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Up About the writings and  the author.... Sign posts on the cyber pass..! 1999 Trip TNadu Photos Red Earth and rain waters... GRAFFITTI Fashions and fads Breeze in the Lotus Pond Of music saints and temple towns Postings in Tamil Nation Tamil Nation 2 Ramblings on Culture An Encounter with Pillaiyar On the trail of Gods silks and spices Irrigation Ghost and others Sources of culture Sources of Culture 2 Once upon a Jaffna -Fence car festival Rituals of hair cutting and ... Loungers in village Library.. Moving to Madras 85 First Film in Plaza Theatre World of Gods Demons and beasts Trekking through Jungles of Burma General stores and other matters once upon a Jaffna -short pieces Message Board

The Long days; My eyes are weareried, Gazing over the sea >> The skylark group and frog group are still arguing about the best in music ! I know earth is round but I see it as flat so what! what is schrodinger's cat ? even if I dont know all these still my heart beats so what ..The old pond; A frog jumps in,- The sound of water : Basho The puppy asleep, Pushing his feet, against a willow-tree


These are some poems from Sangam literature (Purananooru Kuruntokai). The translations are by A K Ramanujan, the noted poet. These are excerpted from the book 'Poems of Love and War' published by Colombia University Press. The Sangam poetry has been cheapened by propaganda, in that they are overated in one sense (praised sky high), but they are also underrated in terms of understanding their significance. Very few records of such antiquity would be available (in any language) to illustrate the life at common man's level - and unlikely in this abundant richness. These may be of some use atleast for expatriate Tamil schools. Could any readers send Tamil originals of the verses given here.

The verses are austere with no frills but in austerity each word contributes in evoking feelings, of pathos in death, of love, and assumes gravity when counseling kings. Red earth around the agricultural areas of Jaffna is "Chembadu". Incessant pouring monsoon rains induces an exquisite feeling. This savored in a mood of solitude; you just watch the rain dissolving the red earth and flowing in streamlets. Themes like these ( Chempulapeyarinar's below) and many others could be related in any era. Omens such as cawing of a crow , harbinger of the news of the arrival of much awaited guests (kakkai patiniyar's verse given here). Another omen of ghekko "telling" events ahead (depending on the direction it shouts from) are even today widely followed among the Tamils SathiMuththa pulavar's "narayf narayf .....nA[KAr PAr kA[ Krlf plfli paDparftftiRkfKmf... describes an anxious wife trying to fortell what is happening to her husband far away. In another poem: a young wife, cooking amidst smoke filled kitchen, her slender fingers pureeing "solid curd" wiping her hands in the dress. Domestic scenes ( Mqityirf piAcnft kanftqf emlfvirlf ) as seen through the eyes of the girl's best friend after her marriage, told with a poetic tenderness.

The underlying thread of social views of that era found in these poems surprisingly still runs its own program in us, along with other threads of modern believes. We are the puppetts at the end of all this multi threaded programs. The idea such as that 'a few good men are the kingpin of orderly social behavior' is more than a practical wisdom. That by interaction good man becomes a role model, an anchor and a mediator, is obvious. But this idea goes further than the obvious. It has its roots in mysticism. A Saint need not interact, his just being there is enough. His influence will permeate and enrich the society. This is the belief. Is there is any relevance of Sangam poetry  to modern living ? On this I have already said above what appears to me.

This World Lives Because....


This world lives


some men

do not eat alone,

not even when they get

the sweet ambrosia of the gods;

they've no anger in them,

they fear evils other men fear

but never sleep over them;

give their lives for honor,

will not touch a gift of whole worlds

if tainted;

there's no faintness in their hearts

and they do not strive

for themselves.

because such men are,

This world is.

Ilam Peruvaluthi



Earth's Bounty

Bless you, earth;




or hill.

You are only

as good

as the good young men

in each place    Auvaiyar

Purananooru 187


Not Rice,Not Water

Not Rice,

not water

Only the king

is the life-breath

of a kingdom.

And it is the duty

of a king

with his army of spears

to know

he's the life

of the wide, blossomming kingdom Mocikiranar

Purananooru 186


After the War....... Paari's Parampu after it fell

That Month

That Month

in that white moonlight,

we had our father,

and no one

could take the hill.

This month

in this white moonlight,

kings with drums

drumming victory

have taken over the hill,

and we

have no father. Paari's daughters on death

of Pari Purananooru 112


The Horse Did Not Come Back

The horse did not come back,

his horse did not come back.

All other horses have come back.

The horse

of our good man,

who was father in our house

to a little son

with tuft of hair

like a plume on a steed,

It did not come back.

Has it fallen now,

his horse

that bore him through the battle,

has it fallen

like the great tree

standing at the meeting place

of two rivers ? Erumai Veliyanar

Purananooru 273


A Poet's Counsel

to a cruel king when he was about to have his enemy's children trampled to death by elephants in a public place


You have come from a line of Chozha king

Who gave his flesh

for a pigeon in danger,

and for others beside,

and these children also come

from a line of kings

who in their cool shade

share all they have

lest poets,

those tillers of nothing

but wisdom,

should suffer hardships.

Look at these children,

the crowns of their heads are still soft.

As they watch the elephants,

they even forget to cry,

stare dumbstruck at the crows

in some new terror

of things unknown.

Now that you have heard me out,

do what you will Kovoor Killar to Killi Vallavan

purananooru 46

What He Said

What could my mother be

to yours ? What kin is my father

to yours anyway ? And how

did you and I meet ever ?

But in love.

Our hearts have mingled

like red earth and pouring rain. Chempulapeyarinar

["poet of red earth and pouring rain"] Kuruntokai 40

What He said

Melt all the butter

from all the cows of all the cowherds

in the woods of Nalli who has strong chariots,

mix it

with steaming rice

from the dense white paddy

of Thonti fields,

heap them

in seven bowls

and offer all that to that crow

that cawed those good omens

bringing guests

and an end to the grief

that has been wasting my girls arms.

Even so,

the offering

would still be too little. Kakkai Patiniyar Nacellaiyar

["Nacellai who sang the crow"]

Kuruntokai 210

All towns are our towns..........


YyaT YMEr yavRmf Ekqirf

Every town our home town

every man a kinsman

tITmf n[fBmf pibrftr vara

Good and evil do not come

From others

EnatLnf t]itL mvbfEba r[f[

Pain and relief of pain

come of themselves

catLmf p<Tvt[fEb vazftlf

Dying is nothing new

We do not rejoice

;[iet[ mkizfnft[fB milEm M[ivi[f

that life is sweet

nor in anger

;[f[a et[fbaL milEm mi[fe[aD

call it bitter

va[nf t]fDqi tAl; ya[T

Our lives, however dear,

follow their own course,

klfepaR tirgfK mlflbf EprfyabfB

rafts drifting

in the rapids of a great river

MAbvzipf pYDu em[fpT tibEvarf

sounding and dashing over rocks

after a down pour

kadfciyibf ebqinft[ makli[f madfdciyibf

from skies slashed by lightnings -

We know this

epriEyaAr viytftL milEm

from the vision

of men who see,

cibiEyaAr yikzft lt[i{ milEm


We are not amazed by the great

and we do not scorn the little

p<bnaNaB 192

trans: A K Ramanujan

k]iy[f p>gfK[fb[f padfD

from: Poems of Love and War




" Wise man points his fingers at the moon and the fool looks at the finger "- Zen saying

Mail Author: C Kumara Bharathy