vaTakalai and ten2kalai (3)

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 21 00:37:25 UTC 1999

Many thanks to Mani Varadarajan for the quote from Trish Mumme's book. From
that, I gather that Trish has not addressed the literal meaning of vaTakalai
and ten2kalai. I think that  to be precise  one has to explore three things
(1) literal meaning of group names
(2) Imagined characteristics/differences
(3) Real characteristics/differences

Naming of a group is often based on (2) and so one would expect a strong link
between (1) and (2). On the other hand, the link between (2)and (3) can be
weak or strong or even non-existent. (Examples are the South Indian caste
names Ariyavaiciyar or kshatriya nAtAr.)

What I have done is to establish first the literal meaning of vaTakalai and
ten2kalai. From that I suggest what item (2) is. And then show a possible
link between (2) and (3). What Mani Varadarajan and Lakshmi Srinivasan  seem
to be doing is just the reverse process. They start with (3) as the basis and
ultimately derive a geographic meaning for the terms assuming a strong link
between  (3) and (1). But, even in their case, the explanation of the literal
meaning of the term "kalai" has to be justifiably demonstrated as "type" or
"category" in the zrIvaiSNava usage outside of the two terms "vaTakalai" and

It was to do this that I asked them to explain how they would interpret the
term "palkalaiyOn2" as applied to a zrIvaiSNava and I asked them if they
considered this term as relevant to the current discussion. Since they have
not responded so far, I do not know what their thinking on this is. However,
my questions were not simply theoretical. They are based on what I feel is a
critically important inscription in Srirangam temple.
                           (continued on the next post)

S. Palaniappan

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