Nall Vazhi, meaning Good way to lead life, is another great work by Avvaiyar that teems with morals. Like Moodhurai, Nall Vazhi also starts with the praise of Lord Ganesh.
பாலும் தெளிதேனும் பாகும் பருப்பும் இவை
நாலும் கலந்துனக்கு நான் தருவேன் கோலஞ்செய்துங்கக்கரி முகத்துத்தூமணியே நீ எனக்கு
சங்கத்தமிழ் மூன்றும் தா
Paalum Theli Thaenum Paagum Paruppum Ivai
Naalum Kalandhu Unakku Naan Tharuvaen Kolam Sei
Thunga Kari Mugathu Thoomaniyae Nee Enakku
Sanga Thamizh Moondrum Thaa
meaning, I will offer you with milk, pure honey, jaggery and cereals. Bless me and bestow me, the God with the Elephant face. Bless me with all the three forms of Tamil.
The next song exhibits that Avvaiyar was a person who was against caste discrimination.
சாதி இரண்டொழிய வேறில்லை சாற்றுங்கால்
நீதி வழுவா நெறிமுறையின் மேதனியில்
இட்டார் பெரியோர் இடாதார் இழிகுலத்தோர்
பட்டாங்கில் உள்ள படி
Saadhi Irandozhiya Verillai Saatrungaal
Needhi Vazhuvaa Nerimuraiyin Maedhaniyil
Ittar Periyor Idadhaar Izhikulathor
Pattaangil Ulla Padi
meaning, If people should be classified based on caste, the truth is to say that there are only two such classfications. The one who does not go off the path of ethical values, ethical behaviour, generosity called as Noble (Periyor) and the ones that don’t - Ignoble (Izhikulathor). Other than than there are no other castes.
The next song explains the importance of agriculture
ஆற்றம் கரையின் மரமும் அரசறிய
வீற்றிருந்து வாழ்வும் வீழும் ஏற்றம்
உழுதுண்டு வாழ்வதற்கு ஒப்பில்லை கண்டீர்
பழுதுண்டு வேறோர் பணிக்கு
Aatram Karaiyin Maramum Arasariya
Veetrirundha Vaazhvum Veezhum Yaetram
Uzhuthundu Vaazhvadharkku Oppillai Kandeer
Pazhuthundu Vaeror Panikku
meaning, the tree at the river banks and the luxurious life with the king/ruler knowing it, will fall. There is no comparison to living a life by farming crops, the other jobs and life are not determinate and unstable.
The next song is about Karma, one has to suffer for the deeds that one does earlier
செய்தீவினை இருக்க தெய்வத்தை நொந்தக்கால்
எய்த வருமோ இருநிதியம் வையத்து
அறும்பாவம் எ்ன அறிந்து அன்றிடார்க்கு இன்று
வெறும்பானை பொங்குமோ மேல்
Seitheevinai Irukka Dheivathai Nondhakkaal
Yeitha Varumo Irunidhiyam Vaiyathu
Arumpaavam Ena Arindhu Andridaarkku Indru
Verumpaanai Pongumo Mael
meaning, What is the use of cursing God, when the karma of your sins/bad deeds standing in front. Will such a curse bring fortune and wealth? Without realising that by helping the needy, the sins will go away. Like the empty pot that won’t boil and overflow, will it help those who are empty of good deeds to clear away their sins?
The cycle of Karma is that you will have to help the people around you rather than being miserly or perverse.
The next song is for those greedy for wealth and those who don’t spend what they have earned even for their own necessities
பாடுபட்டு தேடிப் பணத்தை புதைத்து வைத்த
கேடுகெட்ட மானிடரே கேளுங்கள் கூடுவிட்டிங்கு
ஆவிதான் போயினபின் யாரே அனுபவிப்பார்
பாவிகள் அந்த பணம்
Paadu Pattu Thaedi Panathai Pudhaithu Vaitha
Kaeduketta Maanidarae Kaelungal Kooduvittingu
Aavithaan Poyinapin Yaarae Anubavippaar
Paavigaal Andha Panam
meaning, Oh you people who toil to earn money and then safeguard it by burying (hiding) it without even using even for necessities. Who will be going to enjoy all your hard earned money once the soul leaves your body, you sinners.
Quite a strong message, people toil, fritter away their lives to earn a wealth of money but don’t have the heart to spend the money. Avvaiyar asks, what is the use of earning such money that you are not willing to spend even for your necessities, let alone helping others.
People these days are quite using to spending a lot using their credit cards, or rather overspending more than what they earn. The song above is for people who don’t spend and the next song is for people who spend lavishly more than their earning capacity. Both are dangerous and not recommended.
ஆன முதலில் அதிகம் செலவானால்
மானமழிந்து மதிகெட்டு போன திசை
எல்லார்க்கும் கள்ளனாய் எழுபிறப்பும் தீயனாய்
நல்லார்க்கும் பொல்லானாம் நாடு
Aana Mudhalil Adhigam Selavaanaal
Maanamazhindhu Madhikettu Pona Dhisai
Ellarakkum Kallanai Ezhupirappum Theeyanaai
Nallaarkkum Pollaanaam Naadu
meaning, if one spends more than his capital/income, then he will have to lose his dignity, his sense, knowledge. He will treated as a thief in whatever direction he goes. And in every birth, he will be treated a bad guy without any respect.
The next song illustrates the effect food and hunger have over humans
மானம் குலம் கல்வி வண்மை அறிவுடைமை
தானம் தவம் உயர்ச்சி தாளாண்மை தேனின்
கசிவந்த சொல்லியர்மேல் காமுறுதல் பத்தும்
பசிவந்திட பறந்து போம்
Maanam Kulam Kalvi Vanmai Arivudaiamai
Dhaanam Thavam Uyarchi Thaalaanmai Thaenin
Kasivandha Solliyarmael Kaamurudhal Paththum
Pasivandhida Parandhu Pom
meaning, The ten characteristics of humans would be ignored when a man is hungry. Those 10 are Maanam - Dignity, Kulam - Class in the Society, Kalvi - Education, Vanmai - Strength, Arivudaimai - Knowledge, Dhaanam - Benevolence, Dhavam - Penance, Uyarchi - Rank, Thalanmai - Generosity, Kamurudhal - Romance. Thaenin Kasivandha Solliyarmael Kaamurudhal - Romance with women uttering out words that are sweet as honey
The overall meaning of the song is that If hunger strikes a human, then all the 10 characteristics mentioned above would go away from him/her until his hunger is over. None of the above in the list takes priority until the stomach is filled up.
The last song in this post is about politeness. But it also gives insights to into the simple science that was used to build the architectural wonders such as the Brihadeeshwarar Temple at Thanjavur. Let's see the meaning of the song
வெட்டெனவை மெத்தெனவை வெல்லாவாம் வேழத்தில்
பட்டுருவும் கோள் பஞ்சில் பாயாது நெட்டிருப்பு
பாறைக்கு நெக்குவிடா பாறை பசுமரத்தின்
வேருக்கு நெக்கு விடும்
Vettenavai Methenavai Vellavaam Vaezhathil
Patturuvum Kol Panjil Paayaadhu Nettiruppu
Paaraikku Nekku Vidaa Paarai Pasumarathin
Vaerukku Nekku Vidum
meaning, Hard and rough things will never win over soft things. A spear that thrusts through the body of an elephant will never be able to thrust up into cotton. Likewise a rock that does not give in even for the hardest iron crowbars, will give in for the tender roots of a tree.
This song above illustrates the need for people to polite as it yields good results and also it even helps achieving the almost impossible. Apart from the moral, this song also provides some scientific insights into how the people who built such magnificent temples were able to cut out huge rocks from the mountains without the aid of modern instruments 1000 years ago. First they would select the rock that needs to be cut out, then they chisel out small holes along the line the rock has to be cut, then they drive in the roots of trees and pour water into it. As a result, the root would expand as it soaks and then rock would be cut out with perfect precision. This is how people used to cut out rocks from mountains - simple and effective way!
I have covered only a few songs, of Moodhurai and Nall Vazhi, but the others are indeed quite valuable. In the upcoming posts, we will see more interesting incidents and legends about Avvaiyar.
More to come, until then...