Sangam Lit

Sangam Lit

Puranaanooru 83 – A mind split into two

January 16, 2023

In this episode, we perceive passion in a lady’s heart, as portrayed in Sangam Literary work, Puranaanooru 83, penned about the Chozha King Poravai Kopperunarkilli by the poet Nakkannaiyaar. Set in the category of ‘Kaikilai’ or ‘Inappropriate love’, the verse intrigues us with its hues of inner life.

அடி புனை தொடுகழல், மை அணல் காளைக்கு என்
தொடி கழித்திடுதல் யான் யாய் அஞ்சுவலே;
அடு தோள் முயங்கல் அவை நாணுவலே;
என் போல் பெரு விதுப்புறுக என்றும்
ஒரு பாற் படாஅதாகி,
இரு பாற் பட்ட இம் மையல் ஊரே!

We continue along in this series of songs celebrating this Chozha king Kopperunarkilli. However, this verse is different from the other preceding verses celebrating the king’s victory or strength. Let’s listen to what this female poet has to say:

“Seeing the young, bull-like man with warrior anklets on his feet and a kohl-hued beard, my bangles slip away, thus making me scared about mother; Although I desire to embrace his shoulders that attack the opponent, I feel shy about the presence of those in the assembly. Like me, let it always tremble, unable to take a side, this confused town, split into two.”

Time to delve into the nuances. The poet starts by talking about how she was enamoured at the sight of this young king with his face covered in a thick, black beard and feet wearing warrior anklets. An obvious side-effect of her emotions was the slipping away of her bangles, and this apparently made the poet so much worried about her mother’s reaction. At the same time, she wanted to embrace the brave shoulders of the fighting warrior but was much embarrassed by the crowd in the assembly. At this moment, she curses the town, now split into two sides, to be forever distress like herself, unable to choose a side.

Why is the town split into two? The answer to that could be in the events transpiring there! As we saw in a few poems earlier, this is ‘Aamoor’, the seat of the battle of two kings. Perhaps that town was unable to decide whom to support and that’s the slice of outer life this poet uses to weave in her inner emotions. Speaking of which, the highlight of this verse is the open expression of emotions by a woman towards a man, regardless of whether it was considered proper or not. The acceptance of this emotion as natural is evidenced by the fact that we find this poem being accorded a place in this anthology of ‘Puram’ poems. Such creative expressions of emotions are always the right outlet, demonstrates this verse from the past!