Thursday, January 1, 2009

Meaning of 'பறை ' in திருப்பாவை

"பறை " is the oft-repeated word in Thiruppavai. Its meaning is not just a drum.
The taathparyam of it can be known from the upadesa of Acharyas and
discourses by elders and scholars.


This post looks into its implied meaning from the point of view of Tamil lexicon.
From ancient texts it is learnt that 'arai-parai' is used in specific contexts only.
Arai means 'பாறை ' or rock or boulder.
Arai parai is beating the rock.
When a rock is beaten (with an axe) it creates a tremendous sound / noise.
Since it is not easy to beat (or break) the rock, the beating is continuously done.
And the beating can not be done secretively – the sound reverberates everywhere.
It is for this reason, when something that is not known or revealed already,
is needed to be made known to all, 'அறை -பறை will be done.

When the Cheran king, செங்குட்டுவன் decided to go to the Himalayas
to get a rock for making Kannagi's image,
he wanted his trip to the North to be made known to all the kings on the way.
He said that the spies of those kings were anyway roaming in the streets of his kingdom
to gather information on his moves so that they could secretly convey it
to their respective kings.
'Now let this trip be known to all without any doubt –
that I am going to the Himalayas with an army and if anyone comes in my way,
I will teach them a lesson. Announce it as 'arai parai', said the king.
(Silappadhikaram, chapter 25, 177 – "அறை -பறை என்றே அழும்பில் வேளுரைப்ப")

In குறள் 1076, Thiruvalluvar tells "அறை பறை அன்ன கயவர் ".
Arai parai in this verse is explained by the commentator, ParimElazhagar
as announcing aloud to everyone something which is originally guarded as a secret.

Applying this meaning to AndaaL's arai parai, we get some interesting leads.
This word is used by AndaaL at the time of knocking the doors of Krishna's abode.
The door is closed, prompting AndaaL to ask the door keeper to open it.
Why should the door keeper take the words of the aayar girls seriously
and open the door for them?

According to AndaaL he has to open it because
மாயன் மணிவண்ணன் has said it long ago with the 'அறை -பறை '
'அறை பறை மாயன் மணிவண்ணன் நென்னலே வாய் நேர்ந்தான்'.
மாயன் 'முன்பே வாய் விட்டுவிட்டான் ' –
Maayan has given word long ago in strong terms as arai-parai.
So there was something kept as a secret,
which Mayan Manivannan had announced by means of arai-parai long ago.
Having got that information,
AndaaL and her friends have come to his door step.
What could have been the secret that Maayan had announced aloud already?
What else it can be but the மாயன் உரை , (நான் முகன் திரு .. 50)
known as a secret until then,
and announced for the mankind in the battlefield at the Dharma kshethram!
The Mayan urai is nothing but the Charama slokam of Mayan, the Gitacharyan.
asking us to renounce even the fruits of our action and
surrender unto His feet.

Starting from the 1st paasuram to the 29th,
one can see this Mayan urai implied by the paRai.

In the 1st paasuram, "நாராயணனே நமக்கே பறை தருவான் "-
Narayana will certainly give us also ( as He did to Arjuna) the upaaya to reach Him. That is why we have begun the Maargazhi nOnbu.

(Pasuram 8) We know the message of the 'பறை – உரை" He had given and let us go to Him with that. He would certainly receive us and analyze our case with ஆஹா -காரம் . Because He is not an easy person like சக்கரவர்த்தி திருமகன் . He would expect us to give up even our "புண்யம் ". (முமுக்ஷுப்படி 247)

This aspect is further emphasized in Pasuram 10"போற்ற பறை தரும் புண்ணியனால்"

We have come with that parai-urai to His door step (pasuram 16)
We should not be stopped, because 'அறை – பறை மாயன் மணிவண்ணன் நென்னலே வாய் நேர்ந்தான் '.
He has announced loudly for everyone to know that if we follow this method of surrender, He would relieve us of all our karma.
Like Arjuna who took refuge in the Nedu maal, we too have left everything to Him.

"அருத்தித்து வந்தோம் பறை தருதியாகில் " (pasuram 25). He accepted Arjuna's prapatthi by declaring him to be His 'nimittham' – the tool – (BG 11-33). He accepted his services while at the same time had given him happiness. This Nedu maal in the nature of Kalaagni, will accept our prapatthi too.
The prapatthi has been accepted by Him as how He accepted Arjuna's pleading.

To Arjuna, He showed His Vishwa roopam.

For us, He is showing Himself with His ayudhas, to the singing of Pallandu accompanied with சாலப்பெரும் பறை (pasuram 26).

The para- vasthu that received the 'Pallandu' from my father gave my father the big benefit of saala –p-perum parai. But we are small ones, just content with our siru parai. For us His blessings from a small bed on banyan leaf itself would do!! "ஆலின் இலையாய் அருளேல் "

The benefit of this parai-urai - 'பாடிப்பறை கொண்டு யாம் பெரும் சன்மானம் '
is actually the recovery of what we pledged to give up! (pasuram 27)
The (joy of ) Punyam that He demanded -
we will get all that in addition to the pleasure of "கூடி இருத்தல் "
in company with you – like how Arjuna enjoyed your company.

All these days we have called you names – like how Arjuna did. (BG 13- 41 &42)
But you did not disown Arjuna for that nor get angry with him
Please do the same to us also and bless us with your parai-urai.
"சிறு பேர் அழைத்தனவும் சீறி அருளாதே , இறைவா நீ தாராய் பறை ". (pasuram 28)

"இற்றை பறை கொள்வான் அன்று காண்" (pasuram 29)
We have not come for a favour for today. Arjuna did not stop with the favour you did to him in the battlefield. He continued to follow you. In the same way we will also be with you for all times to come.

For that to happen you have to remove all other thoughts in us.
When can such a state of not having any thoughts other than you happen?
When you reign us as the Yogeshwaran in out heart, directing us to do what you wish,
as you did to Arjuna,
"யத்ர யோகேஷ்வர கிருஷ்னோ, யத்ர பார்த்தோ தனுர் தர :"

When you enter our minds and occupy it completely,
"அங்க பறை கொண்ட ஆற்றை "- (pasuram 30)
the purpose of giving us your parai-urai is completed.

In a nutshell, AndaaL tells about the Urai He has given to Arjuna as a kind of loud announcement that was held a secret (of Moksha) until then.

Believing His Urai as the ultimate secret now known to all of us, we undertake all steps to fulfill your demands. We have come to you, expecting you to analyse and accept our case as fit for Moksha. We care less about what punyam we have gathered. Now all that is punyam is yours. Like Arjuna who had seen you in your wonderful form, you have shown us in your great form as you showed to Vishnu Chitthar. Like Arjuna we too are rendering ourselves to do 'sevakam' to you. Like Arjuna who received the 'sanmaanam', we too want to have the sanmaana of being with you always. Lastly, you completely occupied Arjuna as His Sarathy – as his yOgeshwaran – as the Inner force driving him. Do that to us also by occupying our minds.

-The state of moksha of the 'அணுக்கர்கள் having Him pervading their self (விஷ்ணு chitthar vakku) (முமுக்ஷுப்படி 227)

-the state of முத்தன்னார் , முகுந்தனார் புகுந்து நம்முள் மேவுதல் – of pervading us (Thiru-ch-chanda viruttham) (Mumukshuppadi 228)

-the similar state that Arjuna enjoyed with யோகேஷ்வர கிருஷ்ணன் occupying him,
that is the state given to us as His "வார்த்தை " (திருவாய் மொழி 7-5-10)
-the உரை of மாயன் , of 'கடல் கிடக்கும் மாயன் ',
of 'ஆற்றங்கரை கிடக்கும் கண்ணன் ', (நான்முகன் திருவந்தாதி 50),
that ensures that we will be "Relieved"

That வார்த்தை in encapsulated in a simple 'பறை ' of ஆண்டாள் .
The parai is the vaarthai. It is the Urai of Maayan.

Post- thinking:-

Why the Mayan urai had become the 'arai parai',
- a secret until then, to be announced aloud by Krishna?
It is perhaps to do with the change of Yuga.

The world had been like this – pre - Krishna and post-krishna period.
The Varaha charama sloka was the ruling sloka for salvation in pre-Krishna period.
The finds at the Indus –Saraswad regions (popularly known as Harappan excavations)
indicate a post Vedic culture that glorified 'Eka-shringi' – a single horned God.
It is none other than Lord Varaha who was worshipped
since the time the earth was lifted up from the waters.
He was praised as Eka-shringan and Maha-shringan who established Dharma
soon after recovering the worlds.
His influence had lived on till Krishnavathara and even after
as seen in the

But with the loss of civilization in the pralaya that followed Krishna's exit,
Varaha charama could have been lost and the more recent avatar of Krishna
was well remembered.
Also the change of dharma and deterioration of Dharma in Kali
found it easier to adapt the Urai of Mayan than that of Varaha.

Outwardly the Varaha- salvation manthra looks easier.
But it calls for non-stop thinking of Him.
The only time you can be excused is at death bed,
when your senses may not be under your control.
Lord Varaha assures that He will remember one at his hour of death –
even though the person will be incapable of remembering him then.
There is no conditional clause given by Lord Varaha.
The qualities expected are belief in god as root cause,
as one who commands from within,
as the all pervasive, Ultimate who is near us all the time
and as one who alone is to be worshiped .புராணம்

But in Kaliyuga, the wandering mind of people can not get its focus fixed on the Lord.
The prescription in this scenario given by Krishna is just not to worry about anything.
Give up everything,
Dedicate everything to Him – even the bad act to be done.
He will take care.

Varaha charama sloka had to be replaced with Krishna charama sloka.
which He declared in the midst of a terrible battle field
in the nature of samsara of our lives.
That urai has been brought to us –
the people in the nature of sleepy and lethargic little girls of Aayarpaadi,
by the beating of the parai by AndaaL.


jayasree said...

My Tamil article on Parai in Thiruppavai can be read at

Unknown said...

Finally after pages of explanation I don't understand the meaning of parai and why Andal asked for it

Gopi said...

Dear Jayasree Ma'mm,

Went thru all your blogs regarding "Parai". I've read your article after seeing these

Do we have any mention from Sangam period or later, how the Parai Skin was obtained?
There are lots of debate now, that Brahmins (Karnatic singers) and in temples we allow such instrumnets made of Slaughtered Animal skins.!!



jayasree said...

Dear Mr Gopi,

Read the articles. It is wrong information that animals were killed to get the hide to use in Mridangam. My son is a Mridhangist whose learning started form his 4th year. I have accompanied his master to buy mridhangam from Chikpet in Bangalore. I have heard from the makers that buffalo skins were used and no animal was killed for this purpose. They got from dead animals only.

What I read in the links is not the norm. The makers are in the profession for generations and there was no stigma attached to their profession as far as I know. Some of the makers I met were themselves Mridhangam artists playing in concerts. Their 'ear' for the sound is exemplary and they know Mridhangam tuning better than even the masters. TMK wanted to sensationalise it to use it to damn Brahmins. Most Mridhangam players were not Brahmins as they came from the makers' family only. Only in the current generation we see Brahmins playing Mridhangam