
You took the form of a child Kaṇṇaṉ,
swallowed all the seven worlds
and slept on a banyan leaf.
You are adorned with a Tulasī garland on which bees swarm.
You embrace on your chest the goddess Lakshmi
who stays on a lovely lotus.
You are the highest god of the earth.


You took the form of a white lion
and with your nails you split the chest
of Hiraṇya who had shining teeth.
You are Padmanābha who sleeps on the ocean of milk.
The famous yogis recite the four Vedas
and worship you.


You are the great god!
The water of the Ganges flows from your lotus feet.
You carry in your beautiful hands
a discus, a conch, a club, a bow and a sword.
O god of gods, you took the form of a man-lion.
The goddess Lakshmi, decorated with beautiful blossoms
dripping with pollen, lives on your chest.
O Māyaṉ, your body has the blue colour of the ocean.


You took the form of a man-lion,
split open Hiraṇya’s chest with your nails and killed him
who had received many boons doing hard penance.
You came in the form of a dwarf
and begged for land from Mahābali,
but what kind of lie was that, since the world is yours?
Did you hide the land in your stomach
that you received by begging him?
O Kaṇṇā! Who has the ability to know what you think?


You took the form of a man, Rāma, and a woman, Mohinī.
You are what is good and what is evil.
You are food, sound and smell.
You are illusory and you appear to be nothing.
You were a cowherd who looked after bulls.
You are the false and the true.
You went to Mahābali as a dwarf and took his land.
You are a thief.


You are the light that shines crossing the sky.
You are the bright form of wisdom.
You are music.
You are the god who destroys people’s sins.
You went to king Mahābali as a dwarf-sage
and begged for his land.
You measured the earth with one foot, grew tall
and measured the sky with the other.
Who will respect you for how you have acted in cheating Mahābali?


You created the earth.
You went as a dwarf and measured the world.
You swallowed the earth and spit it out.
You created the oceans and slept on a banyan leaf.
When the Asuras Mali and Sumali came to fight you,
you sent them to Yama’s world.
You carry the discus in your strong hand,
You are Māyaṉ!


You are the highest god in heaven among all the other gods.
You sleep on the ocean.
You keep Lakshmi on your chest and embrace her.
You came to this earth in human forms.
O lord, you are the form of wisdom.
No one can say what your nature is.


You are the sky, earth, hills, and seven oceans.
You are as beautiful as a lotus.
You enjoyed the food served for Indra
and slept on a banyan leaf.
You are decorated with a lovely fragrant cool Tulasī garland
that drips with pollen.
You shot a stone from your sling and hit Mandāra’s hunched back.
You carry a victorious bow.


You carry the discus that decides the life of all.
Your fame has no limit.
You, the good lord, were born as a child
and swallowed all the seven worlds in ancient times.
You are the hero who in the form of Rāma,
became angry, bent his bow and calmed the ocean.
O Mūrti, you give moksha to the devotees
who worship you in their hearts.


You are the ancient one.
You crossed the ocean with the help of a monkey army,
fought the Rākṣasas, shot your cruel arrows
and destroyed them.
Your feet are beautiful as lotuses.
You begged Mahābali to give you land
and took all his land.
You measured the earth and the sky
and they all belonged to you,


You shot your cruel arrows
and destroyed Rāvaṇa whose teeth were bright as lightning.
You gave your grace to Vibhīṣaṇa and the kingdom of Lanka.
You are the beloved of Nappinnai, the innocent woman
who speaks sweetly and who has a lovely colour.
Aren’t you the god who has lotus eyes?
You have everlasting fame and a golden colour.


You are the ancient of the ancients.
You are the ancient of all the worlds.
You are the highest of all the lights.
You are the truth.
You are the Vedas.
You are the sacrifices.
You are the sky and the earth.
What is your magic that you are the ancient one
and the cowherd?


You took the forms of a fish
that swims on the ocean and of a turtle.
You carry a discus.
You are the god who gives love to all.
You were a child for the cowherd woman Yaśodā
who has a thin vine-like waist.
O lord, what is your magic
that you are a cowherd and also our god?


You were brought up by the cowherdess Yaśodā
whose breasts were decorated with beautiful ornaments.
You destroyed Śakaṭāsura when he came in the form of a cart.
You took the life of the Asura who came in the form of a bird.
You drank milk from the breasts of the deceiving devil Pūthanā.
How, then, could you drink the nectar from the mouths of women
who wear golden bracelets on their hands?


You made the vilam fruits fall and destroyed the Asura.
You made the blooming kurundam tree fall
and killed the Asura Keśi.
You split open the mouth of the Asura who came as a bird.
People say that you are the god Kaṇṇaṉ
and that is why you could do all these things with your strong hands.
You drank the milk of the cowherdess Yaśodā.
You ate mud, you stole butter and ate it
and you drank milk from the devil Pūthanā.
You took the forms of a dwarf and a boar.


You are our chief who broke the tusks
of a rutting elephant that dripped ichor.
You danced on the snake Kālinga.
You have the colour of a cloud
and you danced the kuthu dance on pots.
Your chest is decorated with cool Tulasī garlands.
You are the god who carries the discus
that destroys your enemies.


You used Mandāra mountain as the churning stick
and churned the milky ocean.
You made a bridge using stones on the ocean to go to Lanka.
You destroyed Lanka that is surrounded by stone walls.
You are the god Kaṇṇaṉ who has the colour of a cloud
and you protected the cows from the rain with Govardhana mountain.


You protected the elephant Gajendra from the crocodile.
You killed the elephant Kuvalayabeeḍam.
You were raised as a cowherd child and you grazed the cows
and protected them from the rain with Govardhana mountain.
You fought with the seven bulls to marry Nappinnai.
What is all this magic?