SHRI V. V. GIRl
(President of India)
[Delivered the following speech during his release of the Sanskrit Translation of Patthu-Pattu (Sangam Lite rature) by Sri S. N. Srirama Desikan, under the auspices of the South Indian Sanskrit Association, at Sringeri Jagadguru Pravachana Mandiram, Mylapore, Madras on 16th February 1973]
EXTRACT OF THE SPEECH
“It is a great pleasure for me to be here today and release the Sanskrit translation of the Tamil classic “C PATTHU.PATTU” by my friend Shri Srirama Desikan. His service to the cause of literature is well known. As you are all aware, he is the author of several well-known translations and commentaries of Tamil and Sanskrit classics. In fact, similarly, Desikan whom I have known for a long time is a master of many languages, especially Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. By translating Tamil classics into Sanskrit, Shri Srirama Desikan has rendered yeoman’s service to the cause of national integration. I am convinced that it is by dedicated labour of writers that we can bring about great understanding between different linguistic groups and promote concord and amity among them. After all, language is the vehicle of human thought and the purpose of language is to cement human relationships. Language should never be used to divide human beings into hostile groups. The need of the hour is to build bridges of understanding and I commend to the reading public Shri Desikan’s latest offering. I always felt then and I still feel that the children should study Sanskrit from their infancy and one day, I hope, the language controversy will disappear and Sanskrit language will be the language of the country…… I once again commend my friend, Shri Srirama Desikan’s latest book “PATTHU-PATTU” in Sanskrit. I wish him many more years of fruitful literary life.”
Mrs. Saraswathi Gin, wife of the President of India, who was present on the occasion, expressed her appreciation of the author’s intimate knowledge of several Indian languages and her devotion to him as a Guru even though he was younger to her in age. Shri K. K. Shah, Governor of Tamil Nadu, presiding on the occasion, referred to the mastery of the author in the two Indian languages - Tamil and Sanskrit.
The President, Shri Giri presented a Silver Kuthuvilakku to the author given by the South Indian Sanskrit Association. The President, Shri Giri also presented a
Ponnadai (Silk Shawl) given to the author by the Jagadguru H. H. Sankaracharya of Sringeri Saracla Peetbam.
(1) Tamil Sangams (Academies)
In days of yore, the Rulers of Tamil Nadu strove very hard for the growth of the ancient and great language of Tamil with the aid of several poets functioning through three SANGAMS, which were specially set up for this purpose.
According to the commentary on IRAYANAR AHAPPORUL, written by NAKKEERAR, these Sangams would appear to have been established as under:-
1st Sangam—about 4000 years ago at South Madurai, 2nd Sangam—about 3000 years ago at Kapatapuram, 3rd Sangam—about 2200 years ago (3rd century B. C.) at Madurai, by the PANDYAN RULER. As the capital cities of the first and Second Sangams were overwhelmed by the sea, we have absolutely no record now of the works r happenings of those times. It is generally held by savants in Tamil Research that what are available to us 4at present are only the record and works of the last Sangam that functioned from the 3rd century B. C. to the 1st century A D.
There are some, who deny the existence of any Sangam in Tamil Nadu. But this contention ignores the numerous references to the functioning of a Sangam contained in the, extant works:-
Aham-Puram ; Paripadals ; Kalitohai ; Silappadikaram, Manimekalai etc.; works of commentators like acchinarkiniyar and Perasiriyar.
(2) Sangam Poets
In the last Sangam (3rd century B. C. to 1st century A. D.) about 451 poets engaged themselves in nourishing it, through devoted research and scholarship. The chief among these were NAKKEERAR, KAPILAR, PARANAR and AVVAJYAR. A remarkable fact is that the Sangam poets were honoured by all as such, without any distinction of class, community, creed, occupation or sex; members of the ruling class, as well as those hailing from the priestly, trading and agricultural communities, experts in the different fields of mathematics, music, medicine, astrology, astronomy and so forth; followers of Saivism, Jainism, Buddhism etc. ; and women jointly laboured for the development of the Sangam, composing poems of their own. These also did not come from any special region or age group.
We have now anthologies of 2426 poems sung by many poets on different occasions, about several rulers and on varying themes. These are in different metres, varying in length from 3 to 4o lines.
In olden days, the life of the people was classified into two broad groups—”Aham” and “Puram”. The former denotes family life with the accent on love, while the latter deals with external activities like wars, with the accent on heroism. valour and the like. Of the fourfold objects of life—Dharma, Artha, Kaina and Moksha—Katna or ‘‘ Inbam” is brought under “ Aham”, while the other three—” Aram”, “ Porul” and “ Veedu” are the province of “ Puram” ; likewise, all literature is comprised within these two groups. Thus, all the works of the’ Sangam poets come under the one or the other of these two categories.
Further, these poems give us glimpses of the legends, history, wars, ruling dynasties, religious life, morals, and cities of the Tamils in the bygone days. One special feature is the delineation according to the five “ Thinais” The land was grouped as “ KURINJI” (hilly regions), 1 MULLAI “ (jungles - pastoral), “ MARUDAM” (plains)14 “NEIDAL” (seashore-coastal) arid “ PALAI “ (waste’ land). The underlying philosophy was that the way of life arid morals of the people would be shaped according to the nature of the terrain where they resided. Consequently, the ay of living was set in five different moulds on “THINAIS”, which were included under “AHAM”. Similarly, the “PURAM” had seven groups.
In later days, the Sangam poems were grouped with reference to their length, the classification under the five 4’ THINAIS, the subject-matter, and the rulers extolled and arranged in anthologies known as “ETTUTTOHAI and PATTHUPPATTU “. These are the first literary works of the Sangam Age.
(i)). AINKURUNOORU (The five short hundred) - 500 stanzas; (ii) KURUNTHOHAI (Short anthology)-400 stanzas; (iii) NARRINAI-400 stanzas ;( iv) AHANANOORU - 400 stanzas: (v) KALITTHOHAI - 149 stanzas (An anthology in a special meter. These deal with all the 5 “Thinais “).
(vi) PURANANOORU 400 stanzas; (vii) PATHIRRUPPATTHU, 100 stanzas. (These deal with external or 4’ Puram “themes).
C. Aham and Puram
(viii) PARIPADAL - 22 stanzas (Dealing with both Aham and Puram themes).
A. Arruppadal (Guides to the path)
(i) THIRU MURUGA ARRUPPADAI, Guide to Lord Muruga ; (ii) PORUNARARRUPPADAI ; (iii) SIRIJPANARARRUPPADAT, (iv) PERUMPANARARRUPPADAI (v) KOOTHARARRUPADAI, Guides to bards, dancers etc.
(vi) KURINJIPPATTU - dealing with the hilly regions; (vii) MULLAIPPATTU - dealing with the pastoral regions; (viii) PATTINAPPALAI - dealing with the waste lands.
(ix) NEDUNALVAADAI dealing with camp life; (x) MADURAIKKANCHI dealing with life in Madurai, festivals etc. These are the works of NAKKEERAR (2), RUDRAM - KANNANAR (2) and 6 other poets. The meter used is “ASIRIAPPA”. The arrangement in the anthology is according to the length of each - the total number of lines is 3352. NACCHINARKKU INIYAR has commented extensively on these works.
(5) Thirumurugaarruppadai (Nakkeerar)
This work of 317 lines is the first among the “Guides”… The theme is that of a “Liberated Soul “ (MUKTA), meeting an ardent devotee who is vainly hungering for the Lord, notwithstanding all his virtues, and assuring him that through the praise and adoration of Muruga, salvation was sure and then showing him the way to the abode of Lord Muruga.
The term “ ARRUPPADUTHAL “ means that with the noble desire of sharing one’s bliss with another, showing him the way to it,
The author is NAKKEERAR who flourished in the Sangam Age. Some scholars hold that this poet was the presiding genius among all others who devoted themselves to the development of Tamil. He was the son of MADURAIKKANAKKAYANAR, a professor of Tamil in Madurai.
Nakkeerar pointed out a grammatical error in a poem (KONGUTHERVAZRK4I) written by LORD SIVA Himself for a poor Brahmin named “Dharmi “. This led to a dispute between Nakkeerar and the Lord. In the end, the Lord showed his third eye situated on His forehead to declare Himself. But nothing daunted. Nakkeerar proclaimed:
“An error is an error, though the Lord might open his fiery third eye! “ Such courage of spirit is unique to this poet! Tradition has it that after falling down a victim to the rage of the Lord, his body all burnt, he pacified the Lord by composing a poem - “Appeasement “
Another event is recorded in the commentary of PERASIRIYAR for “TOLKAPPIAM “(a grammatical work).
A potter by name, “KUYAKKONDAN” declared from the public platform that “ARYAM” (Sanskrit) was supreme and that Tamil was less in merit. Angered by this presumption, Nakkeerar sang a poem which made ‘the potter fall down dead. Then at the entreaty of other poets, he revived the potter by singing another song.
The traditional account for the origin of “THIRUMURUGAARRUPPADAI”is as follows:-
For insulting Lord Siva, the poet was cursed to become a leper, but was told that a pilgrimage to KAILASA would cure him. Accordingly, Nakkeerar went to KAILASA and engaged himself in meditation on the bank of a tank, sitting under a banyan tree. Just then, a strange leaf fell down from the tree and this disturbed the poet’s meditation. A demon had by this same trick got hold of 999 persons and imprisoned them. Now, it seized Nakkeerar as the booth person and confined him. The poet then composed this poem- “TH1RUMURJGAARRUPPADAI”. Lord Muruga now appeared before him, slew the demon and liberated him as well the other 999 persons.
(6) The Story
The first 65 lines of the poem deal with the main theme (as already stated of a liberated person) showing the way to a Devotee for attaining the grace of Lord Muruga , the Omnipresent consort of ‘ Devayanai’ wearing a garland of KADAMBA flowers and mighty enough to vanquish all foes.”
The devotee enquires about the ‘Abodes’ where Lord Muruga is blessing the faithful with his glorious Presence. The Mukta then describes the 6 camps of the Lord in Tamil Nadu-viz. Tirupparankunram (near Madurai),Tirucheeralaivai (Tiruchendur), Tiruvavinan Kudi ( Palani Hills), Tiruveraham (Swamimalai near Kumbakonam), Kunruthoruadal (Tiruttani and other hill tops), Pazhamudirsolai (Alagar Hills beyond Madurai).
In lines 67249 of the poem are described beautifully, he glorifies the 6 “Abodes “and the Lord’s Presence therein. The order is as follows: —
1st camp: - The glory of Madurai and the beauty of Tirupparankunram to the west.
2nd camp: - The glory of Lord Murua with 5 faces and 12 arms, seated on an elephant.
3rd camp: - Combined entreaty to Muruga by Lord Vishnu (Tirumal), Siva, Indra and other hosts of heaven, to lift the curse on Brahma.
4th camp: - The proper way by which Brahmins adore the Lord, with the MANTRA “NAMAH- KUMARAYA” (Obeisance to Muruga).
5th camp: - The “ Kuravai” dance of Muruga with KURAVA (gypsy) damsels.
6th camp: - The abundant glory of the Alagar hill s, the beauty of the rippling stream there, all the places sanctified by Muruga’s Presence, the method of his worship, and the attainment of His Grace by the devotee.
The succeeuing lines, 250-281, contain the exhortation of the MUKTA for the devotee to go to any of the 6 Holy Abodes and announce his desire to the Servitors of the Lord (Bhoota Ganas), who will convey it to the Lord, and the assurance that the Lord will then appear before him, bless him and fulfill his desire.
The final lines, 295-317, give a picturesque description of the falling stream and the fair natural scenery all around in the special Abode of Muruga- the “PAZAMUD1RSOLLAI” (Alagar hills).
This is the Briefings of the subject matter of the poem.
(7) Special Features
“TOLKAPPIAM”is the oldest extant grammatical work in Tamil, anterior to the Sangam classics. The 36th Sutra in the Chapter dealing with Subject matter (Poruladhikaram) lays down the features of the “ARRUPPADAI” (putting in the way) works, thus: — Dancers, bards, instrumentalists and females of these species, in unison, with the desire that others of their class should also get gifts from a generous benefactor, as they had got, show them the way to the same person.
After stating that this is the “Guide to the Path”, TOLKAPPIAM also indicates the general Rule that good persons, with a view that others should also get the riches” that they had obtained, point out the way to persons whom they chance to meet. It is in pursuance of this general rule that the special “Guides” have been composed.
The essence of the “TOLKPPIA SUTRA” is that an artist shows the path to a generous HUMAN benefactor, for the benefit of another artist. In contrast, Nakkeerar has in his work made one Devotee show another the path to LORD MURUGA Himself. This change from man to God as the goal makes the work unique.
(8) Sanskrit Influence
It should be noted (notwithstanding his scuffle with a potter mentioned above) that NAKKEERAR was also learned in the Vedas, Dharma Sastras, Puranas and other Sanskrit works. In fact, he sought to be a bridge between Sanskrit and Tamil, by incorporating several ideas from Sanskrit works in his Tamil poems.
(i) Lines 62-64 of “THIRUMURUGAARRUPADAI” are an exact translation of MANTRAS 8-9 in “KATHOPANISHAD” indicating the way to attain the Lord.
(ii) Lines L76-189 describe the six “occupations” of Brahmins, their vow of celibacy for 48 years to learn the Vedas–the injunction to wear the “Sacred Thread” of 3 strings, the 3 daily sacrifices, and the significance of their being called- “ the twice-born”. Here, the ideas in Gautama Sutras, Vedas and Dharma Sastras have been pressed into service.
(iii) The ideas in “Mahabharata”, “Ramayana”, and many Sanskrit Puranas will be apparent in Nakkeerar’s narration of Muruga’s exploits etc. : the birth of Muruga, Soorapadma Vadba, the combined entreaty by Vishnu, Indra, Siva and 18 Deva Ganas on behalf of Brahma, Siva’s burning of the 3 cities, Indra performing 100 sacrifices, and Siva’s being acclaimed as the Lord with the 3 eyes. The description of the 6 Abodes would seem to be based on the Sthala Puranas. Further, the passages about the glory of Muruga and His praise recall several Sanskrit hymns. This poem is at once-(i) a KAYYA rich in imagery in the description of the hill-stream ; (ii) an exalted work of Devotion, in the charming delineation of the Bhakti Rasa; and (iii) a historical window into the life and habits of the Tamil folk of olden days–[e.g., women making sacrificial offerings during festivals, one dancing “ possessed “ and foretelling events, women dancing the “ KURAVAI “, and Kuravas (gypsies) being clad in garments of leaves and bunches of flowers].
(9) Other Works
The other works of NAKKEERAR are: - (a) NEDUNAL-VADA included in PA TTHUPPATTU; (b) NARRINAI (7 stanzas), KURUNTHOHAI (8 stanzas); AHANANOORU (17stanzas), PURANANOORU (3 stanzas) i.e., 35 stanzas in all, as apparent from these works; (c) COMMENTARY ON “IRAYANAR AHAPPORUL”,
(This is the first commentary on this “Aham” work).
In the 11th THIRUMURAI-Saiva Agamas’—has been incorporated later—the Tirumurugarruppadai as also 8 other Prabandhas like “KAILAIPADIKALATTHIPADI” ostensibly attributed to NAKKEERAR.
Having regard to the style and admixture of Sanskrit words, some scholars hold that all the 9 Prabandhas should have been the work of “NAKKEERARDEVA NAINAR” who lived much later than Nakkeerar, the Sangam poet. (This applies also to the commentary referred to above). Yet, we still see the practice of reciting this composition with dutifulness and devotion with assurance of benefits too. Saint ARUNAGIRI NADHA holds the “Tirumurugarruppadal” as a “Veda”. Anyway, THIS WORK STANDS ALONE AMONG THE SANGAM CLASSICS as a work of Devotion, in contrast to the others dealing mainly with “ Aham” and “ Puram”, the ways of the world and Rulers—This is very remarkable indeed.
There is a large admixture of Sanskrit words in this work, which also has the name- “PULAVARARRUPPADAI”. There are shrines for Nakkeerar in Madurai and Tirupparankunram.
This work of 103 lines composed in the “Asiriappa” metre, is an imaginative KAVYA, on the theme of a lady pining in separation from her lover who had, gone to the wars. This is arranged as’ the fifth among the works comprised in “PATTHUPPATTU”. The author is the poet, “NAPPOOTHANAR”, son of “Kaverippoompattinatthu Ponvaniganar” (the name denoting a person hailing from the city of Kavirippoompattinam and engaged in the gold trade).
The lover when going to the wars had assured his lady-love that he would return in the rainy season. But the rains have commenced and the lover has not come back. The lady is therefore grieved and sheds copious tears.
The aged women of the place are touched by her misery: they go out of the city to look for omens, as was the custom of the times; returning, they assure the lady that her lover would soon return.
The lover engaged in the wars has a camp set up in the forest, together with a palatial residence for him. There, he is surrounded by several warriors and lady- guards, holding swords as well as guardsmen gone in years. He spends the night in his gorgeous residence in great grief and anxiety. Memories of heroic companions fallen in battle surge forth in his mind. Then, after the close of battle, he rushes victoriously, to meet his lady-love. The sound of the wheels of his chariot fall sweetly into the ears of the lady’s nurse.
This is the entire theme.
(3) Nomenclature of the work
As this work is characteristic of the (pastoral),—one of goes by the name of based on the way of life and nature characteristic of “Mullai” region and “Mullaithinai” the sub-divisions of“Aham”, it also goes by the name “Mullai”.
The term “Mullai” has also the connotation of “patient waiting”. As the lady waits in patience for the return of her absent lover, well guarding her chastity, some scholars hold that this is the reason for the nomenclature “Mullai” given to this work.
The characteristic of “Mullai” poetry is the state of the lady during the period when engaged in the wars.
The rainy season, Tirumal (Vishnu),—the presiding deity of the pastoral region, cows and calves are the theme of “Mullaithinai”. The poet has dealt with all these, doing full justice to the requirements of this class of poetry.
(4) Ancient customs
This work depicts beautifully and picturesquely the custom of aged women looking for omens, the set up of the camp house with the bed-chamber inside, the training of elephants, the valourous women, the time-keepers and bodyguards, as well as the grief of the lady pining in the rainy season, and the scenery along the forest pathways at the time.
We learn that in those days, rulers kept mutes as guards in the bed-chamber, women kept watch in the night with drawn swords in their hands, elephants were trained to respond to Sanskrit (Prakrit) words and that time was measured with the help of the hourglass. Thus this work is very revealing in regard to ancient customs.
It is also remarkable as a treasure house of imagery and store of description, besides being a narrative of ancient ways of living.
Lines 1-3 depict Vishnu (Thirumal) with the Conch arid the Discus and Lakshmi : lines 36-37 indicate how elephant-keepers feed the animals making them respond to Sanskrit (Prakrit) words ; lines 37-38 picture the Brahmin ascetics clad in saffron and holding the three-fold staff, by way of simile.
From these, it would be clear how in those days the Sanskrit language and faith in VARNASRAMA DHARMA and the PURANAS were widely prevalent.
Following the practice of other Sangam classics, the author here speaks only generally of a lover and a lady without specifying names.
NOTE ON THE SANSKRIT TRANSLATION
Sirramadesikan has translated pattupattu into Sanskrit Prose, the two works: -“Thirumurugaarruppadai” and “Mullaippattu” - comprised in the anthology called “Patthuppattu”.
The high purpose of rendering into Sanskrit the world-language these works is that all interested persons in the world would thereby be enabled to learn about the noble record contained in the Sangam classics, the greatness of Tamil literature and the civilisation of the Tamils, and to have access to other rare information.
The original Tamil works are also appended to the Sanskrit rendering. This would help those acquainted both the languages to compare the original with the translation and appreciate well the subtle beauty of the latter.
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