all towns are
one, all men our kin.
Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Tamil Language & Literature > Thamizh Literature Through the Ages - Preface > 1. Introduction > 2. The Sangam (Academy) period. > 3. The Didactic Period > 4. The Era of the Thamizh Epics > 5. The Era of Devotional Period > 6. Epics of the ChOzha Period > 7. Grammar and Lexicography > 8. Philosophical Literary Period > 9. Thamizh purANangaL and Minor Poems > 10. IslAmic and Christian Contributions to Thamizh Literature > 11. Modern Period > 12. Present Situation > 13. Conclusion
Dr. C.R. Krishnamurti,
12. Present Situation
After India achieved independence, the development of Thamizh received an incredible amount of support from administrators and politicians. One of the chief architects of this movement was the former chief minister, c.n.aNNAthurai (அண்ணாதுரை). With his tremendous oratorical capacity and fluency in both Thamizh and English, he was able to unify the weaker sections of the society, using the promotion of Thamizh language and culture and the eradication of social inequities as his major platform. Thereafter successive governments took over the task of championing the cause of Thamizh.
The name of the state was changed from Madras state to Thamizh n^Adu to depict the cultural identity of the region. The salaries and status of Thamizh teachers were upgraded; all official transactions were conducted in Thamizh; expert committees were set up to coin appropriate Thamizh words in scientific and technical fields; research institutions and universities were established with the main purpose of promoting Thamizh language and reviving Thamizh culture.
In addition to giving a moral boost to the development of Thamizh, these and other measures resulted also in qualitative changes in the spoken and written style of the language. The general standard of spoken Thamizh especially in public speeches improved very much. True to the pattern set up by the leaders, speakers became very proficient in employing rhymes (எதுகை) and alliterations (மோனை) which improved the overall quality of the speeches. Regardless of their political affiliations, people thronged to listen to the flamboyant speeches made in these public forums.
There was also a profound change in the literary format of Thamizh. The Thamizh people were more than willing to adopt themselves to new situations. They seem to have lived up to their reputation in following the rules of n^annUl (நன்னூல்) in this regard. The following lines mean that 'the old order changeth yielding place to new':
Up to this point in Thamizh history, the literary policies adopted by scholars over centuries were, in general, restricted to the following objectives: a) stipulating grammatical rules governing literature, b) imparting moral or ethical instructions and religious teachings and c) conveying spiritual or philosophical messages.
With the advent of political freedom and industrial and technological developments, changes in life styles and social orders became inevitable. The impact of western civilization brought in by the audiovisual media, fast jet travels and computers had also exerted its influence on people and their thinking. The traditional practices within the family system leading to the suppression of individual liberties were questioned. All sections of the community, quite justifiably, demanded a fair share of the gains made in social developmental plans.
These are the circumstances which caused a change in the literary policy from moral or religious instruction to social reforms. The main theme of the literary works at the present time is therefore social reforms in its various dimensions. The salient features of changes in literary formats in the three branches of Thamizh (இயல், இசை, நாடகம்) are discussed below.
12.2. Literature (இயல்)
12.2.1. Kavithai (கவிதை)
From the Sangam period, the bulk of Thamizh literature consisted of the poetic format (கவிதை), though the literary policy (பொருண்மை), format (வடிவம்)and expression (வெளியீடு) varied from time to time and between authors. It is fair to say that, in spite of the tremendous depth and literary beauty of the Sangam works, the authors frequently got carried away and expressed themselves at a high level. Ordinary people who did not possess an adequate background in literature were not in a position to appreciate the niceties of the poems. The result was that literary pursuits ended up being the domain of a select group of Thamizh elites.
The short format of poems in simple style introduced by SubramaNiya BhArathiyar (சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியார்) prompted others to develop this style further.These efforts ultimately resulted in a style referred to as, 'puthuk kavithaikaL' (new poems) (புதுக்கவிதைகள்).Many people found the style of the puthuk kavithaikaL appropriate and adequate for their purpose. The literary policy of the puthuk kavithaikaL was essentially the discussion of contemporary social and political issues. Following the footsteps of SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr, several authors were involved in popularizing the puthuk-kavithaikaL. The most well known and highly regarded authors in this respect are BhArathi DhAsan (பாரதிதாசன்), KaNNa DhAsan (கண்ணதாசன்) and n^Amakkal rAmalingam PiLLai (நாமக்கல் இராமலிங்கம்பிள்ளை).
220.127.116.11. BhArathi DhAsan (பாரதிதாசன்)
Kanaka Suppurathinam (கனக சுப்புரத்தினம்) (1891-1964), a native of Pondicherry (புதுச்சேரி) was an ardent follower of MahA Kavi SubramaNiya BharathiyAr's literary style and social policies. His high devotion to BhArathiyAr prompted him even to change his name to BhArathi DhAsan (பாரதிதாசன்), follower of BhArathi) to reflect his adoration of the great poet. Because of his revolutionary ideas regarding the eradication of religious superstitions and social discriminations and the use of pure Thamizh, he was referred to as Puratchik Kavignan (புரட்சிக்கவிஞர்). The following poem by n^Amakkal Kavignar rAmalingam (நாமக்கல் இராமலிங்கம்பிள்ளை) explains the literary policy of BhArathi DhAsan. "BhArathi DhAsan considered service to Thamizh as his mission in life; save the purity of his mother tongue; lead a virtuous life; change the idiosyncrasies arising from old traditions; and use new formats to convey revolutionary ideas."
Elaborating further on his concept of new formats, BhArathi DhAsan explained his position as follows: "I am not against the great grammatical texts, TholkAppiam and n^annUl; While we should thank them for their guidance over the centuries, we would be doing a big disservice to these two great works if we do not come with new works to replace them; indeed it would be a blow dealt to our literary personalities."
Like so many other social reformers, BhArathi DhAsan desired that his society did not lag behind others in the march of progress. With this in mind he suggested that other aspects should be considered in the formulation of new literary policies.
"Let us translate all the books in all the disciplines in the whole world into Thamizh so that our youngsters do not depend on others for updating themselves; let us not divert the beauty of Thamizh only for religious teachings; let us have free libraries all over the place; we have wasted several generations talking about the glory and superiority of Thamizh but never bothered to remove our drawbacks."
The similarities between BhArathi DhAsan and his peer, SubramaNiya BhArathi in their literary and social policies are striking as can be seen from the following poem. "We should write Thamizh books in a simple style so that everyone can understand; new grammar books have to be written; we have to coin new terminology for all the new developments taking place all over the world and use illustrations to explain them in the beautiful Thamizh language; if any Thamizh student is illiterate due to financial constraints, let us feel ashamed and do something about it."
The other issue on which BhArathi DhAsan stood firm is relevant today and pertains to the inability of many Thamizh people to speak or write Thamizh without mixing words from English or other languages. Along with MaRai Malai atikaL (மறைமலை அடிகள்) and SUrya n^ArAyaNa SAstrikaL (சூர்ய்நாராயணசாஸ்திரிகள் = பரிதிமால்கலைஞன்). BhArathi DhAsan was a strong proponent of the Pure Thamizh Movement (தனித் தமிழ் இயக்கம்). In the following poem he said:"We call our restaurants as clubs in English and cloth shops as 'silk shops' in English; in the streets of Thamizh n^Adu there is everything else except Thamizh".
Despite these persuasive appeals from distinguished authors of our own generation and the tremendous efforts of the government in fostering Thamizh language, it is indeed a paradox
Whether this pathetic situation has resulted from an inability or unwillingness of the elites to speak in our mother tongue or whether it is born out of a desire to express their proficiency in English and emulate other cultures in the name of modernism or whether it is the impact of the medium of instruction in the general educational system is a matter for serious consideration by everyone concerned.
At any rate the time and energy spent in coining new Thamizh equivalents for highly technical English words that are emerging almost on a daily basis are not likely to yield the desired solution. For this purpose transliteration would be more than sufficient. Students studying the technical subjects in Thamizh would be able to compete with others in the international arena. It would be better to spend these efforts in inculcating a sense of pride in our literary heritage in the minds of students, educationists, journalists and officials.
Along with so many social reformers of his time, BhArathi DhAsan was a revolutionary keen on introducing changes in the Thamizh language. He was also deeply concerned about the outmoded social traditions that needed to be eradicated. In the following poem he expressed his frustrations when young girls could not marry some one they love but had to marry according to the social customs and traditions. He cursed the society responsible for this pathetic situation.
New horizons in Thamizh literary policy
Like MahA Kavi SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr, (Namakkal) rAmaligam PiLLai belonged to a generation of Thamizh poets who grew up at a time when the struggle for political freedom was in full swing. People in different walks of life, endowed with talents in different disciplines were heavily influenced by GAndhiji's idealism and social and moral philosophy; these patriots developed deep convictions about the supreme value of freedom and were willing to make any sacrifice for the sake of achieving freedom for their country. The non violent approach advocated by GAndhiji appealed to them as the best tool at their disposal to defy the super power.
The need to address the social problems which deplorably persisted in the society for centuries (uplift of women, education of masses, eradication of poverty, untouchability, religious exploitations and superstitions) was felt as urgent as never before. n^Amakkal rAmalingam PiLLai's literary policy was a bold and courageous bid to bring out these problems to the attention of the Thamizh people. In recognition of his literary genius as well as his contribution to the society, he was made the first poet-laureate of Thamizh n^Adu and given the title "n^Amakkal Kavignar" (நாமக்கல் கவிஞர்).
In fact his first claim to fame came from the following poem in which he exhorted Thamizh people to join GAndhiji in his non violent struggle against Britain which did not involve the sword or blood:
His love of Thamizh was as deep as his thirst for Indian independence. In an excellent summary of the literary achievement of the Thamizh people over the millenniums, n^Amakkal Kavignar used a simple style in the following poem to inspire them to stand by GAndhiji's nonviolent struggle.
n^Amakkal Kavignar painted a brilliant and moving account of various social events and turmoils, which occurred during the development of Thamizh in the following poem. He stressed the need to recognize the purpose of why all these sacrifices were made and appealed to the Thamizh people that now was the time to stand behind the nonviolent movement of GAndhiji.
n^Amakkal Kavignar took tremendous pride in describing the glory of Thamizh as could be seen in the poem below. Among other things he praised the Thamizh people belonging to different religions living in peaceful coexistence.
n^Amakkal Kavignar's similes are simple but unique in their expressions. In all his literary works, patriotic and social messages are always beautifully woven into the main theme. This is clearly seen in one of his famous works, avanum avaLum (He and She), (அவனும் அவளும்) . He first described the heroine as follows: "One cannot compare her to a deer because the deer has always a puzzled look (மருளுதல்) ; one cannot compare her eyes to those of a fish because fish do not have very black eyes; one cannot compare her to honey because even honey tends to become insipid; one cannot compare her forehead to a crescent moon because the rest of her face is not as dark as the moon".
More importantly he presented the heroine as a modern girl who fought for the freedom of women and for the removal of old traditional practices which put them down. He also made his heroine champion the cause of remarriage of widows and crusade against child marriage. In a style characteristic of a social reformer, he made his heroine condemn men who talked about the chastity of women while they themselves committed adultery.
n^Amakkal Kavignar's work is a nice blend of simple but touching literary style intended to expose social problems which have long been neglected. It is difficult to describe how deeply n^Amakkal Kavignar was devoted to GAndhiji and his teachings. The following is an example of his feelings:
In addition to several lyrical and narrative poetry, n^Amakkal Kavignar had also written an autobiography, "en Kathai" (என் கதை).
18.104.22.168. KaNNa DhAsan (கண்ணதாசன்)(1926-1981)
KaNNa DhAsan's given name was A.L. MuthiAh. He was one of the most popular contemporary Thamizh poets. When he applied for his first job, the interviewer asked his name. Not willing to tell his real name, he said spontaneously that his name was KaNNa DhAsan, which stuck with him for the rest of his life.
During his professional career as a Thamizh poet, he had spanned the entire gamut of political, social and religious ideologies. This is why one could observe such wide differences in his literary themes and philosophy depending upon at what point in his life the works were written. It is hardly possible to encounter any Thamizh poet whose interests ranged from over indulgence in the sensual pleasures of life, through social and political reformatory zeal to religious sublimation at the end.
The six volumes of KaNNa DhAsan KavithaikaL (கண்ணதாசன் கவிதைகள்) cover a variety of topics in which the social and political issues of the twentieth century are depicted with absolute frankness and in an extremely simple but stimulating manner. The first three volumes deal with his interactions with political peers and mentors such as PeriyAr E.V.rAmasAmi n^Aickar (பெரியார் இராமசாமி நாயக்கர்) and C.N.aNNAthurai (அண்ணாதுரை) and his involvement in the anti-Hindi movement. The other volumes give a completely different picture of the author, probably as the result of his own disillusionment with the establishment of the day. KaNNa DhAsan's literary works will be remembered by folks and elites for his appealing style and exposition of social issues, which unfortunately earned him as many enemies as friends. This disenchantment can also be discerned in his work from time to time.
KaNNa DhAsan's works are replete with mOnai (மோனை) alliteration and ethukai (எதுகை) rhyme. In mOnai, the letter which begins each line should begin at least one other foot (சீர்) in the line. In the following poems, examples of mOnai created by the appropriate sounds (ஒலியன்கள்) of letters are shown:
The ethukai (எதுகை) is placed at the beginning of the line and refers to the identity of the second letter. The following example is typical of KaNNa DhAsan's literary style, in which the grammatical beauty is graced with meaningful choice of words (சொல்லாக்கம்):
The word VaNNam (வண்ணம்) refers to beauty in Thamizh literature. This may be accomplished in several ways; one is to repeat the same letter(s) repeatedly in every line. An example follows:
To enhance the vaNNam, KaNNa DhAsan used the same word repeatedly in each line. The poem was sung in praise of KAmarAja n^AdAr (காமராஜ நாடார்) and the word (நாடார்).
The manner similes were handled differently by different poets in Thamizh literature has been pointed out throughout this monograph. KaNNa DhAsan used the word, (போலவும்) as the (உவமை உருபு) in the following poem:
It is indeed unfortunate that in most literary discussions due importance had not been given to the significant role of the cinemas in the development of Thamizh literature. It has to be recognized that, at a time when imitation of the music of other countries was not considered a virtue, many Thamizh poets did succeed in composing poems with an unmistakable indigenous flavor. The insight into these poems was relevant to the social context with which ordinary people could identify themselves.
In this respect KaNNa DhAsan along with others did a yeoman service to the cause of Thamizh by enhancing the level of music appreciation by the populace. Corroborating with his efforts were other artists who set the tunes and yet others who sang them so beautifully that these songs always remained green in our memories. The test of time is probably the best yardstick for the quality of one's literary efforts ! For example, who can forget the following lyrics , the products of the cinemas ?
In the following song from the film, PAva Mannippu (பாவ மன்னிப்பு), KaNNa DhAsan described the qualities of the heroine by combining the literary grace through alliterations (மோனை) with incredible similes drawn exclusively from the Thamizh cultural environment. Perhaps this is one of the best examples of the beauty of puthuk kavithai (புதுக் கவிதை).
Having shown that the classical literary brilliance of Thamizh could be expressed in film music, KaNNa DhAsan communicated with the rural folks at their level. The manner in which the lyrics of the following song was received by the people at large illustrates two points:
KaNNa DhAsan's religious equanimity is revealed by the fact that he transcribed the Bible into Thamizh (இயேசுகாவியம்) an outstanding effort on the part of one who was reared in a Hindu tradition. Besides the literary skill required for undertaking a project of this magnitude, the complex task was further confounded by the need to present the facts through diligent study of the holy Scripture and discussions with the scholars at the church. The following two verses depict his efforts to present the Bible as outpourings of a Thamizh mind:
KaNNa DhAsan's contributions to Thamizh literature and culture will always be appreciated by all who love Thamizh. He died in Chicago in 1981.
Other leading contemporary Thamizh poets who have contributed significantly to the advancement of Thamizh literature include Kavi MaNi DEsikavin^AyAkam PiLLai (கவிமணி தேசிகவிநாயகம் பிள்ளை), SutthAnan^tha YOgi (ச.து. சுத்தானந்தயோகி), VANi DhAsan (வாணிதாசன்), PeriyasAmi ThUran (பெரியசாமிதூரன்), Kampa DhAsan (கம்பதாசன்), Chithambara raghun^Athan (சிதம்பர ரகுநாதன்), MEthA (மேத்தா), MIrA (மீரா), Kavignar VAli (கவிஞர் வாலி), Kavignar Vaira Mutthu (கவிஞர் வைரமுத்து) and others. Space does not permit a detailed discussion on these eminent poets and their literary works.
Very recently Kavignar VAli (கவிஞர் வாலி) has written the story of rAman using the puthuk kavithai (புதுக்கவிதை) style under the heading (அவதார புருஷன்). An example of how appealing the puthuk kavithaikaL can be, is illustrated in the following poem in which Kavignar VAli describes the scene when Hanuman met SIthai in the asOka vanam (அசோகவனம்):
12.2.2. Prose (உரைநடை)
The bulk of Thamizh literature was in the poetic format with rigid grammatical guidelines till SubramaNiyaBhArathiyAr (சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியார்) came into the picture. With the the shift in the emphasis from moral and religious subjects to discussions on social and political issues in the early twentieth century, BhArathiyAr, with his revolutionary attitude demonstratedthat the prose format of communication with the masses was not only easy but also very effective. Thispaved the way for the publication of an enormous amount of material in the prose format (உரைநடை). To facilitate discussion, the prose works may be grouped into essays (கட்டுரைகள்), fictions (கட்டுக்கதைகள்), (novels) and short stories (சிறு க்தைகள்) and commentaries (உரை நூல்கள்). For detailed information on individual works, the exhaustive review of Zvelebil (1995) may be consulted.
a) Essays (கட்டுரைகள்)
Included in this category are literary (இலக்கிய), religious (சமய), political (அரசியல்), social (சமூக), travel (பிரயாண), or scientific (விஞ்ஞான), essays, autobiographies (சுயசரிதை), biographies (பிறர் சரிதை), journalism (செய்திவிமர்சனம்), political satires (அரசியல் நையாண்டி), and monographs (தனித்தொகுப்புகள்).
A noteworthy feature of the Thamizh literary development in the twentieth century is the presentation of materials using formats used in international journals. These efforts were facilitated by the establishment of research institutions with the mandate of conducting research exclusively on various aspects of the language and culture. The International Institute of Thamizh Studies at Chennai is an example of the progress in this direction. Besides research publications (~rayfcfcikf kdfDArkqf) this agency provides facilities to enable visits by foreign scholars and infusion of new concepts.
As indicated earlier, the commentaries on the Thamizh classics were in the poetic form and were frequently more difficult to understand than the originals themselves. This problem was addressed by several modern scholars by providing commentaries on old classics (இலக்கியக் கட்டுரைகள்). The Sangam classics have been subject of several critical commentaries. The literary contributions of R.rAghava iyengAr (ரா.ராகவ ஐயங்கார்) (1870-1948) and M. rAghava iyengAr (மு.ராகவ ஐயங்கார்) in this research field are very significant.
Excellent commentaries on SilappathikAram (சிலப்பதிகாரம்) were written by outstanding scholars such as T.P.MInAtchi sun^tharan, (டி.பி..மீனாட்சி சுந்தரன்), M.P.SivagnAnam (ம.பொ.சிவஞானம்), M.VaradharAjan (மு.வரதராஜன்) N.SanjIvi (என்.சஞ்சீவி) and MArkaban^dhu Sarma (மார்கபந்துசர்மா).
Commentaries on ThirukkuraL were written by K.A.P. Viswan^Athan (கே.ஏ.பி.விஸவநாதன்), Thiru V.KalyANasun^tharam (திரு வி.க.), n^Amakkal Kavignar, BhArathi DhAsan (பாரதிதாசன்), M.VaradharAjan (மு.வரதராஜன்), Kalaignar KaruNAn^ithi (கலைஞர் கருணாநிதி), ouvvai (ஓளவை) DuraisAmi (துரைசாமி) and others.
Kampa rAmAyaNam was another classic on which many commentaries are available: T.K.Chithambara n^Atha MuthaliyAr (தி.கே.சி),. K.V. JagannAthan (கி.வ..ஜகன்னாதன்), Pi. Sri. (பி.ஸ்ரீ), A. SrinivAsa rAghavan (அ.சீனிவாசராகவன்), and A.S.GnAnasampan^than (அ.ச.ஞானசம்பந்தன்) and others.
b) A unique feature of the modern era is the publication of autobiographies (சுயசரிதை) by leading Thamizh scholars. The well known works in this series are the ones by Dr.U.V.SAmin^Atha iyer (என்சரித்திரம்), n^Amakkal Kavignar (என்கதை), Thiru Vi. Ka. (திரு வி.க.) (வாழ்க்கைக் குறிப்புகள்) and T.S.S.rAjan (நினைவு அலைகள்).
c) Biographies (பிறர்சரிதை) of noteworthy Thamizh scholars and social leaders have also been published. M.P.SivaGnAnam's (கப்பலோட்டிய தமிழன் & வீரபாண்டிய கட்ட பொம்மன) inculcated a sense of pride among Thamizh people about their heritage. Dr.U.V.SAmin^Atha iyer, (உ.வே.சுவாமிநாத ஐயர்), a pioneer in the field, wrote a biography of his mentor, MInAtchi sun^tharam PiLLai (மீனாட்சி சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை). This proved to be a cultural liaison between two generations of Thamizh scholars.
The literary research contributions of R.P.SEthup PiLLai (ரா.பி.சேதுப்பிள்ளை) (1896-1961,ஊரும்பேரும்) and S.VaiyApurip PiLLai (எஸ.வையாபுரிப்பிள்ளை) (1891-1956) serve as authoritative resources which are used by other scholars for reference. Other well known authors include: PaNdithamaNi KathirEsan ChettiAr (பண்டித மணி கதிரேசன் செட்டியார்) (1881-1953), VEnkatasAmi n^AttAr வேங்கடசாமி நாட்டார் (1884-1944), Va.Vu.Ci. (வ.உ.சி), K.SubramaNiya PiLLai (கா.சுப்பிரமணிய பிள்ளை), ( 1888-1945) and others.
d) The advent of the jet age and the migration of Thamizh professionals to different parts of the world opened up another interesting venue of literary pursuit, the travelogue (பிரயாணக் கட்டுரை). The travelogues were extremely useful not only from an educational point of view but also in exposing the Thamizh people to different cultures around the world.
Thanks to these pioneers, Thamizh language and culture, which were up to this point restricted to the Asian subcontinent made their presence felt in the international scene. Chief among those who succeeded in broadening the horizons of the fellow Thamizh people with their penmanship were C.SubramaNiyam (சி.சுப்பிரமணியம்), MaNian (மணியன்), N.D.Sun^daravadivElu (நே.து.சுந்தரவடிவேலு), A.K.ChettiAr (ஏ.கே.செட்டியார்),(1907-1967), MEry MAsilAmaNi (மேரி மாசிலாமணி), SOma Le (சோம. லெ. நெற்குப்பையூரினர்) and others.
e) Another significant change in the literary history of Thamizh is the beginning of the era of fictions (கட்டுக்கதைகள்) either in the form of short stories (சிறுகதைகள்) or full length novels (நவீனம், நாவல்) in the prose style. The introduction of the short story format to Thamizh literature may be ascribed to Beschi's ParamArttha Kuruvin kathai (பரமார்த்த குருவின் கதை). V.V.S.Iyer (வ.வே.சு.ஐயர்) is credited with popularizing the short stories in Thamizh with his own characteristic style ( குளத்தங்கரை). SubramaNiya BhArathiyAr used the short story format for conveying his socio-political views. In the twentieth century, C.VirutthAsalam using the pen name of Puthumaip pitthan (புதுமைப்பித்தன் - அரசமரம்சொன்னகதை) provided the impetus for the popularity of short stories.
Other leading writers in this field were C.rAjagopAlAchAriAr (rajaji), K.V.JagannAthan (கி.வ .ஜகன்னாதன), MahADhEvan (தேவன்) and others.
12.2.3. Novels (நவீனம், நாவல்)
It may not be exaggeration to state that the most widely read Thamizh books at the present time would be the novels. To do full justice to the discussion of all the works under this heading would require a separate work devoted exclusively for the purpose. A brief summary of some works is therefore given below. Authors of the earlier centuries proved that they did have vivid imagination and a tremendous ability to express the the same in poetic Thamizh. Their scope was, however, limited to painting descriptions of landscape, romantic love between the hero and heroine with probably a friend in the middle and adoration of Kings or patrons for their valour or nobility. Alternatively religious or philosophical ideas were dealt with very seriously. The popularity of the prose style of writing coupled with the exposure to English literature for a couple of centuries prompted Thamizh writers to follow the format of the novels in Thamizh.
In essence, the novels involved a number of fictional characters who interacted with one another in a variety of romantic, social or personal relationships. Usually the stories take many twists and turns depending upon the imaginative and descriptive capacity and fantasy of the authors. Frequently the author keeps in mind a real person's adventures as a model but camouflages the names and places with fictitious ones. Modern Thamizh writers have successfully exploited the novel format to depict social or political problems (சமூகநாவல்கள்) or to overlay the personal lives of historical figures (சரித்திர நாவல்கள்). Novels were also used to display human emotions and behavioral patterns under different social circumstances. Mystery novels (துப்பறியும் நாவல்கள்) in which the reader is prompted to solve a crime or some other undesirable event, after being presented with a number of clues have also become very popular.
22.214.171.124. Tamil Novelists
Early novelists in Thamizh literature include the following:
126.96.36.199. R.KrishNamUrtthi (Kalki) (கல்கி)
Kalki may be regarded as a pioneer in the field of historical novels in Thamizh literature. With his inimitable descriptive style reminiscent of the English author, Walter Scott, Kalki had a tremendous capacity to take the readers back into the point and time in history when the story is supposed to have taken place. To make it more realistic, Kalki built his stories around real historical figures based on research materials found in rock inscriptions and brass plates. These stories came out in a series in a weekly magazine, (கல்கி) and some may even remember how family members used to vie with one other to read the magazine first as soon as it was delivered.
Kalki's description of the landscape and social conditions portrayed the Thamizh region exactly the way they were at the time of the story. The characters in the story and the individual traits they represented lived up to their image consistently throughout. The romantic interludes were handled with finesse and grace and would be a good lesson to anyone interested in writing about love at its deepest level. The clash of human emotions and interactions and the religious sectarian tendencies which prevailed at the time flashed before the eyes of the reader. Indeed the historical details in Kalki's novels were presented in such a way that one learnt more about the history of the Thamizh region by reading Kalki's novels rather than through formal courses at school !
In his biography of Kalki's life (போன்னியின் புதல்வர்) Sun^tharam (சுந்தா) epitomized the feelings of several readers with the following poem wherein he stated that the characters in Ponniyin Selvan (பொன்னியின் செல்வன்) would be lingering in their memories for a long time:
12.2.4. isait Thamizh (இசைத்தமிழ்)
188.8.131.52 Sangam Period
Since ancient times the Thamizh people regarded music as highly as their literature and believed that all other arts and science were derived from the primordial n^Atham (நாதம்). To mark every occasion from birth, lullaby (தாலாட்டு), through activities kummi (கும்மி), kOlattam (கோலாட்டம்), to death, oppuvari (ஒப்புவரி), traditional lyrics with appropriate music are still in vogue.
References are found in the earlier Sangam Thamizh texts to the importance given to music. Several musical treatises of the Sangam period : isai n^uNukkam, (இசை நுணுக்கம்); Pancha Marabu, (பஞ்ச மரபு) had been lost. Kalit thokai (கலித்தொகை) and ParipAtal (பரிபாடல்) are known for their musically sounding verses (துள்ளல் ஓசை, கலி பரிபாட்டு) as shown in the following line from ParipAtal where the enjoyment derived from music and drama is expressed - பாடல் ஓர்ந்தும் நாடக நயந்தும்.
The classification of habitats into five divisions (திணை) in TholkAppiam had already been discussed. Besides the flora and fauna of these habitats, the social and cultural characteristics had also been described. The state of development of music during this period could be appreciated by the details given to the PaN (பண்), rAgam, the musical instruments uniquely employed and the time of the day when the paN should be sung. For example, KuRinjip paN, (குறிஞ்சிப்பண்) is sung at midnight using the kuRinji yAz,(குறிஞ்சி யாழ்) and the percussion instrument, the paRai (பறை).
The dance performed is called kuravaik kUtthu (குரவைக்கூத்து). Mullaip paN, (முல்லைப்பண்) is sung in the evening to the accompaniment of the percussion instrument, Eru kOt paRai (எறுகோட்பறை) , the dance performed is Aycchiyar kuravai (ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை). Maruthap paN, (மருதப்பண்) is a morning rAgam; marutha yAz, (மருதயாழ்) is used for this purpose with the accompaniment of the more sophisticated percussion instrument, the muzhavai (முழவை). n^eithal paN, (நெய்தற் பண்) is sung at night using the viLari yAz, (விளரி யாழ்) ; the instruments used are the n^Avai (நாவை) and Pampai (பம்பை) . PAlaip paN, (பாலைப்பண்) is sung at noon using the koRRavai pAlai yAz, (கொற்றவைப் பாலையாழ்) to the accompaniment of thuthi (துதி). The following song describes the maruthap-paN being sung in the morning:
The bard was called PANan (பாணன்) and his wife was known as PAtini (பாடினி). ViRaliyar (விறலியர்) were the dancing girls. Both stringed instruments, harps, (பெரியயாழ், சிறிய்யாழ், மகர யாழ், சடகோப யாழ், செங்கோட்டு யாழ்) and wind instruments, flute, (குழல்) were used. The big yAz having many strings is played by PerumpANar as indicated below:
The sophistication of the Thamizh music system appears to have reached a peak during the SilappathikAram period. But for the incredible amount of technical details given by iLangO atikaL (இளங்கோ அடிகள்) in SilappathikAram, we may not even be aware today that a highly developed system was in vogue during the first few centuries of the Christian era. Probably this musical system should have been in existence for a while before iLangO atikaL's time for him to dwell at length on the intricacies of the music in the chapters on arankERRu KAthai (அரங்கேற்று காதை) and Aycchiyar kuravai (ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை).
One of the difficulties encountered in this regard is the fact that the subject is highly technical and falls in a gray area between Thamizh literature and music. To those of us brought up in specific fields of specialization, it is difficult to imagine the breadth and depth of knowledge of the Jain monk who was able to crystallize these technical details of the music in his literary work! The fact remains that the details given by iLangO atikaL remained concealed in verses, until atiyArkku n^allAr (அடியார்க்கு நல்லார்) deciphered the technical details of the music in his commentaries which, in their turn, are also difficult to interpret.
The credit for popularizing the technical details of the Thamizh classical music in SilappathikAram goes to Dr. S.rAman^Athan (எஸ். ராமநாதன்) who during the course of his doctoral thesis, explained the details of the music in simpler terms and how it related to the present system in practice. Though it is recognized that the paNs are the forerunners of the rAgams used now, it appears that the pioneers of the system, which people of Thamizh origin can be justifiably proud of, have not been given the credit they richly deserved. Therefore, at the risk of digression, I have made an attempt to summarize the salient features of classical Thamizh music. I was prompted to do more by an eagerness to emphasize the importance of a neglecteted subject matter rather than by own expertise on the subject.
Thamizh classical music described in SilappathikAram was based on logical, systematic and scientific calculations and was incorporated into the literary epic using the arrangements of the dancers on the stage to represent the notes and paNs. The words, azhaku (அழகு) and mAtthirai (மாத்திரை) refer to musical pitch (சுரம்) or the smallest fraction of an audible sound distinguishable by the human ear. The term, kOvai (கோவை) or kELvi (கேள்வி) is a particular type of a musical sound (note, tone) (நரம்புகள்) which constitute the scale (பாலை).
a) Development of scales (பாலை) from notes.
The Thamizh people first developed the pentatonic scale, mullaip paN (முல்லைப்பண்), using the five notes, (ச, ரி, க, ப, த, ச) (equivalent to the English notations,C,D,E,G,A,C respectively) in the ascending (ஆரோசை) and descending (அவரோசை) scales. Dr.rAman^Athan was the first to demonstrate that these scales of the mullaip paN corresponded to the rAgam, MOhanam (மோஹனம்) which is said to the oldest scale ever developed. In mullaip paN the notes are harmonic to the fullest extent and are therefore found in many other musical systems prevalent in the eastern hemisphere.
b) Development of septatonic notes
By the addition of two more notes, ma and n^i (ம, நி) to the pentatonic scale of mullaip paN, the fundamental septatonic scale of Thamizh music, SempAlai (செம்பாலை) was developed. SempAlai corresponds to HarikAmbOdhi (ஹரிகாம்போதி). The seven basic notes (நரம்புகள்) are developed into 12 houses (பன்னிரு வீடுகள், பன்னிரு நிலம்) or svarasthAnams, which correspond to the 12 signs of the zodiac (இராசிகள்).
The total number of alakukaL (அலகுகள்), sruthis, according to the above scheme comes to 22 (4+4+3+2+4+3+2=22). There is controversy among experts whether this should be 24 or 22.
Next, by the model shift of the tonic (பண்ணுப்பெயர்த்தல்) using the process of the cycle of fifth or cycle of fourth (குரல் திரிபு), five semitones (அந்தர கோல்கள்) were developed. By the cycle of fifth is meant the calculation of every fifth note. For example, if the cycle is started with kural (குரல் - ச), the fifth note will yield iLi (இளி - ப), the sa-pa relationship. In the cycle of fourth, kural (sa) will give uzhai (ma), the sa-ma relationship. These five semitones were added to the original 7 notes giving 12 notes (கோவை, சுரம்) of the ancient Thamizh musical octave. Among the 12 notes, the flats were called kuRai (குறை) and the sharps were called n^iRai (நிறை).
The above 12 panniru vIdukaL (பன்னிரு வீடுகள்) sometimes get 16 svara names with the addition of four more svara varieties (shatsruthi rishabam, suddha ghandhAram, shatsruthi dhuvaitham and suddha n^ishAdham). The 72 mELakartha schemes of rAgams which are used now are built on this principle. In SilappathikAram, the 12 notes and the corresponding signs of the zodiac are represented by the dancing girls arranged in a circle called vattap pAlai (வட்டப்பாலை)
It is indeed amazing that many of the mELakartha, parent, (மேளகர்த்தா)and janya, derived, (ஜன்ய) rAgams used at present can be obtained from the basic scheme of vattap pAlai through the modal shift of the tonic. For example, the ri, ga, ma, pa and dha of SankarAbaraNam (சங்கராபரணம்) would yield the mELakartha rAgams, Karaharapriya (கரகரப்ரியா), ThOdi (தோடி), KalyANi (கல்யாணி), HarikAmbOthi (ஹரிகாபோதி) and n^atabairavi (நடபைரவி) respectively.
In consideration of the tremendous original contribution of the ancient Thamizh people to the development of isait Tamizh, the least we can do to recognize their efforts is to present their ideas in a simple form which can be understood by ordinary people. Mere references to mutthamiz (முத்தமிழ்) alone is not adequate to convince the world that Thamizh music traditions go way back to the fifth century A.D. or even earlier. The need of the hour is for scholars proficient in the subject matter to take up the technical aspects of music and explain the details with reference to the present time. In the Appendix the construction of the vattap pAlai (வட்டப்பாலை) and its application in the derivation of janya rAgams from mElaKartha rAgams are given following the examples of Dr.S.rAman^Athan.
c) Origin of paNs
Making use of the vattap pAlai and appropriate modal shifts of tonic (அகநிலை & புறநிலை மருதம்), the ancient Thamizh people produced four major paNs with four divisions in each (நாற்பெரும் பண்களும் நால்வகை சாதிகளும்).The four major paNs are as follows:
1. PAlai yAzh (பாலை யாழ்). This represents sempAlai (செம்பாலை) in which the scale starts from mInam (மீனம்) where thAram (n^i) yields uzhai (ma) (உழை).
2. KuRinji yAzh (குறிஞ்சி யாழ்). The scale starts from thulAm (துலாம்) where uzhai (ma) (உழை) gives kural, sa, (குரல்).
3. Marutha yAzh (மருத யாழ்). The scale begins from idapam (இடபம்) where kural (Sa) yields iLi (pa) (இளி).
4. n^eithal yAzh (நெய்தல் யாழ்).The scale starts from thanusu (தனசு) where iLI (pa) (இளி) projects forth thuttham (துத்தம்) ri.
The derivatives of the major scales are called thiRam (திறம்). PaNs have ascending and descending scales of 7 notes in each, ArOsai (ஆரோசை அல்லது ஆரோகணம்) and amarOsai (அமரோசை அல்லது அவரோகணம்) (sexta tonic, 7+7); paNNiyal (பண்ணியல்) with 6 notes (septa tonic, 6+6), thiRam (திறம்) with 5 notes (hepta tonic, 5+5 ) and thiRat thiRam (திறத்திறம்) with 4 notes, 4+4 or various combinations (quadruple tonic).
A total of 103 paNs has been defined and characterized for their musical attributes. The elaboration of paN is called ALatthi (ஆளத்தி அல்லது ஆலாபனை) and definitive procedures have been outlined for the proper singing or paNs. The paNs are sung in 3 octave ranges, the lower (மெலிவு அல்லது மந்திரம்), ma, pa, dha, n^i, middle (சமண் அல்லது மத்திமம்), sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, n^i and high (வலிவு அல்லது தாரம்), sa, ri, ga. A few examples of the rAgams which correspond to the paNs are given below:
Panchamam (பஞசமம் = ஆஹிரி); Pazham Panchuram (பழம் பஞ்சுரம் = சங்கராபரணம்); MEharAhk-kuRinchi (மேகராகக்குறஞ்சி = நீலாம்பரி); pazhanthakka Ragam (பழந் தக்கராகம் = ஆரபி) KuRinji (குறிஞ்சி = மலஹரி); n^atta RAgam (நட்டராகம் - பந்துவராளி); inthaLam (இந்தளம் = நாதநாமக்ரியா); ThakkEsi (தக்கேசி = காம்போதி); Kausikam (கெளசிகம் - பைரவி); NattappAdai (நட்டப்பாடை = கம்பீ நாட்டை).
184.108.40.206. Thamizh Music in ThEvAram (தேவாரம்) period
The leadership provided by iLangO atikaL in outlining the details of the scientific basis of Thamizh music in SilappathikAram was unfortunately not followed by the authors of the later epics. Perhaps they were more interested in propagating their religious faith rather than getting involved in the details of an art which they did not understand. May be that they were simply not interested in the technical details of the music or dance. Therefore the revival of Thamizh music had to wait for 2 or 3 more centuries until the protagonists of the Saivaite and VaishNavaite traditions came into the picture and incorporated the ancient paNs into their Bhakthi movement to sway the people into their folds.
The contributions of the Saivaite doyens (சைவசமயக் குருவர்கள்) in using the ancient paNs for their devotional ThEvAram poems and those of the AzhvArkaL (ஆழ்வார்கள்) in their Thivyap prabhan^tham poems were mainly responsible for the renaissance of the Thamizh music system. In fact the only relics of our musical heritage that had survived till today is the ThEvAram and Thivyap Prabhan^tham music.
The role of the OthuvAr (ஓதுவார்கள்) in transmitting the ThEvAram paN singing methods over generations and nurturing this great tradition had been the singular redeeming feature in an otherwise declining interest in our ancient musical tradition.
Initially ThEvAram (தேவாரம்) poems were classified on the basis of the paNs used into 7 ThirumuRaikaL (திருமுறைகள்); the first three by Thiru GnAna Sampan^thar (திருஞானசம்பந்தர்); four to six by Thirun^Avuk karasar (திருநாவுக்கரசர்) and the seventh by Suntharar (சுந்தரர்).
In the first ThirumuRai, Sampan^thar used the following 7 paNs: n^attapAdai (நட்டப்பாடை), Thakka rAgam (தக்கராகம்), Pazhanthakka rAgam (பழந்தக்கராகம்), ThakkEsi (தக்கேசி), KuRinji (குறிஞ்சி), ViyAzhak kuRinji (வியாழக்குறிஞ்சி), and MEhaRAhak kuRinji (மேகராகக்குறிஞ்சி). In addition to the paNs, the rhythms ,santham, (சந்தம்) were also specified using words such as thAna (தான), thana (தன) thAnA (தானா) and thanA (தனா). The 8 different types of santhams used in the first ThirumuRai are shown below:
Six paNs were used in the second ThirumuRai and they are: inthaLam (இந்தளம்), SIkAmaram (சீகாமரம்), Piyanthaik kAn^tharam (பயிந்தைக்காந்தாரம்), n^atta RAgam (நட்டராகம்) and Sevvazhi (செவ்வழி).
Nine paNs were used in the third ThirumuRai : KAn^thAra Panchamam (காந்தார பஞ்சமம்), Kolli (கொல்லி), kollik KauvANam (கொல்லிக்கெளவாணம்), Kausikam (கெளசிகம்), Panchamam (பஞசமம்), SAdhAri (சாதாரி), Pazham Panchuram (பழம் பஞ்சுரம்), PuRa n^Irmai (புறநீர்மை) and an^thALik KuRinji (அந் தாளிக்குறிஞ்சி).
Thirun^Avuk karasar and Sun^tharar have used 10 and 17 paNs respectively in their ThirumuRaikaL. KAraikkAl ammaiyAR (காரைக்கால் அம்மையார்) has used the paN, in^thaLam (இந்தளம்) in her MUttha Thiruppathikam (மூத்ததிருப்பதிகம்).
220.127.116.11. Impact of Thiruppukazh (திருப்புகழ்) on isait Thamizh (இசைத் தமிழ்)
With the decline in the momentum of the Bhakthi movement launched by the Saivaite and VaishNavaite saints, there was a general decrease of interest in the musical component of the ThEvAram and Thivya Prathhan^tam poems. The singing of the ThEvArap paNs, however, continued to be under the tutelage of the OthuvArs (ஓதுவார்கள்), who maintained the musical traditions in a hereditary manner till the present time. This trend continued for several centuries until the San^thak kavi aruNakiriyAr (சந்தக்கவி அருணகிரியார்) (15th century) came up with his reverberating Thiruppukazh filled with divine inspiration, appealing music and incredible rhythm.
The unique style of aruNakiriyAr wherein he incorporated the thALams right into the lyrics added a new dimension to the magnificence of isait Thamiz. Thus Thiruppukazh helped the revitalization of Thamizh music at least a few centuries prior to the musical trinity, ThiAgarAjar (தியாகராஜர்), MuthuswAmi DIkshitar (முத்துசுவாமி தீஷிதர்) and SyAmA SAstry (சாமசாஸ்திரி).
Though many Thiruppukazh songs were lost or allowed to decay, a few individuals in the 19th century Mazhavai MahAlinga iyer (மழவை மகாலிங்க ஐயர்), ThiruvUr SubbarAya MuthaliyAr (திருவூர் சுப்பராய முதலியார்), Pushparatha Chetty (புஷபரதசெட்டி) and SubramaNiya Pillai (சுப்பிரமணிய பிள்ளை) made painstaking efforts to collect whatever materials were available from various sources and got them published periodically.
A recent doctoral thesis by ankayaRkaNNi (அங்கயற்கண்ணி) to the University of Madras contains fascinating details on the thALam and santhak kuRippukaL (சந்தக்குறிப்புகள்) in Thiruppukazh, which any student of Thamizh music and literature will find extremely useful and interesting. Certainly the author deserves credit for her original contributions to a subject matter lying in the interface between literature and music.
18.104.22.168 Other contributions to isait Thamizh (தமிழ் கீர்த்தனைகள்)
a) After aruNakiriyAr's time, no spectacular development of Thamizh music took place due to a large number of social and political factors including the lack of patronage. However a few outstanding individuals have composed Thamizh kIrtanais (கீர்த்தனைகள்) which are still popular among music lovers.
b) Muthut thANdavar (மூத்துத்தாண்டவர்) (16th century). He had composed more than 60 kIrthanais and 25 pathams (பதம்) in Thamizh. He is highly regarded for his efforts to popularize Thamizh music. Among his compositions are the following: (தெருவில் வாரானோ என்னைச் சற்றே திரும்பிப்பாரானோ (கமாஸ), அருமருந்தொரு தனிமருந்துண்டு அம்பலத்தில் கண்டேனே (மோகனம்)
c) aruNAchala Kavi (அருணாசலக்கவி)(1712-1779) His rAma n^Ataka KIrthanai (ராமநாடகக் கீர்த்தனை) is popular even at the present time. His compositions are sung in almost every music concert today. These include:
d) MArimutthA PiLLai (மாரிமுத்தாபிள்ளை) was a contemporary of aruNachala Kavi and a devotee of Thillai n^atarAjar. His songs which are still popular in music and Bharatha n^Attyam concerts are:
e) GOpAlakrishNa BhArathi (கோபாலகிருஷண பாரதி) (1800-1895) He was a contemporary of the great ThiAgarAjar (தியாகராஜர்) and had composed a large number of Thamizh songs including the famous n^an^than Saritthira KIrthanaikaL (நந்தன் சரித்திர கீர்த்தனைகள்). His other popular compositions are:
f) Kavi Kunjara BhArathi (கவிகுஞ்சர பாரதி) (1826-1889) His famous work is the azhakar KuRavanji (அழகர் குறவஞ்சி), a dance drama. Others who have written a large number of Thamizh songs include: GhAnam KrishNa Iyer (கானம் கிருஷ்ண ஐயர்) noted for his patham (பதம்) (வேலவரே உமைத் தேடி ஒரு மடந்தை (பைரவி), n^Ilakanta Sivan (நீலகண்டசிவன்குழல்) whose songs are still popular hits in music concerts.
The Thamizh poets of the twentieth century who have made tremendous contributions to Thamizh music include: KOtIswara iyer (கோடீச்வர ஐயர்), MutthiAh BhAgavathar (முத்தைய பகவதர்), MAyUram Viswan^Atha SAstri (மாயூரம் விஸ்வநாத சாஸ்திரி), PApanAsam Sivan (பாபநாஸம்சிவன்), SuddhAnan^tha BhArathi (சுத்தானந்த பாரதி), PeriaswAmi ThUran (பெரியசுவாமி தூரன்), ambujam KrishNa (அம்புஜம் கிருஷ்ணா) and others.
g) Though the Thamizh people deserve much credit for preserving their literary (இயல்) heritage including the grammatical usage for two millenniums, the same thing cannot be said of their efforts in safeguarding their musical traditions. In fact, but for some extraordinary, nay desperate attempts on the part of a few dedicated Thamizh lovers, many today would not even be aware that a highly developed system of Thamizh music system was in vogue during the first few centuries of the Christian era. Whether this pathetic situation arose due to highly technical nature of the classical music being confined to a small circle of royalty and social elites or due to vested interests in the social hierarchy of the time is only of academic interest.
The generosity of philanthropists led by RajAh Sir aNNAmalai ChettiAr (ராஜா சர் அண்ணாமலை செட்டியார்), the political leadership of R.K.Shanmugam ChettiAr (ஆர்.கே. சண்முகம் செட்டியார்), and C.N.aNNathurai, the literary caliber of n^Amakkal Kavignar rAmalingam PiLLai, YOgi SutthAnan^tha BhArathi (யோகி சுத்தானந்த பாரதி) and BhArathi DhAsan (பாரதிதாசன்), the academic strength of n^Avalar SOmasun^thara BhArathi, (நாவலர் சோமசுந்தர பாரதி), T.P.MInAtchi sun^tharan (பேராசிரியர் மீனாட்சிசுந்தரன்), M. VaradharAjan (மு.வரதராஜன்), A.K. Chithambara n^Athan ChettiAr (ஏ.கே. சிதம்பரநாத செட்டியார்) and L.P.K.rAman^Athan ChettiAr (லெ.ப.கரு.ராமநாதன் செட்டியார்), ViyApurip PiLLai (வையாபுரிப் பிள்ளை) and the patronage of a large number of Thamizh lovers, too numerous to be mentioned individually made the birth of the Thamizh isai Sangam possible.
Leading musicians, HarikEsanallur MuthiAh BhAgavathar (ஹரிகேசநல்லூர் முத்தையா பாகவதர்),ChitthUr SubramaNiya PiLLai (சித்தூர் சுப்பிரமணிய பிள்ளை), M.M.DhandapANi DhEsikar (தண்டபாணி தேசிகர்), Mathurai SOmasun^tharam (மதுரை சோமசுந்தரம்), SIrkAzhi GOvindarAjan (சீர்காழி கோவிந்த்ராஜன்) and others nurtured the activities of the Thamizh isai Sangam by demonstrating that the singing of Thamizh compositions in major music concerts was aesthetically very satisfying and meaningful. The outcome of the efforts of these and other large number of Thamizh lovers too numerous to be mentioned individually is that isait Tamizh received a big boost and remains as a viable force in the twentieth century. Dr. rAmanAthan's PaN research is being followed by a large number of scholars and musicians.
12.3. The Stage, n^Atakat Thamizh, (நாடகத் தமிழ்)
Of the three divisions of Thamizh literature (முத்தமிழ்) the one which had undergone radical changes in its format and contents since ancient times is the Stage n^Atakat Thamizh,(நாடகத்தமிழ்) As in so many other facets of their literary pursuits, the ancient Thamizh people had stipulated specifications for the physical set up of the stage (அரங்கு, அவை).ThiruvaLLuvar has used the analogy of people thronging to the stage and disappearing as soon as the dance is over to emphasize the fleeting nature of wealth.
The stages were used for different types of dances (கூத்து) specific for the regions, e.g., Aychiyar Kuravai (ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை) Kuravaik kUtthu (குரவைக்கூத்து), KoRRavaik (கொற்றவைக்கூத்து) The dances were, in essence an enactment of mythological legends. They were also used for conveying thanks to the deities for good rains and crops or paying homage to the valour or patronage of Kings and chieftains. iLango atikaL (இளங்கோ அடிகள்) had portrayed various kinds of dances performed in the different regions (திணை) in several chapters (அரங்கேற்று காதை, வேனிற்காதை, ஆய்ச்சியர் குரவை)
The dancers for whom dancing was a hereditary avocation were called ViRaliar (விறலியர்) and KUtthar (கூத்தர்).. The singers who accompanied them were called PANar (பாணர்). Even at this early point in history, there was a distinction between the high form of dancing performed before the elites and those meant for the recreation of the rural folks (வேடுவ வரி). When the Bhakthi movement was at its peak, stories pertaining to the godheads were played on the stage. Up to the medieval period, the Thamizh stage was used mainly as a forum for dances. This tradition continued till the 18th or 19th century when dance dramas; rAma n^Atakam -
were performed on the stage. Other kinds of dance dramas included the PaLLu n^Atakam (பள்ளு நாடகம்) which is the dance drama performed by those in the agricultural sector describing themes specific to agrarian conditions e.g., MukkUdal paLLu (முக்கூடற் பள்ளு)by ennayinAp pulavar (என்னயினாப்புலவர்), n^ondip paLLu (நொண்டிப் பள்ளு) by MArimutthup pulavar (மாரிமுத்துப்புலவர்) is a humorous political satire.
With the arrival of the Europeans into the subcontinent, the definition of 'stage' began to assume a different meaning. By this time, Shakespearean plays became popular throughout the English speaking world. Following this trend, Thamizh authors began to imitate English poets (Shakespeare, Sheridan) in writing plays in verses involving fictional themes and characters. Sun^tharam PiLLai's (சுந்தரம் பிள்ளை) ManOnmaNiam மனோன்மணியம் made history in this regard, though the play was difficult to enact as a play on the stage. Pammal Sampan^tha MuthaliyAr (ப.சம்பந்த முதலியார்) considered to be the doyen of the Thamizh stage, wrote the famous play, ManOharA(மனோகரா), which later appeared as a film with SivAji GanEsan (சிவாஜி கணேசன்) playing the role of ManOharan. Sampan^tha MuthaliyAr was the founder of the SuguNa VilAs Sabha (சுகுணவிலாஸசபா) which fostered the growth of the Thamizh stage in the years to come.
Others who have made tremendous contributions to the Thamizh stage in recent times include: NawAb rAjamAnickam (நவாப் ராஜமாணிக்கம்). T.K.S. Brothers (டி.கே. எஸ. சகோதரர்கள்), R.S.ManOhar (ஆர்.எஸ. மனோகர்). ChO rAmasAmi (சோ ராமசாமி), K.A.ThangavElu (கே.ஏ. தங்கவேலு), SivAji GanEsan (சிவாஜி கணேசன்), S.V.SEkhar (எஸ.வி.சேகர்) and many others. Several Shakespearean plays and Sanskrit dramas were translated into Thamizh and readers interested in additional details would find a series of very interesting articles in "The Heritage of the Thamizh people" published by the International Institute of Thamizh Studies (1983).
The introduction of the cinemas in the third decade of the twentieth century brought about some remarkable changes in the field of n^Atakat thamizh. Though the stage is still surviving with expositions of plays with mythological, social, historical or political themes, the films are now dominating the scene. The film industry has become one of the most powerful and influential industries in Thamizh n^Adu. Many estimates indicate that more films are made in Thamizh n^Adu than in many parts of the world.
The growth of the film industry with reference to the literary contents has been reviewed (திரை வளர்ந்த விதம்). In addition to providing a huge industrial base and job opportunities to a large number of talented artists, the film has become a very powerful medium for the propagation of social, educational and political messages which the previous generations were unable to accomplish. The free flowing literary prose style introduced by C.N. aNNAthurai (அறிஞர் அண்ணாதுரை) and M. KaruNAn^ithi (கலைஞர் மு.கருணாநிதி), the brand of lyrics popularized by BhArathi DhAsan (பாரதி தாசன்) and KaNNa DhAsan (கண்ணதாசன்) aptly supported by the histrionic talents of N.S. KrishNan என்.எஸ.கிருஷணன்), SivAji GanEsan சிவாஜி கணேசன்) and M.G. rAmachandran (மக்கள் திலகம் எம்.ஜி.ஆர்.)and the musical expertise of T.M. Soun^dararAjan(டி.எம். செளந்தரராஜன்) and P.SusIlA (பி.சுசீலா) are some of the more memorable milestones of the film industry.
In order to document properly all the actors, directors, musicians, and technicians who have made significant contributions to the development of the film industry, it is necessary to devote a book exclusively for the purpose. It is gratifying to note that critical analyses of the literary style used in the mass media have been the subject of several doctoral theses in many Indian and foreign universities (ArOkian^Athan, 1982).The advent of high technological innovations, the impact of western culture and the increase in the migration of people from the rural to the urban centers are to a large extent responsible for the radical changes in the format and content in the films one encounters today. In the assimilation of these modern concepts, one would hope that our own cultural identity which has survived for centuries upto this time is not surrendered.