I should have girl who sings his infinite names.

An excerpt from the Tiruneṭuntāṇṭakam of Tirumaṅkai Āḻvār-2



“Bull who happily grazed cows, sweet fruit

of Kannapuram circled by fragrant groves.

Lord who delighted in dancing before everyone,

Beloved who abides in Tiruvenkatam to the north,

King who destroyed hordes of asura,

He is in Tirunaraiyur of vast gardens

My love is the one with thick dark curls”

She weeps:

tears splash on the slope of her breasts.




Her soft full breasts are pale.

Her long eyes darting like warring fish,

fill with tears

When the lusty red-footed pigeon coos for its mate,

she melts sinks into thought.

She sings of the towns of Tankal and cool Kutantai,

dances and praises Kovalur

Hearing this, I asked,

“Girl, can this be right for our family”

She replied, “I’ll sing of Naraiyur then”




A glorious body dark as rain clouds,

eyes, lips, hands, feet red as lotuses

devoted to the innocent earth,

equally mad for the goddess on the cool lotus

what great evil have I done?

Listen to the things my beautiful young girls says

“where’s my lord’s Tiruvarangam”

“I’ll go to Nirmalai of the one dark as the ocean”

Tthis is how she lost herself, this is her state.




That woman with lovely full firm breasts

rests on the mysterious lord’s broad chest.

Despite knowing this

my girl desires only him,

Now she’s lost

all modesty, s

She sighs, calls to her friend,

says “shall we dance in beautiful Arankam?”

I speak to her, but she cares little for the words of her mother

Instead she sings

of the cities of Tiruper and cool Kutantai,

She goes to bathe in a lake thick with luminous lotuses

My daughter—she has no peer—is gone.

Has your daughter gone this way too?




He ruined the demon who drives a great chariot and wields a grand sword

even before this,

He set Lanka ablaze, engulfing it in terrifying flames

He’s the one to vanquish valiant Bāṇa of a thousand arms

He crossed the vast ocean—a fortress—entered it,

that lord of the Earth

dug it out, lifted it, ate it, spat it, spanned it, ruled it

People say it’s my great fortune that on this earth

I should have girl who sings his infinite names.

Is this right?




Two glittering earrings shaped like fish flashed and danced,

they kissed

his sweet dark dense curls.

He clasped a fierce bow ready to fire arrows

as though it were his boon companion.

Like this he stood before me:

hands, lips, his two eyes, even his two feet, all bright as lotuses.

Friend, we saw such beauty and thought him a god

and we were afraid.




He sang a lilting tune as he cast coy glances at me

He flirted with me, sang some more.

Keen to find his feet, I ran:

my bangles, the jewels on my hips fell away.

I saw his luminous earrings, his four great arms

asked, “how far to my lord’s temple?”

He replied.

“Isn’t this beautiful Tiruvali?”


Archana Venkatesan

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