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The most significant contribution Kampan made to Thamizh literature and to humanity, in general, is his definition and clarification of love (`[fp<) . This word, unfortuntely, has been grossly misused, in recent years in a restricted sense or confused to denote only the physical aspects of love.

According to Kampan, love refers to deep devotion or faith with perfect fusion of the minds. If this love is directed towards the Divine (pkfti, T\y`[fp< ) , it becomes extremely unselfish and absolute. Love towards other human beings is mixed with varying degrees of selfishness. Love which comes close to divine love is that of the mother to the child (tayf `[fp<) ; love between man and woman is (katlf; love between brothers or family members is pAsam (pacmf); love between friends is natpu (ndfp<). Kampan exploited the characters in rAmAyaNam to emphasize these subtle differences as described below.

a. Love (katlf)

Kampan demonstrated his concept of love and chastity between man and woman using rAman and SIthai as the ideal couple; he used rAvaNan as an example of a very learned man degrading himself with infatuation (kammf) with somebody else's wife. Perhaps this is Kampan's way of disagreeing with previous references to unchaste women (prtfAtyrf) in the literature by married men. In the following poem, Kampan describes the feelings of love that developed spontaneously between rAman and SIthai. When their eyes met, says Kampan, there was fusion between their feelings (niAlep$T u]rfv<mf o[fbid). As if to reemphasize the point, he added that because their minds fused with each other, there was mutual exchange of their hearts (uqfqmf :rftftlalf mabipfp<kfK ;tymf 'yfti[rf) :

']f] `R nltfti[aqf ;A[yqf ni[fBzi
k]fe]aD k]f ;A] kvfvi, o[fAb o[fB
u]f]v<mf, niAlep$T u]rfv<mf o[fbid
`]f]Lmf Enakfki[a[f, `vQmf Enakfki[aqf.

pRkiy EnakfK '{mf pactftalf pi]itfT
oRvAr oRvrftmf uqfqmf :rftftlalf
vri ciAl `]f]Lmf vaqfk]f ngfAky<mf
;RvRmf mabipf p<kfK, ;tymf 'yfti[arf.
(mitiAlkfkadfcipf pdlmf 35,37)

b. Chastity (kbfp< )

The two significant lessons from Kampan's story are the value of chastity in both man and woman and the concept of one man, one woman in marital life. These are brought about in SIthai's own words, when Hanuman met her in rAvaNan's palace garden, asOka Vanam. These words were spoken when Hanuman asked SIthai whether she had any specific message for rAman. "Please tell rAman that I still remember the promise that he made on the eve of our marriage that he will not see another woman even through his mind", she said. This is how high and noble one could get in married life.

vnfT 'A[kf krmf pbfbiy Avklfvayf
;nft, ;pfpibvikfK ;R matArcf
cinfAtyaLmf etaEd[f, '[fb ecvfvrmf
tnft varftfAt tiRcf ecvi cabfBvayf

SIthai then reiterated her own steadfastness by saying that if, by chance, she died in captivity, the only thing she would pray was that she should be born again and rAman should come back and touch her body:
:]fD na[f ;RnfT, ;[f uyirf mayi{mf
mI]fD vnfT pibnfT, t[f Em[iAytf
tI]fdlavT Orf tIviA[ tIrf vrmf
Ev]fF[aqf, etaZT, '[fB viqmfp<vayf.
(Vdam]ipfpdlmf 34-35)

c. SIthai, the Queen of chastity. (kbfp<kfkrci)

Not satisfied with his efforts to stress the value of chastity, Kampan once again makes Hanuman to reinforce his points in the course of his report to rAman of what he saw in asOka Vanam and how SIthai was getting along. Hanuman said, " I did see SIthai with my very eyes; I did see SIthai, the embodiment of chastity, across the sea in ilankai. Please forget your sorrow and doubts".

k]fde[[f, kbfpi{kfK `]iAy, k]fkqalf
et]ftiAr `Alkdlf ;lgfAktf et[f nkrf
`]fdrf nayk ;[I Tbtfti, _yMmf
p]fD uq TyRmf, '[fB `{m[f p[f{va[f.

To assure rAman that SIthai had not changed at all during her confinement, Hanuman continued, " Her behaviour was impeccable becoming of your wife, becoming of the daughter-in-law of King Dasarathan and becoming of the daughter of the King of Mithilai Janakan. Please rest assured she is all right".

u[fepRnf Etvi '[f{mf uriAmkfKmf, u[fA[pfepbfb
m[f epR mRki '[f{mf vayfAmkfKmf, mitiAl m[f[[f
t[fepRnf t[Ay '[f{mf tAkAmkfKmf tAlAm ca[f$qf
'[fepRnf etyfvmf _ya ;[f[Mmf EkdfF '[fpa[f.
(tiRvF etaZt pdlmf 25,26.)

d) Universal Brotherhood (cEkatrtfTvmf)

To demonstrate his vision of universal brotherhood, Kampan drew examples from rAman's own family as well as from that of rAvaNan. After rAman's departure to the forest, Bharathan, who was away at the time, returned to ayOdhya and found out what happened. Along with his step mother, KOsalai, Bharathan decided to follow rAman and plead with him to return. Kuhan, the hunter, helped Bharathan and his retinue to cross the river in his boats. Kuhan bowed towards the magnanimous lady in the boat and asked Bharathan who she was. In Bharathan's reply Kampan packed deep emotions, remorse and brotherly love in three short sentences: "She is the senior wife of the King of kings, Dasarathan and the unfortunate mother of the great rAman, a treasure which she has lost because I was born."

Cbfbtftarf EtveraDmf etaz ni[fb
EkacAlAytf etaZT Enakfki
ekabfbtftarfkf Kricilf ;vrf ~rf '[fB
Kk[f vi[v Ekakfkqf AvKmf
Mbfbtfta[f MtlfEtvi, YM[fB
ulkmf :[f$A[ M[f :[f$A[pf
epbfbtftalf epRmf eclfvmf, ya[f
pibtftlalf Tbnft epriyaqf '[f$[f.
(kgfAkka]f pdlmf 64)

rAman's friendship knew no boundaries and did not discriminate between friends or enemies. He did not even exclude members from the monkey family or the demon family if his friendship was sought with sincerity. He first embraced Kuhan (Kk[f) , who was an illiterate belonging to a low caste; then he embraced SugrIvan (CkfrIv[f), the monkey King who was ill treated by his brother, VAli (vali); finally he accepted VibIdaNan (vipId][f) , the brother of RAvaNan. To make it more effective, Kampan made these words come directly from rAman when VibIdaNan (vipId][f) sought refuge with him. rAman said: " In my family there were four brothers; with Kuhan we became five; when SugrIvan, the King of mountains joined us we became six; now you have come to us with great love and affection so that we are now seven. Our father will certainly be proud of us".

Kke[aDmf _vrf ~E[mf M[fp<, pi[f K[fB Vzfva[f
mke[aDmf `Bvrf ~E[mf, 'mfMAz `[fpi[f vnft
`k[f `mrf katlf _y ni[fe[aDmf 'Zvrf ~E[mf
p<klf `Rmf ka[mf tnfT p<tlfvralf epalinfta[f NnfAt.

Going to rAvaNan's camp, one finds the same kind of deep attachment of the two brothers, VibIdaNan and KumpakaruNan (KmfpkR][f) both of whom tried their utmost to put some sense into their brother's head in vain. VibIdaNan tries his best to persuade KumbakaruNan to leave rAvaNan and join RAman in the name of virtue. In a few moving passages, Kampan packed all the emotions associated with the conflicts in their values namely: their helplessness in correcting their brother's sinful actions; their acceptance of the inevitable situation gracefully; finally their parting from each other, realizing at the same time, that this is going to mark the end of their brotherly relationship.

In responses to VibIdaNan's plea, KumpakaruNan, who was himself a very learned man said, " In order to enjoy the transient worldly pleasures, I have been brought up by our brother, who fed me, clothed me and prepared me for the war; my duty therefore is to be on his side; I would rather die on his behalf instead of fleeing to the other side; my dear brother, do not worry about me; please go and join rAman as quickly as you can".

nIrfkfEkal vazfAv ncfci enFT naqf vqrftfTpf pi[fA[pf
EparfkfEkalmf ecyfT vidfdarfkfK uyirf ekadaT, `gfKpfEpaEk[f
tarfkfEkal Em[i Amnft '[f Tyrf tvirftfti ~ki[f
karfkfEkal Em[iyaA[kf PDti kFti[f "ki.
(KmfpkR][f vAtpfpdlmf 155.)

KumpakaruNan then becomes philosophical and says " When the time comes, everything has to come to an end no matter how badly one may cherish it; there is no one who appreciates this truth more than you; please do not feel sorry for me".

~KvT ~Kmf, kaltfT, `zivTmf `zinfT cinftipf
EpaKvT, `yEl ni[fB Epabfbi{mf, Epatlf ti]ff]mf
EcK `btf etqinfEtarf ni[f[ilf yarf uqrf? vRtftmf ecyfyaT
"Kti 'mfAm Enakfki ;rgfkAl, '[fBmf uqfqayf.

In the following poem, the parting embraces of the two brothers, the hesitating slow retreat of VibIdaNan, his eyes full of tears, leaving his brother with 'a longing lingering look behind' are described. The thought that this would mark the end of his brotherly relationship ran through VibIdaNan's mind.

'[fB, `v[ft[fA[ mIdfDmf 'DtfT, marfp< ;Bkpf p<lfli
ni[fB ni[fB, ;rgfki "gfki, niAb k]alf enFT Enakfki
;[fe$Dmf tvirfnftT `[fEb, ud[f pibpfp< '[fB vidfda[f
ev[fbi evnf tibli[a{mf, `v[f `FtftltfT vIzfnfta[f
(KmfpkR][fvAtpfpdlmf 166-167)

e. Forgiveness

One of the noblest qualities of man is forgiveness which had been described as 'divine'. rAman's magnanimity is revealed when, at the close of the first day of the battle, he found rAvaNan exhausted and said, " What a man you are! You are shattered like the petals of the pULai flower (p> Aqpfp> ) ; you better go away today and come back tomorrow to resume our fight."

~qf _ya u[kfK `Amnft[ maRtmf `Abnft
p> Aq ~yi[ k]fdA[, ;[fB Epayf, EparfkfK
naAq va '[ nlfki[[f naK ;qgf kMki[f
vaAq tav<B Ekacl naDAdy vqfqlf
(Mtbf Eparf p<ri pdlmf 255.)

When Dasarathan was sent down from heaven to appease rAman, he requested his son to ask for a boon. Anxious to have his step mother, KaikEyi, forgiven for all she had done, rAman realized that, if he asked his father directly to excuse KaikEyi, he would not comply with his request. He, therefore, requested Dasarathan, " I want the one person whom you abandoned as wicked to be my mother whom I worship; I also want your son, Bharathan, to be my brother again." Lesser mortals than rAman would not have asked for forgiveness for a person like KaikEyi.

~yi{mf u[kfK `AmnftT o[fB uAr '[ `zk[f
tIyqf '[fB nI Tbnft '[f etyfvMmf mk{mf
tay<mf tmfpiy<mf ~mf vrmf tRk '[tftazfnfta[f
vayf tibnfT 'ZnfT ~rftft[ uyirf 'lflamf.
(mIdfcipf pdlmf 128)

f) Kampan and VAlmIki (valfmIki)

Though Kampan followed the original story by VAlmIki, he certainly did not choose to undertake a translation of the same for two reasons. First he knew that, in general, translations never have the same impact on people as the originals. Secondly, by choosing the popular VAlmIki's story, Kampan was in a position to introduce his own ethical messages to his society in a smooth manner. By keeping the main story intact there was enough latitude for him to change the scenario to suit his own cultural environment. For example he depicted rAman as the incarnation of ThirumAl because that was the accepted trend during the days of the Bhakthi movement. Throughout the story, however, he maintained that by using the latter name he was in reality referring to the Divine.

Secondly small changes in the story put him in a better position to project the weakness of his society, as he perceived them. Over indulgence in sensual pleasures, the role of unchaste women in the society, the lack of seriousness in observing chastity in both males and females and above all, a general deterioration in moral standards were some of the observations he wished to address with VAlmIki's story as his background. With this end in mind he had removed, added or modified sections of the original story as he thought fit.

6.2. Conclusion

In conclusion, Kampan made intelligent use of VAlmIki's story, introduced appropriate changes in accordance with the tradition and culture of the Thamizh people and presented his own ideologies to rectify social problems.
To reduce the sectarian animosities arising out of the Bhakthi movement, he stressed the concept of the Supreme Being (Mtbfkar][f) notwithstanding the different names.
To minimize disruption of married life by uncontrolled passions and the involvement of unchaste women (prtfAtyrf) , he introduced the 'one man-one woman' concept as his central theme.
To improve universal brotherhood regardless of caste or creed he set up the example of rAman, Kuhan, SugrIvan and VibIdaNan.
To emphasize the nobility of forgiveness, he made rAman skillfully manoeuver Dasarathan forgive KaikEyi. Finally Kampan's genius may be ascribed to his deep moral conviction and idealism, to his capacity to express them with his tremendous literary skill, and to his success in conveying them to ordinary folks.

He first made the Absolute Being (YMlpfepaRqf) born in the world as a human being, rAman. Once in this world, Kampan made rAman go through all the sufferings like ordinary men. At the end virtue won. SugrIvan's, the monkey King, on seeing rAman reflected that, after all, humanism won (ma[idmfev[fbT) :

Etbi[[f, `mrrfkfK 'lflamf Etvrf ~mf Etvrf `[fEb
mabi, ;pfpibvilf vnftarf ma{drf ~ki m[fE[a
~Bekaqf cFltfta{mf, `y{mf, '[fB ;vrfkqf~ti
EvBuq KZAv 'lflamf, ma{dmf ev[fbT `[fEb.
(ndfp< Ekalf pdlmf 19)

The moral is that man can win over all his obstacles if he leads a virtuous life (`bvazfkfAk). This advice would be an excellent remedy to most of our social problems today! No wonder that Kampan is acclaimed as the King of literary kings (kvicfckfkrvrftfti kmfp[f).

6.3. Periya PuraNam (epriyp<ra]mf)

6.3.1. Background

Though the AzhvArkaL and the n^yAnmArkaL succeeded in spreading the ideology of Bhakthi through devotional music and complete surrender to the Divine, the use of Sivan or VishNu to represent the Divine divided the Thamizh into 2 classes, the Saivaites and VaishNavaites. To strengthen their respective creeds, the followers indulged in efforts to collate information on the protagonists of these sects and their contributions. While the ThirumuRai (tiRMAb) and n^AlAyirat thivya Praban^tham (nalayirtftivfypirpnftmf) contain the devotional poems by the leading saints of these sects, relatively less is known about the literary works or personal accounts of others in the creed. Recognizing this limitation, one of the staunch devotees in the Saivaite group, SEkkizhAr (Eckfkizarf) decided to devote his life to gather the information on all the n^AyanmArkaL, the details of which constitute the Periya PuraNam.

6.3.2. Periya PuraNam (epriyp<ra]mf)

SEkkizhAr (Eckfkizarf) (11th or 12th century A.D) was a minister in the royal court of the ChOzha King. Opinions differ whether he lived during the reign of KulOthunga ChOzhan II (KElatfTgfkEcaz[f, `[pay[f) or rAja rAja ChOzhan II (rajrajEcaz[f)f. His conviction in the Saivaite philosophy was so deep that he quit his job and indulged in religious activities. He also wished to impress the King with the superiority of the Saiva faith over Jainism towards which the King tended to lean favourably. In particular SEkkizhar adored the devotion of Sun^tharar and his compilation of Thirut thoNdat thokai (tiRtfeta]fdtfetaAk) in which a brief sketch was available on most of the n^AyanmArkaL.

Another source of information was a small book, Thirut thondar Thiruvan^thAthi (tiRtfeta]fdrf tiRvnftati) by n^ampi ANdAr n^ampi (nmfpi ~]fdarfnmfpi). With these two resource books, SEkkizhAr found an opportunity to fulfill his desire to write a Thamizh equivalent of the Jain purANam, MahA purANam (mkap<ra]mf). Literally Periya PuraNam means 'big literary work' and the name given by SEkkizhAr was ThoNdar PurANam (eta]fdrfp<ra]mf) meaning the PurANam of 'the servants of God'.

This work was classified as the 12th ThirumuRai in the Saivaite canon books. The book is divided into 2 chapters (ka]fdgfkqf) and 13 sections (cRkfkgfkqf). It contains 4253 poems according to umApathi SivAchAriAr (umapticivacariyarf. A critical review of Periya PurANam has been recently (1994) published by Professor A.S. GnAna sampan^than (`.c.wa[cmfpnft[f).

While writing his own account of his idol, Sun^thara MUrthy n^AyanAr (CnftrYMrftfti nay[arf) , SEkkizhAr traveled to all the places visited by Sun^tharar. These visits gave him the opportunity to learn about the n^AyanmArkaL about whom he wrote in detail before concluding his work with Sun^tharar's own life.

6.3.3. Salient Features of Periya PuraNam

a) The high esteem Thamizh people have for Periya PuraNam may be ascribed to its simplicity and the purity of the language which is not as highly Sanskritized as in contemporary works. This enabled SEkkizhAr to communicate effectively with people and deliver them the message of the excellence of Saiva philosophy. The poems are in the viruttham (viRtftmf) style with a musical touch.

b) It is said that SEkkizhAr lacked the vivid imagination of other poets in his description of people's habitats and avocations. On the other hand, he certainly did have a specific message to give and he did it with passion. This may be contrasted to the Sangam poets, like TholkAppiar, who did not have any previous literature to draw lessons from in terms of format. They were therefore preoccupied with codifying concepts, defining and classifying habitats, people and laying down grammatical stipulations. They chose to be precise and rigid in their literary formats. In the epic period, the poets had as their priority the narration of a story wherein they emphasized some moral principle or a religious concept. They had to be imaginative in their descriptions and make them appealing to people.

The poets in the Bhakthi period were inspirational and musically oriented to cater to people's aesthetic senses. SEkkizhAr had no such compulsions except to record the biographical sketch of the n^AyanmArkaL and describe the social background of the habitats and people in the places he visited in a straight forward manner. The reason why SEkkizhAr's PeriyapurANam is considered to be a national epic by the Thamizh community is due to its simple but heart moving style, to its relatively least amount of Sanskritization and to its emphasis on spiritual democracy whereby anyone from any caste or creed is equal before the eyes of the Divine.

The following passage is an example the easy flowing style of his poem in which he says "These servants of God (`Fyarfkqf) are great comparable only to themselves; by sheer service they win over us; they are capable of winning the world with their uniqueness; they are harmless; they attain impossible status in life; they seek happiness through love of others; they can get rid of the influence of 'mAyA' (maAy) due to previous births; let us go and join them."

epRAmyalf tmfAm opfparf
Ep]lalf 'mfAmpf epbf$rf
oRAmyalf ulAk evlfvarf
U[Emlf o[fBmf ;lflarff
`RAmyamf niAlyilf ni[f$rf
`[fpi[alf ;[fpmf ~rfvarf
;RAmy<mf kdnfT ni[f$rf
;vArnI `Advayf '[fB.

SEkkizhAr's absolute devotion (pkfti) to Lord Sivan and the humble manner in which he pleads for His grace are described through the prayers of KAraikAl ammiyAr (kaArkfkalf `mfAmyarf).

"I pray for the infinite happiness of Your love; I do not want to be born again; if I do, I do not want to forget You forever; if I do, I want to be happily singing in Your praise under Your feet as You are dancing".

;bvat ;[fp `[fp< Ev]fFpfpi[f Ev]fD ki[f$rf
pibvaAm Ev]fDmf, mI]fDmf pibpfp<]fEdlf u[fA[ '[fBmf
mbvaAm Ev]fDmf, ;[f{mf Ev]fDmfna[f mkifzfnfT paF
`bvanI ~Dmf EpaTu[f `Fyi[fkIzf ;Rkfk '[f$rf.

c) Though references to the word 'literature' (;lkfkiymf) have been made in SIvaka ChinthAmaNi, (cIvkcinftam]i, enwfec[f{mf kiziyi[f EmliRnfT ;lkfkitfT, 180) and in Kampa rAmAyaNam (kvi, ecyfy<qf, N\lf, p{vlf) , only in SEkkizhAr's Periya PurANam, one finds the word literature, (;lkfkiymf) employed in the specific context as used at present.

6.3.4. Conclusion

The simple style of Thamizh employed by both Kampan and SEkkizhAr in their major epics would provide enough incentive to anyone interested in taking up the study of Thamizh literature seriously and enjoy the growth of our progress up to this point. Whereas Kampan packed rAmAyaNam with values of virtues and feelings of love and chastity, SEkkizhAr filled Periya PurANam with deep feelings of devotion to God. Both the epics remind us of the advances we have enjoyed in the field of literature so early during the march of civilization.

6.4. Bibliography

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