Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dear Jayasree Saranathan avargaL

As I earlier said I am not well versed with Silappathikaaram. Yet I am giving the following material available with me presently. This is only a starting.


At Madurai, Kovalan leaves KaNNagi at Aaychier Madhuri House as per the advise of Kavunthi AdigaL to sell her Silambu in the Market. The house owner Madhuri at Aayar chEri in outskirts had seen some bad omen.

Whenever some good things happen or some bad omen surface, a traditional type of dance called kuRavai Koothu would be arranged by yaadavas. Since they found some bad omen when kovalan left, Madhuri arranged a kuRavai Kootthu in the Aayarbaadi through the selective seven girls who were named after Saptha-swarams of ancient tamil-tradition like KURAL, THUTTHAM, ILI. Etc. the girl of Kural donned the role of Krishna, Ili girl of Balarama, and thuttham girl as Nappinnai (or Nam-pinnai), and other four in their respective swarams donned as other gopikaas.

Nappinnai was placed by the side of Krishna. Then Madhuri started the kuRavai Koothu praising their kula naachiaar – NAPINNAI.

“Thirumaal, who measured the whole world with one foot, could not see the Thirumagal who is just occupying his right chest that is because of our Nappinnai’. (Nappinnai was said to be foremost for Vishnu among His Devi's.)

After glorifying Nappinnai, the Koothu songs going on with praising Lord Krishna’s leela vinodham. Then again the Koothu turned their attention to ‘Nappinnai’ saying that Nappinnai was occupying both the sides of Krishna and balarama.

“Mayil eruththu uRazh mEni maayavan valaththuLaaL
payilidhazh malarmEni thammuLOn idaththuLaaL
Kayil eruttham kOttiya namPinnai”.

Then they were all singing glory of Thirumaal – the songs were going on. Finally they end with the songs of ‘Kariyavanai kaaNaadha KaNNenna KaNNO?; thirumaal sir kELaatha sevi enna seviyO? NarayaNaa ennaa naavenna naavO?


KM Munshi handled the Radha theory more acceptable than any others – as far as I am concerned. In the ‘KRISHNAVATARA-1’ book (starting from page no 108), Munshi wrote a chapter on Radha. His short preface to the character is being given below as it is:

• Radha is the problem-child of our national imagination. Her origin is shrouded in mystery. She is not mentioned in the Mahabharata, Harivamsa or the Bhagavata which was probably composed in the 8th century A.D. On the other hand, she is mentioned in the Silappathikaaram, an ancient Tamil work, as Nappinnai, wife of Krishna, and in Gatha-Sapthasati of Hala (about the 2nd century A.D.)
• However, from the second century, the name of Radha seems to be familiar to Prakrit Authors. From the 8th century onwards, she is mentioned by various Prakrit poets mostly in erotic versus. In those times, gopis were worshipped along with Sri Krishna, but Radha was not included amongst them.
• In Sanskrit literature,, Radha figures for the first time in a benedictory verse found in three inscriptions of the Paramara Emperors Vakpati Munja of Maalva (AD 973-994). However, She only became famous all-over India as the ‘raseshvari’ the central figure in the ‘rasa’ episodes, when Jayadeva, the court-poet of Kind Lakshmanasena (AD 1179-1203) made Radha as the heroine of Gita-Govindha.
• Later Chandidasa in Bengal and Vidyapati in Mithila made Radha immensely popular among the masses because of their songs. In later Puranas, we find various stories of her divine origin, explaining her relation with Krishna. The stories were different – but the motive is clear. As beloved friend of Sri Krishna’s child hood, she was a place in the pantheon.
• Chaitanya accepted her as goddess, so did Radhapanthis, Vishnuswamins and Nimbarkkas. According to the general tradition in India accepted by Nimbarkkaas, she is the divine spouyse of Krishna.
Finally Munshi wrote
• Anyway, Krishna without Radha is unthinkable, and I consider the view accepted by general tradition as appropriate.

Nappinnai ( Nam-pinnai) in Silappathikaaram was widely taken as divine spouse of KadalVaNNan.
AandaaL in Thiruppaavai also She mention about Nappinnai Nangaai. Apart from that our Great Nammaazhwaar swamigaL paasuram also mentions indirectly about Nappinnai as ‘KULA AAYAR KOZHUNDHU’ – this kula aayar kozhundhu suit to Radha.

“Kuundhal malar mangaikkum maN madanthaikkum kula aayar kozhundhukkum kELvan”

Conclusion: Pinnai or Pinni means ‘later wife’ or siththi or pinnE vandhavaL. Even in Telugu people call their mother’s sister as pinni. I think you can elaborate better than me about this word further.

Thanks and warm regards