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3a. The Didactic Period (nItiN\lf kalmf)

3.1. Introduction

Following the Thamizh Sangam period, gradual changes took place in the social, political and cultural lives of Thamizhs. The fortunes of the PAndya (pa]fFy) Kings, who were the chief patrons of the academies began to wane. The supremacy of the other kings, ChOzha (Ecaz) , ChEra (Ecr) and Pallava (plflv) , alternated from time to time with help from Kings and generals of border areas resulting in constant squabbles and fights with one another.

With the advent of Jainism and Buddhism, there were strifes among the three major religious groups each vying with the others for domination. The rulers from North India and the Deccan directly or indirectly supported the different religious factions. From the change of literary focus in subsequent years one may surmise that the Thamizh people should have realized that over indulgence in materialistic pleasures and heroism alone was not sufficient for their mental satisfaction.. The need for the tightening the moral standards of people was felt. The poets focussed on moral issues (the do's and dont's in daily life) in their compositions. This then was the prelude to the emergence of the moral era in the literary development of Thamizh.

3.2. Literary Works in the post Sangam period. ( PathineN kIz kaNakku, (ptie[]f kIzf k]kfK) )

A group of 18 poetic works written during ~ 100 - 500 A.D. were compiled under the heading, PathineN kIz kaNakku (ptie[]f kIzf k]kfK) which constituted the bottom 18 of the anthology series. These poems differ from those in the top series both in style and content. In general, the songs are relatively short in length, meter (cIr)f as well as in the number of lines (`Fkqf) . The lines were set in the veNpA (ev]fpa) style as different from the akaval (`kvlf) style of the top 18 series.

More significant is the fact that, of the 18 in the series, only six were on akam topic (`kmf) , one on puRam (p<bmf) and the remaining 11 on moral issues (`bmf ) . The constituents of the PathineN kIz kNakku are : n^AlatiyAr (nalFyarf) , n^AnmaNik katigai (na[fm]ikfkFAk), innA n^ARpathu (;[f[a nabfpT) , iniyavai n^ARpathu (;[iyAv nabfpT) , kAr n^ARpathu (karf nabfpT) , kaLavzhi n^ARpathu (kqvzi nabfpT) , ain^thiNai aimpathu (_nftiA] _mfpT) , thiNai mozhi aimpathu (tiA]emazi _mfpT) , ainthiNai ezhupathu (_nftiA] 'ZpT) , thiNaimAlai n^URRu aimpathu (tiA]maAl N\bfAbmfpT), ThirukkuRaL (tiRkfKbqf), thiri katukam (tirikDkmf) , AchArak kOvai (~carkfEkaAv) , pazhamozhi n^AnURu (pzemazi na{\B) , siRu pancha mUlam (ciB pwfc YMlmf) , muthumozhik kAnchi (MTemazikf kawfci) , ElAthi ("lati ), kain^n^ilai (AknfniAl) . These are outlined in the following poem for easy remembrance:

nalF na[ffm]i na[abfpT _nftiA]Mpf
palfkDkgf EkaAv pzemazi - maYMlmf
;[f[iAlecalf kawfciy<d[f "lati '[fpEv
AknfniAly vamfkIzfkfk]kfK.

3.2.1. ThirukkuRaL (tiRkfKbqf)

ThirukkuRaL (tiRkfKbqf ) written by ThiruvaLLuvar (tiRvqfQvrf) is the most well known and highly regarded work in the series of PathineN kIz kaNakku. While all other Sangam works varied in their degree of popularity among Thamizh people, ThirukkuRaL proved to be the cream of Thamizh literature cherished both by the elite and the common man alike. The complete work of 1330 couplets is available. It has been described by Pope as "the perfect and most elaborate work of one master". The couplets in ThirukkuRaL contain two lines, the first usually of four feet and the second three. As usual the date of the author and personal accounts have been, and still are, the subjects of controversy among experts in the field. Based on the fact that ThirukkuRaL is referred to in MaNi mEkalai, a later literary classic, Zvelebil (1995) has concluded that the date should be c. 500 -550 A.D.

The par excellence of ThirukkuRaL is usually attributed to four of its major unique features. The first pertains to the ability of the poet to concentrate certain profound thoughts in two short lines of the veNpA (ev]fpa) type. It is said that the poet has pierced the atom and has packed within it the seven seas of the world (`}Avtf TAqtfT 'Z kdAlpfp< Ktfti) . The second trait refers to the maxims proposed on various aspects of human endeavours ranging from righteousness through worldly pursuits to love. It is no wonder that any talk by the present day Thamizh scholars on any topic is studded with quotes from ThirukkuRaL. The third attribute of ThirukkuRaL lies in its secular and cosmopolitan view of righteousness which would be acceptable to mankind as a whole, transcending linguistic, religious and national boundaries.

At a time when the order of the day was an elaboration of the akam theme, ThirukkuRaL was not only different in its literary style but also in its emphasis on the badly needed set of moral codes for human conduct. He was a social reformist and stood firmly against prostitution. He condemned the consumption of alcohol and meat eating. The final significance of ThirukkuRaL is that it opens up with an invocation wherein the poet pays homage first to the Absolute Being and not to any particular deity or godhead and secondly to all learned people.

`kr Mtl 'Ztfetlflamf ~ti
pkv[f MtbfEb ulK.

A as its first of letters, every speech maintains;
The Primal Deity is first through all the world's domains. (No.1)

kbfbt[alay pye[[fekalf valbiv[f
nbfbaqf etazaer[i[f.

No fruit have men of all their studied lore
Save they the Purely Wise One's feet adore (No.2)

The couplets bear testimony to the catholic perception of the author. The vEdhAntic philosophy of the oneness of the Supreme expressed in these lines and the lack of sectarian dogmas of individual religions have appealed to righteous people in India and elsewhere. The translation of ThirukkuRaL into English by Pope in the nineteenth century is an example of its secular nature. In a world divided and torn on the basis of religion and language, the Thamizh people can be proud to have in their ancient literature a work which has the moral dictum to alleviate the social and ethical dilemmas facing the world today.

It is significant that ThirukkuRaL has been composed in pure Thamizh and the very few words introduced from Sanskrit have been made to assume a Thamizh garb (Pope). The need to compress the meter into two lines has necessitated the omission of the finite verbs. Thus the use of ellipsis (etaAk) became indispensable and characteristic of the couplets. ThirukkuRaL is divided into three parts (palf): a) virtues (`btfTpfpalf), 38 chapters, (`tikarmf), 380 couplets; b) worldliness (epaRdfpalf) , 70 chapters, 700 couplets; c) love (kamtfTpfpalf) , 25 chapters, 250 couplets).

The highest priority given to virtue in ThirukkuRaL could be appreciated by the fact that it is the topic of discussion in the first of the three part series (`btfTpfpalf ) . This priority has never been seen before in any literary work in Thamizh upto that time. The second chapter on the excellence of rain, (va[f cibpfp<) depicts the agricultural background of the author and the dependence of rural folks on rain for their prosperity. Immediately following the greatness of the ascetics, ThiruvaLLuvar emphasizes family and personal virtues. Collectively these verses represent the didactic motivation of the author in undertaking this timely and laborious work.

In the second part on worldliness, (epaRdfpalf ) the importance of learning and the duties of the state and the individual has been discussed.

kbfk kcdbkf kbfpAv kbfbpi[f
nibfk `tbfKtf tk.

So learn that you may full and faultless learning gain
Then in obedience meet to lessons learnt remain (No. 391)

The need to be able to get along well with others, even if one is highly educated, is stressed in the following couplets:

ulktfEtaD odfdevaZklfpl kbfBmf
klflarf `bivilatarf.

Who know not with the world in harmony to dwell
May many things have learned, but nothing well (No. 140)

The idealism and convictions of ThiruvaLLuvar are brought to light in his placement of chastity in the chapter on worldliness, (epaRdfpalf ) rather than in the section on love, (kamtfTpfpalf ).

ep]f]ibf epRnftkfk yav<q kbfep[f{mf
ti]fAm y<]fdakpf epbi[f.

If woman might of chastity retain,
What choicer treasure doth the world contain (No. 54)

In the third chapter on love, (kamtfTpfpalf) ThiruvaLLuvar has placed the seven sections on furtive love (kqviylf) ahead of wedded love (kbfpiyl)f in keeping with the traditions of the time. The following verses in the chapter on furtive love describe the recognition of the signs of love in a maiden by the hero:

yaE[akfKgf kaAl nilE[akfK Enakfkakfkalf
taE[akfki emlfl nKmf.

She looked and looking drooped her head
Ofn springing shoot of love 'tis water shed. (No. 1094)

Kbikfeka]fD EnakfkaAm ylflalf oRk]f
cibkfk]itftaqf Epal nKmf.

She seemed to see me not; but yet the maid
Her love, by smiling side-long glance, betrayed. (No. 1095)

The couplets in the chapter on furtive love and their placement prior to wedded love support the contention that the furtive love was a socially accepted practice. Furtive love culminates in married life in which the commitments and responsibilities of the couple towards each other and towards their families and society at large have been well defined. These verses would be particularly relevant today when genuine commitment between married couples is gradually becoming conspicuous by its absence. One also wonders at what point in history the financial and religious inputs began to creep into the matrimonial relationships in the Thamizh social fabric !

Two subtle points can be noticed whenever the akam, (`kmf) concepts are discussed : a) the phraseology for the description of human emotions is made in a very polished manner and b) ThiruvaLLuvar reiterates his warnings on unchaste behaviour at every opportunity.

epaRdf epaRqarf p<[f[lmf Etayarf `Rdf epaRqf
~y< mbivi [vrf.

Their worthless charms, whose only weal is wealth of gain,
From touch of these the wise, who seek the wealth of grace, abstain (No. 914)

kaAl `Rmfpipf pkellflamf Epataki
maAl mlRminf Enayf.

My grief at morn bud, all day an opening flower
Full-blown expands in evening hour. (No. 1227)

t]nftAm cal vbivipfp EpaLmf
m]nftnaqf vIgfkiy Etaqf.

These withered arms, desertation's pangs abundantly display,
That swelled with joy on that glad nuptial day. (No. 1233)

Usually classical works on morality tend to lay down strict rules for implementation. Unfortuntely in real life situations one is always confronted with gray areas and is lost as to what the correct course of action should be. Recognizing this dilemma, ThiruvaLLuvar has suggested exceptions wherever necessary. For example, telling a lie is not good but one can do so if it is going to be beneficial for the good of all.

vayfAm '[pfpDvT yaet[i[f yaeta[fBmf
tIAm ;lat ecallf.

You ask in lips of men what truth may be
Its spech every taint of evil free. (No. 291)

epayfAmy<mf vayfAm yidtft p<ArtIrfnft
n[fAm pykfK em[i[f.

Falsehood may take the place of truthful word
If blessing from fault it can afford.(No. 292)

Though the few couplets quoted above cannot do justice to demonstrate ThiruvaLLuvar's poetic skills or his heroic attempts to inculcate strict moral codes into the minds of all sections of society, they can at best give only a glimpse of the precision of his delivery, depth of his convictions and finally his comprehension of human psychology. If one aspect of ThirukkuRaL has to be identified for its universal recognition, it is the lack of theological or religious dogmas in the couplets. To quote the words of Swift (radhAkrishNan, p.44), "We have enough religion to hate one other but not enough to love one another". It is amazing that ThiruvaLLuvar seemed to be aware of this maxim a thousand years back !

As many as ten scholars have written commentaries on ThirukkuRaL as stated in the following poem:

tRmrf m]kfKdvrf tamtftrf ncfcrf
priti priEmlzkrf tiRmAlyarf
mlflrf pripfepRmaqf kaqigfkrf vqfQvrf N\bfK
'lfAly<Ar ecyftrf ;vrf.

The commentary of ParimElazhakar, (priEmlzkrf) on ThirukkuRaL has been acclaimed to be outstanding for its interpretation of the literary niceties of the couplets and depth of perception of ThiruvaLLuvar's ideologies. Many modern interpretations of ThirukkuRal are now available including KuRaLOvium (KbEqaviymf) Dr. M. KaruNAn^ithi (M.kR]aniti) .

3.2.2. n^AlatiyAr (nalFyarf)

n^AlatiyAr (nalFyarf) is another familiar work containing 400 songs in the list of pathineN kIz kaNakku (ptie[]f kIzfk]kfK) . As the name implies it is composed of 4 lines in each stanza and deals with moral codes and righteous behaviour. An old song praises its poetic beauty by stating that n^AlatiyAr and ThirukkuRaL are very good in expressing human thoughts just as the twigs of the banyan (~lf) and acacia (Evlf ) trees are good in maintaining the teeth. (~Lmf EvLmf plfLkfKBti, naLmf ;r]fDmf ecalfLkfKBti) . The didactic messages have been delivered with authority in this work. Written by Jain monks, n^AlatiyAr stressed, among other pieces of ethical behaviour, the transient nature of life and youth. Beginning from the Sangam classics, one cannot help noticing the gradual change in the shift of emphasis from purely subjective (`kmf) topics of love and romance to matters of morality and philosophy in the PathineN kIz kaNakku series.

n^AlatiyAr is unique in the employment of similes (uvAmkqf) which are meant to facilitate the teaching of moral codes using simple examples from daily life. The characteristics of the different types of similes are defined in TholkAppiam. The components of a simile are the message to be conveyed (uvEmymf)the example (uvma[mf) and an appropriate phrase(s) between them. The whole statement is addressed to a hero who may be invoked for this purpose or to anyone at large. The poem below explains how bad deeds done by one always hover around him even in the next birth (uvEmymf) just as a calf is capable of finding its mother even if it is let into a big herd of cows (uvma[mf).

plflav<qf uyftfT viF{mf Kzkfk[fB
vlfltamf tayfnaFkf ekaqfqAltf- etalfAlpf
pzviA[y<mf `[f[ tAktfEttbf ecyft
kizvA[ naFkfekaqbfK.

To stress the importance of virtuous deeds before it becomes too late, the poet compares the transient nature of the body to the disappearance of dew drops on the tip of the grass.

p<[f{[iEmlf nIrfEpalf niAlyaAm '[feb]f]i
;[f[i[iEy ecyfk `bviA[ - ;[f[i[iEy
ni[fba[f, ;Rnfta[f, kidnfta[f t[f Ekqlbcf
ec[fba[f '[pfpDtlalf.

That even uneducated people will gradually become wise if they are always in the company of learned people is explained by the analogy of how a mud pot can impart to the water inside it the nice smell of the flowers kept therein.

klflaEr ~yi{mf kbfEbaArcf EcrfnfetaZki[f
nlflbiv< naQmf tAlpfpDvrf - etalf cibpfpi[f
u]f]ibpf patiripfp>cf Ecrftlalf p<tfEtaD
t]f]IrfkfKtf ta[fpynftagfK.

3.2.3. n^AnmaNik katikai (na[fm]ikfkFAk)

This work contains 100 songs written by ViLambi n^AkanAr (viqmfpi nak[arf), a Vaishnavaite by birth. Recognizing its clarity and literary merits for imparting moral instructions to youngsters this work is often prescribed in the school texts. The name n^An maNik katikai is derived from the fact that the words are well chosen like rare gems to describe four different ideas in each song. In the song which follows, the theme is about four different groups of people who cannot sleep well at night, namely, the thief, a person in love, the person after money and the miser looking after his money:

kqfvmf'[f parfkfK Tyilf ;lfAl, katlimadfD
uqfqmfAvpfparfkfKmf Tyilf ;lfAl, o]fepaRqf
ecyfvmf'[f parfkfKmf Tyilf ;lfAl, `pfepaRqf
kapfparfkfKmf ;lfAl Tyilf.

There are four groups of people for whom there is no such thing as their own place: the extremely good and righteous people will be welcome anywhere; extremely bad people will not be allowed to stay in any place; rich people also can go to any place and thrive. The following song conveys this idea:

nlflarfkfKmf tmfUrf '[fB Urf ;lfAl, n[fe[bicf
eclfvarfkfKmf tmfUrf '[fB Urf;lfAl - `lflakf
kAdkdfKmf tmf Urf '[fB Urf;lfAl, tmfAktfT
uAdyarfkfKmf 'vfv>Rmf Urf.