Aabath Sahaya Kavasam

The entry of Japan into World War II had dramatically altered India’s position in the war. Japan had swept through the colonies of south-east Asia, including Burma, and by March its troops were poised on the Indian border.
In early April 1942, a carrier-group in the Indian Ocean bombed ports in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and South India.
Panic had already been growing in Madras (now Chennai) – the city was already flooded with refugees from Burma with tales of the bombing on Rangoon and Mandalay.
On April 12, the government finally advised residents to leave for safety.
Within 48 hours, with no confidence that the Empire would protect them, 300,000 people fled Madras – a third of the city’s population. Within a week, half a million had left. This came to be known as the great evacuation in the history of Madras.
The immediate fear was of bombing raids, followed by Japanese forces invading from the east, crossing the peninsula.
Sri Kamakshi Dasa then composed the Aabath Sahaaya Kavasam – the shield against danger, in pursuit to offer assuage to the fear of bombardments amongst the common public. He recited the hymns to goddess Kamakshi pleading her to protect the masses against the invasion and also urged all Chennaiites to do the same.
In the end, Madras was not bombed that year. Japan’s carrier group was ordered back to meet the revived US fleet, and was destroyed in the Pacific War.
In 1943, a lone Japanese bomber sneaked through and was hovering over the city and dropped a bomb at the Harbour area and flew past, through the maze of crossfire unleashed by the anti-aircraft guns, forming part of the city’s coastal batteries. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
These verses can be found in SRI KAMAKSHI TIRUPPUGAZH.