"If it is true that liberal education should "liberate" by demonstrating the cultural values and norms foreign to us, by revealing the relativity of our own values, then the "discovery" and enjoyment of Tamil literature, and even its teaching should find its place in the systems of Western training and instruction in the humanities." - Kamil Zvelebil in his book, The Smile of Murugan , The Tamil literature of South India

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sangam Literature the Basics - Mullai thinai

Mullai thinai refers to the forests and the adjoining lands. It is named after the jasmine flower. Jasmine plants abound in the forests, especially in the rainy season.
Image:Thanks Google

Image: Thanks Google

Typically, the heroine waits for the arrival of the hero, who had left for some job, after having promised to the heroine that he would return before the onset of the rainy season. So when the signs of rainy season show up and the hero hasn’t returned the heroine expects him more and more. The love between the hero and heroine is beautifully depicted as they miss each other and long to be reunited. The hero wishes to finish his job and return swiftly to his sweetheart whereas the heroine waits patiently for the arrival of the hero. These poems absolutely entice the readers' hearts.
The hero longs for the hero, yet patiently awaits his return.. The heroine’s friend consoles the heroine that everything would be fine and the hero would safely return.

The hero returns and unites with the heroine, which is explicitly mentioned in few poems and left just implied in others. The poems bring forth the beauty of the forests in rainy season. Life flourishes and everything is fertile. The shepherds return to shelters with their cattle. Patient waiting is the theme of mullai thinai.

The seasons or perumpozhudhu (பெரும்பொழுது) during which the poetic events happen are

· The ‘kaar kaalam’(கார் காலம்) or the rainy season, which falls during the Tamil months ‘aavani’ and ‘purattaasi’

The time of the day, sirupozhudhu (சிறுபொழுது) depicted in the mullai thinai poems is ‘maalai’ or evening which is from 6pm till 10pm.

The land, season and time are called the mudharporul(முதற்பொருள்), meaning the first characteristics of the thinai.

The people, animals, birds, plants, music and musical instruments and God of a particular thinai is called the karuporul (கருப்பொருள்), meaning the gist or the lives of the thinai.

The people of mullai land are shepherds. Rabbits, deer, cattle, wild fowl live in the forests. Kondrai and Kaya trees abound. The forest is fertile with fauna and flora, the springs are filled with water from the rain. Wild grains and millet are grown. Rivers are the source of water in mullai land.
The tune specific to mullai thinai is ‘saadhaari pan’ and the musical instrument is ‘mullai yaazh’. The instrument made of leather, 'parai' (drum) is 'yerukotparai'.
The subject of the poems is called the uripporul (உரிப்பொருள்), meaning the base characteristic of the poems. In mullai thinai, the patient waiting of the heroine is the uriporul.

Now that you know about mullai thinai, you are all set to learn and enjoy the mullai thinai poems. Am sure you will be able to indulge in the poems with the scenes well unfolding before you.


  1. Vanakkam akkaa...

    The description of the MULLAITH THINAI is beautiful ka. All the people can learn and understand easily by your description.

    Great Job. Keep it up...

  2. Wow! The picture of Jasmine brings back my childhood memories.. Written in such a manner that anybody can easily understand. Thanks Grace.

    1. Yeah, they are so nostalgic reminding us of our dear Madurai.
      Thanks Dhiyana.

  3. Super Grace.. Very neatly described... wonderful work !!

  4. ”...and God of a particular thinai is called the karuporul (கருப்பொருள்) ”
    See.. The God is one among the karupporul and Not rolling the major part of their life... That is SANGAM PERIOD LIFE! You are doing a wonder in Tamil to English world. Keep it up. My hearty greets.

    1. That's true..Thanks a lot dear brother

  5. On what basis the sirupozhuthu is connected with each thinai. Can you explain?

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I am trying to find out more details in order to answer your question. Will get back sooner. Thanks again.


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