n^aaval or jambuu

nas_ng at lms420.jsc.nasa.gov nas_ng at lms420.jsc.nasa.gov
Sun Mar 19 01:30:01 UTC 1995

                 Jambu (Sanskrit) or N^aaval (Tamil)

'tiru AnaikkA', a suburb of Trichy is called JambukEsvaram.
This famous Siva temple was venerated by 'tEvAram' saints (7th to
 8th centuries). It is the appu sthala among the panca bhUta sthalas.
It has two Tamil stalapurANas telling a lot about
n^aaval tree myths. The first purana is well known, in print for a
100 years, done by kacciyappa munivar in 17th century. The second
one was earlier, finds mention in inscriptions, thought to have 
been lost. But this was found in a traditional pulavar family
about 50 years ago and printed recently. See tA. vE. vIrAcAmi (editor
from palm-leaf), tantivanap purANam, International Institute of
Tamil Studies, Adayar, Madras, 1981. Note that danti vanam is "Forest
of Elephants" (Anaik kA in Tamil). The author is kamalai jnAnap pirakAcar
(16th century). He is the first guru of Darumapuram Saiva Mutt.
For Saiva mutts, please refer to Kathleen Koppedrayer, The sacred
presence of the Guru: The 'Velala' lineages of Tiruvavaduturai,
Dharmapuram and Tiruppanantal, 1990, Ph.D dissertation (Advisor:
Dr. Paul Younger). For Tamil temple myths, there is a superb classic
in that name by David shulman from Princeton.

There is an old folk story connecting the famous poetess, avvaiyAr
and God Murugan. Murugan, the youthful kumara, was sitting on the
bough of a n^aaval(/jambu) tree. Fond of travelling, Avvai was on a tour 
by foot to different places which is usual for her. In the hot dry sun, 
she wanted to drink or eat some thing. Seeing this lad on the tree 
and not realizing he is Lord Subrahmanya, she asked him to give a few fruits.
With a twinkle in the eye, Murugan replied, "Grandma! do you want
a cooked (or baked?) fruit or an uncooked fruit?" (cuTTa pazham vENTumA?
cuTAta pazham vENTumA?) Avvai replied in wonder, "How can you give 
me a fresh fruit cooked? and that too, straight out of a tree!". Then 
Murugan shook the tree, few jambu fruits fell on the ground. Looking
at the juicy fruits and feeling even more thirsty, she rushed to pick them up
and started to blow away the few grains of sand on the surface of jambus
using her mouth as a bellow. Murugan laughed and retorted, "Ah, Grandma! 
I have given the fruits that are cooked. Otherwise, why would you blow?
I have seen people blowing hot stuff and then eat. Look, the jambu must
be hot!". Now she realized that the boy taught her a lesson. There are 
medieval poems and a good retelling in 1930s by Kavimani Desiga
Vinayagam Pillai telling this story.

Ancient Tamil Buddhist epic, Manimekalai(5th century A.D.) calls 
India as n^aavalan^tiivu. It is the jambudvipa. Does anyone explain
why India is called so?

n. ganesan
nas_ng at lms461.jsc.nasa.gov


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