Thevaram pathigams are arranged and edited in two methods; ‘Panmurai’ and ‘Stalamurai. According to ‘Panmurai’, pathigams are arranged on the basis of musical tunes and ‘talam’ ( time measure ). Here music was given an importance. In Stalamurai, the hyms were arranged according to the sacred temples visited by the saints, giving importance to the events; further it commenced from Chidambaram the most sacred centre of Saivism. It is said that ‘Panmurai’ is prior to ‘Stalamurai’
St Sambanthar had performed many miracles for the good of the religious revival and society. The greatest was the vanguishing of the Jains at Madurai in Philosophic dispute and re-conversion of the Pandyan King back to Saiva fold. Of all the pathigams, Thiruneelakanda pathigam, Kol Aaru Thirupathigam, Panchakkara pathigam and Poombavai pathigam may be noted for important events in his religious tour of St Sambanthar.
St Sambanthar’s thevaram most of them are in eleven stanzas. First seven stanzas explains about the Pathiga Thalam or the temple, the greatness of main deity or Lord of the temple and the devotees who contributed their services and spend their life for the temple. Eighth stanza explains the ignorance and baseless effort of Ravana in lifting Mount Kailash and was crushed by Lord Siva. Ranavana realized the greatness of Lord Siva, played the veenai and sung the greatness of Lord. Here the concept of Anava of soul will be mentioned in various ways. The nineth stanza explains ‘Maal’ ( Vishnu ) and ‘Ayan’ ( Brahma ) claim to be more supreme than each other and decided to reach the top ( hair ) and bottom ( feet ) of Lord Siva. But after failing to do so, through the greatness of reciting Panchakkaram, both received the blessings of Lord Siva. The tenth stanza explains the ignorance and attitude of the Jains and Buddist ( Purapurah Samayavargal) in condemning the principles of saivism and ill treating the saivites. Due to this, all their efforts were defeated with the grace of Lord Siva. The last stanza; eleventh explains the benefit to us of singing this pathigam with faith. Sekkilar peruman named this section as ‘Thirukkadaikkaappu’. Here in this eleventh stanza; Alludaiya pillaiyar and his place are mentioned. The details of ‘Thirukkadaikaappu’ are available in the book ‘Thevaranggalil Saiva Siddhantham’.
St Appar sung his pathigam beginning from ‘Kootrayinavaru..’ and ending with ‘Oruvaraiyum..’of Thiruppugaloor Thiruthandagam which consist 49,000 stanzas in total but only 3066 verses of Appar are available. He travelled the entire Tamilnadu, like Sambanthar, not only singing the praises of Lord Siva but also doing social services to devotees of Saivism. His verses are always on a higher ethical plane. He had sung a few songs with Pann but most of his verses are not originally intended for Pann type.
He is a master of Thandakam, a form of verse with eight line. His language is always simple, direct and easy understandable without flourished or artistic words. In his Thiru Angamalai, which is sung by many saivites including children, here in this short poem he dedicated every organ of his body to the service of God. Divine intervention in his life came comparatively later and he was quite experienced in life in that period. ( He embraced Saivism at the age of 60 – “Saiva Samaya Varalaru” by K Vellaivaranar.) He later met and became friends with St Sambanthar and these two saints visited many temples of Lord Siva together.
His 4th Thirumurai consist of three parts, the part in Pann with 21 poems, the ‘Thirunerisai’ with 58 poems and ‘Thiruvirutham with 34 poems. Of these, the second part is the largest. Each poem here used to be sung by the ‘Othuvarmoorthigal’ in the tune of Samaveda; even Vedic singers used to listen to their recital.
The 5th Thirumurai consist 1015 verses and they are considered the essence of his teachings. In his verses he had vividly expressed his realization of spiritual experience. Along with all the great spiritual thinkers, Appar also believed that God realization would result only through His grace. The 5th Thirumurai is called ‘Thirukkurunthogai’
The third, 6th Thirumurai is called ‘Thirutthandagam’. Here we find his sincere devotion to God for the Saiva world. Here we find sincere and genuine feeling charged with the deepest emotion. Appar’s out pouring of feelings came straight from the heart and any ardent and gifted devotees would indeed feel the same. As Appar followed Dasa Marga ( servant to God or path of slave ). His songs were a passionate prayer for the conquering of the temporary pleasures and are a comple surrender ( poorana saranagathi ) to God. Saivites pray to stop the cycle of birth but Appar says the birth should be welcomed because it enables him to see the dance of Lord Nataraja.
Sundarar's 7th Thirumurai
Sundarar’s pathigam’s are mostly with a combination of verses from Sambanthar’s and Appar’s pathigams. Many verses are being repeated from the hymns of the two great saints in Sundarar’s pathigam. Examples here are 2;115 -4 of Sambanthar and 7;48-4 of Sundarar. 6;31-4 of Appar’s pathigam and 7;21-1 of Sundarar has the similarities. Here in 7th pathigams the flow of a friendship between two ( Sundarar and Lord Siva ) is beautifully sung. His requests and favour from Lord Siva and God fulfilling his wishes and requests can be clearly seen while singing these stanzas.
Many of the ideas had never before been put to this kind of poetic use. The other saints sang hundreds of songs in temples and after they came away from temples, devotees there learnt them and sang again in temples and ‘Utsavams’. These pathigams were planned to be sung but Manikkavasagar’s Thiruvasagam and Thirukkovaiyar were not generally sung in shrines during his time.
One who will not be moved by the Sacred Utterances will not be moved by any utterances. (Tamil Proverb)
Thiruvasagam has the tendency of mesmerizing every soul who listens to its verses. It begins with Sivapuranam and ends with Acchoppathigam. The main message of Tiruvasagam is that the body is temporary and we should not spend much time and money in worldly comforts, the root cause of pains and sorrow. One should rather pray to leave the body and attain liberation. Soul should have control over the body: the ultimate highness in one's life is to reach Lord Shiva's feet.
The entire stanzas of ‘Thiruvembavai’ from beginning to end deal with the divine love based on Bridal mysticism ( Nayaga nayagi bavam ). His work ‘Thiruvembavai to Koil Thirupathigam’ form one collective unit which deals with the essence of love, a love more than human, in apprehending the God head, where all other means had failed and ended only in frustration.
In ‘Thirukkovaiyar’ there are 400 verses (Agam) in the evolutionary stages based on approach of divine love. Some research scholars are of opinion that some Agamic principles are intellectually interwoven in Thirukkovaiyar. Lord Nadaraja, in His attachment to the sweet words of Manikkavasagar, came before him as an aged Vedic Brahmin and wished to take down all that the verses of Thiruvasagam and Thirukkovaiyar and further He requested Manikkavasagar ( as the old Brahmin ); “Pavai paadiya vayal kovai paaduga”. In response to this, he composed “Thiruchitrambala Kovaiyar”. The entire English translation was done by G.U Pope.
Thiruvisaippa and Thirupallandu are in the 9th Thirumurai by nine authors. These authors have done their works by having the hyms of the three saint as a base foundation. Senthanar has done his work called ‘Thiruppallandu’ in this 9th Thirumurai. Singing Panjapuranam is compulsory in temples. Thiruvisaippa and Thiruppalandu are included in this Panjapuranam thus proved the greatness of these works. Panjapuranam consist of Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thiruvisaippa, Thiruppallandu and Periya puranam. Here the 10th Thirumurai and the 11th Thirumurai are not included.