Ula Ilakkiyam is one of the types of Sittrilakkiyangal in Tamil. From the Sangam period to the present day, references have been made to the characteristics of Ula Ilakkiyam in other works. However, it was during the time of the Pallavas, that the first Ula work was discovered. Nevertheless, the definition and characteristics of Ula literature can be seen even in Tholkappium. Ula Maalai and so on.
Ula literally means Ula Varudal. The hero goes through the town in a procession and the ladies in particular take delight in admiring his manly beauty. Ula can thus be said to be a "public appearance" or a "procession". In ancient times, it was customary for the Lord or the King to appear in a precession on the back of an elephant or horse or in a chariot. He would be followed by different kinds of musicians. As the procession wended its way through the crowds, maidens in the age group of 5 - 40 were believed to fall in love with the hero and dream of being with him. The poet sang in praise of the Lord or the King and His divine attributes as well as the distress of the maidens who fell in love with Him.
Thirukkailaaya Gnana Ula written by Cheraman Perumal Nayanar, is the earliest Ula work available to us. It is also called Aadi Ula and Gnana Ula because it was inaugurated in the Lord's presence.
Kavichakravarthi Ottakkoothar has written three Ula works -- Vikrama Cholan Ula, Kulothunga Chola Ula, and Rajaraja Cholan Ula. These are in praise of a grandfather, father and grandson respectively. Ottakkoothar was the court poet (avaippulavar) during the reigns of the three Chola kings mentioned above. This is said to have been between 1118 and 1173 A.D.
As the poet composed each couplet, it is said that the king Raja Rajan rewarded him with a thousand gold coins. Rajaraja Cholan who ascended the throne in 1146, is believed to have built the Sivan temple at Dharasuram, near Kumbakonam. Hence the place was also called Rajarajapuram during the Chola times. The temple there, contains the idols of the 63 Nayanars as well as that of Ottakoothar. The first half of the Ula work describes the glory of the King and his ancestors, while the latter half deals with the emotions of the maidens who forget themselves while drinking in the King's beauty.
This lesson teaches you what Ula literature is, and all about Rajaraja Cholan Ula, its author and its greatness.