Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Austere Avvaiyar - Part 7

From the previous posts, it is clear about the influence of Avvaiyar's works even to the common man. Her songs are lucid, simple and convey a great meaning that still progresses even to this day in the form of sayings and quotes. 

The following verses are examples of her works that have permeated to all generations of people. Being used commonly to portray moral values.

சொல்லாம லேபெரியர் சொல்லிச் செய்வர்சிரியர்
சொல்லியுஞ் செய்யார் கயவரே நல்ல
குலமாலை வேற்கண்ணாய் கூறுவமை நாடில்
பலாமாவைப் பாதிரியைப் பார்

Sollamalae Periyar Solli Seivar Siriyar
Solliyum Seiyyaar Kayavarae Nalla
Kulamaalai Vel Kannaai Kooruvamai Naadil
Palaa Maavai Paadhiriyai Paar

meaning, people who help without being asked for are noble and generous. The ones who help after being asked are mingy or mean. Those who don't help even after asking are crooks. They are comparable to the Jackfruit, Mango tree and the Paadhiri tree. Jackfruit, gives benefit without indication like flowering that it is going to bear a fruit. The mango flowers announcing bearing the fruit, whereas the Paadhiri tree just flowers but does not bear any fruit.

The next song is about a miserly businessman who is very fond of praises but never gives even the least valued copper coin to those who praise him. The businessman's name was Koraikkal Azhwan. He was very wealthy that was an attraction, which sometimes made poets to think that he would provide money if they sang songs in praise of him. So, poets would go to him sing praises about him, Azhwan would enjoy such praises, but would say some reasons and ask them to come the next day. So, most poets would walk to him for a few days and then give up. 

Avvaiyar knew about this and wanted to teach him a lesson, so she went to him and praised him about the wealth he had. Azhwan was happy and told Avvaiyar that he would provide her wealth and send her along with an elephant the next day. Avvaiyar went to him the next day, Azhwan said that elephant would be of no use to Avvaiyar, also that she is old, she would not be able to maintain and elephant, so he promised that he would give her a horse, with which she can travel. 

Avvaiyar nodded and went to him the next day expecting a horse. But again, Azhwan said that a buffalo might be more useful for her as she can get milk from a buffalo and asked her to come the next day.

Avvaiyar patiently went the next day, this time Azhwan said that he will give her an Ox instead of a buffalo. Avvaiyar spoke no word and went the next day, again he said that he would give her a saree the next day. 

Avvaiyar knew this would happen and spoke to him that the saree would wear out in to useless threads and sang the following song which severly condemned Azhwan's behaviour. From then on, Azhwan stopped the practice of making people walk for the prize he is not willing to give and also stopped hearing praises from poets.

கரியாய்ப் பரியாகிக் காரெருமை தானாய்
எருதாய் முழப்புடவை யாகிக் திரிதிரியாய்த் 
தேரைக்கால் பெற்றுமிகத் தேய்ந்துகால் ஓய்ந்ததே 
கோரைக்கால் ஆழ்வான் கொடை

Kariyaai Pariyaagi Kaarerumai Thaanaai
Erudhaai Muzhappudavai Yaagi Thirithiriyaaith
Theraikkaal Pettrumiga Theynthukaal Ointhathae
Koraikkaal Azhwaan Kodai

meaning, First an elephant, then a horse and then a buffalo. Next day an Ox, and finally a saree which in turn would go into useless threads. I (Avvaiyar) walked in vain just to get my feet worn out and get flat as a toad's webbed feet. All because of the generosity of Koraikkal Azhwan.

The next verse is so popular that it has been used almost everywhere. It is so ubiquitous, that everyone agrees to it without question. It is "Kattradhu Kai Mann Alavu, Kallaadhadhu Ulagalavu..." meaning, what we have learnt is like a handful of sand, but what we haven't learnt is like this whole world. This same line in the verse has been cited by NASA too. That makes us proud that we professed the quality of humility to the world well before anyone did. 

There is an interesting legend about this verse. Once, a poet wanted to insult Avvaiyar, when she arrived at the King's court, he just showed a handful of sand, indicating that she and her works was nothing more than the worthless handful of sand. Avvaiyar immediately sang this verse which expressed the need for humility and that one should not take pride that he has learned everything.

கற்றதுகைம் மண்ணளவு கல்லா துலகளவென் 
றுற்ற கலைமடந்தை ஓதுகிறாள் மெத்த 
வெறும்பந் தயங்கூற வேண்டாம் புலவீர்
எறும்புந்தன் கையாலெண் சாண்

Kattradhu Kai Mann Alavu Kallaadhadhu Ulagalavu
Endruttra Kalaimadandhai Odhukiraal Meththa
Verum Pandhayam Koora Vendam Pulaveer
Erumbum Thann Kaiyaal Enn Saan

meaning, Even the Goddess of Knowledge, Goddess Saraswathi, meditates and learns everyday, knowing the fact that what we have learnt is like a handful of sand and what we haven't learned is like this whole world. So, don't challenge someone without knowing about them. Even the ant measures, 8 spans of its own hand, but it cannot compare itself to a human who is many times bigger.

The last line made the poet realise his mistake, Avvaiyar comparing him to an ant, made him feel that he has done a mistake and apologized to Avvaiyar.

The next verse is also very popular though people use only the first line quite often "Madhiyaadhar Vaasal Midhiyadhae..." meaning, don't step into the house of those who don't respect you. There is an interesting legend associated with this verse too.

There was once a man who was miserly, but proclaimed that he was generous and gave away a lot of money to those who won his challenge. Likewise, he would provide a challenge often. He would pose false arguments to those who actually win his challenge and would send them away. Avvaiyar who coincidentally travelled to his place when he announced that he would provide 1000 gold coins to whoever sings "4 crore" songs.

Avvaiyar took the challange and the crowd gathered with the judges to adjudge the results. The man was confident that noone could sing so many songs and they would not win the challenge. Avvaiyar sang the song with 4 crores appearing in it, though he argued that this cannot be 4 crore songs, the judges adjudged that it is valid as the song contained 4 crores. Avvaiyar won the prize money. 

Here is the song

மதியாதார் முற்றம் மதித்தொருகாற் சென்று
மிதியாமை கோடி பெறும்
உண்ணீர்உண் ணீரென் றுபசரியார் தம்மனையில் 
உண்ணாமை கோடி பெறும் 
கோடி கொடுத்ததும் குடிப்பிறந்தார் தம்மொடு  
கூடுவதே கோடி பெறும்
கோடானுகோடி கொடுப்பினும் தன்னுடைநாக் 
கோடாமை கோடி பெறும்

Madhiyadhaar Muttram Madhithuorukaal Sendru
Midhiyaamai Kodi Perum
Unneer Unneer Endru Ubasariyaar Thammanaiyil
Unnaamai Kodi Perum
Kodi Koduthum Kudipirandhaar Thammodu
Kooduvadhae Kodi Perum
Kodaanu Kodi Kodupinum Thannudai Naa
Kodaamai Kodi Perum

meaning, Don't step into the house of those who don't show respect. That is like getting a crore of wealth. Don't eat at the home of someone who don't show good hospitality, that is like getting a crore of wealth. Even if you spend a crore to get the relationship of noble people, it is like getting a crore of wealth. Finally, even if you get crores and crores of wealth, keeping up the promise is like getting a crore of wealth.

The song above, illustrates the Avvaiyar's presence of mind and her interesting use of vocabulary to win the situation. 

The last song of this post, is quite heavy in its meaning and stresses the importance of family and relations. One has to take care of these relationships in order to lead a better life.

தாயொடு அருசுவைபோம் தந்தையொடு கல்விபோம் 
சேயொடு தான்பெற்ற செல்வம்போம் மாயவாழ்வு 
உற்றாருடன்போம் உடன்பிறப்பால் தோள் வலிபோம் 
பொற்றாலி யோடெவையும் போம்

Thaaiyodu Arusuvaipom Thandhaiyodu Kalvipom
Seiyodu Thaan Pettra Selvampom Maayavaazhvu
Uttraarudanpom Udanpirappaal Thol Valipom
Pottraaliyodu Yevaiyum Pom

meaning, With the mother, goes tasty food. With the father, goes knowledge and learning. With the children, goes away all the wealth. With the relatives, goes away the illusionary happy living. With the sibling, goes away the strength. With the spouse, goes away everything.

These days people go to separate classes to learn about the importance of family. Avvaiyar has given us this treasure centuries back, when people would have never imagined that there would be a time when people would forget about their family and relations and would chase money and live a meaningless life. Just following Avvaiyar's sayings would help a man lead a peaceful life.

More to come, until then...


Raja said...

ஙப்போல் வளை- இதற்கான சரியான விளக்கமென்ன?

kalish said...

nanbarae neengal wikipediavil nadakum photo and video competition il pangaerkalam endrum ninaikiraen. try out these beautiful pictures depicting the tamil culture will really win the prize i hope.

R. Prabhu said...

Thanks for the information Kalish

Anonymous said...

Anbulla Prabhu,

I have read all the posts in your blog :-)

Please post more as it has been 3 months since your last post.


R. Prabhu said...

Dear Thirumurugan,

Thanks for reading all the posts and the support.

I had been busy these days. Will surely continue posting more in the next few weeks.

Thanks once again for the support!

Anonymous said...


I read some of your post(if not all). your presentation style and the depth of the content is a charm to read. Keep up the good work and continue posting more.


R. Prabhu said...

Thank you very much Gokul

கிரேஸ் said...

ஔவையின் பாடல்கள் அழகாக விளக்கிப் பதிவு செய்தது அருமை! நன்றி!

R. Prabhu said...

மிக்க நன்றி கிரேஸ்!

sinthu anjel said...

Hi prabhu sir... this is my native place thank for ur information.

Jayaram Kovvali said...

Hi Prabhu nice to see your blog. I am looking for something luckily i got into your blog.

Recently we created one website for saibaba temple in Near Hyderabad.

That temple chairman want temple miniature of that temple.

I remember that meenakshi temple miniature in madhurai.

I am requesting you to give any contact details of that person or any one know you also.

I dnot know tamil to speak with temple people. Kindly can you send details please. done by us.

Jayaram Hyderabad 9849300803,

Daivik Kumar said...

பொற்றாலி literary means wife
just for better understanding of the lexicon.. what pottraali means.. is it golden-wedding necklace (pon+thaali)...
please forgive i know nothing much or having depth knowledge in is just a wild guess..

R. Prabhu said...

பொற்றாலி means thaali made of gold, it also means wife.

melchi said...

very nice. How nice to know these treasures created by our ancestors don't need any mud digging (only soul digging probably). Thanks Prabhu for your post.

R. Prabhu said...

Thanks Melchi!

B. Ramadevi said...

I'ங' என்னும் எழுத்து எப்படியெல்லாம் வளைகிறது பாருங்கள்! கீழிருந்து மேலே, பின் சமமாக, பின் கீழே, பிறகு சற்று மேல் நோக்கி வளைந்து, பின்னர் கீழே வந்து, மீண்டும் சமமாக நீண்டு, மறுபடியும் மேலே எழுகிறது. வாழ்க்கையில் பல விதமான சந்தர்ப்பங்கள் வரும். துன்பமும் வரும். இன்பமும் வரும். மேலேயும் வருவோம். கீழேயும் விழுவோம். நேரே நிமிர்ந்து இருக்க முடியும் போது நேர்மையுடனும், வளைந்து கொடுக்க வேண்டிய இடத்தில் வளைந்து கொடுத்தும் போக வேண்டும்.

இதைத்தான் ஔவையார் நமக்கு உணர்த்துகிறார் என்று நினைக்கிறேன். வேறு விளக்கங்கள் இருந்தால் தெரிந்த்டு கொள்ள ஆவலாக இருக்கிறேன்.

R. Prabhu said...

அருமையான விளக்கம் ரமாதேவி அவர்களே நன்றி. எனக்கு தெரிந்த விளக்கம் - பொதுவாக 'ங' தனித்து வருவது கிடையது பிற எழுத்துக்களுடன் சேர்ந்து ஒரு சந்தியாக தான் வரும், பிற எழுத்துக்களின் ஓசையோடு வளைந்து ஒன்றி போவதால் இந்த கருத்து

Ram said...


பொற்றாலி yenkan EVAI ANAITHUM POM )