Blog Archive

► 2009 (66)
► 2010 (75)
► 2011 (81)
► 2012 (80)
▼ 2013 (31)
► January (5)
► February (10)
▼ March (16)
387. ò_ைமµu தகçu!
388. __ைகµu நா
ம_L¦u!
389. ெநaதc
ேகளoமாu!
390. காoப_யலேர!
391. ேவc ஆaரu
cைளக!
392. அu_தu அoன
க_u¦!
393. பழaகo
வா_eைக!
394. எo_u ெசcேலo!
395. அc_ ெநcco
அrயc!
396. பாடcசாc வளo!
397. தo _ழேலேம!
398. __u¦ப_
òதாஅu!
T U E S D A Y , M A R C H 1 9 , 2 0 1 3
நo_
அைட,
வணக.
றநா பாடக கடத நா ஆகளாக
நா எதிவத உைரக வைடதன. இவைர,
தமிழபக 15,000 ைற எைடய
வைலதளக ெச நா பதி ெசள
உைரகைள பததாக (அல பாதாக) ளி
விவரக கிறன. இவைர எைடய
பதிகைள பதவக இனி
பகவிபவக எ மனமாத நறி.
த 200 பாடக நா எதிய உைரைய
ெசைனயி உள காயா பதிபகதா கடத ஆ
ஒ லாக ெவளியிளன. அத கிைட
விவர:
காcயா ப_Lபகu
16, இரoடாu __e__ ெத_
µரuL¦ரu, ேகாடuபாeகu, ெசoைன 600 024
ெதாைலேபò: 044 – 2372 6882; 9840480232
0 Share Share
More

Next Blog» Create Blog

Sign In
puram400
Tamil enthusiasts in the Washington D.C. area get together twice a month to discuss PuranaanuuRu.
At these meetings I discuss each poem in great detail. This blog contains the PuRanaanuuRu
poems(70 and onwards), meanings for difficult words in those poems, commentaries on those poems
and other related information as presented in those meetings. My explanations for poems 1 through
69 can be seen in my blog http://puram1to69.blogspot.com
PDFmyURL.com
òதாஅu!
399. கடçL_u
ெதாேடo!
400. உல_ காe_u
உயu ெகாoைக!
Abrief Introduction to
Puranaanuuru
நo_
About Me
j ைன வ u . L ர பா க ர o
View my complete profile
அ 200 பாடககான உைரைய காயா
பதிபகதா இத ஆ ெவயிட திடமிளன.
கடத ஐ ஆகளாக, நா எைடய
நபக மாதமிைற றநாைற ப
க பாிமாற ெசேதா. சில சமய, பவழி
அைழ (Teleconf erence) ல கலைரயா க
பாிமாற ெசேதா. இத ஆ வாசிட
வடாரதி “றநா” எற தைலபி ஒ பனா
மாநா நடத திடமிேளா. மாநாைட பறிய
ெசதிகைள www.classicalt amil.org எற இைணயதளதி
காணலா.
அத மாநா மாணவகைள ஈபவதகாக, “A
brief Int roduct ion t o puranaanuuru” எற தைலபி
ஆகிலதி ஒ கைர எதிேள. அத
கைரைய இத வைலதளதி பதி ெசேள.
இத கைர பல பயளதாக இ எ
எகிேற.
நாக றநா பத மமலாம, றநா
ெதாடள கதரகக நடதி பலைர அவறி
ஈபதி, றநாறி நாக ாி ெகாடைத
மறவகட பகி ெகாேடா. நா எ
நபக றநாைற பரவத பபத
ெசத யசிக ேபாகா எ நிைனகிேற.
இனி, வைலதளகளி ெதாட பதி ெசயாம,
அவெபா, றநா ெதாடபான சில
கைரகைள ம பதி ெசயலா எ
எணிெகாகிேற.
மீ ஒைற அைனவ நறி றி,
தகாகமாக வைலதளகளி விைடெபகிேற.
அட,
பிரபாகர
PDFmyURL.com
Posted by jைனவu. Lரபாகரo at 12:44 PM 2 comments:
Label s: நo_
A brief Introduction to Puranaanuuru
A brief Introduction to
Puranaanuuru
Dr. R. Prabhakaran
Bel Air, Maryland
Preface
Puranaanuuru is considered to be one of the outstanding
literatures of the world. It reflects the life style and the values of the
Tamil society that existed 2000 years ago. I have attempted to capture
the essence of Puranaanuuru in this essay. It is impossible to express
the original ideas of Puranaanuuru in English the way they are felt and
realized in Tamil rendering, and that too in a few pages. So, I would
like state at the outset that this is only a very modest attempt on my
part to highlight some of the salient aspects of Puranaanuuru.
Tamil words and names are difficult to write in English. I did not
have access to the software that might help to Romanize the Tamil
words the way they should be rendered phonetically with suitable
diacritics. I have adopted a simple and intuitive approach to write the
Tamil words in English.
If the reader feels that this essay has provided a basic
overview and an appreciation for the depth and breadth of
Puranaanuuru, I would consider that my objective in writing this essay
has been achieved.
Dr. R. Prabhakaran
Bel Air, Maryland
PDFmyURL.com
A brief Introduction to Puranaanuuru
Dr. R. Prabhakaran
Tamil Civilizat ion
There is a general consensus among the historians that the
Tamil Civilization is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Although
the archeological excavations, epigraphs and numismatic evidences
found inside and outside of Tamil Nadu point to the antiquity of Tamil
Civilization, historians find it difficult to reconstruct the early history of
Tamil people with any degree of certainty. However, In the case of
Tamil people, in addition to the artifacts, the Tamil literature provides
valuable information to partially reconstruct their history of the past two
millennia, if not earlier. Therefore, in addition to its elegance and
beauty, the ancient Tamil literature is also an important source of
information for Tamil history.
Ant iquit y of Tamil language
Like the Tamil civilization, the Tamil language is also
considered as one of the oldest languages of the world. It is
comparable in its antiquity to languages such as Chinese, Arabic,
Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. It has an independent literary
tradition. It has a vast collection of rich and robust literature. In view of
its antiquity, independent tradition and the vastness of its rich and
robust literature, Tamil has been considered as one of the classical
languages of the world. For example, Dr. George L. Hart, former Tamil
Chair at the University of California, Berkeley, makes the following
statement regarding the classical nature of Tamil:
“The quality of classical Tamil literature is such that it is fit to
stand beside the great literatures of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin,
Chinese, Persian and Arabic. The subtlety and profundity of its
works, their varied scope, and their universality qualify Tamil to
stand as one of the great classical traditions and literatures of
the world.”
In spite of the fact that scholars like Dr. George L. Hart had
long ago realized the classical nature of Tamil, for political reasons,
the government of India did not recognize Tamil as a classical
language until October 2004.
Ant iquit y of Tamil lit erat ure
The oldest literary work in Tamil is known as Tholkaappiyam
PDFmyURL.com
(ெதாcகாLLயu) written by Tholkaappiyar. Most literary historians
consider that at least parts of Tholkaappiyam were written in 3
rd
century BCE. Tholkaapiyam is the earliest, most authoritative and
comprehensive work on Tamil grammar. The fact that an elaborate
grammar like Tholkaappiyam was written 2300 years ago, implies that
Tamil must have been a well developed language long before that
period. In addition to Tholkaappiyam, a large number of poems were
composed before the dawn of the Christian era by hundreds of poets
dealing with a wide variety of subjects as love, war, governance, goals
of life and various other aspects of life. Of that extensive set of
poems only a fraction of them is now available. Those poems that are
available are collectively known as Sangam literature. The exact time
period in which Sangam literature came into existence is difficult to
pinpoint. According to Dr. M. Varadharajan, a well known Tamil scholar
and a historian of Tamil literature, the Sangam period is from 500 BCE
to 200 AD. The late Prof. A. K. Rramanujam, formerly professor at the
University of Chicago, considered that the Sangam period was from
100 BCE to 250 AD. However, most scholars agree that the Sangam
period is probably from 300 BCE to 300 AD. Puranaanuuru is part of
Sangam literature. The ensuing paragraphs will provide a general
overview of Tholkaappiyam and Sangam literature and an in- depth
review of Puranaanuuru.
Tholkaappiyam: Tholkaappiyam contains three sections. The
first section, known as ezhuthathikaaram (எ__த_காரu) deals with
orthography and phonology of Tamil language. The second section,
titled sollathikaaram (ெசாcல_காரu) deals with morphology and
syntax of Tamil words. The third section called poruLathikaaram
(ெபா_ள_காரu) is about the subject matter or substance of poetry. It
should be noted that in the early stages of the development of Tamil
language, there was no prose and people wrote only poetry.
Tholkaappiyam provides grammar in great detail for the composition
of poetry. The subject matter of poetry is divided into two parts, akam
and puram. Akam deals with the affairs of the heart or the love
between the sexes and their behavior towards each other. These
include the following scenarios: 1) meeting between a man and his
beloved and the development of their love, 2) the man leaving his
beloved for education, employment, or participation in a war, 3) the
beloved waiting for her lover’s return, 4) longing and suffering of the
beloved because of the separation from her lover, and 5) minor
quarrels between the lover and his beloved where she feigns anger
against him upon his return. The various events and memories of
those events during the five stages in the love affair between a man
and his beloved are private in nature and they are not discussed in
public. The word ‘akam’ means ‘inside’ or in this context things that
pertain only to the lovers.
PDFmyURL.com
The other subject matter that is suitable for poetry is known as
puram. The word ‘puram’ means outside. It deals with such things as
war, fame, goals of life, expression of grief over the death of warriors
by his friends and family, charity, seeking gifts from kings and
chieftains, poets providing advice to kings, and other similar subject
matters which are suitable candidates for public discussion.
Sangam Lit erat ure: The term Sangam literature refers to ten
long poems varying in length from 183 to 850 lines and eight
anthologies of poems varying in length from three to forty lines. The ten
long poems are known as paththuppaattu (ப__LபாL_) and the eight
anthologies of short poems are called ettuththokai (எL__ ெதாைக).
The poetry contained in the Sangam literature is the collective work of
approximately 475 poets of whom approximately 30 of them were
women.
The ten long poems are as follows:
1) thirumurukaarruppadai (__j_கா__Lபைட)
2) porunaraarruppadai (ெபா_நரா__Lபைட)
3) sirupaaNaarruppadai (ò_பாணா__Lபைட)
4) perumpaaNaarruppadai (ெப_uபாணா__Lபைட)
5) mullaippaattu(jcைலLபாL_)
6) madhuraikkaanji(ம_ைரe கா¿ò)
7) nedunalvaadai (ெந_நcவாைட)
8) kurunjippaattu (__¿òLபாL_)
9) pattinappaalai(பLµனLபாைல)
10) malaipadukadaam (மைலப_கடாu)
There is a four line poem which lists the ten poems of
paththuppaattu. The poem is as follows:
j__ ெபா_நா_ பாoரo_ jcைல
ெப__ வள ம_ைரe கா¿ò - ம_coய
ேகால ெந_நc வாைட ேகாc__¿òLபLµனL
பாைல கடா_ெதா_u ப__.
Of these ten poems, six of them belong to the category of
puram. They are:
thirumurukaarruppadai (__j_கா__Lபைட)
porunaraarruppadai (ெபா_நரா__Lபைட)
sirupaaNaarruppadai (ò_பாணா__Lபைட)
perumpaaNaarruppadai (ெப_uபாணா__Lபைட)
malaipadukadaam (மைலப_கடாu)
maduraikkaanji(ம_ைரe கா¿ò)
The following four of the ten poems belong to the akam category. They
PDFmyURL.com
are:
mullaippaattu(jcைலLபாL_)
kurunjippaattu (__¿òLபாL_)
pattinappaalai(பLµனLபாைல)
nedunalvaadai (ெந_நcவாைட)
However there is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding
nedunalvaadai as to which category it belongs to. Some of them are of
the opinion that it belongs to akam whereas others argue that it
belongs to puram.
The eight anthologies are as follows:
narriNai (ந__ைண)
kurunthokai (___ெதாைக)
aingkurunuuru (ஐa____)
pathitruppaththu (ப___Lப__)
paripaadal (பrபாடc)
kalithokai (கc_ெதாைக)
akanaanuuru (அகநா__)
puranaanuuru (¦றநா__)
Like in the case of pathuppaattu, there is a poem which documents the
eight anthologies. It is as follows:
ந__ ைண நcல ___ெதாைக ஐa____
ஒ_த ப___Lப__ ஓa_ பrபாடc
க_ற__தாu ஏ__u கcேயா_ அகu¦றu எo_
இ__ற_த எL__ ெதாைக.
Of these eight anthologies, narrinai, kurunthokai,
aingkurunuuru, kalithokai and akanaanuuru belong to the category of
akam; in other words their subject matter is love. pathirruppaththu and
puranaanuuru are of the puram variety; that is, they deal with matters
other than love. paripaatal is a combination akam and puram.
The above information is provided to impress upon the reader
that the Tamil language is ancient and has an extraordinary collection
of elegant literature dealing with various aspects of life. Regarding the
excellence of the Sangam literature, Dr. A. K. Ramanujam states: "In
their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in
any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In
their values and stances, they represent a mature classical poetry:
passion is balanced by courtesy, transparency by ironies and nuances
of design, impersonality by vivid detail, and austerity of lines by
richness of implication.”
For more detailed information regarding these poems, the
PDFmyURL.com
reader is referred to “The Golden Anthology of Ancient Tamil
Literature” by Balakrishna Mudaliar.
Purananuuru
General charact erist ics of Puranaanuuru: The themes of
the poems of Puranaanuuru include kingship, war, words of wisdom,
elegy (poems written expressing sorrow or lamentations for one who is
dead) for the valiant warriors, poets seeking gifts from the kings and
chieftains, generosity of the kings and chieftains, goals of human life,
celebration of the ferocity and glory of the kings, poverty of the poets,
and other subjects suitable for public discussion. The poems of
Puranaanuuru provide detailed insight into the social, political and
economic conditions of Tamil Nadu during the Sangam period along
with valuable historic information. In the words of Dr. George L. Hart,
“Puranaanuuru is extremely important to the study and understanding of
the development of much of South Asia’s history, culture, religion, and
linguistics. But, beyond this, the Puranaanuuru is a great work of
literature, accurately and profoundly reflecting the life of Tamil Nadu
2,000 years ago. Its appeal is universal: it has much to say about
living and dying, despair, poverty, love and the changing nature of
existence.” This important piece of Tamil literature was first published
in the form of a book in 1894 by Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer, who is
affectionately known as the Tamil Thaathaa (தu__ தா_தா), meaning
the grandfather of Tamil.
Puranaanuuru is a collection of 400 poems belonging to the
puram category. Out of the 400 poems only 398 are now available.
The identity of the person who compiled this anthology as well as the
identity of the king under whose patronage it was compiled continues
to be a mystery. Out of the 398 poems, 384 were composed by
approximately 157 poets; the authors of the remaining 14 poems are
unknown. Out of the 157 poets 14 were women.
The kings and the poets play the major roles in most of the
poems of Puranaanuuru. In the following sections, the role of kings and
the poets will be discussed first. Subsequent to that, general
information that one can glean from Puranaanuuru about the Tamil
society will be discussed. Finally, the concept of life and the goals of
life as described in Puranaanuuru will be reviewed.
Kings
The political system during the Puranaanuuru period was
absolute monarchy. Ancient Tamil Nadu consisted of three major
kingdoms, known as the Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms. Each
kingdom contained within it several small kingdoms ruled by chieftains.
The chieftains paid taxes and royalties to the kings in whose kingdoms
PDFmyURL.com
their countries were situated. The kings also collected revenue from the
landowners and merchants. The king was the person responsible for
the protection of his country from enemies from within or outside the
country. Wars among the Kings and wars among the chieftains were not
uncommon. Puranaanuuru mentions the glory of kings who fought major
wars and achieved victories in the battlefields. The goal of a king was
to rule their countries in a just manner and protect their citizens as a
mother would protect her children. Although they were interested in
protecting their citizens like a mother, they did not hesitate to inflict
hardship on the citizens of other countries and make them suffer like
orphans.
The kings had absolute power over their country. It is
interesting to note that the Tamil word “iraivan” (இைறவo) means a
king as well as God. Also, the word “kOyil’ means the temple as well
as the king’s residence. In spite of this power, the kings wanted to be
just in their actions, easily accessible to their citizens, poets,
musicians and other artists. They were very generous in giving gifts to
the poets and musicians and others who came to them asking for help.

The king played a central and vital role in the country. To
emphasize this point, the poet Mosi Keeranaar says that the life of a
country depends not on food and water but on the king and it is
important that he realizes his vital role.
ெநc_u உauஅoேற; __u உauஅoேற;
மoனo உau_ேத மலuதைல உலகu;
அதனாc, யாoஉau எoப த_ைக
ேவou_ தாைன ேவ_த__e கடேன.
(Puranaanuuru - 186)
Rice is not the life of the world nor is the water! The king is the
life of this world with its wide expanses! And so it is incumbent
upon a king who maintains an army wielding many spears to
know of himself” “I am this world’s life!”
The kings realized that the welfare of the country depended on their
ability to be skillful and talented in the art of ruling the country. There is
a poem in Puranaanuuru written by a king by the name Thondaimaan
Ilanthiraiyan (ெதாoைடமாo இள__ைரயo) emphasizing the
importance of skillful governance by the king. The poem is as follows:
காcபாu ேகா__ ஞால__ இயe_u
காவ_ சாகா_ உைகLேபாo மாoo
ஊ_இoறாJ ஆ_இo_ ப_ேம;
PDFmyURL.com
உa_தc ேத_றாo ஆao ைவக_u
பைகe+_ அoள_ பL_
uகLபc _ேநாa தைல_தைல_ த_ேம.
(Puranaanuuru – 185)
When a cart that is well guarded has a driver who is skilled, it
will move through the world, with wheels and shaft joined, and it
will roll on smoothly without meeting any obstacles! But if the
driver does not know how to handle it, then every single day,
he will sink the cart into dense and hostile mud and it will
create nothing but immense, fierce suffering over and over! (G.
L. Hart)
The kings felt that it was important to be loved by their citizens
and being praised by poets. In turn, as long as the king was just in his
actions and ruled the country with grace and magnanimity, he was
guaranteed of the loyalty of his citizens. In fact, during the Sangam
period, the concept of patriotism for ones country was considered
synonymous with loyalty towards the kings. The concept of a unified
Tamil country united by Tamil language and culture was absent.
Instead, a country meant Chera, Chola, Pandya kingdom or a region
ruled by a chieftain within the three kingdoms. When citizens fought
valiantly and died in the battlefields, it was out of loyalty towards their
kings and not out of patriotic spirit towards their country. This lack of
unity among the kings who ruled Tamil Nadu led to the invasion of
Tamil Nadu by KaLappirars during the third century AD.
Poet s
During the Sangam age, the poets played a critical role in the
society. Obviously they were respected for their knowledge. Some
were very poor and wrote poetry praising the kings and patrons for the
sake of receiving valuable gifts. Although they praised the kings and
patrons for gifts, they maintained their self respect. For example, the
poet Perunthalai Saathanaar (ெப__தைலe சா_தனாu) goes to a
patron seeking gifts. But, the patron delays seeing him and giving him
gifts. In poem 205, the poet says, “Even from the three kings (Chera,
Chola and Pandya) with all their wealth, we want nothing unless it is
given with love!” The poets expected the kings and patrons to receive
them with due respect, listen to their poetry and give them appropriate
gifts with love and affection. The gifts were supposed to be given in
appreciation of their knowledge and not as mere charity to one who
comes begging.
Another example to illustrate the respect and reverence
enjoyed by the poets can be seen from the story of Mosi Keeranaar
PDFmyURL.com
(ேமாò ேகரனாu) described in poem 50 of Puranaanuuru. The poet
Mosi Keeranaar went to see a Chera king. When he reached the king’s
palace, he was very tired and he slept in a bed that was empty. Little
did he know that it was not a bed, but it was the sacred place to keep
the kingdom’s royal drum. That day, the palace servants had taken the
royal drum from its place for the sake of cleaning it to get rid of the
stain from the blood that fell on it from the recent war. So, the seat of
the drum was empty. During the Sangam period, the seat of the royal
drum was considered sacred and was not supposed to be used as a
bed or a place to sit. Anyone who violated the sacrosanct nature of the
seat of the drum was subject to capital punishment. When the king saw
the poet Mosi keeranaar sleeping on the seat of the drum, he
immediately understood that it was the poet’s honest mistake. The
king picked up a hand- held fan and waved it on the body of the poet
to give him fresh air and comfort, just as the palace servants would do
for the king. When the poet woke up, he realized his mistake and the
magnanimous gesture of the king. This shows that the poets were
highly respected by the kings for their knowledge and wisdom.
The poets have also served as wise and trusted advisors to
the kings. The poets did not hesitate to criticize the kings when the
kings were wrong or cruel in their actions. Once the king NedungkiLLi
(ெந_aJoo) was hiding in his palace when his city was besieged by
his cousin NalangkiLLli (நலaJoo). This caused immense suffering
for the people of the city, because they could not get supplies past the
army waiting outside the city walls. The poet KOvuur kizhaar (ேகா_u
Jழாu) goes to NedugkiLLi and admonishes him for his lack of bravery.
The poet says the following:
“O lord of powerful horse whose strength can hardly be
equaled! If you live by righteousness, open your gates and say, “The
city is yours!” If you live by martial courage, open them and fight! But if
you are without righteousness, without martial courage and all you do
is to hide on your own grounds within your high walls while your
massive gates stay closed and never open, do you realize how much
cause for shame is in this!”
In another instance, the Chola king NedungkKiLLi mistakes the
innocent poet ILanthathan for a spy and was going to kill him. Poet
KOvur Kizhaar goes to NedungkKiLLi and convinces him and
successfully spares the poet’s life.
When the chieftain Pekan was separated from his wife Kannaki
and lived with another woman, the famous poets Paranar, Kapilar, Arisil
kizhaar and Perungkunruur Kizhaar condemned Pekan for his conduct
and refused to accept gifts from him. They insisted that the only thing
PDFmyURL.com
they wanted from him was that he should be reunited with his wife and
make her happy.
The episode of the poet Perunjcithiranaar (ெப_¿ò__ரனாu)
is very interesting and clearly illustrates the poet’s pride and self-
respect. The poet was in dire poverty. His elderly mother, his wife and
child were without food and were suffering from pangs of hunger. The
poet went to the king VeLimaan seeking gifts. When the poet arrived,
unfortunately the king was about to die. The king told his younger
brother ILaveLimaan (இளெவoமாo) to take care of the poet. But, the
younger brother was not capable of appreciating the poet’s knowledge
and insulted the poet by giving him a trivial gift. The poet refused to
accept that, left the palace and went to king Kumanan who was known
for his philanthropy. King Kumanan gave elephants, chariots and other
valuable items as gifts to poet Perunjcithiranaar. The poet, instead of
going home to his wife, went to ILaveLimaan and embarrassed him by
gifting him an elephant. He then went home to his wife and told her to
be very generous in giving away his new found wealth to all their
relatives, friends and creditors without even consulting him.
Inf ormat ion about t he Tamil societ y during t he Puranaanuuru
period
Aryan Inf luence: Most historians consider that the Aryans
migrated from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent during the period
2000BCE – 500BCE. According to K. A. Nilakanta Sasthri, a noted
historian of South India, although the initial migration was to the northern
part of India, starting somewhere about 1000 BCE the movement of the
Aryans into the south India and in particular to Tamil Nadu has was
complete. Therefore, the Aryan migration into Tamil Nadu took place
before the Sangam period. In Puranaanuuru, there are several
references to Brahmins (Aryans), the Vedas, Vedic culture, the epic
Ramayana, the Vedic gods such as Shiva (மouட_ேறாo), Vishnu
(மாேயாo), Balaraman (பலராமo). In addition to the Vedic gods, the
Tamil god Murugan (j_கo) is also mentioned. Whenever these gods
are referenced, their attributes are mentioned. Although there are a few
poems in Puranaanuuru where it is mentioned that the kings had
followed the Vedic tradition and participated in special prayers known
as ேவoc, there is no mention of people praying to gods for any
anticipated benefits. No religion is advocated in any of the poems of
Puranaanuuru. On the contrary there are several references to the
worship of tombstones (ந_கc) of dead war heroes in order to pay
homage to them. So, in spite of the knowledge of the mythology of the
Vedic gods, the tradition of praying to them has not been the common
practice as it is in the modern day Tamil Nadu. So, Puranaanuuru is
totally secular in nature.
PDFmyURL.com
The cast e syst em: One of the key components of the Vedic
religion is the “varunasirama dharma” which stipulates that people can
be classified into four categories; the Brahmins, the Kshthriyas, the
Vysias and the Sudhras. The Brahmins are the priestly class, the
Kshthrias are the ruling class, the Vysias are the business class and
lastly the Sudhras belong to the working class who serve the other
three classes of people. The Vedic system of classification is based
on birth. One belongs to the class of one’s birth and it cannot be
changed. The Vedic classification also included a fifth category of
people who were considered to be outcastes and untouchables. This
class system later gave rise to hundreds of castes in the Tamil society
and thus created a graded inequality based upon people’s birth.
Puranaanuuru also makes references to the four classes of people.
But, there is no mention of other castes in Puranaanuuru. However, the
people who worked in the graveyards and involved in cremation of
dead bodies were considered to be of lower in status and even
referred to as “இ_LறLLேனாo” (363). Based on this and other
references to terms like “¦ைலயo”, “இ_òனo” and so on, Dr.
George Hart and Prof. A. K. Ramanujam conclude that there were some
people who were considered as low castes. In actuality, the lower
status of some people was based on the type of work they performed
and not by their birth as in the case of the class system practiced by
the Brahmins. For example, there is no evidence to indicate that the
children of pulaians were considered as pulaians. Therefore, it
appears that the caste system as we now know was not prevalent in
the Tamil society during the Sangam period. Hence, it is reasonable to
believe that the four classes described in the Vedas evolved into a
more elaborate caste system as the influence of the Brahmins and their
culture began to take deep roots in the Tamil society after the Sangam
period. Dr. S. Palaniappan, a Tamil scholar has done extensive
research on the subject of caste in the ancient Tamil society. Based on
his extensive research of Sangam literature and the epigraphs
associated with that period, he has come to the conclusion that the
caste system was not in existence during Sangam period.
The concept of universal brot herhood: ThiruvaLLuvar, a
well known ethicist of later period than the Sangam period states that
“All people are equal at birth; they do become different by their
accomplishments during the course of their life.” Similar concept of
equality at birth and a universal outlook which emphasized that all
people are really related to each other is espoused by the poet
KaNiayan Puungunranaar in his famous poem in Puranaanuuru. The
Tamil version of the poem and the English translation are given below:
யா_u ஊேர; யாவ_u ேகou;
__u நo_u Lறuதர வாரா;
PDFmyURL.com
ேநாத_u தoத_u அவ_ேறா ரoன;
சாத_u ¦_வ_ அoேற; வா_தc
இo_என மJ__தo_u இலேம; joco, 5
இoனா ெதoற_u இலேம uoெனா_
வானu தo_o தைலஇ, ஆனா_
கcெபா__ இரa_u மcல_ ேபuயா__
_uவ_L ப_உu ¦ைணேபாc, ஆ_au
jைறவ_L ப_உu எoப_ _றேவாu 10
காLòao ெதo_தனu ஆகco மாLòao
ெபrேயாைர cய_த_u இலேம;
ò_ேயாைர இக_தc அதo_u இலேம.
(Purananuru 192)
All towns are ours. Everyone is our kin. Evil and goodness do
not come to us
because they are given by others. Nor do suffering and the ending of
suffering.
Death is nothing new. We do not rejoice when living is sweet. When we
suffer, we do not say that living is miserable. Through the vision of
those who have understood, we know that precious life makes its way
like a raft riding a powerful huge river that roars endlessly, fed by cold
rains with bolts of lightning as it crashes against rocks. So, we are not
awed by those who are great; much less we do not despise those who
are weak. (Translation by Mrs. Vaidehi Herbert)
It is remarkable that it was even possible for KaNiyan
Puungkunranaar to come up with this type of universal outlook some
two thousand years ago. It is interesting to note that the elitist
document, the Declaration of Independence adopted by the
Continental Congress of USA in 1776 only stated that “All men are
equal”. It took a civil war to emancipate the blacks from slavery and
give them partial rights and pseudo equality. The acceptance that
women were equal to men came only in 1920 after considerable
struggle, and protest by women. So, in this context, KaNiyan
Puungkunranaar’s declaration that “All towns are ours. Everyone is our
kin.” is truly amazing.
Lit eracy: As stated above, although the majority of the poets
of Puranaanuuru were men, there was also significant number of
female poets. The poets came from various walks of life. For example,
the poets included kings, Brahmins, business people, dealers in gold
coins, hunters, medical practitioners, landlords, teachers, housewives
and so on. They constructed the poems of Puranaanuuru according to
strict grammatical rules enunciated in Tholkaappiyam. Therefore, those
who wrote these poems must have had reasonably high level of
education and proficiency in Tamil language and grammar. Since they
PDFmyURL.com
were from different walks of life and from different social status, it is
clear that the educational opportunities were generally available to
men and women of all strata of the society. Also, people have
understood the value and importance of education. This is evident from
the following poem by Ariyappadai Kadantha Nedunjsezhian
(ஆrயLபைட கட_த ெந_¿ெச_யo), a Pandya king.
உ___ உதcµu உ_ெபா_o ெகா___u
L_ைற_ைல joயா_ க_றc நoேற;
LறLேபா ரoன உடoவa__ உo_u
òறLLo பாலாo தாµuமனu _rµu;
ஒ__µL Lற_த பcேலா _o_u 5
j_ேதாo வ_க எoனா_ அவ_o
அ_çைட ேயாoஆ_ அரeu ெசc_u;
ேவ__ைம ெதr_த நா_பாc உo_u
è_Lபாc ஒ_வo க_Lo
ேம_பாc ஒ_வ_u அவoகo ப_ேம. 10
(Puranaanuuru – 183)
Learning is a fine thing to have even if a student helps a
teacher in his troubles, gives him a mass of wealth and honors him
without ever showing disdain! Among those born from the same belly,
who share the same nature, a mother’s heart will be most tender
toward the most learned! Of all who are born into a joint family, a king
will not summon the eldest to his side but instead he will show favor to
the man among them who has the greatest knowledge! And with the
four classes of society distinguished as different, should anyone from
the lowest become a learned man, someone of the highest class,
reverently, will come to him to study! (G. L. Hart)
Music & dance: Poems of Puranaanuuru mention several
musical instruments. Some of them are: yaazh(யா_), muzhavu
(jழç), AhuLi(ஆ_o), pathalai(பதைல), parai(பைற), kinai (Jைண),
thuti (_µ), thadaari (தடாr). Puranaanuuru also mentions about
PaaNar (பாணu) who were male singers, Patini (பாµo) who were
female singers. It also mentions virali (cறc) the dancing woman and
porunar (ெபா_நu) the people who wore make- up and acted out the
meaning of poems. Puranaanuuru also mentions PaNs (பo) which are
the same as the ragas of the modern day Carnatic muisic. So, it is
evident that the Tamils of the Sangam age had a well developed
system of music which over the period of time has been influenced by
other cultures and has evolved into the modern day Carnatic music.
The same is the case with dances too. The very fact that the viralis are
mentioned in many poems, shows that a well developed art of dancing
was being practiced during the Sangam age. In the Tamil epic
cilappathikaaram (òலLப_காரu) which was written after the Sangam
PDFmyURL.com
period, the poet ILango adikaL (இளaேகா அµகo) makes extensive
references to a variety of dances performed by individual dancers as
well as group of dancers. Like in the case of music, the Tamil style of
dances has been influenced by other cultures and has evolved into
Bharathanatyam.
Economic condit ion: Agriculture was the occupation of the
majority of people. There were also other tradesmen like, blacksmiths,
goldsmiths, carpenters, hunters and others who earned their livelihood
by providing goods and services to the society. The national economy
depended upon the taxes from landowners and other taxes like the
excise taxes. The kings also amassed wealth from their enemies
whom they defeated. The king controlled the wealth of the nation. He
was responsible for the production and distribution of wealth. He
provided financial support to poets and artists. It looks like those who
owned land and those who had skills were financially well off whereas
the poets and the artists were totally dependent on the kings and
chieftains and other wealthy men for their livelihood.
Marriages: Although the akam literature glorifies love and
portrays marriage after courtship, in reality, the arranged marriages
were not uncommon. In fact, there are 22 poems in Puranaanuuru
dealing with the altercations and even wars between the suitors and the
families of the prospective brides. In all cases the suitors are willing to
pay huge amounts of dowry in order to marry the girl of their choice.
But, the parents refuse to give their daughters in marriage to the suitors
unless they are known for their bravery and martial skills. So, it
appears that both “love marriages” as well as “arranged marriages”
were in vogue during the Sangam period.
Roles of men and women: The female poet Ponmudiyaar
describes the role of a mother, father, young man and the king in her
well known poem (312).
ஈo_ ¦ற_த_தc எoதைலe கடேன;
சாoேறாo ஆe_தc த_ைதe_e கடேன;
ேவcவµ__e ெகா__தc ெகாcல__e கடேன;
நoனைட நcகc ேவ_த__e கடேன;
ஒo_வாo அ_¿சமu j_eJe 5
கo_எ___ ெபயuதc காைளe_e கடேன.
It is my earnest duty to bear him and raise him. It is his father’s duty to
make him into a noble man. It is the duty of the blacksmith to forge him
a spear. It is the duty of the king to show him how to behave rightly and
the duty of a young man is to fight indomitably with his shining sword,
kill elephants, and come back home. (G.L. Hart)
PDFmyURL.com
Men during Sangam period: The kings had a regular army
consisting of cavalry, fleet of elephants, fleet of chariots and infantry
soldiers. Some of the kings also had a naval force. During times of
war, all eligible men were conscripted to participate in the war. The men
considered it as an honor to fight in a war on behalf of their kings. It
was believed that a man should never turn his back on his enemies.
The right thing to do was to encounter the enemies bravely and even
be prepared to sustain fatal injuries. Being injured on the chest and
dying because of such injuries was considered as the most honorable
thing for a man. In fact, if a man died without war injuries, his chest was
cut open by a sword and then buried or cremated. In one of the poems
(74), the king KaNaikkaal Irumporai mentions that even if a child is
stillborn, inflicting a wound on the chest before the burial or cremation
was the practice. This might appear rather cruel and even barbaric.
But, the emphasis is on bravery and courage to sustain injuries and
encounter death in war.
Women during Sangam period: As mentioned previously,
Puranaanuuru includes poems written by 14 poets who were women.
Among the female poets, Avvaiyaar seems to have been very popular.
She enjoyed the patronage of the chieftain Adhiyamaan Nedumaan Anji
(அ_யமாo ெந_மாo அ¿ò). She had a very close relationship with
Adhiyamaan who seemed to have been very fond of her. In addition to
being a poet, she was also his confidante and emissary. On one
occasion, a king by the name Thondaiman Ilandhiraiyan
(ெதாoைடமாo இள__ைரயo) was planning to wage a war against
Adhiyamaan. Adhiyamaan sent Avvaiyaar as his emissary to
Thondaimaan for the purpose of persuading him not to start a war.
Avvaiyaar went to Thondaimaan’s court. He showed his arsenal of
swords, spears and shields to her. He was very proud of his armory.
Avvaiyaar said that his weapons looked new and they were shining.
She also said that Adhiyamaan’s weapons were broken because they
pierced the enemies and are always in blacksmith’s shed.
Thondaimaan understood that Adhiyamaan has used his weapons
often in wars and therefore they are damaged and also Adhiyamaan
and his army were well trained and experienced with their weaponry.
They might use the same weapons against his army very effectively.
So, he dropped the idea of waging a war against Adhiyamaan. This
incidence shows the diplomatic, clever and subtle way in which
Avvaiyaar praised Adhiyamaan indirectly and averted the war between
Adhiyamaan and Thondaimaan.
Although we encounter a few female poets in Puranaanuuru,
the majority of the women were housewives. They were highly
respected in the society as long as they were married. Once a woman
PDFmyURL.com
became a widow, her life became miserable. This was partly due to
tradition and partly due to self imposed misery to lament the death of
their husbands. It was not uncommon for widowed women to immolate
themselves by entering the funeral pyre of her husband (246). Widow
re- marriage was unheard of in Tamil Nadu during Sangam period and
even now it is not common. Generally, widows shaved their heads,
slept on uncomfortable bed of stones and ate nothing but unsalted
dishes made out of leaves and coarse grains.
The most essential quality of women was considered to be
chastity (க_¦). In the case of unmarried girls and women, chastity
meant total abstinence from sex (or not falling in love with more than
one man) and in the case of a married woman, it meant complete
fidelity to her husband and not entertaining the idea of an adulterous
relationship even in her mind.
Courage of men and women: It is clear from Puranaanuuru
that there were incessant wars among the Tamil kings. Taking part in a
war and getting killed was considered to be a courageous act for men.
Courage and valor were the hallmarks of men. When a soldier was hurt
on his back it was considered as a mark of cowardice and discredit to
his valiant nature and to his entire family, because it indicated that he
had turned his back to the enemy to run away. Suffering injuries on the
chest and dying was considered to be an act of bravery for a soldier.
Even women had shown abundant courage and were happy to
see their sons and husbands take part in wars. There are a few poems
in Puranaanuuru which shows the extraordinary bravery of women and
their sacrifice for the sake of war in support of their country and king.
The following poem depicts the courageous nature of a
soldier’s mother. When she learnt that her son died with wounds on his
chest and encountered a valiant death she felt happier than when she
gave birth to him.
uoஉo ெகாeJo _c அoன
வாcநைரe +_தc j_ேயாo ò_வo
கo_எ___ பLடனo எo_u உவைக
ஈoற ஞாo__u ெபrேத; கoou,
ேநாoகைழ _யcவ_u ெவ_ர__ 5
வாoெபய_ _aJய òதr_u பலேவ.
When she learned that her son had fallen slaying an elephant,
the old woman whose hair was as white as the feathers of a fish- eating
heron felt even more joy than the time she gave birth to him. And the
PDFmyURL.com
tears that she shed then were more than the drops that hang from
sturdy bamboo trees after they had collected water from the rain. (G. L.
Hart)
.
There is a poem by the female poet Okkuur Maasaaththiyaar
(ஒe+u மாசா__யாu) who portrays a woman who had lost her father
and husband in a war, summons her young son and gets him ready to
go to the war.
ெகக சிைத ; கஇவ ணிேவ ;
தி மகளி ஆத தேம ;
ேமநா உற ெசவி இவதைன ,
யாைன எறி களஒழி தனேன ;
ெநந உற ெசவி இவெகாநன
◌், 5
ெபநிைர விலகி ஆப டனேன ;
இ , ெசபைற ேக வி மயகி
ேவைக ெகா ெவளிவிாி உஇ
பாமயி மி எெண நீ வி
ஒமக அல இேலாள
◌் 10
ெசக ேநாகி ெசகஎன விேம .
(Puranaanuuru – 279)
May her will be broken! What she has decided on is so cruel
but yet it is fitting for a woman descended from an ancient line! Her
father, the day before yesterday in battle, brought down an elephant
and then fell dead on the field! Yesterday her husband drove back a
long rank of warriors and then was cut down in the fight! And today she
heard the sound of the war drum and she was overwhelmed with
desire! Her mind whirling, she put a spear into the hand of her only son
and she wound a white garment around his body and smeared oil
upon the dry topknot of his hair and having nothing but him said “Go
now”! and sent him off into the battle! (G. L. Hart)
This poem may sound like an exaggeration by the poet to
illustrate the woman’s family tradition of involvement in battles, her
exemplary courage, her sacrifice and her desire to secure victory for
her king. One may even be tempted to dismiss this poem as a mere
imagination of the poet and the scenario described in the poem as
totally unbelievable. To convince ourselves that the content of the
PDFmyURL.com
above poem might not be pure imagination of the poet, all we have to
do is to remind ourselves of the sacrifices made by thousands of Tamil
women in Sri Lanka in the recent years to secure Tamil Ezham. Tens of
thousands of Tamil women of Sri Lanka sacrificed the lives of their
fathers, husbands, sons and daughters and they too were directly
engaged in the war against the Sri Lankan government to secure Tamil
Ezham. Hopefully their sacrifices will not go in vain and Tamil Ezham
will become a reality in the not too distant future.
Omens: Throughout the ages, the people in every society
have had inexplicable fears about certain events and thought that
somehow those events would cause misfortunes and tragedies in their
personal life or might result in adverse conditions for their country. The
Tamil society of the Sangam period was no exception. They had their
own share of superstitious beliefs. The Tamils of the Sangam period
considered that when certain birds crossed their path it would bring
them bad luck. When a comet appeared in the sky it was believed that
it would bring bad luck to the king and may even cause the death of
the king. When the planet Venus moves in the southern direction,
seasonal rains would fail, agriculture might not be possible and the net
result would be severe drought and famine. Certain dreams were
believed to be harbingers of tragedy.
Food: It is evident that from Puranaanuuru poems that almost
everyone ate meat and the concept of vegetarianism seems to have
been totally absent. They ate mutton, birds, fish, pork, venison, rabbits
etc. In poem 14, the Brahmin poet Kabilar mentions that his hands were
so soft because he never had to do any hard work with his hands
except eating meat mixed with rice. So, it appears that the practice of
vegetarianism was introduced later than Sangam period by the
influence of Jains whose religion strongly insists upon total non-
violence towards all living beings. At first, the Brahmins began to follow
the vegetarian diet and some others emulated them because the
Brahmins were considered as the superior class. In addition to having
non- vegetarian diet, drinking liquor was also very popular. It appears
that both men and women drank toddy, a popular form of liquor
brewed locally. There is also a mention of imported wine from Rome
and Greece.
Concept of lif e and it s goals
Filmily lif e versus Ascet ic Lif e: Tamil literature makes
references to two distinct life styles: the family life and the ascetic way
of life. In the family life, a man and a woman get married and have
children. They take care of their children, their parents and lead their
life as useful members of the society by being hospitable and
generous to those who are in need. In this way of life, the focus was on
PDFmyURL.com
living life fully and contributing to the society. Life was considered to be
something positive and to be experienced in its full measure. In the
ascetic way of life one tries to control his five senses and focuses his
attention on what will benefit him in his next birth and in eventually
seeking liberation from the seemingly unending cycle of birth and
death. In Puranaanuuru poems, the poets advocate the family life.
Except in one poem (358) where the poet makes confusing statements
about the virtue of ascetic way of life, in all other poems of
Puranaanuuru, the emphasis is on leading a family life and enjoying the
pleasures of life and being generous and helpful to others.
Deat h and af t er lif e: The Tamil people of the Sangam
period were well aware that life is transient, and that all living beings
would sooner or later die. There is no escaping death. They believed
that at the time of death, yama the demigod takes the life away from
the dying person. It was customary to bury or cremate the dead body. It
was believed that after death, the soul (life) of the individual goes to
the “next world”. After spending sometime in the next world the soul is
being born again in this world. The quality of life in the next world as
well as in the next birth depended upon the good deeds done while
living in this world. Those who do good deeds and live a righteous life
will enjoy bliss and happiness in the next world and next life. In fact, the
good deeds done in this life are like a boat that takes one from one
shore to the other (357).
Goals of Lif e: The question regarding the goals of life was
addressed by the Tamil people of the Sangam period in a manner
consistent with the beliefs of the three religions that were prevalent
during that period with some exceptions. Although the three religions,
the Vedic religion (forerunner of the later day Hinduism), Buddhism and
Jainism were prevalent in the Indian subcontinent during the Sangam
period, they did not have a strong foothold in the Tamil society.
According to those three religions, the basic goals of life are four fold:
in Sanskrit they are called dharma, artha, kaama and moksha. In Tamil
they are called aram, poruL, inpam and veedu. Moksha or veedu means
the salvation of the soul or the soul reaching a state of perfection and
not being born again. The idea of moksha or veedu has not been
emphasized in Puranaanuuru. There is a casual reference to veedu in
only one poem (214). The other three goals are emphasized in many
poems.
The term “aram” cannot be accurately translated in English. It
denotes righteous conduct and ethical way of life. Among other things,
it includes the following: love, hospitality, fame, munificence, patience,
lack of jealousy, speaking kind words, non- violence, achieving fame
etc. Of these qualities, hospitality, generosity and achieving fame are
PDFmyURL.com
emphasized over and over again in Puranaanuuru.
Tamil society has always placed great emphasis on hospitality.
In poem 333, where the poet describes the hospitality of a housewife,
he says that although she has no food grains left in the house, she
would not hesitate to serve food cooked with the seeds she has saved
in storage for sowing in the next season. This shows that people would
go to any extent of personal sacrifice to make sure that their guests
are well fed and taken care of in the proper manner. Puranaanuuru
poems 380 through 400 describe how the kings welcomed the
Porunans, gave them abundant food, toddy, new clothes and other
valuable gifts to eliminate their poverty. The poems dealing with
hospitality are too many and it is difficult to discuss all of them in this
short essay.
Like hospitality, generosity, philanthropy and sharing one’s
wealth with others are themes that one finds repeatedly mentioned in
Puranaanuuru. In this connection, it is worth mentioning a remarkable
poem by the king kadaluL maayntha iLam peruvazuthi (கட_o மாa_த
இளu ெப_வ__). In this poem he wonders how this world continues
to exist and concludes that this world exists because of good natured
men who work hard for the welfare of others. The poem and its
translation are given below:
உoடாc அuம இcçலகu! இ__ரu
அu_தu இையவ தாa_u, இo_என_
தuயu உoட_u இலேர; jocலu;
_¿ச_u இலu; Lறu அ¿eவ_ அ¿òL
¦க_எoo உa_a ெகா_e_வu; ப_ெயoo
உல_டo ெப__u ெகாoளலu; அயucலu; 5
அoன மாLò அைனய ராJ_
தமeெகன jயலா ேநாoதாo
Lறueெகன jய_நu உoைம யாேன. ( Puranaanuuru
182)
This world exists because men exist who even if they were to
win the divine drink of the gods would not drink it by themselves only
thinking of its sweetness, men without hate, without slackness in their
action though they may have fears like the fears of other men, who
would even give their lives for fame but would not accept fame with
dishonor were it to gain them all the world, men who have no regrets,
and with virtues so exalted, never exert their powerful energies for
themselves but only for others. It is because they exist that we do (the
world does)! (G. L. Hart)
It was also considered that a generous gesture by a
PDFmyURL.com
philanthropist should be without expecting anything in return. Helping
others and giving generous gifts were done because they were the
right things to do and not for any anticipated gain either in this life or
the next life. In a poem where ParaNaar describes the philanthropic
nature of Ay Andiran, he makes the following remark:
ம_ைம ேநாeJoேறா அoேற
Lறu வ_ைம ேநாeJoறவo ைகவoைமேய. (Puranaanuuru
141, 14- 15)
Because he (Ay Andiran) feels the poverty of others and
because it is a virtue to be practiced, he is generous. His
generosity is not at all for the sake of a better birth in the next
life.
The poems of Puranaanuuru contain many examples of
generosity and philanthropy by the kings and chieftains. There are
several poems about the seven famous chieftains who were known for
their generosity. They were: Adhiyamaan (அ_யமாo), Paari (பாr),
Kaari (காr), Ori (ஓr), NaLLi (நoo), Pekan (ேபகo) and Ay Andiran
(ஆa அoµரo). These seven were known as kadaiezhu vallalkaL
(கைடெய_ வoளcகo). One day, Paari saw a flowering jasmine
creeper lying on the ground without proper support to grow upwards.
Immediately he left his chariot as a support for the creeper and went
back to his palace on his horse. Once the chieftain Pekan saw a
peacock shivering in cold weather. He immediately covered the
peacock with his upper garment. These acts by Paari and Pecan are
examples of their tender heart and kindness extended even to plants
and animals. It would not be an exaggeration to say that generosity
and philanthropy of kings and chieftains are the most repeated and
popular themes of the poems of Puranaanuuru.
Another virtue that was considered important was acquiring
fame by doing good deeds. One’s fame or dishonor (the opposites of
fame) is what remains after one’s death. Therefore, those who wanted
to be remembered by others after their death, acquired fame before
their death. In Poem 165 of Puranaanuuru, the poet Perunthalai
Saaththanaar (ெப__தைலe சா_தனாu) says the following:
மoனா உலக__ மo_தc ___ேதாu
தu¦க_ __இ_ தாமாa_ தனேர!
(Puranaanuuru 165, 1- 2)
In this world in which nothing is permanent, men who sought to
endure, first established their fame and then died.
In summary, the virtues that are prominently mentioned in
PDFmyURL.com
Puranaanuuru are hospitality, generosity, philanthropy without expecting
anything in return and acquiring fame by doing good deeds.
As stated before, “poruL” was considered as another important
goal of life. Just like the term aram, “poruL” cannot be translated
exactly in English. It is often translated in English as wealth. Although
this translation is by no means comprehensive to convey the meaning
of the word “poruL”, it is sufficient for our purpose. Since family life was
recommended as the normal way of life, gathering wealth was definitely
considered important. But, the question of what to do with one’s wealth
is remarkably handled by the famous poet Nakkeeranaar. He says
that since both a mighty emperor as well as a hunter can only eat a
limited amount of food and can wear only two pieces of clothing, it is
better to share one’s wealth with others.
ெதoகடc வளாகu ெபா_ைம இo_
ெவo_ைட _ழ__ய ஒ_ைம ேயாue_u,
ந_நாo யாம__u பக_u _¿சாo
க_மாL பாue_u கcலா ஒ_வ__u,
உoப_ நா_; உ_Lபைவ இரoேட; 5
Lறçu எcலாu ஓெராe _uேம;
ெசcவ__L பயேன ஈதc,
_aLேபu எoேன, தL¦ந பலேவ.
(Puranaanuuru 189)
Between that lord of tenacious purpose, who with his white
umbrella of royalty shades the earth that is encircled by the
cool ocean, sharing it with no one, and the lowly man without
learning who goes sleepless in the middle of the night or in the
day hunting the swift animals, there is everything in common:
the possession of measure of food and two sets of clothes and
all the flow of the life! The worth of wealth is that it can be
given away! If you think of nothing else but enjoying it many
things fail! (G. L. Hart )
So, the goal of poruL or the goal of gathering wealth has no
significant purpose other than to share it with others who may be in
need of it. As seen earlier, this selfless act of sharing is the underlying
force that makes it possible for all people to live in this world.
The third goal of life was “kaamam” which means conjugal love.
Since the subject matter of puram is everything other than love, it is not
elaborated in detail in Puranaanuuru. However, it was considered as
important for one’s happiness. This can be inferred from the poems
where poets wish happiness for a king. The wish is always for long life,
marital bliss and enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Two such examples
PDFmyURL.com
are provided below:
யவனu, நoகலu த_த தoகம_ ேதறc
ெபாoெசa ¦ைன கல__ ஏ__ நா_u
ஒoெதாµ மகou ம_Lப மJ_òற__
ஆaJo_ ஒ__ம_, ஓa_வாo மாற! (Puranaanuuru
– 56)

Every day you take your pleasure as women wearing their
shining bangles bring you the cool and fragrant wine carried here in
their excellent ships by the Greek and the women pour it for you out of
pitchers made of gold that have been fashioned with high artistry.
சா_த___L
பcெபா_e ெகாoட ஏ__எ_c அகலu
மாoஇைழ மகou ¦c_ெதா_u ¦கல (Puranaanuuru
– 161)
Your women with their fine ornaments may feel delight each
time they embrace your broad massive chest smeared with sandal
paste and marked with the numerous signs of good fortune.
In both instances the poets go on to wish their patrons long life
as well. These are indicative of the importance that was placed on the
conjugal love for happiness in life. So, kaamam was also another goal
of life for the Tamils of the Sangam period. The fact that almost 70%
of the Sangam poetry deals with matters pertaining to love reiterates
that kaamam was certainly one of the goals of life.
Conclusion
From the above discussions, it is clear that the poems of
Puranaanuuru cover many different aspects of the life of Tamil people
as it prevailed during the Sangam period. Each poem in Puranaanuuru
may be considered as a short video presentation about some aspect
of the Tamil society of the Sangam period. It is important to read
Puranaanuuru for its poetic excellence and also for the historical
anecdotes it provides. In addition to reading for the poetic excellence
and historical anecdotes, we should also read Puranaanuuru to learn
the lessons it offers. After all, the purpose of reading history is to
correct the mistakes of the past and continue to improve upon the best
practices and traditions.
The kings we encounter in Puranaanuuru were courageous and
excelled in the art of war. But, unfortunately, they fought amongst
themselves for various reasons. That is, the three major kings of Tamil
PDFmyURL.com
nadu and the chieftains under them were incessantly at war among
themselves. The concept of a united Tamil land was totally absent
during that time. Neither the citizens nor the kings had the concept of
uniting themselves under one banner and establishing a strong Tamil
empire. This lack of unity resulted in the successful invasion by
Kalapirars who ruled Tamil Nadu from 300 AD to 600 AD and
subsequently by Pallavas, Nayakkars, Maharashtras, Muslims and the
British. Even today, we do not find unity among the Tamil people. We
divide ourselves by political affiliations and castes. The majority of
Tamil people do not seem to have concern and care for their fellow
Tamil people. This has been evident during the recent struggle for
Tamil Ezham. No matter where we are, in India, North America or in any
corner of the world, first and foremost we should consider ourselves as
Tamilians and develop a strong sense of unity and true love for the
fellow Tamilians. When someone inflicts harm on a Tamil society we
should join together and raise our voices and fight for our fellow
Tamilians. It is because of this lack of unity and lack of self- respect as
Tamilians, the Tamil people are at the mercy of others in this world. If
we do not learn these valuable lessons, then reading Puranaanuuru
and singing the glorious poem of Kaniyan Puungunranaar is nothing
but an exercise in futility.
Bibliography
The Golden Anthology of Tamil Literaure: R. Balakrishna Mudaliar, The
south India
Saiva Siddhantha Works Publishing Society, Tinnelvely Ltd.,
2004
Social And Cultural History of Tamilnad (to A. D. 1630): N.
Subramaniyan, Ennes
Publications, 1998
A History of South India (From Prehistoric Times to the fall of
Vijayanagar): K. A.
Nilakanta Sasthri, Oxford University Press 2002
The four hundred songs of war and wisdom; an anthology of poems
from classical
Tamil; the purananuru/ translated by George L. Hart and Hank
Heifetz, Columbia University Press, 1999.
Poems of Love and war: A. K. Ramanujan, Columbia University Press,
1985
On the Unintended Influence of Jainism on the Development of Caste
in Post - Classical
Tamil Society: Dr. S. Palaniappan, International of Journal of
Jaina Studies, Vol.4, No. 2 (2008), 1- 65
http://puram1to69.blogspot.com (Blog by Dr. R. Prabhakaran)
PDFmyURL.com
http://puram400.blogspot.com (Blog by Dr. R. Prabhakaran)
Posted by jைனவu. Lரபாகரo at 11:56 AM No comments:
Label s: A bri ef Introducti on to Puranaanuuru
400. உல_ காe_u உயu ெகாoைக!
400. உல கா உய ெகாைக!
பாயவ: ேகா கிழா.
பாடபேடா: ேசாழ நலகிளி.
பாட பினணி: ’வியகாைல ெபாதி எ
தடாாி பைறைய இைச ேசாழ நலகிளியி
கைழ பாேன. அவ அைத ேகடட, எைன
அகி, என தாைட ம சிறத ெபாக
பல அளிதா. அவைடய அரமைனயிேல நா
பலநாக இேத. அவ பைகவைர அழிபவ
மமலாம அவைன நா வேதாாி பசிபைகைய
அழிக வலவ. அவ ேபாகளகளி ெவறி
ெபறவ; சிறபாக பல ேவவி கைள
நிவியவ. அவ கடவழிேய அயநாக
ெச ெபாளீ க ெபறவ. அவ நா வள
வாவதேகற இனிைம உைடய நா.’ எ பாண
ஒவ ேசாழ நலகிளிைய கவதாக இபாடைல
ேகா கிழா இயறிளா.
திைண: பாடா.
ைற: இய ெமாழி.
மாகவிபி ெவதிக
ைவதா ைறற
கடநவ கடனஎ
இயஇைசயா மரஏதி
கைடேதாறிய
PDFmyURL.com
கைடேதாறிய
கைடகலா 5
பலச தாசா
உலகா உயெகாைக
ேகேடா எைதஎ ெதகிைண ரேல
ேகடத ெகா ேவைக தடா
ெதாப சிதாஅ ம
நீ கி 10
மிகெப சிறபி சா நகல
. . . . . . . . . . லவான
கக அளிதி எஅைர ேநாகி
நாராி நறவி நாமகி
ேபாதறிேய
பதிபழக 15
தபைக கத அறி ேசேதா
பசிபைக கத வல மாேதா
மறவ மதத . . . . .
ேகவி மத ேவவி ண
இகழி இழித ஆக
வக 20
ேதநீ பரபி யாசீ உ
ைறெதா பிணி ந
உைறவி யாண நாகிழ ேவாேன!
அெசாெபா: 1. மாக = ேமட. 2. ைறற =
பிைற வள மதி ஆத. 3. இய = இைசகவி
(தடாாிபைற). 5. க = இர. 9. ேவைக = விப;
தடா = ைறயா. 10. சிதா = கைத; ம =
விலாபக (இைட). 11. = ஒளி. 14. நாஅாி = நாரா
வகடபட; நற = க. 15. ேபா = ெபா. 16.
PDFmyURL.com
வகடபட; நற = க. 15. ேபா = ெபா. 16.
கத = அழித, ஓத. 20. இ = காிய; கழி =
உபகழி; ஆக = கட; வக = ஓட. 21. ேதத =
ெதளித; சீ = ெசைம ெச; உத = ெசத. 22.
ைற = நீ ைற; 23. யாண = வவா ( வவா);
கிழேவா = உாியவ.
ெகா : கைட க, இைசயா, ஏதி,
ேதாறிய, ரேகேடா; ேகடதெகா,
தடா, நீ கி, அளிதி, ேநாகி, அறிேய, வல,
கிழா என க.
உைர: உயத ஆகாயதி இ, பதிைன நாக
ைறேய றிய மதிைய கட நேவ கடா
ேபாற என இைசகவியாகிய தடாாிபைறைய
அைற ேசாழ நலகிளியி வாயி ேதாறி
அவ கைழ ைறயாக பாேன. இரவி கைட
பதியாகிய வியகாைலயி உலக மகெளலா
உறகி ெகாக ேசாழ நலகிளி ம
உலைக கா உயத ெகாைக உைடயவனா,
உறகாம எ தடாாிபைறயி இைசைய ேகடா.
எ இைசைய ேகடதனா, எ மீ ள அ
ைறயாம, எ இபித பைழய கைத ணிைய
நீ கி, தாைட உபி, அத அழைக க
மகி, மிகெபாிய சிறைடய நல ஒளி மித
அணிகலகைள…. நாரா வகடபட கைள உ
நாேதா மகிசி மி அவ ஊாி இேத.
நாக கழிதைதேய நா அறிேய. ேசாழ நலகிளி
த பைகவைர அழிப மமலாம அவைன
அைடேதாாி பசிபைகைய அழிக வலவ.
ரக மித த…. அவ ேகவி அறிவி சிறத
மைறேயாக நிைறத ேவவி சாைலயி கைள
நிைலநாயவ. ெதளித நீ பரத கட ெச
ஆறி வழிகைள ெசைம ெச, காிய கழி வழியாக
PDFmyURL.com
Older Posts
ஆறி வழிகைள ெசைம ெச, காிய கழி வழியாக
வ இற ஒடகைள அவாகளி ெசதி
நீ ைறக ேதா அவைற பி க நல
ஊகைள, வளமாக வாதாிய வவாைய
உைடய நா உாியவ ேசாழ நலகிளி.
Posted by jைனவu. Lரபாகரo at 11:40 AM No comments:
Label s: ¦றநா__ - பாடc 400
Home
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)
PDFmyURL.com

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful