Paripaadal (பரிபாடல்) is mentioned as the 5th group of verses in the Sangam compilation of "ettu-th-thogai" (எட்டுத் -தொகை ). "ஓங்கு பரிபாடல் " is the special adjective for Paripaadal, signifying its greatness.
The entire body of Paripaadal is a compilation of verses set to musical tones. பாணர்கள் தங்கள் பாடல்களில் பரி பாடலை அமைத்தார்கள் . Paripaadal and kali-p-paa (கலிப்-பா ) are the only two types that are musical. The songsters of Sangam age used these two types in drama or dialogue renditions and for singing.
The time period of Paripaadal is difficult to ascertain. It is mainly because the basic grammar of Paripaadal does not obey the rule of Tholkaapiyam (தொல்காபியம் ). According to Tholkaapiyam, the theme of paripaadal is அகம் and காமம் - the inner life or personal life of people. There are popular dialogue type verses on agam set in paripaadal music.
But the Paripaadal verses are mostly about 'புறம் ' - and on worship of Gods Vishnu and Muruga of திருமாலிரும் சோலை (popularly known as அழகர் மலை ) and திருப்பரம்குன்றம் respectively.
There are verses on Murugan and river vaigai on 'Agam'. But all the verses on Thirumaal come under Puram category only. The praises on Vishnu often are about olden stories of Vishnu and Creation. A remarkable narration of the olden avatharas of Vishnu also can be seen in those praises removing any skepticism of the researchers of today that விஷ்ணு வழிபாடு was alien to Tamil culture. The avtharas and Puranas are all part of Tamil culture too - this is made out in Paripaadal verses on Thirumaal.
The exclusivity on Puram in these verses make us wonder if these were composed prior to Tholkaapiyam. In the course of discussing some of the verses let me point out those verses that seem olden to Tholkaappiyam.
From an olden verse, we come to know that there were originally 70 verses compiled as Paripaadal. These verses were written by different poets in different time periods.
திருமார் கிருநான்கு செவேட்கு முப்பத்
தொருபாட்டுக் காடுகாட்கு ஒன்று - மருவினிய
வையைஇரு பத்தாறு மாமதுரை நான்கென்ப
செய்யபரி பாடல் திறம் .
According to this verse the number of verses on
Thirumaal - 8
Murugan (ChevvEL) - 31
kaadugaL (forests) - 1
river Vaigai - 26
Madurai - 4
But to day we have only 33 verses!
It goes to the credit of Dr U. vE. Swaminatha Iyer to have recovered these verses.
Some of them are damaged but Dr U.VE.Sa had managed to record whatever he could get a hold on.
Of these, 22 are recovered from old palm leaves on Paripaadal.
The other 11 are taken out as quotes given by commentators such as Nacchinaarkiniyaar.(நச்சினார்கினியார் )
Of the 22 that we have now
there are 6 on Thirmaal,
8 on Murugan and 8 on Vaigai.
From among the quotes collected - known as 'paripaadal thirattu' (பரிபாடல் திரட்டு )
there is 1 verse on Vishnu,
4 on Vaigai and
6 on Madurai.
4 poets have been identified as having sung on Thirumaal.
ILam peruvazhuthiyaar (இளம் பெருவழுதியார் )
Kaduvan iLavezhiniyaar (கடுவன் இளவெழிநியார்)
keeranthaiyaar (கீரந்தையார் )
NallEzhiniyaar (நல்லேழினியார் )
பரிமேலழகர் who has written a commentary on Thirukkural has written commentary on Paripaadal.
It is said that he self anointed his name as ParimElazhgar after the God (அழகர்) at Thirumaalirum cholai who is praised in Paripaadal.
Of the 6 + 1 verses that we have with us today on Thirmaal, the one from Parippadal thirattu is about Vishnu in a place called Irunthaiyur (இருந்தையூர் ) while the other 6 are on Thirumaal in திருமாலிரும்சோலை .
We will begin with the Irunthaiyur Thirumaal, as that verse has some surprises for us.