A note on Poets in the Akananuru

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed Apr 21 06:06:24 UTC 2010

Dear George,

With respect to dating, as I mentioned in my first response to your post, the antādi type versification must have present in the folk culture and Cilappatikāram's kuṉṟakkuravai 12-14 shows the origins of the genre. In the folk culture, it could have been a performance where two or more persons could have participated in antādi versification. In that case, each of them could be an individual verse by a different individual. (So ten verses of that kind cannot be considered as of the same type as epic poetry.) Similarly, the decad type verses could have been part of the folk culture too. Although Tiruvācakam is a significantly later work, the different types of folk theme verses in decad form in Tiruvācakam (as in Aiṅkuṟunūṟu) suggest that both are patterned after folk practices. (What is so significant about the number ten? One can possibly speculate that when youngsters play the versification game, if they are keeping track of number of verses, having 5 or 10 (the fingers on one or both hands) as the basis might be easy to do. Even today, when we try to keep tally, often we do it in 5s or 10s.)  Thus the features of antādi and decads could have existed in the folk culture long before they entered formal literature. Patiṛṛuppattu and Aiṅkuṟunūṟu may show the beginning of their induction into formal poetry while the Bhakti poetry shows their full development. But there is nothing to indicate such induction could not have been coeval with other Classical Tamil poems. So, in that case, one does not have to consider Aiṅkuṟunūṟu to be a late text and so the same author could have produced a poem in Akanāṉūṟu as well as Aiṅkuṟunūṟu. Again, if one considers the variety found in the works of Māṇikkavācakar, that is not outlandish. In modern times, if one considers the Tamil film lyricist Kannadasan's songs, one will find that:

in 1968 he wrote the following song in Chennai style.
elantai payam elantaip payam
cekkac cevanta payam - itu
tēṉāṭṭam iṉikkum payam
ellōrum vāṅkum payam - itu
ēyaikkinu poṟanta payam
Here payam < paḻam, ēyai < ēḻai, poṟanta < piṟanta

In 1970, he wrote the following song in literary Tamil.
karaiyēṟi mīṉ viḷaiyāṭum kāviri nāṭu - eṅkaḷ
uṟaiyūriṉ kāvalaṉē nī vāḻiya nīṭu
koṭiyēṟip puli viḷaiyāṭa, kuṉṟēṟip pukaḻ viḷaiyāṭa
maṭiyēṟi maḻalaiyar āṭum maṉṉavaṉ vāḻka - poṉṉai
varaiyātu vāri vaḻaṅkum teṉṉavaṉ vāḻka

So, I am somewhat skeptical of attempts to date the poems on the basis of an assumed linear-sequential development of forms over time. Multiple forms could have existed contemporaneously.

In any case, the following post of mine in another list may be of interest to you regarding problems in how some non-Tamil scholars date Tamil literary developments. (At the bottom of the post, you can access other posts on the same topic.) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/8907


On Apr 16, 2010, at 4:09 PM, George Hart wrote:

> I am working through the Akananuru now, constantly struck by the ingenuity of the poets.  The words of Māgha certainly fit:
> kṣaṇe kṣaṇe yan navatām upaiti tad eva rūpam ramaṇīyatāyāḥ
> That which becomes new every moment is the very form of beauty.
> The poems rehearse the same situations and often the same imagery over and over, yet each one seems to have something new and extraordinary that makes it different from the others.  In any event, I remember speaking with Rajam once about the Akananuru and she remarked how different the poems of Paraṇar and Kapilar are.  After working through many poems, I am struck by how unerring her insight is (and I am indebted to her for pointing this out).  We constantly wonder about the authorship of these poems -- are the attributions simply made up, or are they real?  In some poems, it is clear that the anthologist has taken liberties -- I doubt that anyone really believes the poems attributed to Pāri Makaḷir are by Pāri's daughters.  But, after seeing how the techniques of Pāri and Kapilar are so different and how the poems of each have similar styles, I am beginning to wonder whether in fact the attributed authorship of the Sangam poems is not in fact accurate.  Is there any evidence, for example, that Kapilar did NOT write the century of poems in the Ainkurunuru attributed to him (Martha Selby has said she believes the Ainkurunuru to be late)?  Or that the Sangam poets who are supposed to have written the Pattuppāṭṭu may not have been the same as in "earlier" works.  Note that in Tamil love poetry and Poetics, Takahashi believes that some of the anthologies are late and thus that the authorial attributions are incorrect.  I'd be interested in what people think about this.  George=

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