The temples and the archaelogical wonders in India are quite fascinating. More fascinating are the ones that have a great heritage, become lost over time and later rediscovered. One such place is Muttam, also now known as Kottai Kaadu, meaning the forest of the fort. It is quite intriguing to know that this place was once a hive of activity, with people flocking from all across the globe. The Romans and the Greek conducted trade with people in that region. The reason behind it was the great perennial river, Noyyal. It is referred to as the Kanchi Maanadhi in ancient literature. However, some people opine that the Kanchi Maanadhi and the Noyyal start as two different rivers that merge together before merging with the famous Cauvery at a place called Kodumudi. The Kanchi Maanadhi was laden with precious and semi-precious stones that was one of the biggest reasons for people flocking from all across the globe. The other reason was that the region was rich in spices and condiments that are quite valuable to the people of the other countries.

Muttam lies in the Kongu region, the present Coimbatore, near the foothills of the famous Vellingiri hills and in the banks of the Kanchi Maanadhi river (Noyyal). The route along the river Noyyal gave the foreign traders access from a port called Vanji in Kerala to one of the busiest cities in the Chola Empire – Tiruchirapalli (Trichy). This route became more of a trade route called the Rajakesari Highway, which still connects Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli. The name Rajakesari refers to the Chola king “Aditya Karikalan – I” who conquered the Kongu region and provided a shadow of army to safeguard the traders and their precious belongings while they travel in this route. Along the Rajakesari highway were a few other important places that were also a hive of activity and trade, they were, Vellalur, Erode and Karur. Ancient Greek and Roman currencies were discovered in these places when research and excavations were done.

It is no wonder that kings from the three empires were insistent on conquering the Kongu region, because, when they have the fertile and rich Kongu region in their control, they amassed great wealth. Muttam was the hub of all the events and trade happening. In order to safeguard the place, a fort was built by the then rulers of the place, some say Cholas and some say the Pandyas. This dates to the days of another famous place call the Perur, which has a famous Shiva temple built by the great Chola Emperor – King Karikala Peruvalathaan. Many Sangam period Tamil literary works Kurunthogai, Padhitrupathu and Aganaanuru have references about the Kongu region

Now, in the once famous centre of activity, only a small renovated temple remains. The fort is now ruined and the blocks of granite used to build the fort have now been used up to erect fences, stone embankments. Now let’s see the present state of this glorious place, that is, temple. The temple’s main deity is Lord Shiva adorned with the named Muttathu Naagalingeshwarar and his consort Goddess Parvathi is in the name Muthuvaaliamman. The other deities include Vinayagar, Subramaniar, Dakshinamoorthy, Perumal and Sandikeshwarar. The temple also carries the symbols of the Chera, Chola and the Pandya kingdoms, implying that the kings were patrons to this temple. The temple does not have a festival yet, but the Poojas are being performed daily. Thavathiru Santhalinga Adigalaar took efforts to renovate the rebuild the temple in the same old structure it was. The same stones that were used to build the original temple was used again too, to renovate and rebuild that temple. Nearby the temple runs the Kanchi Maanadhi. Now let’s see the pictures of this great old treasure.

The front view of the Muttam Nagalingeshwarar Temple

The front view of the Muttam Nagalingeshwarar Temple

The shrine of the main deity Nagalingeshwarar  and the Dakshinamoorthy shrine. My friends Sakthivel and Vijayendran too in this snap

The closeup view of the main shrine

The Vinayagar shrine

The view of the main shrine from the Vinayagar temple with me and Sakthivel

The stone inscriptions on the temple walls
Following are the pictures around the temple

Lord Subramaniar Shrine on the left

Goddess Muthuvaali Amman Shrine

Carving of the Kannappa Nayanar. Shiva worship was quite prominent in the Chola Empire

The Pandyan Empire symbol – The Fish

Lord Vishnu Shrine

Navagraha Shrine

The Nandhi status in front of the Nagalingeshwarar Shrine

The serene and fertile Betel nut plantation near the temple

The Kanchi Maanadhi. This is a perennial stream that irrigates the lands nearby (Sakthivel, Anwar and Vijayendran)
A few more picture of the Kanchi Maanadhi

Though we have lost the heritage of this great place Muttam, the remains have to be preserved for the generations to see how well the Tamil civilisation flourished, when most others were just beginning to evolve.

More to come, until then…


King Badhragiri decided to become a sanyasi, handed over his kingdom to his minister and went in search of Pattinathaar. He found Pattinathaar and requested Pattinathaar to accept him as his disciple. Pattinathaar denied saying that Badhragiri was a king, who has lived a posh life and being a Sanyasi means relinquishing everything in life as nothing belongs to a sanyasi, even the air he breathes does not belong to him. But Badhragiri was determined; he expressed his determination to be a disciple of Pattinathaar by turning to be sanyasi. Pattinathaar finally agreed to take Badhragiri as his disciple.

Then they started out on their journey south. They followed the rule of the Sanyasi, relinquishing everything. For food, they just get some alms from the homes that provided food. During some days they get food in plenty, well enough to feed thrice a day or even more, and on some days they don’t get food at all.

One day, Badhragiri found a Thiruvodu and he took it. Pattinathaar told him that a Sanyasi has no property, so he told Badhragiri to leave that Thiruvodu where he found. Badhragiri justified saying that they don’t get food quite often and the Thiruvodu is the vessel used by Sanyasis, even Lord Shiva used it. Pattinathaar said, “It’s your wish”. Then they proceeded, later Badhragiri found a small bag, he took and looked at Pattinathaar, again Pattinathaar told “See you are starting to gather your assets”. Badhragiri argued, “it’s of no use to others, why not we using it”. Pattinathaar said, “It’s your wish” and proceeded.

And on another day, he found a puppy stranded in the road. It was very weak and appeared as if it hadn’t eaten for a few days. Badhragiri took pity on the puppy, fed it well and took it with him. Pattinathaar reminded Badhragiri that he was a Sanyasi and he is going back into his family bonding by taking the puppy with him. Again, Badhragiri argued that being a sanyasi does not mean that we should ignore the poor and hapless creatures. As usual, Pattinathaar said, “It’s your wish” and proceeded.

A few days passed, then one day, both of them did not get any food for the day and they decided to rest for the night in the Thinnai – a small area in front of the house, usually where people sit. Pattinathaar lay down to rest in one end of the lobby and Badhragiri in the other end keeping all the possessions and the puppy nearby. Sometime later in the night, a beggar came near Pattinathaar and begged for food. Pattinathaar and Badhragiri woke up on hearing the beggar. Pattinathaar told the beggar that he is a Sanyasi however the man on the other end of the lobby is a family man and he might have something.

Badhragiri realised that Pattinathaar was mentioning about the the various things he had collected in due course has made him attached to those things. At the same time, he got angry because he renounced everything to become a Sanyasi, yet his own Guru told that he is still a family man. Immediately he threw away his possessions and threw the puppy against the wall that it died after having a last gaze at Badhragiri. Badhragiri could not understand the meaning of that gaze the puppy gave him. Then the beggar showed who He was, He was lord Shiva incarnate. Lord Shiva gave enlightenment to Badhragiriyar and vanished

However, Pattinathaar had to wait for some more time until he reached Thiruvottriyur and he was playing with the kids out there, he attained enlightenment and turned into a Shiva lingam.

That was the life history of the legendary Pattinathaar who was born as a wealthy man, but renounced everything on realisation that nothing in this world is permanent. He has left us his life experiences and his realisations as songs that will serve as a reminder that one should not be attached to the materialistic possessions in this world.

More to come, until then…

Pattinathaar reached Ujjain and worshipped the Kali and decided to stay there for a while. He was getting acquainted with the place and walked along the streets of Ujjain. There was a sudden excitement in the crowd and the reason was that the King of Ujjain Badhragiri (Bharudhahiri) visited that place with his soldiers escorting him. The people there respectfully bowed to the King when he went past them. But Pattinathaar did not bow to the King. The King grew a bit disturbed and asked Pattinathaar why he did not bow. Pattinathaar said he does not bow to anyone other than Lord Shiva himself.

The king roared, “It is the King who is talking to you”. Pattinathaar replied “So is the One replying to you”. He referred to Lord Shiva as “the One” who is talking from within him. The King was surprised by that answer and went quietly ahead. The town settled down for the day at dusk and Pattinathaar along with a few sanyasis settled down in the nearby Sathiram

When Pattinathaar was telling about his life history to the other sanyasis, a stranger who claimed that he was a merchant joined the group of people in the sathiram. The merchant was listening to the conversation between Pattinathaar and other sanyasis. Pattinathaar was explaining about the realisation he had in his life and that the meaning of life is to get rid of the materialistic pleasures of this world and realising the Supreme Being. The merchant interrupted, telling his views. He argued explaining that the purpose of life is to enjoy every moment of it. To get rid of materialistic pleasures are the words of the weak and the impotent. The merchant added, “In addition to the pleasures of wealth, the company of a woman you marry adds more value to your life. You should not miss the comfort, love and compassion. The wife has only one mind and that mind thinks only about you.”

But Pattinathaar differed saying that woman are like men do have multiple minds, you can never say that their minds are set on only one man – the husband. Before marriage they could have admired other men too. The merchant grew a bit disturbed by the answer asked if it was true for noble women. Pattinathaar replied that it was true for all women in this world. The merchant who was none other than the King himself in disguise, came out of his disguise, grew more viscious and told Pattinathaar “My Queen is more noble and she has only one mind thinking about me”

Pattinathaar laughed and told “She has many minds!”. This made the King very angry and he shouted at Pattinathaar to get his word back. Pattinathaar was determined that he told that he spoke only the truth. The King intimidated Pattinathaar that he would be killed if did not apologize and take his word back. Pattinathaar did not budge. The King went out of the Sathiram asking Pattinathaar to be ready for his sentence in the morning. Pattinathaar told he is a sanyasi who sacrificed everything in life and life itself is no matter to him. The King ordered his men to put Pattinathaar in the prison.

The next day the King issued an order to his men to put Pattinathaar to sentence in a Kazhumaram. (Kazhumaram, a conical shaped mast made of tree or iron fully lubricated with oil, where criminals are mounted on it on the sitting position with their hands tied to their back. The criminals will have painful death). Pattinathaar was brought before the Kazhumaram where he was about to be sentenced. He realised that it is the will of Lord Shiva and sang the following Aram (Truth) song

“என்செய லாவதியாதொன்று மில்லை இனித்தெய்வமே
உன்செய லேயென் றுணரப் பெற்றேன் இந்த ஊன் எடுத்து
பின்செய்த தீவினையாதொன்று மில்லை பிறப்பதற்கு
முன்செய்த தீவினை யோலிங்ங னேவந்து மூண்டதுவே”

“Enn Seyal Aavadhu Yaadhondrum Illa Ini Dheivamae
Unn Seyal Endru Unarappetraen Indha Oon Eduthu
Pin Seidha Theevinai Yaadhondrum Illai Pirappadharkku
Munn Seidha Theevinaiyo Innaganae Vandhu Moondadhuvae

meaning, There is nothing I did or can do to this. I now realize that it is your will my God. I haven’t committed any sin after being born into this body. But the sins that accumulated over my previous births is now standing before me to end this life

As soon as he finished singing this Aram, he fainted and fell to the ground. The Kazhumaram started burning in flames. This incident was reported to the King; the King was amazed and went to meet his queen. She thought the King was disturbed by the incident and requested him to relax, gave him wine and ordered her servants to keep the King this way. The King enjoyed the wine and literally forgot his kingdom and the world. In the meanwhile, the queen went to meet Pattinathaar herself and ordered him to apologize and tell the world that she was noble to get himself released from prison. Pattinathaar said that he would rather die. She went away saying that she will make sure that the miracle like the one that happened before does not happen the next time.

The King was inebriated and never cared about his kingdom for a few days. After he came to his senses, he went in search of his queen. Suddenly, he heard her talking to someone and discovered that she was intimate with one his horse chariots drivers. He also heard her telling the plans to execute the sanyasi (Pattinathaar) and once that is done, then the King. As a result, her secret lover would become the next King.

The King was shocked to hear that from the woman who he believed to be noble. He was very disoriented to see the queen betraying him and having an affair with an ugly servant of his.  Now he remembered Pattinathaar, and the truth he said. He immediately ordered his men to behead the chariot driver and to humiliate the queen by a practice called Karum Pulli Sem Pulli Kuthudhal (A practice where the person punished was tonsured, applied black and white spots all over the body, mounted on a donkey and make them go around the city/town). He did that to set them as examples of what would happen if someone betrays the King. The order was executed, and his former queen went around the city, people pelted her with stones and she died.

King Badhragiri, then went running to Pattinathaar, fell at his feel and apologized to Pattinathaar for ordering his men to execute him. Now, King Badhragiri decided to become a sanyasi and a disciple of Pattinathaar. He handed over his kingdom to his chief minister and requested Pattinathaar to accept him as a disciple.

To be continued in the next part…

More to come, until then…

Pattinathaar made his decision to become a sanyasi and expressed his decision to his wife Sivakalai. She cried like anything on her husband leaving her alone and becoming a sanyasi. But later she consoled herself and she too decided that she will live the life of a sanyasi by being at home. Then Pattinathaar got from Sivakalai, a box that had the dress of his ancestor, who became a sanyasi. Pattinathaar’s family had been worshipping that box considering that dress to be divine.

Pattinathaar first renounced his wife and then renounced his chariot, so he walked across the streets to meet his mother. When he informed his decision about becoming a sanyasi to his mother. His mother said that she was not surprised, but she expected this. Pattinathaar said to his mother that he is going to wear the saffron cloth of his ancestor. His mother insisted that he opens up that box and sees that.

When Pattinathaar opened the box, all he found was six loin cloths. Now, Pattinathaar’s mother told that this was the property of her father-in-law and that he would say that full clothing is itself a big burden for a sanyasi. Pattinathaar went inside one of the rooms in the house and came out dressed in the loin cloth. Then his mother instructed that he should get the blessings and word from the guru from whom his grandfather got sanyasam. Before he left, his mother tied some small cloth packet to his hip and told that he should meet her if the pack unties, because that will happen when it is the end of her life.

Pattinathaar went to the Gurukulam for the first time in his life, though it was the Gurukulam started off by one of his ancestors and their family were the patrons of that Gurukulam, yet Pattinathaar never ventured into the Gurukulam before. He went in and got the blessings and word from the Guru. When he came out of the Gurukulam, he was given the beggar’s shell (Thiruvodu). He got the thiruvodu. As sanyasi’s are expected to beg and eat their daily meal as they have renounced everything in life and nothing belongs to them. Hence even the food for their living has to be given by others, symbolising that everything in this world, including one’s soul is the alms given by God.

Pattinathaar, with his Thiruvodu, went to meet his mother as the first alms for a sanyasi should be from his mother. That’s when he thought

வீடிருக்க தாயிருக்க வேண்டுமனை யாளிருக்க
பீடிருக்க ஊணிருக்க பிள்ளைகளுந் தாமிருக்க
மாடிருக்க கன்றிருக்க வைத்த பொருளிருக்க
கூடிருக்க நீ போன கோலமென்ன கோலமே

Veedirukka Thaayirukka Vendu Manayaal Irukka
Peedu Irukka Oon Irukka Pillaigalum Thaanirukka
Maadirukka Kandrirukka Vaitha Porulirukka
Koodirukka Nee Pona Kolamenna Kolamae

meaning Pattinathaar thinks to himself “You have your home, You have your mother, You have a wife. You have the fame, You have good healthy body, You even have children. You have the cow, And the cow has its calf, you even have the wealth for generations. While body is still alive, look what you have been – a Sanyasi”

Then he walks straight to his home to get the first alms from his mother. He called his mother from the gates. His mother came out with an empty hand and asked “My dear son, are you still rich?”. Pattinathaar was puzzled at his mother’s question. He thought he had renounced everything and is begging for alms before his mother and his mother is asking such a question. He asked his mother in a puzzled tone “Why do you ask that way mother?”. His mother replied

“வீடு உனக்கு அந்நியம் ஆகிவிட்டது ஆனால் ஓடு உனக்கு சொந்தம் ஆகிவிட்டதே அப்பா”
meaning “The home is now alien to you, but now you own a thiruvodu that makes you richer than other sanyasis”.

Pattinathaar had a much better realisation now, he was about to throw away his thiruvodu, but his mother stopped him and said. “Use it my son, but if you lose it don’t search as if you have lost your property”. Then she gave the first alms to Pattinathaar, he moved on. Then he came across his elder sister’s house, she saw him and invited him into her home and provided him a feast. When Pattinathaar obliged and sat for the meal, his sister asked about transferring the right to Pattinathaar’s property in writing. Pattinathaar immediately left the house without eating and made up his mind never to come to that house.

But his sister went behind him always, she sent spies to look where he was going. Finally one day, she sent her children to meet their maternal uncle. She asked the children to give their uncle the Appam (pancake) she had prepared. The children sprang up in love on Pattinathaar when they saw him. He had a lot of affection for those kids, so he picked them up in his arms and talked to them. They gave him the Appam that their mother had asked to give it to him and they left. When Pattinathaar was about to eat to he saw that the appam had some phosphoric poison in it. He realised that it was his sister who tried to kill him. He went straight to his sister’s house and threw the appam on roof top and went away singing these two lines

தன் வினை தன்னை சுடும்
ஓட்டப்பம் வீட்டை சுடும்

meaning, like one’s sins burns them up, the appam in the roof top will burn the house. The next day the entire house was engulfed in flames.

From then on Pattinathaar went on to the temples in the nearby towns and sang in praise of Lord Shiva in those temples. One day when he was in Thiruvidaimarudhur, the small pack that his mother tied to his hips untied itself indicating the his mother was her deathbed. He rushed to see his mother and as he was praying while he rushed, his mother held her life in her hands until Pattinathaar reached. Then his mother passed away in his hands. Pattinathaar wept like anything remembering how his mother had brought him up from a baby to a man. And after that, the in the funeral he set fire to his mother’s body. He then sang the following song

முன்னை யிட்டதீ முப்பு ரத்திலே
பின்னை யிட்டதீ தென்னி லங்கையிலே
அன்னை யிட்டதீ அடிவ யிற்றிலே
யானு மிட்டதீ மூள்க மூள்கவே

Munnai Itta Thee Muppurathilae
Pinnai Itta Thee Then Ilangaiyilae
Annai Itta Thee Adi Vayitrilae
Yaanum Itta Thee Moolga Moolgavae

meaning that the Fire in the front from the third eye of Lord Shiva, charred the country of Thirupura Asuras. The fire that was behind in the tail of Lord Hanuman set fire to Srilanka. The fire that the mother holds is the womb. And let the fire that I hold shall grow and grow to char the mother’s body”

Then he thought that being born is a big sin and that is what puts everybody in the inescapable loop of affection and bonding. So he sang an another song after that realising that he grew tired going from one womb to another in every birth.

மாதா வுடல் சலித்தால் வல்வினையேன் கால்சலித்தேன்
வேதாவும் கைசலித்து விட்டானே நாதா
இருப்பையூர் வாழ்சிவனே இன்னுமோ ரன்னை
கருப்பையூர் வாராமல் கா

Maadha Udal Salithaal, Vall Vinaiyaen Kaal Salithaen
Vedhavum Kaisalithu Vittaanae Naadha
Iruppaiyur Vaazh Sivanae Innumore Annai
Karuppaiyur Vaaramal Kaa

meaning, Mother got tired by giving birth in every life taken, My legs grew tired by going from one womb to another in every birth. Lord Bramha’s hands got tired by creating life again and again. Oh! Lord Shiva of Iruppaiyur, bless me that I shall not go into the womb of another mother”

Then he wandered in the same place for sometime, when again his sister started to give troubles in connection with the property. Pattinathaar transferred all the rights to the property to the temple. And he decided to go to Ujjain to worship the Goddess Kali and left his hometown for good.

To be continued in the next part…

More to come, until then…

These are the days where most people are pompously conscious of the calories in the food they eat, but actually they are not. There are people who just think like a sanyasi, who would say that the body is just a thing of waste. There is even song a that say that the human body is just air filled bag and is just an illusion. The song goes like this

“Kaayamae Idhu Poiyada
Verum Kaatradaitha Paiyada”

meaning, the human body is just an illusion and it is just an air filled bag, empty and useless

Kaayam – The human body
Idhu – A reflexive pronoun referring the body in this context
Poi – Lie, Illusion, Imaginary
Verum – Simply
Kaatradaitha – Kaatru (Air) + Adaitha (Filled, blocked)

Though this might be correct from one perspective, but in this world most people do not have the super natural capabilities to exceed their limits of their human nature and physiology. And thus came another song, on the same line

“Kaayamae Idhu Meiyada
Adhil Kannum Karuthum Vaiyada”

meaning, The body exists in reality, so take the utmost care to maintain it carefully.

Mei – Truth
Adhil – Word referring to the body
Kannum Karuthum – The eye and the mind, meaning focus your attention in nurturing the body

There are many advices in the form of songs that emphasize the point of having good health, because all that a man could achieve would be when he is in good health, once his health is gone everything is gone, his wealth, his fame. Many writers emphasize the one of the greatest wealth that a man could have is his health. There is one song that might sound funny and almost everybody knows it, but the actual meaning it emphasizes is really great. This song was sung by a Siddhar and it emphasizes the need for maintaining one’s health. The song is

“Nandhavanathil Ore Aandi Avan
Naalaaru maathamai Kuyavanai Vendi
Kondu Vandhan Oru Thondi
Adhai Koothadi Koothadi Pottudaithaandi”

the meaning at the first look would seem funny. It means that a poor man in the garden begged for a pot for ten months from the potter. And he got it finally after ten months, but the poor man carelessly played and played with the pot and broke it. The above meaning might look as if the poor man’s effort was a waste as he could not save the pot he begged, but the actual meaning is different and has an indepth meaning, but before that let us meaning of the words in the song.

Nandhavam – Garden, Earth
Ore – one
Aandi – Man without anything with him
Avan – Personal Pronoun
Naalaaru – Naalu + Aaru – Four + Six that is ten
Maatham – Month
Kuyavan – Potter, Creator
Vendi – Beg, Ask
Kondu – Bring
Vandhan – Refers to the Aandi
Oru – One
Thondi – Pot, Container
Adhai – Pronoun referring the pot
Koothadi – Play
Pottu – Drop
Udaithaan – Breaking

The actual meaning is as follows. Nandhavam means the Earth and Aandi refers to the human. A human born in the face of the Earth garden comes with nothing in his hand, so he is a poor man. He comes into existence on this earth after ten months. So those ten months is being interpreted as the human begging the creator (God) for his existence by bringing his physical body on this Earth garden. His body being referred to the pot that holds his life and hence the Potter is God. And all his ten months of penance goes of waste once he carelessly roams on the face of the earth unconcerned about his health and thereby breaking the Pot (body) – his life and existence – which he brought into this Garden (Earth) after ten months of effort.

The greatness of this song is that it emphasizes a great meaning with a funny context. Thirumoolar in his masterpiece Thirumandhiram has written about the need to have good health. Even the greatest poet of the recent times, Kaviarasu Kannadhasan, has mentioned his experiences of having good health in his work Arthamulla Hindu Madham (Hinduism and its meanings). Lets see what Thirumoolar has mentioned about this in his songs. The first song goes like this

“Udambaar Azhiyil Uyiraar Azhivar
Dhidampada Meignanam Seravum Maataar
Udambai Valarkkum Ubaayam Arindhae
Udambai Valarthaen Uyir Valarthaenae”

meaning, “Those who have their health destroyed, its as though they have destroyed their life. They would never attain salvation or realise the supreme being. Hence I learned the way to nurture my health. And thus I was able to nurture my life”

Udambu – Physical body
Azhiyil – If destroyed
Uyir – Life, Soul
Azhivar – Die, Destroyed
Dhidampada – Healthiness
Meignanam – Salvation, Knowledge about the Supreme Being
Valarkkum – Nurturing
Ubaayam – Way, Method
Arindhae – realising, learning

What Thirumoolar says is 100% true, if a man does not have good health, then he will not find time to realise the supreme being as he has to mind his own health to keep him alive. And it is a pain to see people suffering from health disorders.

His next song states what our very first song of this post states and then later realises the importance of the human body.

“Udambinai Munnam Izhukkendru Irundhaen
Udambinukku Ullae Uru Porul Kandaen
Udambullae Uththaman Koyil Kondan Endru
Udambinai Yaanirundhu Ombukindraenae”

meaning, “I first thought the body is a blemish. Then I realised that the Supreme Being existing in my body. In my body, the Supreme Being (Lord Shiva) resides in a temple within. And hence I worship and nurture my physical body”.

Udambu – Physical body
Munnam – Earlier
Izhukku – blemish, blame
Irundhaen – have an opinion, in this context
Ullae – Inside
Uru Porul – refers to the Supreme Being
Uththaman – Flawless, Divine Human
Koyil – Temple
Kondan – Have, Reside
Yaanirundhu – Yaan (refers to self – Thirumoolar)+ Irundhu (exist, remain)
Ombukindraen – Worshipping, Nurturing

The religious attitude that God resides in one’s body, is a great thought, that will to those religiously inclined will consider the body to be divine thing and will start to maintain it in good health. For the others who are not religiously inclined, they understand that their body health is of utmost importance for them to survive. Both ways, the emphasis is to have a good health throughout life. There are various ways that humans to maintain their health. The following song explains one – Yoga. The explaination of the song could be found here in the earlier post – Power of Yoga. There are others ways like knowing about the food we eat and thereby eating the good food, more about this on Priceless Padhartha Guna Chintamani.

So conclusively, all the siddhars, doctors and wise men talking about conserving one’s health. There have been ancestral knowledge like the Paati Vaidhiyam, passed on for generations, that averted the need for a doctor in most cases and good healthy food that eliminated most of the diseases. But those knowledge and the healthy food habits is on the decline in our country due to western culture creeping in. It is not the western culture that is to blame, but the people who forget the most treasured knowledge that is priceless and will be realised only when health is lost. Lets us bring back those practices back into life to live long and prosper!!!

More to come, until then…

Bananas, the universal fruit that has its place in all auspicious occasions in our culture. This is the third of the Mukkani, called the Vaazhai Pazham. It is available throughout all the seasons in the year. However, the windy season that falls around July-August is when the plantain gets destroyed by winds and that might cause a bit of lag in the arrival of bananas to the market. Its availability througout the year has made it a fruit for all auspicious occasions. Be it a marriage, a celebration or a temple festival, the banana takes the first place among all the fruits. The occasions are celebrated at least with the banana if not the other fruits.

There are many varieties that are available such as the Poovan, Moreese, Rasthaali, Robusta, Sevvaazhai, Naadan, Karpoora Valli, Nendhran, Mondhampazham. Each of these varieties has a unique taste and aroma. Poovan is the most common variety. Nendhran is the one used to make chips when it is unripe. The Karpoora Valli has a very good taste. The Naadan is a variety where people also eat, besides the fruit, the inner side of the peeled skin that has soft layer. Apart from these varieties there are varieties that grow in the mountains, called the Malai Pazham. They also have a very good taste. Normally, the word Pazham, that literally means a fruit, is used to indicate a banana in the common sense. The other fruits are addressed with their respective names like Maampazham, Palaapazham and so on. Though there is a name Vaazhai that is also common, the word Pazham is used more often to indicate it.

The speciality of banana as plant is that all the parts of the plant are used by us – the whole plant, the leaf, the stem, the bark, the flower and the fruit. The parts of the plantain plant are being used by humans since the old ages. The whole plant is used in all auspicious occasions mostly marriage and temple festivals etc. It is used to indicate the prolonged existence of the family for a generations. People tie is at the entrance where the auspicious event occurs as an indication of successful chain of existence. As the term, “Vaazhai Adi Vaazhai”, which means, as the young sapling that grows beside the fully grown tree, the family would also sustain its chain the the plantain.

The plantain leaf is used a disposable plate after serving food items. People eat food being served and then they dispose it. This is the first known disposable, eco-friendly utility used by humans. Though there are others like the Paaku mattai and other leaves that are broad enough to hold food, the plantain is more common and being used widely. It is said that eating food served in has some medicinal value and keeps us young. There is even a record about a poet named Pisiraanthaiyaar, who was a dear friend of a great Chola King called Ko Perum Cholan, ate food being served only on a plantain leaf and his appearance remained young that he did not have a single grey hair till his death. Before food is being served, the plantain leaf if washed with water and then food is served. The plantain leaf is used in all occasions like marriage etc for serving food and they disposing off after the meal is over. It is the one of the hygenic ways of taking food. The plantain leaf is very fragile that it could tear off easily, and that is the reason it becomes very costly during windy season.

The stem of the plant called the Vaazhai Thandu, is also used as a recipe. The common recipe is the Kootu, Porial. It is more fibrous and good for health. People cut is across and then into small pieces and collect a fibrous thread that appears while cutting across and then they soak it either into the water in which the rice was washed called the Kazhani Thanni or simple plain water or in the water mixed with dilute curd, so that its colour does not become pale after chopping. It is recommended as a medicine for people who have kidney stones. The Vaazhai Thandu has the ability to dissolve kidney stones, and also alleviate the problem if it is worse. The juice extract is also recommended for these patients. It is also used as a medicine to stop severe diarrhoea. The fibrous thread that comes out when the stem is cut across is collected, dried out and used as a oil-wick for lamps

The bark is stripped of the plant, dried out and then torn vertically as strings that is used to make garlands that is used to decorate the Idols, Statues of Gods in temples. It is called the Vaazhai Naar. Even today it is used by many to make garlands.

The flower called the Vaazhai Poo, is also used as a recipe. People pull out a strong string like structure from each bud of the flower and then cut it across into small pieces and they put it either into the Kazhani Thanni or Plain Water or in the water mixed with dilute curd. The Vaazhai Poo is used as a cure to constipation and his a healthy diet.

There is also another way where the banana is consumed; it is taken as a medicine. That is called the Baspam, the ash after incinerating a thing. There are many baspams the famous one is the gold baspam, very rare and very hard to prepare but very potent. The gold baspam has very strict procedures for consuming, if not followed it could be fatal. But proper usage is more powerful and enables healthy living. The Vaazhai baspam, is very difficult to prepare that many researchers have failed to prepare it. Their attempt resulted in the banana being charred and not being converted into ash. But our siddhars had an easy way of converting the banana into ash that is very cheap and simple that it uses, just the bark of the neem tree and the cloth that is soaked in red soil called Semmann and some camphor to burn it. That ash is consumed to live a healthy life. There is even a medical preparation with the banana that reduces body heat that works well than any other preparation. Also to have easy digestion, people eat a banana after their meal.

The most important preparation out of the banana is the Panchamirdham, that consists of 5 items that are sweet. Its ingredients are the Banana, Dates, Vellam (Kandhsari Sugar), Kalkandu, Honey. Of all the Panchamirdhams, the Palani Panchamirdham is the most popular one.

So the banana is such a divine fruit that the plant gives itself as a whole for the benefit of the people. There are many literary contexts of the banana used in Tamil Literature, some of which are as follows.

The song by Avaiyar in her work, Nallvazhi sings the following song that mentions the plantain

“Nandu Sippi Vei Kadhali Naasamurum Kaalathil
Konda Karuvalikkum Kolgaipol OneThodee
Podham Dhanam Kalvi Pondravarum Kaalam Ayal
Maadhar Mael Vaippar Manam”

meaning, like the Crab, Clamshell, Vengai (a species of tiger in which the cub is born by tearing its mother’s stomach) and the Plantain, that dies when its offsprings arrive. Men will destroy themselves when a mind offsprings a thought for other women than their own.

The famous Kaalamegam also compares, a banana and a snake, in his pun filled poem

“Nanjirukkum Tholurikkum Naadharmudi Mael Irukkum
Venjinathil Pall Pattaal Meelaadhu Vinju Malar
Thaenpaayum Solai Thirumalairaayan Varayil
Paambaagum Vaazhai Pazham”

the meaning, first about snake – It has poison (Nanju). It sheds off skin (Thol). It is on top of Lord Shiva’s head (Naadhar Mudi). If it strikes with its fangs in anger, then the poison would kill the person. Likewise for the banana – It would seems as if crushed, when it is ripe (Nanji Irukkum). You have to peel the skin to eat it. If hit goes between the teeth of a person, the banana is crushed. It stays on top of the Shiva Lingam as Panchamirdham. So by comparison, in the mountains of Thirumalairaayan, the snake is same as the banana

Both Avaiyar and Kambar have used the following lines when they realised that have to learn a lot besides being great poets.

“Karungaali Kattaikku Vaai Naana Kodari
Ilam Vaazhai Thandirkku Vaai Naanitru”

meaning, the axe that did not give up even for the hardest Karungaali (a tree) wood, gave up for a tender plantain (banana tree) stem. Actually it is hard to cut the banana stem across with an axe that is capable of cutting the hardest woods.

There are even, negative comparisons to the plantain too. For people who are the slow learners and not as smart, they are compared to Vaazhai Mattai (The bark of the banana tree). The mediocres are compared to wood, and the really smart people are compared to camphor. This comparison is based on the burning ability the above.

The other one is about the benefit derived out of friendship. The people who give are close and give benefit only if well tended and maintained are compared to the plantain. The people who help out if they are just well fed are compared to the coconut tree. The people who help out without any expectations are compared to the palm tree.

Though there are good and not good contexts about the banana. It forms a staple diet for the people in our country. The greatness of the blessed fruit that brings joy to all who eat it is a bliss for a lifetime to remember. And its place as a fruit for all auspicious occasions confers the honour for the fruit that has brought joy for generations since the old days. This post completes the information about the Mukkani (Maa, Palaa, Vaazhai).

More to come, until then…

The onset of summer indicates the arrival of the Mukkanis – Maa, Palaa, Vaazhai – (Mangoes, Jackfruits and Bananas). Of course, bananas are available throughout the year. The other two are not as plenty as bananas. The Jackfruit, called Palaa Pazham, in Tamil is the second of the Mukkani. The sweetness of the Jackfruit is a hallmark of its popularity. The Jackfruit is available throughout the summer season and once the rain arrives, the jackfruits are not available and the onset of rain decreases the taste in the fruit and are not tasty as the ones in the mid-summer. Biologically, a multiple fruit, the jackfruit forms part in auspicious festivals, esp the Tamil New Year, that usually falls on April 14th, where people offer the Mukkanis, esp the Jackfruit. The mirror is placed as a God Image and the Mukkanis along with other sweet and auspicious offerings are kept the night before the Tamil New Year and people wake up looking into the mirror. This practice has many indepth meanings. First, when people wake up looking into the mirror, it shows their reflection, it means to search the God within themselves and not elsewhere. Second, let the reflections of the auspicious things placed in front of them mirror bestow happiness throughout the year. Third, as the mirror that reflects the whatever is placed before it, let your presence reflect all happiness and sweetness as the Mukkanis in front of the mirror. And so on…

The Jackfruit takes a predominant position as a fruit in the South Indian delicacy. Even the tender Jackfruit, called the Palaa kaai, is used as a spicy recipes like Kootu and other cuisine. The presence of jackfruit trees, each with a bunch of jackfruits, in a country indicates the country’s fertility in those good old days. And in many songs, the jackfruit is mentioned as a part of fertility and the richness of the plant life in the country. Even in many pasurams by Thirumangai Azhwar in Naalayira Dhivya Prabandham, he mentions about jackfruit soaked in honey. Well that is one good combination to eat jackfruit. The taste of jackfruit soaked in honey is unmatched and out of this world. There is yet another comibination in which people eat jackfruit, they pour a teaspoon of ghee, and that too the ghee taken from cow’s milk and not from buffalo’s milk, in each fruit and then eat it. These combinations really make many mouths to water.

There is even a short fable from the Mahabharatha, when the Pandavas were on an exile. They had to live in the forest for a year and they had the magical vessel, the Akshaya Paathiram, that would give any food item they wished. And during lunch, Bhima would request the jackfruit soaked in honey from the Akshaya Paathiram. So that itself explains the combination of jackfruit with honey.

There is a riddle that would mean the jackfruit. The riddle goes like this

“Appan Soriyan
Aathaal Sadaichi

Pullai Sakkaraikutti”

meaning the father is a man with itches, the mother is a woman with a lot of hair, but the kid is as sweet as sugar. This riddle is told to indicate contradictions of things. Like a father with itches and mother with lots of hair have a sweet kid. But this neatly explains the structure of a jackfruit. The coarse rough, thorn like outer skin, that is the protecting layer like the father for the fruit inside. The string like things that is between the fruit that feeds the fruit that grows inside is like the mother. And the kid, the actual fruit, called the Palaa Sulai, sweet as sugar.

Not only the fruit, but all the seeds and sometimes even the outer skin is used in the cuisine. The seeds are cooked, roasted and used in combination with Pulikkulambu (Tamarind Gravy), Karuvaadu Preparations (Dried Fish) and of course other spicy varieties like Sundal etc, but the only problem with the seeds is that is creates Vaaivu, that is it forms gas inside the stomach. So people add ginger and garlic to mitigate the effect of gas formation by the seeds .

The Jackfruit grows in the plains as well as the mountains. But the ones that grow in the mountains are more tasty than the ones that grow in the plains. The jackfruit grows at various places in the jackfruit tree, in the branches, near the stem and even in the roots, below the ground. The ones that grow in the roots are called as Vaer Palaa. Vaer means root, so Vaer aa means the one the grows in the root. This is not known until the aroma of the jackfruit comes from the underground. This Vaer aa is very rare, unlike the ones in the branches, because it could be easily reached by animals and those animals would eat them once they detect the aroma of the ripe fruit inside the ground. Also being inside the ground adds more taste to the fruit when it ripens.

The Jackfruit arrives to the market from various places, but the ones from Panruti is famous. Those varieties have big Sulais (single fruit of the jackfruit) and are more tasty than the other varieties.

There is even one song that is taught for the kids in the kindergarden that mentions about the jackfruit especially the Vaer Palaa. Sorry that I could not recollect the entire song. I am posting what I could recollect. I would be thankful to the reader who remembers that song and posts it in the comments. The song goes like this

Enna Pazham? Palaa Pazham
Enna Palaa? Vaer Palaa

Enna Vaer? Vetti Vaer

Enna Vetti? Viragu Vetti

Enna Viragu? Mara Viragu

Enna Maram? Maa Maram

Enna Maa? Amma”

The song goes like a chain riddle that ends with the word that means mother. The rough translation is as follows

What fruit? The Jackfruit (Palaa)
What Palaa? The Vaer Palaa (The jackfruit that grows in the root)

What Vaer? Vetti Vaer (An aromatic root soaked in water to prepare a juice that cools down the body heat during summer)

What Vetti? Viragu Vetti (Vetti also means cutter, so the question is which cutter, the answer is Wood (viragu) cutter)
What Viragu? Mara (Tree)
What tree? Maa Maram (Mango Tree)
What Maa? Amma (Mother)

Though this song is rhymes with the last word of the previous question, it emphasizes the jackfruit and especially the Vaer Palaa. So the Jackfruit has pervaded the minds of many since the good old days. So lets try the combination of jackfruit with honey and jackfruit with ghee this season. There yet another combination the one with coconut oil. It adds a good taste to the jackfruit clubbed with the aroma of cocunut oil, but too much is not recommended as it might add cholestrol. So, only little quantities in this comibination are recommended. Lets taste these combinations with the gifted jackfruit and enjoy this season of jackfruits before the rains arrive.

More to come, until then…

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