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A 'mArgazhi' diary: some reflections - 5.2

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Sun Dec 26 1999 - 03:33:49 PST

Dear bhakti-list friends,

adiyen today (26 Dec) would like to explore how
scholars have shown that Kamban's 2nd "Standard of
Poetic Excellence" is met and surpassed by Goda's

Standard No:2 i.e. "Anra porul taral", lays down that
poetry must be extremely rich in meaning and

The scholars say that this means 2 things which the
word "porul" in Tamil conveys:

"porul" means "substance" and substance in a work of
poetry is three-fold: 

    (a) "semm-porul" which is the patent or
'prima-facie' meaning conveyed by the poetic words

    (b) "illakannaip-porul" which is allegorical
meaning of the words i.e. Not the patent meaning but
some other meaning conveyed by the words.

    (c) "kurippu-porul" which is the associative or
derivative meaning of the words.

AndAl's tiruppAvai abounds in all three types of

For e.g. scholars point out that Verse 24 beginning
with the words "anriv-ulagam-allandaay
adi-pOtri...etc." is an example of "semm-porul" where
the meaning of words is clear, straight-forward and
quite easily comprehended.

The example for "illakanaip-porul" is the famous
phrase "kudArai-vellum-seer-gOvindA" in Verse 27 of
the tiruppAvai. Here the words convey the meaning "He
who quells his enemies with his might, such a one is
our Govinda!". But the word "kudArai" is tantalisingly
allegorical! It affords a very interesting opportunity
for creative interpretation of the expression. So
scholars and "AchAryA-s" are often seen to interpret
the phrase to mean "kudumm~avargalakku-kutOtrru-nirkum
avanE" which gives a different meaning than the
original. It means "He who simply collapses and melts
into sweet and abject meekness at the devotee's
slightest bidding!" ("aasritha-paratantran"). Swami
Desikan underlined the wonder of this particular
'tiruppAvai' expression extremely well in his own
work, the "nava-manimAlai":

  sensOl anbar sindai kondu tItilAda toodanaay
  tErumUrndu tEsuyarnda selva! deiva nAyakA !

  (Glory be to your Might, O Krishna, that made you
stoop to run such menial errands (for the Pandavas) as
mere chauffeur and messenger-boy!").   

Next, the perfect example of "kurippu-porul", scholars
say, is the line in Verse 28 of the tiruppAvai:
"karavaigal pin senru kANam sErndunnbOm!" sung by the
milk-maids of the "aayarpAdi" who go in search of

In exactly literal terms the line means: "What do we
rustic milk-maidens do with our lives? Nothing much
besides two things: (1) spend our days trailing
grazing milch-cows ("pin-senru")into the forests and
(2) keep filling our bellies ("unnbOm")!".

The "kurippu-porul" or the 'hinged' meaning of the
line is however as follows: 

  "Other souls have a "guru" or "sadAchArya"
("preceptor") to follow ("pin-senru"). We milk-maids
have none. We have only our milch-cows ("karavaigal")
to follow! (meaning, we know no means to approach the

  "But, O Krishna, you say that we are already on the
pathway to you! You think that we are practising a
great "karma-yOga"! You say that because you think
that as milk-maidens it is our "karma", our
"dharmAnushtAna" to carefully tend our cattle as they
graze their way into the forest ("kANam-serndu"). But
little do you know, O Lord, that we do not at all
carry out those duties in the spirit of any
"karma-yOga"! We do it so that we may "unnbOm"! So
that we may eat and fill our bellies to our heart's
desire!!" (I wonder what our learned friend, Sri.Mani
would say to the trace of "kAmyArtham" that seems to
show up here!!)

   "Therefore, O Krishna",say the 'aayarpAdi' girls,
we are utterly ignorant souls...
"arivenrum-illAda-aay- kullatu"... we are destitute
souls... so it is You who must yourself lead us unto
You, O Krishna...!!". 
       ********    *********     ********

Now, "Anra-"porul" in Tamil poetry also has another
meaning. It refers to "purushArthA" or the "ultimate
ends of human existence". Great "AchAryA-s" tell us
that "purushArthA-s" are (1) "aram" (virtue of
charity) (2) "porul" (wealth) (3) "inbam" (pleasure)
and (4) "viDu" (spiritual emancipation).

The tiruppAvai also abounds in references to the above
4-fold "purushArthA-s". But adiyen will explore that
in tomorrow's 'mArgazhi-diary' entry.


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