When you go into the temple in the town of Kutralam in southwestern India, nestled in at the foot of a picturesque waterfall, it will be no trouble at all for you to find the entire Tamil-language text of A Kuravanji in Kutralam. It is incised in brand-new, gleaming polished black stone panels, set permanently in a southeast interior wall, facing inwards toward the Lord of Kutralam and His wife, the Goddess Whose Voice is a Bamboo Flute.' A few steps away is the temple tree, the "dwarf jack" tree, said to be the original manifestation of the divine in that place.
A Kuravanji in Kutralam was composed by Melagaram Tirikutarasappa Kavirayar in praise of the Lord and His wife, in about 1715 CE.3 It is a dramatic work, composed to be danced to the accompaniment of live vocal and instrumental music, by performers who themselves may act and sing as well as dance. The aim is for them to elicit in you, their audience, their characters' inmost feelings, hoping that you will taste those feelings yourself.
The work is set in and around the town of Kutralam, at the foot of Tirikutam Mountain, in the southwest part of Tamil Nadu state. The border with neighbouring Kerala state runs along the crest of the mountain range above the town. Rainwater from high in the mountains comes tumbling out of the forests and into the plains through nine waterfalls, almost all of which have been artfully worked on with steps and walkways so that you can play in the water safely, get clean, and feel refreshed. Bring a change of clothes, or let your wet clothes air dry in Kutralam's famous gentle breeze. You will find these mountains, these forests, these waterfalls, and these breezes figuring repeatedly in the translation that follows. The area is famous throughout Tamil Nadu as a beautiful and refreshing vacation spot, as a site for religious devotion, as the home of mystics' and gods inhabiting the mountain caves above the town, and for the medicinal value of various species of plants and roots that thrive in the mountain forest. It is said that the gods themselves have assumed the very form of Mount Tirikutam, and that they live there as sages, animals, and plants in the mountain forest. Kutralam has been praised in all these ways and more by poets, saints, and singers since the 6d1 century CE, and probably even before that as well.
If you are a Tamilian, the chances are very good that you will already have encountered A Kuravanji in Kutralam directly as a piece of literature in your high school Tamil literature class. Many people's eyes clearly expressed their happiness as they recited a stanza from this work that they had been required to memorise in such a class.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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