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The beating of the “parai” by AndaaL!

                  The Paavai nonbu is associated with the beating of the parai by the girls. If we probe what this ‘parai‘ was, we would be surprised to know that many types of ‘parai’ were used in those days, depending on the appearance,occasion and the need. Going through the instances of ‘parai’ as found in Sangam literature, we are able to identify the parai that AndaaL had used. To begin with let us see the meaning of Parai.*PaRai* has three meanings in Tamil lexicon.”parai parai vachanatthOduparakkum puL-iRagu mup-pEr”says ChoodamaNi Nigandu.PaRai means(1) the drum called paRai.(2) ‘word’ and (3) ‘bird’s wing’.

 paRaidhal has its origins in this word andit means to announce or declare or convey something.This paRai as an instrument to convey something was very much part of lifeof ancient Tamils.*12 different types of paRai* are found in Pura naanUru.The types are dependent upon the occasion the parai is used and also its appearance and the quality of sound. They are as follows.

(1) Ari-p-paRAi :- The sound of this is that of rubbing something on somesoft surface (aritthal).It is comparable to the sound of the rub of the bird’s wing on the plants ofthe field when it flies off the fieldThis appears in texts as a comparison with some soft sound, say, the sound of ornaments rubbing with each other.

(2) Anathan paRai :- This has a dull sound but not an auspicious one.This paRAi is usually beaten by haunted womenwho beat this parai after smearing the blood of the dead fallen in thebattle field,on their hair!!Vultures get attracted to this paRai and reach the battle field.

(3) AaguLi-p-paRaiand

(4) Siru paRai :- Both these are small in size, can be easily held in handand used along with singing.Mostly the singers (paaNar) in olden dayscarry this paRai along with ‘yAzh’ (a kind of light veena that can be hungon the shoulder.)Both Yaazh and this paRai are used simultaneously or separately whilesinging.From different texts of yore,it is known that this parai is usually beaten in early hoursbefore sun rise in praise of the king or God.

(5) Salli-p-paRai :- This is also known as ‘perum paRai’, a big drum used at the time of processions and for making announcements.

(6) Saa-k-kaattu-p-paRai :- This is used only at the time of death.Is also known as saavu-p-paRai.

(7) Cheru-paRai :- This is beaten when the king goes out to the battlefield. This PaRai is carried by drum-beatersin front of the elephants that go to the war-front.

(8) pOr-p-paRai :- This is also beaten at times of war.This is to announce that the king had started for the battlefield to snatchvictory.

(9) Neidhal paRai :- This is similar to Saa-k-kaattu-p-paRai, beaten at thetime of death.This paRai was used by the people of Neidhal -those living on the sea shore.

(10) Thadaari-p-paRai :- This is the common drum used by many in the ancient land of Tamils.This is also known as ‘kiNai-p-paRai’ or’pambai-p-paRai’ or’udukkai’.This is the drum held by Shiva during his cosmic dance.The image of Nataraja holds this.

(11) Oru kaN paRai. This means the one-eyed drum!This is a big-sized drum, with an eye that resembles the foot of an elephant.This was used in wars and for making announcements.

(12) MaNa-p-paRai :- This is the drum used in marriages.Apart from the above,each of the 5 land forms of the Tamils had their own characteristic parai, yaazh (hand held veena) and paN (song)

Those in hill tracts (kurinji) used ‘Thondaga-p-parai'(this is in places ending with the word ‘kudi’, like sirukudi, kunna-k-kudietc)Those in desert areas (paalai) used ‘thudi-p-parai’Those in forest tracts (mullai) used ‘yEru kOt parai'( places end with ‘paadi’, chEri’ and ‘paLLi’, like vaazhappaadi, aayarpaadi etc.)Those in plains (marudham) used ‘maNa-p-parai ‘ and ‘kiNai-p-parai'(places end with ‘voor’, like putthur, maNavoor etc.)Those in sea shores (neidhal) used ‘meen kOt parai'(places ending with ‘pattinam’ and ‘paakkam’.Chenna-p-pattinam former name of Chennai belongs to this area.)

From these information, some idea of the kind of paraithat AndaaL has mentioned in her Thiruppavai can be inferred. The word paRai has been mentioned by AndaaL at 9 different places which are 1. parai tharuvaan,2. paddi-p-parai kondu,3. pOrra-p-parai tharum,4. arai parai,5. parai thaaruthiyaagil,6. saala-p-perunm parai,7. undrannai paadi paraikondu,8. nee thaaraai parai and 9. irrai parai kolvan. Let us now see what parai was carried by the aayarpadi girls and AndaaL during their month-long vratham.

The parai used for singing the praise of god in early hours of the day(before sunrise)was ‘*aguLi-p-pari’* or ‘*siru parai’**.*It was a small and easy to hold drum.It is possible to assume that this would have been the choice ofyoung AndaaL and her friends.There is another way to think if that Andaal had used the paraithat was characteristic of her land, namely Villiputthur.(putthoor in the name indicates that the place of AndaaL was in marudham orplains).The parai of her land was, ‘kiNai-p-parai’ or ‘udukkai’ or ‘tadaari-p-pari’which was meant for worship of Shiva andAndaaL would not have used that for the worship of Thirumaal.There is yet another one, “mana-p-paRai” for Marudham lands.But that was used only during marriages.So that is also ruled out.The easy to be held paraiwhich goes well with singing the praise of God in the early hours of morningis the *”aguLi p-paRai”*also known as *”siru paRai”*It is therefore proper to assume that AndaaL used Siru parai.But here again a doubt comes.At one place AndaaL mentions ‘*saala-p-perum parai’.*Is this the parai she used?It can not be.

Because from the meaning of ‘saala-p-perum parai’.it is known that it is the big parai (perum parai)the Salli-p-parai, which is used in processions.AndaaL has mentioned ‘Saala-p-perum parai’ in “MaalE maNi vaNNa” paasuram.She also mentions about the recital of ‘Pallaandu’ to the beatingof the saala-p-perum parai!This is indicative of a procession, ‘Purappaadu’with all accompanying recitals and auspicious music.In all probability it is about the Garuda Sevai she witnessed on that day,that is most likely to be the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi.We will analyze it on the day of Maale Manivanna!In the present context, we know that AndaaL used Siru parai,AndaaL has also given a clue about what exact message is conveyed by herparai.We all know that it is about the ‘pEru’ or ‘kataaksham’ or ‘blessings’ or’servitude’ etcBut the mention of *Arai paRai* (paasuram 16)which has specific application in Tamil lexicon,reveals the exact message given by *Narayana* thatAndaaL along with the aayar girls had been spreading by beating the paRai!It will be discussed in the next post.Arai parai Maayan!

“Parai” is the oft-repeated word in Thiruppavai. Its meaning is not just adrum.The taathparyam of it can be known from the upadesa of Acharyas anddiscourses by elders and scholars.This post looks into its implied meaning from the point of view of Tamil lexicon. From ancient texts it is learnt that ‘*arai-parai’* is used in specificcontexts only.Arai means ‘paarai’ or rock or boulder.Arai parai is beating the rock.When a rock is beaten (with an axe) it creates a tremendous sound / noise.Since it is not easy to beat (or break) the rock, the beating iscontinuously done.And the beating can not be done secretively the sound reverberates everywhere.It is for this reason, when something that is not known or revealed already,is needed to be made known to all, ‘arai-parai will be done.When the Cheran king, Senkuttuvan decided to go to the Himalayasto get a rock for making Kannagi’s image,he wanted his trip to the North to be made known to all the kings on theway.He said that the spies of those kings were anyway roaming in the streets ofhis kingdomto gather information on his moves so that they could secretly convey itto their respective kings.’Now let this trip be known to all without any doubt that I am going to the Himalayas with an army and if anyone comes in my way,I will teach them a lesson. Announce it as ‘arai parai’, said the king.(Silappadhikaram, chapter 25, 177 “*arai-parai* endrE azhumbil vELuraippa”). In Kural 1076, Thiruvalluvar tells “*arai parai* anna kayavar”.Arai parai in this verse is explained by the commentator, ParimElazhagaras announcing aloud to everyone something which is originally guarded as asecret.Applying this meaning to AndaaL’s arai parai, we get some interesting leads.

This word is used by AndaaL at the time of knocking the doors of Krishna’sabode.The door is closed, prompting AndaaL to ask the door keeper to open it.Why should the door keeper take the words of the aayar girls seriouslyand open the door for them?According to AndaaL he has to open it becauseMayan MaNivaNNan has said it long ago with the ‘arai-parai”Arai parai maayan manivanann nennalE vaai nErnthaan’.Mayan ‘munbe vaai vittuvittan’. Maayan has given word long ago in strong terms as arai-parai.So there was something kept as a secret,which Mayan Manivannan had announced by means of arai-parai long ago.Having got that information,AndaaL and her friends have come to his door step.What could have been the secret that Maayan had announced aloud already?What else it can be but the *Mayan urai*, (Naan mugan Thiru 50)known as a secret until then,and announced for the mankind in the battlefield at the Dharma kshethram!The Mayan urai is nothing but the *Charama slokam* of Mayan, theGitacharyan.asking us to renounce even the fruits of our action andsurrender unto His feet.Starting from the 1st paasuram to the 29th,one can see this Mayan urai implied by the paRai.

In the 1st paasuram, “narayananE namakkE paRai tharuvAn”-Narayana will certainly give us also ( as He did to Arjuna) the upaaya toreach Him. That is why we have begun the Maargazhi nOnbu.(Pasuram 8) We know the message of the ‘parai urai’ He had given and let us go to Him with that. He would certainly receive us and analyze our casewith Aha-kaaram. Because He is not an easy person like ChakravarrthgyThirumagan. He would expect us to give up even our “puNyam”. (Mumukshuppadi247)This aspect is further emphasized in Pasuram 10 “pOttra p-parai tharum pUniyanaal”We have come with that parai-urai to His door step (pasuram 16)We should not be stopped, because ‘aarai parai Mayan manivanann nennale vaai nernthaan’.He has announced loudly for everyone to know that if we follow this methodof surrender, He would relieve us of all our karma.Like Arjuna who took refuge in the Nedu maal, we too have left everything toHim.”arutthitthu vandhOm pari tharuthiuaaagil” (pasuram 25). He acceptedArjuna’s prapatthi by declaring him to be His ‘nimittham’ the tool (BG 11-33). He accepted his services while at the same time had given himhappiness. This Nedu maal in the nature of Kalaagni, will accept ourprapatthi too.The prapatthi has been accepted by Him as how He accepted Arjuna’s pleading.To Arjuna, He showed His Vishwa roopam.For us, He is showing Himself with His ayudhas, to the singing of Pallanduaccompanied with Saala-p-perum parai (pasuram 26).The para- vasthu that received the ‘Pallandu’ from my father gave my fatherthe big benefit of saala p-perum parai. But we are small ones, just content with our siru parai. For us His blessings from a small bed on banyanleaf itself would do!! “aalin ilaiyaai arulel”The benefit of this parai-urai – ‘paadi-p-parai kondu yaam perum sanmaanam’is actually the recovery of what we pledged to give up! (pasuram 27)

The (joy of ) Punyam that He demanded -we will get all that in addition to the pleasure of “koodi irutthal”in company with you like how Arjuna enjoyed your company. All these days we have called you names like how Arjuna did. (BG 13- 41 &42)But you did not disown Arjuna for that nor get angry with himPlease do the same to us also and bless us with your parai-urai.”siru per azhatthanavum seeri arulaadhE, Iraiva nee thaarai parai”. (pasuram28)”Ittrai parai koLvaan andru kaaN” (pasuram 29)We have not come for a favour for today. Arjuna did not stop with the favouryou did to him in the battlefield. He continued to follow you. In the sameway we will also be with you for all times to come.For that to happen you have to remove all other thoughts in us.When can such a state of not having any thoughts other than you happen?When you reign us as the Yogeshwaran in out heart, directing us to do whatyou wish,as you did to Arjuna,”yathra yogeshwara krishnO, yathra paarthO dhanur dhara:”When you enter our minds and occupy it completely,”anga parai konda aatrrai”- (pasuram 30)the purpose of giving us your parai-urai is completed.In a nutshell, AndaaL tells about the Urai He has given to Arjuna as a kindof loud announcement that was held a secret (of Moksha) until then.Believing His Urai as the ultimate secret now known to all of us, weundertake all steps to fulfill your demands. We have come to you, expectingyou to analyse and accept our case as fit for Moksha. We care less aboutwhat punyam we have gathered. Now all that is punyam is yours. Like Arjunawho had seen you in your wonderful form, you have shown us in your greatform as you showed to Vishnu Chitthar. Like Arjuna we too are renderingourselves to do ‘sevakam’ to you. Like Arjuna who received the ‘sanmaanam’,we too want to have the sanmaana of being with you always. Lastly, you completely occupied Arjuna as His Sarathy as his yOgeshwaran as the Inner force driving him. Do that to us also by occupying our minds.-The state of moksha of the ‘*aNukkargaL*’ having Him pervading their self(Vishu chitthar vakku) (Mumukhuppadi 227)-the state of *Mutthannar, Mukundanaar pugundhu nammuL mevudhal* of pervading us (Thiru-ch-chanda viruttham) (Mumukshuppadi 228)-the similar state that Arjuna enjoyed with Yogeshwara Krishnan occupyinghim,that is the state given to us as His *”Vaarthai” (Thiruvai mozhi **7-5-10**)*-the Urai of Mayan, of ‘kadal kidakkum Mayan’,of ‘aattrankarai kidakkum Kannan’, (Naanmugan Thioruvandhathi 50),that ensures that we will be *”Relieved*”That vaartthai in encapsulated in a simple ‘parai’ of AndaaL.The parai is the vaarthai. It is the Urai of Maayan.*Post- thinking:-***Why the Mayan urai had become the ‘arai parai’,- a secret until then, to be announced aloud by Krishna?It is perhaps to do with the change of Yuga.The world had been like this pre – Krishna and post-krishna period. The *Varaha charama sloka* was the ruling sloka for salvation in pre-Krishnaperiod.The finds at the Indus Saraswad regions (popularly known as Harappan excavations)indicate a post Vedic culture that glorified ‘Eka-shringi’ a single horned God.

But in Kaliyuga, the wandering mind of people can not get its focus fixed onthe Lord.The prescription in this scenario given by Krishna is just not to worryabout anything.Give up everything,Dedicate everything to Him even the bad act to be done. He will take care.Post-Krishna,Varaha charama sloka had to be replaced with Krishna charama sloka.which He declared in the midst of a terrible battle fieldin the nature of samsara of our lives.That urai has been brought to us the people in the nature of sleepy and lethargic little girls of Aayarpaadi,by the beating of the parai by AndaaL.Van pudhuvai nagar kOdhai malar padhangaL vAzhiyE!

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