She is Krishna’s wife belonging to Aaichiyar (yadhava) clan of Tamil nadu,
who is found mentioned in Thiruppavai.
Not much has been heard about Nappinai in ancient texts –
perhaps we had lost the texts that spoke about her.
There is no mention of her in any story of Krishna in any language,
except Tamil, where too the reference to her has been found in a folk-lore.
Our acharyas equate her with NILa devi , one of the 3 consorts of Vishnu,
making us infer that there must be some connection,
either in real terms or metaphorical terms
between an eternal concept of Vedas and Nappinnai.
The purpose of this write-up is to sift through the available information
from different sources and present here my observations.
The available sources:-
The available sources:-
(1)The earliest one is NiLA suktam,
one of the Pancha suktams from Vedas.
NiLa devi is one of the three consorts of Lord Vishnu.
The belief is that Nappinnai who married Krishna was the incarnation of Nila devi.
But we have not come across any reference to Nappinnai in any purana or text of yore
on Krishna’s life history.
The story of Nappinnai is found in Tamil literature only.
(2)The story around Nappinnai in the form of an enactment of a folk-lore is
in Silappadhikaram of the 2nd century AD
The references to Nappinnai in Thiruppavai bear resemblance to this story / folk lore.
Reference to Nappinnai is also found in some verses of Divya prabhandam
With the available inputs, let me try to arrive at a rational interpretation.
Since the reference to Nappinnai as wife of Krishna is found only in Tamil texts,
let me scurry through the Tamil texts that speak about Krishna!
Krishna’s birth place was Mathura in North India.
There was a Madurai in the South too, known as Then-Madurai (Madurai of the South)
My first question is why this was known as Then Madurai and not just as Madurai.
Unless a Vada Madurai (North Madurai) had existed,
Or unless the Tamils had known this vada Madurai, or
Unless the Vada Madurai had been famous in the South too,
this name would not have come into vogue!
The only Vada Madurai known or had existed was Mathura where Krishna was born.
Now let us see what Tamil texts say about this Then-Madurai.
Then Madurai was found to be referred to as the place in the now sub-merged Kumari-k-kandam, south of the present Kanya kumari, where the first assembly of Tamil poets (Tamil Sangam-I) was held.
This Then-Madurai, situated on the banks of river Kanni (pahruLi?), in the land of Kumari hosted the first Tamil Sangam which was presided by none other than Lord Shiva!
“ iRaiyanaar” described as "Thiripuram eriththa virisadaik KadavuL” had presided over this Sangam.
It is also said that this Then-Madurai was submerged and another city called Kapaadapuram, on the banks of river Kumari in the land of Kumari hosted the second Tamil Sangam.
It must be noted that ancient Tamil texts speak of 7 rivers,
namely Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathy, Narmadha, Kaveri, Godhavari and KUMARI. (Choodamani nigandu)
The river by name Kumari had existed in that now lost land of Tamil nadu when Saraswathy river was flowing in the North!
Saraswathy was gone (underground) before Ramayana period and from this we can understand that this second capital city flourished in a period prior to or during the period of Ramayana. This city has even been mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana!
Now comes the important information on who presided this second Sangam.
It was Murugan ("KunRam eRintha KumaravEL) and also Thuvaraik KOmaan!
Who was this Thuvarai-komaan?
He was the Lord of Dwaraka!
Was this person, Krishna?
Must be and commentators also say so.
Dwaraka was lost into the sea, after Krishna.
Krishna was the last and the first emperor of Dwaraka.
It was he who shifted his capital from Mathura to Dwaraka and made it his abode.
After him, Dwaraka was sub merged.
So the one and only Thuvarai-k-kOmaan must be Krishna!
So from ancient texts of Tamil, it is known that Krishna had visited Tamil nadu
And even presided over the Tamil Sangam!
(An inference from this is that the South had existed along with the North
with civilisations co-existing or existing in unitary nature in this Bharatha varsha
and that the so-called Aryan invasion or driving off the inhabitants of the South to the fringes was only a myth.)
We may wonder how this information was not recorded in Mahabharatha.
There are 3 versions of Mahabharatha and the present one which we have as the longest poem (1lakh verses) of the world was written after the advent of Christ.
The original version written by Vyasa, said to be named “Jaya” was having only around 6,000 verses.
The Gita in that version was not more than 32 verses.
There is therefore every scope to believe that Vyasa divulged only on the story of the cousins and the enmity between them and not much on other details.
Later when he and others wanted to write about Krishna,
they had concentrated more on incidents that helped in eulogizing Krishna as a God-figure
than on each and every incident in his life.
There is thus every chance to say that Krishna’s visit to the Pandya kingdom at Kabaada puramam was not considered as having some significance in godly terms.
Krishna in his life time of 120 years could have visited many places.
The visit to this place would have lost the attention of sages
who had written Krishna’s life events.
But this visit by Krishna must have been a momentous one for the Tamils,
particularly, the cowherds of Tamil land,
who would have found him as their own king or God.
Meenakshi’s story and story of Murugan having connection with Thirumaal (Vishnu)
can not have come up without an iota of connection with this lord of Dwaraka.
There is every chance to believe that Krishna on his visit to Kabaadapuram
had married Nappinai.
The way Nappinnai’s marriage happened also looks very Tamilian.
As per legend and folklore Krishna sub-dued 7 bulls (Jallikattu?)
to marry Nappinnai.
The practice of winning bulls in the bull fight to take the hand of the maiden in marriage is very much Tamilian in culture.
In fact there were only 2 types
marriages in ancient Tamil nadu.
One was MaRa-maNam and another, ARa-manam.
MaRa-maNam was the prevalent method among the landlords, leaders and the rich, to get a groom,
in that, the prospective groom must demonstrate his valour in some fight,
(bull fight, or archery, or fighting among the other prospective grooms)
to become eligible for marrying the girl of a rich feudal lord.
ARa-maNAm was conducted with the consent of the parents and solemnised by rituals by the Brahmins of vedic knowledge .
If, as per legend, Krishna overcame 7 bulls in a fight to marry Nappinnai,
then, it means, it was maRa-maNAm and she must have been the daughter of an influential person of the clan.
And since such a wedding was common in Tamil nadu,
there is scope to believe that Krishna married her when he visited Kabaadapuram.
There is another reason to believe this line of thinking.
A popular lore or legend which has become a household theme in Tamil nadu
is the Alli-Arjuna marriage!
It is said Arjuna went on a tour (Dik-vijayam)
soon after his marriage to Draupadi.
Incensed with the thought that he could not live with her
as per the arrangement that Draupadi had to live in rotation with each of the brothers,
he went to the South on a conquering spree.
There met and married the Pandya princess Alli.
Alli was known for female dominance and
even today it is common to hear the word Alli rajyam in Tamil homes,
if the female of the house is over dominant.
By this we come to infer that
marriage might have really happened between Nappiani of Tamil nadu and Krishna.
(This also discounts the theory that Nappinnai could have been Radha.)
This was remembered by her clan and continued to be remembered in folk songs.
Since the songs found in Silappadhikaram speak about Baladeva also (as krishna’s brother),
Balarama must have accompanied Krishna on his southern sojourn.
This land (Kabaadapuram) also disappeared due a cataclysm,
and the venue of Sangam shifted to today’s Madurai is another story,
but what is of interest to our research is that
Krishna had presided over the 2nd Sangam and
also there exists a possibility that he married
someone by name Nappinnai from the Aayar clan.
And this had happened 5000 years ago!
For 3000 years till the time Silappadhikaram was written (2nd century AD)
the story of Nappinnai must have been common knowledge.
We may ask why this important event was not recorded in any literary work.
The reason could be that
since no religious work appeared until then,
there had been less scope to record Nappinnai ‘s life in literary works.
But it had found its way into Thiruppavai which appeared 800 years later
and in the works of other Alwars too.
( to be continued in secret -4 Nappinnai -2)
( to be continued in secret -4 Nappinnai -2)