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Paadam Vekkal

"Paadam Vekkal" is an old, intellectual yet entertaining exercise which was popular among Rigvedi Namboothiris, and apparently unknown elsewhere. The forty thousand or so Paadams (stanzas) of Rigvedam were converted into numbers and the scholars quizzed each other.

The numerical transformation was known as "Katapayaadi" [click] explained elsewhere in this site. The converted numerical Paadam can immediately be recognised by the scholars. If the Paadam is deciphered before completing the number conversion, it is known as "Mukhathiduka" (verb) (throw at the face).

For example, the Paadam "yuvaa'naa pitharaa punah:" is converted to numbers. For convenience, Roman numerals are used (rather than Malayalam numerals, long forgotten by most).

1. Aarohana Deergha Paadam
The letters and their numerical equivalents are usually written from bottom up, in "Katapayaadi", denoting zero by a plus sign (+), and attaching lengthening symbols (, in Malayalam language). Eg.: 4 (see Fig. 1).

Experts can identify the Paadam even with four or five numbers.

2. Avarohana Deergha Paadaam
Each word (padam) in the paadam is written backwards (upwards) in sequence, forming "punah: pitharaa yuvaa'naa" (from bottom up). This is tougher to decipher. (see Fig. 2).

3. Aarohana Vritha Paadam
In order to confuse the opponent further, the same may be written in a circle, rather than straight up, (see Fig. 4), and in increasing toughness by omitting lengthening symbol (a), and by starting from anywhere and suppressing the start symbol (=) (see Fig. 5 to 7).

4. Avarohana Vritha Paadam.
In Avarohana Vritha Paadam, the same is arranged in the reverse order (Fig. 7).

5. Aksharam Olippikkal (Hiding Letters/Numbers)
In instances where one or two numbers are repeated in sequence, one set can be hidden in the other, reducing the total by one or two, and making deciphering extremely tough. Even with this, there were experts who could easily do "Mukhathidal" (noun) (Figs. 8 and 9).

6. Naamapaadangal
In order to add further complications, numbers are re-transformed into another set of letters that form some meaningful word combinations. For example, the numbers for "yuvaa'naa pitharaa punah:" can be reconverted to "kaveenaakacharopinee". The Avarohanam numbers may be re-transformed to "kunayacharaakuvenaa". Some interesting transformations invented by the old-timers are given below:-

1.  aavaa'yo bhoosha suchipaa upa'na:
kanakanaave kavi thamathi (Fig. 10)
= paadam
= peru (name) [Here the last letter is hidden.]

2. divo arkkaa amrutham naama' bhejire
bhejire naamaa mrutha'markkaa diva:
jaaranenamizhimaarkku jeevan (Fig. 11)
= paadam
= avarohanam sequence
= name [In this paadam also, the last letter is hidden.]

Since these are in Sanskrit, some Malayalam paadams have also been developed.

1.  yadwaa rume rursame syaava' ke krupe'
krupe' syaava' ke rursa'me rume' vaayal
raamasaramiviteyundu vaadaa (Fig. 12)
= paadam
= avarohanam sequence
= name [meaning : Sreeraaman's arrow is here, come.]

2. mithraaya varu'naaya cha
cha varu'naaya mithraaya
krishi bhaaramaakumathre
= paadam
= avarohanam sequence
= name [meaning: agriculture shall not be a burden.]

3. naraa saveerayaa dhiyaa
kalayoo niraasa veeraa
= paadam
= name [meaning : brave man, don't be disappointed.]

4. junneeru hotha'rishunaam (jarmanathisaa jaathi)

= avarohana vritha paadam

5. vishu vathaa' para enaava'rena
[aana varana vazhi veethi poraa]
= aarohana vritha paadam
= name [meaning : The path through which elephant comes is not broad enough.]

6. divam yayadi vaavaso
[vritthaa poyi jeevan]
= avarohana vritha paadam
= name [meaning : The life was wasted.]

7. yadaa pasumnna gopaa: karaamahe
[kaarana jale kanakamani]
= avarohana vritha paadam
= name

8. jeevaa'thi sarada'ssatham
[veshamithaano Raajaajee]
= avarohana vritha paadam
= name [meaning : Is this your dress, Rajaji?]

The above are some of the paadams and names which acclaimed popularity in the last generation.

According to Vadakkumkoor Rajaraja Varma, the erstwhile practice of recording kalidina samkhya (number representing the day of Kaliyugam) in catchy words using katapayaadi system evolved from "paadam vekkal" which has vanished along with the traditional method of vedam teaching. It can perhaps be rejuvenated by applying it to poems and light music. Readers may try the following paadams.

For the benefit of the few who are still knowledgeable and remember veda paadams, the author has searched out a few names concocted by the old-timers.

1. njaanini yama padavi vaanu
2. veenathu nokkoo
3. thakruthi makara naadam
4. narapaalarathham
5. Chaathe poyi thevadaa
6. sukhameeyanchariyo surayo
7. Raajaa porinu vaa
8. he Thaathree thoda veno
9. rishi cheythu sivanabhishekam
10. Sankaraa thunayaaru
11. he kaanatte saar nilkkanam
12. chaavaam bhayamo
13. ithalppa ghosha nagaram
14. mahan mahaa kemanaa
15. aazhimakale thuna
16. rishiddevathaa
17. sooryo devathaa
18. ekaadasi molelari
19. kaanaamo thengumeethe nathine
20. viddhyane peru para
21. eeyaniyanu peru mahaa kemam
22. moosinumoru peraavaam
23. roudraveshamee nrsimham
24. vaasanaasaali vainikan
25. vaasana veno thonnaan

NOTE : It was Udiyannoor Raman Namboodiripad and the late Mangalath Parameswaran Bhattathiripad who furnished the author with the paadams and the names for this article.

| Article No:4.6.2 | Last update of this article:5th July 2009 |
Article by: Dr. K M J Namboodiri, Mannoor Mana, Punnayoorkkulam, Thrissur Dist., Phone: 0483-2762074
English translation: K D Nambudripad

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