LESSON - 1

D02121 Puraporul Ilakkanam- General Introduction

    This lesson offers a brief introduction to
Pura Porul Ilakkanam. Tamil grammar is broadly
classified into 5 major divisions - ie the letter (sol),
the word or ezhuthu , content or porul, prosody or
yappu and figures of speech or ani. “Porul” is
the content or the subject of any literary work.
The ethics and codes governing the social and
domestic life of the Tamils is largely the subject
underlying ancient Tamil literature. Tamil grammarians
devised     the     Porul Ilakkanam to codify the
content of poetry.

    Porul Ilakkanam is classified into Aga Porul
Ilakkanam and Pura Porul Ilakkanam. Aga Porul
Ilakkanam relates to poems that speak of the
intangibles of life such as human emotions, love,
separation and marriage. It therefore reflects the
‘agam’ or the inner universe and codifies the
behaviour and moral principles concerning love,
courtship and marriage. Pura Porul Ilakkanam is
based on poems that deal with ‘puram’ or the
external world. It therefore lays down the
codes of conduct pertaining to the various aspects
of public life such as war, monarchy, virtue,
valour, munificence etc.

    Similar to the way in which the inner universe
is divided into 7 ‘tinais’ or modes, Tholkappiar,
the ancient Tamil grammarian, also codified the
behaviour pertaining to the external world into 7
‘tinais’- viz. ‘vetchi’, vanji’, ‘uzhinjai’,
‘ thumbai’,
‘vaagai’, ‘kanchi’ and ‘paadaan’. ‘Pannirupadalam’
was the first grammar text to explain the
various pura tinais. It was composed by the 12
disciples of Agathiyar, including Tholkappiar.Only a
few verses of this text are extant today.
‘Puraporul Venba Malai’ is another grammar
text on‘puram’ written later by Iyyanaarithanaar.
He is said to have lived between the 7th and
the 12th century A.D.‘ Puaporul Venba Malai’
was based on ‘Pannirupadalam’. As no other
grammar text was written on the theme of
‘puram’ after ‘Puraporul Venba Malai’, it is
considered to be the authoritative text on puraporul
ilakkanam. ‘Puraporul Venba Malai’literally means a
garland of verses on ‘pura tinai’ written in a meter
called ‘venba’.

    Although Tholkappiar classified ‘puram’ or the
" external universe into 7 ‘tinai’ or modes,
Iyyanaarithanar who based his text on ‘Pannirupadalam
’,divided it into 12. They are ‘vetchi’ ,‘karanthai’,
‘vanji’, s‘kanchi’,    ‘nochi’,    ‘uzhinjai’, ‘thumbai’,
‘ vaagai’, ‘paadaan’, ‘pothuviyal’, ‘kaikilai’     and
‘perunthinai’. The forthcoming lessons offer a
definition of each ‘tinai’ and examine     the
various ‘thurais’ associated with them . ‘Tinai’
signifies the conduct in domestic or public context
as codified through literary conventions. ‘ Thurai’
denotes the classifications or divisions within
each ‘tinai’. The first 7 ‘tinais’ from ‘vetchi’ to
‘thumbai’ are called ‘pura tinais’, ‘vaagai’, ‘paadaan’
and‘pothuviyal’ are called ‘purapuram’ and the last
two- ‘kaikilai’ and ‘perunthinai’ are called ‘agapuram’.

    ‘Puraporul Venba Malai’ begins with invocatory
verses seeking the blessings of Lord Vinayaga and
Lord Shiva. Following this are 9 verses that
define and explain the first 9 ‘tinais’.The 10th section
is called ‘pothuviyal padalam’. It is divided into 3
chapters namely ‘sirapir pothuviyal’, ‘kanchi
pothuviyal’ and ‘ mullai pothuviyal’. The 11th and the
12th sections deal with the last 2 ‘tinais’- ‘ kaikilai’
and ‘perunthinai’. The book lists 341 ‘turais’. In the
13th or the 14th A.D. Chamundi Deva Nayagar
wrote the commentary for ‘Puraporul Venba
Malai’.