Thursday, 12 November 2009

The location of Irunthaiyur.

The song on Thirumaal of Irunthaiyur is one among 11 songs of Paripaadal gathered from different works.
All these songs have been quoted under the category “Nagar” – on description of the city or town or நகரம் .
In this song, we find an elaborate description of the town of Irunthaiyur situated around the temple of Thirumaal.

This song is quoted by Nacchinaarkkiniyar in his commentary on verse -121 of செய்யுளியல் of Tholkaapiyam.
The author of the song is not known.
However I have a guess that this could have been composed by Irunthaiyur Kurunkozhi and inaugurated in the assembly of the second Sangam.

The commentary for this song given by ParimElazhagar is not available.
I go by the explanation given by போ .வே . சோமசுந்தரனார் ( pO. vE. Somasundaranaar) with additional inputs I can get from other sources.

I intend to explain this song in stages.

The song begins with salutation to Thirumaal who is seated in Irunthaiyur.

வான் ஆர் எழிலி மழை வளம் நந்த,
தேன் ஆர் சிமைய மலையின் இழிதந்து,
நான் மாடக் கூடல் எதிர்கொள்ள, ஆனா
மருந்து ஆகும் தீம் நீர் மலி துறை மேய
இருந்தையூர் அமர்ந்த செல்வ! நின்
திருந்துஅடி தலை உறப் பரவுதும், தொழுது.

(முகில் மலையின் கண் மழையை மிகுதியாகப் பொழிய ,
அந்நீர் நான் மாடக் கூடலில் உள்ள மக்கள்
விரும்பி எதிர் கொள்ளும்படி வருகின்ற துறையிடத்தே உள்ள
இருந்தையூர் என்னும் பதியில் எழுந்தருளியுள்ள செல்வ (திருமாலே )!
நின் திருவடியைத் தொழுது வாழ்த்துகின்றோம் .)

There is a big mountain / peak nearby (சிமையம் ) that gets good rainfall.
The rain-water flows down the mountain and rushes towards Naan maadak koodal.

It is said ‘நான் மாடக் கூடல் எதிர்கொள்ள
It is as though the people of Naan maadak koodal are eagerly receiving the waterway / river.
This waterway therefore must have been an important life line of the people of Naan maadak koodal.

Here Irunthaiyur is not mentioned.
The city of Naan maadak koodal is mentioned.
As we know Naan maadak koodal is Madurai.
Irunthaiyur must have been a part of Naan maadak koodal or Madurai.

Irunthaiyur is situated on the banks of a waterway
(river – though not explicitly said that it is a river)
It is mentioned as “Thurai”. It could also mean “நீராடும் துறை ” or bathing ghat.

A related description is found in Silappadhikaram.
After the dance of “Aaicchiyar kuravai” (ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை ),
Maaathari (ஆய முத்து மகள் மாதரி )
reaches the ‘thurai’ to take bath and worship the Nedu maal (நெடு மால் )
on the banks of river vaigai.

ஆயர் முதுமகள் ஆடிய சாயலாள்
பூவும் புகையும் புனை சாந்தும் கண்ணியும்
நீடு நீர் வையை நெடுமால் அடியேத்தத்
தூவித் துறை படியப் போயினாள் ..”

(மதுரைக் காண்டம்துன்ப மாலை 2 to 5 lines)

From this we come to know that a temple of Thirumaal
was situated on the banks of river Vaigai.
People used to take bath at that place and worship Thirumaal.

An interesting connection to Paripaadal song comes from
the commentary of Arum pada urai aasiriyar (அரும் பத உரை ஆசிரியர் )
to Silappadhikaram.

He describes the Nedumaal in the Silappadhikaram verse as

ஸ்ரீ இருந்த வளமுடையார்

-“the one who is prosperous by having Sree or Lakshmi with Him”.

The term for this in Tamil is “செல்வன்

This is how Paripaadal called Thirumaal in this song – “Selva”

மருந்து ஆகும் தீம் நீர் மலி துறை மேய
இருந்தையூர் அமர்ந்த செல்வ!

It is therefore deduced from this that Thirumaal of Irunthaiyur
was none but the Nedumaal on the banks of Vaigai,
who was known as செல்வன் in olden days.

The justification for this name is given in the subsequent verses
by describing
how Sree or Lakshmi is residing in the regions around this temple
in the form of bounteous Nature.

The water is mentioned as மருந்து – medicine.
This may be because the water carried medicinal property -
suggesting the mountain to be having medicinal plants.
Or by another interpretation, water itself is ‘அமிர்தம் ’ or nectar, giving life.

Such a notion is given by Thiruvalluvar also.

வானின் ன்றுலகம் வழங்கி வருதலான்
தானமிழ்தம் என்றுணரர் பாற்று

Thirumaal is seated -இருந்தையூர் அமர்ந்த-
Perhaps giving the name “Irunthaiyur” for “இருந்த கோலம் ” (sitting posture)

திருந்துஅடி தலை உறப் பரவுதும், தொழுது.

The poet says that he keeps his head at his “திருந்தடி
and worships Him by praises (பரவுதல்துதித்தல் )

Usually “Thiruvadi” is the term used to mention the feet of god.
Here the use of ‘Thirunthadi” or ‘திருந்து அடி ’ seems to convey more meanings.
It means திருத்தமான அடி – the feet that is as per perfect characteristics or lakshaNa.

What are the characteristics of a perfect feet?

Varahamihira describes the shapes and size of
every part of the body of images of deities installed in temples.

What he says is had been in vogue for all times in the past.
They have been told long ago by sages like Vasishta, says he.

In chapter 58 of Brihad samhita, he describes
the lakshana of the feet (திருவடி ) of the image of God in verses 18, 19 and 20.

They are as follows:

Verse 18 :- The length of the feet shall be 12 inches and the breadth shall be 6 inches (amgula):
The length of the big toe shall be 3 inches, the same when measured around shall be 5 inches:
The next tow shall be 3 inches.

Verse 19 :- The other three toes shall each be one-eighth less than the length of the toes before it. The height of the big toe shall be an inch and a quarter.

Verse 20:- The learned say that the nail of the big toe shall be three-fourths of an inch broad and that the toe nails shall each be half and inch or less.

This is the Thirunthadi!!

The poet sees the feet of Thirumaal to lay his head on them.
Habituated to see them always, he must have wondered how perfect they are in iconometric lakshana and in anga lakshna as well!


The measurement of inch mentioned by Varahamihira
is described in the first verse of that chapter.
It is the same as what Mayamata and Shilpa ratna have said.
That shows the tradition of making icons as per specific rules is very old and unbroken.

The measurement of an inch:-

Varahamihira begins the chapter thus:-

“The fine particles moving in the rays of the sun coming into a room through the window opening are known as “ParamaNu”.
Is not the ParamaNu the first of all measurements?”

8 paramaNu = 1 rENu (speck of dust raised by a chariot)
8 rENu = 1 vAlAgra (tip of hair)
8 vAlAgra = 1 lIksha (nit)
8 lIksha = 1 yUka (louse)
8 yUka = 1 yav (barley grain)
8 yava = 1 amgula

Similar view given by Mayamata,

“ParamANubhi rastAbhi radha rENurudhAhrtE
karma sOsta gunaih prOktO yavAsta gunitOngulam”

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