[INDOLOGY] Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2

Tieken, H.J.H. H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl
Wed Feb 19 03:42:51 EST 2014

An addendum: I forgot that I discussed Kuṟuntokai 106 also in my book – that much maligned monster, which apparently nobody reads – Kāvya in South India. Old Tamil Caṅkam Poetry. Groningen 2001 (presently available through Brill), pp. 39-40. There, I also quoted Rāmayaṇa 6.103.11:

paśyatas tāṃ tu rāmasya bhūyaḥ krodho'bhyavartata

prabhūtājyāvasiktasya pāvakasyeva dīpyataḥ,

As Rāma looked at her, his anger increased further. He flared up lie a fire into which a great quantity of ghee has been poured.


Herman Tieken
University of Leiden
The Netherlands
website: hermantieken.com<http://hermantieken.com/>
Van: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] namens Tieken, H.J.H. [H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl]
Verzonden: woensdag 19 februari 2014 8:54
To: palaniappa at aol.com; indology at list.indology.info
Onderwerp: Re: [INDOLOGY] Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2

As I have argued before (“The weaver bird in Old Tamil Caṅkam poetry: a critical essay on the method of translating classical Tamil poetry”. Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik 21, 1997: 293-319, esp. pp. 307-8,) fire into which ghee is poured flares up. If at all, it is an image of anger. See, for instance, Pāṇḍyakulodaya 3. 59: prājyam ājyam upayujya jr̥mbhataḥ pāvakasya vidadhe pradakṣiṇam. In the Kuṟuntokai poem, however, we seem to be dealing with the fire circumambulated seven times by the couple at the wedding ceremony; read my article!

Herman Tieken
University of Leiden
The Netherlands
website: hermantieken.com<http://hermantieken.com/>
Van: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] namens palaniappa at aol.com [palaniappa at aol.com]
Verzonden: woensdag 19 februari 2014 6:40
To: indology at list.indology.info
Onderwerp: [INDOLOGY] Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2

I think the solution to the problem presented by Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2 is given by Kuṟuntokai 106 by Kapilar. What I am giving below is the poem based on the critical edition by Eva Wilden but with gemination of consonants shown in puṇarcci.

pul vīḻ iṟṟik kal ivar veḻ vēr
varai iḻi aruviyiṉ tōṉṟum nāṭaṉ
tītu il neñcattuk kiḷavi namvayin
vantaṉṟu vāḻi tōḻi nāmum
ney pey tīyiṉ etirkoṇṭu
tām maṇantaṉaiyam eṉa viṭukam tūtē

The translation below is basically Eva Wilden's except that I have changed 'ghee' to 'oil' for ney.

Word has come to us, oh friend,
from the faultless heart of the man from a land where,
    like the waterfall descending the mountain,
appears the stone-climbing white root of the talbot fig
with low aerial roots,
   After receiving [his words] like fire into which oil is poured,
we too shall send a message saying
    'we are still those he united with.'

While ney can mean both oil and ghee, ney pey tī simply refers to a situation of 'adding fuel to the fire' as in the following passage from Arttamuḷḷa Intumatam by Kannadasan, showing the common usage of oil being poured into a fire.

"ஆம்; ஆடவன் மனது சலனங்களுக்கும், சபலங்களுக்கும் ஆட்பட்டது.
கோவிலிலே தெய்வ தரிசனம் செய்யும்போது கூட கண் கோதையர்பால் சாய்கிறது.

அதை மீட்க முடியாத பலவீனனுக்கு, அவள் சிரித்துவிட்டால் எரியும் நெருப்பில் எண்ணெய் ஊற்றியதுபோல்ஆகிறது."

The notes given by UVS to Kuṟuntokai 106 show that the commentator Iḷampūraṇar considers the poem to describe a pre-marital situation in which the heroine does not dislike/is not angry at the messenger from the hero. But Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar, another commentator, thinks the poem deals with a situation after marriage. A comment by Pērāciriyar, another commentator, that receiving 'like fire into which ney is poured', is not possible in a pre-marital situation. May be he associates ney being poured into the fire with the Vedic fire ritual. I do not consider that a likely scenario. In contrast, Iḷampūraṇar's discussion of the poem in Kaḷaviyal makes more sense. Wilden is right in translating 'maṇa-' as 'unite' and not as 'marry' as some scholars have done. The waterfall and mountain clearly suggest Kuṟiñci as the landscape, as some scholars have considered. There is nothing in the poem that suggests that there is an 'other woman' in the picture. So I do not agree with T. V. Gopal Iyer's view that this poem belongs to Marutam.

Who is the messenger here? According to Tolkāppiyam Poruḷatikāram, those who are allowed to speak in poems dealing with pre-marital love include pārppāṉ (brahmin/priest), pāṅkaṉ (companion), heroine's friend, heroine's foster mother, hero and heroine. Although the commentary for Iṟaiyaṉār Kaḷaviyal 3 identifies the companion as a pārppāṉ, Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar (commentary for Kaḷaviyal 10) only says that the companion is "perumpāṉmai pārppāṉām", i.e., in majority of the instances the companion is a brahmin/priest.  Although poems like Kuṟuntokai 156 suggest the companion being a brahmin/priest, Naṟṟiṇai 250 and Naṟṟiṇai 370, in both of which, the hero invites the bard to laugh with him, suggest that the companion could have been a bard earlier. Moreover Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar in his commentary on Tol. P. 193 refers to pāṇaṉ as pāṅku paṭṭoḻukum pāṇaṉ and pāṭiṉi as talaivimāṭṭup pāṅkāyoḻukum pāṭiṉi even as Tol.P. 193 lists pāṅkaṉ separately from the bard and his female counterpart. Interestingly, in their commentaries to the sūtra beginning with "avaṉaṟi vāṟṟa", Iḷampūraṇar considers Naṟṟiṇai 90 as spoken to the hero's companion. But Nacciṉākkiṉiyar considers the same poem as spoken to the bard.

Thus whatever be the view of the later grammarians in classifying the companions as distinct from the bards and that only companions could speak in poems dealing with pre-marital love, the internal evidence from the poems suggest that the bards could have been companions too. If that were accepted then, they could have served as messengers not only after marriage but before marriage too.

If that were accepted, Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2, makes eminent sense.  A maiden being in love with the hero (Viṣṇu), the bard (pāṇaṉār interpreted as religious teacher) acting as a messenger, and the girl being resolute in passion towards Viṣṇu, all fit the pre-marital love scenario with no 'other woman' being present.  The lack of anger towards the messenger also explains the honorific form, pāṇaṉār.

I would appreciate any comments on this solution.

Thanks in advance.


-----Original Message-----
From: palaniappa <palaniappa at aol.com<mailto:palaniappa at aol.com>>
To: indology <indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
Sent: Sat, Feb 15, 2014 11:19 am
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2

Even with the understanding that the devotional poems of the Vaiṣṇava saints do not strictly follow the conventions of the Classical Tamil love poetry, the interpretation of Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2 is perplexing. Here is the verse given in Periya Tirumoḻi Iraṇṭām Tokuti (with Periyavāccāṉ Piḷḷai's commentary translated into Tamil by Ti. Vē. Kōpālaiyar) produced by EFEO and published by Teyvac Cēkkiḻār Caivacittāntap Pāṭacālai, Tañcāvūr, 2006, p. 962.

nīḷ nilā muṟṟattu niṉṟu ivaḷ nōkkiṉāḷ;
kāṇumō, Kaṇṇapuram! eṉṟu kāṭṭiṉāḷ;
pāṇaṉār tiṇṇam irukka, iṉi, ivaḷ
nāṇumō? naṉṟu naṉṟu Naṟaiyūrarkkē!

The verse is supposed to be the utterance of a mother about her daughter in love with Viṣṇu. The traditional commentary (p. 965) explains 'pāṇāṉār' in the verse by relating it to the Classical Tamil Marutam genre in which the bard acts as a messenger from the husband to his wife , who is mad at him for having gone to the other woman. But then it goes on to explain that 'pāṇaṉār' represents the religious teachers, who act to bring the souls toward 'God' and that in the verse the girl is resolute in her faith because of the religious teachers. And the mother concludes that the resolute girl will not be bashful in expressing her love toward Viṣṇu.  See attachment.

I am not convinced by the commentary's explanation about the association with Marutam, the resoluteness of the bard, who is referred to in a very respectful way, and the lack of bashfulness of the girl. The respectful way the bard is mentioned suggests more of Mullai.  Won't a better interpretation be that the mother talks about her daughter, a maiden, who sends a message to her beloved through the bard; the bard comes back with the message that the hero will join her soon; emboldened by this certainty, the maiden has no bashfulness in expressing her love; and the mother is critical of the hero for causing this immodest behavior in her daughter? (Of course, many tiṇai conventions are violated here too.)

I would appreciate any comments on this verse and possible interpretations.

Thanks in advance


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