You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1995

Re: nNappiNnNnai

From: Badrinarayanan Seshadri (
Date: Tue May 30 1995 - 15:17:19 PDT

Thanks for the interesting article, Dileepan.  A
long while back, Naga.Ganesan had posted about
some references on this subject (he has reposted
them now again in SCT). For those who don't read
SCT, here is the posting (which was in response
to Dileepan's posting).

From: (Ganesan)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.tamil
Subject: Re: Nappinnai and Radha

     Re: Radha and Nappinnai

In Azvars' era, the figure Radha has not crystallized into
what she is today. That is why her name is not found in Divya Prabandham.

She was a folk deity in Begal-Orissa region. After Jayadeva's 
Gitagovinda, she acquires fame all over India.

Nappinnai legend is much earlier.


1) Barbara S. Miller, Radha: Consort of Krsna's vernal passion,
Journal of Americal Oriental Society, vol. 95, no. 4, p. 55-71

2) Erik Af Edholm and Carl Suneson
The seven bulls and Krsna's marriage to Nila/ Nappinnai in
Tamil and Sanskrit literature.
Temenos, v. 8, p. 29-53, 1972

n. ganesan

None of the early sanskrit puranas mention
Radha. I read Bhagavatam (thamizh translation) 10
years back and I do not remember ever coming
across a reference to Radha. So "nappinnai" must
be clearly a southern legend.

nappinnai is not aaNdaaL. aaNdaaL herself refers
to nappinnai in thiruppaavai on many occasions.
That nappinnai is an adjective + the proper name
pinnai is quite obvious from the mentioning of
pinnai elsewhere in the prabandham (eg. pinnai
maNaalan in periyaazhvaar, don't remember offhand
the exact place).

The suggestion that pinnai is subhadra and a step
sister of krishna is quite ridiculous. As
Dileepan pointed out, aazhvaars as well as the
other old thamizh poets knew even the very
obscure facts in the puranas. It is utterly
inconceivable that they could have gotten
confused on this issue.

periyaazhvaar often times portrays pinnai as a
childhood playmate of kaNNnan. yasOdha fondly
calls for krishna to come and take a bath, and

"nappinnai kaaNil sirikkum"

(if nappinnai happened to see you so dirty, she
will laugh at you, aren't you ashamed?)

aaNdaaL must have learnt all these stories from
her father and we see her mentioning pinnai in
her works with quite a bit of envy at times. The
legend of pinnai and kaNNan must have been quite
popular in thamizh naadu during the times of
aazhvaars and must have travelled to North India
and superimposed on the local deity Radha.

It is widely believed that nappinnai is an
incarnation of neelaadhEvi though I have no idea
about the source that prompted this belief.


Graduate Student
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Cornell University