Monday, January 21, 2008

The original name of Nappinnai.


This is the original name of Nappinnai.

This is found in one of the oldest commentaries on ThirukkuraL written by NEmi naathan,

while ascertaining Thiruvalluvar’s birth place.

I found this reference in Vai.Mu.Shatagopa Ramanujacharya’s

(Tamil Professor at Kumbakonam Government college)

commentary on ThirukkuraL’s commentary by ParimElazhagar.

(1949 edition, Muthukumaran press, Triplicane.)

The reference is this:-

“uppakka nOkki

UpakEsi thOL maNanthaan,

Utthara Madurai-k-ku acchu.

Ippakkam Maathaanubangi

maRuvil pula-ch-


punal koodal acchu.”

“The one (Krishna) who married UpakEsi (and embraced her shoulder)

by the hump (of the bull) was the axis (basis) for Vada-Madurai


‘ChennaappOdhaar (Thiruvalluvar) who married Maathaanubangi was the axis (basis) for

Then-Madurai which has the congregation of the waters.

According to Nemi naathan, Maathaanubangi was the wife of Thiruvalluvar

And he compares them with Krishna who married UpakEsi.

The information contained in the reference are,

(1) Uppakkam


(2) thOL maNanthaan.

Uppakkam means the back (mudugu)

It also means dorsal portion.

Another meaning is outside.

(refer Thirukkural using this word – “voozhaiyum uppakkam kaaNbhar -620)

ThOL mannanthaan is very much a word in vogue in Ayar paadi of Pandyan kingdom

(as we have seen in the write-ups on Nappinnai)

“Men thOLi kaarNamaa”

he mounted the bulls, says Nammazhwar.

The combined meaning of these two references is that

Krishna, who conquered the (hump of) the bull in order to marry UpakEsi

was the base (acchu or axis) for Vada-Madurai (Mathura).


Krishna who looked outside (of his kingdom or place) and married UpakEsi

was the base (acchu or axis) for Vada-Madurai.

Both ways it is clear that UpakEsi was not from his land which was Mathura.

(uppakkam nOkki – looking outside)

The way it is explained also shows that UpakEsi is from the aayarpaadi of the Pandya kingdom.

Another clue here is about Then-Madurai.

By the comparison of places, it is seen that Thiruvalluvar lived in Then-Madurai,

the earlier kingdom of the Pandyas where the first Tamil sangam was held.

(refer the blog on Nappinnai -1)

Krishna presided over the 2nd sangam at Kabaada puram.

By then the ThenMadurai had been submerged!

Further historicity of this will be discussed by me in another blog.

Here I confine myself to how UpakEsi is from the Ayarpaadi of Pandyan land.

UpakEsi means one who has on her head (beautiful) hair!

The Hair also plays an important part in the life of Aayar girls.

The Mullai-k-kali by NallUrutthiran depicts some beautiful scenes involving hair of the aayar girls.

The Girls have their hair oiled by butter!

The butter smell is very common of the girl’s hair.

The signal that the girl is in love is that she will be wearing the flowers offered by her lover


Flowers of the garland of her lover will find their way into her hair.

(It is common sight to see the boys wear flower garlands around their necks.

Particularly, when they go for bull fight, they wear their own characteristic garlands –

perhaps to make it easy for others to identify.)

The girls take special care of their hair by using butter which is available in abundance with them.

A scene is explained by the poet how the mother will sense that the girl is in love,

by the new smell of her hair of some flower, and not of the usual butter!

The mother will grill the girl to know who it is.

If that lover has to embrace the girl’s shoulder,

He has to embrace the horns of the bull.

That is the condition spelt by the mother.

The girl will encourage her lover to brave the bull

And pray to Thirumaal,

That he must win the bull fight.

Once he wins and her love is approved by her parents and the society,

she can openly wear his flowers without having to give any explanation to anyone.

Her hair will start smelling with the flowers given by her lover!

Thus goes the life of the people of aayar paadi.

KEsham or hair has thus some meaning / importance in their lives.

So it is common to come across the name kEsi (for feminine) in their clan.

Thus UpakEsi is very much the home grown girl of the aayar paadi of the Pandyan land.

The old Tamil dictionaries too mention this name as the name of Nappinnai, the wife of Krishna!

(refer - Senthamizh agaraadhi by N.C.Kandhaiya Pillai, 1950 edition)


The description of aayarpaadi by Andaal is not that of Gokulam!

Andaal had not mentally visualised an unseen Gokulam.

But she has very much seen

the aayars, the aayarpaadi and their activities in her own land.

She has very much lived through the tradition

and life of the aayars

and the legend of Nappinnai

which was something

that this land of the Tamils had experienced for 1000s of years.

Nappinnai was very much the phenomenon of the South

and Krishna, the Maappillai (son-in-law) of the Tamils.

But this happened in a distant era of the past which could not be taken on for ever.

So in order to resurrect this,

Krishna again became the Mappillai,

and Andaal, his Nappinnai


their marriage still continues to live in the memory of mankind!

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