Vedas contain knowledge of everything under the Sun and Beyond.
Similarly, Thiruppavai which is hailed as "Vedamanaitthukkum Vitthu"
contains many concepts of worldly wisdom
in addition to wisdom of the spiritual kind.
Some such concepts as enshrined in Thiruppavai
help us to locate the time period when it was composed.
The well-known information on the period of Thiruppavai is
contained in the verse 13 (VeLLi yezhundu Vyaazham urangittru)
indicating a celestial happening of simultaneous
rising and setting of Venus and Jupiter respectively
in the pre-dawn time of that day she composed that verse.
Based on this information,
Dr M.RajamAnikkanAr had identified 4 time periods,
600 AD, 731 AD, 885 AD and 886 AD.
He arrived at the probable time as 885 AD or 886 AD,
based on the near opposition of Venus and Jupiter
at pre dawn in the month of mArgazhi in those two years.
But his analysis was done at a time when computer software was not developed.
It will be a useful exercise if some one with the present day know-how
explore the time of this celestial happening.
There are other information too, with which
we can roughly arrive at the time of Thiruppavai.
They are discussed below and can be incorporated
if someone woks on a software on the sky map of those years.
Of importance are two information,
one, on the thithis and
the other in the probable days of GarbOttam as indicated in the paasurams.
The thithi factor.
Thiruppavai opens with the description of the Full moon
in the pre-dawn sky of the first day.
The day was a 'Mathi nirainda nannAL'
It must have been the day of Pournami continuing even after sun-rise.
In the month of Maargashira,
pournami occurs when moon is in the star, Mrigashirsha..
If the moon is in Mrigashirsha on Maargazhi pournami,
then the sun must have been in Pooradam (pooravashada).
This is crucial information.
Because today Margazhi begins when the sun enters Moola star.
Whereas the sun had entered Poorada in Andal's time,
on the first day of Maargazhi.
This is ahead of to-day's location by 13 degrees and 20 minutes!
(that is the duration of a star – the distance between moolam and pooradam )
The reason for this discrepancy is that
the precession of the equinox is taking place continuously at the rate of 1 degree
for every 72 years ( 50.24 seconds / year).
This information helps us in calculating the year
in which Andal had composed Thiruppavai.
Today the precession is at 6 degrees, 40 minutes and 24 seconds
in the constellation of Pisces.
At the rate of 72 years for a degree,
we can calculate how many years had preceded for 13-20 degrees.
This comes to 960 years.
That is, the occurrence of Full moon on the first day of Maargazhi
could have happened 960 years ago.
But the Full moon does not happen in the exact degree of Jyeshta.
If we give allowance for 1 pada duration (3-20 degrees),
that is, Full moon happening anywhere in the 4th pada of Jyeshta,
we arrive at a figure 1200 years from now.
That means Andal had lived anywhere between 808 AD to 1048 AD.
Here we have to apply the Vunus – Jupiter rise and fall on a Krishna paksha dwaadasi ('Pullin vaai' pasuram coming on dwadasi if the first day is assumed to be pournami).
Going by this, we can say that the vernal equinox was
in Ashwini 2 nd pada in Andal's time.
Today it is in Utthrattaadi (uttara bhadrapada) 1 st pada.
Applying this calculation,
we can say that in Krishna's time, the equinox was in Kritthikai 4th pada.
Let us see the other information that Andal is giving us.
GarbOttam means conception of rains or pregnancy of clouds.
This is a topic by itself in ancient Samhita works.
Brihat samhita contains information on this.
In Brihat samhita, Varahamihira has given detailed accounts of this
as an ancient wisdom given by sages such as
Vasishta, Parashara, Kashyapa and Garga.
Varahamihira has reproduced the information from the works of these sages
which are lost now.
GarbOttam can be understood as "El nino" in today's language.
The movement of the sun in the star Pooradam in the month of Maargazhi
are the GarbOttam days or the days
that determine the rainfall for the rest of the year.
Interestingly, the El nino also is observed during this period only.
GarbOttam contains many information which are unknown to El nino scientists.
This year, GarbOttam or Conception days of rainfall
starts on 28th December and ends on 10th January.
It had happened in the very first 13 days of the month
in which Thiruppavai was composed.
Because the sun had traversed Pooradam
either from the first day of Marrgazhi or a couple of days before that.
The main reason for this benefit is that Pooradam
is lorded by Varuna bhagavan and
Sun's movement in that star reveals the nature of rain later.
That is perhaps the reason why paavai nonbu is also said to bring rainfall.
The Paavai nonbu as was done in Tami lands
had a history as far back as 5000 years ago.
This is known from Sangam texts.
Young girls had performed this nonbu which concluded
with a worship of Manmathan in the month of Thai.
The Prayer was to get a good husband (like Krishna / Thirumaal ).
Married woman had done a similar kind of nonbu
with a concluding prayer to Manmatha for a long a life for husband.
This is known from Silappadhikaram.
Even men folk had conducted some austerities in the month of Maargazhi
and concluded with a prayer to Thirumaal for fulfillment of their
wishes for fame, prosperity, success, long life and
release from karma-vinai for this and next birth.
This is indicated by Andal in Ankan maa Gyaalam paasuram
wherein she has stated how the kings waited
for His darshan after dip in the sangam.
The line 'sangam iruppar pOl vandhu thalai-p-peithOm'
is the same description found in Silappadhikaram and Paripadal
in describing a nonbu that is performed at the conclusion of which
a dip is taken in Sangam (where the river enters the sea)
of Kaveri or Vaigai followed by a worship to Manmathan.
In all these occasions, there is an underlying benefit
connected to this nonbu.
That is about good rainfall –
both monthly and yearly spell is assured.
The 3 spells every month and
good rainfall in the rainy season.
The worship in this period therefore comes with a blessing for good rain fall.
Andal begins her nonbu with a sankalp in the first two pasurams.
In the first pasuram,
the time, the people who perform the nonbu and
the goal of the nonbu are described.
In the second paasuram, she goes on to lay down
the dos and don'ts to be followed by the performers.
But from that, she goes on to the next important feature of the nonbu,
the universal benefit - that of bountiful rainfall.
It must be remembered that even in Thirukkural,
after the initial prayer (kadavul vaazhtthu),
the next prayer is for good rainfall (vaan sirappu).
Because the world sustains only by water.
The concern for the world was prime in the minds of the people of this land.
Andal exhibits that exemplary Sanatanic mind.
The 3rd pasuram tells what happens
when they perform the nonbu,
"Theengindri naadellam thingal mummari peidu"
The 4 th pasuram tells about GarbOttam –
the initial conditions that must happen so that
it would rain plentifully in the season.
From Brihat samhita we come to know that conducive conditions
for pregnancy of clouds in this month,
as aided by the sun in Pooradam
will result in good rainfall after 195 days.
Andal's mention about rainfall in the 3rd and 4 th pasuram,
soon after her sankalpa,
is an additional proof that Maargazhi began in her time
with the sun in Pooradam!
That is 1000 years behind our present times!
Date of Periyalvar
Among the Vaishnavite Alvars, Periyalvar refers in his verse to Pandyan Ko-Nedumaran.
That Periyalvar was a contemporary of Nedumaran is thus established. Prof. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri says that "all that we can infer is that if this Nedumaran is the same as the contemporary of Jnanasambandar, this Alvar may also be assigned to their age and likewise his daughter Andal. It seems more likely that the reference is to Srimara Srivallabha". Srimara Srivallabha is assigned to Circa 815-862. This probably influenced the learned Professor to prefer the later date.
T. A. Gopinatha Rao in his 'History of the Sri Vaishnavas,' has suggested that Periyalvar was a contemporary of Srimara Srivallalbha, identical with Srivallabha Avanipasekhara of Sittannavasal inscription. Mr. Rao's conclusion is based on the identity of the name Srivallabha, said to be a contemporary of Periyalvar according to Guruparampara.
M. Raghava Iyengar in his 'Age of the Alvars' differed from Gopinatha Rao and held that the contemporary of Periyalvar was Maravarman Rajasimha father of Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan. Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan was a Parama Vaishnava, who erected a Vishnu temple at Kanchivay Perur. Raghava Iyengar held that Parantaka derived his Vishnu-bhakti from his father Maravarman Rajasimha and that Rajasimha should have been converted to Vaishnavism by Periyalvar.
While discussing the date of Periyalvar two points deserve to be carefully noted. (1) The saint himself refers to a Pandya Ko-Nedumaran as his contemporary. (2) The Guruparampara refers to a Pandya Sri vallabha as his contemporary. We must look for a Pandya who had both these titles. Sri Mara, the son of Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan is called in the larger Sinnamanur and Dalavaypuram copper plates as Srivallabha. Srivallabha seems to have been his abishekanama, but whether he had the title Ko-Nedumara was not proved so far by any epigraph.
An epigraph coming from Erukkangudi, Sattur taluk. Ramnad District, published recently throws valuable light on the problem. It refers to Pandya Srivallabha, who conquered the places from Kunnur to
According to Sinnamanur and Dalavaypuram plates, Srimara Srivallabha, the son of Parantaka Varaguna I, won significant victories at Kunnur, Vilinjam, Kumbakonam and
There can hardly be any doubt that Periyalvar was a contemporary of this Ko-Nedumaran Srivallabha and should have flourished in the 9th century CE. On the other hand no epigraph has so far been found which gives either the title Srivallabha or Ko-Nedumaran to Rajasimha, whom Raghava Iyengar holds as the contemporary of Periyalvar. We therefore agree with T. A. Gopinatha Rao and K. A. N. Sastri, that the contemporary of Periyalvar was Srimara Srivallabha and that the Vaishnavite Saint flourished in the 9th century CE. Andal, the daughter of Periyalvar should also be assigned to the same period.
Date of Thirumangai
Scholars have discussed the problem of the date of Thirumangai Alvar in detail and have arrived at a satisfactory date. The date of this Alvar can be fixed with certain amount of accuracy as he refers to his contemporary Pallava ruler Nandi. Thirumangai lists his conquests which are corroborated by copper plates.
Thirumangai sings the battle of "Mannai" where Pallavamalla is said to have defeated the Pandya. This is also corroborated by another copper plate. In the Udayendram plates, Nandivarman's general, Udaya Chandra is praised for his victory over the Pandyasena at Mannaikkudigramma. (Mannaik-kudi grame Pandya-senam jitavan.) Udayendram plate was issued in the 21st regnal year of Nandivarman (752). The Pandya ruler who opposed Nandi was Maravarman Rajasimha.
Thirumangai also refers to the battle of Karuvur in which the Pallava is said to have won.
A new evidence has come to light regarding the battle of Karuvur which has not yet received due attention. The Dalavaypuram plates mention that Parantaka Varaguna, defeated the Pallava at Karuvur. This gets indirect confirmation from another source. Sivaramangalam plates refers to Parantaka's fight with Atiya, at Pugaliyur and Ayirur on the northern bank of the river Kaveri. These places are situated near Karur. The same charter also states, that Varaguna defeated the Pallava and Keralan, who came to help the Atiya. Evidently the battle of Pugaliyur was followed upto Karuvur where an indescive battle was fought. Both the Pallava and the Pandya claim victory at Karuvur. Whatever the result of the war may be, one thing is certain, that Thirumangai who sings this battle, was a contemporary of Nandivarman Pallavamalla and Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan.
Thus Thirumangai was a contemporary of two Pandya rulers Rajasimha I and Nedunjadaiyan. On the Pallava side, he was a contemporary of Nandivarman Pallavamalla.(731-796)
It must be mentioned that this Vaishnava Alvar, sings in one of his verse, Vairamegha who is generally identified with Dantivarma Pallava, who ruled in the first half of 9th century A.D. Thirumangai is therefore taken to be a contemporary of Dantis as well. But we have shown elsewhere that the title Vairamegha was a title of Nandivarman himself. As such we may assign Thirumangai to the reign of Nandivarman. Thus Thirumangai's date may be taken as 730-800CE.
Date of Nammalvar
Almost, the same period must be assigned to Nammalvar. Nammalvar sings Varagunamangai, and Srivaramangalam, both places established by Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan. Madhurakavi is said to be a desciple of Nammalvar. A Madhurakavi occurs as a minister of Pandya Parantaka I during the early years of his reign, as seen from the Anamalai epigraph. Madhura Kavi was dead at the time of Anamalai inscription. As such Nammalvar's end could be placed about 780 A.D. His date of birth would be circa 745 CE. Nammalvar had two other names which are significant. He was called Parankusa and Maran. In all probability the names Parankusa and Maran were derived after Arikesari Parankusa Maravarman of the Vaigai bed-epigraph. Vaishnavite tradition makes Thirumangai and Nammalvar contemporaries. Our studies also seem to point to the same direction. While the Guruparampara, makes Periyalvar, also a contemporary of Thirumangai and Nammalvar, our studies show that Periyalvar lived in the 9th century CE.
The Vaigai bed inscription of Cendan Maran has opened up new avenues of enquiry relating to the chronology of the early Pandyas and the history of Saivism and Vaishnavism in
As a result of the above study the following are our conclusions:-
1) The Vaigai bed inscription is that of Cendan Maran who ruled atleast for 50 years (650-700 A.D.)
2) He was the hero of the Tamil work Pandikkovai.
3) The chronology of the early Pandyas could be placed at the beginning of about 560 A.D.
4) The city of
5) But the Mangalapura where his son defeated the Maharatas is identical with Mangalore.
6) Appar was a contemporary of Mahendra, Mamalla and the Pandya Arikesari.
7) Appar's date would be circa 580-660 A.D.
8) Jnanasambandar was a contemporary of Mamalla I, and Pandya Arikesari Nedumaran.
9) Sambandar's date would be circa 640-656 A.D.
10) Thirumangai was a contemporary of Rajasimha and Nedunjadaiyan of the Pandyas and Nandivarman
Pallavamalla and may be assigned between 700 and 800.
11) Nammalvar's date would be about 745 to 780 A.D.
12) Periyalvar was a contemporary of Sri Mara Srivallabha and his date would be Circa 800-885.
13) Andal is to be assigned to the second half of 9th century.
14) The Vaigai bed inscription is an important landmark in the history of Tamilnadu.