Monday, 10 October 2011

Must Know Facts About Tamil Language Part 2

14. Dialectical differences arose partly due to the political division of the Tamil country into three distinct Tamil kingdoms and partly due to the natural barriers created by rivers and mountains.

The absence of proper land communication among the three Tamil kingdoms also accentuated this process of dialectal differences. As a result the Dravidian language spoken by the people. who lived in the regions north and south of the Tirupati mountains, varied to such an extent as to become two independent languages, Tamil and Telugu. The language spoken in the region of Mysore came to be known as Kannada. Malayalam emerged as yet another distinct language in Kerala. All these far-reaching changes occurred at different periods of time in the history of the Dravidian languages. Among these four languages, it is only the Tamil language which has a long literary tradition.

15. The term Dravidian, which refers to the language of South India, is of a later origin. Originally it was derived from the word tamil . This word in course of time changed into dravida after undergoing a series of changes like tamila, tramila, tramita, trapida and travida. At one time the languages spoken in the regions of Karnataka, Kongu and Malabar were respectively known as Karunaattut-tamil, Tulunattut-tamil and Malainattut-tamil. Today however, these regional languages are classified under the blanket term "Dravidian family of languages".

16. Contact with Foreign Countries : Tamil occupies a distinctive position among the Dravidian languages owing to its geographical expansion, for it has spread beyond the frontiers of India. Apart from being the language of forty million people in Tamil Nadu it is the spoken and written language of several millions of Tamils living in Ceylon, Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Fiji Islands and Mauritius.

17. That the Tamils were well advanced in sea-borne and inland trade is evident both from Tamil literary sources as also from the accounts of foreign travelers. Even as early as the tenth century B.C., articles of trade such as peacock feathers, elephant tusks and spices intended for King Solomon were sent in ships belonging to the Tamil country. Some words in Hebrew, Greek and English point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu and the countries around the Mediterranean region. Classical Hebrew terms like tuki and ahalat are close to the Tamil words tokai and akil respectively.

18. Although English words like 'sandalwood' and 'rice' are borrowed from the Greek language, their origin is in fact Tamil. Likewise the Greek words for ginger and pepper also owe their origin to Tamil. Sea-borne trade flourished between the Tamil country and the Roman Empire during the period of Emperor Augustus. This fact is borne out by numerous coins issued during his reign, which were unearthed by archaeologists in the Tamil country. Iron age finds in Philippines also point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu and the Philippine Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries B.C. This apart, Tamil traders frequented the shores of Burma, Malaya and China with their wares and bartered them for Chinese silk and sugar. The Tamil word ciini for sugar indicates its origin. In Tamil classical works, Chinese silk is referred to as ciinattupattu.

19. Foreigners who toured India gave an account of the flourishing trade between the Tamil regions of India and other countries. Periplus and Pliny mention that since articles from Tamil Nadu such as pearls, elephant tusks and muslin were bartered for gold, and that the trade balance was more in favour of the Tamils, the Emperor Vespasian viewed especially the drain of gold as a serious threat to his country's economy and took the extreme step of terminating the two-way trade between Rome and the Tamil country. References to the ports of trade in the Tamil country such as Tonti, Muciri, Korkai and Kaavirippumpattinam are also found in the writings of Periplus. Ptolemy writing in A.D. 150 speaks about Ceraas, Cholaas and Paandyas as the rulers of Tamil Nadu. He also mentions the important trading centres like Karur, Nagappattinam and Pondicherry in his travel notes. All these references to the trading activities of the Tamils in foreign writings correlate to those found in the early Tamil classics.

20. The business acumen of the Tamils is shown in the special terms used by them to refer even to the minutest fractions in calculation. To cite some examples, the term immi referred to the fraction of 1/320 x 1/7. And one-seventh of this fraction was termed as anu. One-eleventh of an anu was known as mummi and one ninth of a mummi was termed kuNam.

21. The renowned Sanskrit epics the Raamayanaa and the Mahaabhaarata also speak about the Tamil country and in particular the importance of Madurai as the capital of the Paandyaa kings. Megasthenes, who came to India during the period of Chandragupta Maurya, refers to the Paandya country and its polity. The edicts of the famous Indian Emperor Asoka also mention that during his rule the Tamil kings in the far south of India enjoyed political independence.

22. Antiquity of Tamil Grammatical Works : Among the ancient grammatical works available, the Tolkappiyam was the earliest and it was written around the third century B.C. There are over two hundred and fifty references in Tolkaappiyam which, provide substantial evidence of the existence of many classical and grammatical works in Tamil prior to Tolkaappiyam itself. It classifies Tamil words into four categories, iyarcol, tiricol, ticaiccol, and vatacol. Iyarcol refers to the words in common use, while tiricol refers to the words used specifically in poetry. Regional words are known as ticaiccol. Words borrowed from Sanskrit are called vatacol. Certain specific rules were stipulated in borrowing words from Sanskrit. The borrowed words were to strictly conform to the Tamil phonetic system and to be written in the Tamil script. All these indicate the sound grammatical basis on which the Tamil language has evolved over the years.

23. Besides, Tolkaappiyam also classifies the Tamil language into centamil and kotuntamil. The former refers to the classical Tamil used exclusively by literati in their works and the latter refers to the colloquial Tamil, spoken by the people. This shows that even in those distant days differences had grown to such an extent as to enable the Tamil grammarians to classify the language into written and spoken.

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24. Tamil Scripts : The earlier Tamil inscriptions were written in braahmi, grantha and vattezuttu scripts. Inscriptions after the seventh century A.D. contain Tamil characters similar to the one now in vogue. This prompted some scholars to argue that vatteluttu and Tamil scripts originated from braahmi scripts. This view has no solid base, for one can see a copious description of Tamil scripts in Tolkaappiyam, which belongs to third century B.C. It is obvious therefore, that Tamil language had a distinct script of its own even at that early period. In fact vaTTezuttu is none other than the old Tamil script. Even the southern braahmi was a corrupt form of vaTTezuttu . Distinct differences exist between the southern and the northern braahmi script, for the southern one had its genesis in vaTTezuttu . Much before brahmi scripts could become popular the Tamils possessed a script of their own which they put to use in their commercial transactions and in their writings.

25. The Tamii characters which are in use today also can be deemed to have originated from vatteluttu. There are twelve vowels in Tamil consisting of five short vowels, a, i, u, e, and o (அ, இ, உ, எ, ஒ); their corresponding five long vowels, aa, ii, uu, ee and oo (ஆ,ஈ,ஊ, ஏ, ஓ) and two letters ai and au (ஐ, ஔ) for the prevention of hiatus.

26. There are eighteen consonants made up of six surds k. c, T, t, p, and R (க், ச், ட், த், ப், ற்) and their corresponding six sonants g, j, N, n, m, n2 (ங், ஞ், ண், ந், ம், ந்) and six medials y, r, l, v, z and L (ய், ர், ல், ழ், வ், ள்) . The two short vowels e and o (எ, ஒ) which are not in Devanagari are essential to Tamil and other languages of the Dravidian family.

There is a world of difference in meaning between the words eTu and ETu (எடு, ஏடு); koTu and kOTu (கொடு, கோடு), teL and tEL (தெள், தேள்); as well as koL and kOl (கொள், கொல்). It is therefore, needless to emphasise the importance of short and long vowels like e and ee/E (எ, ஏ); as well as o and O (ஒ, ஓ) in Tamil.

There are no aspirated consonants like gha or cha in Tamil. Likewise the letter h ( ஹ) is also absent in Tamil. But a corresponding letter k (ஃ), known as aytam is used to soften the surds in Tamil. The trilled consonant R (ற்) is quite different from r (ர்).The consonant n (ன்) has a nasal sound and it is different from other dentals. The consonant l ( ல்) is equally essential like that of the consonant L ( ள்). These two different l's exist both in Telugu and in Kannada. The consonant z (ழ்) is found only in Tamil and Malayalam. It had existed in old Kannada but not now. The two vowels ru ( ரு) and lu ( லு), which are there in Devanagari, are not there in Tamil. The short-nature u (உ) and i ( இ) sounds are in Tamil, but there are no letters to indicate them.

If the letters ka, ca, Ta, ta, pa (க, ச, ட, த, ப, ற) appear at the beginning of a word, after hard vowel consonants. and after doubling they will be pronounced like surds. In other places they will be pronounced like sonants. Although there are no distinct letters for surds and sonants in Tamil, the vowel consonants themselves are pronounced like surds and sonants depending on the place in which they appear. Therefore the one Tamil consonant ka (k) is pronounced like gha depending upon its placement in a word. Likewise other hard vowel consonants ta (த), ca (ச), Ta (ட) and pa (ப) are pronounced differently like ( dha, cha, tha, bha) respectively according to the place where they appear in a word. There are no sibilants like sa, sha, Sa in Tamil.

27. There are distinct letters in Tamil to indicate numerals and fractions. There are evidences to show that the present roman numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 originated from Tamil.

28. Classification and Formation of Words : There are four kinds of words in Tamil. Among them the root words or uriccol which were used in ancient poems are not popular now. If we exclude them then there exist only three types of words namely nouns, verbs and itaiccol or particles. The nouns indicate animate and inanimate categories of things, gender, number and person. tiNai is classified into uyartiNai (nouns denoting personal class of beings, including men, gods and demons) and akRiNai (inferior class of beings whether animate, inanimate, or neuter). Higher categories of animate beings like human beings fall under uyortiNai. Others, both animate and inanimate come under the category of akriNai. There are three genders in uyartiNai: masculine, feminine and neuter. Palar paal or neuter plural gender indicates many in number. Masculine and feminine genders in Tamil indicate only singular number. AkRiNai is classified into onRan paal (singular of the impersonal class) and palvin pal (plural of the impersonal class).

Again, number is classified into one and many. Unlike Sanskrit there is no dual number in Tamil. There are three 'persons' in Tamil, namely, first person, second person and third person. Case inflexions are many in Tamil and their indicators form as suffixes in words.

Distinction between animate and inanimate things, and masculine and feminine genders are usually made according to the meaning of words.

Verbs are classified into finite and infinite verbs. Most of the finite verbs are formed with suffixes which indicates this animate or inanimate quality, as also gender. The gender is not distinguished both in abstract nouns and in relative participles. Both verbs and nouns are formed from verbal roots. But very few verbs are formed from noun roots.

Particles have no meaning of their own but acquire meaning when added to other words and help to differentiate their meanings too. Even meaningless words are regarded as particles.

Most of the words in Tamil are agglutinative in character, i.e. case indicators, time and gender markers are affixed to root words. As a result, the formation of words become clear. Even the words in the classical literature are agglutinative in character. There is no distinction between the roots that were used in ancient classics and those which are now in vogue. The root word which was used to mean 'food' in ancient classics was una. The one used in medieval period was either uN or uNTi. Whereas the modern word for food is uNavu. In all these words whether ancient, mediaeval or modern, the root word un is clear. Only the suffixes differ. Therefore, the Tamil of ancient poetry too begins to seem familiar after a while if one reads the ancient classical poetry for a time. This is the reason why the Tamils of this century find little difficulty in understanding the Cankam classics. It also accounts for the continuity that exists in Tamil literary growth. One finds it used in the poems of the hymnodists and Kampan, composed in the seventh century and the twelfth century respectively.

There is little difference in syntax between ancient and modern Tamil. Although over a period of time word forms have changed the formation of syntax remains intact in all the Dravidian languages. In this respect there exist similarity between the languages of the South and the North, though they fall under a different category known as Indo-European languages. The fact that syntax changes very little, while other aspects of a language do, is brought out in the similarity one finds in the formation of syntax between the Dravidian languages of the South and the languages of the North of India. This explains why syntactical differences exist between the languages of North India on the one hand and Sanskrit, Greek and Latin on the other; and why there exists similarity between north and south Indian languages. This unity in syntactical formation becomes obvious if one analyses all the four major Dravidian languages of South India. If one analyses the continuous growth of Tamil language the perceivable truth is that there is little change in the formation of syntax both in the classical Tamil and the Tamil used in modern short stories.

29. Unnecessary Polemics : Tamil Vs Sanskrit -- Among the spoken languages of India, Tamil achieved perfection even during the pre-historic period. Literary growth in Tamil took place at the same time when there was similar growth in Sanskrit. Literary works came to be written only at a later period in all other Indian languages. Therefore there was considerable antiquity for Tamil language and literature.

Besides, the ancient classical Tamil literature originated and blossomed from the folk song and poetry of the Tamil country. The forms of such poetry were also not borrowed from any other language, but were culled from the folk poetry and songs that was in vogue among the people of Tamil Nadu. The existence of such combination of antiquity and individuality in Tamil literature, was forgotten by later day Sanskrit scholars. As such they not merely denied the greatness due to the Tamil language but began to look upon it on the assumption that it borrowed immensely from Sanskrit from its very inception.

Therefore, Sanskritists indulged in unwanted polemics by arguing that Tamil had no intrinsic merit of its own because it borrowed heavily from Sanskrit. To establish this assumption, Caminata Desikar, a Sanskrit scholar and author of a grammatical work entitled ilakkaNakkottu compared the alphabets of Sanskrit and Tamil and found that all, expect five alphabets, the two short vowels e (எ) and o (ஒ) and three consonants Ra, na and za (ற, ன, ழ) are common to both the languages. Therefore he argued that all the characters common to the two languages essentially belonged to Sanskrit and the five rare symbols which are absent in Sanskrit belonged specifically to Tamil. Based on his findings he wrote an unusual verse in which he posed insolently a question whether Tamil with only five letters of its own could ever be called a language.

This scurrilous verse only indicates the irrational attitude of the Sanskrit scholars of the seventeenth century.

Such unreasonable attitude became obvious in analysing the origin of words that were common to Sanskrit and Tamil. Basic words like niir (water) and miin (fish) which had been in use from time immemorial in Tamil language was interpreted by Sanskrit scholars as having originated from Sanskrit roots. They refused to consider the possibility that Sanskrit would have borrowed these common words from Tamil, the most ancient language of the region, and even propagated that most of the words in Tamil had been borrowed from Sanskrit.

The Tamil scholars were perplexed by such unfounded claims. However with the arrival of linguists like Caldwell from Europe, and with the publication of books in English refuting the claims of Sanskritists, Tamil scholars gained confidence in the intrinsic value of Tamil language. Despite this, the biased views held by Sanskritists held sway ir the world of letters even up to this century until linguists in England like Burrow falsified these erroneous claims by their researches. This controversy persisted even in analysing the names of places in the Tamil region. After translating certain names of places from Tamil to Sanskrit, the Sanskrit scholars argued that they were borrowed from Sanskrit.

One classic example was Vriddhachalam which is a literal translation of the Tamil place called MutukunRam. Likewise, several names of deities were translated into Sanskrit. The devotional hymns of the Nayanmars in fact mentioned these names in their pure Tamil form. Instances are not wanting that while translating names of places from Tamil into Sanskrit, the Sanskrit scholars failed to comprehend the real meaning of the original Tamil words and translated them erroneously.

Without knowing the actual meaning of the name of a town ArkkaTu (Arcot), the Sanskrit scholars translated it Sataranyam, which literally means six forests, whereas the Tamil word arkkaTu literally means a forest of fig trees. To perpetuate these Sanskritised names, they wrote stories as well. Despite their efforts Sanskritised names failed to gain currency among the people. The Sanskrit scholars, for example, tried to Sanskritise the name of the river Paalaaru as Ksra Nati. It could not be perpetuated. Thus the Sanskrit scholars unnecessarily sowed the seeds of dissension in the Tamil country.

30. Tanit-Tamil Iyakkam (Pure Tamil Movement) : Sanskrit scholars attempted to Sanskritise Tamil several centuries ago by the liberal use of Sanskrit words. They argued that such a liberal mixture enhanced the beauty of the Tamil language and compared the hybrid language to an ornament made out of equal number of pearls and corals. They called the hybrid style as manippravala style and attempted to popularize it in the country. Some of the Jain and Vaisnava Sanskrit scholars employed that style using grantha scripts Their attempts, however, failed because of the naturally rich vocabulary and literary wealth of the Tamil language.

Sanskrit scholars, however, refused to acknowledge the real merit of Tamil literary works. Although they were born in the Tamil country, spoke the Tamil language, and lived as Tamilians, they seldom read such important works as the TEvaram and the Tiruvaacakam. They treated lightly those who attained scholarship only in Tamil. Even the hymns of Nayanmars, which found a pride of place in temple rituals during the Chola period, lost their importance at a later stage. They went to the extent of denigrating Tamil as the language of the mortal and extolling Sanskrit as the language of gods.

If the Sanskritists found laudable ideas in Tamil works, they tried to belittle their merit saying that those were borrowed ideas from Sanskrit works. They tried even to underrate the importance of Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural by running it down as a compendium of ideas translated from Sanskrit works. Likewise they considered that Tolkaappiyam, the first grammatical work by Tolkappiyar was based on Sanskrit. To substantiate their view, they assigned the work of Tolkappiyar to Tiranatumakkini who was a scholar in Sanskrit. The RaamayaNaa, Mahaabhaarata, PuraaNas and other philosophical works were no doubt borrowed from Sanskrit but the Sanskrit scholars tried to camouflage the very existence of great literary works in Tamil like the Cankam classics, didactic and devotional literature. But their efforts were halted only when scholars like V.K. Curiyanaraayana Sastriar and Maraimalaiyatikal focussed the attention of the people on the literary treasures of the Tamil language.

31. Two Different Types of Tamil Style

Though the efforts to Sanskritise Tamil no longer exist, the repercussions of those earlier efforts are still felt in society. One effect, of course, was the virulent opposition to the use of Sanskrit words in Tamil, and this opposition has not subsided even today.

At a time when all merit and greatness were attributed to Sanskrit alone, Tamil scholars like Curiyanarayana Sastriar and CuvAmi Vetaacalam preferred to use only the Tamil equivalents of their Sanskrit names, Paritimarkalainjar and MaRaimalaiyaTikal respectively. Despite their stance, their earlier Tamil prose works contained many words of Sanskrit origin.

When the Sanskritists claimed that Tamil could not exist without Sanskrit, the two Tamil scholars addressed themselves to the task of writing Tamil without borrowing from Sanskrit. Curiyanarayana Sastriyar, the pioneer of this style of writing died at a very young age. His contemporary, MaTaimalaiyaTikal lived longer and crystallized this attitude into a movement in 1916. Since then the movement has been popularly known as the Tanit-Tamil lyakkam or the Pure Tamil Movement among the Tamil scholars.

32. Dialectical Conventions : There exist slight regional differences in the spoken Tamil of the people living in various parts of the Tamil country. In the nineteenth century, in the absence of transport facilities, dialectical differences would have been more pronounced than it is now. Now they are on the decline because of increased transport and educational facilities. Besides mass-media, such as daily newspapers, journals, radio and television are also contributing factors. However, there are some differences between the Tamil spoken at Tirunelveli and Coimbatore. These two dialects differ distinctly from the Tamil spoken in Thanjavur and Tiruchirappalli. The Tamil spoken in the city of Madras on the other hand differs from all of them, because of the liberal borrowing of words from Telugu, Urdu and English languages.

Similar differences exist in the phonetics also. The vowel consonant ca ( ச) is distinctly pronounced in Tirunelveli, whereas in the northern part of Tamil Nadu it is pronounced as sa (ஸ) at the beginning of words. The letter za (ழ), which is unique to the Tamil language is pronounced differently from one district to another. In the southern districts it is pronounced as la (ள), in Salem as ya ( ய ) and in the city of Madras it is pronounced in both the ways. The verb izu (இழு) is pronounced as icu (இசு). In spoken language vaazaippazam (வாழைப்பழம்) is pronounced to the detestation of scholars as vaaLappaLam (வாளப்பளம்) and Vaayappayam (வாயப்பயம்). Certain classes of people pronounce the verb irukkiratu (is) as irukku (இருக்கு). Others pronounce it is irukkutu (இருக்குது) and the illiterates as kiitu. The verb ceytuvittaar (has done it) is pronounced in spoken language as ceynjiTTaar, cenjiTTaar and cenjipuTTaar. Likewise the verb eTuttukkoNtan (has taken it) is pronounced as etuttukkinan, etuttukNan, and etuttukkittan.

Some words have altogether a different meaning in the Tamil used in Sri Lanka. The known meaning for the word aRutalaka is comforting. But in Sri Lanka 'calmly' and 'leisurely (amaitiyaaka and kaalataamatamaaka). The Tamils in Sri Lanka use the word kataippOm (¸¨*ô§À¡õ) instead of pecikkoNTirappOm which means 'will be talking'. Likewise they use caTanku (rituals) for tirumaNam (marriage); kaNakka (heavy or weighty) for niRaiya (full); vaTivaai(beautiful) for nanRaaka (better or well); and kantOr (office) for aluvalakarn (office).

33. Foreign Loan Words in Tamil : Words borrowed from English are phonetically changed and used as such in Sri Lanka. For example pan (bun) is written as pan (பான்); kappi (coffee) as koppi (கோப்பி), kOrt (court) as kot ; Sart (shirt) as set, taarc (torch) as rOc and taval (towel) as tuvaai. Likewise many Tamil words are phonetically changed and used as such in spoken and written Tamil of Sri Lanka.

English and Hindi words are used in spoken Tamil of the people who live in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. Such loan words are not phonetically changed but written in the same way as they are pronounced in the concerned languages.

For example such words as bus, cycle, car, office, late, post, bank, and coffee (pas , caikkil, kaar, apis, let, post, pank, and kaappi respectively) are written in Tamil characters in the manner they are pronounced in English. Script writers, novelists and short story writers use these Tamilised forms in their writings. Some of them use such loan words frequently in their writings, while others use them only when their Tamil equivalents are non-existent.

Although in spoken Tamil such English words as leave, stamp, rail, station and telephone are commonly used, in written Tamil their equivalents vitumuRai, tapaaltalai , pukaivaNTi nilaiyam and tolaipEci respectively are used. Some Urdu words like calam and capacu found place in the devotional poems of saints Arunakirinˆtar and Kumarakuruparar, who lived in the seventeenth century. As a result of North Indian's contact some words from the Hindi language are used in the present-day spoken Tamil. For the same reason many sweets prepared in hotels of Tamil Nadu bear Hindi names.

34. Poetic Forms : In the early stages of the development of Tamil literature three types of poetical compositions, akaval, kalippa and paripatal were popular. The akaval type of verse is formed from a minimum of three lines to a maximum of several hundreds of lines. Each line consists of four-feet or four cirs. A combination of two or more metrical units or syllables or acais comprises a foot or cir. The basic metrical unit or acai is formed by one or two vowels. The akaval poetry resembles prose because of its narrative quality. The main difference between akaval and prose is that the former is written in four-foot lines with alliteration and assonance while the latter is invariably without these essential features. However in the earlier days even prose was written in four-foot lines. This can be seen in the prose passages of Cilappatikaram and in the writings of scholars.

The kali verse like akaval is written in four-foot lines with a difference in rhyme. The foot is arranged in such a way as to produce a tripping rhyme. Paripatal has a smooth flowing rhyme. Both kali and paripatal verse forms must have been modelled on folk songs. They are not prosaic either in form or metre, for a variety of poetic components are used to make the verse forms skip. Consequently, Tolkappiyam mentions that these poetical forms are eminently suitable for composing love poems. The Tolkappiyam discusses various types of verse forms. It mentions about venpa, which became popular only after the second century A.D. After this period, kali and paripktal lost their importance. Besides these Tolkappiyam refers to another poetical form known as pannatti. Perhaps this type of verse form has been from folk music. It is but natural for certain musical forms, to enter literature. Today too there are some such music generated forms.

Even after grammatical and poetical conventions were well established, Tamil poets continued to favour traditional poetic forms. They remained aloof without trying out in their works, the new folk forms that flourished in those days.

But Ilanko, the author of Cilappatikaram, adopted several of these new folk forms in his work. Likewise the seventh and the eighth century Saiva and Vaisnava hymnodists made the best use of the then available folk music. A new poetical form, viruttam, emerged in fact from folk songs. This new poetical form was first put to major use in the tenth century by the Jain poet Tiruttakkatevar in his epic Civakacintamani. All the three thousand verses are in viruttam.

Prior to the ninth century all the major epics in Tamil had been written in akaval. When Tiruttakkatevar successfully experimented with the viruttam form of versification in his epic, other poets like Cekkilar and Kampar composed their poetical works in viruttam. Till today viruttam is the largely used form in Tamil poetry. Though the term viruttam is a derivation from Sanskrit, there is little connection with Sanskrit prosody. It is in fact a beautiful form of poetry evolved from Tamil folk music. In contrast to akaval, viruttam has no restriction regarding the occurrence of four cirs in a line. A line may consist of four, five, or even forty cirs. However, a viruttam poem should conform to certain rules. It should have four lines. All lines should have exactly the same number of cirs as in the first line. There is no restriction regarding the length of cirs: they may either be long or short depending on the poets' need. Countless variations are possible as a result of this flexible rule. Depending on emotions words are arranged to effect different rhythm patterns. As a result viruttam has become the most suitable form of poetry to give effect to various types of emotions.

In the seventeenth century even such an important medium as viruttam was found inadequate. The poets, therefore, looked for new forms from the then popular folk poetry. As a result certain folk forms like cintu, kanni and kummi gained literary stature. Up to this century, efforts to discover new forms continued. Parathiyar utilised the poetic form found in folk songs sung by street beggars or konaickis. Similarly Paratitacan made use of the rope-dancer's songs to compose one of his very interesting poems. The metrical form found in the kirttarcai has also been adopted in modern Tamil poetry. In addition to these, efforts and experiments are continuing today to evolve new poetical forms.

35. Tamil Literature : Period of Tamil Sangam

Eminent historians have declared that the present Indian Ocean was once a vast expanse of land and on that land, South Madurai was the capital city of Pandian emperors.

First Tamil Sangam

In the ancient and glorious city of South Madurai , the First Tamil Sangam was founded by the Pandian Ruler, Kaisina Vazhudhi. Hundreds of scholars like Muranjiyur Mudi Naga Rayar graced this Sangam and carried on valuable treatises were produced by it. The pandian known as Kadungon Pandian lived during the last years of the First Tamil Sangam period. The city of South Madurai was destroyed by the ferocity and cataclysm of the ocean several 1000 years ago.

Second Tamil Sangam

Kadungon founded the city of Kapatapuram in the land between the two rivers, Kumari river and Pahruli river. With this capital, Kadungon Pandian again estabilished the Tamil Sangam and developed the grandeur of the Tamil language. This was known as the Second or Middle Tamil Sangam. At the time, the Second Sangam, the present Sri Lanka was a part of Kumari Kandam. Many great Pandian kings from Venther Chezhian to Mudaththirumaran, patronized this Second Tamil Sangam, founded in Kapatapuram. Many poets like Agasthiar and Tholkappiyar, adorned this Sangam, and wrote treatises like Agathiam, Tholkappiyam, Boodha Puranam and Isai Nunukkam. The North East monsoon is always due to the cyclonical storms and Poompukar and Kapatapuram, were lost before 2000 BC due to cyclonic storms that took place.

Third Tamil Sangam

When Kapatapuram was destroyed by the rage of the ocean, the Pandian Ruler, Mudathathrumaran founded the present city of Madurai and with this as his Capital, founded the Third Sangam. Many kings, from this Mudaththirumaran to Ugra Peruvazhudhi partronized this Sangam. Many Tamil Scholars like Nallanthuvanar carried on research in this Sangam. We learn from subsequent historical literature that these three Sangams flourished for thousands of years and were engaged in the development of Tamil.

In the commentaries of Irayanar on Kalaviyal, in the expositions of the author of Tholkappiyam, and in the comments on some Sangam literature, many important particulars about these three Sangams are available. The Pandian kings had the title of Siva and the Thiruvilaiyadalpuranam talks about the great kings and ultimately they became Lord Shiva’s Epic. Similarly the King, Kumaravel Pandian, drove the Africans captured in South Tamil Nadu and drove them back in six battles.

The six battles are even now remembered in Tamil Nadu as Arupadi Veedu – (1) Thripparankundram (2) Thiruchendur (3) Palani (4) Thiruthanigai (5) Swamimalai and (6) Pazhamudircholai.

Kandapuranam, the great epic of Tamil Nadu, has a lot of information about this.

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Thanks: Tamilpiper
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  2. Hi Kennady,

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