Some clarification about this name.
The name derivation is
It can not be Nal+pinnai.
As per Tamil grammer, Nal+pinnai will be naRpinnai
And not nappinnai.
To see some examples,
Nal + pOr = naRpOr. (not nappOr)
Nal + paavai = naR paavai (not nappaavai)
Nal + pazham = naRpazham (not nappazham).
The l changes to R
And ma to pa.
‘ma’karam coming as last letter of the first word (nilai mozhi),
when joins with
‘pa’karam as the first letter of the second word (varu mozhi)
will take up the ‘pa’karam.
The ‘ma’ mixes with ‘pa’ and becomes ‘pa’.
Nampinnai is also correct.
But while pronouncing,
the ‘ma’ sound takes up ‘pa’ sound.
Some examples are
Another clarification is that this name is very much Tamil.
Younger sister was known as pinnai.
Pinnai means ‘pinnaal vandhavaL’, one who was born later.
(eg: Perunboothur maanunikku pinaanaL).
The original name of Nappinnai is not at all indicated in this name!!
That is where our search gets intensified and we start looking for her original name
with the assumption that she must be an incarnation,
since she was married by none other than Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as
And we look for the clues in Aaichiar kuravai and Thiruppavai and some other sources.
Looking at the chronologically older version of Silappadhikaram,
we get some clues such as these:
Kovalan left Madhari’s house which was near Aayar chEri, to sell the silambu.
At that time, some bad omens were seen.
The inhabitants of the Aayar chEri became anxious on seeing the bad omens.
It had been a practice in their culture to perform Kuravai-k-kootthu,
whenever some bad or even good omens were sighted.
This kootthu ( a dance form) was performed by seven girls of the Ayar padi,
who used to don the roles of Nappinnai,
The kootthu starts with a praise on Kula-naachiar, Nappinnai.
The praise goes like this:-
“Thirumaal, who measured the whole world with one foot, could not see the Thirumagal who is just occupying his right chest that is because of our Nappinnai’.
This gives a clue about who this Nappinnai is!
She is held on par with Thirumagal (Lakshmi),
or even a shred dearer than her to Thirumaal ,
because it is said that Thirumaal can not see Lakshmi if Nappinnai is with Him!
When can such a scenario happen?
Let us see further.
The kootthu then goes on to praise
As the kootthu progresses, Nappinnai comes to occupy both sides of
“Mayil eruththu uRazh mEni maayavan valaththuLaaL
payilidhazh malarmEni thammuLOn idaththuLaaL
Kayil eruttham kOttiya namPinnai”.
Here we get few more clues on what the dance was about.
Nappinnai is dancing with Krishna and Balarama on either side.
Balarama is also known as Nilaambaran in Tamil works.
Nilaambaran means one who has the blue sky as ambaram,
Or one who has blue coloured cloth as his roof.
Nappinnai as per the description, has on one side black coloured
On the other side the blue coloured Balarama.
And when they dance like this, even Thirumaal can not see Lakshmi seated at His right chest!
There can be two occasions when this can happen -
when Nappinnai is too close to Thirumaal's chest,
when Nappinnai is hiding Lakshmi from Thirumaal's sight!
To ascertain what exactly is being made out in the verses in Silappadhikaram,
we have to look at the scenario in ayarpaadi when the kuravai-k-kootthu is enacted.
The best text to give us this picture is "kali-th-thogai",
another ancient text on the lives of the people of Tamil land,
as was found in the 5-divisioned lands of Tamilians.
The Mullai-k-kali of Kali-th-thogai,
written by poet Nallurutthiran
is an authority on the happenings in Ayarpadi,
and interestingly Andal has adopted the descriptions of a typical Ayarpaadi of Tamilnadu,
as described in Mullai-k-kali
and the description reveals the true identity of Nappinnai,
which is that,
she is NILa devi,
the shadowy consort of Vishnu.
(to be continued in Nappinnai -3)