Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My newfound love...

Yes... I am smitten, my dearest people! And before you start dreaming of the author running around in green pastures with some stunning male specimen of the human species, let me make myself very clear. The new found love that I speak of is Tamil Sangam literature. I am aware that I know nothing whatsoever about the magnificence that is Tamil... Why, it *almost* rivals Sanskrit in lucidity, beauty and antiquity!
Just as I start to believe that Tamil has finally hit the dust, thanks to the amount of butchering the people in Chennai have subjected it to, I am showed glimpses of what it used to be and how many mind blowing, things were back in the days of the ancient Tamil emperors!

And amidst the numerous wonderful works that still have no parallel in literature, I found the Ettuthokai (எட்டுத்தொகை) to be really interesting. It is a part of the oldest surviving Tamil Poetry, Pathinenmaelkanakku (பதினெண்மேல்கணக்கு). It was probably compiled during the last Sangam period...say about 300 B.C.E.

Ettuthokai contains seven anthologies(and hence the name). They are

  • Ainkurunuru(ஐங்குறுநூறு)
  • Akananuru(அகநானூறு)
  • Purananuru(புறநானூறு)
  • Kaliththokai(கலித்தொகை)
  • Kurunthokai(குறுந்தொகை)
  • Natrinai(நற்றிணை)
  • Paripaadal(பரிபாடல்)
  • Pathitrupatthu(பதிற்றுப்பத்து)
You can bet that I shall be writing on this topic more often now! But I would also like to sound the necessary disclaimer ne! =D
I'm just beginning to study on these anthologies and I am not even assuming expertise in any of the works I've mentioned! Heck! I feel so humbled and enlightened when I see how simply yet powerfully, the people of ages past, were able to convey the most subtle and tangible of things... something that after eras upon eras of 'development', we're unable to emulate... atleast not to that scale of magnificence.

P.S. I'm aware my GATE exam is advancing like the menacing army of the great Rajendhra Chola the First! Yikies.... ciao for now, ne!


  1. since i studied about them and some of them in school ,no love for them.but reading them now might be different.and whatever said and done poetry in chennai has its own

  2. @Soin: I haven't a formal education in Tamil per se. Maybe that's why it intrigues me so. And as for the poetry of Chennai, I'd agree for most of it. But sometimes, I find it sad when I see three year olds uttering words that aren't quite appropriate for his age!