"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, November 22, 2016

Water lily's peeled bright stem

Water lily's stem when peeled of its fibrous outer layer shines bright. But what does it have to do with a woman? When flowers and fish and moon are metaphorical to women's beauty what does a stem, a peeled stem have to do with her appearance?  

For this poem and explanation in Tamil, please visit this link.

Ainkurunooru 35 - Sung by Orampogiyaar
This Marutham thinai poem depicts the words said by the heroine to her friend, while the hero was listening. Its one out of the ten poems named as 'Thozhikuraitha pathu' meaning 'ten songs said to the friend'.
amma vaazhi thozhi nam oor 
poikai aambal naar uri menkaal
nirathinum nizhatruthal mannae
ini pasanthandru en maamai kavinae

Poem Meaning: Listen, dear friend!  My dark beauty used to be brighter than the peeled stems of water lily in our town's pond. Lo, it has become dull now!

Description: The hero has been disloyal to the heroine, has gone to the concubines. After a while he wants to come and see the heroine. Either the hero comes himself or sends someone seeking the heroine's permission for him to come. The heroine who is very angry and distressed with the hero's infidelity is in no way going to let the hero in her house again. So she conveys her displeasure to her friend, making sure it reaches the messenger or the hero, whoever has come seeking entry for the hero. 

The heroine says that her dark beauty which used to be bright like the peeled stem of water lily has become dull now.  The heroine implies that even though she does not want to talk about the hero's infidelity her dullness gives it away. She implies that the hero's actions have brought shame in the town.  By her words to her friend the heroine tells clearly that she is not going to let the hero come inside her house. Infidelity is not going to be forgiven. These songs convey the strength and attitude of women in sangam age against infidelity.

The poem also beautifully illustrates how articulate the Sangam poets were, interweaving nature and life.

Words meaning: amma vazhi - listen dear friend,  nam oor - our town, poikai - pond, aampal - water lily, naar uri - outer fibre peeled, men kaal - soft stem, nirathinum nizhatruthal - brighter than that color, mannae - sigh of self pity, ini pasanthandru - became dull now, en maamai kavine - my dark beauty

My English Version:
Long live my dear friend! Listen!
My dark beauty was lustrous
Than our town pond lily's peeled stem
Lo! Now it has turned colorless!

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