28 February 2011

Pathuppattu (பத்துப்பாட்டு)

Introduction: Literary classics abound in all languages of the word and it is indeed a pleasure to read them and appreciate how our ancestors viewed life and how every civilization differed from each other in viewing at the aims and pursuits of life in this world. The objective here is to present once a week, the best poem or sloka or verse or song I have read among the different literary works of the world. "யான் பெற்ற இன்பம் பெருக இவ்வையகம்" என்று திருமூலர் திருமந்திரத்தில் கூறியதுபோல, let everyone attain the bliss I have received in reading them.


எட்டுத்தொகையும் (8) பத்துப்பாட்டும் (10) சேர்ந்ததுதான் சங்க இலக்கியமென்று அறிகிறோம். இந்த எட்டும் பத்தும் சேர்ந்ததுதான்பதினென்கீழ்கணக்குநூல்கள் என்று கூறுகிறார்கள். கடந்த எட்டு வாரங்களாக எட்டுத்தொகை நூல்களை ஒவ்வொன்றையும் அறிமுகம் செய்தேன். இவ்வாரம் காணயிருப்பதுபத்துப்பாட்டு”. இந்த பழம்பெரும் இலக்கியக் களஞ்சியம், மிக நீளமான 10 பாடல்களைக் கொண்டது. ஒவ்வொரு பாடலும் 188 முதல் 782 வரையுடைய வரிகளைக்கொண்டது. As I said last week, these are non-stop songs with only a beginning and end. When it becomes difficult to separate a poem into verses, you naturally resort to counting them by lines! The longest of these 10 idylls is Madurai Kānchi and the smallest Mullaippāttu (see Figure below). The average number of lines per idyll is 355.

Figure: Number of lines in each of the 10 idylls in Pathuppāttu

The following table depicts the names of the 10 different idylls, the authors who sung it and to whom they were addressed to. While all works have their own authors, two idylls namely Thirumurugātruppadai & Nedunavādai are attributed to the same author Nakkeerar.

Table: Names of authors and Lords to whom the songs were dedicated

எண்
உள்ளடங்கிய பாடல்கள்
Titles in English
பாடியவர் யார்?
பாடல் யாருக்காக?
1
மதுரை காஞ்சி
Song of Madurai
மாங்குடி மருதனார்
நெடுஞ்செழியன்
2
மலைபடுகடாம்
Secretions oozing from mountain
பெருங்கௌசிகனார்
நன்னன்
3
பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்படை
Guidance to a minstrel with a large yāzh
உரிதிரங்கண்ணனார்
காஞ்சி மன்னன்
4
திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை
Lovable Lord of the Hills
நக்கீரர்
முருகன்
5
பட்டினப்பாலை
City by the desert
உரிதிரங்கண்ணனார்
கரிகாலன்
6
சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை

Guidance to a minstrel with a small yāzh
நத்தத்தனார்
ஒரு
குறுநிலமன்னன்
7
குறிஞ்சிப்பாட்டு
Mountain song
கபிலர்
ஒரு ஆரிய மன்னன்
8
பொருநராற்றுப்படை
Minstrel to a minstrel
முடத்தாமக்கண்ணியார்
கரிகாலன்
9
நெடுநல்வாடை
Good Long North Wind
நக்கீரர்
நெடுஞ்செழியன்
10
முல்லைப்பாட்டு
Jungle Idyll
நப்பூதனார்
நெடுஞ்செழியன்


1. Maduraikkānchi (மதுரைக்காஞ்சி) (Author: Māngudi maruthanār)


This poem provides information about the configuration and people of Madurai city during the time of Pandya King Nedunchezhian, just as the poem Pattinappalai (see below) describes the capital of the Cholas, Kaverippatinam (Chelliah, 1985). 

கோலோர்க் கொன்று மேலோர் வீசி
மென்பிணி வன்றொடர் பேணாது காழ்சாய்த்துக்
கந்துநீத் துழிதருங் கடாஅ யானையும்
அங்கண்மால் விசும்பு புதைய வளிபோழ்ந்து.
(Lines 381- 390)

There is the elephant in musth shedding its ichor,
          Marches to the sound of conch in front and behind,
And kills those who use the prods enraged,
          Flings down its keeper, breaks its pegs,
Showing no regard to the strong fine woven chains
          With which it is secured, and moves about beyond its post.
[Translator: J.V. Chelliah: Modified]



One of the four hundred quatrains in the renowned Tamil classic Nālatiyār (22:3) (நாலடியார்) has this interesting poem which talks about the quality of friendship: “Avoiding the friendship of those who resemble elephants, seek the friendship of those who resemble dogs; for an elephant will kill his driver whom he has known for a long time, but a dog will wag his tail while the spear thrown at him is still in his body [Translator: Rev.F.J. Leeper]. Incidents of captive elephants killing their mahouts are not uncommon, and the captive elephants employed during crowded fairs in Kerala are well known for this gruesome act. In 2008, Tehelka carried a story focusing the issues in managing captive elephants in Kerala (A Jumbo Tragedy). This poem from Maduraikkanchi vividly describes such an incident of the Sangam period.


2. Malaipadukadām (மலைபடுகடாம்) (Author: Perungkausikanār)

Containing 800 lines, Malaipadukadām is the longest of all the Ten Idylls (பத்துப்பாட்டு).  It is said to be one of the finest poems of Pathuppāttu and easily the best as far as nature poetry is concerned says translator Chelliah (1985). And the following lines speak volume in support of his opinion. The poet describes the wealth of natural resources seen around the entrance of the king’s fort.

எரிகான் றன்ன பூஞ்சினை மராஅத்துத்
தொழுதி போக வலிந்தகப் பட்ட
மடநடை ஆமான் கயமுனிக் குழவி ... 500
ஊமை எண்கின் குடாவடிக் குருளை
மீமிசைக் கொண்ட கவர்பரிக் கொடுந்தாள்
வரைவாழ் வருடை வன்றலை மாத்தகர்
அரவுக்குறும் பெறிந்த சிறுகண் தீர்வை
அளைச்செறி உழுவை கோளுற வெறுத்த
மடக்கண் மரையான் பெருஞ்செவிக் குழவி
அரக்குவிரித் தன்ன செந்நில மருங்கிற்
பரற்றவழ் உடும்பின் கொடுந்தாள் ஏற்றை
வரைப்பொலிந் தியலும் மடக்கண் மஞ்ஞை
கானக் கோழிக் கவர்குரற் சேவல் ... 510

You will there find the timid calf of the wild cow
          Caught when straying from the herd that rests beneath the mara tree;
The calves of elephants, bear’s dumb bent-legged cubs;
The varudai with eight bent legs that lives on mountain high;
The large strong-headed rams;
The mongoose angry-eyed that doth destroy the holes of snakes;
The large-eared fawn of deer with timid eyes
          which the tiger killed that in lives in lairs;
The monitor with crooked legs that crawls on stony ground vermillion red;
The peacock timid-eyed that dances well on hills;
The loud-voiced cock that calls its mate in woods;
(Lines 498-510)

The Tamil words used for almost all species of wildlife mentioned above are quite different from the ones we use these days. In fact completely different (see table below).

No
Words used
Contemporary words
In English
1
கயம்
யானை
Elephant
2
எண்கு
கரடி
Bear
7
குருளை
குட்டி
Young one (of bear)
3
வருடை
?
Unidentified species of mountain ungulate
4
தகர்
ஆட்டுக்கிடாய்
Male goat
5
தீர்வை
கீரி
Mongoose
6
உழுவை
புலி
Tiger

Bent-legged bear cub
Mongoose with 'angry' eyes
Crooked-legged Bengal monitor
According to Krishnamurthy (2007), the marām (மராஅம்) tree could be either வெண்கடம்பு or செங்கடம்பு (Mitragyna parviflora or Neolamarckia cadamba). The identity of the ‘eight-legged’ mountain ungulate varudai has not been established.  Like the yāli (யாளி), varudai could also be a mythical animal. One of the remarkable observations the poet has made in this poem is the curved shape of the legs of bear cubs (obviously the sloth bear Melursus ursinus) (see photo). The red eyes of the mongoose have made the poet to say that it is angry! And the legs of the iguana (actually a monitor lizard – Varanus spp.) which the author describes perfectly as crooked legged.

3. Perumpānātruppadai (பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்படை) (Author: Uthirikkannanār)

This idyll has some interesting references to watchers protecting their crops against raiding elephants (Lines 60-65) and the cow dung smeared houses of Brahmins where Idols are kept (lines 297-300). From this, it is evident that the practice of smearing the household with cow dung was an age old practice in the Tamil land. 

நீள்அரை இலவத்து அலங்குசினை பயந்த
பூளைஅம் பசுங்காய் புடைவிரிந் தன்ன
வரிப்புற அணிலொடு கருப்பை ஆடாது,
யாற்றுஅறல் புரையும் வெரிநுடைக் கொழுமடல்,
வேற்றலை யன்ன வைந்நுதி, நெடுந்தகர்,
ஈத்துஇலை வேய்ந்த எய்ப்புறக் குரம்பை
(Lines 83-88)

I have improved upon the translations by J.V. Chelliah and N. Raghunathan to bring out the amazing comparisons the poet Kannanaar has made on the resemblances between flora and fauna. Let us see the commentary in Tamil first.
Bark of Phoenix tree
Ripples on sand
இந்தஎயிற்றியர் குடிசை(Jungle dwellers’ hut) என்ற தலைப்புடைய இப்பாடல் வரிகளுக்கு……….நீண்ட அடியினையுடைய இலவ மரம்; அதன் அசைகின்ற கொம்புகளில் காய்ந்த அழகிய பசிய காய்; அக்காய் முதிர்ந்து, முதுகு விரிந்து உள்ளிருக்கும் மஞ்சு தோன்றினாற் போன்ற வரியை உடைய அணில்; அதனுடன் எலியும் திரியாதபடி, ஆற்றின் மணலையொத்த முதுகையும், கொழுவிய மடலையும், வேல் போலும் நுனியையும் பொருந்திய ஈந்தின் இலையால் வேயப்பட்ட நெடிய மேட்டினையும், எய்ப்பன்றியின் முதுகு போன்ற புறத்தினையும் உடைய குடில் என்று உரையெழுதியுள்ளார் உரையாசிரியர் இரா. மோகன்

 My translation is below:

Thatched by the spear-sharp pointed leaves of the Phoenix palms,
          Whose trunks resemble the ripples created on the sand-bed,
You will see the roofs of these hunters’ huts look like porcupine’s back
Preventing the entry of rats and striped palm-squirrels
          which look like the partly cracked seed-laden pods
          on the swaying branches of the long-trunked silk cotton tree.

 

This poet makes three sets of comparisons here: (i) cracking silk cotton pods to the striped back of the palm squirrel, (ii) the patterns on the trunk of the Phoenix palm to the ripples on sand bed and (iii) the roof of the hut to porcupine back. இலவம் (Bombax ceiba) (image imported from a flickr site photostream) shows the pod of a silk cotton (Bombax ceiba) full of seeds ready to burst. Indeed an amazing comparison to the body of the striped palm squirrel! 

4. Thirumurugātruppadai (திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை) (Author: நக்கீரர்)

Said to have been written by Nakkeerar (who is the author of two poems in Pathuppāttu, the other one being Nedunalvādai), this 317 liner poem is devoted to Murugan, the war Lord of the Hills. Modern scholarship is of the opinion that Nakkeerar of this poem was different from that of Nedunalvādai. This poem is perhaps the earliest available work of religious nature available to us in Tamil. Paripātal, the other religious work grouped under the category of Sangam classics, is often considered to be a work of later date. While this work is valued by Vaishnavites, Thirumurugātruppadai is of importance to Saivites. Judging from the extent of Aryan elements in the poem, Chelliah (1985) regards this work as the latest of the Ten Idylls. This is evident from the occurrence of many of the words that familiar to us even these days. Examples are வணங்கி, ஐவருள் ஒருவன், பைங்கொடி, மூன்றுவகை, மகளிரொடு, பகலில் தோன்றும் இகலில் காட்சி etc. The poem has an explicit reference to Murugan being the son of Shiva who sits beneath the banyan tree (ஆல்கெழு கடவுள் புதல்வ மால்வரி).

மாமுக முசுக்கலை பனிப்பப் பூநுதல்
இரும்பிடி குளிர்ப்ப வீசிப் பெருங்களிற்று
முத்துடை வான்கோடு தழீஇத் தத்துற்று
நன்பொன் மணிநிறம் கிளரப்பொன் கொழியா
வாழை முழுமுதல் துமியத் தாழை
இளநீர் விழுக்குலை உதிரத் தாக்கிக்
கறிக்கொடிக் கருந்துணர் சாயப் பொறிப்புற
மடநடை மஞ்ஞை பலவுடன் வெரீஇக் . . . .310
கோழி வயப்பெடை இரியக் கேழலொடு
இரும்பனை வெளிற்றின் புன்சாய் அன்ன
குரூஉமயிர் யாக்கைக் குடாவடி உளியம்
பெருங்கல் விடரளைச் செறியக் கருந்கோட்டு
ஆமா நல்லேறு சிலைப்பச் சேணின்று
இழுமென இழிதரும் அருவிப்
பழமுதிர் சோலை மலைகிழ வோனே. . . . .317
(Lines 303-317)

The monkeys black, both male and male and female, do shriver
And the female elephants with spotted temples feel the cold intense.
As the torrents leap, the large and pearl-filled tusks
Of the huge male elephants are quite submerged,
While gold and gems display their shining hues above the surface,
And gold dust is washed ashore.
They break the stems of plantain trees 
And dash on coconut trees whose leaves drop down.
The cluster of black pepper blooms bend down
The spangled peacocks with a modest gait scared fly about,
And so do peahens strong.
In mountain clefts boars lie concealed in lairs.
And bears too wander that have crooked feet
And black-haired bodies that resemble much the tender black palmyrah’s fibre soft.
The black-horned bisons wild set up a roar.
He is the lord of the hills from whose tops leap great roaring torrents,
And in which about rich gardens where the fruits mature. 

5. Pattinappālai (பட்டினப்பாலை) (Author: Kadiyalūr Urithingkannār)


We have a Mullaippāttu and a Kurinchippāttu among the Ten Idyll, but the song that deals with pālai (desert) theme is not Pālaippāttu but Pattinappālai. If the idyll Maduraikkānchi was about the city of Madurai, Pattinappālai is all about the city of Kaverippattinam, the capital of Chola kings.
கூருகிர்க்                          220
கொடுவரிக் குருளை கூட்டுள் வளர்ந்தாந்கும்
பிறர் பிணியகத் திருந்து பீடுகாழ் முற்றி
அருங்கரை கவியக் குத்திக் குழிகொன்று
பெருங்கை யானை பிடிபுக் காங்கு
நுண்ணிதின் உணர நாடி நண்ணார்  225
செறிவுடைத் திண்காப் பேறிவாள் கழித்து
உருகெழு தாயம் ஊழினெய்திப்

Like the tiger’s cub whose claws are sharp, that grows imprisoned in a cage,
The Chola king grows proud and hard confined in fetters by his foes.
As a long trunked tusker falls when trapped within a pit,
          and breaks with tusks the sides, escapes and joins his mate
So planning his escape with care, the king doth scale his foemen’s walls,
          unsheathes his sword, regains his crown.
(Pattinappalai, Lines 265-275) [Translator: J.V. Chelliah]


Traditionally there were at least five methods of capturing Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) for captive use in India. Three of these seem to have been popular and common. One was the above mentioned Pit method, and the other two were the Khedda (i.e. Stockade method) and Mela shikar (i.e. noosing from the back of a trained elephant). The other two methods were by using female elephants as decoys and using of nooses concealed on the ground (Bist et al, 2002; *). While the above Pattinappalai song mentions capturing elephants by the Pit method, a Purananuru besides referring to the pit-method of capture (Song 17), also mentions the use of Decoy female elephant method by the Aryans (ஆரியர் பிடிபயின்று தரூஉம் பெருங்களிறு போல, Song 276 by poet Paranar). Natrina (292) also has a poem mentioning the capture of elephants using pits dug on the ground. From all these observations, it is clear that this method of capture of wild elephants was popular in the ancient Tamil land. Interestingly, though the ancient Assamese seem to have not depended on this method for capturing elephants, the man-made pits of tea gardens in Assam is one of the major causes of displacement of elephant calves in the state.  

6. Sirupānātruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை) (Author: Nalla Nathathanār)

Though the camel is not native to Tamil land and perhaps never been brought into the state during the Sangam age (200 B.C. to 500 A.D), Sirupanatruppadai makes an interesting reference to it.

ஓங்குநிலை ஒட்டகம் துயில் மடிந்தன்ன
வீங்குதிரை கொணர்ந்த விரை மரவிறகின்
கரும்புகைச் செந்தீ மாட்டி (Lines 154-156)

The cheering toddy cooked over glowing fire
Emitting smoke from fragrant akil wood
Of sleeping camel’s shape brought over the seas.
(J.V. Chelliah)

You will meet the good wives of the shoreland, who will
Raise flaming-red fire and dusky blue smoke curling,
Of akil wood, brought by the towering sea waves,
And heaped up to the height of ruminating camels.
[V. Kandasamy Mudaliar]

There are two references here that warrant attention. One is the camel as mentioned earlier, and the other is the reference to அகில் (akil) wood. Though the word ‘akil’ is often translated as eaglewood or agar wood or aloe wood (Aquilaria agallocha) by many translators, Krishnamurthy (2007) is of the opinion that the akil of Tamils is nothing but the mangrove tree Excoecaria agallocha which is also the temple tree (sthala vriksha) of Chidambaram temple in Tamil Nadu. Perhaps rightly so, because of two reasons: Firstly, agar wood is not native to south India and secondly it is not a tree of the coastal zone as indicated in Nathathanār’s poem above. The akil wood brought by the towering sea waves could well be E. agallocha and not A. agallocha. Both plants are known to produce fragrant smoke when burnt. This mangrove akil also has an alternate name thillai (தில்லை).

Aquilaria agallocha
Excoecaria agallocha
In Tamil literature both akil and sandal woods are sometimes mentioned together (Kur 286; Ainkuru 212). For instance Ainkurunuru says “Why did we, mother, reject the proposal of the righteous one, the chieftain of the region, where the smoke rising from the eaglewood tree grown among sandal wood trees, smells with a mingled fragrance?” These plants however have a completely different distribution range in India. While sandal (Santalum album) is largely restricted to the drier medium rainfall regions of South India (see map), agar wood (A. agallocha), has a completely opposite distribution range in India being restricted to the Northeast

Distribution of Sandal
Moreover, most of the references to the akil tree in Tamil literature comes from the mountainous landscape Kurinchi (Kur 339; 286; Kurunchip. 110; Ainkuru 212; Natrinai 282; Ainthinai seventy 2). Sandal trees also inhabit the drier hilly tracts of South India. Given these reasons, it is obvious that the akil of Tamil is not the eaglewood.

It is only when we find the word akaru (அகரு) in Paripādal (12: 5) that we might think it as a reference to the actual agar wood or eaglewood tree (A. agallocha). In all other places in Paripadal, however, the tree is referred by the older name akil (10:72, 82; 12:13; 18: 53). Paripādal in any case is considered to be a much later work by many scholars by which time the species would have become popular in the South. It is also pertinent to point out that a species with special attributes like the eaglewood need not have been grown or even brought to Tamil land for the Tamils to have known about it. A relevant example from the animal world is the reference to the yak and its hair in Tamil literature (kavari and kavarimāகவரி, கவரிமா) (Akananuru, 156; Natrinai, 241; Kural, 969; Ainthinai ezhupathu, 1).

To complicate this matter of akil and agar uncertainty, let me add more confusion to this issue by bringing two more species into the picture, namely the Vellakil (Disoxylum malabaricum) and Sevvakil (Disoxylum binectiferum). Both these plants are known for their fragrant woods. Could all the references in Sangam literature and later works in Tamil mean these species? We have not proof as of now to verify this claim.

7. Kurinchippattu (குறிஞ்சிப்பாட்டு) (Author: Kapilar)

The author of this 261 lines poem of mountainous landscape “kurinchi” (as the name indicates) was Kapilar. His poems also find place in almost other Sangam anthologies inlcuding Akananuru, Purananuru, Kurunthogai, Natrinai and Patitruppathu. One of the special attractions in குறிஞ்சிப்பாட்டு is the mention of 99 flowers of the poem, all in one stretch (வள் இதழ், ஒண் செங் காந்தள்….”  etc. Lines 61 to 98). இந்த ஒவ்வொரு பூக்களும் என்ன என்னவென்று P.L. சாமி என்பவர் “The plant names in Kurinjippattu” என்ற தலைப்பில் 1972 ஆண்டிலேயே “Journal of Tamil Studies” (pp 78-103) என்ற ஆய்விதழில் பிரசுரம் செய்தார்.

ஆனால், இப்பாடலை பிரபலப்படுத்திய பெருமை நடிகர் சூரியாவுக்கும், வைரம் என்ற ஒரு தனிநபருக்குமே சாரும். Surya narrates the names of 100 flowers in the movie "பூவெல்லாம் கேட்டுப்பார்". To the 99 flowers listed in Pathuppaattu, Surya adds flower ரோஜா to make it 100. வைரம் என்ற ஒருவர் தன்னுடையகற்க நிற்கஎன்கிறப்லாக்கில்இந்த 99 பூக்களையும் ஒரு PDF file மூலமாக நமக்கெல்லாம் நல்குகிறார். The 3.4 MB file can be downloaded from here. Vairam has managed to present us the photographs and botanical names of most of these 99 flowers.

Besides this song, I have chosen the following lines for the very fact that it contains some references to the fauna of the mountainous region.

------------   ------------------  -----------------  கங்குல்
அளைச்செறி உழுவையும் ஆளியும் உளியமும்
புழற்கோட்டு ஆமான் புகல்வியும் களிறும்
வலியின் தப்பும் வன்கண் வெஞ்சினத்து
 உருமும்,சூரும், இரைதேர் அரவமும்,
ஒடுங்குஇருங் குட்டத்து அருஞ்சுழி வழங்கும்
கொடுந்தாள் முதலையும் இடங்கரும், கராமும்
நூழிலும், இழுக்கும், ஊழ்அடி முட்டமும்
பழுவும் பாந்தளும் உளப்படப் பிறவும்
வழுவின் வழாஅ விழுமம் அவர்
 குழுமலை விடரகம் உடையவால் எனவே.
(Lines 251-261)

Thinking of the perils of his secret wayfaring
Among his crowded hills at night, with tigers in their lairs,
Yāli and bears and wild oxen with hollow horns,
Elephants, and cruel thunderbolt that strikes and kills
By its overweening strength, and haunting, vengeful spirits,
Serpents that seek their prey, and narrow tarns,
Deep and dark, in chose perilous whirlpool lie
Crocodile with crooked feet, and the alligator,
And murderous haunts of footpads, and slimy bogs,
Tracks that suddenly cease, goblins, pythons,
And many a villainous spot that takes toll of life.
(Lines 251-261) [Translator: N. Raghunathan]

Yāli (யாளி) is said to be a kind of mythological animal famed as the killer of elephants (Subramanian, 1990). It also appears in Perumpanatruppadai (line 258). We see both the translators N. Raghunathan (here) and J.V. Chelliah (not cited here) mention the crocodile as well as the alligator. Unlike crocodiles, alligators are native to South America. How come then an alligator manage to find a place in Sangam literature? The answer lies in tracing out the Tamil words used in the poem. Kapilar has used three consecutive words, namely முதலை (muthalai), இடங்கர் (itangkar) and கராம் (karām). Karām is said to be a kind of crocodile, found in the large ponds in delta regions (Subramanian, 1990). Both translators have only referred to a crocodile and an alligator, but strangely left out the third one. Historically, the Tamil country is known to have had only two species of crocodiles, namely the saltwater and freshwater species (see more on this at the blog on Tamil: Ainkurunuru - ஐங்குறுநூறு). The third species of crocodilian, the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) inhabiting some of the major river systems of North India, perhaps never reached the shores of two of the largest South Indian rivers, Krishna and Cauveri river (Interestingly Malayalam has a particular word for the gharial: ചീങ്കണ്ണി...! But this might have been used for crocodile in general in the past but subsequently used to denote the gharial). River Krishna is not very far from Godavari whose tributaries once harboured this species (L.A.K. Singh, WII, Envis). Tamil poets, being close observers of nature, wouldn't have missed describing the river loving gharial in their poems had it been found in the river systems of Tamil Nadu. No one would have missed its unique tubular snout and bulbous protuberance at the tip in males. At the moment, we can only speculate about the identity of these words, especially இடங்கர் and கராம். Another word used for crocodile in later Tamil works is “மகரம்” (makaru) (Élāthi, 43) which is obviously a Tamil adaptation of the word of Sanskrit origin makara (Gita, 10:31) from which the Hindi word for the freshwater crocodile “magar” evolved. It appears that the world ‘makara’ was originally ascribed to define a mythical aquatic carnivore (see Makara – Myth or fact?).

8. Porunaratruppadai (பொருநராற்றுப்படை) (Author: Mudathāmakkanniyār)

I have selected these lines because of two reasons. Here the poet is praising the diversity within his King’s land as it contains all the four landscapes within his kingdom. Secondly due to the reference it has on the grey jungle fowl (Gallus sonneratii) and domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus).

குறிஞ்சி பரதவர் பாட நெய்தல்
நறும்பூங் கண்ணி குறவர் சூடக்
கானவர் மருதம் பாட அகவர்  220
நீனிற முல்லைப் பஃறிணை நுவலக்
கானக் கோழி கதிர் குத்த
மனைக் கோழி தினைக் கவர
வரை மந்தி கழி மூழ்க
கழி நாரை வரை யிறுப்பத்   225
தண் வைப்பினா னாடு குழீஇ
மண் மருங்கினான் மறு வின்றி
ஒரு குடையா னென்று கூறப்
பெரி தாண்ட பெருங் கேண்மை
அறனொடு புணர்ந்த திறனறி செங்கோல்   230
அன்னோன் வாழி வென்வேற் குருசில்

The fisher folk sing hill-men’s songs, while hill-men garlands wear
Of fragrant blooms that grow along the coast.
The dwellers of the desert sing the songs of those in fertile lands,
And these in turn praise forest lands where grows the mullai blue.
The wild fowl eats rice, while the domestic fowl eats millet grain.
The hillside monkey rolls in salty marsh,
          while cranes that bathe in sea waters rest on hills.
For diverse pleasant regions are thus found together in a single realm.
(Lines 218-231) [Translator: J.V. Chelliah]

Grey jungle fowl
Red jungle
Domestic chicken
The red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus murghi) is said to be the ancestor of the domestic fowl (G. gallus domesticus), but recent genetic studies of indicate that the domestication of the wild fowl occurred independently at various places in Southeast Asia (Syed Akbhar, 2008). The study also showed that there There was very rare genetic exchange between the red jungle fowl and domestic chicken populations, at least in recent history. Hybridization between these two fowls is therefore considered a rarity if not an impossibility. The grey jungle fowl (G. sonneratii) is endemic to South India and this is the species all Tamil poets including Mudathaamakkaniyar would have referred to. Both red and grey jungle fowls have a marginally overlapping distribution range where they are known to hybridize. 

9 . Nedunalvādai (நெடுநல்வாடை) (Author: Nakkeerar)

Puram elements dominate this poem.  The author of the poem was Nakkeerar who was said to be the contemporary of Kapilar. Before I cite my favourite lines in this idyll, I would like to say that this song has some interesting historical or hagiographical information. 
  • There is an interesting reference to a long haired animal in this idyll which translators (J.V. Chelliah and N. Raghunathan) call ‘long-haired white yak’ (நெடுமயிர் எகினம் தூநிற ஏற்றை: Line 91). According to Subrahmanian (1990), the word “எகினம்” could mean either of these four: swan, kavari (yak), dog or even a kind of tree (one example for each of these meanings: Akam 34, Natr 132, Nedunal 91 and Tol. Ezhut. 336 - in that order). It is obvious that the meanings of these words have to be deciphered according to the context of the sentence in the poem. It is obvious that a long-haired animal cannot be a tree or a swan. ‘Kavari’ is the commonly used word in Tamil for an apparent reference to  the yak, but then it is not a species found in South India (see section 6 on Sirupānātruppadai above for more on this).  If the long-haired ekinam (எகினம்) is taken as a reference to the yak, then we have a problem. We have to consider this either as a case of unrealistic imagination of the poet, or that the word refers to some other species. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any long-haired animal native to South India. The poem also mentions portrait of a lion hunt (வயமான் வேட்பம் பொறித்து. Lines 129-130).
  • Like the yak, the lion is also not native to South India. Like the word ekinam, the word vayaman (வயமான்) also has multiple meanings. It could mean a horse, lion or even an elephant (Subrahmanian, 1990)! (examples from Sangam literature: Ainkuru 500, Puram 318, Kali 37). In any case, it is after all a painting of a popular animal like lion and in that sense there is no need for any further discussion.
  • Sandal wood grows predominantly in South India but it seems the stones for grinding them came from the north! (வடவர் தந்த வான் கேழ் வட்டம், தென்புல மருங்கில் சாந்தொடு துறப்ப: Lines 51-52). (Refer section 6 on Sirupānātruppadai above for more on sandal wood and its distribution in India).
The song I would like to present here speaks about domestic pigeons standing on one leg and their habit of shifting their weight from one leg to the other. It is not uncommon to see to this one-legged stance in many species of birds. Examples from other species would include storks, herons, flamingos, egrets, stilts, ducks, teals and many species of passerine birds as well.  

மனை உறை புறவின் செங்கால் சேவல்
இன்புறு பெடையொடு மன்று தேர்ந்து உண்ணாது
இரவும் பகலும் மயங்கி கையற்று
மதலைப் பள்ளி மாறுவன இருப்ப
கடியுடை வியல் நகர்ச் சிறுகுறுந் தொழுவர்
கொள்உறழ் நறுங்கல் பலகூட்டு மறுக
(Lines 45- 52)

Then the red-legged domestic dove stands idle on its perch,
Shifting its weight from one tired leg to the other;
Confused, not knowing if its day or night, it does not go
Out into the open to pick its food with its beloved mate.
[Translator: N. Raghunathan]

The species of domestic pigeon referred here in all likelihood is the rock pigeon (Columba livia) which is now abundant and one of the most widely distributed birds of the Indian subcontinent. The species has been introduced to urban environs of many countries as well.


10. Mullaippāttu (முல்லைப்பாட்டு) (Author: Nappūthanār)


With only 103 lines, Mullaippāttu is the shortest of all Ten Idylls. The following lines from the song indicate that elephants were trained by illiterate trainers or mahouts in Northern language (perhaps Sānskrit). Even these days the mahouts are invariably illiterates and the commands are primarily of northern parts of India. Since the demand for captive elephants in South Indian depended on the supply of elephants from the north, the animals had to be invariably re-trained in the local languages (Tamil, Malayalam or Kannada) upon arrival. More on training elephants can be had from the article on history of elephant training
கவலை முற்றம் காவல் நின்ற
தேம்படு கவுள சிறு கண்யானை
ஓங்குநிலைக் கரும்பொடு கதிர்மிடைந்து யாத்த
வயல் விளை இன் குளகு உண்ணாது நுதல் துடைத்து
அயில் நுனை மருப்பின் தம் கையிடைக் கொண்டென
கவை முட் கருவியின் வட மொழி பயிற்றிக்
கல்லா இளைஹர் கவளம் கைப்ப  (30)

An elephant, with flowing temples and tiny eyes, stands guard;
It scorns to eat the sugarcane and sheaves of field-grown grain
          with sweet leaves closely bound.
It wipes its face with these, and with its trunk then hangs it on its sharp tusk.
Its keeper young, unlearned though, yet Northern words repeat,
And urge the beast with their pronged goads to eat.
[Translator: J.V. Chelliah – modified]

The poet also makes an interesting observation of the elephant resting its trunk on the tusk, a common practice the tuskers adopt to give their trunks a rest. However the tuskless Asian females are at a disadvantage in this regard. The photograph shows an African elephant doing this act.


References:
  1. Chelliah, J.V. 1985. Pattupattu: Ten Tamil Idylls. Tamil University, Thanjavur. P. 321
  2. Subrahmanian, N. 1990. Pre-Pallavan Tamil Index. University of Madras
  3. Bist, S.S., Cheeran, J.V., Choudhury, S., Barua, P. and Misra, M.K. 2002. The Domesticated Asian elephants in India. In: Giants in our hands: Proceedings of the International Workshop on Domesticated Indian Elephant. 5th to 8th, Bangkok, Thailand in 2001.  FAO
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