Danielou and Tamil Musicology

Palaniappa at aol.com Palaniappa at aol.com
Tue Apr 1 05:44:17 UTC 1997

Danie'lou has translated the Tamil epic 'cilappatikAram' as a separate work
entitled, "Shilappadikaram  (The ankle Bracelet) By Prince Ilango Adigal" A
New Directions Book, 1965, Published by New Directions Publishing
Corporation, 333 Sixth Avenue, New York 14.

In the introduction he says, "I was led to the study of tThe Ankle Bracelet
in the course of my work on ancient Indian literature concerning musical
theory The interest of the novel seemed to me so great that I undertook its
complete translation. The interpretation of of the numerous technical terms
on the text - many of which earlier editors had considered obscure - is based
on my analysis of the theoretical possibilities of the ancient musical system
and on parallel theories found in Sanskrit works on music dating between the
commencement of the Christian Era and the tenth century. Certain of these
interpretations, however, remain hypotheses, and further research may produce
a few variants."

Since the time he produced this book, there has been considerable progress in
Tamil musicology. However, due to the separation of language studies and
music/musicological studies in the present day Tamilnadu, one side does not
know what is happening on the other side. Dr. S. Ramanathan's work in his
dissertation on music of cilappatikaram at Wesleyan was further advanced by
Dr. V. P. K. Sundaram currently at Bharatidasan University in
Tiruchirappalli. The 82-year old Dr. Sundaram has cleared many obscurities
and errors with regard to ancient Tamil musicology and is in the process of
completing his third volume of the Musical Encyclopedia of Tamil, published
by the university. Since he is also a Tamil scholar, he was able to state
that that puranIrmaip paN was not rAga pauLi but zivaranjani. Similarly,
indaLap  paN was not mAlava gauLai but rAga hindoLam. He has also explained
the two different processes of paNNup peyarttal (in Tamil) or grahabeda (in
Sanskrit) and clearly established the basic musical scale of ancient Tamils
as 'cempAlaip paN' or present rAga harikAmbodi. 

I may be wrong on this, but my cursory impression is that the new translation
of cilappatikAram by Parthasarathy does not pay much attention to the music
and dance aspect of cilappatikAram. 


S. Palaniappan 

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