Pu ṟam 332.5-6

rajam rajam at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Oct 3 23:35:58 UTC 2012

I wanted to respond to this posting earlier, but got tied up with  
other things. I'm glad George stepped in.

The usage "maṅkala makaḷir" in puṟanāṉūṟu 332 has a  
parallel in cilappatikāram where mātavi is referred to as a  
"maṅkala maṭantai" when she and kōvalaṉ give away a great deal  
of gold on the occasion of celebrating the birth of maṇimēkalai. It  
is not clear what the author meant -- mātavi was a participant in a  
charitable activity (which was also 'auspicious' considering the  
occasion of childbirth)? or, the cilappatikāram supports the view  
that the attribute "maṅkala" has some connection with courtesan(s).

Other contexts/phrases to consider from early texts: vāḷ  
maṅkalam, kuṭai maṅkalam, ēr maṅkalam, nāḷ maṅkalam,  
maṇṇu maṅkalam, and so on.

However, the tirukkuṟaḷ uses the term maṅkalam differently:  
"maṅkalam eṉpa maṉai-māṭci ..."

There seems to be a semantic shift in the usage of the term under  


On Oct 3, 2012, at 11:28 AM, George Hart wrote:

> Dear Palaniappan,
> Here's the translation Hank Heifetz and I published -- I know  
> you've seen it, but the poem is intriguing and worth sharing:
> 332
> The spear that belongs to the warrior from this city is not
> like the spears of other men but its worth is immense.
> It may rest in the eaves of a hut, its long back
> gathering dust.  It may travel, garlanded, in procession
> around the streets and reservoirs of pure water while
> the sweet voices of virtuous women mingle with the notes
> of yāḻs that had been stored in large sacks.  Or it may advance
> so that the entire land of the enemy reels!  Should the spear do that,
> then it never stops thrusting into the faces
> of the massive elephants of kings with their armies like the vast  
> ocean!
> The song of Viriyūr Nakkaṉār.  Tiṇai: vākai.  Tuṟai:  
> mūtiṉmullai.
> In addition to your suggestion that it might mean Viṟali's, I  
> wonder whether it might refer to courtesans, since they were called  
> nityasumangali's when they morphed into Devadasis.  It is worth  
> noting that this would seem to be a predecessor of the ulā  
> prabandham genre.  I'd love to hear if you can find anything to  
> clarify this.  George Hart
> On Oct 2, 2012, at 11:12 PM, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan  
> <palaniappa at AOL.COM> wrote:
>> Dear Indologists,
>> I am intrigued by the words "maṅkala makaḷir" in the following  
>> lines.
>> maṅkala makaḷiroṭu mālai cūṭṭi
>> iṉkural irumpai yāḻoṭu tatumpa (Puṟam 332.5-6)
>> Interpreting "maṅkala makaḷir" as 'auspicious women' or 'women  
>> who are not widows' does not seem to make sense. If the women are  
>> supposed to sing as is usually interpreted, one cannot expect  
>> ordinary women to be able to sing to the accompaniment of lutes.  
>> This kind of singing requires significant training in music which  
>> is not expected of the women of the household depicted in the  
>> poem.  What is more likely is the women who sing to the  
>> accompaniment of lutes were bardic women such as viṟaliyar or  
>> pāṭiṉiyar.
>> Thanks in advance for any comments.
>> Regards,
>> Palaniappan

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