Sangam Lit

Sangam Lit

Puranaanooru 232 – Accepting an offering

September 26, 2023

In this episode, we listen to the lament of a poet, as portrayed in Sangam Literary work, Puranaanooru 232, penned about the Velir King Athiyamaan Nedumaan Anji by the poet Avvaiyaar. The verse is situated in the category of ‘Pothuviyal Thinai’ or ‘Common Themes’ and expresses the helplessness felt at the demise of this king.

இல்லாகியரோ, காலை மாலை!
அல்லாகியர், யான் வாழும் நாளே!
நடுகல் பீலி சூட்டி, நார் அரி
சிறு கலத்து உகுப்பவும் கொள்வன்கொல்லோ
கோடு உயர் பிறங்கு மலை கெழீஇய
நாடு உடன் கொடுப்பவும் கொள்ளாதோனே?

Another song by the poet Avvaiyaar mourning the death of King Athiyamaan. The poet’s words can be translated as follows:

“Let there be no mornings or evenings! Let there be no more days of my life! Adorning the hero stone with peacock feathers, you render unto him well-filtered toddy in small vessels. Will he accept that? For he is the one, who failed to accept an entire mountain-filled nation with soaring peaks many!”

Let’s explore the words of this verse. The poet starts by wishing that there were no more mornings and evenings and no more days in her life. Words that echo the deep sorrow felt by this poet at the loss of her dear friend, King Athiyamaan. Then, she talks about how the people then seemed to adorn the memorial stone of the king with peacock feathers, and then, are seen offering liquor in a small bowl to the king. She turns to them and concludes by asking how the king, who refused to accept an entire nation with peaks when granted to him, would accept this small bowl of offering?

The poem illustrates the practice of installing hero stones or memorial stones, in honour of kings, and how people had the custom of decorating this stone with peacock feathers, and then placing food and drink favoured by the person being commemorated so. In the poet’s words that the king did not even accept a country with soaring peaks, we can sense the anguish she feels at the demise of this king, who has left behind his land with soaring peaks so as to journey to another world. That she feels her life has no more meaning can be seen in her wishing away the days of her life. The loss of a friend is indeed an unbearable burden to be borne by the living!