It is a treatise on kingship: what a king should be, how he should act, how he should treat his subjects and how he should show his generosity. The Purananuru is one of the eight books in the secular anthology of Sangam literature. The secular anthology is entirely unique in Indian literature, which nearly all religious texts during this era. The Purananuru contains poems of varying lengths in the akavalmeter.
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The collected poems were composed by poets, of which 14 are anonymous and at least 10 were poetess. The Purananuru anthology is diverse. Of its poems, praise 43 kings — 18 from the Chera dynasty present day Kerala , 13 Chola dynasty kings, and 12 Early Pandyan dynasty kings. These panegyric poems recite their heroic deeds, as well as another poems that recite deeds of anonymous heroes likely of older Tamil oral tradition.
The Purananuru is the most important Tamil corpus of Sangam era courtly poems,  and it has been a source of information on the political and social history of ancient Tamil Nadu.
According to Hart and Heifetz, the Purananuru provides a view of the Tamil society before large scale Indo-Aryan influences affected it. The Purananuru poems use words, phrases, and metaphors that suggest the ancient Tamil society interacted with other parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Examples include references to the Himalaya of "immeasurable heights", Shiva, Vishnu, four Vedas, Ramayana, rivers and other aspects. Among the eight Sangam anthologies, Purananuru and Pathitrupathu are concerned with life outside family - kings, wars, greatness, generosity, ethics and philosophy. There are poems in Purananuru including the invocation poem.
Each poem measures anywhere between 4 and 40 lines. Poems and are lost, and some of the poems exist only in fragment. The author of 14 poems remain unknown. The remaining poems were written by poets. The oldest book of annotations found so far has annotations and commentary on the first poems.
The commentator Nachinarkiniyaar, of the eleventh — twelfth century Tamil Nadu, has written a complete commentatry on all the poems. Not food is the soul of life Nor water is the life's soul It is the king who is the life of this wide expanse of the earth Therefore this is the duty of the kings with armies stocked with mighty spears: To know: I am the soul!
The Purananuru poems deal with the puram aspect of the Sangam literature, that is war, politics and public life. Many poems praise kings and chieftains. Some of the poems are in the form of elegies in tribute to a fallen hero. These poems exhibit outpourings of affection and emotions. Purananuru is notable for three features: the king and his believed powers over the climate and environment rains, sunshine, successful crops , the ancient Tamil belief in the power of women's purity, namely karpu chastity , and the ancient system of caste kuti, kudi that existed in Tamil kingdoms independent of any Indo-Aryan influence from north India.
According to Hart and Heifetz, the Purananuru content is organized in the following way poem sequence number in brackets :  . There seems to be some definite structure to the order of the poems in Purananuru. The poems at the beginning of the book deal with the three major kings Chola , Chera and Pandya of ancient Tamil Nadu.
The final portion deals with the general scenery of war and the effect of warfare. Just as the akam subjective poems are classified into seven thinais or landscapes based on the mood of the poem, the Tamil prosodical tradition mentioned in the ancient Tamil grammatical treatise Tolkappiyam also classifies puram objective poems into seven thinais based on the subject of the poems. These are vetchi, when the king provokes war by attacking and stealing the cattle of his enemy; vanchi, when the king invades the enemy territory; uzhingai, when the king lays a siege of the enemy's fortress; thumbai, when the two armies meet on a battlefield; vaakai, when the king is victorious; paataan, when the poet praises the king on his victory; and kanchi, when the poet sings on the fragility of human life.
The Purananuru does not, however, follow this system. The colophons accompanying each poem name a total of eleven thinais. From the subject matter of the poems they accompany, each can be said to represent the following themes: .
The Kaikkilai and Perunthinai are traditionally associated with akam poetry. In Purananuru, they occur in the context of the familiar puram landscape of warfare.
Thus songs 83, 84 and 85 are classified to belong to the kaikkilai thinai , which denotes unrequited love, and describe a noblewoman's love for King Cholan Poravai Kopperunarkilli.
Similarly, songs to are classified as perunthinai or perunkilai thinai , which denotes unsuitable love, and deal with King Pekan's abandonment of his wife. Pothuviyal is described in commentaries as a general thinai used for poems that cannot be classified in any other manner but, in the context of Purananuru , is used almost exclusively for didactic verse and elegies or laments for dead heroes.
Purananuru songs exhibit a unique realism and immediacy not frequently found in classical literature. The nature and the subject of the poems lend us to believe that poets did not write these poems on events that happened years prior, rather they wrote or sang them on impulse in situ. Some of the poems are conversational in which the poet pleads, begs, chides or praises the king.
One such example is poem The poet Kovur Kizhaar address the Chola king Killivalavan to save the lives of the children of a defeated enemy who are about to be executed by being trampled under an elephant. Have pity on them…" The almost impressionistic picture the poem paints cannot be anything but by someone who is witness to the events present in the poem. The second poem by Mudinagarayar addresses the Chera king Uthayan Cheralaathan and praises him for his feeding the armies at the Kurukshetra war.
This is an obvious anachronism suggesting a king of the early common era Tamil country had a role to play in a mythological battle of the Mahabharata epic. Based on this one poem, there have been attempts at dating the Purananuru poems to around BCE or older. Each Purananuru poem has a colophon attached to it giving the authorship and subject matter of the poem, the name of the king or chieftain to whom the poem relates and the occasion which called forth the eulogy are also found.
It is from these colophons and rarely from the texts of the poems themselves, that we gather the names of many kings and chieftains and the poets and poetesses patronised by them. The task of reducing these names to an ordered scheme in which the different generations of contemporaries can be marked off one another has not been easy. To add to the confusions, some historians have even denounced these colophons as later additions and untrustworthy as historical documents.
A careful study of the synchronisation between the kings, chieftains and the poets suggested by these colophons indicates that this body of literature reflect occurrences within a period of four or five continuous generations at the most, a period of or years. There have been unsuccessful attempts at dating the poems of Purananuru based on the mention of the mythical Mahabharata war.
A more reliable source for the period of these poems is based on the mentions one finds on the foreign trade and presence of Greek and Roman merchants in the port of Musiri poem , which give us a date of between BCE to CE for the period of these poems. This is further strengthened by the mention of a reference to Ramayana in poem , and a reference to Maurya in poem , which indicates a late date of about BCE.
A combination of these two considerations would indicate a composition date range during the BCE century. The poem makes the analogy of a poet receiving royal gifts and that worn by the relatives of the poet as being unworthy for their status, to the event in the Ramayana, where Sita drops her jewels when abducted by Ravana and these jewels being picked up red-faced monkeys who delightfully wore the ornaments. Swaminatha Iyer CE resurrected the first three epics and Sangam literature from the appalling neglect and wanton destruction of centuries.
The Sages To us all towns are one, all men our kin, Life's good comes not from others' gifts, nor ill, Man's pains and pain's relief are from within, Death's no new thing, nor do our bosoms thrill When joyous life seems like a luscious draught. When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft Borne down the waters of some mountain stream That o'er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain Tho' storms with lightning's flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain. Thus have we seen in visions of the wise! We marvel not at the greatness of the great; Still less despise we men of low estate.
Kaniyan Pungundranar , Purananuru, Translated by G. Pope , In sport I moulded shapes of river sand, plucked flowers to wreathe around the mimic forms: in the cool tank I bathed, hand linked in hand, with little maidens, dancing as they danced!
A band of innocents, we knew no guile. I plunged beneath th' o'erspreading myrtle's shade, where trees that wafted fragrance lined the shore; then I climbed the branch that overhung the stream while those upon the bank stood wondering; I threw the waters round, and headlong plunged dived deep beneath the stream, and rose, my hands filled with the sand that lay beneath!
Such was my youth unlesson'd. Those days of youth, ah! I now with trembling hands, grasping my staff, panting for breath, gasp few and feeble words. And I am worn and OLD!
Thodithalai Vizhuthandinar, Purananuru, Translated by G. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I am the soul Not food is the soul of life Nor water is the life's soul It is the king who is the life of this wide expanse of the earth Therefore this is the duty of the kings with armies stocked with mighty spears: To know: I am the soul!
See also: Tamil history from Sangam literature. Main article: Ramayana in Tamil literature. A Social History of Early India. The Journal of Asian Studies. Cambridge University Press. Kuppuswami Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. Narayanan Indian Journal of International Law. Springer Science. Columbia University Press. George Hart; Hank Heifetz New York: Columbia University Press.
Kovaimani and P. Nagarajan Tanjavur: Tamil University. Mudaliyar, Singaravelu A. Pillai, M. Purnalingam Tamil Literature. Asian Educational Services. Ray, Himanshu Prabha The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. Retrieved Kamil Zvelebil
The collected poems were composed by poets, of which 14 are anonymous and at least 10 were poetess. The Purananuru anthology is diverse. Of its poems, praise 43 kings — 18 from the Chera dynasty present day Kerala , 13 Chola dynasty kings, and 12 Early Pandyan dynasty kings. These panegyric poems recite their heroic deeds, as well as another poems that recite deeds of anonymous heroes likely of older Tamil oral tradition. The Purananuru is the most important Tamil corpus of Sangam era courtly poems,  and it has been a source of information on the political and social history of ancient Tamil Nadu. According to Hart and Heifetz, the Purananuru provides a view of the Tamil society before large scale Indo-Aryan influences affected it. The Purananuru poems use words, phrases, and metaphors that suggest the ancient Tamil society interacted with other parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Read the ancient Tamil poem that Nirmala Sitharaman quoted on tax policy
She narrated the poem in Tamil first before explaining its meaning in English. But what if the elephant itself walks into the field to eat? It would eat much lesser than it would trample with its foot. The poem dates between the first century BC to the third century AD.
The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom