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7. Miscellaneous Literature

The popularity of the epics among the masses provided a powerful impetus for the proliferation of other types of literary works. The general rise in literary standards led to specialization in fields such as grammar, lexicography and short poems.

7.1. Grammar

For the Thamizh people, grammar has been a passion since ancient times. Even before Thamizh literature evolved into a sophisticated avocation for the poets and writers, it was all preceded by works on grammar. In the oldest available literary work, TholkAppiam, the author, TholkAppiar took a very liberal definition of grammar to include subject matter (epaRqf) as well and had expressed his objectives in his special preface (cibpfp<pfpayirmf).

tmizf PB nlfLlktfT
vzkfKwf ecyfy<QmayiR Mtli[f
'ZtfTwf ecalfLmf epaRQmf naFcf
ecnftmiziybfAk civ]iy niltfetaD
MnfTN\lf k]fD MAbpfpd ']f]ipf
p<lnf etaKtfEta[f
(etalfkapfpiymf cibpfp<pfpayirmf)

SubramaNiya BhArathiAr's comments that 'Thamizh is quite unlike some languages in the world which do not have a good grammar' (m]f]iAdcf cil ;lkfk] vrmfpila emaziEpalf) indicate not only the seriousness with which the Thamizh people treated grammar but also show their contempt for languages without one. The development of grammar at such an early period in history would indicate that literature (;lkfkiymf) in some primitive form or other should have been in existence prior to TholkAppiar's time. Later grammar texts (n[f{\lf, ;lkfk]viqkfkmf) also confirm that grammar (;lkfk]mf) is meant to formalize literary (;lkfkiymf) styles:

;lkfkiygf k]fdtbf kilkfk] miymfplibf
pKti viKti pKtftiAd ni[fbAt
viA[pfepyrf `lf epyrfkf kiAdniAl '[El.
(n[f{\lf 141)

;lkfkiygf k]fdtbf kilkfk] miymfplibf
pKti viKti pKtftiAd ni[fbAt
viA[kfKbipf piAdniAl ey[f[lf Ev]fDmf
(;lkfk] viqkfkmf 51)

The grammatical features stipulated by TholkAppiar were followed strictly in the Sangam texts, in the Buddhist and Jain epics, in the Bhakthi canonical texts and in the epics of the ChOzha period. By this time different styles of Thamizh presentations had evolved in response to social needs and the growth of linguistic expertise. The interaction with Sanskrit had also a profound influence. Poets were eager to express their thoughts more accurately and colorfully. The difficulties associated with understanding and interpreting the original TholkAppiam offered incentives for newer grammar texts to satisfy the growing demands. The result was the publication of a number of treatises on Thamizh grammar (;lkfk]N\lfkqf) :

VIra SOzhium (vIrEcaziymf) , n^Emin^Atham (Enminatmf, Mutthu VIriyam (MtfT vIriymf) , VacchaNan^thi MAlai (vcfc]nftimaAl, PAttiyal (padfFylf, ThaNdi alankAram (t]fFylgfkarmf) , ilakkaNa viLakkam (;lkfk] viqkfkmf, ilkkaNak kotthu (;lkfk]kf ekatfT, yApparunkalam (yapfpRgfklmf) , yApparunkalak kArikai (yapfpRgfklkfkariAk, n^annUl (n[f{\lf) and n^ampiyakap PoruL (nmfpiykpfepaRqf). Some of these works are discussed below briefly .

7.1.1. VIra SOzhium (vIrEcaziymf)

This grammar text was written by a Buddhist, Buddhamitthirar (p<tftmitftirrf) (11th century) who named the book after the King, VIra SOzhian (vIrEcaziy[f). Being a Sanskrit scholar, the author made changes in TholkAppiam following the Sanskrit tradition and included sections on yAppu (yapfp<) and alankAram (`lgfkarmf) besides word, letter and poruL (epaRqf). :

naEm evZtfTcf ecabfepaRqf yapfplgf karem{mf
paEmv< pwfc vtikarmamf prpfApcf Crkfki
EtEmviy etagfkbfE$rf vIrEcaz[f tiRpfepyralf
p>EmLArpfp[f vdN\[f mrp<mf p<k[fB eka]fEd.
(vIrEcaziymf payirmf)

7.1.2. n^Emi n^Atham (Enminatmf)

The author of n^Emi n^Atham said in his preface (payirmf) that, after due consideration of the whole of TholkAppiam, he removed certain sections to facilitate easy understanding. He also added new sections to emphasize the grammar relating to letters and words. This claim had been refuted.

viritfTArtft N\lfkqi{mf Ev]fDv[ eka]fD
etritfTArpfp[f ecalfli[fbibmf.
(Enminatmf, ecalf- payirmf)

7.1.3. Mutthu vIriyam (MtfT vIriymf)

The author, SubramaNiya DhEsikar (Cpfpirm]iyEtcikrf) claimed in his pAyiram that he had not only made grammar easy to understand but also followed agatthiam.

'ZtfEtaD ecabfepaRqf yapfp]iAynfTmf
'qitibf p<lpfpd viybfbitftRek[....
Cpfpirm]iy Etcik[f kvipfepRma[f
`Abnft[[ak vktftiy N\lfvzi
MtfT vIriy em[tftbf epyrf nibI;
vKtft[[f.(MtfTvIriymf - cibpfp<pfpayirmf)

7.1.4. VacchaNan^thi MAlai (vcfc]nftimaAl) and PAttiyal (padfFylf

These grammar texts presented a new style in which the specifications of the first meter and other stipulations for the rest of the verses were precisely described. They fell into disfavour when higher or lower number of poems in the works were allotted according to the caste and status of the hero.

7.1.5. ThaNdi alankAram (t]fFylgfkarmf)

This work was based on the Sanskrit text, KAvya Dharsam (kavfytrfcmf) in which the decorations (`lgfkarmf) , for enhancing the finer quality of literary work were detailed. These include similes and other methods for expressing thoughts in an aesthetic manner.

7.1.6. ilakkaNa viLakkam (;lkfk]viqkfkmf) and ilakkaNak kotthu (;lkfk]kfekatfT)

These two texts represented the continued efforts of some authors who had attempted to introduce the decorative attributes of Sanskrit works in Thamizh under the guise of rendering the old Thamizh texts easily understandable. As one recent reviewer commented, their pAyiram (payirmf) sounded more interesting than the texts themselves.

7.1.7. yApparunkalam (yapfpRgfklmf and yapparunkalak kArikai (yapfpRgfklkf kariAk)

These two grammatical works were written by amitha SAkarar (`mitcakrrf) , a Jain author during the KulOthunka ChOzhan's (KElatfTgfk Ecaz[f 1) regime. yApparunkalak KArikai consists of 3 chapters (;ylfkqf) and is written in the kattaLaik kalitthuRrai (kdfdAqkfklitfTAb) style. According to GOvindasAmi (1969) yApparunkalak kArikai is an extremely useful book for scholars and researchers.

7.1.8. n^annUl (n[f{\lf) (1200-1205 A.D.)

n^annUl is a grammatical text written by PavaNan^thiyAr (pv]nftiyarf) , a Jain monk. Hailing from a village in GuntUr district, PavaNan^thiyAr became a friend of SIya Gangan (cIykgfk[f) , a ChOzha chieftain, known as arunkalai VinOthan (`RgfkAlviE[at[f) . In the special preface (cibpfp<pfpayirmf) , PavaNan^thiyAr had indicated that he wrote n^annUl as the derivative (vziN\lf) of TholkAppiam according to the wishes of SIya Gangan.

....tiRnftiy ecgfEkabf cIykgfk[f
`RgfkAl viEnat [mra pr][f
emazinft[ [ak M[fE[arf N\li[f
vziEy n[f{\bf epyri[f vKtft[[f...

According to n^annUl the conclusions drawn in a derived work should be similar to the original and differences, if any, should be pointed out clearly:

M[fE[arf N\li[f MFepaRgf ekatfTpf
pi[fE[a[f Ev]fDmf vikbffpgf Pbi
`ziya mrpi[T vziN\laKmf
(n[f{\lf 7)

n^annUl has two divisions (`tikargfkqf) ; letters ('ZtfT) and words (ecalf). Each division is subdivided into 5 sections (;ylfkqf). Because n^annUl is currently being used as the standard in Thamizh literature, a few examples are given below to show how the grammatical points are dealt with.

a) Letter subsection ('Ztftiylf) - Endings (;BtiniAl)

The 12 vowels either alone or in combination with consonants, the 11 soft consonants (emlfli[gfkqf) and the shortened (u) can be the endings of words:

~vi w]nm [yrl vzqemyf
cay< Mkr nalaB mIEb
( n[f{\lf 106)

(uyirf- viq, pla, kiqi, tI, viD, p> , pA[, Epa. emyf - uriwf, m]f, mrmf, epa[f, Evyf, p<kzf, vaqf)

b) Word (ptviylf)

i) Letters either by themselves or in combinations form words which may (pKptmf) or may not be (pkapfptmf) divisible:

'ZtfEt t[itfTnf etadrfnfTmf epaRdribf
ptma mTpkapf ptmfpK ptem[
;Rpfp laki yiyL em[fp
(n[f{\lf 128)

ii) Deviating from TholkAppiar's tradition, PavaNan^thiyAr divided words (pKptmf) into six components (pKti, viKti, ;AdniAl, cariAy, cnfti, vikarmf).

pKti viKti yiAdniAl cariAy
cnfti vikar mabi{ EmbfpAv
M[f[ipf p<]rfpfp MFy<empf ptgfkQmf
(n[f{\lf 132)
(ndnft[[f = nd + nf + tf + `[f + `[f (pKti, cnfti, ;AdniAl, cariAy, viKti)

c) Syntax of vowels at the end (uyirIbfBpf p<]riylf)

If the words (pl) and (cil) occur in succession,
i) they may combine without change;
ii) the consonants in between may double;
iii) if the letter (`) of the first word is curtailed (`krmfekDtlf) (l) becomes (b)
iv) if some other consonant follows the first word, the letter (`) becomes modified as follows:

plcil ev{miAv tmfM[f $mfvri[f
;ylfp< mikLmf `kr Emk
lkrmf bkr makLmf pibvri[f
`krmf vikbfp makL Mqpib.
(n[f{\lf 170)

i) pl + pl = plpl (no change);
ii) cil + cil = cilcfcil (consonant doubled)
iii) pl + pl = pbfpl. (` is curtailed and l has become b iv) pl + naqf = p[f[aqf. the end (`) is curtailed and modified due to the (na) which followed.

d) Syntax of consonants at the end (emyfyIbfBpf p<]riylf)

If ([) and (l) come in front of (t) and (n), they become modified into (b) and ([) respectively; if (]) and (q) come in front of (t) and (n), they become changed into (d) and (]) respectively:

[lM[f b[v<mf ]qM[f d]v<mf
~Knf tnkfk qay<gfkaEl.
(n[f{\lf 237)

(epa[f + tIT = epa[fbIT, klf + tIT = kbfbIT, epa[f + n[fB = epa[f[[fB , klf + n[fB = k[f[[fB ). (m]f + tIT = mdfGT, Mqf + tIT = MdfGT, m]f + n[fB = m]f][fB, Mqf + n[fB = M]f][fB)

e) Attributes of a good literary work

The ten serious errors and the ten good attributes of a literary work are outlined in the following two poems:

Ten Errors (Kbfbmf ptfT)

K[fbkf Pb[f miAkpdkf Pblf
PbiyT Pb[f maBekaqkf Pblf
vYZucfecabf p<]rftft[f mygfk Avtftlf
evbfeb[tf etaDtft[f mbfe$[fB viritftlf
ec[fBEtyfnf tiBt [i[fBpy [i[fAm
'[fbiAv yIArgf Kbfb N\bfEk.
(n[f{\lf 12)

Ten Good Qualities (`zK ptfT)

CRgfkcf ecalfllf viqgfk Avtftlf
nvi[fE$rfkf ki[iAm n[femazi p<]rftftlf
OAc y<AdAm yazMAdtf tatlf
MAbyi[f AvpfEp y<lkmAl yaAm
viZmiyT pytftlf viqgfKta r]tft
taKt {\libf kzek{mf ptfEt.
(n[f{\lf 13)

Several commentaries are available on n^annUl: Mailai n^Athar (AmAlnatrf), Andip Pulavar (~]fFpfp<lvrf) , SivagnAna Munivar (civwa[M[ivrf) and KUzhankait ThampirAn (PzgfAktftmfpira[f).

7.1.9. ThonnUl viLakkam (eta[f{\lfviqkfkmf)

This grammatical text was written by Beschi in the eighteenth century (VaradharAjan 1972, Zvelebil, 1995). However, M. aruNAchalam has suggested that Beschi's teacher, SuprathIpa KavirAyar (CpfpirtIpkvirayrf) is more likely the author.

7.1.10. SAmin^Atham (caminatmf) and PrayOka vivEkam (pirEyak viEvkmf) are other grammatical works useful as references on grammatical points.

7.2. Lexicography

7.2.1. Introduction

The word lexicon is defined in the Oxford dictionary as "a dictionary especially of Greek, Latin or Hebrew or a vocabulary listing relating to a particular subject or class" and lexicography as "the art or process of compiling a dictionary". The first major English dictionary was published by Samuel Johnson in 1755. Using this as a point of reference it is appropriate to discuss the circumstances which led to the development of lexicography in Thamizh. The following background is essential to ward off unfair criticism by overzealous scholars in the comparative growth of lexicography in Thamizh and European languages.

Whether one believes in the existence of the Thamizh Sangams, their dates and participating poets, it is true that now we do have a vast amount of Thamizh literature published during the few centuries before or after the Christian era. During the early part of the Christian era, very few cultures existed in which the language was used as effectively as Thamizh to analyze and classify society, habitats and human endeavors or codify literary formats. Using palmyra palm leaves to record their thoughts and even oral communications for the transmission of information from one generation to the next, the Thamizh poets have bequeathed a treasure of literary knowledge to posterity. The Thamizh society was organized in such a way that people were stratified according to their avocations and, obviously, the number of those involved in philosophical or literary pursuits were likely to be few in number. Unfortunately, this was misinterpreted that " among the Thamizh very few can now be found who are masters of the higher dialect".

Contrary to the observations of visitors from foreign countries, the point emerges that Thamizh poets, even without the advantage of the printing press and, more importantly, without any precedents to draw from contemporary cultures, were deeply involved in developing original concepts of literary formats. They did not have any pressure to conform to any national or international standard because there was none at the time. Finally people believed in a holistic approach to literature and did not consider language and human activities as two different entities. TholkAppiar's inclusion of poruL in his treatise on grammar exemplifies this concept. People were interested in the system as a whole and not merely in the word or the syntex. This would explain why the topical rather than the alphabetical format was followed in the early Thamizh lexicons.

7.2.2. n^ikaNdu (nik]fD) and Commentators (uAr ~ciriyrfkqf)

Recognizing the enormous amount of literature that had accrued over centuries people found it necessary to find ways and means of making them understood easily. The complexity of the subject matter, the differences in the literary formats and problems associated with difficult words and the interpretation of concepts provided the incentives for such efforts. n^ikaNdu (nik]fD) and Dictionary (`krati)

The compilation of n^ikaNdu (nik]fD) (thesaurus) in which the subject matter, rather than the alphabetical order, represents the first attempt in this direction. In this format, selected subject matters (e.g. names of God, human, fauna, flora, natural products etc.) were organized to provide synonyms and homonyms. It is to be emphasized that though these time honored metrical vocabularies called n^ikaNdu were branded as obsolete by visiting scholars, they did serve the purpose for which they were intended.

a) ThivAkaram (tivakrmf) written by ThivAkarar (tivakrrf) in the 8th century represents 'the form of a reference lexicon with both interpretative and productive user function'. It has 12 chapters (etaKti) and 9000 headings.

b) Pinkalam (pigfklmf) written by Pinkalar (pigffklrf) between 8th and 13th century has more than 15000 entries and is available in the British library.

c) ChUdAmaNi (Vdam]i) written by MaNtalap puratthAr (m]fdlpfp<rtftarf) in the 16th century is a very popular n^ikaNdu. It is written in the viruttham style and is considered easy to memorize.

d) KayAtharam (kyatrmf) written by KayAtharar in the 15th century has 11350 entries.

e) The concept of dictionary (`krati) as used in the west to the Thamizh language may be ascribed to Father Beschi (1680-1747 A.D.). His SathurakarAthi (cTrkrati) is made up of 4 sections (epaRqkrati, epyrkrati, etaAkykrati, etadrkrati) and represents an example of the significant contributions of Christian missionaries. Though the literary efforts of Father Beschi were primarily intended for the use of foreign missionaries, his work is supposed to have created a 'burst of creativity' in this field.

f) Kazhaga akarAthi kzk`krati) compiled by the South India Saiva SitthAn^tha Kazhagam (et[f[inftiy Acv citftanftkf kzkmf) is a recent addition to the Thamizh akarAthi series and will be most useful as a desk reference to know the meaning of difficult words.
For an exhaustive and critical analysis of Thamizh Lexicography, the reader may refer to Gregory James (1991). Commentators (uAr~ciriyrfkqf)

Commentators (uAr~ciriyrfkqf) provided the liaison between the original literary texts and ordinary readers. The Thamizh name, urai AciriyarkaL (uAr~ciriyrfkqf) is, however, a misnomer because they did more than providing meaning of difficult words. Many of them were scholars both in Thamizh and Sanskrit and were authors of high caliber themselves. They wrote explanatory texts and interpreted the meaning of the complex concepts contained in the literary works. In order to do justice to their task, most commentators should have had expertise in several other disciplines such as religion, philosophy, sociology and fine arts.

n^akkIrar (nkfkIrrf) , an author belonging to the 8th century wrote the earliest commentary in Thamizh for KaLaviyal (kqviylf). The commentary itself was in the poetic style and not as a text.

iLampUraNar (;qmfp>r]rf) who lived prior to the 12th century wrote the commentary on TholkAppiam. PErAsiriyar (Epraciriyrf) (13th century) was a well known commentator for his interpretation of parts of TholkAppiam and Thiruk kOviyAr (tiRkfEkaAvyarf). CEnAvaraiyar (Ec[avAryrf) provided the commentary for the second half of TholkAppiam.

n^acchinArk kiniyar (ncfci[arfkfki[iyrf) (13th century) was also a Sanskrit scholar and had written commentaries on Patthup pAttu (ptfTpfpadfD) , kalit thokai (klitfetaAk) and SIvaka chin^thAmaNi (cIvkcinftam]i). Despite his reputation as a scholar and his proficiency in both Thamizh and Sanskrit, he had been criticized for not giving direct meaning to the topics. He had also a tendency to switch words around, rendering them more difficult to understand than the originals themselves. In other words, one needed another explanatory text to decipher his commentaries.

atiyArkku n^allAr (`FyarfkfKnlflarf) (13th century) wrote the most popular commentary on SilappathikAram. Being an epic dealing with social activities and human problems, SilappathikAram contains a tremendous amount of details on music and dance which were in vogue at the time in different habitats. To interpret these forms of fine arts in an understandable form, the commentator should be extremely knowledgeable in these disciplines. Indeed atiyArkku n^allAr's commentary provided the major link between the present formats of music and dance and those prevalent in the SilappathikAram days.

ParimElazhakar (priEmlzkrf) (14th century) is considered to be one of the ten scholars who had written commentaries on ThirukkuraL (tiRkfKbqf). In contrast to n^acchinArk kiniiyar (ncfci[arfkfki[iyrf) , ParimElazhakar (priEmlzkrf) gave direct meaning and translation of the text, though his opinions and interpretations had been criticized. He had also translated Pari pAtal (pripadlf). ParimElazhakar is unique that his translations (priEmlzkrfuAr) of ThirukkuraL are treated with high esteem and are ranked as high as ThirukkuraL itself in literary circles.