nAraNa_n, the tamil word for nArAyaNa (was: Vishnu)

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 13 12:25:39 UTC 2000

S. Vidyasankar wrote:
>Pardon my poor acquaintance with Tamil, but could you please
>explain how nAL-/nAr- means black?

nAL-/naL- with the corresponding long -A- and -a- has two meanings:
Well attested in Tamil as a) black and b) center.
nAL- as black is attested in "nAL-mIn" for nakshatram etc. in sangam
literature (I think Chandrasekaran gave the reference for
it here, Also read Palaniappan's writings.) Of course, naL-/nAL-
with the meaning "center", hence a "tube", "reed" etc. consult
DED among others. naLLu is 'reed' in Kannada etc (Cf. > Skt. nADI).
nALagiri which probably means 'black mountain' is attested
in Buddhist legends, and peruGkatai (old tamil version of Brhatkathaa)
and, jAtaka tales call elephants aJjanagiri also.
In Telugu, -L- in Dr. naLLa ('black') is changed into 'nalla'
and the DED lists "al" (tamil word for 'night') as from naL- ('black,
dark'). nalaayinii, the name of Draupadi whose personal name
is krishNaa and nala (husband of damayanti), probably have
to do with 'black, dark'. -l-/-r- alterations are common
in any Indian langauge. Naalika 'crow, water buffalo' is
related to black. I think 'naraka' contains this nal- meaning
dark/black also, and naaraayaNii for zyAmaLaa (Paarvati).

>>What does this -aNa suffix mean?

I gave the Cowell and Burnell's theories in my original post.
"SaayaNa" is a pure Dravidian name" acc. to Cowell/Burnell.
Kannada "aNa" has cognates in tamil such as aNNan, aNNal, aNNam
(For the meanings, consult Madras university lexicon).
Does Emeneau give -aNa in sAyaNa as coming from Sanskrit?

E. B. Cowell, The sarva darzana saMgraha, MLBD, p.1
" 3. The synopsis of all the systems is made by the venerable
Maadhava, mighty in power, the Kaustubha-jewel of the milk-ocean of
the fortunate SaayaNa.

4. Having thorougly searched the zAstras of former teachers, very
hard to be crossed, the fortunate SaayaNa-Maadhava [1] the lord has
expounded them for the delight of the good. Let the virtuous listen
with a mind from which all envy has been far banished; who finds not
delight in a garland strung of various flowers?

[1] Dr. A. C. Burnell, in his preface to his edition of the
vaMza-brAhmaNa, has solved the riddle of the relation of maadhava and
saayaNa. SaayaNa is a pure Dravidian name given to a child who is
born after all the elder children have died. Maadhava elsewhere calls
SaayaNa, his "younger brother", as an allegorical description of his
body, himself being the eternal soul. His use of the term
sAyaNa-mAdhava here (not the dual) seems to prove that the two names
represent the same person. The body seems meant by the sAyaNa of the
third zloka. MaayaNa was the father of Maadhava, and the true reading
may be zrIman-mAyaNa."

>>Also, how does mAyaNa become a name of nArAyaNa?

Consider the words of Vishnu-Narayana in Tamil (which
was also given earlier).

VishNu is mAl(Thiru-mAl=Vishnu) and mAyan. Tamil lexicon:
a) mA = 1. greatness; 2. strength
b) mA = 1. beauty; 2. blackness; 3. colour; 4. paleness caused by
c) mA = 1. animal, beast; 2. horse; 3. elephant; 4. male of horse,
hog or elephant;
d) mAyan2 = 1. dark complexioned person; 2. Vis2n2u; 3. deceitful
e) mAyavan2 = Vis2n2u
f) mAl= 1. illusion, delusion, aberration of mind; dullness; stupor;
confusion; 2. desire; 3. love; lust; 4. blackness
g) mAl = 1. greatness; 2. great man; 3. cf. ma1la Vis2n2u; 4. Arhat;
5. Indra; 6. wind; 7. mercury; 8. Co1l6a king; 9. mountain;
10. plenty; fertility; 11. antiquity; 12. cloud; 13. a plant that
grows only in hot and dry places
h) mAl(lu)-tal = to be confused, perturbed.

>Also, nArAyaNa at Badrinath is often described as white, and
>the mountain itself equated with nArAyaNa.

This is what I am looking for. Are there any shlokams from
Sanskrit texts where Narayana is said to be white?
And, possibly the quotations' likely dates. I have
never seen Narayana sleeping in the milky ocean as white colored
in Indian art. Always dark, blue, or black.

N. Ganesan

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