Quote for the day!


(According to legend, the very first couplet in
മഞ്ജരി inspired by which കൃഷ്ണഗാഥ was written.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Matching names

Here is an interesting application of Malayalam etymology that I came across the other day.

The famous നളചരിതം ആട്ടക്കഥ was written by ഉണ്ണായിവാര്യർ. There is also another work രാമപഞ്ചശതി written by a രാമൻ. Literary criticism points to these two works being written by the same author.

But, how can രാമൻ  be the  same person as ഉണ്ണായിവാര്യർ?

Looking at the origin of the name ഉണ്ണായിവാര്യർ clarifies things a bit. The part വാര്യർ is the caste name. So the poet's name was ഉണ്ണായി.  Here is a possible chain, proposed by poets like ഉള്ളൂർ:

രാമൻ was affectionately called ഉണ്ണിരാമൻ . Like, മായ becomes ഉണ്ണിമായ,  and കൃഷ്ണൻ becomes  ഉണ്ണിക്കൃഷ്ണൻ.

ഉണ്ണിരാമൻ got shorted to ഉണ്‍രാമൻ and in turn to ഉണ്ണാമൻ.

ഉണ്ണാമൻ became ഉണ്ണാവൻ (like അമ്മാമൻ transformed to അമ്മാവൻ, and കമുങ്ങ്  became കവുങ്ങ്  )

ഉണ്ണാവൻ + വാര്യർ  = ഉണ്ണാവാര്യർ

ഉണ്ണാവാര്യർ further got shortened to ഉണ്ണാവി.  

ഉണ്ണാവി then transformed to ഉണ്ണായി, like അമ്മാവി becomes അമ്മായി or തെയ് വം  became തെയ്യം

Thus, രാമവാര്യർ came to be known as ഉണ്ണായിവാര്യർ!

Of course, this chain is not a "proof" that they were the same person. Other literary and historical evidence also points to these two being the same poets. However, the etymology chain is an important supporting evidence.


mit said...

my friend, i don't agree with your etymological argument on this one. The transformation that you shown may be valid, but the time that it takes for words to morph is decades/millennia, not in a lifetime of a gentleman.

Vinod said...

Dear mit,

Thanks for your comments.

These were not my arguments. I had paraphrased it from the introduction of the attakkadha. Unfortunately, I don't recall who wrote that introduction.

By the way, the argument does not say all these changes happened over the life time of the individual. It could have happened very well over decades as you say. Unfortunately, most of the ancient authors are known to us today only by their family names or other epithets (e.g. tholakavi, ezhuttachan, etc) and literary historians have a tough time figuring out who the actual people were.