"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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thinking of you, Beautiful lady of mine

The hero had gone out for his business, might be his job or might be a war. Whatever it is, the work is done and the hero returns to his place and unites with the heroine. She had been longing for him, awaiting his return. The hero jumps down from his horse, and runs towards the heroine. The heroine hearing that the hero has arrived leaps out in immeasurable joy. They embrace each other, then the hero tells the heroine about things which reminded him about her and how swiftly he had come to her. With a heart brimming with pride and love, the heroine wouldn't have asked for more.

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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Muddied water sweeter than honey

I've introduced the anthologies of sangam poems in the previous post. Ainkurunooru is one of the anthologies and am glad to share a lovely romantic poem from that. This might be another way of saying 'Love is blind', well, love is not only blind, it overrides any taste. True love surpasses all material things. Nothing stands before love, from time immemorial. Lets go to the poem to enjoy the lovely message.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sangam Literature the Basics - Sangam Poems

We saw in Sangam Literature the Basic - Part 1 that the sangam poems were sung during a long period of time, by many poets. Its understood that the poems were sung by ten generations of poets, from various historical analysis. Leaving that aside until later, let me introduce the sangam poems to you. As I said these were written by various poets in various times and this led to the poems to be lost or hidden. So some kings decided to collect and save the poems with the help of some poets. Thus the poems which were found were categorized and recorded.

The shorter poems were collected into anthologies. Anthology is a collection of poems written by different poets following the same literary form. Thus the poems were read, analyzed and grouped into eight anthologies. These are called 'Ettuththogai' which means 'Eight Anthologies'. (ettu - eight, thogai - anthology)

There is a beautiful poem even to remember the names of these anthologies. Look how sweet the poem is!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sangam Literature the Basics - Kurinji thinai

Kurinji thinai refers to the mountains and adjoining lands. It is named after the flower ‘kurinji’(குறிஞ்சி) which blooms only once in twelve years, in the mountains. What a special name for the thinai!
Kurinji flower: thanks Google

 ‘Kanthal’ (காந்தள்) is another flower which blooms in the mountain slopes and in fact it is the state flower of Tamilnadu. It is the Gloriosa Lily or commonly called the glory lily.

Image: thanks Google
The subject of the kurinji thinai poems is mainly the secret meeting of the lovers, the gossip that starts because of that and the talk about the hero getting married to the heroine. Kurinji thinai’s main sentiment is the love and union of the lovers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sangam Literature the Basics - Part 1

The sangam poets sang about nature, love, bravery and the life of people. The sangam poems could be categorized into two main branches, in terms of subject. One talking about the love and domestic life of people is called the 'agam'. Agam means inner, mind, self or home. Agam poems are personal in nature. Again there is a lovely convention of not using any names in these agam poems. So the poems could be applied to anyone surpassing all times. The reader can relate to the poem very closely.

The other branch talks about the public life of people, the bravery and charity of kings, and the wars. This is called 'puram' meaning the outer, public life or exterior. Puram poems refer to many kings, the names of them being explicit or implied. So all the sangam poems could be categorized into agam or puram.

Love and lifestyle of the people were dependent on the nature of the landforms. The people lived very close with the nature. Hence the agam poems are also categorized

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jewels of women loosen - Ainkurunooru 25

'Ettuththokai' meaning the Eight anthologies is a collection of poems from ancient Tami literature or the Sangam Literature. The lifestyle of the people was dependent on the nature of the landforms. Hence the poems are also categorized into five landforms typically called as five 'thinai's. Those are kurinji, mullai, marutham, neithal and paalai. Kurinji refers to the mountains and adjoining lands. Mullai refers to the forests and adjoining lands. Marutham refers to the plains and adjoining lands. Neithal refers to the sea and adjoining lands. Palai doesn't have a separate landform, thereby the Kurinji and Mullai lands dried by drought were referred to as Paalai. This is just a small intruduction to get you all started. I will discuss more about these thinais in different posts from now on. Of the five, Marutham poems speak of the hero's infidelity and the heroine's sorrow.
Among the eight anthologies, Ainkurunooru is a collection of 500 short poems. Each thinai has 100 poems based on it. So a 100 poems numbered 1 to 100 are based on Marutham thinai which speak of the hero's infidelity. These poems were sung by a poet named Orampogiyaar.

Let us see one such poem, which is the 25th poem in the Ainkurunooru collection.

Sangam Literature - my first post

I am passionate about literature, especially Tamil. I love the Sangam or ancient Tamil literature for it speaks about the history and life of ancient Tamils. Sangam Literature is so sweet in text and meaning that I thought it wouldn't be nice not to share it. The poems are so deep and lovely in bringing out the landscape and life of early Tamils. I think that these are significant not only for the Tamils but for all mankind, since its about ancient humans and history. Tamils are one of the earliest civilizations.

Sangam poems were written during Sangam period spanning between 300BC and 300AD. The poems were written by various poets. Those were lost until the 19th century until Mr.U.V. Swaminatha Iyer searched and discovered the palm manuscripts. He along with his teacher C.W. Thamodharam Pillai worked hard in collecting the ancient sangam poems and making it known to the world. Mr.U.V.Swaminatha Iyer is fondly called as "Tamil Thatha" meaning the 'Grandfather of the Tamils', without whom we wouldn't have known such a remarkable treasure.

So with due respect to him and all the ancient sangam poets, I embark on my journey into the sangam world. I will write about the sangam literature, the lovely poems with easy explanation in English.