Sangam Lit

Sangam Lit

Puranaanooru 92 – Chatter of a child

January 31, 2023

In this episode, we relish an intriguing comparison, as portrayed in Sangam Literary work, Puranaanooru 92, penned about the Velir king Athiyamaan Nedumaan Anji by the poet Avvaiyaar. The verse is situated in the category of ‘Paadaan Thinai’ or ‘King’s praise’ and echoes a deep truth about reality and perception.

யாழொடும் கொள்ளா; பொழுதொடும் புணரா;
பொருள் அறிவாரா; ஆயினும், தந்தையர்க்கு
அருள் வந்தனவால், புதல்வர்தம் மழலை;
என் வாய்ச் சொல்லும் அன்ன ஒன்னார்
கடி மதில் அரண் பல கடந்த
நெடுமான் அஞ்சி! நீ அருளல்மாறே.

A tiny gem of a song in this series on king Athiyamaan. The poet’s words can be translated as follows:

“It is not like the music from a lute; not in perfect tune with the tenses and not filled with meaning either; Even so, to a father, it sounds like a blessing – that babble of their children. O Nedumaan Anji, the one who has conquered well-protected forts many, my words too are like that to you because of your grace to me!”

Let’s delve into the nuances here! The poet starts by talking about how the prattle of children, with their lisps and incoherent talk, is not like the music of a lute. Also, you will hear them mixing up past and present and making a mess of their tenses. Further, often there will be no meaning in their babble. And yet, in their fathers’ ears, these tuneless, tenseless, meaningless sounds would resound with so much beauty. This is how her own words sound to the victorious king Anji because of his kindness to her, the poet concludes.

The poet is taking on a stance of humility in saying her words are like the chatter of children, and also, it’s only because of the love and kindness in the king’s heart he sees them as beautiful. A timeless truth about perception of a child’s talk lives in these words. Although the poet refers to fathers, perhaps because she wants to stress the father-like affection in the king towards her, it’s true that both to mothers and fathers all over the world, their children’s voices are a treasure and treat. No meaning and no perfection in those young voices and yet the pleasure of hearing them is unmatched! And that’s the simple thought, the poet places at the core of this verse that reveals the beautiful bond that she shared with her patron king!