Southern trip of "vaaraaNasii" (Re: INDOLOGY FAQ)

rajam rajam at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Feb 16 19:49:55 UTC 2010

In Tamil, there seems to be a three-way rendition of the term  
"vaaraaNasii" (as the name of the city) [as originally provided by  
Gary Tubb]:

(i) வாரணவாசி
"vAraNavAsi" (as attested in an earlier literature, kalittokai  
கலித்தொகை, and later inscriptions). This form can be  
construed as the combination of: "vAraN(a) + v (glide) + Asi"

I also recall that வாரணவாசி "vAraNavAsi" is the form  
attested in அரிச்சந்திர புராணம்  
ariccantira purANam, the epic describing the story of "Harischandra."  
I don't have a copy of the book to quote it.

Note that the vowels in the syllables of வாரணவாசி  
"vAraNavAsi" are long-short-short-long-short.

(ii) வாரணாசி "vAraNAsi" (as attested in certain types of  
literary texts such the Manimekalai மணிமேகலை,  
Tevaram தேவாரம், and பெரியபுராணம்
, Periyapuranam)
. This form can be construed as the combination of: "vAraN + Asi"

Note that the vowels in the syllables of வாரணாசி  
"vAraNAsi" are long-short-long-short.

(iii) வாரணசீ "vAraNasii". In a recent blog, I found the  
following quote from the famous singer M.S. Subbulakshmi's  
"suprabatham" : "வாரணசீ குலபதே மம  
சுப்ரபாதம்" ["vAraNasii kulapatE ... ... "], which  
is interesting since the vowel in the last syllable of the city's  
name under consideration is long. My memory of the "suprabatham"  
doesn't help me here. I don't have music recordings to confirm this  
fact either.

Note that the vowels in the syllables of வாரணசீ  
"vAraNasii" are long-short-short-long.

In any case, I can assure that phonology, meter in poetry, and music  
have had their roles in rendering different versions of the same name  
in Tamil.

V.S. Rajam

On Feb 15, 2010, at 1:43 AM, Jean-Luc Chevillard wrote:

> I would be interested in having comments
> on the Tamil form: வாரணாசி [vāraṇāci].
> See the Tamil Lexicon (p. 3610)
> வாரணாசி vāraṇāci, n. < Vāraṇasī. Benares,  
> situate between the rivers Varaṇā and Asī; காசி.  
> வாரணாசியோர்  
> மறையோம்பாளன் (மணி. 13, 3).
> See also another entry (p.3609), which gives a different spelling.
> வாரணசி vāraṇaci, n. < vāraṇasī. See  
> வாரணாசி. (யாழ். அக.)
> The authority quoted by the Tamil Lexicon for the spelling  
> vāraṇāci is the Maṇimēkalai
> and comes from the chapter that tells the story of  
> ஆபுததிரன்.
> -- Jean-Luc Chevillard (Paris)
> Le 2/15/2010 6:42 AM, Gary Tubb a écrit :
>> I am tempted to add, in the section on mispronunciations, an entry  
>> on "vaaraaNasii" (as the name of the city), with a note to the  
>> effect that, for the same reasons as given for "mahaabhaarata" and  
>> "raamaayaNa," the third syllable in this name is the least  
>> appropriate place to apply a stress accent.  But I have been  
>> struck over the years by the frequency with which many people I  
>> respect as experts on Banaras habitually lengthen and stress the  
>> vowel in the third syllable---so much so that I wonder whether  
>> they might be following some local tradition unknown to me,  
>> despite the official spelling of the name.  Are they?  Is there  
>> any good reason to make the third "a" vowel in "Varanasi" long?
>> ---
>> Gary Tubb, Professor and Chair
>> Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
>> The University of Chicago

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