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Kalladam – A Religio-Literary Work In Tamil

Kalladam was written as an exposition of Tirukkovaiyar, forming part of the canonical literature of Tamil Shaivism composed by Saint Manickavasagar. Named after its author, Kalladanar, the work probably belongs to the 13th century CE. It owes much to Periya Puranam of Sekkizhar (1200 CE).

Kalladanar randomly selected a hundred mystic love-themes from Tirukkovaiyar and expounded them in a hundred blank verses. The choice of themes and chaste style are evidence of his fervent effort to revive the classical style of Sangam poetry. While the saint Manickavasagar dedicated his work to Nataraja of Chidambaram, Kaladanar dedicated his work to Somasundara of Madurai. Both the works are similar in praising Shiva and extolling the greatness of Shaivism.

Madurai holds an enviable place in the history of Shaivism. According to the commentator on Iraiyanar – kalaviyal, in Madurai Shiva codified the grammar of esoteric poetry (ahapoorul). Kalladanar refers to this and says that the Lord did so in order to establish the greatness of Tamil and opines that the work has brought to limelight the distinct tradition of Tamil poetry and the way of life it enshrined.

Madurai has a Puranic tradition of its own which holds that Shiva and his consort Uma ruled the Pandya kingdom with Madurai as their capital. They appeared as Minakshi and Sundara Pandya and performed 64 leelas – Tiruvilaiyadal (divine sports) at Madurai.

Kalladam set the tradition of describing only 64 leelas or thiruvilaiyadal and Tiruvilaiyadal Puranam followed it.

Describing the marriage of Meenakshi, Kalladanar aptly states that Shiva came from Mount Kailasha looking exactly like a Pandya king, with konrai (cassia) garland, golden ornaments, a crown, and a flag with the fish emblem instead of one with the sign of Nandi (Bull).

Kalladam refers to the historic event of crowning Murti Nayanar as the king of the Pandya kingdom. He is one of the 63 canonized saints of Shaivism. The accession of this devotee-turned-ruler marked the end of the Kalabra rule and was the harbinger of the renaissance of Shaivism.

Kalladam a charming literary composition, has fine similes to explain the bliss of God-experience as well as the spiritual darkness shrouding the minds of those who never love him.