uraga and AlavAy

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Fri Apr 2 16:14:52 UTC 1999

In a message dated 3/31/99 6:56:53 AM Central Standard Time,
venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM writes:

> The AlavAy myth
>  as the snake encircling Madurai, a fine analysis in
>  D. Shulman, Tamil temple myths, 1980;

On the contrary, David Shulman and following him William Harman have simply
missed the mark in understanding the true history of the name AlavAy.

William Harman (Sacred Marriage of a Wedding Goddess, p. 39) says, "Shulman
(1980, 125) theorizes that this etymology may accurately reflect the ancient
origins of the association of Madurai with a serpent, and that ziva's role
came later. Specifically, he presents the possibility that before ziva's
explicit association with the snake of Madurai, there may have been a temple
dedicated to a snake in that city. The four early temples associated with
Madurai were those to the virgin (kan2n2i), viSNu (kariyamAl), kALi, and the
Serpent (AlavAy). Given ziva's frequent association with serpentine
symbolism, it would have been a simple matter to identify a temple dedicated
to a serpent with ziva, the hypothetical latecomer of the group of four."

They seem to have been unaware of the following verse from nampi's

pAkam aGkayal nOkkiyAr parivum aGku ayal nOkki Ar
mOkam nantuRa an2pin2 nAl mun2ivar nantuRa van2pin2Al
mAkam on2Riya AymaiyAl vantu ilaGkiya vAymaiyAl
Akamam pakar AlavAy amutaman2 tiru AlavAy

(tiruvAlavAyuTaiyAr tiruviLaiyATal purANam, tirunakarac ciRappu-11)

The original temple in the Madurai area associated with a snake was a viSNu
temple where AdizeSa was worshipped. That temple was different from the ziva
temple. Both are mentioned in the poems of paripATal tiraTTu.

S. Palaniappan

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