Pandya Naadu Articles

Rare kriti on a famous temple

  The kriti, being the main part of the concert, one is spoilt for choice especially among the compositions of the Trinity, who developed the kriti and kirtanai to a majestic form. Both have a Pallavi-Anupallavi-Charanam format. Dikshitar sometimes skipped the anupallavi and ended with a samashti charanam. (eg. kriti, ‘Sri Kantimatim,’ by Dikshitar, that ends with samashti charanam) Daru (e.g ‘Bhavayami’) is in a similar format but longer and more narrative in...

An Irish-Indian connection

Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, to County Westmeath, Ireland, is about 115 hours by road, according to Google maps, 12451 km apart. The mind boggles at this distance today but back in the 17th century, Vere Henry Levinge made a longer journey and did so much for Kodaikanal that he deserves to be called the Father of Kodaikanal. Levinge is remembered by a Celtic cross in Kodaikanal; his grave is in a quiet spot in St. Georges, Madras. Levinge died just when he was going back to Ireland for good. His...

Upholding rich legacy

A photo of many smiling children against a lovely house was my first introduction to Melaseval, a village an hour away from Tirunelveli. A few correspondences with the family members got me an invitation to the residence of Ramalingam Pillai, the pannaiyar of Melaseval. The home and the old couple were everything that is best of the hospitality of the Tirunelveli region. From the road, the house looked simple, the only curious feature being that the ground floor had just one window onto the...

Old world charm

P ublished in 1908, ‘Aristocracy of Southern India,' by A. Vadivelu made for fascinating reading and I was overjoyed when a friend promised to take me to one of the Zamindars written about in the book. Ilayarasanendhal is a small village today between Kovilpatti and Madurai. One would find it difficult to locate it in the map but the efforts will be well rewarded. We snaked through the many small lanes and humble homes to some imposing walls and an entrance to the side. The entry got us...

Hailed by the Azhwars

"WHY MY companions do you blame me? It's not my fault that I am in love with him! On seeing my Lord of Thirukurungudi, I think only of His discus, His conch, His lotus eyes and pair of coral hued lips. My heart is mine no longer!" Thiruvaimozhi 5.5.1 Going on, Nammazhwar explains in the next 8 stanzas the overriding obsession of Parankusa Naayaki towards the Lord in Thirukurungudi. In what are among the most beautiful paasurams, one hears Parankusa Naayaki replying to her companions and...

Rushes to the devotee's rescue

TIRUKKOLUR IS BIRTHPLACE of Nammazhwar's ardent devotee, Madurakavi, whose praise of Nammazhwar is always recited before reciting Nammazhwar's work. In his hymns on this temple, Nammazhwar assumes the role of the heroine's mother, who complains of the young girl forsaking everything to be with her lord at Tirukkolur. The first stanza captures the essence beautifully, ``The food she eats, the water she drinks even the betel leaves she chews are all submerged in her passion for Kannan. Eyes...

Temples that reverberate with history

DRIVING TO Pudukottai from Madurai to attend a marriage recently, it was hard not to be captivated by the small but impressive fort on the side of the road above the village of Tirumeyyam. The wedding in Pudukottai wouldn't wait and promising myself that we would come back the same way I had a quick glance at the fort as we went on. The sumptuous food needed to be burned off and what better way to do it than climb the hill? Fortunately as I came back, the sun had permitted a few rain clouds...

Handsome and prosperous

IN SINGING the praise of the Lord of Thentirupperai, the last on the southern bank of the Tamiraparani, on the main Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur Road, Nammazhwar, again, assumes the role of the heroine. The girl confides in her friends the fact that she has surrendered to the charms of the deity. She says: The sound of Vedic chanting rivals the roar of the ocean. Amidst this, holding the conch, he rests at Tirupperai. I have lost myself to him and sent my heart to retrieve myself. But my heart too...

Pining for the Lord

PERUNGULAM (THIRUKULANDAI) is 8 km from Srivaikuntam on the Srivaikuntam-Tiruchendur bus route. Nammazhwar's hymn goes like this: ``... in Thirukulandai nestled among verdant groves, He sits on the Garuda and wields the fiery discus. I went after him in search of my heart that he took away, I pined for him as my bangles slip away from my emaciated wrists... " — Tiruvoimozhi (8.2.4) Like most other of his pasurams on the Nava Tirupati, here too Nammazhwar takes on the nayika bhava, a...

Unsung but not forgotten

THE HARSH rays of the mid morning sun were effectively blotted out by the boughs of the Banyan tree as was the bird song by the crows. Sitting on a rather uncomfortable rock under the tree I could glimpse through a pathway in the jungle of thorny shrubs a thin trickle of the River Tamiraparani. The pathway had cracked in the drought and the trickle itself seemed to be unsure as to whether it should go on or just stop and give up in its fight against the overpowering heat. Ananthakrishnapuram...