Thursday, September 3, 2015

Krishna Neighbours Complain

யசோதா உன் மகனை கூவாய் 
The neighbours of Gokulam ask Yashodha to restrain her son from mischievous acts
Periyazhvar provides beautiful insights into the cooking process

While Periyazhvar has described on and off about his acts of stealing butter, he now describes in an entire decad the feelings of the neighbours and their complaints to Yashodha wanting the mother to keep control of her mischievous son. It is a fascinating description of these angry feelings among the entire colony and a despondent mother who after sharing with her the entire list of complaints tries her best to advise him about staying away from his unfriendly neighbours. One after another, day after day, Yashodha is the recipient of the choicest of outpourings from the residents of her colony.

Where did he master this act?
They say that he has gobbled up every ounce of butter on sight. He moves on from one house to another and there are going to be similar complaints from most other houses as well about these ‘wicked deeds’ of his (புரை புரையால் இவை செய்ய வல்ல) .
The neighbours instruct Yashodha that it is important for her to restrain him from such activities. They say that not only does he finish all the butter but he also has the audacity to throw all the empty pots on the rocks in such a way that it seemed he specifically wanted us to hear that thundering breaking noise (வெண்ணெய் விழுங்கி வெறுங் களத்தை வெற்பிடை இட்டு  கேட்கும்).  He is really adding salt to their injury (புண்ணில்  புளிப் பெய்தா லொக்கும் தீமை).

They say that they do not even know how he has mastered this naïve act of quietly moving into another’s house and consuming his favourite dishes (கண்ணபிரான் கற்ற கல்வி தன்னைத்). He constantly thrives on such acts and he finds a sense of happiness in making them angry. And he does not stop with just one house.

They say that she got a son whom she considers special but she should call him back away from his demeaning acts (அண்ணற் கண்ணன் ஓர் மகனைப் பெற்ற அசோதை காய் நங்காய் உன் மகனை கூவாய்)
Yashodha laments at not being to catch her son about whom she is receiving innumerable complaints. She believes her son to be a harmless innocent kid but nevertheless when neighbours complain, it is not a good feeling for any mother (அசலகத்தார் பரிபவம் பேச தரிக்ககில்லேன் பாவியேனுக்கு இங்கு போதராயே).

Give us our peace, exclaim the Neighbours
And neighbours go on relentlessly.  They find him unique. He drinks ghee and butter from the pot and then he breaks it on the spot and quietly slips away. They even go to the extent of saying that he does not let others live in peace and after his act makes it seem like a big achievement. And then ask her if she does not find such acts of her son as great injustice. Not trusting Yashodha to caution her son, they call out for him so they can give their own treatment (உருக வைத்த குடத்தோடு வெண்ணெய் உறுஞ்சி யடைதிட்டுப் போந்து நின்றான்).

A beautiful description of cooking in centuries gone by

Through this verse, Periyazhvar provides insights into the process of cooking in centuries gone by. Not every house in the locality had the stove lighting equipments. From his description, it is quite likely that only a select few houses were blessed with this facility. And the rest in the locality would collect the necessary raw material as and when they needed it. The child Krishna seemed to have spotted this loophole and cashed in on one of the neighbours much to her displeasure.

பாலைக் கறந்து அடுப்பேற வைத்துப்
பல் வலையாள் என் மகளிருப்ப
மேலை யகத்தே நெருப்பு வேண்டிச் சென்று
இறைப் பொழுது அங்கே பேசி நின்றேன்

This neighbour narrated her incriminating experience. While her daughter milked the cows and kept the milk on the stove, the mother went to bring firewood from her neighbour. She did spend a few extra minutes chatting up with her neighbour. And that was the only mistake she made.

On her return, she was stunned to find that the mischievous child had turned the bowl upside down and drunk everything (சாய்த்துப் பருகிட்ட போந்து நின்றான்).

The young child is happy to say that he has sucked everything and the neighbour is further agitated that with a mother’s love she takes him on her hip. And she suggests to Yashodha that all these are her own lessons.

Why are you doing this, Yashodha asks Krishna
Unable to bear this any longer and infuriated at being told thus, Yashodha calls out for her son and tells him that though they seem to start off with some praise about his unique abilities, they invariably end up complaining about his mischief of the day leaving her totally embarrassed (ஏதேனும் சொல்லி அசலகத்தார் ஏதேனும் பேச நான் கேட்க மாட்டேன்).  She tells him that she cannot put up with this shame anymore.

Neighbour tracks the little boy's every act

This neighbour has kept a count of Krishna's mischief. For 12 shravanams, her neighbour had made special offerings of rice made of paddy, ghee, cow’s milk, sugar and candy. And she now recollects what happened to each one of these. She bemoans that he finished everything and like an innocent child wanted another piece of it.

(செந்நெலரிசி சிறு பருப்புச் செய்த அக்காரம் நறு நெய் பாலால்  பன்னிரண்டு திருவோணம் அட்டேன்..................இன்னும் உகப்பன் நான் என்று சொல்லி எல்லாம் விழிங்கிட்டும் போந்து நின்றான்).

To add to Yashodha’s anger, the neighbour tells her that she is not even confiding the entire story almost indicating that this is only a sample (கூவிக் கொள்ளை இவையும் சிலவே).

Frustrated Yashodha asks him not to go to loveless neighbours who speak ill of him(நேசம் இலாதார் அகத்தில் இருந்து நீ விளையாடாதே போதராயே). Listening to mother’s words is Dharma, she says (தாய் சொல் கொள்வது தன்மம் கண்டாய்). She asks him to stop playing in such places where he is not wanted. And expecting an unfavourable reply, she tells in advance not to say no to her request.

Who consumed the Salty Seedai and Delicious Laddus
It is a new day but the story remains the same. Another neighbour arrives at Krishna's Portico and Yashodha knows what's in the offing.

She says that she had made all the special sweets like Laddus and Salty Seedai. He finished every single savoury. It was meant to be a lean day at home for that lady and she was not expecting any strangers at home. And hence she had gone away for a little while. But in this small gap, this naughty child came and finished off everything. With an intention to shame yashodha, she asks if this is the way for any child to be. (கன்னல் இலட்டுவத்தோடு சீடை காரெள்ளின் உண்டை கலத்திலிட்டு என்னகமென்று நான் வைத்துப் போந்தேன் இவன் புக்கு அவற்றைப் பொருத்திப் போந்தான்).

And then some time later he came back again almost innocently to check if there was anything in the shelves and finished off the white butter (பின்னும் அகம்புக்கு உரியை நோக்கிப் பிறங்கொளி வெண்ணெயும் சோதிக்கின்றான்).

A different approach by this neighbour
The last neighbour starts off on a very interesting note. Knowing Yashodha’s love for her son, she opens with a statement saying that even Yashodha will be furious with what she is going to hear (சொல்லில் அரசிப் படுதி நங்காய் ).And then reels off the latest act of the young child.

She says he entered the house, removed the bangles from her daughter’s hands, went out through the back door on to the street and exchanged these bangles for a purple fruit. And then as though he knew nothing, he acted with utmost innocence and gave a beautiful smiling face as if nothing at all had happened (இல்லம் புகுந்து என் மகளைக் கூவிக் கையில் வளையைக் கழுற்றிக் கொண்டு கொள்ளையில் நின்றும் கொணர்ந்து விற்ற அங்கொருதிக்கு அவ்வளை கொடுத்து நல்லன நாவற் பழங்கள் கொண்டு நானல்லேன் என்று சிரிகின்றானே).

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