Q: Tamil literature

Jean-Luc Chevillard jlc at CCR.JUSSIEU.FR
Mon Sep 15 12:30:56 UTC 1997

Since, so far, nobody seems to have answered,
here are a few elements concerning the first point
and a subsidiary question (to experts)
stemming from the data itself:
 [did viLari originally denote a paN (approx. a rAga)
  or the sixth note, as the musical theory would like
  to explain?]

  [In other words, is 7_48-1, where it denotes
   a paN,  the only remnant
   of the old situation inside CilappatikAram ?]

************* DATA *******************

A. The word viLari does not occur inside tEvAram
(i.e. the first 7 tirumu_rai) but it is used once
inside tiruvAcakam. The reference is:
6-10-2: ... aLi tEr viLari //
 // olini_n_ra pUmpo_lil uttarkOcama:nkaikk-aracE

B. The Tamil Lexicon mentions that viLari(2)
has two meaning: 1. The sixth note of the gamut,
one of the seven icai; 2. A melody-type of the neytal
class, suited for mourning. For the second meaning,
it quotes from pu_ram-260

C. Having a look at older literature, we can find occurences
inside ku_runtokai (336-3);
akam (317-12; 279-11: --> viLari narampu),
pu_ram (260-2; 291-4: --> viLarik koTpu),
tiNaimAlai nU_r_raimpatu (126-1: --> viLari yA_l)
and cilappatikAram (3-76; 3-88; 7-48-1;
17-13-9; 17-15-2; 17-15-4; 17-18-4)

 [These references are taken from the _Index des mots
  de la littérature tamoule ancienne_, Institut Français
  de Pondichéry, 1970.]

In U.V.S. editions we find explainations in terms of viLarip paN
at several places:
*ku_runtokai 336-3
 viLari Arppa  --> viLarip paNNaip pOla mu_la:nka
*pu_ram 336-2: --> ira:nka_r paNNAkiya viLari
*pu_ram 291-4: viLari --> ira:nka_r paN

D. In the case of cilappatikAram, the occurrences are sometimes
difficult to understand precisely (they stand in the middle
of long technical musical explainations) .

Fortunately, there is a study by S.Ramanathan:
Music in Cilappatikaram (Madurai Kamaraj University, 1979).
He lists many quotations and organizes the available information
in easy to consult charts. One should refer to his
book in order to try to get at the meaning more precisely.

However, of course, he might be rationalizing something
which was not so systematic but it should be
a good starting point, as can be seen from the differences
between translators, who have probably struggled
(see: E. Appendix, and especially 3_76 and 3_88)
as I would do, between the text and its commentaries
(arumpatavurai and aTiyArkkunallArurai).

E. Appendix (excerpts from three published translations:
the cilappatikAram passages containing the word viLari)


***Ramachandra Dikshitar***
###Desikan (and Daniélou)###


***Ramachandra Dikshitar***
She made them stand in the traditional order (according
to the arrangement of the seven strings in the yA_l) and
gave them names appropriate to their acting. Beginning
from the western end, the regular places (of these girls)
were kural, tuttam, kaikkiLai, u_lai, iLi, viLari and tAram.
These are the names which were given by the fragrant
haired lady (MAtAri).

###Desikan (and Daniélou)###  (viLari = "La")
Allant de l'Ouest vers l'Est, elle appela les vierges
Do, Ré, Mi, Fa, Sol, La et Si, car tels furent les
noms donnés par Mâdari aux tresses parfumées.

|||R.Parthasarathy|||  (viLari = "Dha")
// She made them stand in the traditional order, //
// And gave the name of a musical note to each: //
// Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni. MAtari of the fragrant hair //
// Gave these names which also represented //
// Clockwise their positions in  the round dance.//


***17_15_2 & 17_15_4:***
She (who stood at the place) of the kural was named MAyava_n.
She (who stood at the place) of iLi was called
(by the name of) the victorious BalarAma. [.....]
u_lai and viLari joined the white Balarama.
KaikkiLai stood to the left of Pi_n_nai.
The good viLari stood to the right of tAram.

###17_15_2 & 17_15_4:
La fille qui était le Do jouait le rôle de Krishna.
Le Sol était le brave Balarâma. ....
Fa et La se joignirent au blanc Balarâma.
Mi se plaça auprès du Si. L'honnête La
se tint à la droite du Si.

|||17_15_2 & 17_15_4:
// Sa played MAyava_n; Pa, the victorious BalarAma; //
// ..... //
// Ma and Dha [[stood]] next to BalarAma; Ga, //
// To the left of Pi_n_nai; and Dha to the right of Ni. //


(the damsel representing) the kural began to sing
in a low tone, the (damsel representing) the iLi
to sing in a level tone, and (the damsel representing)
the tuttam to sing in a high tone.
The low singer representing viLari
in her low pitch followed the tone of her
ally the tuttam.

Alors le Do fit résonner sa note grave, le Sol fit
entendre le son moyen, et le Si sa note élevée. Puis
la chanteuse qui était le La chanta sa note, moins aigüe
que son alliée le Si.

// Sa began to sing on a low note; //
// Pa, on a median note; and Ri, on a high note.//
// Dha, on a low note, sings for her friend Pi_n_nai. //


O evening, during that charming viLarippAlai
peculiar to the residents of the maritime tract, you made
iLi blended with kiLai (kaikkiLai). O evening, even as
you made iLi join with kiLai, you are able to take away
my life. Please yourself. May you live long.

O soir! dans la charmante gamme descendante
que chantent les peuples de la mer vous avez mêlé
la quarte à la tierce, irréconciliables ennemis!
O soir, si tu peux créer l'harmonie entre une tierce
et une quarte tu peux aussi prendre ma vie. Fais comme
il te plaira. Je te souhaite longue vie.

//When the fishermen sang the sweet viLari raga //
// The fifth note blending with the third, //
// Evening, you stayed with me. Charmed //
// By the fifth note blending with the third, //
// You stayed with me. Ruthless at plunder, //
// Take my life. O evening, may you live forever //


Then there was the master of the lute of the fourteen
strings. In order to produce the seven pAlai notes he
would conjointly sound the respective strings in the lute,
known as the tAram, and the kural, and bringing them to
the central part of the lute he would tune the kaikkiLai
part of the instrument. Similarly, touching the other
stout string on the tAram side and the other two slender
strings on the kural side and bringing them to the central
part of the lute, he would tune the viLari part of the

Puis venait le maître du luth aux quatorze cordes.
Pour établir les sept notes du mode il faisait résonner
ensemble les deux cordes donnant la tonique et la
note aiguë qui sont au centre de l'instrument, et sur
lesquelles on peut accorder la tierce. Puis accordant
la corde grave du côté de l'aigu et deux cordes
aiguës du côté de la tonique, il accordait la sixte.

// Her lute player was a wizard. To establish //
// The seven scales within the pattern //
// Of fourteen notes, he half plucked the low first //
// And the high seventh to tune the third. //
// The sixth he produced by the remaining half //
// Of the elegant and robust seventh which now vanished //
// Into the third. As the sixth faded, the third //
// Dissolved with it. ... //


.......... In a definite order,
the notes would arise: e.g. paTumalaippAlai from kaikkiLai,
sevva_lippAlai from tuttam, kOTippAlai from tAram, viLarip-
pAlai from viLari, mE_rcempAlai from iLi.

................. Les séquences [qui
forment les modes] apparaissaient dans un ordre
prévu: en partant de la tierce on obtenait la gamme
appelée Padumalai. De la seconde commençait le
mode Shevvali; de la septième le mode Kôdi; et
de la sixte le mode Vilari; de la quinte le mode
Mêrshem. ............

// ... In order, the scales //
// Would arise: the paTumalai from the third, cevva_li //
// From the second, arum from the first, kOTi //
// From the seventh, viLari from the sixth, and mE_rcem //
// from the fifth. ... //


At 22:44 04/09/1997 BST, you wrote:
>Queries: Tamil literature
>Greetings. This is N. Ganesan from Houston.
>I am finalizing a commentary for Padikkaasu Pulavar's
>Paambalangaarar Varukkak KOvai, a 17th century Tamil pirapantam.
>In this endeavour, I am getting great help from
>Mr. S. Srinivasan of Delhi Tamil sangam, Sri. M. K. Raman,
>(a student of U.V. Saminathaiyar), and
>Sri. S. K. Ramararajan (Kamparaman)
>I need help in two problems.
>1) Kamparaman says that he vaguely remembers R. P. Sethu Pillai's
>quote from Tevaram in an essay. Ravanan sings in the paN (raagam)
>called viLari to please Siva (while lifting Kailasam)
>"veLLi malaik kiizhirunthu viLari paaTum"
>I could not locate this in Tevaram. May be, this is from
>one of 12 tirumuRais. Any help?
>Is there any other occurence of "viLarip paN' anywhere else
>in tamil literature?
>2) In the Varukkak Kovai, there is a sentence:
>"maNam koNTu tenRal kamukil ulAviya".
>- "Like the Southern breeze taking on the
>pleasant smells of different flowers in a park" ...
>This is a really hint by the heroine to her husband
>that his relationship to other women & Devadasis
>is not appreciated.
>Sri. Kambaraman told me that in Cilappatikaaram,
>Kovalan is compared to "Thenral". 
>UVS writes that "thenRal Kovalanukku uvamai".
>I don't have UVS' edition here.
>I need the two lines of Cilampu where 
>Kovalan is compared to "Thenral".
>Thank you very much.
>N. Ganesan
>nas_ng at lms420.jsc.nasa.gov

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