Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Secrets in Thiruppavai. Secret - 4 (Nappinnai -3)

Ayarpaadis had existed

in very olden days,

that is, in the times of early Sangam,

when Krishna had visited the Pandyan land at Kumari-k-kOdu,

which was sub-merged after the 2nd sangam.

The sect called Ayar (equivalent of Yadhavas of the North), the cowherds

was an important group (kudi) in the land of the Pandyas.

Wherever, a city or township was located, there used to be an ayarpaadi at its outskirts,

to take care of the dairy needs of the people of the city.

The city folks were mostly in service of the King, engaged in activities

that required able-bodied ones known for their valour (veeram),

and the ayar paadi lads were mainly engaged in tending the cattle.

But this does not mean that they did not or could not possess physical prowess.

As veeram (valour) was an obsession with people in those times,

The aayar lads were also keen on demonstrating their valour

within the environment of which

they were a part.

And the environment full of cattle of different kinds

threw up a challenge to them to control and win over the toughest bull among the cattle.

Thus bull-fight was an important event for the aayar lad to show his valour.

It was not actually a fight, but an ‘embrace of the bull’

known as ‘yEru- thazhuvudhal’ in Tamil.

And what was the prize for the winner of this fight?

It was the aayar girl.

The aayar girl chose her groom who embraced her bull.

This happened as a social event and many marriages were fixed like this-

an event of many bulls in the fray and many lads chasing them.

The event was always followed by Kuravai-kootthu of the girls with the lads

whom they had chosen.

Silappadhikaram describes the second part of the event in Aichchiyar kuravai,

wherein the aayar girl, Nappinnai dances the kootthu with Krishna who has embraced her bull(s)!

The event prior to the kootthu,

is described in many verses in Kali-th-thogai.

The Aayar mother watches the event to choose the groom for her daughter.

who is eligible for “Aaya magaL thOL thazhuva” .

If someone wants to embrace the shoulder of aayar girl,

he must first embrace the bull.

The similar sentiment is echoed by Nammazhwar

in Periya Thiruvandhadhi, (2632)

Men thOLi kaaraNamaa

venkOttErE yEzhudananE”

“For the sake of embracing the soft shoulders of the aayar girl,

Krishna embraced the seven bulls.”

Going back to Kali-th-thogai again,

the aayar mother thinks

If he can not even embrace the horns of the bulls,

how can he wish to embrace the breasts of the aayar girl?

It seems to be a tradition or culture or “marabu”

for the aayars to liken the horns of the bull to the breast of the prospective bride

and win the bull fight

by embracing the two horns by two hands, with his chest thrust in between!

“yeLiyavO aai magaL thOL?

Vilai vEndaar, em-inatthu aayar magaLir-

Kolai yEttru-k-kOttidai-th-

Thaam veezhwaar maarbin

Mulai idai-p-pOla-p-pugin,


Kuravai thazhI yam, marabuLi paadi”

Is it easy to get hold of the shoulder of the Aayar girl?

The aayar girl does not put up a price.

She wants only him who eagerly catches hold of the horns

As though they are the breasts,

And she will certainly embrace such a person,

and dance the kuravai with him.

This is as per tradition.”

This oft repeated description is also repeated by Andal,

who would have observed the aayar life style (Andal lived in Pandyan land)

and might have even mingled with them

and visualized Krishna’s life in aayar paadi!.

The 3 paasurams in which she talks about Nappinnai

are all about the young aayar girl who married as per tradition

described above (from kali-th-thogai).

“nappinnai kongai mEl

vaitthu-k-kidandha malar maarba”

She visualizes Krishna, embracing the horns of the bull to win Nappinnai’s hand.

Neeyun maNaaLAnai”

The time period is soon after their marriage.

“cheppenna men mulai”

again a decription of mullai-k-kali.

An interesting feature of this description is that

every aayar girl is looking for a “maayOn” in the aayar lads who are trying to embrace the bull.

The perfect winning pose is described in kali-th-thogai,

In which the lad mounts on the bull with his hands in embrace of the horns and

his chest thrust in between,

and riding on the bull which is now running around, unable to shake him off.

The lad riding the bull in this posture reminds the aayar girls of MayOn

when he won the bulls.

“Innan kol, maayOn endru udkittru en nenju”

Ha, is he (the one riding victoriously on the bull) Krishna?

Such was the impact Krishna had created among the aayar girls,

that everyone of them saw Krishna in the lad who had won their bulls.

Periazhawar also voices this opinion (Periazhewar Thirumozhi -162)

“pinnai maNaaLAnai….

Ennaiyum, engaL kudi muzhudhum aat kOnda”

“Nappinnai's husband has completely taken over the aayar clan.”

This is not just a scene from Aayar paadi.

This has a metaphorical allusion to Vedantic description

which has been encapsuled by Thirumangai Azhwar in Periya Thirumozhi. (1072)

“in thuNai padumatthu alar magaL thanakkum inbhan

Nar puvu thanakku iraivan,

Than thuNai aayar paavai

NAPPINNAI thankku iRAi,

mattraiyOrkkellaam va thuNAi..”

Thirumaal is the sweet heart (inbhan) of Thirumagal (Sri devi)

BUT he is LORD of

Both Bhu Devi and the aayar girl, Nappinnai.

For the rest, he is a support.”

This verse seems to fill up the left blanks of the puzzle!!

The 3 consorts of Vishnu are Sri Devi, Bhu Devi and NiLa devi.

While the first two are explicitly mentioned here,

Nappinnai fits the bill as NiLa Devi.

Whatever description we have of Nappinnai

either as wife of Krishna as told by Andal

or as found in Kuravai,

it exactly describes NiLa Devi.

The kootthu which follows the victory in bull fight

is kuravai-k-ootthu

And there is also another kootthu, called Kudamaada-k-kootthu.

According to Paripaadal, another ancient text in Tamil,

Krishna is known for 2 dances,


Kuravai-k-kootthu and


While Kuravai-k-kootthu happens at mortal plane

In the aayar padi,

Kuda-k-kootthu happens at cosmic plane

which we mortals can not see,

(Nammazhwar in 8-5 - maya-k-kootthaa )

but can understand from Vedas.

This is about the kootthu metaphorically described in Silappadhikaram

Of Nappinnai dancing with black-coloured Krishna on one side and

With Blue coloured Balarama on the other!

(to be continued in Nappinnai -4)

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