Nallur Rajadhani: City Layout
V.N.Giritharan B.Sc (Built Environment in Architecture)
Publisher: Sneha Pathippagam (Madras)
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

[Preface][Forward][Chapter 1][Chapter 2][Chapter 3][Chapter4][Chapter5]
[Chapter 6][Chapter 7] [Chapter 8][Chapter 9][Chapter 10][Chapter 11]

Chapter 2: Nallur And Jaffna

logo.gif (31909 bytes)As like the confusion that is prevailing regarding Nallur and the City of Singai, confusion is prevailing regarding Jaffna and Nallur also. One set of people opine that ‘Yaappapattuna’ is the Sinhalese version of Nallur and the other group holds that Yaappapattuna is the Sinhalese version of Yaazhpaanam (Jaffna). Dr. C.K.Sitrambalam, Swami Gnaprakasar and such others are of the opinion that the term ‘Yaappapattuna’ refers to Nallur only. It can be said that ‘Yaazhpaanapatinam (Jaffna City)-that which the Sinhalese books call ‘Yaappapattuna’ referred to Nallur only.' (Yaazhpana Rajjiyam, Dr. C.K. Sitrambalam, Eela Murasu, 25.2.94). Further, as per the claims of Swami Gnaparaksar, S.W. Kumaraswami and others also it was the name ‘Yaapane’ given to Nallur by the Sinhalese which later became ‘Yaazhpaanam’.

Gnaprakasa Swamigal and the author of ‘Idapeyar’ (Name of place) Sri S.W.Kumaraswami not only held that the tale of Yaazhpaadi was a fictitious one and that such stories were abundant in ‘Vaiyapaadal’ and ‘Dakshina Kailaaya purana’ but also claimed that the ‘Vaibavamaalai’ person had tied the Kavi Veeraragavan history on the head of Yaazhpaadi and that in reality there was no such person at all, that Yaazhpaanam was not given away as gift to
anybody ,that the name Yaapane Yaappaapattuna was given by the Sinhalese to
the City of Nallur was later changed as Yaazhpanam and that our bards had
metaphorized the tale of Yaazhpaanan (Yaazhpaanach Charitham P .253)
The contention of such people like Mudaliar Rasanayagam, Dr. K.S.Nataraja is exactly the opposite. They hold that it is the Tamil name 'Yaazhpaanapattinam’ which has become  ‘Yaazhppapattunae’ which is Sinhalese.

“..... it is indeed a surprise how the Jaffna people had come across
the name ‘Yaappapattunae’ which had appeared in a book which was written by a Sinhalese bard in Thangaalai and started using it in its modified form. Though there is harmony in meaning between the two terms Yaappapattuna and Nallur there was no need to give an already existing name to Nallur and so call it. Wonder why the Sinhalese who still retain those names that end with the term Nallur which the Tamils formerly suffixed to the various places in the country of Srilanka should have changed the name Nallur in Jaffna, and that too into a Sinhalese name. “And, one is more bewildered as to why the Tamils have failed to change the names of places and lands in Jaffna which have Sinhalese names into Tamil ones. Now, is ‘Pattuna’ of Sinhalese tongue? Even school kids would know that it is the term ‘Pattinam’. So, it becomes clear that ‘Yaazhpaanapattina’ was a Tamil name which the Sinhalese had distorted and called Yaappapattunae..." (Yaazhpaanach Charithram, P.254).

Of this issue Dr. K. S. Nataraja’s view point is also worthy of note. He has
given a viable explanation regarding this matter.“.. The term ‘Yaappapattuna’ which was considered to be a Sinhalese term is actually a compund word with the term ‘Yappa and ‘Pattuna coming together. Pattuna in Tamil is the distorted form of Pattinam which refers to a coastal city or town. And, that term was used in the verse ‘Pattinppalai’ appearing in ‘Pathuppaatu’ which is one of the Tamil literary collections of the Sangam period. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis to claim that this is a Sinhalese word before Christ. ...and the contention that the term Yaava has come to take the distorted form Yaapa is not acceptable. So, we cannot think that Yaapa is the Tamil version of Java. Further, it is not the Sinhalese vesion of Java too. For, there has never been the practice of calling Java as ‘Yaba’ in Sinhalese literature.... So, it is a fitting claim that the Sinhalese name Yaappapattuna was coined from the Tamil Yaazhappanap Patttinam..."

(Causes for the name ‘Yaazhpaanam’.....Dr. K.S.Nataraja, Thamizhosai,
11.11.93).In the above mentioned article K.S.Nataraja cites another reason too as a decisive proof for his claim. “Further, the practice of lifting the names of cities and towns from one tongue to another and the people of the receiving tongue using them as names for their place is not at all in vogue. Then we wouldn’t be able to say why the Nallur of Yaazhpaanam is called so and not as Yabane which is considered to be its Sinhalese version..... So, we should take the term Yapane as the distorted Sinhalese form of Tamil’s Yaazhpaanam”  (Thamizhosai ,11.11.93).

Mayil Vahanap Pulavar’s 'Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai' (edited by Mudaliar Kula Sabarathan) would explain clearly that a blind Yaazhpanan (a lutist) by name ‘Andhagag Kavi Veeraraghavan’ played on the flute and won many prizes and the name Yaazhpaanam resulted out of this episode.

“In those days, from the Chola Kindom a lutist by name Kavi Veeraraghavan who was blind on both the eyes sang a song in praise of  alasingamagarasan who was ruling from Senkadaga Nagar, and going there the lutists sang the song playing on his lute. The song made the king so happy that he gifted this country called ‘Manatridal’ which is in the northern side o Srilanka, to the lutist. And, the lutist, ie. Yaazhpaanan in Tamil named it as ‘Yaazhpanam...”(Yaaghpaana Vaibhavamalai, page 25)

And that which was called as Senkkadaganagar by Mayivalaganap pulavar referred to the city of Singai, holds Mudaliar Rasanayagam. "..The name Singainagar must have been changed either by Mayilvahanap Pulavar or someone who wrote after him, as Senkadaga Nagar, inVaibavamaalai. During the rule of Ukkirasingan a city called Senkadaga Nagar was something never even dreamed of...." (Yaazhpaana Charithram- (The History o Jaffna) - Page 29).

"..As all the books written during the rules of the kings of Jaffna
(Yaazhpaanatharasar) who came afterwards state that those kings had ruled from Singai Nagar it would be fitting to say that Ukkirasingan had shifted his Rajdhani to the City of Singai (Singai Nagar). And the name Singainagar alone must have become SenkadagoNagar afterwards..." (Yaazhpaana Charithram. Page 234).

As per the contention of A.Muthuthambi Pillai who has given another book
titled 'Yaazhpana Charithram’, Yaazhpaanam was the piece of land gifted away to a blind lutist by the kind called Aelaelasing who belonged to the 2nd
Century B.C. For this claim of his he cites the following verse as
proof:(“narai kottilankantru, nalvalanadu nayanthalippan…”).

‘-From the style of versification which is based on the Yaapu mode, it
becomes clear that it belonged to the period after 3rd Century A-D’, holds
K.S.Nataraja. ‘Vayapaadal’ would say that it was a lutist palying it for
Vibeedanan who developed the highlands on the northern side of Srilanka and
turned them rich and fertile. M.K. Anthonysil has also written a good write
up on this issue in which he would say that the place in which one of the
three sects of Paanas, the Yaazhpaanas lived came to be known as

“One of the old castes among tamils, the Paanaas ( )were of three
catagories. One of the three was Yaazhpaanaas. The ancient instruments of
Tamils were three. Yaazh(Lute), Kuzhal (Flute) and muzhavu(kind of drum). Of these those who played on yaazh were called yaazhpaanaas. in course of time this became a caste name. Therefore Yaazhpaanar is a caste name.... And, of these people who belonged to the yaazhpaanaa caste mentioned and referred to in our great Tamil classics and literary works, one group inhabited a place in the northern side of the isle of Srilanka and this place had come to be known as Yaazhpaanam.” (Veera kesari 9.12.1990.)

Taking all these into account we can but arrive at the conclusion given
below : Rather than the claim that the name Yaazhpaanam had come into being
from the Sinhalese version of Nallur- yaappapattunae, the contention that
Yaappapattunae is the Sinhalese distortion of the pure Tamil word
‘Yaazhpaanam, is more applicable and acceptable. Though there is harmony of
meaning between Yaapapattunae and Nallur, Mudaliar Rasanayakam’s argumentthat there was no need to give a previous name to Nallur and call it so, 
sounds true and agreeable.

Further, that which he points out in another place - “...... and also, the
islamic travellers from western countries who had got down on this shore too had called it as Jappa, Sappa, and such other terms having the same
intonation...” is also noteworthy. Further, the song given below, which comes in Kailayamaalai speaks of ‘Yaazhpaanam’ and Nalla Nagar as two different places and this should also be taken into account From all these, we can arrive at this conclusion only;- That Nallur and Singai Nagar were two different Rajadhanis, two different cities/towns. Yaappapattunae is but the distorted Sinhalese version of Yaazhpaanam. The claim that Yaazhpaanam has come from the Sinhalese version of Nallur, Yaappapattunae seems to have no probability at all.

 V.N.Giritharan ©2000-2003