Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Power of Aram (Truth)

Well, this time, let us take a digression by getting introduced to two great poets of the Tamil Literature, Avaiyar and Kaalamega Pulavar. Well the reason for choosing these two persons is that of the special power or talent or gift, i dont know how to say, they had; The power to sing Aram (Truth), rather more clearly if they sing Aram, things will happen as they wish to happen in their song. I would like to tell about two incidents that well explain the power of Aram, the Truth.

One instance, is when Thiruvalluvar the wanted to publish his exemplary work, The Thirukkural. Well, here goes.

During the Sangam period, for any one to publish any work in Tamil, it is necessary that it is approved at the Tamil Sangam at Madurai. So Valluvar took his masterpiece for approval, but the lead poets (Pulavar)s at Madurai rejected his work saying that it does not follow any of the grammatical category of Tamil Literature (Venba, Aasiriyappa..). But Valluvar said he categorises it a KURAL VENBA but the intelligent poets we not ready to accept his categorisation and rejected his work. So Valluvar went sadly out of Madurai Tamil Sangam. On the way he met Avaiyar and then when they had a chat, Avaiyar came to know that Valluvar's work getting rejected at the Tamil Sangam. Avaiyar read the work and found it to be a masterpiece of all times and it should be made known to the world. So she took Valluvar with her saying that she will help him get the approval and went to meet the King of Madurai to talk about this. But the Poets and Ministers planned against Avaiyar and locked the gates locked together with 4 chains and asked her to meet the King, if possible, by breaking the chains off. This made Avaiyar very angry and intolerable at the action of the Ministers and Poets and she used her power to sing the aram for the good purpose and sang 4 songs. Here go the songs, i will rather give the meaning of the stanzas rather than paraphrasing them.

Aartha sabai nootru oruvar Aayirathu Ondraam Pulavar
Vaarthai Pathinaayirathu oruvar Pootha malar
thanda marai thiruvay Thatha kodikku oruvar
Undayin Undendru Aru

meaning, One in hundred could speak in a gathering/stage; One in thousand is a Poet; One in 10,000 will keep their word; And One in a crore (1,00,00,000) would have characteristics that they can be considered equal to GOD himself. If the above is true, let the chain break apart.

And there blew the first chain!!!

Thandamal Eevathu Thaalanmai Aduthupin sendrakkaal
Eevathu vanmai aduthupin sendrakkaal eevathu
kaarkooli aduthupin Sendrum iyyathan
echcham pol aru

Now the song about different name for different attitudes in providing help. Providing help or money just by understanding the situation of the persons is called (thaalanmai) benefaction. And providing help or money after being asked is Vanmai (donation). Providing help or money after going back again and again is Kaarkooli (roughly Alm). And like the one who would be cursed for not helping even after persistent attempts for help asked, let the chains blow off. And there blew off the second chain

Ulla vazhakku irukka ooraar podhuvirukka
Thalli vazhakadhanai thaan pesi kaikooli
Vaangum Thaan aruvaan thann kilayum
Echcham arum endral aru

This one is quite heavy in meaning and rather quite true, and it is for the Judges of the courts. What the song means is that, With the case before him, and the people of the country before him, the judge who gives a biased judgement and gets the money for it, will perish and so will his descendants and family. If this is true, let the chains blow up. And the third chain blew off.

Vazhakudaiyaan iruppa valiyarai koodi
Vazhakkai Azhivazhakku seithon
Vazhakudaiyaan Sutramum Thaanum Azhudha Kanneraal
Echcham Arum Endral Aru

This one is more heavier than the previous one. With the plaintiff before the court, the person who uses undue influence by joining hands with the stronger guy (rather hooligan) and makes the case to nothing, will perish by the effect of the tears in the eyes of the plaintiff and his people. If it is true, let the chains blow up.

And there, blew off all the 4 chains and Avaiyar met the king and then the Thirukural was put in the Por thamarai kulam (Pond with the Golden Lotus - which inside the Madurai Meenakshi amman Temple even today) and the por thamarai accepted it, making Thirukural universally accepted.

I don't know whether there is any other proof - than these songs and some picturisation of the incident in the good old movie Avaiyar - that Avaiyar blew up the chains by singing Aram. But there is one that still exists even today, the song by Kaalamega Pulavar, the place affected was Koothanampatti - near Madurai.

Kaalamega Pulavar, a great poet during that time had also the power of Aram. Normally great poets of that era would not intend to save any wealth. Their intention would be to sing some songs in praise of the kings or Gods and get the money, gold, red carpet welcome and other valuables from the kings. But they never saved it for their own purpose rather they would help the kith and kin with that wealth earned, and they would come to pecuniary after that. This is one of the reason that some many songs have been sung in the Tamil Literature. And apart from that some would never even mind to have a neat appearance.

And Kaalamega Pulavar is one such person. He would travel to places and sing songs in praise of the king and get part in the contest of skill in Tamil literature, win prizes and donate to the poor and needy. Eat and sleep at places called Sathiram (A cottage), where food and shelter was provided for free. And he had another habit of eating betel leaves and having a bunch of them in pouch tied to his hip. The characteristic of betel leaves is that it would stop the hunger for brief periods of time. And this would be useful for him until he reaches the next sathiram.

And once when he went to the place called Koothanampatti, near Madurai, he went to field where betel leaves where cultivated. And hoping that it would help if he gets some of the leaves. So he asked the farmer cum owner of the field for some leaves. That farmer on seeing his appearance being like a beggar. Shouted at him to go away and saying that the beggars have started begging even at the cultivation field itself. And Kaalamega Pulavar, did not mind then thinking that he is shouting for some reason and cleared off the place.

Later he walked he way to Nagapattinam, when he was terribly hungry and when he looked into the pouch in his hip for betel leaves, the reserves were over and there were no betel leaves. And damn, hunger made him more frustrated and then he remembered someone shouting for asking betel leaves and from where he was, that is Nagapattinam a distant place from Madurai, he sang his Aram which went like this. Rather a powerful one!!!

Koothanampattiyilae Vada-Kizhakku Moolayilae
Pudhu kodikaal undu panna
Ilai Karuga Sedi Karuga Kodi Karuga

meaning, In the north east part of Koothanampatti where land is cultivated with the mercy and grace of earth, to establish plantation. Let the leaves, plants and climbers incinerate.

And that was it, all the crops were just charred like anything. And even today no cultivation is possible in that area. Only a plant called Vellai Erukan (i dont know the name in English for that), that would survive extreme conditions and is not edible even to animals, would grow even today. I am not going to justify the reason for what he did, but it is a proof for the power of Aram.

And the interesting part happened next, when he was in search of a Sathiram for getting food to fill his tummy. He went in search of a sathiram, and he asked the kids who were playing Gilli (the older Indian version of cricket, played with a small stick and a small round stone or betel nut etc), in a rather poetic sense, "Siruvargaal, Ingae Saapaadu Engae Virrkkum" (Where the food would be available/sold). The kids in the playful mood said "Thondai-la thaan ayya vikkum" ( it would hiccup in your throat). Here the words "Virrkkum" and "Vikkum" sound similar but have different meanings the former meaning availability for Sale and the later meaning hiccup.

This really fuelled fire to the already enraged Kaalamega Pulavar and he started off with the song and began writing on the wall

"Paaku tharithu vilaydum palagarrkku naakuth
Thirithu poga kadavathu"

meaning, "let the tongues of the kids who play with the betel nut here be cut off". By the time he wrote "naakuth" (normally in Tamil songs, the last word of a line would end with a syllable that the word in the next line starts with), the bell in the sathiram rang indicating that food is ready to be served. Kaalamega Pulavar in great hunger left immediately hoping to complete after taking his food. And when he returned after his food to complete what he left incomplete, he found surprised for having it to be complete. It went like this.

"Paaku tharithu vilaydum palagarrkku naakuth
Thamizh Manakkum Nann naagai"

meaning, "Let tongues of the kids spell the fragrance of good tamil in the town on Naagai (Nagapattinam)". Kaalamega Pulavar on seeing the shrewdness of the kids, blessed them and went on his way.

More to come, until then...


Srihari Yamanoor said...

Why is someone spamming on your blog about Aram :) ?

Moving on, I loved the post and the songs. Make me see Avvayar in a different light. I also did not see that the couplet style, or Kural style of Valluvar was not accepted by the Madurai people. Wonder, given the age in which he lived, would he have beeen the first person to write couplets?


R.Prabhu said...

Well i dont know why someone's been spamming my blog about aram :), but that was the reason for me to introduce the picture verification on posting comments, so far i din have any.

Great to hear the u enjoyed the songs and the post. In the upcoming posts u will see Avaiyar in a different light and why she is considered the great icon in Tamil Literature and why she is revered much. And coming to your question, indeed, as far as i know the best, Valluvar is the first person to write couplets, before that songs or stanzas are expected to consist at least 4 lines, the grammatical category called the Venba (4 words in each line and 3 in the last).

Thiya said...

There's a lot that I should read about Tamil Literature. Pretty well written! Very informative.