|Avinashi is not a name of place, but the name of a God|
“ What is wrong in christening our children after place names like Moscow, Russia and Cuba, while it is correct for you to name your kids as Vellingiri or Palani ? “ argue atheists with believers of God. But, the God-fearing parents christen their children so in order to show their deep devotion to the abodes of their favourite deities. Strangely, villages too sometimes get their names after the Gods. And one such village in Kongunadu was Avinashi.
‘Avinashi’, which is rather a town in the present day Kongu region, takes its name from the word ‘Avinasam’ literally meaning ‘No greater evil’. It is an opposite of the word ‘Vinasam’ which means ‘Greater evil’. Avinashi, being also the name of a deity, is interpreted in chaste Tamil as ‘Perungediliyappar’ implying” Killer of all greater agonies of mankind’
Avinashi Temple, which is one of the famous seven Shiva shrines of Kongunadu ( Kongu Eazhu Sivalayangal) is celebrated much in the Tamil devotional literature Thevaram. However, the Shaivite saint Sundaramurthy Nayanar, who penned the work, addresses the deity in one of his lines as ‘Thiruppukoliyur Avinashiye’ (Oh Avinashi of Thiruppukoliyur) Hence, it can be understood from the lines of Sundararar that the old name for the present day Avinashi was Thirupukoliyur, a village, where the temple of Lord Avinashi was located. However, in due course, the village itself came to be called as ‘Avinashi’ after the deity’s name.
Thirupukoliyur or Pukkoliyur was once near the temple of Avinashi, as per old records of the town. Also, it could have got its name as ‘Pukkoliyur’ due to a unique geographical feature of the area, which was abounding in the wild growth of a grass called ‘Vizhal’ (Cuscus grass). Moreover, the village, which was located in the downs, could have appropriately come to be called as ‘Pul Kuzhi Oor’ or ‘The village in the downs abounding in grasses’ It may be noted that there was always a trend in Kongunadu naming localities as ‘Alandurai’ Marudhur’ Panayur’ Suralur’ ( Sulur) and so on after the flora found aplenty in the respective regions.
Nevertheless, Cholan Poorva Pattayam, a later period work on the history of Kongunadu, notes that Avinashi got its name after ‘Aavan’ an Irula chieftain, who once ruled the region. This too could be true, as there was also a trend in Kongunadu naming villages as Kodumudi and Kavayanputhur after their respective chieftains.
What is more, even the name ‘Coimbatore’ is a corruption of ‘Kovanputhur’ which was once a tribal hamlet named after the Irula chieftain Kovan!
Compiled by: B. Meenakshi Sundaram
Sources: Cholan Poorva Pattayam Kaattum Kongu Naattu Oorgal – Dr. K Nachimuthu, Kongu Eazhu Sivalayangal – Dr. Pulavar Maniyan.