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12.2.1.3. KaNNa DhAsan (k]f]tac[f)

It is indeed unfortunate that in most literary discussions due importance had not been given to the significant role of the cinemas in the development of Thamizh literature. It has to be recognized that, at a time when imitation of the music of other countries was not considered a virtue, many Thamizh poets did succeed in composing poems with an unmistakable indigenous flavor. The insight into these poems was relevant to the social context with which ordinary people could identify themselves. In this respect KaNNa DhAsan along with others did a yeoman service to the cause of Thamizh by enhancing the level of music appreciation by the populace. Corroborating with his efforts were other artists who set the tunes and yet others who sang them so beautifully that these songs always remained green in our memories. The test of time is probably the best yardstick for the quality of one's literary efforts ! For example, who can forget the following lyrics , the products of the cinemas ?

niA[kfktf etrinft m[Em u[kfK
mbkfktf etriyata ?
pzktf etrinft uyiEr - u[kfK
vilktf etriyata ? (~[nft Ejati)

klfellflamf ma]ikfkkf klflaKma ?
kAleylflamf k]ffkqf ecalfLmf kAlyaKma ? (~ly m]i)
nlnfta[a, nlnfta[a
udLmf uqfqMmf nlnfta[a ? (tilfla[a Emak[amfpaqf)

In the following song from the film, PAva Mannippu (pav m[f[ipfp<), KaNNa DhAsan described the qualities of the heroine by combining the literary grace through alliterations (EmaA[) with incredible similes drawn exclusively from the Thamizh cultural environment. Perhaps this is one of the best examples of the beauty of puthuk kavithai (p<TkfkviAt).

kalgfkqilf `vqf vcnftmf
kAlkqiEl `vqf Oviymf
matgfkqilf `vqf marfkzi
mlrfkqiEl `vqf mlfliAk

pbAvkqilf `vqf m]ipfp<$
padlfkqilf `vqf taladfD
k[ikqiEl `vqf magfk[i
kabfbi[iEl `vqf et[fblf

palfEpalf ciripfptilf piqfAq
p[iEpalf `A]pfptilf k[f[i
k]fEpalf vqrfpfptilf `[fA[ - `vqf
kviw[akfki[aqf '[fA[ (pavm[f[ipfp<)

Having shown that the classical literary brilliance of Thamizh could be expressed in film music, KaNNa DhAsan communicated with the rural folks at their level. The manner in which the lyrics of the following song was received by the people at large illustrates two points:
1) language and music exist for the people and not the other way around, and
2) there is no need to look outside our national boundaries to provide aesthetic pleasures to our masses.

`F - '[f[F rakfkmfma
plflakfK enqipfp<
'[f enwfC KLgfKtF
ciBk]f]aF YMkfKtfti
ma]ikffkcf civpfp<
mcfcaA[ ;ZkfKtF.

`wfcaB YRpayfkfK m]imaAl - u[f
kZtfTkfK epaRtftmF
`mfYMR mI[adfci parftftaLmf - `v
k]f}kfK vRtfftmF.

ci[f[aqpf pdfFyiEl
k]fdagfki 'DtfT - '[f
AkyaEl kdfF vidva
'[f `tfAt - `veptft
'[f emtfAt `Frakfkmfma
ekatfEtaD MtfTtftrEva ('[f[F)
etyfvaA[ ckfkqtfti
vqfqikfKbtfti - nmfm
kAtyiEl ;RkfKtF
cigfkar mTAryilf evqfAqymffma - kAt
ti[mf ti[mf ndkfKtF. (pdfFkfkada pdfd]ma)

KaNNa DhAsan's religious equanimity is revealed by the fact that he transcribed the Bible into Thamizh (;EyCkaviymf) an outstanding effort on the part of one who was reared in a Hindu tradition. Besides the literary skill required for undertaking a project of this magnitude, the complex task was further confounded by the need to present the facts through diligent study of the holy Scripture and discussions with the scholars at the church. The following two verses depict his efforts to present the Bible as outpourings of a Thamizh mind:

y>trfkqf ;AdEy naQmf
ulviDmf tgfkkf kdfF
matrfkqf plEp R]fD
mriymfAm t[fA[ naFtf
T\Tv[f eca[f[a[f '[f$lf
Cdrfviqkf kA[y k[f[i
matRqf m]iEy `[fE$
mriymfAm p<[itpf ep]fE]

EmLmf`tf T\t[f eca[f[a[f
emyfyRqf mkEq, vazfk
"LEmarf piqfAqkf EknI
;EyC'[f ki[fb EpArpf
paLd[f UdfFcf VdfFpf
pavikqf pavmf tIrfkfkcf
cIlmikf Eka[ayf '[fBmf
vqrftfTva cibkfkkf ka]fpayf

KaNNa DhAsan's contributions to Thamizh literature and culture will always be appreciated by all who love Thamizh. He died in Chicago in 1981.

Other leading contemporary Thamizh poets who have contributed significantly to the advancement of Thamizh literature include Kavi MaNi DEsikavin^AyAkam PiLLai (kvim]i Etcikvinaykmf piqfAq), SutthAnan^tha YOgi (c.T.Ctfta[nftEyaki), VANi DhAsan (va]itac[f), PeriyasAmi ThUran (epriycamiT\r[f), Kampa DhAsan (kmfptac[f), Chithambara raghun^Athan (citmfpr rKnat[f), MEthA (Emtfta) MIrA (mIra), Kavignar VAli (kviwrf vali), Kavignar Vaira Mutthu (kviwrfAvrMtfT) and others. Space does not permit a detailed discussion on these eminent poets and their literary works.

Very recently Kavignar VAli (kviwrf vali) has written the story of rAman using the puthuk kavithai (p<TkfkviAt), style under the heading (`vtar p<Rx[f). An example of how appealing the puthuk kavithaikaL can be, is illustrated in the following poem in which Kavignar VAli describes the scene when Hanuman met SIthai in the asOka vanam (`Ecakv[mf) :

'A[ mIdfk-
_y[f vrlamf, mIdfdpi[f
_ymf vrlamff na[f
ciAb nIgfki[aLmf - '[f
kAb nIgfKma ?
mabfba[f vcmiRnft
mA[yaAq - m[f[v[f
m[mf "bfbaLmf- Urfcf
c[mf "bfKma? - ubfbarf
;[mf "bfKma ?
'[fA[kf
kbnftpalf '[fB
k]ikfKma ?- ;lfAl
tirinft palf ;[fB
tvirfkfKma ? - na[f
~tr itft `Rgfkbfp<
`pfpZkfK `bfbet[fB
YMtritftlf 'vfvaB ?- `T
MFyat pdfctftilf- "[igfK
MdgfkiyiRkfk Ev]fDmf - Orf
`FAmyayf ;vfvaB ?
;[f{mf ...
uyirftfet[f[ p<]f]iymf ?
uyirfnIpfpEt k]f]iymf ,
vbfkAl `]inftiRnft
AvEtkiyi[f uqfqtftilf
tbfekaAl ']f]m f tAleyDkfk -
oR -
Krkfktftikf ekaFAykf
kZtftilf Cbfbi - `vqf
CRkfkidfDkf eka]fD cak niA[kfk ...
`[fA[yi[f 'tirilf
`{m[f Ktitfta[f
`[fA[kfK `A[tftA[y< mf
~tiEya dnftmayf
`{m[f viqkfki[a[f `[fA[yi[f
`ktftilf `pfpiyiRnft
_ypfpaD '{mf -
`ZkfAktf Tlkfki[a[f
varftfAtkqalf -
vqfqlf rakv[i[f -
kREm[iAy - v]f]tf
tiREm[iAy- oR
vArpdmayf vArnfT
kaKtft[f mA[vikfKkf
kadfF[a[f, pi[fp<
nmfpi eca[f[vbfAb
`mfpiAkkfKcf ecalfli-
nmfpikfAkAy UdfF[a[f.
mkizfnftaqf- Amtili
enkizfnftaqf
...........
Epra[nfttftilf - piradfF
EpcffcbfB ni[f$qf
kA]yaziAy- :rkf
k[fkqalf ti[fbaqf.

12.2.2. Prose (uArnAd)

The bulk of Thamizh literature was in the poetic format with rigid grammatical guidelines till SubramaNiyaBhArathiyAr (Cpfpirm]iy partiyarf) came into the picture. With the the shift in the emphasis from moral and religious subjects to discussions on social and political issues in the early twentieth century, BhArathiyAr, with his revolutionary attitude demonstratedthat the prose format of communication with the masses was not only easy but also very effective. Thispaved the way for the publication of an enormous amount of material in the prose format (uArnAd). To facilitate discussion, the prose works may be grouped into essays (kdfDArkqf), fictions (kdfDkfkAtkqf), (novels) and short stories (ciBkAtkqf) and commentaries (uArN\lfkqf). For detailed information on individual works, the exhaustive review of Zvelebil (1995) may be consulted.

a) Essays (kdfDArkqf)
Included in this category are literary (;lkfkiy), religious (cmy), political (`rciylf), social (cYMk), travel (pirya]), or scientific (viwfwa[), essays, autobiographies (CycriAt), biographies (pibrf criAt), journalism (ecyftivimrfc[mf), political satires (`rciylf Anya]fF), and monographs (t[itfetaKpfp<kqf).

A noteworthy feature of the Thamizh literary development in the twentieth century is the presentation of materials using formats used in international journals. These efforts were facilitated by the establishment of research institutions with the mandate of conducting research exclusively on various aspects of the language and culture. The International Institute of Thamizh Studies at Chennai is an example of the progress in this direction. Besides research publications (~rayfcfcikf kdfDArkqf) this agency provides facilities to enable visits by foreign scholars and infusion of new concepts.

As indicated earlier, the commentaries on the Thamizh classics were in the poetic form and were frequently more difficult to understand than the originals themselves. This problem was addressed by several modern scholars by providing commentaries on old classics (;lkfkiykf kdfDArkqf). The Sangam classics have been subject of several critical commentaries. The literary contributions of R.rAghava iyengAr (ra.rakv _ygfkarf) (1870-1948) and M. rAghava iyengAr (M.rakv _ygfkarf) in this research field are very significant.

Excellent commentaries on SilappathikAram (cilpfptikarmf) were written by outstanding scholars such as T.P.MInAtchi sun^tharan, (F.pi..mI[adfci Cnftr[f), M.P.SivagnAnam (m.epa.civwa[mf), M.VaradharAjan (M.vrtraj[f, N.SanjIvi ('[f.cwfcIvi) and MArkaban^dhu Sarma (marfkpnfTcrfma).

Commentaries on ThirukkuraL were written by K.A.P. Viswan^Athan (Ek.".pi.visfvnat[f), Thiru V.KalyANasun^tharam (tiR vi.k.), n^Amakkal Kavignar, BhArathi DhAsan (partitac[f), M.VaradharAjan (M.vrtraj[f), Kalaignar KaruNAn^ithi (kAlwrf kR]aniti), ouvvai DuraisAmi ( OqAv TArcami) and others.

Kampa rAmAyaNam was another classic on which many commentaries are available: T.K.Chithambara n^Atha MuthaliyAr (ti.Ek.ci),. K.V. JagannAthan (ki.v..jk[f[at[f), Pi. Sri. (pi.!.), A. SrinivAsa rAghavan (`.cI[ivacrakv[f), and A.S.GnAnasampan^than (`.c.wa[cmfpnft[f) and others.

b) A unique feature of the modern era is the publication of autobiographies (CycriAt) by leading Thamizh scholars. The well known works in this series are the ones by Dr.U.V.SAmin^Atha iyer ('[fcritftirmf), n^Amakkal Kavignar ('[fkAt), Thiru Vi. Ka. (tiR vi.k.) (vazfkfAkkfKbipfp<kqf) and T.S.S.rAjan (niA[v<`Alkqf).

c) Biographies (pibrfcriAt) of noteworthy Thamizh scholars and social leaders have also been published. M.P.SivaGnAnam's (kpfpEladfFy tmiz[f & vIrpa]fFy kdfd epamfm[)f inculcated a sense of pride among Thamizh people about their heritage. Dr.U.V.SAmin^Atha iyer, (u.Ev.Cvaminat _yrf), a pioneer in the field, wrote a biography of his mentor, MInAtchi sun^tharam PiLLai (mI[adfci Cnftrmf piqfAq). This proved to be a cultural liaison between two generations of Thamizh scholars.

The literary research contributions of R.P.SEthup PiLLai (ra.pi.EcTpfpiqfAq) (1896-1961), URmfEpRmf) and S.VaiyApurip PiLLai ('sf.Avyap<ripfpiqfAq) (1891-1956) serve as authoritative resources which are used by other scholars for reference. Other well known authors include: PaNdithamaNi KathirEsan ChettiAr (p]ffFt m]i ktiErc[f ecdfFyar)f (1881-1953), VEnkatasAmi n^AttAr (Evgfkdcami nadfdarf, (1884-1944), Va.Vu.Ci. (v.u.ci), K.SubramaNiya PiLLai (ka.Cpfpirm]iy piqfAq), ( 1888-1945) and others.

d) The advent of the jet age and the migration of Thamizh professionals to different parts of the world opened up another interesting venue of literary pursuit, the travelogue (pirya]kf kdfDAr). The travelogues were extremely useful not only from an educational point of view but also in exposing the Thamizh people to different cultures around the world.

Thanks to these pioneers, Thamizh language and culture, which were up to this point restricted to the Asian subcontinent made their presence felt in the international scene. Chief among those who succeeded in broadening the horizons of the fellow Thamizh people with their penmanship were C.SubramaNiyam (ci.Cpfpirm]iymf), MaNian (m]iy[f), N.D.Sun^daravadivElu (En.T.CnftrvFEvL), A.K.ChettiAr (".Ek.ecdfFyarf),(1907-1967), MEry MAsilAmaNi (Emri macilam]i), SOma Le (Ecam. el. enbffKpfApy>ri[rf) and others.

e) Another significant change in the literary history of Thamizh is the beginning of the era of fictions (kdfDkfkAtkqf) either in the form of short stories (ciBkAtkqf) or full length novels (nvI[mf, navlf) in the prose style. The introduction of the short story format to Thamizh literature may be ascribed to Beschi's ParamArttha Kuruvin kathai (prmarftft KRvi[f kAt). V.V.S.iyer (v.Ev.C._yrf) is credited with popularizing the short stories in Thamizh with his own characteristic style (KqtftgfkAr `rcmrmfeca[ff[kAt). SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr used the short story format for conveying his socio-political views. In the twentieth century, C.VirutthAsalam using the pen name of Puthumaip pitthan ( p<Ampfpitfft[f) provided the impetus for the popularity of short stories.

Other leading writers in this field were C.rAjagopAlAchAriAr (rajaji), K.V.JagannAthan (ki.v .jk[f[at[f), MahADhEvan (Etv[f) and others.

12.2.3. Novels (nvI[mf, navlf)

It may not be exaggeration to state that the most widely read Thamizh books at the present time would be the novels. To do full justice to the discussion of all the works under this heading would require a separate work devoted exclusively for the purpose. A brief summary of some works is therefore given below. Authors of the earlier centuries proved that they did have vivid imagination and a tremendous ability to express the the same in poetic Thamizh. Their scope was, however, limited to painting descriptions of landscape, romantic love between the hero and heroine with probably a friend in the middle and adoration of Kings or patrons for their valour or nobility. Alternatively religious or philosophical ideas were dealt with very seriously. The popularity of the prose style of writing coupled with the exposure to English literature for a couple of centuries prompted Thamizh writers to follow the format of the novels in Thamizh.

In essence, the novels involved a number of fictional characters who interacted with one another in a variety of romantic, social or personal relationships. Usually the stories take many twists and turns depending upon the imaginative and descriptive capacity and fantasy of the authors. Frequently the author keeps in mind a real person's adventures as a model but camouflages the names and places with fictitious ones. Modern Thamizh writers have successfully exploited the novel format to depict social or political problems (cYMknavlffkqf) or to overlay the personal lives of historical figures (critftir navlfkqf). Novels were also used to display human emotions and behavioral patterns under different social circumstances. Mystery novels (Tpfpbiy< mf navlfkqf) in which the reader is prompted to solve a crime or some other undesirable event, after being presented with a number of clues have also become very popular.

12.2.3.1. Tamil Novelists

Early novelists in Thamizh literature include the following:
AraNi KuppusAmi MuthaliyAr (~r]iKpfp< camiMtliyarf)f- mt[kanfti, rtfti[p<ri rksfymf, ptfmasi[i, kbfEkadfAd, kbfpk Cnftri, `zka[nft[f.
VaduvUr ThuraisAmi iyengAr (vDv>rf TArcami _ygfkarf) and V.M.KOthai n^Ayaki ammAL ( Av.M.EkaAtnayki `mfmaqf) - tiyakkfekaF, kmlnat[f, u]rfcfci evqfqmf, `[fpi[f cikrmf, mlF, ~tfmckfti, ;[fpEjati, va[kfKyilf.
The leading Thamizh novelists in recent times include: JeyaKAn^than (ejykanft[f) - cil Enrgfkqilf cil m[itrfkqf, p<tiy varfpfp<kqf, ;bnft kalmf, na[f '[f[ ecyfydfDmf ecalfLgfEka, vazfkfAk `AzkfkibT, u[fA[pfEpal ORv[f, rixiYMlmf, ejyejycgfkra, ejykanft[i[f M[f{Arkqf.
P.V.akilANtam (`kil[f) - ep]f, enwfci[f `Alkqf, EvgfAkyi[f Amnft[f, paAv viqkfK.
C.S.ChellappA (eclflpfpa) - tmizfcfciBkAt pibkfkfibT, p<TkfkviAtkqf, 'ZtfT, jIv[amfcmf, m]ikfekaF.
K.N.SubramaNiyan, in^dira PArthasArathi, n^AraNa Thurai KaNNan, VaLLiKaNNan, K.P.rAjagOpAlan (K.pa.rajEkapal[)f- tayaai[f tIrfpfp<, uyiri[ff `Alpfp<, viFy< ma, '[f[ `tftadfci.
Thiripurasun^dari (lXmi) - pva[i, ep]fm[mf, !mti Amtili, `dfAd, ep]f]i[f priC, m]f}mf ep]f}mf.
SujAtha (Cjata)- pfriya, `pfcri, vcnftkal Kbfbgfkqf, kAreylflamf ec]fpkpfp>, viti, va[mf '[f{mf vItiyiEl.
Sivasankari (civcgfkri) - 47 nadfkqf, n]fD, TqfqMFyat p<qfqima[f, 'tbfkak, C$mI[ffkqf, palgfkqf, tpfp<kfk]kfK, tiriEv]i cgfkmmf, `v[f.
N.PicchumUrtthi (picfCYMrfftffti).
T.N. PArthasArathi (t.n.parftftcarti) - Kbiwfci mlrf, epa[fvilgfK, pdfDpfp>cfci, niA[vi[f nizlfkqf, kpadp<rmf mAlcfcikrmf, enwffckfk[lf.
T.JAnakirAman (ti.j.r.) - `mirftmf, EmakMqf, `[fEp ~rMEt, uyirftfEt[f, ecmfpRtfti, mrpfpC, `mfmavnftaqf.
L.S.rAmAmirtham (ramamirftmf) - p<tfra, `pita.
BAshyam, S. (ca]fFlfy[f)f - k[f[imadmf, kdlfp<$, m[f[[f mkqf, mAlvaclf, vcnftkalmf, yvfv[ra]i.
K.rAjavElu (K.rajEvL) - `ZkfK ~DkibT, ;FnftEkap<rmf, kanftMqf, mkizmfp>
inthira PArthasArathi (;nftira parftftcarti) - kalevqfqmf, tnftirp>mi, Ctnftirp>mi, KRtipfp<[lf, tIv< kqf, mayma[fEvdfAd) and others.

12.2.3.2. R.KrishNamUrtthi (Kalki)(klfki)

Kalki may be regarded as a pioneer in the field of historical novels in Thamizh literature. With his inimitable descriptive style reminiscent of the English author, Walter Scott, Kalki had a tremendous capacity to take the readers back into the point and time in history when the story is supposed to have taken place. To make it more realistic, Kalki built his stories around real historical figures based on research materials found in rock inscriptions and brass plates. These stories came out in a series in a weekly magazine, (klfki) and some may even remember how family members used to vie with one other to read the magazine first as soon as it was delivered.

Kalki's description of the landscape and social conditions portrayed the Thamizh region exactly the way they were at the time of the story. The characters in the story and the individual traits they represented lived up to their image consistently throughout. The romantic interludes were handled with finesse and grace and would be a good lesson to anyone interested in writing about love at its deepest level. The clash of human emotions and interactions and the religious sectarian tendencies which prevailed at the time flashed before the eyes of the reader. Indeed the historical details in Kalki's novels were presented in such a way that one learnt more about the history of the Thamizh region by reading Kalki's novels rather than through formal courses at school !

Kalki's famous novels include: ( civkamiyi[f cptmf, epa[f[iyi[f eclfv[f, parftftip[f k[v< and `Al OAc).

In his biography of Kalki's life (epa[f[iyi[f p<tlfvrf) Sun^tharam (Cnfta) epitomized the feelings of several readers with the following poem wherein he stated that the characters in Ponniyin Selvan (epa[ff[iyi[f eclfv[f) would be lingering in their memories for a long time:

epa[f[iyi[f eclfv{mf
p>gfKzli `mfAmy< mf va[tiy< mf KnftAvy< mf
pZv>rf nnfti[iy< mff
pZEvdfdAryrfkQmf
padayfpff pDtfTki[f$rf
pakayf uRKki[fE$mf.
(Cnfta)

TO CHAPTER 12c


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