The Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) established in Chennai, has mapped out various plans including preparation of definitive editions of forty-one Classical Tamil texts and translation of these works into English and other major European languages as well as into major Indian languages and writing of a historical grammar of Tamil. Language being the autobiography of a people, our objective is to preserve and safeguard the invaluable treasure of the literary compositions in our language. If only we could delve into our past and recover the riches and wealth of the mighty treasure trove of Classical Tamil poetry, we will be amply rewarded by its lofty poetry, the poetry that strengthens and purifies the holiness of heart's affection and enlarges our imagination. Apart from these, reading the ancient Tamil texts such as Tolkappiyam, Ettuttokai, Pattuppattu, Tirukkural etc., provides a foundation for scholarship for the present and in this sense they do provide enlightened education.
It is heartening to write this foreword to the series of publications brought out by CICT, which I am sure, will do full justice to the masterpieces in Tamil without compromising on the quality of production. The Cankam corpus being a repository of our glorious culture, it behoves our present and future generations to study them and to convey their message and the vision of life embodied in them to the public at large. Let me, therefore, commend the series to the enlightened beings the world over.
I convey my heartiest thanks to the Director Shri A. Palanivel, Registrar Dr. Muhilai Raja pandian and the staff members those who are contributed their efforts to bringout this precious work of Tinaimoli aimpatu.
Of the famed Patinenkilkkanakku writings, Tinaimoli aimpatu, is included in this volume consisting of the Tamil text, its transliteration and three English translations. Though the Tinaimoli aimpatu is believed to belong to the post-Cangam period, it is in no way inferior to the better known Carigam literature called Ettuttokai and Pattuppattu. They contain love poems which conform to the age-old akam tradition, unique to ancient Tamil literature. In each of these verses dealing with the five-fold divisions of reciprocal love between man and woman, an emotional situation is realistically recaptured and poetically presented against a setting best suited to the theme. The chief merit of these pieces is the psychological realism which will attract the attention of any modern reader.
Tinaimoli aimpatu by Kannan centanar deals with the five regional themes of kurinci, mullai, marutam, neytal and palai with ten verses to each tinai. The oft-quoted observation about this poem is that those do not know it may not know the sweetness of the Tamil language.
This combined effort deserves deep appreciation from the Institute for the intense care and minute attention to details. I am indeed most happy to appreciate the work done by them. I am grateful to the Vice Chairperson of Central Institute of Classical Tamil Prof. P. Prakasam who has given us his precious advice, support and encouragement.
A knowledge of Tamil classics enriches the understanding of life in general and human relationships in particular. Unfolding the treasures of Tamil classics to the world to be seen and shared is a great responsibility as well as a worthy task — not to boast about but to impart light and salt to humanity at large. A.K. Ramanujan rightly says in his Translator's Note to his work, Poems of Love and War: "The ancient poets composed in Tamil for their Tamil corner of the world of antiquity; but as nothing human is alien, they have reached ages unborn and accents unknown".
The following characteristic features of classical Tamil literature are effectively registered in the texts translated here:
Of the Patinenkilkkanakku works, Aintinai aimpatu, Tinaimoli aimpatu, Aintinai elupatu and Tinaimalai narraimpatu are focussed here and they are love poems which strictly conform to akam conventions, a part of Tamil literary tradition. They deal with the five-fold divisions of reciprocal love between well-matched man and woman. The five-fold divisions are nothing but five distinctive situations, namely, kurinci, mullai, marutam, neytal and palai.
Each division indicates the emotions and situations involved as well as the geographical landscape. The emotions and events involved are called urippona. And for distinct emotions and events, matching geographical region (land), native elements peculiar to that particular region, season and time are assigned as per Tamil literary tradition. The land and time together are called mutalporur; the native elements peculiar to the region concerned are called karuppona. This is to say that in each love poem an emotional situation is poetically painted against a setting best suited to the situation. The situation and their corresponding settings are as follows:
kurinci - The lovers' union and themes pertaining to it, the background being the hilly region where kurinci blooms.
mullai - Longing and waiting for the lover and themes pertaining to it, the background being the sylvan tract where mullai blooms in the rainy season.
marutam - Sulking/quarrel/feigned anger and themes pertaining to it, the background being fertile fields where marutam blooms.
neytal - Yearning for the love and themes pertaining to it, the background being seas and the coastal region where neytal blooms.
palai- Separation and themes pertaining to it, the background being desert - like region where palai blooms.
But for kurinci all other divisions reflect the impact and effect of separation on lovers mainly the lady-love. The respective authors of aintinai aimpatu, titaimoli aimpatu, aintinai elpatau and tinaimalai nurraimpatu are Maran poraiyanar, Kannan centanar, Muvatiyar and Kanimetaviyar, These texts respectively contain 50, 50, 66 & 153 verses - all in venpa metre, giving equal treatment to all five divisions. These texts were not written contemporaneously and they are said to be composed during the first five centuries after Christ.
The main contexts and corresponding sub-divisions portrayed under the five - fold divisions of love in the texts translated are as follows:
1. The maid companion of the heroine advises the hero to end clandestine love and to marry the girl at the earliest for the following reasons:
(i) the heroine is guarded at home which prevents her seeing the hero in secret.
(ii) The guard around the heroine in the village is severe.
(iii)The tract the hero crosses to see the heroine is full of dangers owing to wild animals and deep waters.
(iv)The night time he travels to see her is still more dangerous.
(v) The spread of offensive gossip (alar) about the lovers hurts the heroine and she fears it.
2. Revealing the clandestine love to the foster-mother, mother and others in the family as per the norms of virtue prevalent in the society then, for the following reasons:
(i) to avoid meaningless religious rituals mainly the gesticulated dancing and shootings of one possessed
(ii) to avoid false inferences regarding the girl's love-sickness
(iii)to avoid marrying a man other than the one whom the girl loves and wants to live with.
1. The friend of the heroine consoles her mistress by:
(i) declaring the onset of the monsoon, the promised season of the hero's retum.
(ii) requesting not to take into account the unseasonal rains
2. The heroine's words of agony over the onset of the monsoon when the hero does not return as promised.
3. The heroine expresses her inability to bear the pangs of separation, as the evening hours approach.
4. Comforting words conveyed by the hero after completing his task 'abroad.
1. The mistress of the house who on account of the hero's misdemeanor refusing to yield to the entreaties of the intermediaries for reunion.
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