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Nappinnai and ANdaaL

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Wed May 31 1995 - 14:12:36 PDT

There is nothing wrong in cherishing ANdaaL as an
incarnation of Nappinnai.  But the theory that the two are
one and the same, and ANdaaL herself suggested this
identity cannot be supported.  For starters, the plot
underlying Thiruppaavai makes this clear.

According to the story line, cow-girls gather around
NandhagOpan's palace and ask to be let in.  Upon
entering the palace, they ask Nappinnai to open the doors
of the inner chamber (kadai thiRavvay) and allow them
to sing her husband's praise.  The actual phrase is
"pandhaar viralee! un maiththunan pEr paada",  note the
"YOUR husband".  (Aside: Viji, it is the phrase
"pandhaar virali" of this paasuram that evoked ANdaal's
image in Sri Raamaanujaa's mind when he saw Peria
nambi's daughter, little Aththuzhaay, run towards him to
pick up the ball she was playing with.  It is interesting
that he fell at the feet of Aththuzhaay in this instance, but
on a different occassion Periya nambi fell at
Ramaanujaa's feet, that is another story :-))

Next, they urge Nappinnai to awaken the Lord.  They
fear that Nappinnai would never let the Lord be
awakened.  The phrase here is, "nee un maNaaLanai,"
i.e., "YOU will not let YOUR husband be awakened.

These clearly show that the identity of Nappinnai is
distinct from that of the group of cow-girls to which
presumably ANdaaL belongs.

In any case the clincher is the fact that the name Pinnai
in Thamizh literature  precedes ANdaaL's time.
PEyaazhvaar, who clearly precedes ANdaaL says,
"pinnaikkaay muRRal muriyERRin mun ninRu."
Aazhvaar is citing the thamizh legend of Kannan
overpowering seven bulls for the sake of nappinnai's
hand.  Further, the name nappinnai is used in
Chilappathikaaram and I understand even in some older
texts like Paripaadal.

Badri,  here is the paasuram you cited:

pooNith thozhuvinil pukkup
   puzhuthi yaLaindha ponmEni,
kaaNap perithum ugappan
  aagilum kaNdaar pazhippar,
naaN eththanaiym ilaadhaay,
  nappinnai kaaNil sirikkum,
maaNikkamE, en maNiyE,
  mancanmaada nee vaaraay.

                     -- periyaazhvaar thirumozhi 2.4.9

The imagery periyaazhvaar weaves is simply superb.

-- Dileepan