There are some trees and flowers that are as ancient as time, and one of them that is associated squarely with the Indian subcontinent is the ‘Indian Laburnum’, also known as the Golden Shower tree. It is the state flower of Kerala, and the national flower of Thailand. Tamils, one and all, would know it by the name that has remained with them since thousands of years – konRai…
Reference to konRai can be found right from ancient sangam literature. In the Tamizh classic, silappadikaaram, Lord Krishna is described as playing a flute made of the pod of konRai…
But konRai is best known in Tamizh lore as the flower that adorns Lord Siva. And what better place for a konRai tree to blossom, than at the feet of Shiva, foothills of Tiruvannamalai… Here it is.. A konRai tree at Ramanashramam… This is the month of May, the season when the tree flowers…
Tevaaram songs of Tamizh saints have countless references to the bright konRai flowers decorating the lightning like locks of siva…
Arunachala Himself has been sung by Appar (Tirunaavukkarasar) and Sundarar, as the konRai adorned lord.
Here are a couple of those songs, along with free translations that I have attempted …
The first song is by Appar.
பண்டனை வென்ற வின்சொற் பாவையோர் பங்க நீல
கண்டனே கார்கொள் கொன்றைக் கடவுளே கமல பாதா
அண்டனே யமரர் கோவே யணியணா மலை யுளானே
தொண்டனே னுன்னை யல்லாற் சொல்லுமா சொல்லி லேனே
Who is part
of the maid
to the melody of song!
O Blue throated Lord,
adorned with Konrai
the monsoon flower!
Of Lotus feet
O Lord of all deities,
In beautiful Annamalai!
How can I,
Speak a word else
Other than about your glory?
Next is a song by Sundarar
தேனைக் காவல் கொண்டு விண்ட
வானைக் காவல் கொண்டு நின்றார்
ஆனைக் காவில் அரனே பரனே
ஊனைக் காவல் கைவிட் டுன்னை
Adorned with strings of Konrai
that carefully guards honey within;
You, who can not be known,
even by celestials who guard heaven;
O Subduer Supreme
guarded by the elephant at Anaikkaa
O Being of Annamalai!
Those who drop their guard
And seek your refuge,
Become Aware (Realize the Supreme).
So, while Arunachala is the Subduer-supreme, the vanquisher of the disease of death, his flower konRai is called ‘aragvadha’, which, in Sanskrit means “killer of physical disease”. It has all kinds of applications in Ayurveda.
Let us conclude this post with the invocatory verse of the Tamil classic ‘konRai vEntan’, the classic composed by Avvaiyar, the wise old lady of Tamizh…
கொன்றை வேந்தன் செல்வன் அடியினை
என்றும் ஏத்தித் தொழுவோம் யாமே
Let us ever glorify and offer worship to the feet of the beloved konRai King, Siva!
** to be contd **