Tuesday 11 December 2012

The Glory of Tamil Literature....Part ..4.


Besides depicting the love life of the ancient Tamils, the
Agam poems also show a life led in union with Nature. " A great
literature is that which is ' native ' and original, which defies
time, which expresses a man's or society's ideals and realities with
aesthetic faithfulness, in which there is a coalescence of
entertainment and edification and which is capable of revealing to the
reader fresh layers of meaning at every reading." ( Dr.S.V.
Subramanian in " Tamil Culture: A Multi -Dimensional Phenomenon )
It is interesting to note how the poets from the different
regions attributed their observations accordingly. From these poems
from Kurunthogai we learn the way of life in their regions as
Kuriji Region : Young girls were engaged in keeping off the parrots.
Neythal Region : Young girls protected dried fish from birds.
Mullai Region : Men tending cows and goats.
Marutham region : people engaged in cultivating paddy and sugarcane.
These are examples of how they lived in harmony with Nature.
The longer verses show a more urbanised life with luxury and
splendour.Here girls are seen throwing their gold ear studs to chase
away the fouls from the ripe grain! The smoke from the sugarcane
factories rose like clouds, The sea-ports were busy with exports and
imports of valuable goods and spices . The market places were crowded
with precious things from far and near.The settlement of foreigners
with the Yavana servants and watchmen engaged in their daily affairs .
Hence the hustle and bustle gave the city a cosmopolitan touch and
colour to the ancient Tamil life. The people changed their dresses in
the mornings and evenings. The men enjoyed their evenings with
intoxicating drinks too!
Kurunthgai song 135:
" Work is life, for men;
and for women with bright foreheads
Who stay at home
their men are their lives... " ( Shanmugam & Ludden ).
From this we know that the men were the earning members of
the family and the women were dependent on them.
There are many songs which show the romantic way the poets
looked at nature.
A poem by Kollan Azhisi hears the delicate sound of the
falling flower and portrays it in his poem in this subtle manner:
" Mayiladi ilaiya maakual nochi
annimigu menkom poozhntha
manimarul poovin paadunani kette ".( 138 )
The poet's imagination and comparison is very much baffling
indeed. The meaning is as follows:
It is late night and the people are in deep slumber. But she
could not sleep as she hears the sound of the falling nochi flowers.
Thus the damsel awaits the return of her lover.
Another poet, Pereyin Muruvalar has this to say in
Kurunthogai 17. It has been translated by A.K.ramanujan as follows:
": When love is ripe beyond bearing and goes to seed,
Men will ride even Palmyra stems as if they were horses;
Will wear on their heads the reeking cones of the erukkam bud
As if they were flowers;
Will draw to themselves the laughter of the streets;
And will do worse ".
There has been endless debates among poets whether there is
a natural fragrance on the hair ( koonthal ) of women. In Kurunthogai
2 , the lover praises his damsel who is reeling in love by asking the
bee to tell the truth in this way:
" Oh Beautiful Bee-
You that has the life of investigating innards of a flower,
Don't say what I desire to hear
But tell what you saw
My long time lover who is peacock-like in her beauty
She has teeth that are close together
Greater than her hair,
Is there any flower that
You know of which
Smells better than her hair? ". This is a famous poem known
as " Konguther vaazhkai " by poet Iraiyanaar.
Our ancient poets adored humour as an important aspect of a
happy life. Thus humour and nature are seen blended in many of the
Kurunthogai poems.Here are two such poems :
" Kurukukolak kulitha kendai ayalathu
Urukezhu thamarai vaanmugai veroo oom. " ( 127 ).
A fish escapes from the beak of the stork. Later thinking
that the stork has gone, the fish comes up again. Seeing the bud of
the lotus flower it escapes once again thinking that it is the beak of
the stork!
In another poem an elephant is depicted in this manner:
" Negizhiyit peyernthe nedunal yaanai
Meenpadu suraroli verooum ". ( 357 )
The farmer lights fire at night to keep away the elephants
from the crops. The elephant on seeing the fire runs away in panic.
But on seeing the bright stars in the sky the elephant is even more
Though Kurunthogai poems were written more than 2000 years
ago, it is striking indeed to note that many of them are very much
similar to our poems of modernity!

To be

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