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

rajam rajam at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Feb 17 16:37:14 UTC 2010

I found a link to M.S.S' recitation: 

Within the first 1.23 minutes of the recitation and later around 6+  
minutes, I hear "vaaraaNasi" (வாராணசி) with the vowel  
pattern long-long-short-short, which is different from what I saw in  
the blog (வாரணசீ).

I don't hear a long vowel at the end of "vaaraaNasi" maybe because of  
the smooth gliding into the next word. A word spoken in isolation may  
be mangled (or, is allowed to be mangled) in singing? This happens  
quite often in Tamil.


On Feb 16, 2010, at 7:59 PM, Smith,Travis LaMar wrote:

> I am surprised and fascinated by these southern pronunciations of  
> Varanasi. Regarding V.S. Rajam's report of a third variant, however:
> (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.
> I suspect that the source of this is actually the popular hymn  
> attributed (doubtfully, needless to say) to ZaMkaraacaarya, the  
> refrain of which runs: "vaaraaNasii-pura-patiM bhaja  
> vizvanaatham...." It is of course in the same meter as the several  
> suprabhAtam hymns, addressed to various deities, and also uses the  
> technique of the repeated final pAda refrain, hence the confusion  
> with the suprabhAtam mini-genre. I don't think I've heard M.S.  
> Subbalakshmi's version but I'd be surprised if it were not this:  
> it's quite well-known among the legions of Sanskrit praise-hymns to  
> Varanasi. The point being that this is probably not an additional  
> variant of vaaraaNasii, but simply the "official" Sanskrit version.
> The other variants remain very interesting, and I wonder if and how  
> early they follow the common Puranic etymology of vaaraaNasii =  
> varaNaa + asii (as per the Tamil lexicon cited by Jean-Luc  
> Chevillard). I still assume that this is a "creative" etymology and  
> not a historical one (one would expect a long-A in the penultimate  
> syllable if it were a real compound), but its (premodern?)  
> employment outside of the Sanskrit PuraaNa-s would be a matter  
> worth exploring.
> Thanks and best to all,
> --
> Travis L. Smith
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Religion
> University of Florida
> ________________________________________
> From: Indology [INDOLOGY at] On Behalf Of rajam  
> [rajam at EARTHLINK.NET]
> Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 2:49 PM
> Subject: Southern trip of "vaaraaNasii" (Re: INDOLOGY FAQ)
> 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.
> 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.
> Regards,
> 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

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list