naRRiNai 310 translated by G. Hart

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 3 16:29:17 UTC 2001

     The following naRRiNai 310 poem is titled as
"What Her Friend said to the viRali minstrel" (tOzi kURRu).
Also, it could as well be the words of an angry para-strI
towards viRali.

Prof. Hart's translation is based on Pinnathur Narayanacami Ayyar
and U. V. Caminataiyar library editions. The palmleaves mss. consulted
are listed in the books. UVS library edition is based on what
UVS, the grand editor of sangam texts, prepared for publication.

The poem employs kaLiRu 'elephant' in the second line, and
'kan2Ru peRu valci' is in the ninth line. kan2Ru = calf.
Auvai DuraicAmip piLLai's edition has changed the "kan2Ru peRu
valci" to "kaLiRu peRu valci". Perhaps, Auvai was misled by
akanAn2URu 106 where the standard poetic convention of elephant gifts
from kings is present. However, in this naRRiNai poem expressing
anger, kan2Ru (calf) makes sense. "kaLiRu peRu valci" is used in
akanAn2URu 106 which is almost the opposite of naRRiNai 310 in
content. In aka. 106, the prostitutes tease and intend to make the
chief wife of the hero angry. In naRRiNai 310, a scolding poem
there is no place for expressing majesty of the king giving away
elephants and chariots to bards. The calf accentuates the motif of
a large drum covered with leather, but empty inside.

My take is what UVS and Narayanacami Ayyar edited directly from
palm leaves appears to be the correct reading of naRRiNai 310.

N. Ganesan

[Begin Hart's email]
Here's my take on the poem.  You can post it if you like.  George

   The green leaves that look like the ears of great bull elephants
   sway on the lotuses pouring out rays as if they were oil lamps,
   and young women who go to get drinking water run away in fear
   when the vaaLai fish jumps out from the deep water in his town --
   listen, foolish woman who want to arrange for him to meet
   his courtesan [lit. woman] tomorrow - you with your useless tongue,
   your stupid, small words -- you stayed with the mothers
   [of those women], and they agreed with you, completely
   clueless -- and at once you said your lovely words, didn¹t you,
   mere coverings of emptiness like the huge taNNumai drum
   with its great voice in the hand of your PaaNan who is so low
   they give him a calf to eat. [lit.: who receives a calf].

This pretty much follows Narayanasamy Aiyar.  Duraicamippillai makes
three major mistakes, I think.  1. He apparently interprets collalai
kolloo niiyee as ³don¹t say.²  2. He takes taayaroTu ozipuTan as ³you
took leave of the mothers (and came here).²  3. He takes the reading
kaLiRu rather than kanRu, which is clearly preferable.

Note that the person addressed is not called a viRali -- that comes
from the commentaries and the later traditions.  As for the uLLurai,
Aiyar says, ³By saying that the vaaLai fish jumps up and glistens,
making the lotus suffer and the girls run away, [the poet suggests]
that the hero goes and stays with a new courtesan brought by you so
that we suffer [like the lotus] and his faithful concubines (kaamak
kizattiyar) run away [like the girls].²

D. does make the interesting suggestion that ³tomorrow² means that the
ViRali must procure a new woman for him every day.  He says, ³By
saying the leaves of the lotus sway [etc.]... there is the suggestion
Œthe hero is enjoying himself by being with courtesans in the
parattaiyar ceeri, so that we and the people of the house (cuRRam) who
live with the heroine who is the light of the house feel pain (varunta
-- like the lotus) and so that the courtesans who desire the nalam of
his chest and join themselves to it run away in confusion.  Would you
be a go-between, go to him, and stop his coming.¹²

Neither of these uLLuRais seems completely satisfactory to me.  For
one thing, both have to compare the young women who run away to the
hero¹s courtesans, but there¹s nothing in the poem to suggest that.
The fish jumping is probably supposed to be compared to the hero --
this is a sexual image that occurs in many poems, and it is
strengthened by the notion of the deep water.  By jumping, the fish
disturbs a normal scene -- the lotuses and the girls getting water --
just as the hero disturbs the tranquility of his family and its
domestic life (drinking water, oil lamp), which becomes agitated and
distressed.  The rest of the poem is pretty straightforward. - George
[End Hart's email]

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