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Though Villi BhAratham does not enjoy the same level of popularity as Kampan's rAmAyaNam, the complexity of the story line, the large number of characters in the cast and the heavy religious and legendary overtones provide formidable challenges to anyone undertaking the onerous task of writing the Sanskrit work in Thamizh. VilliputthUrAr's superior literary style, his adherence to Thamizh literary format and his success in painting a Thamizh cultural background to the story have made Villi BhAratham a highly regarded Thamizh epic.

9.3. Minor Poems (t[ipfpadlfkqf)

In addition to the poets ,literary personnel, (p<lvrfkqf) who were very well known for the high caliber and magnitude of their works, there were many who have authored a large number of short independent poems (t[ipfpadlfkqf). Though the quality of these minor poems is not as high as the works from the earlier periods, they do depict a literary style which was different and unique in many respects.

These pulavars belong to a category of unsung heroes whose literary manipulative skills were very much enjoyed and appreciated by many. Many of them were too poor to be taken notice of by the royal courts and depended on the philanthropy of middle level patrons for their livelihood. In fact they were the personification of the traditional poverty associated with Thamizh pulavars.

The works of these pulavars did not contain any profound philosophical concepts or carry any moral or ethical messages. On the contrary, the works portrayed the frustrations of poverty stricken poets who earned their bread by praising unworthy patrons. Quite frequently they ended up condemning the miserly attitude of the rich who did not appreciate their literary worth. When one is hungry and the competition is severe, it is but human that one resorts to various tactics to prove their superiority over others or , in some cases, to put down the competitors at all costs. This led to the development of literary works in which the pun and juggling of letters, words and phrases to give a double or different meaning became the order of the day. PiLLai and a few others collated these colourful poems into 5 volumes which provide excellent and humorous reading material for the enjoyment of everyone at all times. A few of these works are discussed below.

9.3.1. KALamEkam (kaqEmkmf)

He lived in the 15th century and was considered to be an Asu kavi (~Ckvi) one who is capable of composing original literary works at the spur of the moment without any preparation. His name is derived from the fact that literary materials come out bursting through his mouth like a torrential rain. In two of his literary works, KALamEkam has followed the conventional literary style: a. ThiruvAnaikkA ulA (tiRvaA[kfka ula) wherein he describes the slow procession of the hero coming on his city rounds. b. Chitthira Matal (citftirmdlf) which deals with the penance of a disappointed lover.

KAlamEkam’s fame came from his ability to write poems with double meanings (ciElAd). He has used this format effectively to display his literary manipulative skill, to snub his opponents and make critical remarks on anyone who takes advantage of him. In the poem given below, a riddle is given which can be applied either to a snake or the sesame seeds: the subject dances and gets inside the receptacle, makes noises while it dances, the face can be seen if the lid is opened, the head will have a reeling sensation if it grabs and it has a split tongue or by using the syntax differently, one can make oil cake (pi]f]akfK) out of it. What is it ?

~Fkf KdtftAdy<mf ~DmfEpaEt ;Ary<mf
YMFtftibkfki[f MkgfkadfDmf - ODm]fAd
pbfbipf prper[f{mf paribf pi]f]akfK M]fdamf
ubfbiDpamf epqfeq[Ev OT

Another example of double meaning is the similarity between a coconut and Sivan:

klflalf `Fy<blalf k]fYM[fB ;Rpfpt[alf
'lflaRmf p>AckfK 'Dtftidlalf - vlfElaD
ekaqfQAkyalf kgfka KlMtfT camim[f[a
kqfqitzi ya[f nikrfEtgf kayf

The ankatham (`gfktmf) style has been used to make satirical comments as well. When there was an enormous delay for the food to be served in a choultry, KAlamEkam wrote the following poem wherein he says: "By the time rice arrives it will be sunset; by the time the rice is prepared and put in boiling water all activities in the town will be over; by the time a spoon of cooked rice is served it will be almost dawn":

ktfTgfkdlf VzinaAkkf katfta[fb[f ctftirtftilf
`tftmikfKmf Epat lricivRmf - Ktfti
uAlyilid v>rdgfK EmakrpfAp y[f[mf
;Alyid evqfqi eyZmf

The most popular satire KALamEkam made was the one when the butter milk sold was found to be very dilute. He says “ (This butter milk) was known as cloud when it was in the sky; it was called water when it came down as rain; it is called butter milk when it reaches the milk maid. All the three are the same:

karf '[fB Eprf pAdtftayf
kk[tfT uBmfEpaT
nIrf'[fB Eprf pAdtftayf
enDnftAryilf vnfttbf pi[f
varf o[fB em[fMAlyarf
~yfcfciyrf Ak vnfttbfpi[f
'[fEmarf '[fB Eprf pAdtftayf
MpfEpRmf epbf$Ey

The rearrangement or recombination of letters at different places was another format for which kALamEkam was famous. In the following poem, the letters combine with the letter, (D) placed adjacently at the end of the line and, when combined with the first five letters individually, yield a new word , Sivan:

O ka ma vI Eta En erakfk DDDDD
nakarf KdnfAt nkrfkfkiAbvrf - vakayf
'Dpfprf ndmiDv ErBvr[f parfkfKkf
ekaDpfp r]ivrf KAzkfK

The letters, (O, ka, ma, vI , & Eta) combine with the letter, (D) at the end to give (OD, kaD, maD, vID & EtaD) respectively indicating that the poem refers to Sivan.

Another intriguing style is the use of a single consonant and its series without any other letter in the poem. In the poem below the maiden sends a message through a parrot to her lover. The only consonant used is the (t) series.

tatiT\ EtatIT ttfAtT\ EtatfT
T\tiT\ etatftittf T\tEt - taetatft
Ttftttf taEt T\titfTtfEttf etatftIT
titftitft Etatitf titi

(tati T\Eta tIT) = my messenger is of no use; (ttfAt T\T OtaT) = the parrot won't go as my messenger; (T\tiT\T otft ;tmf T\T `Et) = as a friend you will be my best messenger; (taetatft Ttfti) = my own skin irritation ; (ttftaEt) = without increasing; (TtitfT) = in praise; (EttfT otfT :T) = according to my present circumstances; (titftitftT Otitftiti) = take my sweet words to my lover and save me.

9.3.2. irattaip pulavarkaL (;rdfAdpf p<lvrfkqf)

The literary skills of two pulavarkaL (p<lvrfkqf), iLancUriar (;qwfVriyrf) and MuthucUriyar (MTVriyrf) and their spontaneous poetic retorts under a variety of circumstances are extremely popular in Thamizh literature. One of them was lame and the other was blind and they always traveled together each complementing the other to circumvent their physical disabilities. The one thing they had in common was their literary expertise and ready wit. The first one composed the first two lines of a verse while the other completed the other two lines which were partly humorous and party critical with a pungent remark.

In the following poem, the first pulavar addresses the deity and asks in disgust “ You Gods are noted for granting all the boons requested. Where have you all gone away as a group?”; the other one responds mimicking God, “ Yes, we know, but listen, after doing that for a long time, we have now become mere stones and brass”.

Ekdfd vrmqikfKmf kIrftftiy<qfq etyfvgfkaqf
PdfEdaD emgfEk KFEpa[Irf - padfdyfEkqf
eclfkal emlflamf ecLtftiE[amf `lfkalmf
klflaE[amf ecmfpaE[amf ka]f

In another instance they were hungry and waiting for the food which is distributed to the visitors after offering to the God but nothing was forthcoming from the priests. The first two lines in this poem were “Oh, allALiappa, when you are getting all the food, is it fair that we go hungry ?” The twin realized that the priest was cheating and the tray which was presented to the deity did not contain any food at all. He retorts as if God was replying and complaining about his own plight, “ (you are talking about your hunger) with all the sounds of the drums and noise of the bugle which fool ever got any food in this temple’ !

EtgfKp<k zagfPrfcf civE[ylf laqiypfpa
nagfkqf pcitftiRkfAk wayEma - Epagfka}mf
PBcgfK Eta[fMrC ekadfEdaAc `lflamlf
EcaBk]fd YMqiyarf ecalf

When the two were walking through rocks and puddles along a mountainous road, one of them said in disgust and great physical discomfort, "My God, when will we ever see the end of this? ". The other said, " as long as we keep on chasing after these misers and praise them as great and noble, we will never see the end of this".

K[fBgf Kziy<mf KBki vzindpfpT
'[fB viFy<emmkf ekgfEkaEv - o[fBmf
ekadataA[kf Ekaev[fBmf kaev[fBmf Pbilf
;daEta nmkfkivf viF.

9.3.3. PatikkAsup pulavar (pFkfkaCpfp<lvrf)

The following examples illustrate the reflections of a poverty stricken pulavar thanking and glorifying Thamizh by comparing it to the sun in moments of extreme happiness. When the patrons turn him down, on the other hand, he becomes dejected and curses Thamizh by comparing it to Saturn (c[i) :

Ogfklf ;AdvnfT uyrfnfEtarf etazviqgfki
"gfekalinIrf waltfT ;RqfkFy<mf - ~gfkvbfBqf
mi[fE[rf t[iyazi evgfktirf o[fB "A[yT
t[fE[ rilat tmizf

`dekDvayf pletaziL miRkfkkf klfvi
`tikem[fEb kbfBvidfEda mbivilflamlf
tidMqEma k[madkf kAzkfPtf tadcf
ecpfpiDvitf Atkqadtf etrinfEta milfAltf
tdMAlEv Acyrakpf pibnfEta milfAlcf
c[iya[ tmiAz vidfDtf Atylarftmf
;dmiRnf T\T ec[fB piAztfEta milfAl
'[f[ec[fm emDtfTki liRrkfki[f E$Em

One of the patrons who always supported the pulavars at all times was the great islAmic philanthropist, SIthakkAthi (cItkfkati) . When SIthakkAthi died, the pulavars felt they lost a very close friend. In the following poem, PatikkAsup pulavar says, " What does it matter if all the misers live or die; what does it matter if the bitter tree ('dfF) bears seeds or not ; SIthakkAthi was the only one who really counted; he was the one who gave gold in handfuls to the pulavars who went to him begging with torn clothes around them".

:yat p<lflrf ;Rnfet[f[
Epaey[f[ 'dfFmrmf
kaya tiRnfet[f[ kayftfTpf
ple[[f[ knfAtCbfbipf
Epaya ckem[f birnfEtarfkfKcf
ecmfepa[f piFpiFyayf
Oyamlf :pv[f EvqfcItkf
kati oRv{Em.

9.3.4. azhakiya Chocka n^Athap pulavar (`zkiyecakfknatpfp<lvrf)

The literary maneuverability of the pulavars can be appreciated from the following poem. This is a typical example of pun in Thamizh literature. A word is chosen and, by deleting or rearranging the letters or juggling sections of the word in various combinations, new words are coined. The various steps used to create the new words are stated in the form of a poem with the chosen word appearing in the last line.

In the word, (p<Atylf) , if the first half is removed it becomes, (`lf) (dark); if the first letter, (p<) is deleted it becomes (Atylf) (girl); if the second half is deleted a command (p<At) (bury) will result; by adding the first letter (p<) to the second half you get (p<ylf) (cloud); if the first and last letters only are retained it becomes (p<lf) (grass) eaten by animals; the second letter in the word is the name of a month, (At).

Mbfpati Epayfvidfdalf ;RdfEd yaKmf
M[fE[ZtfT;lf lavidfdalf ep]fE] yamf
pibfpati Epayfvifdfdalf "vbf ecalflamf
pibfpatiy<d[f M[f'ZtfT ;Rnftalf Emkmf
ecabfpakkf kAdtAlci[f miRktftI[i
etadrf ;r]fdamf 'ZtfTma ttftilf o[f$mf
epabfparf ti]f p<yMtfT cami m[f[a
p<kLvayf ;kfkAtyi[f p<Atylf k]fEd

9.4. Bibliography

aruNAchalam, M. (1975) `R]aclmf, M. tmizf ;lkfkiy vrlaB. 9-~mf N\bf$]fD. kanfti vitftiyalymf, tiRcfcibfbmfplmf. pkf. 365.

GOvindasAmy, M. (1969) Ekavinftcami, M. tmizf ;lkfkiy vrlaB (;lkfkiytf Etabfbmf). pari niAlymf, ec[fA[. pkf. 170.

GOpalakrishnamAchariAr, V.M. (1970) EkapalkiRxf]macariyarf. vilfli partmf. Av .M.Eka. kmfep[i, ec[fA[.

iLavarasu, S. (1970) Ecam. ;qvrC. ;RpT N\bfba]fDkqilf tmizf. m]ivackrf N\lkmf, citmfprmf. pkf. 170.

MANickam, V.S. (ed.) (1968) A glimpse of Tamilology. Tiruchirappalli, Academy of Tamil Scholars of Tamil Nadu.

MANickam, A. (1977) ma]ikfkmf, `. t[ipfpadlf tirdfD. p> mfp<karf pirCrmf, ec[fA[.

MInAtchi sun^tharan, T.P. History of Tamil Literature. aNNAmalai University Publications in linguistics - 3. aNNAmalai University, aNNAmalai n^agar. (1965). pp.211. rAmasAmi Pulavar (1964-1969) t[ipfpadlf tirdfD. etaKti 1-5. et[f[inftiy Acvcitftanft N\bfptipfp<kf kzkmf. ec[fA[.

SInicchAmy, T. (1985) cI[icfcami, T. tmizilf kapfpiykf ekaqfAk. tmizfpf plfkAlkfkzkmf, twfcav> rf. pkf. 400.

SubramaNian, S.V. and V.VIrasAmi (ed.) (1981) Cultural Heritage of the Tamils. International Institute of Tamil Studies, Madras. pp. 425.

SubramaNian, T.M. (1977) ta.YM. Cpfpirm]iy[f, t[ipfpadlf tirdfD. In: SubramaNian, S.V. and K.D.Thirun^Avukkarasu (ed.) Cpfpirm]iy[f, c.Ev. & k.t.tiRnav<kfkrC. tmizf ;lkfkiykf ekaqfAk . etaKti 2. ulktf tmizarayfcfci niBv[mf, ec[fA[. pkf. 239-274.

Thirun^Avukkarasu, K.D. (1977) tiRnav<kfkrC, k.t. knft p<ra]mf In: SubramaNian, S.V. and K.D.Thirun^Avukkarasu (ed.) Cpfpirm]iy[f, c.Ev. & k.t. tiRnav<kfkrC. tmizf ;lkfkiykf ekaqfAk . etaKti 3. ulktf tmizarayfcfci niBv[mf, ec[fA[. pkf. 27-84.

VaiyApurip PiLLai, S. (1989) Avyap<ripf piqfAq, 'sf. ;lkfkiycf cinftA[kqff. tmizfpf p<tftkalymf, ec[fA[. pkf. 552.

VaradharAjan, M. (1972) vrtraj[f, M. tmizf ;lkfkiy vrlaB. pkf.376 SAhitya Academy, New Delhi .

VIrAsAmi, T.V. (1977) vIracami, ta. Ev. vilfli partmf. In: SubramaNian, S.V. and K.D.Thirun^Avukkarasu (ed.) Cpfpirm]iy[f, c. Ev. & k.t.tiRnav<kfkrC. tmizf ;lkfkiykf ekaqfAk . etaKti 3. ulktf tmizarayfcfci niBv[mf, ec[fA[. pkf. 87-121.

Zvelebil, K.V. Lexicon of Tamil Literature. E.J. Brill, New York. (1995) pp.783.