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9. Thamizh PurANangaL (p<ra]gfkqf) and Minor Poems (t[ipfpadlfkqf)

9.1. Introduction One of the consistent features of the history of Thamizh literature is the close parallelism between the rise and fall of the Kings ruling the region and the religious and philosophical convictions of the poets who depended on their patronage. In turn the growth of Thamizh was influenced heavily by the fortunes of the religious sects dominating the scene. The conflicts between the followers of AzhvArkaL (~zfvarfkqf) and n^AyanmArkaL (nay[fmarfkqf) continued to persist, each gaining dominance from time to time.

VEdhic religious systems spread southwards and began to make a tremendous impact on the spiritual and social attitudes of people. Though it is difficult to estimate how long the process was in progress, it was certain that the VEdhic systems made necessary adjustments to accommodate the indigenous customs and beliefs slowly but steadily. After centuries of various degrees of adjustments and accommodations on either side, a new philosophical system, currently referred to as Hinduism evolved. This is a concept which people outside India find it difficult to comprehend so that Hinduism is always looked upon as a well defined religion like others founded by individuals. This background would facilitate the understanding of the change in the direction of developments in Thamizh during the next few centuries. Along with the n^AlAyirat thivyap Praban^tham, the Saivaite doctrines (Acvcitftanftgfkqf) were propagated actively by a number of scholars.

The pitfalls of the new VEdhic system have been pointed out by the Sitthars (citftrf) and a number of Saivaite scholars. Adhi Sankarar (~ticgfkrrf) appeared on the scene and, using his powerful skill in debate, interpreted the upanishads with his system of advaitham (`tfTAvtmf), the inseparableness of the self and the Absolute. rAmAnujar (;rama{jrf) came up with his theory of VishistAdvaitham. These VEdhAnthic concepts (EvtanftkfkRtfTkqf) extracted from Sanskrit scriptures, became popular because they were based on sound metaphysical hypotheses.

More than the religion, the Prakritic languages had even a higher impact upon the literature and culture of the Thamizh society. Contrary to opinions in the southern region, there was an incredible interaction between the north and the south. The religious impact was only one of the many consequences that followed. Scholars moved freely across the entire subcontinent. As discussed in the previous section, many outstanding Thamizh poets and authors were proficient in both Thamizh and Prakritic languages.

The Pallava city of KAnchi (kawfci) became a busy center bubbling with arts, architecture, music, sculpture, religious and literary discussions and, in general, a microcosm of cultural confluence. The Pallava Kings were instrumental in bringing about these desirable changes in society. Under these circumstances the Thamizh poets could not help imbibing the style and conventions used in Sanskrit literature and this was evident from the literary works from this point on.

9.2. PurANam (p<ra]mf)

9.2.1. Background

In the present day when scientific proof is demanded for every phenomenon, any reference to purANam (p<ra]mf) becomes engulfed in an aura of mysticism and skepticism. The word PurANam is derived from Sanskrit and literally means an ‘old legend’ (pzgfkAt). The view that it includes sacred works attributed to VyAsar (viyacrf) is also held by some experts.

By redefining purANs as ‘mythological legends documented in good literary style’, one could circumvent the difficulty whether the author or the reader should subscribe to the veracity of the contents. Thus literary quality rather than the accuracy of the legends would become the yardstick of their merit. After all, when it comes to mysticism and supernatural events, it does not really matter whether they are Hindu, IslAmic, Judaic or Christian in origin !

According to Sanskrit tradition, any literary work should include the following points to qualify for inclusion as a purANam:
1. the origin of the universe (cRkfkmf).
2. the dissolution and renewal of the universe (pirticRkfkmf).
3. genealogy of the gods (vmicmf).
4. the rule of Manu (m{vnftrmf). and
5. the genealogy of Kings of solar and lunar heritage (vmica{critmf). It appears that even the purANams in Sanskrit do not satisfy all these conditions.

9.2.2. Thamizh PurANam (tmizf p<ra]mff)

The word purANam is not found either in the Thamizh n^ikaNdu (nik]fD) or in ancient Thamizh texts. The very first reference to purANam has been made in MANicka VAchakar’s (ma]ikfkvackrf) (10th century) ThiruvAchakam tiRvackmf). The invocation (vazftfTtf tiRvklf) in this work had been named Siva PurANam (civp<ra]mf). The next purANam to appear was Periya PurANam (epriyp<ra]mf) by SEkkizhAr (Eckfkizarf in the 12th century.

In either of these works, the 5 conditions of purANas stipulated in the Sanskrit tradition were not followed. ThiruviLiyAdal purANam (tiRviAqyadlf p<ra]mf) written by PerumpaRRap puliyUr n^ampi (epRmfpbfbpfp<liy>rf nmfpi) was the next Thamizh PurANam in which the great deeds of Sivan were described. In the 14th century, Kacchiappa SivAchAriyAr (kcfciypfp civacariyarf) wrote Kan^tha PurANam(knftp<ra]mf) using Skanda PurANa in Sanskrit as his basis. This was followed later by a series of purANams written by others (Ekayibfp<ra]mf, ~ti p<ra]mf, EmRmnftir p<ra]mf, cI$pf p<ra]mf).

9.2.2.1. Kan^tha PurANam (knftp<ra]mf)

Though the mythology of Kan^tha purANam was of VEdhic origin, Kacchiappa SivAchAriyAr (kcfciypfpcivacariyarf) took it upon himself to adopt the biographical details of Kan^than (knft[f) to make into a true Thamizh epic as stated by the author in the following poem.

kanftmakiy epRgf kdLqf knftEvqf
EpanftiR nimitftMmf p<[it[f k]f]iAd
"nftlfvnf tv<]rfkqf yaR mvfvzi
mayfnftid vdrftftT mbfBgf PBEk[f
(knft p<ra]mf 1-1-14)

The original Sanskrit work, Skanda PurANA was made up of six sections of which the Sankara Sankithai (cgfkr cgfkiAt), the fifth and the largest, contained the Siva rakasiya kANdam (civrkciy ka]fdmf). The latter is made up of seven chapters (ka]fdmf) of which the first six were modified by the author and the seventh, the upadEsa kANdam (upEtc ka]fdmf) by his student GnAna VarOdhayar (wa[vEratyrf) to constitute the Kan^tha purANam in Thamizh (10345 poems).

Kacchiappa SivAchAriyAr (1350-1420 A.D.) was a scholar in Thamizh, Sanskrit, the scriptures as well as in Saiva SitthAn^tham (Acvcitftanftmf).
`nftmilf ~kmtfti[f `Rmfptmf YM[fBmf Pbpf
p<nftiyT oDgfKmf wa[Epatkmf Epatiey[f$rf
(knftp<ra]mf 1-3-10)

What made his work monumental is his love of the Thamizh culture and personal devotion to Kan^than or Murugan (MRk[f). Out of all the mythological details arising from the VEdhic systems, the one retained by the Thamizh people without any hesitation pertains to the image of Murugan, the second son of Sivan. Whether this partisan attitude is due to Murugan's origin in the SaravaNa spring (crv]pfepayfAk) or to his upbringing by the six Thamizh women (karftftiAkpfep]fFrf) is not known. It is also possible that his marriage to the hunter girl, VaLLi (Kbmkqf vqfqi) and his patronage of the Thamizh language through his blessings to the legendary agatthia Munivar (`ktftiy M[ivrf) could have contributed to his popularity in the Thamizh region.

In addition, Thamizh people have always been captivated by the beauty and power of Murugan. He is believed to the personification of Lord Sivan himself and has been an integral part of the Thamizh culture. It is no surprise, therefore, that a Thamizh epic devoted exclusively to praise Kan^than's glory was very well received. In one sense, Kacchiappa SivAchAriyAr's work was the Saivaite equivalent of Kampan's adoption of the Vaishnavaite epic, rAmAyaNam. Both the poets used the legends as their models and made appropriate changes in the story to depict the literary style, the culture and values unique to the Thamizh people. The sentiments of the Thamizh people regarding how high they cherished this work are reflected in the following proverbs: Kan^tha PurANam is our own epic (knftp<ra]mf nmf ecanftpf p<ra]mf) ; What is not found in Kan^tha PurANam cannot be found anywhere else (knftp<ra]tftilf ;lflatT 'nftpf p<ra]tfTmf ;lfAl). Dr.K.Zvelebil's "The Smile of Murugan" is an example of its universal literary appeal.

9.2.2.1.1. Salient Features of Kan^tha PurANam

a) The legendary aspect of Murugan's blessings (`Rqf) to the author is revealed in the invocation to Vin^Ayakar (vinaykrf kapfp<) wherein the following sentence is found: (tikd ckfkrcf ecmfMk AmnfTqa[f). When he was criticized that the syntax when (tikzf + tckfkrmf) to give (tikdckfkrmf) was wrong, Murugan himself came in the form of a poet next day and proved that there was a grammatical precedence in VIra SOzhium (vIrEcaziymf) in support of the questionable syntax.

b) Kan^tha PurANam is well known for crystallizing the Saiva SitthAn^tha doctrine (Acvcitftanftmf) as can be seen in the following poem. The advaitha philosophy that the AnmA (~[fma) and Sivan (pirmmf) are not two different things but are the same is explained beautifully:

pacmf '[fBmf pC'[fBmf EmtKmff
:c[f '[fBmf ;Acpfprf, tAqey[pf
Epclf mitfAt, pibitiAl, ~viy<mf
EtC Emv< civ{mf o[fB ~KEm
(knft p<ra]mf 2-10-24)

The absolute devotion (pkfti) of Kacchiappa SivAchAriyAr to Lord Murugan is evident in the following poem. He had reiterated very clearly that absolute devotion to the Supreme Being (pirmmf) whi is capable of manifesting himself in an abstract or concrete form, all in one and one in all, is the only way for salvation.

`RvMmf uRv<maki `natiyayfpf plvayf o[f$yf
pirmmayf ni[fbEcatipf pizmfpEtarf Em[iyakkf
kRA]Prf MkgfkqaBmf krgfkqf p[f[ir]fDmf eka]fEd
oRtiR MRk[f vnftagfK utitft[[f ulKMyfy
(knft p<ra]mf 1-11-62)

c) In the midst of his preoccupation to convey the doctrines of Saivaite philosophy, Kacchiappa SivAchAriyAr did not miss any opportunity to discuss the lighter sides of love and romance. When VaLLi, the hunter girl, was indifferent to Murugan's approaches, he pleaded as follows: "If you do not speak, if you do not even smile, if you do not caste a glance at me, if you do not appreciate my feelings of lust and love, be rest assured that you have to pay for it eventually".

emazi eya[fB p<klayayi[f
MBvLmf p<riyayayi[f
vizieya[f BEnakf kayayi[f
virkmikfK uzlf Ev{yfy<mf
vzieya[f Bkadfda yayi[f
m[Mmf cbfB Rkayayi[f
pzieya[fB ni[fpabf VZmf
praMkmf tvirftfti ey[f$[f
(knftp<ra]mf 6-24-72)

d) The literary finesse of the poet is depicted in the following poem where the enemy, SUrapanman (Vrp[fm[f) goes on his grand rounds with pomp and show. Hearing him coming accompanied by his vast army, the entire world was trembling in its shoes and was seeking shelter:

p>n Dgfki[ p]ikfKl nDgfki[ p<ArtIrf
va[ Dgfki[ matir nDgfki[ vArkqf
tak nDgfki[ p<]rikqf nDgfki[ tBk]f
tIn Dgfki[ niRtrfEka[f epRmfpAd eclfl
(knftp<ra]mf 2-12-29)

9.2.2.2. PattinatthAr (Pattinatthup piLLaiyAr) (pdfF[tfTpf piqfAqyarf)

This poet who lived in the 14th century A.D. was a devout Saivaite ascetic and a Thamizh scholar. He is not to be confused with PattinatthatikaL of the 11th century. His style of Thamizh is extremely simple and contains many colloquial words so that ordinary people find it easy to understand. He is a hard core ascetic and condemns the usefulness of family life (;lflb vazfkfAk) strongly. It is hardly possible that his level of earthly renunciation can be emulated by ordinary people in any walk of life. Critics consider him to be a negativist and a pessimist. Despite these citicisms, his poems have been collated into a Thanip PAtal Thirattu (t[ipfpadlftirdfD). These collections are very popular and thought provoking. A few examples which are self explanatory are given below:

nlflarf;]kfkMmf ni[fp> Ac EncMmf wa[MEm
`lflaTEvBniAluqEta `kMmfepaRQmf
;lflaQwfCbfbMmf AmnftRmfvazfv<mf 'zilfudmfp<mf
'lflamfevqimykfEk ;Abvakcfci "kmfpE[.

`[f[vicarmf `TEvvicarmf `Tozinftalf
eca[f[vicarmf etaAlyavicarmf nbfE$AkyArpf
p[f[vicarmf plkalfvicarmf ;pfpavienwfCkfK
'[f[vicarmf Avtftayf;Abva kcfci"kmfpE[.

klflapfpiAzy<gf kRtapfpiAzy<gf kcinfTuRki
nilflapfpiAzy<mf niA[yapfpiAzy<mf ni[f`wfecZtfAtcf
ecalflapfpiAzy<nf TtiyapfpiAzy<mf
'lflapfpiAzy<mf epaBtftRqfvayf kcfci"kmfpE[.

kamfpi]gfKmf pA]tfEtaqarfkfKmf epa[f{kfKgf kaci[ikfKmf
tamfpi]gfKmfpl ~Acy<mfvidfDtf t[itfTcfectfTpf
Epamfpi]nft[fA[tf tirqakkfPFpf p<r]fD;[iEmlf
camfpi]gffktfTT _Eya '[fecyfEv[f tilfAlcfcgfkrE[.

9.2.2.3. PatthirakiriyAr (ptftirkiriyarf)

This poet, who was a local chieftain, became disenchanted with the worldly turmoils and became the disciple of Pattinatthup piLLaiyAr. His philosophy is similar to that of his master. His poems are also simple in style and are in the form of desperate and passionate appeals (p<lmfplf) to God to relieve him from the earthly sufferings.

~gfkarmf uqfqdkfki _mfp<lA[cf CdfdBtfTtf
T\gfkamlfT\gfkicf CkmfepBv etkfkalmf ?
`tft [iRpfpidtfAt ~rayfnfT parftfT nitwf
ectft cvmfEpabf birivti[i eykfkalmf?
titftikfKnf etqfqmirfAt citftanfttffTdf epaRAq
MkftikfK vitfAt Mt[iA[pfp etkfkalmf ?
mbfbidtfAttfEtF ey[fb[f vazfnaAqpf Epakfkamlf
ubfbidtfAttfEtF ubgfKvT emkfkalmf ?
Oyakf kvAlyi[alf uqfQAdnfT vadamlf
mayapf pibvi mykfkBpfp etkfkalmf ?
kamkf kdlfkdnfT kArEybipf EpavtbfEk
Omkf k[lfvqrftfti uqfqiRpfp etkfkalmf ?

9.2.2.4. Villi BhAratham (vilflipartmf)

9.2.2.4.1. Introduction

The two great mythological legends (;tikacmf) popular throughout the Indian subcontinent are rAmAyaNam and MahA BhAratham (mka partmf) which deal with the incarnation of Lord VishNu as rAman and KrishNan respectively. These two legends were handed down from generation to generation through a few millenniums and have become an integral part of our cultural heritage. The original BhAratham (partmf) in Sanskrit is attributed to VyAsar (viyacrf). Because of its high literary caliber and religious sanctity the work was regarded as the fifth VEdham (Evtmf).

It is incredible how a single author could have ever undertaken the arduous task of conceiving, let alone writing, a story line so complex with literally hundreds of characters in the cast portraying different human traits. BhAratham is essentially a story of human behaviour at its best and at its worst with several shades in between. The divine interventions in human thought and endeavour, the metaphysical transactions, and of the ultimate triumph of good over evil have made BhAratham an extremely popular story in all parts of India.

9.2.2.4.2. VilliputthUrAr BhAratham (vilflip<tfT\rarf partmf)

Perun^thEvanAr (epRnfEtv[arf) (9th century A.D.) was the first to write the story of BhAratham in Thamizh. His BhAratha VeNpA (partev]fpa) has been specifically referred to by reputed commentators. Unfortunately except for a few songs, this work is not available. In the 13th century aruNilai VisAsan (`R]iAlvicac[f) is said to have written BhAratham in Thamizh but no other details are known. It was only in the 17th century that VilliputthUr AzhvAr (vilflip<tfT\razfvarf) succeeded in writing the Thamizh version of BhAratham. He condensed the original 10 carukkam (cRkfkmf) into 7 paruvankaL (pRvgfkqf).

It has to be emphasized that Villi BhAratham is not a mere translation of the original Sanskrit work. The author took all precautions to make sure that the names of places, Kings and social environments are typical of the Thamizh region. Even the story has been modified without affecting the main theme to make it representative of the Thamizh culture.

9.2.2.4.3. Salient Features of Villi BhAratham

It is difficult to summarize the literary niceties of a work of this magnitude in a few paragraphs. A few points to illustrate why the work is so highly regarded are given below.
a) Most of the Thamizh literary formats prescribed for an epic have been strictly adhered to by VilliputthUrAr. Though it is necessary to indicate the hero for an epic, one can appreciate the difficulty in choosing one from over 300 characters made up of human beings, demons and gods in human form.

b) The author has also followed the stipulations pertaining to the discussion of akam (`kmf) and puRam (p<bmf) topics. For example, the practice of wearing the flowers of thumpai (TmfAppfp>) and the dances of ghosts to indicate specific undertakings such as battles are typically of Thamizh tradition.

c) Overlap of akam and puRam topics.

Though the definition and classification of akam and puRam are given in TholkAppiam, it has been noted that there are several areas where the two overlap in a subtle manner. This point had been well recognized by VilliputthUrAr. One of the most memorable verses in Villi BhAratham capable of moving the hardiest souls lie in his description of scenes in which chastity, loyalty and integrity mix freely. Unlike descriptions of nature, the translation into words of human emotions (akap poruL) calls for an exceptionally high standard of literary skill. In the following episode in BhAratham, the human drama involving the sensitivity and fidelity of the Queen, the innocence and loyalty of the friend and the magnanimity and confidence of the King in a most bizarre context is expressed by VilliputthUrAr movingly and precisely.

King DhuriyOdhanan's wife and his step brother, KarNan (krf][f) are playing a game of chess alone in the Queen's private chambers; unexpectedly the King walks in behind KarNan unobserved; realizing the delicate situation, the Queen springs up to her feet; unaware of what was going on KarNan holds her back by grabbing at her necklace, which snaps spreading the rubies all over. When the Queen and KarNan stand frozen with a sense of remorse and apparent guilt, King DhuriyOdhanan says unperturbed " Do you want me to merely pick up the rubies or shall I thread them back into the necklace?" ('DkfkEva EkakfkEva, '[f$[f).

mdnfAt epabfbiR EmkAl m]iy<kEv
macbtf tikZm "kanft ;dnft[ibf p<rinfEt
na[yrfnftiRpfp 'DkfkEva EkakfkEva '[f$[f
tidmfpDtftidEv viracrac{kfKcf ecRMA[cf ec[fB
ecwfEcabfBkfKkf kd[f kzipfpTEv
'[kfki[ipf p<kZmf kRmMmf tRmMmf '[f$[f
(partmf 5-4-255)

d) Thamizh cultural background of Villi BhAratham At every point in the narration of this great story, VilliputthUrAr was always conscious that he should make it conform to the Thamizh cultural environment. While describing the great philanthropic quality of KarNan, he used the name of a King and river in Thamizh region in the poem below. He says that KarNan's hands became red due to his endless showering of gold upon others:

Ekavlf Vzf ep]fA] nad[f ekagfkrfEka[f paAkEvnft[f
pavlrf ma[gf katfta[f pgfkycf ecgfAk ey[f[
Emvlrf 'mrf '[f[amlf evgfkqnft[f[i [i[fb
kavl[f k[f[[f Aky<mf epazinftT k[kmari
(partmf 8-2-33)

The influence of Sanskrit on Thamizh language and culture had been referred to in the introduction. Recognizing that he had to keep this as minimal as possible, VilliputthUrAr translated many Sanskrit words and names into the Thamizh equivalents either partially or completely: (Ekaxmf= Ekalmf, vixf}=vi]fD, vijy[f= vicy[f, `Cvtftama= ;v<qitftam[f, CkfkirIv[f= m]ikfkZtfTAdyv[f.)

e) The description of how VIman (vIm[f) destroyed the elephant battalion of the hundred brothers is a typical example of Villi's inspirational style, in which the rhymes and rhythms of the verses reverberate aptly to depict the melee of elephants going to pieces:

`]iekdfD mtkrikqf krMbfB vizMtiy cirmbfBviz vrKtazf
m]iybfB vizenFy KdbbfB vizMAzekaqf vyibbfB v<dellanf
T]ipdfD vizviciB ecviybfB vizvliy etaAdybfB vizmkriAkpf
p]iepbfb pA]keqaD ptmbfB vizv< MTpD vitftplpziEy.
(partmf 6-4-5-15)

f) The similes in BhAratham have been employed with wide imagination. While describing the army of DhuriyOdhanan (TriEyat[[f) without their chief, VIduman (vIDm[f) looked like the sky without moon, flower without fragrance, country without river, harp without strings, life without wealth, heart without virtue and rituals without VEdhic rules:

mtiyilfla viCmfp<mf ecvfvi m]milfla mlRmf et]fe]Irf
ntiyila naDmf ecmfepa[rmfpilat natyaZmf
nitiyila vazfv<mf tkfkniAlvila enwfCmf Evt
vitiyila MkMmf EpaLmf vIDm[ilat EcA[.
(partmf 7-1-5)

g) VilliputthUrAr recognized the similarities between BhAratham and the other popular epic, rAmAyaNam. Wherever possible he compared and contrasted the characters in the two epics by pairing them appropriately: archunan (`rfcfC[[f) and rAman, VIman (vIm[f) and Hanuman (`{m[f), and KarNan and KumpakaruNan (KmfpkR][f). The manner in which of KarNan (krf][f) expressed his indebtedness to his step brother and patron, DhuriyOdhanan (TriEyat[[f), was directly comparable to the sentiments (ecwfEcabfBkfkd[fkzipfpT) made by Kumpa KaruNan (KmfpkR][f) towards his brother, rAvaNan (;rav][f) in rAmAyaNam.

h) The majority of yAppu (yapfp<) employed in BhAratham were aRucIr viruttham (`BcIrfviRtftmf), kaliviruttham (kliviRtftmf) and ezhucIr viruttham ('ZcIrf viRtftmf).

TO CHAPTER 9b

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