Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Snake god in Selvan nagar.

After describing the city of Irunthaiyur and its people, the poem continues to describe a special place which houses a temple for the Serpent. This is Adhisesha, the 1000 hooded snake that never leaves Thirumaal.


The temple for Adhisesha is described in 3 ways.
It begins with the description of different types of people who visit the temple of the Serpent situated in this “செல்வன் நகர்.
‘Selva’ – is how the poet calls Thirumaal in the beginning of this poem.
He is ‘Selvan’ because of His consort Lakshmi who is the goddess for Selvam (wealth)



Then the poem further describes how the Snake God looks – by holding the earth on his hood.
It is here we deduce that the serpent mentioned is none other than Adhi sesha.
The popularity of this temple is such that this place was known as “நாகர் நகர்(naagar nagar)


The 3rd part of the description of this snake god mentions the location of this temple in a place known as “குள-வாய் ”.(KuLa-vaai)


The poem further goes on praising Adhisesha in different incidents and then concludes that the people, after worshiping Adhisesha, worshiped Thirumaal by surrendering at His feet.



We will now continue the poem from the last post.


வண்டு பொரேரென எழ,
வண்டு பொரேரென எழும்;
கடிப் புகு வேரிக் கதவமிற் றோட்டி-
கடிப்பு இகு காதில் கனம் குழை தொடர-
மிளிர் மின் வாய்ந்த விளங்கு ஒளி நுதலார்
ஊர் களிற்றன்ன செம்மலோரும்



வாய் இருள் பனிச்சை வரி சிலைப் புருவத்து
ஒளி இழை ஒதுங்கிய ஒண் நுதலோரும்,
புலத்தோடு அளவிய புகழ் அணிந்தோரும்,
நலத்தோடு அளவிய நாண் அணிந்தோரும்,
விடையோடு இகலிய விறல் நடையோரும்



நடை மடம் மேவிய நாண் அணிந்தோரும்,
கடல் நிரை திரையின் கரு நரையோரும்-
மடையர், குடையர், புகையர், பூ ஏந்தி
இடை ஒழிவு இன்றி, அடியுறையார் ஈண்டி,



விளைந்தார் வினையின் விழுப் பயன் துய்க்கும்
துளங்கா விழுச் சீர்த் துறக்கம் புரையும்-
இரு கேழ் உத்தி அணிந்த எருத்தின்
வரை கெழு செல்வன் நகர்.



This part describes the different types of people.


வண்டு பொரேரென எழ,
வண்டு பொரேரென எழும்;
கடிப் புகு வேரிக்கதவமிற் றோட்டி-
கடிப்பு இகு காதில் கனம் குழை தொடர-
மிளிர் மின் வாய்ந்த விளங்கு ஒளி நுதலார்
ஊர் களிற்றன்ன செம்மலோரும்



( கடிப்பு என்னும் அணியிட்டுத் தாழ வளர்த்திய காதிலே , கனங்குழை என்னும் அணிகலனை இடும் பொருட்டு , மகளிர் தம் வளை அணிந்த கையினைத் தூக்க , அந்த வளைகள் எழுப்பிய ஓசையினால் , அவர்கள் அணிந்துள்ள மலர் மாலைகளில் உள்ள வண்டுகள் ‘பொறேர்’ என்னும் ஓசையுடனே எழும் . அப்படிப்பட்ட காதணிகளை அணிந்துள்ள , ஒளிரும் நெற்றியை உடைய மகளிரும் , அவர்களுடன் , ஊர்ந்து செல்லும் யானையைப் போன்ற அவர்தம் கணவர்மார்களும் )


The women are described in this part.
The women used to wear flower garlands that attracted honey bees.
The women used to wear an ear stud called ‘குழை ’.(Kuzhai)
From this poem it is known that it was fashionable to stretch the ears by huge ear ornaments - something which we can see in sculpted figures of women in temples.
The women used to wear bangles too.


The poem says that when they raised their hands to fix the ear ornament, the bangles worn in their hands made sound.
That sound disturbed the bees that were drinking nectar in the flowers of the garlands they wore.
The bees also made a noise ‘porEr’ when they were so disturbed.
These women with bright foreheads were going to the temple of the serpent God along with their husbands who walked like elephants.

(The description of the forehead of the women and the walk of the men are as per samudrika lakshana.)



வாய் இருள் பனிச்சை வரி சிலைப் புருவத்து
ஒளி இழை ஒதுங்கிய ஒண் நுதலோரும்,
புலத்தோடு அளவிய புகழ் அணிந்தோரும்,
நலத்தோடு அளவிய நாண் அணிந்தோரும்,
விடையோடு இகலிய விறல் நடையோரும்



( இருண்ட கூந்தலையும் , வில்லினை ஒத்த புருவத்தையும் , ஒளி பொருந்திய தலை அணிகலங்களால் ஒளி உடைய நெற்றியை உடைய பெண்களும் ,
அறிவோடு கூடின புகழை அணிகலனாக அணிந்தோரும் ,
கற்பு முதலிய நலன்களும் கூடி , நாணம் என்பதையே அணிகலனாக அணிந்தோரும் ,
ஆனேற்றின் நடையோடு மாறுபட்ட நடையை உடையோரும் ..)



Married women were described in the previous paragraph.
Here the other women are described.
Women with dark (black) hair, with ornaments on the head that made their forehead shine– walked towards this temple.

People who were well known for their intellect were also heading towards this temple.

Women endowed with traditional characteristics such as ‘NaaNam’ – or shyness were walking towards this temple.

And there were briskly walking men whose gait looked different from the bulls.



நடை மடம் மேவிய நாண் அணிந்தோரும்,
கடல் நிரை திரையின் கரு நரையோரும்-
மடையர், குடையர், புகையர், பூ ஏந்தி
இடை ஒழிவு இன்றி, அடியுறையார் ஈண்டி,


(மடப்பமுடைய ஒழுக்கத்தினையும் , நாணத்தினையும் இழந்த பரத்தையரும் , கடலின் கண் நுரையாக வரும் வெள்ளிய நிறத்தைப் போல , கரிய முடியின் இடையிடையே வெள்ளிய நரை இருப்போரும் , ஒளிருகின்ற நிலவைப் போல முழுவதுமே வெண்ணிறமாக நரைத்த முடியை உடையோரும் , கடவுளுக்கு படைப்பதற்காக, அவிப் பொருளை உடையவராய் , குடையை ஏந்தினவராய், நறுமணப் பூ , புகை தரும் அகில் போன்றவற்றை ஏந்தினவராய் , பல மக்களும் , இடை விடாது அக்கடவுளின் அடியை வணங்க ஆங்கு வந்து கொண்டிருந்தனர் .)



This part seems to describe the outsiders –the people who came from outside Irunthaiyur.
Because it describes two types of people in contrast to those who were described earlier.


One is about the women. The women described in the earlier 2 paragraphs were married or unmarried ones described with auspiciousness. Here the women are described as a contrast to those earlier mentioned.


The poem also mentions about the people with white hairs in patches in between dark hairs or having white hairs all over the head.
The poet could have mentioned them as old people instead.
But he didn’t.
Instead he seems to convey something by describing their hair as patches of white surf of the waves and as completely white as the moon.


I deduce that the poet means them to be from outside Irunthaiyur.
In the last post we saw how a happy town means having people with no white hairs!!
The specific mention of white hairs in two ways – those who have white hairs in patches and those who have all white – seems to convey by contrast how the residents of Irunthaiyur looked young and happy – because they were residents of that wonderful town.


This seems to be the hidden message or even an obsession of the poet because he begins the description of the people - with women having dark black hairs!
வாய் இருள் பனிச்சை


These people carried

‘madai’ - havis or the items for offering in homa or to God

Kudai’ - auspicious items such as turmeric, betel leaves kumkum etc.

‘pugai’ – items that give out pleasant smoke such as incense sticks

‘poo’ – flowers


The carried these items while going to this temple.
They were going continuously – meaning,
that this temple was famous and attracted continuous stream of pilgrims.
This is described by these lines.
மடையர், குடையர், புகையர், பூ ஏந்தி
இடை ஒழிவு இன்றி, அடியுறையார் ஈண்டி,



Now comes the important verse:-


விளைந்தார் வினையின் விழுப் பயன் துய்க்கும்
துளங்கா விழுச் சீர்த் துறக்கம் புரையும்-
இரு கேழ் உத்தி அணிந்த எருத்தின்
வரை கெழு செல்வன் நகர்.


(தாம் செய்த நல் வினையின் பயனை அனுபவிக்கும்படியாக , சிறந்த மேல் நிலை எனப்படும் சுவர்க்கம் போன்ற அந்தப் பதியிலே , செல்வன் நகர் எனப்படும் அந்தப் பதியிலே , இருவிதமான் கருமை நிறத்தை உடைய , படம் எடுத்த தலையின்கண் அழகு படுத்தப் பட்ட , மலை போன்ற (ஆதிசேடன் என்னும் ) பாம்பினது திருக்கோவில் உள்ளது .)


The city is mentioned as “Selvan nagar”.
In the beginning of this poem, the poet addresses Thirumaal as
இருந்தையூர் அமர்ந்த செல்வ !”
From this we understand that Thirumaal in Irunthaiyur was called as ‘Selvan.’
It means one who has ‘selvam’ (செல்வம் ) or wealth or the Goddess of Wealth (Lakshmi)


In the Thiruppallandu pasurams of Periyaazhwar,
there comes a reference to one “Selva”.
செல்வனைப் போலத் திருமாலே ! நானும் உனக்குப் பழவடியேன் ”,
says Periyaazhwar.



It is said that a person by name ‘Selva nambi’ lived in the times of Aazhwar
who was close to the Pandyan king.
From this line of the paasuram, it is said that Selva nimbi must have been very great devotee of Thirumaal of Madurai.
(in the previous paasuram, Aazhwar mentions Madurai).



It used to be a surprise to many readers of these paasurams and Vishnu devotees, how some one else such as Selva nimbi - could have been more devout than Periyaazhwar who was blessed by Him in many ways – including that of becoming the father in law of Thirumaal Himself.


After reading this Paripaadal song, I have second opinion about this notion about Selva nambi.


Aazhwar says, “Selvanaip pOlath ThirumaalE!”.
Irunthaiyur seems to be the old name for Naan maadak koodal azhagar temple.
The sthala puranam of the temple says that
Periyaazhwar had the vision of this God for whom he sang திருப் பல்லாண்டு .
Aazhwar also mentions Madurai in his paasuram.


The name of the God in this place was Selvan –
as seen in two places in this Paripaadal song.
The place itself was known as Selvan nagar as given above.
It is possible to assume that Periyaazhwar referred to Thirumaal as ‘Selvan’ -
by the name He was known in olden days.
He would have just addressed Thirumaal as “Selvanaip pOlath ThirumaalE!”


The next line is நானும் உனக்குப் பழவடியேன் ”
The meaning given is that aazhwar refers to Selva nimbi who was an ardent devotee of Thirumaal.
The aazhwar says that he too is an ardent devotee like Selva nimbi from olden times.


But after reading Paripaadal, I think the aazhwar actually meant the continuing tradition in this temple of people coming for all times in the past and offering surrender at His feet.
This temple seems to have existed for very long in the past which will be brought out in the next poem of Paripaadal.
The purpose for which the devotees kept pouring into this temple was not for any material benefit.
They all have come to offer themselves at His feet.
This is made out at the concluding lines of this poem and also said in the above part:
இடை ஒழிவு இன்றி, அடியுறையார் ஈண்டி,



Perhaps Periaazhwar meant this.
He had addressed Thirumaal of Koodal alias Irunthaiyur as Selva – the prosperous Thirumaal – the way He was addressed in olden times of 2nd Sangam period.
Selvanaip pOlath ThirumaalE”


Another explanation – which is just opposite of what I said above is that a person by name Selva nambi did exist in Madurai – named after Thirumaal of this place (Selvan).


Continuing with the poem:


விளைந்தார் வினையின் விழுப் பயன் துய்க்கும்
துளங்கா விழுச் சீர்த் துறக்கம் புரையும்-
இரு கேழ் உத்தி அணிந்த எருத்தின்
வரை கெழு செல்வன் நகர்.


This place was like Heaven – swarg (துறக்கம் ).
Heaven is a place where people with good karma reach,
in order to enjoy the results of such good karma.
The continuous stream of devotees to this temple also looked as though they have arrived here due to their good karma!



In such Heavenly place, resides the Snake God
whose color has a twin shade of black. (இரு கேழ்)
This reminds me of the bluish black color of the gem, blue sapphire (Indra neelam) of Saturn. The image of serpent god at Thirunageswaram is made of that gem with twin shades of black. Perhaps that image also could have been that of Adisesha, but came to be worshiped as Rahu in course of time.


இரு கேழ் – இரண்டு விதமாக கருமை நிறம் உடைய (having 2 shades of black colour)

உத்தி – பாம்பினது படத்தின் கட்பொறி ( the bright spots or garments worn in the hood of the snake)

எருத்தின்– கழுத்து (neck)


The decoration done for the hood of the serpent god is described here.
The serpent which is bluish black in color having a neck with a hood that is brightly decorated, resides in this Selvan nagar!.


The 2nd type of description of this serpent God is continued in the next post.



Related post:-

Milk turning blue at Rahu-sthalam.



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