பிள்ளைத்தமிழின் தந்தை – Remembering பெரியாழ்வார்

Lullabies and nursery rhymes are the first introduction to music or songs in human life. Lullabies calm babies and give a secured feel that they are in a safe place. In Tamil is called தாலாட்டு. Lullabies are found in every human culture. தால் means tongue. Usually in 5th month of child, child starts to recognize lullabies. “ஒ ஒ ஒ ஆயி”  என்றெல்லாம் சத்தம் எழுப்பி பாடுவது தாலாட்டு. The Wikipedia definition of Lullaby proves that it is a காரணப்பெயர். The English term lullaby is thought to come from “lu, lu” or “la la” sounds made by mothers or nurses to calm children.

People sing wide range of nursery rhymes to connect with children and enjoy see them play. But do they respond or act as we ask them to do, say complicated rhymes in younger stage? In each stage they do new things. They recognize new styles and take up new habits or actions. If one asks grandmother they would tell to handle the child carefully. “Kozhandhai oda thalai innum nikkala paathu pidichuko”. So to recognize faces, to get what we speak, to clap, to jump, to speak back; the growth is stage by stage.

Tamil Literature has a separate rule describing these actions of a child, stage by stage. It is called பிள்ளைத்தமிழ். பிள்ளைத்தமிழ் is poets singing about their favourite personality, technically பாட்டுடைத்தலைவன்;  can be a deity, a learned person, Saint or a king whom they imagine as a child and sing about their childhood period from 3rd month to 21st month. பிள்ளைத்தமிழ் comprises of 10 phases, sometimes few additional phases are added or left, based on the creative license of the poet. Each phase is spread over 2 months.

It is divided into two. ஆண்பாற் பிள்ளைத்தமிழ், பெண்பாற் பிள்ளைத்தமிழ். Number of songs in each பருவம் or phase is 10. So the total number of songs is 100. Example Kumaraguruparar’s Meenakshi Ammai Pillai thamizh. So the phases are காப்பு, செங்கீரை, தால், சப்பாணி,முத்தம், வருகை or வாரணை, அம்புலி, சிற்றில், சிறுபறை, சிறுதேர்.

A short note on each phase.

  1. காப்பு – Praying to lord for the well being, longevity of the child.
  2. செங்கீரை – Children are as tender as lettuces. Poems in this phase have a tone of requesting the child to gently shake head.
  3. தால் – Lullaby recognising phase. Precisely ‘ங்கு’ sollu phase.
  4. சப்பாணி − in the current era corresponds to the day when child responds to the rhymes ‘Clap your hands; clap your hands; listen to the music and clap your hands’ by clapping their tender hands.
  5. முத்தம் – the Ummah phase. Requesting the child to give a kiss on cheeks or the one not to be missed the overly sweet flying kiss.
  6. வருகை or வாரணை − Mother standing at a distance and telling செல்லமே! தளர் நடையிட்டு வா with hands open to embrace the child.
  7. அம்புலி − the famous rhymes “நிலா நிலா ஓடி வா” belongs to this phase.
  8. சிற்றில் − building sand castles.
  9. சிறுபறை – playing with drum and stick.
  10. சிறுதேர் − playing with toys which are tied with chains, easy to pull and run.

For girl child last 3 vary and they are நீராடல், அம்மானை, ஊஞ்சல்.

  1. நீராடல் – playing in water
  2. அம்மானை − playing with stones.
  3. ஊஞ்சல் – swinging.

It is not mandatory to sing on all stages as stated earlier. Sometimes poets can sing on அச்சோப் பருவம், காக்கையை அழைக்கும் பருவம் etc. But very few poets like பெரியாழ்வார் has handled these stages. 

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பெரியாழ்வார் also known as Vishnu Chithar (one who constantly meditates on Lord Vishnu) was the one to formulate this பிள்ளைத்தமிழ். He was born on this day – Aani Swathi to Mukuntha Battar and Padumavalli Natchiyar. He is considered as the embodiment of Garuda, the Suparnan. He is called Battar Piran after he won the competition among scholars in the court of Pandya King Vallabadevan. The quest was to find out the path to ‘paramapada’.

Vishnuchittar won the competition by explaining that the path to moksha is by service to Vishnu. He quoted various historic and Vedic reference to prove his point. The king was satisfied and he honored Vishnuchittar by taking him around the streets of Madurai. It is believed that Koodal Azhagar, the presiding deity in the Koodal Azhagar Temple near Madurai witnessed the event with his consort. Periyazhwar was surprised and he immediately composed Thirupallandu, the first twelve verses of Nalayira Divya Prabandam. He has also composed 461 songs on Lord Vishnu called பெரியாழ்வார் திருமொழி.

He is called பெரியாழ்வார் as he mothered the supreme power and cared, bothered on his longevity, his safety from a mother perspective. He assumed himself as Yashodha Maiya and composed poems from her emotional state. The fears of a young mother as the child grows that too a child which constantly faced the onslaughts of Asuras. He has composed songs on each of the phases of பிள்ளைத்தமிழ் on Lord Krishna. This is the first ever பிள்ளைத்தமிழ் reported in the history of Tamil Literature say a research by Tamil scholars.

Though he has mothered the supreme power, he has fathered பிள்ளைத்தமிழ். Reading just few verses of பெரியாழ்வார் gives the feel irrespective of gender

“தந்தைக்கும் தாய் அமுதம் சுறந்ததுமா

என் தங்கத்தை மார்போடு அணைக்கையிலே”.

And research scholars state that பெரியாழ்வார் has played a significant role in inspiring Shri Andal to write on Lord Vishnu. Not only on the core subject but also the language style followed by Shri Andal reveals that she should have been taught Tamil Grammar by her father, பெரியாழ்வார். The proverb “Thaai 8 adi paayindhal kutti 16 adi paayum” has been proved right beyond percentage. Counting days for Aadi Pooram from Aani Swathi.

For most of the rhymes, songs on children in cinema, பிள்ளைத்தமிழ் should have been the reference point. Just a tip of an ice berg from Deep Ocean called பெரியாழ்வார்.

அப்பூச்சி காட்டுதல் என்பது, குழந்தைகள் பயம் காட்டுவதைப் போலக் காட்ட நாம் பயப்படுவது போல வசீகர விளையாட்டு.

“இருட்டில் பிறந்துபோய் ஏழை வல்லாயர்

மருட்டைத் தவிர்ப்பித்து வன்கஞ்சன் மாளப்

புரட்டி அந்நாள் எங்கள் பூம்பட்டுக்கொண்ட

அரட்டன் வந்து அப்பூச்சி காட்டுகின்றான்

அம்மனே அப்பூச்சி காட்டுகின்றான்.” (நா.தி.பி− 121)

− பெரியாழ்வார்

இரவில் பிறந்து ஆயர்களின் பயத்தை நீக்கி, கம்சனைக் கொன்ற மிடுக்குள்ளவன்(அரட்டன்) வந்து பயங் காட்டுகின்றான் அம்மனீர் என்று வியக்கிறார். – சுஜாதா. 

Poetry is an endless ocean. How much ever one reads there is always something that one doesn’t know and one birth isn’t enough. Nalayira Divya Prabandam of Azhwars and verses of Nayanmaars play a significant role in Tamil literature and to be celebrated more so that one can prove Tamil is immortal.

Can’t wish பெரியாழ்வார் happy birthday as he has mothered even the Supreme Being. But can seek his blessings or at least pay tribute to the noble soul.

பெரியாழ்வார் வாழியே! 

பெரியாழ்வாரின் பல்லாண்டு பல கோடி ஆண்டு வாழியே! 

 

References: 

  1. ஆழ்வார்கள் ஓர் எளிய அறிமுகம் – சுஜாதா
  2. Wikipedia
  3. To know the exact definition of பிள்ளைத்தமிழ் and the phases – https://ta.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E0%AE%AA%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%B3%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%B3%E0%AF%88%E0%AE%A4%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%A4%E0%AE%AE%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%B4%E0%AF%8D
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/Paeans-to-Periyazhwar/article14513139.ece
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