South India geography#2

jayabarathi barathi at PC.JARING.MY
Mon May 25 10:08:49 UTC 1998

At 02:34 AM 5/25/98 PDT, you wrote:
>>>Does somebody on the list know whether Tirumala Nayaka of Madurai
>>>revived old cankam traditions in the late 16th century?
>>        May be what you meant was Thirumalai Raayan and not
>>        Thirumalai Nayakkan.
>No, I meant Tirumala Nayakan, because of his proximity in time with
>Rajacudamani Dikshita, the author of the Sankarabhyudaya. This text
>describes a number of places in TN which Sankaracharya is supposed to
>have visited, but it is only in Madurai that a reference to Tamil
>literary tradition is found. And I have reason to believe that the poet
>refers to many events which were in the recent past for him.
>Be that as it may, what was the old Tamil custom with respect to a
>palaka? Were the honored poets given a palakai (wooden seat)? Or
>perhaps, only for the poet(s) adjudged to be the best in a contest? Is
>there evidence of such a custom in the 16th-17th century?

        It is shrouded in Mythology.The Sanga  Palakai is an
        ornamental board.This is supposed to have been in the
        PoRRaamarai Tank in Madhurai. The literary work which
        is to gain entry into the Tamil Sangam, is placed on
        the Palakai. If it is of originality and fulfills all
        the qualifications, the plank is said to support it.
        Otherwise, it sinks together with the literary work.
        There is also an oral traditional version which says that
]       the Sanga Palakai is a plank serving as seat for the poets
        of Sangam. If any new entrant wishes to be accepted, the work
        is examined, but the final authority seems to have been the
        plank itself. If the poet is worthy, it grows lengthwise
        and allows the new entrant to be seated with due honour and
        comfort. If unworthy, the plank just shrinks and the poor
        blighter is thrown of his seat.

        Probably it must have been rows of seats of honour, similar
        to the Sarvagna PeeTam which was ascended by the Great Sankaracharya
        himself which was single. The entrant's work would have been
        subjected to great scrutiny, questions asked, discussions
        held at length and finally to the satisfaction of the King/patron
        and the other occupants of the Sangam, the honorary seat
        would have been awarded.

        There is a copper grant belonging to the Intermediate Pandyas
        which says, "Madhurapuri Sangam vaiththu". The possibilty
        of another Sangam during the 7th century onwards for at
        least one or two centuries, is there. Or on the other hand
        that copper plate could have mentioned an old tradition.
        This was in Madhurai. This could be the same as Nammaalzvaar's
        But Sangam in 17th century Madhurai was not there. Not through
        royal patronage. But may be, people like NachchinArkkiniyar
        could have had some sort of a small academy for Tamil studies.
        Especially taking into consideration, the amount of cross-references
        that he makes in his commentaries, this could account for a
        battery of Tamil scholars.



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