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Vēl Pāri was the title of the line of Tamil Vēlir Kings who ruled Parambu nādu and surrounding regions in ancient Tamilakkam. The most famous among them lived towards the end of the Sangam era and was the patron and friend of poet Kapilar. He is extolled for his benevolence and for his patronage of art and literature. He is remembered as one of the Kadai ēzhu vallal (literally meaning, the last of the 7 (lines) great patrons).[1] He was the master of the hill country of Parambu nādu and held sway over 300 prosperous villages.[2] The Parambu nadu covers the modern day cities of Gobichettipalayam and parts of Coimbatore and Erode. Pariyur, named after Pari himself is home to the great temples Sri Kondathu Kaliamman Temple, Sri Amarapaneeswarar Temple and Sri Adhi Narayanaswamy Temple.

Patron of bards[edit]

Such was his reputation for the patronage of arts and literature that bards thronged his court, competing with one another for his attention.[3] From Purananuru, song 107 by Kapilar:

Again and again they call out his name: "Pāri! Pāri"! Thus do poets with skilled tongues all praise one man.
Yet Pāri is not alone: there is also the rain to nourish this earth.[4]

But his favorite was poet Kapilar who was his close friend and life long companion.[5]

Kadai ezhu vallal[edit]

Pāri is considered one of the seven greatest "bestowers" of the last Sangam era - the Kadai Ezhu Vallalgal . The people of his time considered him the most modest of kings. Pāri's fame is better described by the saying "முல்லைக்கு தேர் கொடுத்தான் பாரி" (One who gave his chariot to a climber plant). Pāri is was so generous that he gave away his chariot to a climber plant when he saw that it was struggling to grow without a suitable support.

Siege of the three crowned Kings[edit]

During this period, the three crowned Tamil kings were in the process of expanding their kingdoms and turned the other independent Vēlir Kings into subordinates or eliminated them and assimilated their kingdoms. When they finally lay siege to the heavily fortified country of Parambu, Vēl Pāri would refuse to give in and the war would drag on for years. On one occasion, Kabilar would approach the three crowned kings and describe his patron as an unconquerable warrior and ask them to turn around(excerpt from Purananuru: song 109):

You may think Pāri's mountain is easy to conquer. Even though the three of you with your gigantic royal drums lay siege to it..Like the sky is his mountain. Like the stars in the sky are its springs. Even though your elephants are tied to every tree, your chariots spread through every field, you will not take it by fighting. He will not surrender it by the sword. But here: I know how you can win it. If you play little lutes, their strings of rubbed twine, have your dancing women come behind with thick, fragrant hair, and go to him dancing and singing, he will give you his mountain and his whole land.[6]

Death[edit]

After a long drawn out war, Vēl Pāri would be killed by treachery.[7] Purananuru, song (112) of Pāri's daughters on his death:

That day in that white moonlight, we had our father, and no one could take the hill. This day in this white moonlight, kings with drums beating victory, have taken over our hill, and we have no father.[8]

Family and Legacy[edit]

Vēl Pāri had two young daughters. Upon his death, his friend Kapilar would become their guardian and the three of them would leave Parambu. Kapilar would unsuccessfully approach different Vēlir kings in order to find suitable grooms and in the end leave them in the care of Brahmins. Kapilar would then take his own life by vadakirrutal, one of the Tamil ways of committing suicide.[5] Later, poetess Auvaiyar takes them and successfully marries them off into the family of another Vēlir king Malaiyamān Thirumudi Kāri.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Topics in South Indian history: from early times up to 1565 A.D, page 53
  2. ^ Epigraphia Indica, Volume 25, page 91
  3. ^ Traditions of Indian classical dance, page 45
  4. ^ Poets of the Tamil Anthologies: Ancient Poems of Love and War, page 163
  5. ^ a b The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom: An Anthology of Poems from Classical Tamil, the Purananuru
  6. ^ Poets of the Tamil Anthologies: Ancient Poems of Love and War, page 164
  7. ^ Great women of India, page 309
  8. ^ Poems of love and war: from the eight anthologies and the ten long poems of classical Tamil, page 145

References[edit]

  • Topics in South Indian history: from early times up to 1565 A.D. By A. Krishnaswami
  • Epigraphia Indica, Volume 25 By Devadatta Ramakrishna Bhandarkar, India. Archaeological Survey, India. Dept. of Archaeology
  • Traditions of Indian classical dance By Mohan Khokar
  • Poets of the Tamil Anthologies: Ancient Poems of Love and War, George L. Hart III, Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Great women of India edited by Mādhavānanda (Swāmĭ.), Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  • Poems of love and war: from the eight anthologies and the ten long poems of classical Tamil By A. K. Ramanujan
  • The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom: An Anthology of Poems from Classical Tamil, the Purananuru, Translations from the Asian classics By George L. Hart, Hank Heifetz

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vēl_Pāri — Please support Wikipedia.
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