Continuing from the previous post in this series,
there is yet another place in Tamil texts that make a mention about migration of people of Dwaraka to Tamil lands.
This is told in the commentary to Tholkaapiyam by Nacchinaarkkiniyar (நச்சினார்க்கினியர்).
In his commentary to the introduction to Tholkaapiyam (paayiram / பாயிரம்) Nacchinaarkkiniyar gives the antecedents of Tholkaapiyar. He says that Tholkaapiyar was one of the disciples of Sage Agasthya.
There is mention of Tholkaapiyar as a disciple of Agasthyar in another work also which is known as 'Bhogar 7000'. It was written by a Siddhar called Bhogar. From that text it is known that the two had frequented Tamil lands when the Pandyans were ruling from Kapaatapuram, in the now submerged land of Kumari.
Many instances of Agasthya's role in the Tamil lands is found referred in texts. A book called 'Thirunelveli Sthala puranam' traces the beginnings of Tamillands.
The forested lands of Tamil nadu was protected for thousands of years by Lord Shiva in the beginning. From him it came under the protection of Lord Muruga. From him it came under the protection of sage Agasthya who installed the Pandyan king.
Agasthya's name has been associated with everything of Tamil. He was the one who gave the sacred river of Tamils, the river Kaveri.
He was the one who gave Tamil language the written form and
gave the first ever Grammar work of Tamil called "Agastheeyam".
Without Lord Shiva and sage Agasthyar, there had never been a conference or Assemblage on Tamil.
In every sangam Assembly, Irayanaar - meaning Shiva - had been the presiding one. Agasthya's presence was inevitably there. The recently held World Tamil Conference by Mr Karunanidhi did not eulogize these two entities. The absence of salutations to them does not lend credibility to this Conference as a Tamil conference in the likes of Sangam conference.
Coming to the theme of this post, the imposing presence of Agasthya in Tamil literature, particularly in the field of grammar has gone un-recognized in a major work on Grammar composed by his prime disciple Tholkaapiyar. In the introductory verse to Tholkaapiyam, Tholkaapiyar recognizes the Pandyan king under whose president-ship he has inaugurated that work. He recognizes his teacher as 'Athangottu aasaan' (அதங்கோட்டு ஆசான் ) - the teacher from a place called Athangodu. Why is there no mention of Agasthyar?
The previous two sangam Assemblages had Agsathya's grammar work as the guide. In the 3rd sangam also Agasthya's work had been held as the guide, so also the work by Tholkaapiyar. Agasthya's work is lost for ever. We have only Tholkaapiyar's work with us now. In spite of being his foremost disciple, why Tholkaapiyar failed to recognize his teacher Agasthya in his work is the question analyzed by Nacchinaarkkiniyar. He traces the reason to an estrangement between the two.
In the course of explaining the cause that led to the estrangement, he narrates the incidents involving Agasthyar. He says that Agasthyar went to Tuvarapathi (Dwaraka) and brought scores of people along with him to Tamil nadu.
"அகத்தியனார் ..துவராபதி போந்து ,
நிலம் கடந்த நெடுமுடி அண்ணல் வழிக்கண் அரசர் பதினெண்மரையும்,
பதினெண்குடி வேளிர் உள்ளிட்டோரையும்,
அருவாளரையும் கொண்டு போந்து ,
காடு கெடுத்து நாடாக்கி ."
(Agasthya went to Dwarka and brought eighteen kings belonging to the lineage of the one who measured the lands (reference to Vamana avathara), eighteen groups of Velirs and Aruvaalars and cleared the forest tracts to make them fit enough to be lands (for occupation)
Nacchinaarkkiniyar again makes a reference to this migration in his commentary to the 32rd sutra of Agatthinai Iyal (அகத்திணை இயல்) of Tholkaapiyam as follows:-
"நிலம் கடந்த நெடுமுடி அண்ணலுழை
பதினெண் வகை குடிப் பிறந்த வேளிர்க்கும் .."
(The 18 groups of Velirs who were brought along with the kings of the lineage of the great one who measured the lands)
They were brought to the Potiyil region (hills on the west of Madurai. Palani hill and Kodaikkanal hills are part of this range) in Tamilnadu.
The important clue lies in காடு கெடுத்து நாடாக்கி (lands were created by clearing forests). Creation of lands identified as forests tracts is part of the 5 land forms identified by Tholkaapiyar. (In fact he mentions only 4 lands whereas the 5th one is the desert land that the lands of hills and forests change into in the dry season) This segmentation of lands along with the people and respective culture was not there earlier.
The earlier mention of division of lands is what we hear from Adiyaarkku nallar (அடியார்க்கு நல்லார்) in his commentary to Silappadhikaram. Such a division existed in the now submerged Kumari lands. It did not contain the forest tracts known as Mullai for habitation, which Tholkaapiyar mentions.
The earlier division of land was as follows:-
7 Thenga naadu (தெங்க நாடு),
7 Madurai naadu (மதுரை நாடு),
7 Mun paalai naadu (முன் பாலை நாடு),
7 pin paalai naadu (பின் பாலை நாடு ),
7 kundra naadu (குன்ற நாடு)
7 GuNakarai naadu (குணகரை நாடு) and
7 kurumpanai naadu (குறும்பனை நாடு)
Thus there were 49 lands or places in Kumari kandam.
Going by their names we can deduce the kind of topography of each division
(1) தெங்க நாடு / Thenga naadu
dotted with coconut trees – sea shore areas
(2) மதுரை நாடு / Madurai naadu
marutha nilam – Madurai is the inland dotted with agricultural lands.
(3) முன் பாலை நாடு / Mun paalai naadu
The land that becomes dry and a desert sometime in the former season of the year
(4) பின் பாலை நாடு / pin paalai naadu
The land that becomes dry and a desert sometime in the latter season of the year
(5) குன்ற நாடு / kundra naadu
Land of mountains
(6) குணகரை நாடு / GuNakarai naadu
Land near the eastern shore – Guna means eastern direction. Refer Guna thisai in the Prabhandam " கதிரவன் குண திசை சிகரம் வந்து "
(7) குறும்பனை நாடு / kurumpanai naadu
Land of short pani trees. (palm trees)
We note that forest tract was not part of habitation of this 7 fold division. The 5 fold division given in Tholkaapiyam is a later development. This 5 fold division having forest tracts for Yaadava people or for cowherds is a development that happened after the decline of the earlier 7 fold division.
Why was the 7 fold division of Kumari given up is a question.
The predominantly shore side dwelling is seen Kumari divison. It is absent in the 5 fold division of Tholkaapiyam. The reason could be that the land available for the people - between Venkata malai / Thiruppathy and Kumari ocean (this boundary is mentioned by Tholkaapiyar) is small and restricted. It has to support more people in a small region. That is why Tholkaapiyar has retained only Marutham (madurai type agricultural lands) and shore areas (as Neithal / நெய்தல் ) from the earlier division and developed two new areas for habitation -one in the hill tracts (Kurunchi) and the other in the forest tracts (Mullai). This has been necessitated due to loss of lands to the ocean of the south.
We can even say that the composition of Tholkaapiyam itself was necessitated by the new alignment in the wake of submergence of major parts of Tamil lands. Hills and forests were cleared for settling people. The additional burden on land for habitation was caused by the people whom Agasthya brought from Dwaraka!
It seems to be at the instance of Agasthya that forest lands were cleared for habitation. He had settled the people he brought from Dwaraka in those lands which came to be known as Mullai lands.
When we analyze Tholkaapiyam and other related developments in Tamil's culture, with the knowledge of accommodation given to Dwarakans, lot of issues fall in place thereby giving us a better idea of why such developments took place. They will be discussed in the next post.