Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A brief Introduction to Puranaanuuru


A brief Introduction to Puranaanuuru







Dr. R. Prabhakaran
Bel Air, Maryland
Preface

Puranaanuuru is considered to be one of the outstanding literatures of the world. It reflects the life style and the values of the Tamil society that existed 2000 years ago. I have attempted to capture the essence of Puranaanuuru in this essay. It is impossible to express the original ideas of Puranaanuuru in English the way they are felt and realized in Tamil rendering, and that too in a few pages. So, I would like state at the outset that this is only a very modest attempt on my part to highlight some of the salient aspects of Puranaanuuru.

Tamil words and names are difficult to write in English. I did not have access to the software that might help to Romanize the Tamil words the way they should be rendered phonetically with suitable diacritics. I have adopted a simple and intuitive approach to write the Tamil words in English.

If the reader feels that this essay has provided a basic overview and an appreciation for the depth and breadth of Puranaanuuru, I would consider that my objective in writing this essay has been achieved.

Dr. R. Prabhakaran
Bel Air, Maryland


A brief Introduction to Puranaanuuru

Dr. R. Prabhakaran


Tamil Civilization
There is a general consensus among the historians that the Tamil Civilization is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Although the archeological excavations, epigraphs and numismatic evidences found inside and outside of Tamil Nadu point to the antiquity of Tamil Civilization, historians find it difficult to reconstruct the early history of Tamil people with any degree of certainty. However, In the case of Tamil people, in addition to the artifacts, the Tamil literature provides valuable information to partially reconstruct their history of the past two millennia, if not earlier.  Therefore, in addition to its elegance and beauty, the ancient Tamil literature is also an important source of information for Tamil history.

Antiquity of Tamil language
 Like the Tamil civilization, the Tamil language is also considered as one of the oldest languages of the world.  It is comparable in its antiquity to languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. It has an independent literary tradition. It has a vast collection of rich and robust literature. In view of its antiquity, independent tradition and the vastness of its rich and robust literature, Tamil has been considered as one of the classical languages of the world. For example, Dr. George L. Hart, former Tamil Chair at the University of California, Berkeley, makes the following statement regarding the classical nature of Tamil:
“The quality of classical Tamil literature is such that it is fit to stand beside the great literatures of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Chinese, Persian and Arabic. The subtlety and profundity of its works, their varied scope, and their universality qualify Tamil to stand as one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world.”

In spite of the fact that scholars like Dr. George L. Hart had long ago realized the classical nature of Tamil, for political reasons, the government of India did not recognize Tamil as a classical language until October 2004.

 Antiquity of Tamil literature
The oldest literary work in Tamil is known as Tholkaappiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்) written by Tholkaappiyar.  Most literary historians consider that at least parts of Tholkaappiyam were written in 3rd century BCE. Tholkaapiyam is the earliest, most authoritative and comprehensive work on Tamil grammar. The fact that an elaborate grammar like Tholkaappiyam was written 2300 years ago, implies that Tamil must have been a well developed language long before that period.  In addition to Tholkaappiyam, a large number of poems were composed before the dawn of the Christian era by hundreds of poets dealing with a wide variety of subjects as love, war, governance, goals of life and various other aspects of life.  Of that extensive set of poems only a fraction of them is now available. Those poems that are available are collectively known as Sangam literature. The exact time period in which Sangam literature came into existence is difficult to pinpoint.  According to Dr. M. Varadharajan, a well known Tamil scholar and a historian of Tamil literature, the Sangam period is from 500 BCE to 200 AD. The late Prof. A. K. Rramanujam, formerly professor at the University of Chicago, considered that the Sangam period was from 100 BCE to 250 AD. However, most scholars agree that the Sangam period is probably from 300 BCE to 300 AD.  Puranaanuuru is part of Sangam literature. The ensuing paragraphs will provide a general overview of Tholkaappiyam and Sangam literature and an in-depth review of Puranaanuuru.

Tholkaappiyam: Tholkaappiyam contains three sections. The first section, known as ezhuthathikaaram (எழுத்ததிகாரம்) deals with orthography and phonology of Tamil language. The second section, titled sollathikaaram (சொல்லதிகாரம்) deals with morphology and syntax of Tamil words. The third section called poruLathikaaram (பொருளதிகாரம்) is about the subject matter or substance of poetry.  It should be noted that in the early stages of the development of Tamil language, there was no prose and people wrote only poetry.  Tholkaappiyam provides grammar in great detail for the composition of poetry. The subject matter of poetry is divided into two parts, akam and puramAkam deals with the affairs of the heart or the love between the sexes and their behavior towards each other.  These include the following scenarios: 1) meeting between a man and his beloved and the development of their love, 2) the man leaving his beloved for education, employment, or participation in a war, 3) the beloved waiting for her lover’s return, 4) longing and suffering of the beloved because of the separation from her lover, and 5) minor quarrels between the lover and his beloved where she feigns anger against him upon his return.  The various events and memories of those events during the five stages in the love affair between a man and his beloved are private in nature and they are not discussed in public. The word akam’ means ‘inside’ or in this context things that pertain only to the lovers.

The other subject matter that is suitable for poetry is known as puram. The word ‘puram’ means outside. It deals with such things as war, fame, goals of life, expression of grief over the death of warriors by his friends and family, charity, seeking gifts from kings and chieftains, poets providing advice to kings, and other similar subject matters which are suitable candidates for public discussion.

Sangam Literature: The term Sangam literature refers to ten long poems varying in length from 183 to 850 lines and eight anthologies of poems varying in length from three to forty lines. The ten long poems are known as paththuppaattu (பத்துப்பாட்டு) and the eight anthologies of short poems are called ettuththokai (எட்டுத் தொகை). The poetry contained in the Sangam literature is the collective work of approximately 475 poets of whom approximately 30 of them were women.

The ten long poems are as follows:
 1) thirumurukaarruppadai (திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை)
 2) porunaraarruppadai (பொருநராற்றுப்படை)
 3) sirupaaNaarruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை)
 4) perumpaaNaarruppadai (பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்படை)
 5) mullaippaattu(முல்லைப்பாட்டு)
 6) madhuraikkaanji(மதுரைக் காஞ்சி)
 7) nedunalvaadai (நெடுநல்வாடை)
 8) kurunjippaattu (குறிஞ்சிப்பாட்டு)
 9) pattinappaalai(பட்டினப்பாலை)
10) malaipadukadaam (மலைபடுகடாம்)

There is a four line poem which lists the ten poems of paththuppaattu. The poem is as follows:
முருகு பொருநாறு பாணிரண்டு முல்லை
பெருகு வள மதுரைக் காஞ்சி - மருவினிய
கோல நெடுநல் வாடை கோல்குறிஞ்சிப்பட்டினப்
பாலை கடாத்தொடும் பத்து.

Of these ten poems, six of them belong to the category of puram. They are:
 thirumurukaarruppadai (திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை)
 porunaraarruppadai (பொருநராற்றுப்படை)
 sirupaaNaarruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை)
 perumpaaNaarruppadai (பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்படை)
 malaipadukadaam (மலைபடுகடாம்)
maduraikkaanji(மதுரைக் காஞ்சி) 

The following four of the ten poems belong to the akam category. They are:
mullaippaattu(முல்லைப்பாட்டு)
kurunjippaattu (குறிஞ்சிப்பாட்டு)
pattinappaalai(பட்டினப்பாலை)
nedunalvaadai (நெடுநல்வாடை)

However there is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding nedunalvaadai as to which category it belongs to. Some of them are of the opinion that it belongs to akam whereas others argue that it belongs to puram.

The eight anthologies are as follows:
narriNai (நற்றிணை)
kurunthokai (குறுந்தொகை)
aingkurunuuru (ஐங்குறுனூறு)
pathitruppaththu (பதிற்றுப்பத்து)
paripaadal (பரிபாடல்)
kalithokai (கலித்தொகை)
akanaanuuru (அகநானூறு)
puranaanuuru (புறநானூறு)

Like in the case of pathuppaattu, there is a poem which documents the eight anthologies. It is as follows:
நற்றிணை நல்ல குறுந்தொகை ஐங்குறுநூறு
ஒத்த பதிற்றுப்பத்து ஓங்கு பரிபாடல்
கற்றறிந்தார் ஏத்தும் கலியோடு அகம்புறம் என்று
இத்திறத்த எட்டுத் தொகை.

Of these eight anthologies, narrinai, kurunthokai, aingkurunuuru, kalithokai and akanaanuuru belong to the category of akam; in other words their subject matter is love. pathirruppaththu and puranaanuuru are of the puram variety; that is, they deal with matters other than love. paripaatal is a combination akam and puram.

The above information is provided to impress upon the reader that the Tamil language is ancient and has an extraordinary collection of elegant literature dealing with various aspects of life. Regarding the excellence of the Sangam literature, Dr. A. K. Ramanujam states: "In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their values and stances, they represent a mature classical poetry: passion is balanced by courtesy, transparency by ironies and nuances of design, impersonality by vivid detail, and austerity of lines by richness of implication.”

 For more detailed information regarding these poems, the reader is referred to “The Golden Anthology of Ancient Tamil Literature” by Balakrishna Mudaliar.

Purananuuru
General characteristics of Puranaanuuru: The themes of the poems of Puranaanuuru include kingship, war, words of wisdom, elegy (poems written expressing sorrow or lamentations for one who is dead) for the valiant warriors, poets seeking gifts from the kings and chieftains, generosity of the kings and chieftains, goals of human life, celebration of the ferocity and glory of the kings, poverty of the poets, and other subjects suitable for public discussion. The poems of Puranaanuuru provide detailed insight into the social, political and economic conditions of Tamil Nadu during the Sangam period along with valuable historic information. In the words of Dr. George L. Hart, “Puranaanuuru is extremely important to the study and understanding of the development of much of South Asia’s history, culture, religion, and linguistics. But, beyond this, the Puranaanuuru is a great work of literature, accurately and profoundly reflecting the life of Tamil Nadu 2,000 years ago. Its appeal is universal:  it has much to say about living and dying, despair, poverty, love and the changing nature of existence.” This important piece of Tamil literature was first published in the form of a book in 1894 by Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Iyer, who is affectionately known as the Tamil Thaathaa (தமிழ்த் தாத்தா), meaning the grandfather of Tamil.

Puranaanuuru is a collection of 400 poems belonging to the puram category. Out of the 400 poems only 398 are now available. The identity of the person who compiled this anthology as well as the identity of the king under whose patronage it was compiled continues to be a mystery.  Out of the 398 poems, 384 were composed by approximately 157 poets; the authors of the remaining 14 poems are unknown.  Out of the 157 poets 14 were women.

The kings and the poets play the major roles in most of the poems of Puranaanuuru. In the following sections, the role of kings and the poets will be discussed first.  Subsequent to that, general information that one can glean from Puranaanuuru about the Tamil society will be discussed. Finally, the concept of life and the goals of life as described in Puranaanuuru will be reviewed.

Kings
The political system during the Puranaanuuru period was absolute monarchy. Ancient Tamil Nadu consisted of three major kingdoms, known as the Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms. Each kingdom contained within it several small kingdoms ruled by chieftains. The chieftains paid taxes and royalties to the kings in whose kingdoms their countries were situated. The kings also collected revenue from the landowners and merchants. The king was the person responsible for the protection of his country from enemies from within or outside the country. Wars among the Kings and wars among the chieftains were not uncommon. Puranaanuuru mentions the glory of kings who fought major wars and achieved victories in the battlefields. The goal of a king was to rule their countries in a just manner and protect their citizens as a mother would protect her children. Although they were interested in protecting their citizens like a mother, they did not hesitate to inflict hardship on the citizens of other countries and make them suffer like orphans.

The kings had absolute power over their country. It is interesting to note that the Tamil word “iraivan” (இறைவன்) means a king as well as God. Also, the word “kOyil’ means the temple as well as the king’s residence. In spite of this power, the kings wanted to be just in their actions, easily accessible to their citizens, poets, musicians and other artists. They were very generous in giving gifts to the poets and musicians and others who came to them asking for help.  

The king played a central and vital role in the country. To emphasize this point, the poet Mosi Keeranaar says that the life of a country depends not on food and water but on the king and it is important that he realizes his vital role.

நெல்லும் உயிர்அன்றே; நீரும் உயிர்அன்றே;
மன்னன் உயிர்த்தே மலர்தலை உலகம்;
அதனால், யான்உயிர் என்ப தறிகை
வேன்மிகு தானை வேந்தற்குக் கடனே.                             (Puranaanuuru - 186)

Rice is not the life of the world nor is the water! The king is the life of this world with its wide expanses! And so it is incumbent upon a king who maintains an army wielding many spears to know of himself” “I am this world’s life!”

The kings realized that the welfare of the country depended on their ability to be skillful and talented in the art of ruling the country. There is a poem in Puranaanuuru written by a king by the name Thondaimaan Ilanthiraiyan (தொண்டைமான் இளந்திரையன்) emphasizing the importance of skillful governance by the king. The poem is as follows:

    கால்பார் கோத்து ஞாலத்து இயக்கும்
    காவற் சாகாடு உகைப்போன் மாணின்
    ஊறுஇன்றாகி ஆறுஇனிது படுமே;
    உய்த்தல் தேற்றான் ஆயின் வைகலும்
    பகைக்கூழ் அள்ளற் பட்டு
    மிகப்பல் தீநோய் தலைத்தலைத் தருமே.                    (Puranaanuuru – 185)


When a cart that is well guarded has a driver who is skilled, it will move through the world, with wheels and shaft joined, and it will roll on smoothly without meeting any obstacles! But if the driver does not know how to handle it, then every single day, he will sink the cart into dense and hostile mud and it will create nothing but immense, fierce suffering over and over!  (G. L. Hart)

The kings felt that it was important to be loved by their citizens and being praised by poets. In turn, as long as the king was just in his actions and ruled the country with grace and magnanimity, he was guaranteed of the loyalty of his citizens. In fact, during the Sangam period, the concept of patriotism for ones country was considered synonymous with loyalty towards the kings. The concept of a unified Tamil country united by Tamil language and culture was absent.  Instead, a country meant Chera, Chola, Pandya kingdom or a region ruled by a chieftain within the three kingdoms. When citizens fought valiantly and died in the battlefields, it was out of loyalty towards their kings and not out of patriotic spirit towards their country. This lack of unity among the kings who ruled Tamil Nadu led to the invasion of Tamil Nadu by KaLappirars during the third century AD.

Poets
During the Sangam age, the poets played a critical role in the society. Obviously they were respected for their knowledge. Some were very poor and wrote poetry praising the kings and patrons for the sake of receiving valuable gifts. Although they praised the kings and patrons for gifts, they maintained their self respect. For example, the poet Perunthalai Saathanaar (பெருந்தலைச் சாத்தனார்) goes to a patron seeking gifts. But, the patron delays seeing him and giving him gifts. In poem 205, the poet says, “Even from the three kings (Chera, Chola and Pandya) with all their wealth, we want nothing unless it is given with love!” The poets expected the kings and patrons to receive them with due respect, listen to their poetry and give them appropriate gifts with love and affection. The gifts were supposed to be given in appreciation of their knowledge and not as mere charity to one who comes begging.

Another example to illustrate the respect and reverence enjoyed by the poets can be seen from the story of Mosi Keeranaar (மோசி கேரனார்) described in poem 50 of Puranaanuuru. The poet Mosi Keeranaar went to see a Chera king. When he reached the king’s palace, he was very tired and he slept in a bed that was empty. Little did he know that it was not a bed, but it was the sacred place to keep the kingdom’s royal drum. That day, the palace servants had taken the royal drum from its place for the sake of cleaning it to get rid of the stain from the blood that fell on it from the recent war. So, the seat of the drum was empty. During the Sangam period, the seat of the royal drum was considered sacred and was not supposed to be used as a bed or a place to sit. Anyone who violated the sacrosanct nature of the seat of the drum was subject to capital punishment. When the king saw the poet Mosi keeranaar sleeping on the seat of the drum, he immediately understood that it was the poet’s honest mistake.  The king picked up a hand-held fan and waved it on the body of the poet to give him fresh air and comfort, just as the palace servants would do for the king. When the poet woke up, he realized his mistake and the magnanimous gesture of the king. This shows that the poets were highly respected by the kings for their knowledge and wisdom.

The poets have also served as wise and trusted advisors to the kings. The poets did not hesitate to criticize the kings when the kings were wrong or cruel in their actions. Once the king NedungkiLLi (நெடுங்கிள்ளி) was hiding in his palace when his city was besieged by his cousin NalangkiLLli (நலங்கிள்ளி). This caused immense suffering for the people of the city, because they could not get supplies past the army waiting outside the city walls. The poet KOvuur kizhaar (கோவூர் கிழார்) goes to NedugkiLLi and admonishes him for his lack of bravery. The poet says the following:

“O lord of powerful horse whose strength can hardly be equaled! If you live by righteousness, open your gates and say, “The city is yours!” If you live by martial courage, open them and fight! But if you are without righteousness, without martial courage and all you do is to hide on your own grounds within your high walls while your massive gates stay closed and never open, do you realize how much cause for shame is in this!”

In another instance, the Chola king NedungkKiLLi mistakes the innocent poet ILanthathan for a spy and was going to kill him. Poet KOvur Kizhaar goes to NedungkKiLLi and convinces him and successfully spares the poet’s life.

When the chieftain Pekan was separated from his wife Kannaki and lived with another woman, the famous poets Paranar, Kapilar, Arisil kizhaar and Perungkunruur Kizhaar condemned Pekan for his conduct and refused to accept gifts from him. They insisted that the only thing they wanted from him was that he should be reunited with his wife and make her happy.

The episode of the poet Perunjcithiranaar (பெருஞ்சித்திரனார்) is very interesting and clearly illustrates the poet’s pride and self-respect. The poet was in dire poverty. His elderly mother, his wife and child were without food and were suffering from pangs of hunger. The poet went to the king VeLimaan seeking gifts. When the poet arrived, unfortunately the king was about to die. The king told his younger brother ILaveLimaan (இளவெளிமான்) to take care of the poet. But, the younger brother was not capable of appreciating the poet’s knowledge and insulted the poet by giving him a trivial gift. The poet refused to accept that, left the palace and went to king Kumanan who was known for his philanthropy. King Kumanan gave elephants, chariots and other valuable items as gifts to poet Perunjcithiranaar. The poet, instead of going home to his wife, went to ILaveLimaan and embarrassed him by gifting him an elephant.  He then went home to his wife and told her to be very generous in giving away his new found wealth to all their relatives, friends and creditors without even consulting him.

Information about the Tamil society during the Puranaanuuru period
Aryan Influence: Most historians consider that the Aryans migrated from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent during the period 2000BCE – 500BCE. According to K. A. Nilakanta Sasthri, a noted historian of South India, although the initial migration was to the northern part of India, starting somewhere about 1000 BCE the movement of the Aryans into the south India and in particular to Tamil Nadu has was complete. Therefore, the Aryan migration into Tamil Nadu took place before the Sangam period. In Puranaanuuru, there are several references to Brahmins (Aryans), the Vedas, Vedic culture, the epic Ramayana, the Vedic gods such as Shiva (மணிமிடற்றோன்), Vishnu (மாயோன்), Balaraman (பலராமன்). In addition to the Vedic gods, the Tamil god Murugan (முருகன்) is also mentioned. Whenever these gods are referenced, their attributes are mentioned. Although there are a few poems in Puranaanuuru where it is mentioned that the kings had followed the Vedic tradition and participated in special prayers known as வேள்வி, there is no mention of people praying to gods for any anticipated benefits.  No religion is advocated in any of the poems of Puranaanuuru. On the contrary there are several references to the worship of tombstones (நடுகல்) of dead war heroes in order to pay homage to them. So, in spite of the knowledge of the mythology of the Vedic gods, the tradition of praying to them has not been the common practice as it is in the modern day Tamil Nadu. So, Puranaanuuru is totally secular in nature.

The caste system: One of the key components of the Vedic religion is the “varunasirama dharma” which stipulates that people can be classified into four categories; the Brahmins, the Kshthriyas, the Vysias and the Sudhras. The Brahmins are the priestly class, the Kshthrias are the ruling class, the Vysias are the business class and lastly the Sudhras belong to the working class who serve the other three classes of people. The Vedic system of classification is based on birth. One belongs to the class of one’s birth and it cannot be changed. The Vedic classification also included a fifth category of people who were considered to be outcastes and untouchables. This class system later gave rise to hundreds of castes in the Tamil society and thus created a graded inequality based upon people’s birth. Puranaanuuru also makes references to the four classes of people. But, there is no mention of other castes in Puranaanuuru. However, the people who worked in the graveyards and involved in cremation of dead bodies were considered to be of lower in status and even referred to as “இழிபிறப்பினோன்” (363). Based on this and other references to terms like “புலையன்”, “இழிசினன்” and so on, Dr. George Hart and Prof. A. K. Ramanujam conclude that there were some people who were considered as low castes. In actuality, the lower status of some people was based on the type of work they performed and not by their birth as in the case of the class system practiced by the Brahmins. For example, there is no evidence to indicate that the children of pulaians were considered as pulaians.  Therefore, it appears that the caste system as we now know was not prevalent in the Tamil society during the Sangam period. Hence, it is reasonable to believe that the four classes described in the Vedas evolved into a more elaborate caste system as the influence of the Brahmins and their culture began to take deep roots in the Tamil society after the Sangam period.  Dr. S. Palaniappan, a Tamil scholar has done extensive research on the subject of caste in the ancient Tamil society. Based on his extensive research of Sangam literature and the epigraphs associated with that period, he has come to the conclusion that the caste system was not in existence during Sangam period.

The concept of universal brotherhood: ThiruvaLLuvar, a well known ethicist of later period than the Sangam period states that “All people are equal at birth; they do become different by their accomplishments during the course of their life.”  Similar concept of equality at birth and a universal outlook which emphasized that all people are really related to each other is espoused by the poet KaNiayan Puungunranaar in his famous poem in Puranaanuuru. The Tamil version of the poem and the English translation are given below:

    யாதும் ஊரே;  யாவரும் கேளிர்;
    தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர்தர வாரா;
    நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோ ரன்ன;
    சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே; வாழ்தல்
    இனிதுஎன மகிழ்ந்தன்றும் இலமே; முனிவின்,             5
    இன்னா தென்றலும் இலமே மின்னொடு
     வானம் தண்துளி தலைஇ, ஆனாது
     கல்பொருது இரங்கும் மல்லற் பேர்யாற்று
     நீர்வழிப் படூஉம் புணைபோல், ஆருயிர்
    முறைவழிப் படூஉம் என்பது திறவோர்                        10
    காட்சியின் தெளிந்தனம் ஆகலின் மாட்சியின்
    பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே;
    சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே.                           
            (Purananuru 192)

All towns are ours. Everyone is our kin. Evil and goodness do not come to us
because they are given by others. Nor do suffering and the ending of suffering.
Death is nothing new. We do not rejoice when living is sweet. When we suffer, we do not say that living is miserable. Through the vision of those who have understood, we know that precious life makes its way like a raft riding a powerful huge river that roars endlessly, fed by cold rains with bolts of lightning as it crashes against rocks. So, we are not awed by those who are great; much less we do not despise those who are weak. (Translation by Mrs. Vaidehi Herbert)

It is remarkable that it was even possible for KaNiyan Puungkunranaar to come up with this type of universal outlook some two thousand years ago. It is interesting to note that the elitist document, the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Continental Congress of USA in 1776 only stated that “All men are equal”.  It took a civil war to emancipate the blacks from slavery and give them partial rights and pseudo equality. The acceptance that women were equal to men came only in 1920 after considerable struggle, and protest by women.  So, in this context, KaNiyan Puungkunranaar’s declaration that “All towns are ours. Everyone is our kin.” is truly amazing.

Literacy: As stated above, although the majority of the poets of Puranaanuuru were men, there was also significant number of female poets. The poets came from various walks of life. For example, the poets included kings, Brahmins, business people, dealers in gold coins, hunters, medical practitioners, landlords, teachers, housewives and so on. They constructed the poems of Puranaanuuru according to strict grammatical rules enunciated in Tholkaappiyam. Therefore, those who wrote these poems must have had reasonably high level of education and proficiency in Tamil language and grammar. Since they were from different walks of life and from different social status, it is clear that the educational opportunities were generally available to men and women of all strata of the society. Also, people have understood the value and importance of education. This is evident from the following poem by Ariyappadai Kadantha Nedunjsezhian (ஆரியப்படை கடந்த நெடுஞ்செழியன்), a Pandya king.

    உற்றுழி உதவியும் உறுபொருள் கொடுத்தும்
    பிற்றைநிலை முனியாது கற்றல் நன்றே;
    பிறப்போ ரன்ன உடன்வயிற்று உள்ளும்
    சிறப்பின் பாலான் தாயும்மனம் திரியும்;
    ஒருகுடிப் பிறந்த பல்லோ ருள்ளும்                     5
    மூத்தோன் வருக என்னாது அவருள்
    அறிவுடை யோன்ஆறு அரசும் செல்லும்;
    வேற்றுமை தெரிந்த நாற்பால்  உள்ளும்
    கீழ்ப்பால் ஒருவன் கற்பின்
    மேற்பால் ஒருவனும் அவன்கண் படுமே.                      10    
(Puranaanuuru – 183)

Learning is a fine thing to have even if a student helps a teacher in his troubles, gives him a mass of wealth and honors him without ever showing disdain! Among those born from the same belly, who share the same nature, a mother’s heart will be most tender toward the most learned!  Of all who are born into a joint family, a king will not summon the eldest to his side but instead he will show favor to the man among them who has the greatest knowledge! And with the four classes of society distinguished as different, should anyone from the lowest become a learned man, someone of the highest class, reverently, will come to him to study! (G. L. Hart)

Music & dance: Poems of Puranaanuuru mention several musical instruments. Some of them are: yaazh(யாழ்), muzhavu (முழவு), AhuLi(ஆகுளி), pathalai(பதலை), parai(பறை), kinai (கிணை), thuti (துடி), thadaari (தடாரி).  Puranaanuuru also mentions about PaaNar (பாணர்) who were male singers, Patini (பாடினி) who were female singers. It also mentions virali (விறலி) the dancing woman and porunar (பொருநர்) the people who wore make-up and acted out the meaning of poems. Puranaanuuru also mentions PaNs (பண்) which are the same as the ragas of the modern day Carnatic muisic. So, it is evident that the Tamils of the Sangam age had a well developed system of music which over the period of time has been influenced by other cultures and has evolved into the modern day Carnatic music. The same is the case with dances too. The very fact that the viralis are mentioned in many poems, shows that a well developed art of dancing was being practiced during the Sangam age. In the Tamil epic cilappathikaaram (சிலப்பதிகாரம்) which was written after the Sangam period, the poet ILango adikaL (இளங்கோ அடிகள்) makes extensive references to a variety of dances performed by individual dancers as well as group of dancers. Like in the case of music, the Tamil style of dances has been influenced by other cultures and has evolved into Bharathanatyam.

Economic condition:  Agriculture was the occupation of the majority of people. There were also other tradesmen like, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, carpenters, hunters and others who earned their livelihood by providing goods and services to the society. The national economy depended upon the taxes from landowners and other taxes like the excise taxes. The kings also amassed wealth from their enemies whom they defeated.  The king controlled the wealth of the nation. He was responsible for the production and distribution of wealth. He provided financial support to poets and artists. It looks like those who owned land and those who had skills were financially well off whereas the poets and the artists were totally dependent on the kings and chieftains and other wealthy men for their livelihood.

Marriages: Although the akam literature glorifies love and portrays marriage after courtship, in reality, the arranged marriages were not uncommon. In fact, there are 22 poems in Puranaanuuru dealing with the altercations and even wars between the suitors and the families of the prospective brides. In all cases the suitors are willing to pay huge amounts of dowry in order to marry the girl of their choice. But, the parents refuse to give their daughters in marriage to the suitors unless they are known for their bravery and martial skills. So, it appears that both “love marriages” as well as “arranged marriages” were in vogue during the Sangam period.

Roles of men and women: The female poet Ponmudiyaar describes the role of a mother, father, young man and the king in her well known poem (312).

ஈன்று புறந்தருதல் என்தலைக் கடனே;
சான்றோன் ஆக்குதல் தந்தைக்குக் கடனே;
வேல்வடித்துக் கொடுத்தல் கொல்லற்குக் கடனே;
நன்னடை நல்கல் வேந்தற்குக் கடனே;
ஒளிறுவாள் அருஞ்சமம் முருக்கிக்                                      5
களிறுஎறிந்து பெயர்தல் காளைக்குக் கடனே.

It is my earnest duty to bear him and raise him. It is his father’s duty to make him into a noble man. It is the duty of the blacksmith to forge him a spear. It is the duty of the king to show him how to behave rightly and the duty of a young man is to fight indomitably with his shining sword, kill elephants, and come back home. (G.L. Hart)

Men during Sangam period: The kings had a regular army consisting of cavalry, fleet of elephants, fleet of chariots and infantry soldiers. Some of the kings also had a naval force. During times of war, all eligible men were conscripted to participate in the war. The men considered it as an honor to fight in a war on behalf of their kings. It was believed that a man should never turn his back on his enemies. The right thing to do was to encounter the enemies bravely and even be prepared to sustain fatal injuries. Being injured on the chest and dying because of such injuries was considered as the most honorable thing for a man. In fact, if a man died without war injuries, his chest was cut open by a sword and then buried or cremated. In one of the poems (74), the king KaNaikkaal Irumporai mentions that even if a child is stillborn, inflicting a wound on the chest before the burial or cremation was the practice. This might appear rather cruel and even barbaric. But, the emphasis is on bravery and courage to sustain injuries and encounter death in war.

 Women during Sangam period: As mentioned previously, Puranaanuuru includes poems written by 14 poets who were women.  Among the female poets, Avvaiyaar seems to have been very popular. She enjoyed the patronage of the chieftain Adhiyamaan Nedumaan Anji (அதியமான் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி). She had a very close relationship with Adhiyamaan who seemed to have been very fond of her. In addition to being a poet, she was also his confidante and emissary. On one occasion, a king by the name Thondaiman Ilandhiraiyan (தொண்டைமான் இளந்திரையன்) was planning to wage a war against Adhiyamaan. Adhiyamaan sent Avvaiyaar as his emissary to Thondaimaan for the purpose of persuading him not to start a war. Avvaiyaar went to Thondaimaan’s court. He showed his arsenal of swords, spears and shields to her. He was very proud of his armory. Avvaiyaar said that his weapons looked new and they were shining. She also said that Adhiyamaan’s weapons were broken because they pierced the enemies and are always in blacksmith’s shed. Thondaimaan understood that Adhiyamaan has used his weapons often in wars and therefore they are damaged and also Adhiyamaan and his army were well trained and experienced with their weaponry. They might use the same weapons against his army very effectively. So, he dropped the idea of waging a war against Adhiyamaan. This incidence shows the diplomatic, clever and subtle way in which Avvaiyaar praised Adhiyamaan indirectly and averted the war between Adhiyamaan and Thondaimaan.

Although we encounter a few female poets in Puranaanuuru, the majority of the women were housewives. They were highly respected in the society as long as they were married. Once a woman became a widow, her life became miserable. This was partly due to tradition and partly due to self imposed misery to lament the death of their husbands. It was not uncommon for widowed women to immolate themselves by entering the funeral pyre of her husband (246). Widow re-marriage was unheard of in Tamil Nadu during Sangam period and even now it is not common. Generally, widows shaved their heads, slept on uncomfortable bed of stones and ate nothing but unsalted dishes made out of leaves and coarse grains.

The most essential quality of women was considered to be chastity (கற்பு). In the case of unmarried girls and women, chastity meant total abstinence  from sex (or not falling in love with more than one man) and in the case of a married woman, it meant complete fidelity to her husband and not entertaining the idea of an adulterous relationship even in her mind.


Courage of men and women: It is clear from Puranaanuuru that there were incessant wars among the Tamil kings. Taking part in a war and getting killed was considered to be a courageous act for men. Courage and valor were the hallmarks of men. When a soldier was hurt on his back it was considered as a mark of cowardice and discredit to his valiant nature and to his entire family, because it indicated that he had turned his back to the enemy to run away.  Suffering injuries on the chest and dying was considered to be an act of bravery for a soldier.

Even women had shown abundant courage and were happy to see their sons and husbands take part in wars. There are a few poems in Puranaanuuru which shows the extraordinary bravery of women and their sacrifice for the sake of war in support of their country and king.

The following poem depicts the courageous nature of a soldier’s mother. When she learnt that her son died with wounds on his chest and encountered a valiant death she felt happier than when she gave birth to him.

    மீன்உண் கொக்கின் தூவி அன்ன
    வால்நரைக் கூந்தல் முதியோள் சிறுவன்
    களிறுஎறிந்து பட்டனன் என்னும் உவகை
    ஈன்ற ஞான்றினும் பெரிதே; கண்ணீர்,
    நோன்கழை துயல்வரும் வெதிரத்து                               5
    வான்பெயத் தூங்கிய சிதரினும் பலவே.

When she learned that her son had fallen slaying an elephant, the old woman whose hair was as white as the feathers of a fish-eating heron felt even more joy than the time she gave birth to him. And the tears that she shed then were more than the drops that hang from sturdy bamboo trees after they had collected water from the rain. (G. L. Hart)
.
There is a poem by the female poet Okkuur Maasaaththiyaar (ஒக்கூர் மாசாத்தியார்) who portrays a woman who had lost her father and husband in a war, summons her young son and gets him ready to go to the war.

    கெடுக சிந்தை; கடிதுஇவள் துணிவே;
   
மூதின் மகளிர் ஆதல் தகுமே;
   
மேல்நாள் உற்ற செருவிற்கு இவள்தன்னை,
   
யானை எறிந்து களத்துஒழிந் தனனே;
   
நெருநல் உற்ற செருவிற்கு இவள்கொழுநன்,                                  5
    பெருநிரை விலங்கி ஆண்டுப்பட்  டனனே;
   
இன்றும், செருப்பறை கேட்டு விருப்புற்று மயங்கி
   
வேல்கைக் கொடுத்து வெளிதுவிரித்து உடீஇப்
   
பாறுமயிர்க் குடுமி எண்ணெய் நீவி
   
ஒருமகன் அல்லது இல்லோள்                                                 10
    
செருமுக நோக்கிச் செல்கஎன விடுமே.                          (Puranaanuuru – 279)

            May her will be broken! What she has decided on is so cruel but yet it is fitting for a woman descended from an ancient line! Her father, the day before yesterday in battle, brought down an elephant and then fell dead on the field! Yesterday her husband drove back a long rank of warriors and then was cut down in the fight! And today she heard the sound of the war drum and she was overwhelmed with desire! Her mind whirling, she put a spear into the hand of her only son and she wound  a white garment around his body and smeared oil upon the dry topknot of his hair and having nothing but him said “Go now”! and sent him off into the battle! (G. L. Hart)

This poem may sound like an exaggeration by the poet to illustrate the woman’s family tradition of involvement in battles, her exemplary courage, her sacrifice and her desire to secure victory for her king.  One may even be tempted to dismiss this poem as a mere imagination of the poet and the scenario described in the poem as totally unbelievable.  To convince ourselves that the content of the above poem might not be pure imagination of the poet, all we have to do is to remind ourselves of the sacrifices made by thousands of Tamil women in Sri Lanka in the recent years to secure Tamil Ezham. Tens of thousands of Tamil women of Sri Lanka sacrificed the lives of their fathers, husbands, sons and daughters and they too were directly engaged in the war against the Sri Lankan government to secure Tamil Ezham. Hopefully their sacrifices will not go in vain and Tamil Ezham will become a reality in the not too distant future.

Omens: Throughout the ages, the people in every society have had inexplicable fears about certain events and thought that somehow those events would cause misfortunes and tragedies in their personal life or might result in adverse conditions for their country. The Tamil society of the Sangam period was no exception. They had their own share of superstitious beliefs. The Tamils of the Sangam period considered that when certain birds crossed their path it would bring them bad luck. When a comet appeared in the sky it was believed that it would bring bad luck to the king and may even cause the death of the king. When the planet Venus moves in the southern direction, seasonal rains would fail, agriculture might not be possible and the net result would be severe drought and famine. Certain dreams were believed to be harbingers of tragedy.

Food: It is evident that from Puranaanuuru poems that almost everyone ate meat and the concept of vegetarianism seems to have been totally absent. They ate mutton, birds, fish, pork, venison, rabbits etc. In poem 14, the Brahmin poet Kabilar mentions that his hands were so soft because he never had to do any hard work with his hands except eating meat mixed with rice. So, it appears that the practice of vegetarianism was introduced later than Sangam period by the influence of Jains whose religion strongly insists upon total non-violence towards all living beings.  At first, the Brahmins began to follow the vegetarian diet and some others emulated them because the Brahmins were considered as the superior class. In addition to having non-vegetarian diet, drinking liquor was also very popular. It appears that both men and women drank toddy, a popular form of liquor brewed locally. There is also a mention of imported wine from Rome and Greece.

Concept of life and its goals
Filmily life versus Ascetic Life: Tamil literature makes references to two distinct life styles: the family life and the ascetic way of life. In the family life, a man and a woman get married and have children. They take care of their children, their parents and lead their life as useful members of the society by being hospitable and generous to those who are in need. In this way of life, the focus was on living life fully and contributing to the society. Life was considered to be something positive and to be experienced in its full measure. In the ascetic way of life one tries to control his five senses and focuses his attention on what will benefit him in his next birth and in eventually seeking liberation from the seemingly unending cycle of birth and death. In Puranaanuuru poems, the poets advocate the family life. Except in one poem (358) where the poet makes confusing statements about the virtue of ascetic way of life, in all other poems of Puranaanuuru, the emphasis is on leading a family life and enjoying the pleasures of life and being generous and helpful to others.

Death and after life: The Tamil people of the Sangam period were well aware that life is transient, and that all living beings would sooner or later die. There is no escaping death. They believed that at the time of death, yama the demigod takes the life away from the dying person. It was customary to bury or cremate the dead body. It was believed that after death, the soul (life) of the individual goes to the “next world”. After spending sometime in the next world the soul is being born again in this world. The quality of life in the next world as well as in the next birth depended upon the good deeds done while living in this world. Those who do good deeds and live a righteous life will enjoy bliss and happiness in the next world and next life. In fact, the good deeds done in this life are like a boat that takes one from one shore to the other (357).

Goals of Life: The question regarding the goals of life was addressed by the Tamil people of the Sangam period in a manner consistent with the beliefs of the three religions that were prevalent during that period with some exceptions. Although the three religions, the Vedic religion (forerunner of the later day Hinduism), Buddhism and Jainism were prevalent in the Indian subcontinent during the Sangam period, they did not have a strong foothold in the Tamil society. According to those three religions, the basic goals of life are four fold: in Sanskrit they are called dharma, artha, kaama and moksha. In Tamil they are called aram, poruL, inpam and veedu. Moksha or veedu means the salvation of the soul or the soul reaching a state of perfection and not being born again. The idea of moksha or veedu has not been emphasized in Puranaanuuru. There is a casual reference to veedu in only one poem (214). The other three goals are emphasized in many poems.

The term “aram” cannot be accurately translated in English. It denotes righteous conduct and ethical way of life. Among other things, it includes the following: love, hospitality, fame, munificence, patience, lack of jealousy, speaking kind words, non-violence, achieving fame etc. Of these qualities, hospitality, generosity and achieving fame are emphasized over and over again in Puranaanuuru.

Tamil society has always placed great emphasis on hospitality. In poem 333, where the poet describes the hospitality of a housewife, he says that although she has no food grains left in the house, she would not hesitate to serve food cooked with the seeds she has saved in storage for sowing in the next season. This shows that people would go to any extent of personal sacrifice to make sure that their guests are well fed and taken care of in the proper manner. Puranaanuuru poems 380 through 400 describe how the kings welcomed the Porunans, gave them abundant food, toddy, new clothes and other valuable gifts to eliminate their poverty. The poems dealing with hospitality are too many and it is difficult to discuss all of them in this short essay.

Like hospitality, generosity, philanthropy and sharing one’s wealth with others are themes that one finds repeatedly mentioned in Puranaanuuru.  In this connection, it is worth mentioning a remarkable poem by the king kadaluL maayntha iLam peruvazuthi (கடலுள் மாய்ந்த இளம் பெருவழுதி). In this poem he wonders how this world continues to exist and concludes that this world exists because of good natured men who work hard for the welfare of others. The poem and its translation are given below:

    உண்டால் அம்ம இவ்வுலகம்! இந்திரர்
    அமிழ்தம் இயைவ தாயினும், இனிதுஎனத்
    தமியர் உண்டலும் இலரே; முனிவிலர்;
    துஞ்சலும் இலர்; பிறர் அஞ்சுவது அஞ்சிப்
    புகழ்எனின் உயிருங் கொடுக்குவர்; பழியெனின்
    உலகுடன் பெறினும் கொள்ளலர்; அயர்விலர்;             5
    அன்ன மாட்சி அனைய ராகித்
    தமக்கென முயலா நோன்தாள்
    பிறர்க்கென முயலுநர் உண்மை யானே.                     
( Puranaanuuru 182)

This world exists because men exist who even if they were to win the divine drink of the gods would not drink it by themselves only thinking of its sweetness, men without hate, without  slackness in their action though they may have fears like the fears of other men, who would even give their lives for fame but would not accept fame with dishonor were it to gain them all the world, men who have no regrets, and with virtues so exalted, never exert their powerful energies for themselves but only for others. It is because they exist that we do (the world does)! (G. L. Hart)

It was also considered that a generous gesture by a philanthropist should be without expecting anything in return. Helping others and giving generous gifts were done because they were the right things to do and not for any anticipated gain either in this life or the next life. In a poem where ParaNaar describes the philanthropic nature of Ay Andiran, he makes the following remark:
            மறுமை நோக்கின்றோ அன்றே
            பிறர் வறுமை நோக்கின்றவன் கைவண்மையே.  (Puranaanuuru 141, 14-15)

Because he (Ay Andiran) feels the poverty of others and because it is a virtue to be practiced, he is generous. His generosity is not at all for the sake of a better birth in the next life.

The poems of Puranaanuuru contain many examples of generosity and philanthropy by the kings and chieftains. There are several poems about the seven famous chieftains who were known for their generosity. They were: Adhiyamaan (அதியமான்), Paari (பாரி), Kaari (காரி), Ori (ஓரி), NaLLi (நள்ளி), Pekan (பேகன்) and Ay Andiran (ஆய் அண்டிரன்). These seven were known as kadaiezhu vallalkaL (கடையெழு வள்ளல்கள்). One day, Paari saw a flowering jasmine creeper lying on the ground without proper support to grow upwards. Immediately he left his chariot as a support for the creeper and went back to his palace on his horse. Once the chieftain Pekan saw a peacock shivering in cold weather. He immediately covered the peacock with his upper garment. These acts by Paari and Pecan are examples of their tender heart and kindness extended even to plants and animals. It would not be an exaggeration to say that generosity and philanthropy of kings and chieftains are the most repeated and popular themes of the poems of Puranaanuuru.

Another virtue that was considered important was acquiring fame by doing good deeds. One’s fame or dishonor (the opposites of fame) is what remains after one’s death. Therefore, those who wanted to be remembered by others after their death, acquired fame before their death. In Poem 165 of Puranaanuuru, the poet Perunthalai Saaththanaar (பெருந்தலைச் சாத்தனார்) says the following:

            மன்னா உலகத்து மன்னுதல் குறித்தோர்
            தம்புகழ் நிறீஇத் தாமாய்ந் தனரே!                                     (Puranaanuuru 165, 1-2)

In this world in which nothing is permanent, men who sought to endure, first established their fame and then died.

In summary, the virtues that are prominently mentioned in Puranaanuuru are hospitality, generosity, philanthropy without expecting anything in return and acquiring fame by doing good deeds.

As stated before, “poruL” was considered as another important goal of life. Just like the term aram, “poruL” cannot be translated exactly in English.  It is often translated in English as wealth. Although this translation is by no means comprehensive to convey the meaning of the word “poruL”, it is sufficient for our purpose. Since family life was recommended as the normal way of life, gathering wealth was definitely considered important. But, the question of what to do with one’s wealth is remarkably handled by the famous poet Nakkeeranaar.  He says that since both a mighty emperor as well as a hunter can only eat a limited amount of food and can wear only two pieces of clothing, it is better to share one’s wealth with others. 

   தெண்கடல் வளாகம் பொதுமை இன்றி
   வெண்குடை நிழற்றிய ஒருமை யோர்க்கும்,
   நடுநாள் யாமத்தும் பகலும் துஞ்சான்
   கடுமாப் பார்க்கும் கல்லா ஒருவற்கும்,
   உண்பது நாழி; உடுப்பவை இரண்டே;                          5
   பிறவும் எல்லாம் ஓரொக் கும்மே;
   செல்வத்துப் பயனே ஈதல்,
   துய்ப்பேம் எனினே, தப்புந பலவே.                                 (Puranaanuuru 189)

Between that lord of tenacious purpose, who with his white umbrella of royalty shades the earth that is encircled by the cool ocean, sharing it with no one, and the lowly man without learning who goes sleepless in the middle of the night or in the day hunting the swift animals, there is everything in common: the possession of measure of food and two sets of clothes and all the flow of the life!  The worth of wealth is that it can be given away! If you think of nothing else but enjoying it many things fail! (G. L. Hart )

So, the goal of poruL or the goal of gathering wealth has no significant purpose other than to share it with others who may be in need of it. As seen earlier, this selfless act of sharing is the underlying force that makes it possible for all people to live in this world.

The third goal of life was “kaamam” which means conjugal love. Since the subject matter of puram is everything other than love, it is not elaborated in detail in Puranaanuuru. However, it was considered as important for one’s happiness. This can be inferred from the poems where poets wish happiness for a king. The wish is always for long life, marital bliss and enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Two such examples are provided below:

     யவனர், நன்கலம் தந்த தண்கமழ் தேறல்
     பொன்செய் புனை கலத்து ஏந்தி நாளும்
     ஒண்தொடி மகளிர் மடுப்ப மகிழ்சிறந்து          
     ஆங்கினிது ஒழுகுமதி, ஓங்குவாள் மாற!                       (Puranaanuuru – 56)
           
Every day you take your pleasure as women wearing their shining bangles bring you the cool and  fragrant wine carried here in their excellent ships by the Greek and the women pour it for you out of pitchers made of gold that have been fashioned with high artistry.

                                              சாந்தருந்திப்
    பல்பொறிக் கொண்ட ஏந்துஎழில் அகலம்
    மாண்இழை மகளிர் புல்லுதொறும் புகல                      (Puranaanuuru – 161)


Your women with their fine ornaments may feel delight each time they embrace your broad massive chest smeared with sandal paste and marked with the numerous signs of good fortune.
In both instances the poets go on to wish their patrons long life as well. These are indicative of the importance that was placed on the conjugal love for happiness in life. So, kaamam was also another goal of life for the Tamils of the Sangam period. The fact that almost 70% of the Sangam poetry deals with matters pertaining to love reiterates that kaamam was certainly one of the goals of life.

Conclusion
From the above discussions, it is clear that the poems of Puranaanuuru cover many different aspects of the life of Tamil people as it prevailed during the Sangam period.  Each poem in Puranaanuuru may be considered as a short video presentation about some aspect of the Tamil society of the Sangam period. It is important to read Puranaanuuru for its poetic excellence and also for the historical anecdotes it provides. In addition to reading for the poetic excellence and historical anecdotes, we should also read Puranaanuuru to learn the lessons it offers. After all, the purpose of reading history is to correct the mistakes of the past and continue to improve upon the best practices and traditions.

The kings we encounter in Puranaanuuru were courageous and excelled in the art of war. But, unfortunately, they fought amongst themselves for various reasons. That is, the three major kings of Tamil nadu and the chieftains under them were incessantly at war among themselves. The concept of a united Tamil land was totally absent during that time. Neither the citizens nor the kings had the concept of uniting themselves under one banner and establishing a strong Tamil empire. This lack of unity resulted in the successful invasion by Kalapirars who ruled Tamil Nadu from 300 AD to 600 AD and subsequently by Pallavas, Nayakkars, Maharashtras, Muslims and the British. Even today, we do not find unity among the Tamil people. We divide ourselves by political affiliations and castes. The majority of Tamil people do not seem to have concern and care for their fellow Tamil people. This has been evident during the recent struggle for Tamil Ezham. No matter where we are, in India, North America or in any corner of the world, first and foremost we should consider ourselves as Tamilians and develop a strong sense of unity and true love for the fellow Tamilians. When someone inflicts harm on a Tamil society we should join together and raise our voices and fight for our fellow Tamilians. It is because of this lack of unity and lack of self-respect as Tamilians, the Tamil people are at the mercy of others in this world. If we do not learn these valuable lessons, then reading Puranaanuuru and singing the glorious poem of Kaniyan Puungunranaar is nothing but an exercise in futility.



Bibliography
The Golden Anthology of Tamil Literaure: R. Balakrishna Mudaliar, The south India
Saiva Siddhantha Works Publishing Society, Tinnelvely Ltd., 2004
Social And Cultural History of Tamilnad (to A. D. 1630): N. Subramaniyan, Ennes
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A History of South India (From Prehistoric Times to the fall of Vijayanagar):  K. A.
Nilakanta Sasthri, Oxford University Press 2002
The four hundred songs of war and wisdom; an anthology of poems from classical
Tamil; the purananuru/ translated by George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz, Columbia University Press, 1999.
Poems of Love and war: A. K. Ramanujan, Columbia University Press, 1985
On the Unintended Influence of Jainism on the Development of Caste in Post - Classical
Tamil Society: Dr. S. Palaniappan, International of Journal of Jaina Studies, Vol.4, No. 2 (2008), 1-65           
http://puram1to69.blogspot.com (Blog by Dr. R. Prabhakaran)
http://puram400.blogspot.com (Blog by Dr. R. Prabhakaran)

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