[INDOLOGY] Periya Tirumoḻi 8.2.2

George Hart glhart at berkeley.edu
Thu Feb 20 22:57:12 EST 2014


Here is a literal translation of Kuṟuntokai 106 by Kapilar.

In his land, the white roots spreading on the mountain from the dun-colored (i.e. nondescript) runners of the iṟṟi
look like waterfalls descending from a hill.
The words of his heart that holds no malice
have come (to me), friend,
and (I took them) as fire takes ghee/oil (OR they were like fire when ghee/oil is poured on it).
(Now) I must send a messenger to say
that I am the same as when we became (or were) lovers (or were married).

Here are two possible interpretations that I see:

The image of ghee/oil feeding a fire means that his words, which she did not expect, made her suddenly experience relief and passion.  In this case, Palaniappan is correct in interpreting maṇa as union and not marriage, especially as this appears to be a kuriñci poem dealing with premarital love.  The messenger is likely to be a Pāṇaṉ, though this is not expressed, and the situation, as in other kuṟiñci poems, is that the hero who used to come and see the heroine secretly at night is no longer coming.  The heroine becomes distressed but is suddenly heartened when a messenger (Pāṇaṉ?) comes and tells her that the hero still cares for her.  She immediately (like oil feeding fire) feels her passion and love flare up and wishes to send a message to the hero to tell him that she still cares and feels the same as when they were lovers.

HOWEVER there is a problem with this analysis, and that is the image of the runners and roots of the iṟṟi tree, which clearly are intended to suggest that things are not as they seem.  That would suggest that we take “which holds no malice” as sarcastic and the image of the fire taking the ghee/oil as one of anger flaring up (following the suggestion of the Kazhagam commentator, Cōmacuntaraṉār).  In that case, maṇa could mean “marry” and the last line could mean “the same as when we married.”  In this interpretation, the poem, in spite of its kuṟiñci imagery, is really a marutam poem and the hero, who has been with his courtesans, has sent the Pāṇaṉ off to conciliate his angry wife.  She hears his words sanctimoniously describing the hero’s pure heart and sarcastically echoes them, concluding that she will send the messenger to tell him that while he has changed and is unfaithful to her, she has not changed.  She wishes to make the hero feel guilty.

Of these two interpretations, I think the second one is likely to be the correct one, as otherwise the image at the beginning of the poem does not make sense.  The point of the image would appear to be that just as the root of the rather ugly and parasitic iṟṟi tree looks like a beautiful waterfall, the hero’s reprobate heart appears pure.  I don’t think the poem can be understood without discovering the intent of the image at its beginning, and that would seem to mean that this has to be a marutam poem.  It’s worth noting that Kapilar is one of the greatest Indian poets — he is unlikely to have put in an image at the beginning of a poem that has no relation to its content.

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

A literal translation:
She stood on the open space with its long moonlight and looked.
And she pointed asking “Can one see the city of Kaṇṇaṉ (Krishna) (from here)?”
The excellent Pāṇaṉ was firm, and now will she feel ashamed?
A fine thing indeed is this for the person from Naṟaiyūr (Viṣṇu)!

It would seem that the hero/Viṣṇu is leading the heroine on, and that the Pāṇaṉ is insisting on the hero’s uprightness.  The last line suggests that the hero (or Viṣṇu) is not as upright as the Pāṇaṉ suggests.  This makes sense as a marutam poem, I think — especially given the last line, which seems to me to have the connotation that the hero is not being honest with the heroine.  The poem has two perspectives — the marutam situation in which the hero is with his courtesans but tries to conciliate the heroine by telling her he is a good person (which he is not, since he is visiting courtesans) and the religious one, in which God is playing with the soul of the devotee and is hard to get.  A notable thing about this is that Pāṇaṉār is made respective, suggesting that, as the commentary says, the Pāṇaṉ symbolizes the ācāryas whose teachings bring the souls of others to Viṣṇu.  Perhaps the intent is that the ācāryas are firm in their teaching, and so devotees who hear them should not feel discouraged or ashamed, even though (last line) Viṣṇu is elusive.

There is a lot of speculation here. I believe that the Kuṟuntokai poem is probably a marutam poem about the hero visiting his courtesans and the same is true of the verse from the Periya Tirumoḻi — but it’s a tough call, and I would certainly see Palaniappan’s analysis as possible.

George






On Feb 18, 2014, at 9:40 PM, Palaniappa at aol.com wrote:

> 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.
> 
> Regards,
> Palaniappan
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: palaniappa <palaniappa at aol.com>
> To: indology <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
> 
> Regards,
> Palaniappan
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