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Wednesday, June 10, 2009


"Karnikaram" has been troubling me for some time now. At first I knew only that it was Sanskrit for some kind of flower. Later, when the film songs 'karnikaram poothu thalirthu, kalpanakal thalameduthu…' and 'Vaalittu kannezuthum karnikaram, ninne varavelkkum shankupushpam..' etc. became popular, Karnikaaram to me became Konnapoo. I must have gathered this information in my highly unfocussed readings or somebody may have told me. For a long time, karnikaaram and konnapoo meant the same thing for me. (It did require some stretching of imagination to imagine 'vaalittezhuthia karnikaram.' Golden nose rings strewn on the ground in the morning came to my mind more readily.)

A couple of months ago, I posted a blog script on "Golden Shower"- Indian Laburnum. At that time, I looked up in the internet the Sanskrit names of Kanikonna. "Aragvadha' 'chaturangula' 'Kritamala' 'suvarnaka' are all Sanskrit names of Konna. But Karnikaram is not one of them.

In the Malayalam translation of Shloka 5, Dashakam 67 of Narayaneeyam (Vanamala Vyakhyanam) 'karnikara' in the line "Ha chootha, ha champaka, karnikara..' is 'konnapoo'. A recent issue of 'Mangalam Weekly' also carried the same information. I thought I should make some research.

There are some references in the internet to Karnikaram. The great majority of it refers to two shlokas from Bhagavatam.

'Bahupeetam vapu karnayo karnikaram' (10.21.5) and

'Sahasra patra kamalam gokulaakhyam, mahatpadam tat karnikaram..' (5.2)

The English translation given is "a particular kind of blue lotus like flower" "the whorl of the lotus".

Internet site "" karnikara is the Sanskrit and Malayalam names of 'kanak champa'-Dinner plate tree (Pterospermum acerifolium'. The Tamil name of this is given as 'vennagu'. The narration is:-

'the golden hued flower has a beautiful tassel like form which makes it look very ornamental. It has an intense fragrance, perceptible from a great distance while it is on the tree. The fragrance starts fading the moment it is plucked. The golden pendant flowers of the 'karnikara' adorn the ears of Srikrishna of the Bhagavatam (karnayoh karnikaram)

It would appear; 'kanak champa' has a greater claim to adorn the ears of the Lord, especially as Konna is available hardly for two months in a year.

I have sent a letter to Professor O.N.V.Kurup. I hope he will clarify.