Ragava Aiyangar deduced that Kambar began his epic Kamba Ramayanam in the year and completed the work in Kamba Ramayanam consists of approximately 10, quatrains September 15th being the 98th birth anniversary of polymath and DMK founder-leader C. If there is one medieval Tamil intellectual for whom I have deepest sympathies, it is for Kambar, the legendary emperor of Tamil poets Kavi Chakravarthi.
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Ragava Aiyangar deduced that Kambar began his epic Kamba Ramayanam in the year and completed the work in Kamba Ramayanam consists of approximately 10, quatrains September 15th being the 98th birth anniversary of polymath and DMK founder-leader C. If there is one medieval Tamil intellectual for whom I have deepest sympathies, it is for Kambar, the legendary emperor of Tamil poets Kavi Chakravarthi. But will you care to check any decent encyclopedia of world literature? There would be lengthy entries on the six poets I have just noted, but an entry on Kambar will be missing.
Here are my six reasons which I consider are not exhaustive why Kambar has been neglected in the reference sources of literary record. They preferred to have Tiruvalluvar and Ilanko Adikal as their mascots for veneration. These academics revelled in paying paen to the poetry of Anna Akhmatova and Pablo Neruda , which they read in English translation! I provide a partial list below. Bhaskara II — c. The content of this work soon became known through the Arabs to Western Europe.
Gerard of Cremona c. Moses Maimonides aka Moses ben Maimon, — : court physician of Sultan Saladin and foremost medieval Jewish philospher, born in Muslim Spain and settled in Cairo. Robert of Chester fl. Alexander Neckham — : English scientist, who provided notes on the early compass, outside China.
Genghis Khan — : fearsome Mongol warrior-leader, whose empire stretched from Beijing to the Caspian Sea with borders on the Indus river and Caucasus mountains. Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa c. Caldwell, the author of the Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages, rejects this date as spurious from the evidence of certain inscriptions found at Cape Comorin; and in the old Chalukya country, according to which the Chola kings who patronized Kambar lived only in the eleventh century of the Christian era.
But, Prof. Other scholars conclude that he belonged to the period of Kulottunga III. Purattirattu, an anthology, quotes verses from Ramayanam after its quotations from earlier works like Cintamani, while it does not quote from Ottakkuttar or other later poets.
On the basis of one of the verses which give the date of its composition, one may conclude that he lived in the tenth century. As opposed to these claims, R. Ragava Aiyangar convincingly suggested that Kambar lived in the second half of the 12th century. Rasamanickam, One school proposed that Kambar lived in the 9th century, with which the available circumstantial evidence does not tally properly.
Even as recent as , Justice S. I rather doubt this advanced dating for the simple reason that, in the 9th century, the Chola empire was only in its early stage of ascent, and only the first two kings of the Chola empire have been identified as living in the 9th century, namely Vijayalaya Chola of Suryavamsa reigning period and Athithya Chola The absence of valid personal details on Kambar is understandable.
Even much is still debated on the life details of Shakespeare, who post-dated Kambar by almost three centuries. The Ambikapathi and Amaravathi love story is the Tamil equivalent of the Romeo - Juliet story the children of Capulet and Montague families in Verona , immortalized by Shakespeare, between and Thiyagaraja Bhagavathar as Ambikapathi and the 50th anniversary of the second version that starred Sivaji Ganesan as Ambikapathi.
As per the tentative findings painstakingly collated from indirect historical sources relating to Tamil Nadu by Ragava Aiyangar, Kambar may have been born around and died in If this is so, this year also marks the th anniversary of his death.
Let me do some simple calculation, based on these two dates. Just assuming that 1 the round number of 10, is a reasonable guess permitting for a few dozen quatrains which may have been inadvertently lost during the process of transcription from oral tradition to proto-type leaf manuscripts , and 2 the commencement and the completion years are taken into account, it took Kambar a whole 8 years to compose the 10, quatrains.
This works out to nearly 1, quatrains per year, which in turn comes to an average of 4 quatrains per day. At most, I have been introduced to four or five dozen. But I have read the two volumes of the Kamba Rasam polemic, penned by Anna. Mention is made in the text that 34 quatrains describing the physical attributes of Sita, the heroine, border on eroticism. I have in my possession only the 13th edition of this tract, published in These would have appeared between the mid s and Of these three, I have in my possession the first named, Kamba Rasathukku Saavu Mani, consisting of only 32 pages.
As such, even this admirer of DMK's founder-leader has to admit that Anna was way off balance in his frontal attack on Kambar. The Silappathikaram epic, composed by poet Ilanko a Hindu prince turned priest , promoted by Anna and his lieutenants like Karunanidhi, consists of 5, lines; and thus, is much shorter in length than Kamba Ramayanam.
At least three can be identified. First, the Silapathikaram epic predates Kamba Ramayanam by a millenium. Thus, the pinnacle of Tamil literary merit could be advanced, from the early Medieval period of Kamba Ramayanam, to the tail-end era of the Roman empire.
Secondly, whereas the plot of Kamba Ramayanam was a borrowed one from the Sanskrit Ramayana of North India composed by epic poet Vaalmiki, the plot of Silappathikaram was indigenous to the Tamil country and spreads over all three traditional Tamil kingdoms — the Chera, Chola and Pandya.
Thirdly, the plot of Silappathikaram was more appealing to the commoners. These merits of Silappathikaram, in brief, thus contributed to the demotion of Kambar, in preference to Ilanko Adikal, by the DMK idealogues in their literary campaigns which spanned from the s to the mid s. Annadurai, C. N: Kambarasam, part 2, 4th ed. Desai, Santosh N: Ramayana — an instrument of historical contact and cultural transmission between India and Asia.
Journal of Asian Studies, Nov. Asian Folklore Studies, ; vol. Pollack, Sheldon: Ramayana and political imagination in India. Journal of Asian Studies, May ; vol. Translation: We surrender unto our Lord who indulges in the endless games of Materialising, Establishing and Destroying all that is known as the Worlds. These are the Games Endless that He indulges in. We surrender unto Him. Translation: When it is impossible for even the Wisest to perceive the stature of qualities of the Supreme, how am I to do so!
He is the chief among all celestials and His is the first of the three qualities. It would benefit us to immerse in that ocean of His Satvik quality. Elucidation: What am I to say about His qualities when the wisest among men find it impossible even to perceive them!
And it would be of immense benefit for us to take the plunge in Him. They are void of all attachments but for the one firm hold on His Feet. The pursuers of this path are void of all attachment, but for one. They remain ever attached to His Feet Divine. Translation: Like the cat standing on the shores of the Ocean of Milk desiring to lick the ocean clean, I have ventured to sing the story of Rama of immaculate Victory out of sheer desire.
Elucidation: The cat who licks a cup of milk clean, reached the Ocean of Milk and stood on its shore, witnessing the immensity of the Milky Ocean, with its terrifying roar of waves.
Not perceiving its ability and the immensity of the task in hand, the cat twitched of the desire to lick the Ocean clean, as it did its cup of milk. I am like that cat. What I have before me is the Ocean of Milk.
Though it is beyond my ability, I have begun this venture out of sheer love for reciting the story of Rama, of untainted Victory, Glory. Translation: When the story of Rama, who shot his arrow through the Sal trees seven, as easily as a curse, has already been rendered in the dazzling verses of Valmiki, the Poet Saint and they have taken deep roots and are widely read, I have ventured to narrate it with my words that are simpler than the simplest.
Shame on me! Elucidation: Valmiki, of extraordinary penance, the Adi Kavi, the many splendoured Poet, had already sung the story of Rama, whose arrow went through the seven Sal trees as simply and as unfailingly as the curse of Rishis. Shooting through seven trees was as simple for Rama as it is for a Rishi to curse. And neither the curse, nor his arrow failed ever. The Epic of Valmiki made of illuminating words is still prevalent among the masses.
It has taken deep roots in their hearts. In such a situation, me, endowed with nothing more than plain words of no splendour, the puny, has ventured upon to undertake the same task that a Titan had already completed.
Translation: Why is that I venture into narrating this story, though I know that the people are going to scoff at me and that my name would be ruined? It is just to demonstrate the excellence of the truly scholastic Poet who had sung it already. You seem to know that your work is not going to earn you anything but mockery and that it would be a slur on your name. If so why do you dare doing a thing which you know that you are incapable of completing well?
Well, I would just say that I just wanted to provide you with a point of reference, a scale by which to measure the immensity of the breathtaking work that the Original Poet did. If I cannot excel him, at least I can serve as a scale by which you can, by reason of comparison, understand the greatness of the unblemished Scholar that Valmiki was! Translation: The legendary creature Asuna is known to enjoy and thrive on good music and would drop dead on hearing the noisy drum.
My readers! You have all been used to the wide, varied and mellifluous rhythm of all the Great Poets and you are all like the Asuna who has been used to the melody of the lyre. And, here I come with my noisy drum!
Elucidation: Bear with me, my reader, for you have all been used to the pleasing rhythm of great poets who have rendered their verses in widely varying, nonetheless pleasing, metres. I am a mere noisy drummer. You all are like the legendary Asuna, that cannot bear the noisy and unrhythmic beat of the drum. I have nothing more than this noisy drum beat to offer to you.
Translation: Let me just say this much to the Poets who are well-versed in the prosaic, poetic and dramatic elements of the language.
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Ilankai Tamil Sangam
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