BnF INDIEN 338: Kantapurāṇakatai

The source of all the pictures of INDIEN 338 is BnF

BnF INDIEN 338 (ex- Tamoul 338; Cabaton, Catalogue sommaire, 1912, p. 49) is a paper codex (385 x 250 x 9 mm) with a leather cover (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 — BnF INDIEN 338, the codex — Courtesy of BnF

It contains the Kantapūrāṇakatai, which appears to be a prose rendering/epitome of the Kantapurāṇam of Kacciyappa Civācāriyar, departing somehow from this version. For instance, at the end of Kacciyappa Civācāriyar’s Kantapurāṇam, after marrying Vaḷḷi, Murukaṉ goes near the Kailāsa mountain, introduces Vaḷḷi to his first spouse Teyvayāṉai, and the three of them live afterwards in harmony. In the present Kantapurāṇakatai, Murukaṉ and Vaḷḷi join Teyvayāṉai in Centippaṭṭaṇam (f48v10), that is Centil/Tiruccentūr, where they all live happily.

The stamp “BIBLIOTHEQUE ROYALE” (f2r, f48v; Fig. 2) indicates that the codex is an old acquisition.

Fig. 2 — BnF INDIEN 338, f48v — Courtesy of BnF

Indeed, it must be the Candapouranam Cadey or Candapouranam Kadey sent to Paris by the Missionnaries of Pondichéry in 1729, according to lists found in the “Anciens catalogues de la Bibliothèque du Roi … Mémoires de livres et mss. envoyés par les Jésuites de l’Inde pour la Bibliothèque du Roi, en 1729-1735” (NAF 5442).

The codex contains successively:

  • 1 thick front colour guard folio.
  • 1 front guard folio inscribed “Tamoul n° 338” in pencil.
  • 48 folios foliated (Arabic numerals) in ink on the top right corner (library foliation, taken as reference for the present description). The ff. 2‒48 bear an original foliation in Tamil numerals on the top right corner (from “1” to “47”; Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 — BnF INDIEN 338, f2r (library foliation) = f1r (original foliation) — Courtesy of BnF

  • 2 back guard folios.
  • 1 thick back colour guard folio.

The title appears at several places, in Latin or Tamil characters:

  • KANDAPOURÂNAKATAI TAMOUL (spine; Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 — BnF INDIEN 338, spine — Courtesy of BnF

  • Candapourana Kadey (f1r; Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 — BnF INDIEN 338, f1r — Courtesy of BnF

  • KandapourânaKatai Tamoul (small paper slip bound in between f1 and f2; Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 — BnF INDIEN 338, f2r — Courtesy of BnF

  • கந்தபுராணகதை kantapurāṇakatai (f2r2; Fig. 7), overhung by a cross in the previous line.

Fig. 7 — BnF INDIEN 338, f2r — Courtesy of BnF

  • கந்தபுராணவள்ளிகதை kantapurāṇavaḷḷikatai, “history of Vaḷḷi in the Kantapurāṇam” (f48v23‒24; Fig. 8). This title appears in the final completion statement. The adjunction of Vaḷḷi makes sense as the Kantapurāṇakatai, like the Kantapurāṇam, ends with the marriage of Murukaṉ and Vaḷḷi.

Fig. 8 — BnF INDIEN 338, f48v — Courtesy of BnF

As for lay-out, the page is divided in two columns, with catch-letters at the bottom of each column (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9 — BnF INDIEN 338, f2r — Courtesy of BnF

The text opens with a stanza (f1r, c1, 2‒8), introduced as such (கவி kavi, “verse,” f1r, c1, 1). It praises ஆனைமுகத்தன் āṉaimukattaṉ (f1r, c1, 7‒8), “the elephant-faced one,” that is, Gaṇeśa.

The stanza is followed by its paraphrase (f1r, c1, 8‒19), introduced, as usual, by the abbreviation எது etu (for என்பது eṉpatu, literally “that which says,” that is “the word/phrase/sentence/stanza” depending on the segment of text commented) and concluded by the phrase என்றவாறு eṉṟa-v āṟu (literally “a way of saying”).

Interestingly this is followed by the statement (f1r, c1, 20) that this stanza is a kāppu (literally “protection,”  a technical term used to designate an inaugural invocation) and by a sort of definition of kāppu (f1r, c1, 21‒23) (Fig. 10).

Fig. 10 — BnF INDIEN 338, f2r — Courtesy of BnF

இதுக்குப் பெயர் – காப்பு
காப்பாவது தெவஸ்த்தோத்திரம் என்றறியக்கடவது

itukkup peyar – kāppu
kāpp-āvatu tēva-sttōttiram eṉṟ’ aiya-k kaavatu

The name of this (stanza) is kāppu.
It is necessary to know that the kāppu is a praise of god.


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