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Kama Sutra in South India: Ancient Tamil Love Poetry

South Indias Kamam Sutra: Book of Love

Kamam Sutra: Ancient Tamil Book of Love
Pre-Marital Love
Wedding Love
Post-Marital Love
(the above sections include Three Aims of Life
and Sexual Union)
Anthology of Selected Poems with Commentary


Kurinci: Pre-Marital Love...............................................5
The First Meeting of Lovers........................................5
The Second Meeting of Lovers on the Next Day at the
Same Place..............................................................10
The Heros Meeting with Heroine with the Aid of His
The Maid Learning of the Love Affair of the Heroine13
Union through the Aid of the Maid...........................16
Day Tryst.................................................................24
Obstacles to the Day-tryst.......................................28
Obstacles to the Night-tryst....................................33
The heroine and the Maid Talking to Each Other,
Desiring Marriage....................................................36
The Maid Urging the Hero to Marry the Heroine......40
The Heros Temporary Absence from the Heroine. . .43
The Hero Separating from the Heroine in Pursuit of
Wealth for Marriage.................................................46

The first sutra in the IA runs as follows:
"Of the five tinais of love that which is named `kalavu'
is a custom of gandharvas belonging to the eight forms
of marriage for Vedic brahmans this is what wise
poets say."
In the Tamil treatises on poetry the clandestine love of
the heroes is considered along the lines of the Hindu
tradition as one of the so-called "eight forms of
marriage," that is, a marriage according to the custom
of gandharvas (for instance, the marriage of king
Dusyanta and Sakuntala in the drama by Kalidasa).
It is clear, though, that the ancient Tamil canon is thus
introduced into an alien system of conventions.

Some maidens from a mountain hunting tribe of

kuravar go to a field where millet is ripening to shout
and scare away birds and wild animals (a maritime
version of the same situation: fisher-girls are scaring
away birds from the fish). A young man who has been
hunting in the wood comes to the field (the sea-shore
in the littoral version). He is attracted by one of the
maidens, they exchange glances and fall in love with
each other.

It is no coincidence that sex and marriage were

interwoven with seasonal cycles and agricultural
events. This link implies that they are interdependent
and magically reinforce each other in ritual. Thus the

first situation of the kurinci theme, the arrival of young

girls on the millet field, is most certainly ritually

[[ Around the 6th Cent. AD, according to K. V. Zvelebil,

the conception of kalavu pre-marital love' was not only
not honored but also slighted. The venpa quoted as
Preamble of 'One hundred and fifty stanzas on the
garlands of settings', suggests the reason why these
restatements of the ancient akam genre were
composed: obviously, the interest in the old literary
conventions and themes was vanishing and there were
people who even hated and attacked the conception of
kalavu, hence it became necessary to re-emphasize
the ancient message of love.
2 The Sanskrit words and expressions borrowed are
generally found more frequently in the later texts. In
the case of kama (kamam in Tamil), however, it occurs
more often in the earlier texts; on the other hand,
inpam or inpu, a Tamil equivalent of kama, is used
more often in the later texts.
As for the connotations of these words, kamam
denotes love in a broader sense in the earlier texts
than in the later texts. (in Kur 32, for example, the
lovelorn hero says). In the case of inpam, it signifies
pleasure even in the earlier texts, as in kur 120 in
which the hero says.. Regarding the subtle
differences between these words, TP 89 provides us
with an interesting example.
TP 89
Aran, porul and inpam are Tamil equivalents of
dharma, artha and kama respectively, and hence the

best translation of inpam is pleasure [of love]. Anpu in

second line means love, attachment, friendship. Thus,
it means, kama-kuttam which is within the range of
aintinai connected with anpu and which is associated
with inpam, wealth, and dharma; in other words
union/relationship based on kamam is also based on
both sexual pleasure (inpam) and mental attachment
(anpu). Therefore the word kamam in TP and the
earlier potery should not be taken in a narrow and
limited sense.]]

Five Phases of Love
According to the ancient Tamil (akam) poetry, there are
five phases of love, divided into two categories. The
order of these phases corresponds to the course of
love between the hero and the heroine. The five
phases have landscapes associated with them.

Phase of Love






First meeting of lovers

or Place


There secret meetings by


day or night


Stage of


Heroines parents watching

over them



Stage of

Revelation of their secret

love, etc
The themes are mainly same



as Kurinci










Separation in pursuit of


lly night

wealth or reasons of war,





Heroine awaiting heros






Advent of rainy season


when hero is expected to


come back



Heros return journey

Hero leaving his wife



(heroine) for courtesan

tract or



The wifes sulkiness




Hero wishing

l lowland

lly early

reconciliation, etc.


Each phase of love consists of

Kurinci: Pre-Marital Love

The First Meeting of Lovers
As men of sage wisdom find it,
The union of destiny,
rendezvous at the spot of the first meeting,
Union facilitated through the aid of the confidant,
And union brought about through the offices of the
These four situations
And sub-situations ramifying thereto
Constitute the secret love career
That the hero and the heroine are in.
(TP 487)
When he and she see alone,
is the accord
on both sides of the union of love.
(IA 2)
The First Meeting of Lovers1 is the first event among
all the pre-marital love events. It consists of initial
steps, mental union, physical union and the follow-up. 2
Initial Four Steps
In the initial stages of mutual love, (1) the hero and the
heroine first look at each other, (2) the hero has doubt
as to whether the heroine is human or a deity, (3) the
hero realizes from various signs that she is human, and
(4) followed by the mutual understanding of their love
for each other.

These steps deal with reciprocal, pure love and they

are the early stages of mutual love. Till the mutual
understanding of their love takes place, the heros love
could be called one-sided. Pre-marital love should be
clandestine3 (hidden, secret) mutual and reciprocal. It
should not be one-sided, un-reciprocal, or base. It
should not be forced.
The four steps should happen before actual union,
because it is not proper to have sexual union like bulls
without telling sweet words.
Mental Union and Physical Union
In pre-marital love, there are two types of union -mental and physical. The mental union should precede
the physical one.
Men and women could abstain from physical union
because of the woman's or the man's virtues.
Womens Virtues
Womens virtues are timidity, modesty, credulity.
Delicacy was later added4.
Mens Virtues
Mens virtues are dignity and strength of will. Wisdom,
moral firmness, discrimination, and determination were
added later.
Seven Situations of First Meeting

the hero boldly addressing the heroine

drawing her into listening to him
speaking of her graceful features
reading her mind through her smile
bringing his minds anguish to bear on the

manifest show of pain

6. taking his cupid passion home to her, and
7. coming convinced of her love for him

Six Mini-themes
Six mini-themes beginning with the hero touching the
heroine's body5 to ascertain her inclination are also
components of physical union. These mini themes are
also used as sub-themes of a union attained through
the wish of the heroine.

Caressing the heroines limbs

Contriving feigned excuses for the same
Getting close to her
Embracing her
Speaking of her reserve as impediment to union
Expressing regret at the union delayed

Nine Constituents of Physical Union

Physical union constitutes nine components6:

amorous desire;
persistent feel of one for the other;
emaciation of the body;
giving free vent to experiences of pleasure and

5. transgressing the bound of modesty and
6. every object of sight painfully reminding one of
the features of the other;
7. self-forgetfulness;
8. stupor; and
9. death-like anxiety.
Another component was added later-- the meeting of
eyes filled with love. The meeting of the eyes of the
two is the evidence to determine that they are
mutually attached.
Union on the Basis of Love
Various expressions have been used by the
commentators to represent the theme of the first


1. It is a sexual union which takes place due to the

heros and heroines increased desire when they
meet in a lonely place.
2. The meeting takes place due to love impulse.
3. Meeting is the result of passion characterized
by ardent love.
But these traditional renderings stand for a later
connotation of the word kamam, wherein the aspect of
sexual desire (pleasure) inherent in the word is
stressed, under the influence of Jainism, Buddhism,
Brahmanism, etc.7, whereas in the earlier texts, the
term is used in a broader sense in which both aspects
of love, i.e. the mental and the physical one are
equally stressed8. Therefore, the safest way to put it
may be union on the basis of love.
Kama and Rebirth
The notion of karma and rebirth and is explained as
the first meeting of lovers "whose seemingly accidental
meeting has been preordained in earlier lives".
Is the First Union of Lovers Brought about by
The behavioral pattern9 of the hero and the heroine as
reflected in actual poetry makes no suggestion that the
meeting has been prearranged by divinity or been
preordained in earlier lives. The meeting is completely
natural, spontaneous, and accidental. The expression
used in the poems imply a sexual union, but none of
the poems suggests a physical union at the first
What Occurs Afterwards
These situations occur after the first meeting and
sexual union.


Assurance Given by the Hero to the Heroine

Fearing Separation
The 'fear of separation' means both the hero fearing
separation and the hero causing the heroine to fear
separation; in other words, he fearing separation
from her says, I never part from you. I cannot bear
[to live] without you, but his word only arouses her
fear of separation. Then he encourages her, saying
Whenever you want, you may meet me, because my
place is near, and parts from her.
The Hero Feeling Joy in Love at the Parting from
the Heroine after the First Meeting
Hero realizes heroines rareness. Heros feels joy and
confusion on separating from the heroine.
The Hero's Sorrow on Separation from the
Heroine after the First Meeting
Hero says It seems to me like a dream that I have won
But when the hero saw the heroine mingling with her
friends, he doubts whether he has really won her. The
hero contemplates making one of the heroine's friends
his messenger. The hero praises the heroine's nature.
The hero admires one who gave birth to the heroine.
The hero suffers from sleeplessness at night.


The Second Meeting of Lovers on the

Next Day at the Same Place
As men of sage wisdom find it,
The union of destiny,
rendezvous at the spot of the first meeting,
Union facilitated through the aid of the confidant,
And union brought about through the offices of the
These four situations
And sub-situations ramifying thereto
Constitute the secret love career
That the hero and the heroine are in.
TP 487
The hero who thus been united,
In two fashions shall he meet her again,
According to tradition:
A rendezvous arranged by his friends, and
Coming upon her alone without his friend.
It is the second among the four pre-marital love
themes. According to IA, there are two ways of
meeting; the hero having united with her, meets her at
the same place [where they met first] with the aid of
his friend. Alternatively, if the hero is not accompanied
by his friend, he comes alone at the place where they
met first.
As we have seen, a man and a girl meet each other by
chance, for the first time and are attracted to each
other almost at first sight; but they part without telling
each other of their Love or about themselves (their
name, village, etc.). Therefore, the best way, or rather
the only way, for the lovers to meet again is to go back
to the place of their first meeting in the hope that they


may meet again by accident as they did the previous

The author of TP 487 may have interpreted this theme
as represented by actual classical poetry, unlike its
later connotation, in which Love phases, such as the
first meeting by destiny, union of hearts, physical
union, intimate conversation, etc., are all included.
That is why it may have been logically necessary for
him to intervene the second meeting among the love
events in order to inter link them in a serial order.
For later grammarians, on the other hand, it might
have been important to include the second meeting as
a love event not from the logical point of view, but
because TP had prescribed it as one of the four main
events in premarital love, and also because it had been
traditionally admitted as a significant love-event.


The Heros Meeting with Heroine with

the Aid of His Friend
IA 3, TP 487, 99, 180-181
In TP 487, this is referred to as the third main theme of
the four dealing with the pre-marital stage. It is also
regarded as the alternative theme to the previous
The lovesick hero approaches his friend; the friend
asking him about the matter. The hero's replies; the
friend's admonition and the hero's rejection of it. The
friend consents to help him; the friend goes to the
meeting place to see if the heroine is there, he returns
and gives intimation to the hero of the news. The hero
meets and has a union with the heroine. The hero
makes the heroine return to her friends.


The Maid Learning of the Love Affair of

the Heroine
TP 125-126. IA 5-9. Also TP 99, 112, 233
On some occasions, the maid (toli) learns of the
heroine's love affair, and then she always has a part in
the love affair of the hero and the heroine. 10 ( TP 126).
Three Ways
There are three ways in which the maid learns the
heroines love affair (TP 125, IA 7).
1) Learning of the love affair through subtle changes
in the heroine.
2) Learning of it through the hero's approach to the
maid for help.
3) Learning it through the hero's arrival when the
heroine and the maid are together.
Seven Symptoms
The maid learns about the heroine's love affair through
seven kinds of subtle change in her: perfume,
appearance, behavior, food, hiding her deeds, walking
about, and action. There are also other important signs
such as her red eyes or the pallor on her brow the day
after the sexual union.
After the maid, suspecting that the heroine is involved
in a love affair because she has noticed the seven
symptoms, becomes convinced of the fact. She,
without exceeding her limits, probes into the heroine's
heart through both true and fake expressions. (TP 112:
The first phase is 'the hero's approach to the maid for
help', and the next phase is 'the maid learning of their
love affair'. Hereafter, there are some occasions when
the hero beseeches the maid to arrange a meeting, so

that we may tentatively call the entreaty in this

situation, 'the first entreaty by the hero'.
The first entreaty is performed so that "the hero
entreats the maid to intercede, suggesting to her his
intention by asking about the village of the heroine and
the maid, their names, misfortunes, etc. It takes place
when the maid is alone. Or it happens when the maid
and the heroine are together. (TP 99: 11-13)
The hero who discovers a desirable mediator (toli)
wants her to intercede. The hero, taking a garment of
strung leaves with him, visits the heroine and the
maid. And, the hero asks them about their village, etc.
(TP 99: 10-11)
After having united with the heroine at the meeting, he
courteously begs the maid [while she is alone] to
arrange a meeting.
The hero comes, as if he were a stranger [to the
heroine], to where she and her friend are together, and
makes her friend aware of his intention by asking their
village and name, etc. (IA 6). The maid laughs at him
(TP 112: 14-5), realizing his intention.
Thus, in fact, it would seem more convenient for us to
take this as a theme consisting of the following two
1. The maid learning of the heroine's love affair for
2. The maid learning of it only when the hero comes to
her or to the place where she and the heroine are.
However, we still follow the three-fold classification of
this theme, along with its definition, as given above,


because it is the traditional and popular interpretation

of the theme.
In conclusion, we may say: the erudite scholiasts think
that the first meeting takes when the hero and the
heroine are alone, which means that it may have been
necessary for them to institute a phase in which the
maid learns of the heroines love affair. In the poems,
however, the heroine encounters the hero for the first
time when she is accompanied by the maid(s), which
means that the maid has already met the hero and
learned of their love. That is probably why poems
depicting Maid Learning are not prevalent in the early


Union through the Aid of the Maid

TP 487 IAC. 13
Sp Niatickam writes, A series of meetings between
the lovers, will take place after the entry of the
heroine's maid into the scene. The importance and
indispensability of this character can be easily be
gauged from the fact that out of all Kalavu poems in
Sangam literature nearly 95 per cent come under this
category. If we bold the same opinion as TP 487,
which maintains that kalavu consists of the four major
situations, all themes that will be discussed in 6.9-6.15
would fall under this sub-phase.
It seems almost impossible for theoreticians to
describe intelligibly all these themes as sub-phases of
a main situation, since a major part of kalavu poems
fall under the main situation.
Five well-known sub-situations are:
1. The hero entreating the maid to arrange
2. The maid putting off the hero;
3. The hero threatening to mount a horse of
palmyra stems;
4. The maid accepting his entreaty and making the
heroine consent to a meeting;
5. Arrangement of a meeting by the maid and the
actual meeting.
The meeting of the lovers with the aid of the maid
takes place more than once.
The hero entreating the maid to arrange
After having informed the maid of his intentions, he
begs the maid for her help, taking a love-token gift to
the heroine.

There are 32 occasions when the maid speaks during

the pre-marital love stage (TP 112). The contents of
the first 12 lines of the sutra (TP 112) can be
summarized thus:

1-4: seven symptoms through which the maid

learns of the heroine's love affair;

5-6: the maid probing into the heroine's heart to

find out the truth;

7-10: the hero approaching the maid for help;
she tries to turn him back on the pretext of his
honor, the customs of the world, the difficulty of

getting the heroine, etc;

11: the maid referring to the arrangement. of a

12: the actual meeting.

In IA, the process of the love affair is almost the same

as the one mentioned in TP, The hero approaches the
maid while she is alone, or while she and the heroine
are together, and makes her aware of his intention.
The maid learns of the heroine's love affair either
through the hero's approach or because of changes in
the heroine. IA 9 runs, It is not until the hero requests
the maid to arrange a meeting that the maid tells [the
heroine of his request], even if she has learned of the
heroine's love affair. This aphorism corresponds to TP
126, which mentions that the maid tries to help the
lovers only after determining their love in three ways.
Then, in IA 10, the maid making the heroine consent
to a meeting is referred to. Thus, in IA too, the 'first'
entreaty by the hero is directly followed by the first
arrangement of a meeting by the maid.
As a sub-event of the hero's request, the later
grammars refer to a love-token gift he takes with him
on beseeching the maid . The gift can be leaf-garment,
chaplet, pearl, garland, etc., which are different from

the marriage gift (mulai vilai lit. the price of woman's

breasts'). [bride-price -- money presented by the
bridegroom to the bride's mother as compensation for
having nourished her during her infancy.]
'Rejection of the present being a token of his love' is
also referred to as a sub-theme
The maid putting off the hero, who comes for
the first time to request her to arrange a
meeting with the heroine'
The maid tries to turn the man back on the pretext of
his honor, the customs of the world, the difficulty of
getting the heroine, etc.
IA allots a special sutra, adding a few events, like "Go
yourself to her for asking her favor or I do not know
such a lady as you say" to those mentioned in TP.
The sequence of events in IA, however, differs from the
one in TP and AV, as shown by the following gist of IA

IA 5-6: the hero making the maid aware of his

7: the maid's realization;
8-9: the maid's roles;
10, 11: the maid causing the heroine to accept

his request;
12: cEcpapai;
13: supplement on union;
14, 15: revealing the heroines secret love-affair;
16: being watched by the heroine's parents,

which is one of the obstacles in the love affair;

17: missing the sign of meeting, as an obstacle

to love affair
18 two kinds of tryst (during the day and at

19: places for the night trysts;
20: places for the day trysts;
21: supplement for the night trysts;
22: gossip;

23ff.: themes after their love-affair is known to


Nalckirar says, The maid, who caused the heroine to

accept his request and then had the two meet, tells
him of all these [mentioned in IA 12] and urges him
towards marriage" (IA C 12, p. 84). This opinion is also
held by some who define cetpatai as 'Theme of the
companion-maid putting off the lover of her mistress
telling him of the insurmountable difficulties in the way
of his clandestine meetings and urging him to expedite
the marriage".
Thus, there are two kinds of rejection of the hero's
request by the maid: one, represented in TP, AV, and
other grammars, occurs before the first union through
the aid of the maid; another, shown in IA, takes place
after the union.
'the hero announcing to mount a horse of
palmyra stems':
TP 38, 54, 99, 109, IAC 9.
The hero, after revealing the state of his heart to the
maid, approaches her taking love-gifts with him, and
asks her to arrange a meeting with the heroine, but
she rejects his request and in vain he repeats his
request again and again; his sufferings from love
increase, and finally he says to the maid, " I will ride a
palmyra horse" or I will jump into an abyss, then, to
dissuade him, she agrees to his request.
(TP 109) During the meeting, the heroine speaks on
the occasion of:

1-4: seeing him secretly; showing herself;

refusing to yield to him; having yielded and
smiling, etc.;


5: being caught by the arm, with confusion

(shame being extreme);

6-7: fearing separation at a short distance,

neglecting him on his arrival;

8-9 feeling prolonged fear [of another
separation]; in a state of bewilderment during
separation; in a state of ecstasy on reunion with

10-11: concerning the go-between
12-14 being confined in her house; revealing her

secret love to the maid;

15 a man other than the hero corning with it

marriage proposal
16-20 being in distress oh concealing her

sorrowful mind from others;

21-22 hearing of his riding a palmyra horse; the

maid drying tears:

23-24 concerning the dance performed by a
priest to cure the illness of a young lady

possessed by Murugan
25 the hero coming to her parents with a

marriage proposal;
25-26 secret love being known to public; the
heroine's relatives keeping her under

27 ff concerning other events between the

From this, it is easily proved that the events are

arranged basically in the order of time-sequence, and
that the matters concerning matal take place at later
(not in the latest but near the latest) stage of the
kalavu course
TP 99 shows a different procedure on matal.
TP 99
The maid accepting his first entreaty and
making the heroine to long for a meeting
IA C 10 AV 147;

The heroine is induced by the maid to meet him.

Union through the aid of the maid for the first
Unlike other meetings, the meetings through the aid of
the maid take place more than once. In this
connection, Nakkirar mentions that there are three
kinds of meeting with the aid of the maid, which are
the first, the middle, and the last respectively (IAC 13).
The content is detailed as:
1) The maid leaving the heroine to a meeting
place, seeing the hero, and leaving the heroine
at that place;
2) The actual union;
3) After the union, the heroine meeting with the
4) The maid wanting him to come to heroines
In the earliest poems, the physical union takes place in
the pre-marital stage, but not on the day when the
lovers meet each caller for the first time. (see 6.1.2). In
this section, we have cited the poem (Kur 81) which
refers to the lovers' meeting through the aid of the
maid, which results in their first physical union. We
have also cited some texts which mention that the
maid witnessed what happened when the hero and the
heroine met each other by chance (6.1..2).
We now present two possible reconstructions of the
sequence of love events: the first is according to the
later theories such IAC and AV, and the second is the
author's after careful reading of the texts.
According to the later theories like IAC and AV, the
unaccompanied lovers had a sexual union on the day
when they met each other for the first time. Later the

maid became aware of the heroine's love affair -including the sexual union -- from various signs. The
hero approaches the maid, who is the daughter of the
foster-mother of the heroine and her closest, intimate
friend, for help, to arrange a meeting. Then, the 'best
friend', who has already learned of the heroine's love
affair and understood her feelings, refuses the heros
request [disregarding the heroine's wish!] (cetpatai). In
the meantime, the hero threatens the maid whom he
has met for the first time with reference to ME. In the
next phase, the best friend persuades (lit causes)
the heroine to meet the hero, though the heroine has
already been attracted to him since their first chance
meeting, and has met him again on the following day
in the same place as their first meeting; accordingly
she is supposed to desire another meeting with him.
Thus, what the later savants mention about the
sequence of love events appears to be rather
The other reconstruction regarding the sequence of
love events on the basis of what the actual earliest
texts describe appears more plausible. The hero was
attracted to the heroine at first sight when he
encountered her, accompanied by the maid. Days
later, he who may take a love-token gift with him,
approaches the maid, who seems to him to be the best
person as his intermediary, with request for a meeting
with the heroine. Though the maid has learned of the
heroine's love and of her desire to meet him, she
hesitates to arrange a meeting between them, because
she realizes that the meeting would be decisive for
their love-relationship (i.e. they would enjoy the first
physical union). The heroine, who is attracted to him
and eager to meet him again, hesitates out of shame.
Thus, the maid at first refuses the hero's request,
although she later agrees to help him because of his

enthusiasm, and even encourages the heroine to meet

We may reconstruct another sequence of love events
from the poems such as Kur 25 cited in 6.1.2, wherein
the first sexual union is depicted as the union
happening sometime in the earliest stage of love, and
probably without the aid of the maid. Kur. 54 appears
to portray the same kind of the union as kur. 25. In Kur.
54, the heroine says to the maid:
I am here.
My loveliness has perished there
with the man of forests,
where a wild elephant,
frightened by the sound of slings of the millet guards,
lets loose a green stalk of bamboo
so it springs up
like a pole catching fish.
(tr. G. L. Hart, PTA, p. 591)
TP Kalaviyal does not explicitly allude to these
situations and they are not to be depicted in the
earliest poems. Thus we may safely say that these two
situations had not been established when TP K was
This helps to reinforce our hypothesis that TP consists
of several layers, and that. Kalaviyal is a constituent of
the oldest layer while Chapter 8 of TP, in which the
sutra referring to these two situations is included
belongs to the later stratum.
There is a disagreement between the earliest
conventions and the later ones as to whether or not
the meeting always take place through the aid of the
maid. TP 117 runs When the love-meeting needs no
help from others (lit blooms by itself), they

themselves (i.e. the hero and the heroine) would

become messengers, which hints at the possibility of
the meeting without the aid of the maid. According to
TP 118, at such meeting the heroine points out the
meeting place to the hero, which is well-known to her.
Some of the poems cited above also imply meetings
without the intervention of the maid. In IA C and AV, in
contrast with with the earliest conventions, all
meetings occurring hereafter are formulated as PK.
Ananku and Fertility11
Value inherent in woman and necessity to
protect her12


Day Tryst
TP 128, 130, IA 20, IAC 18
According to TP, there are two kinds of lovers'
meetings i.e. meetings that takes place during the
daytime, and those at night.
The erudite scholiasts treat these situation briefly,
although for (or because?) a number of poems depict
them vividly. In this section, our arguments will be
focused on the definition of the term day-tryst, the
place of the meeting, the various roles of the maid and
the tinai appropriate to the day-tryst.
The term day-tryst denotes both the meeting during
the daytime and the place of the meeting.
In almost all colophons (about 100 occasions) it is, the
maid accepting the day-meeting, the maid refusing
the night-meeting, or the maid changing the meetingplace.
As for the place of the day-meeting, TP 130 says that
they say that the place of the day-meeting is 'outside
[the heroine's house], [a place] which is well-known to
the heroine", and this prescription is repeated almost
verbatim in IA 20 and AV37.
TP first refers to the two kinds of meeting (TP 128), and
subsequently to the place of the night-meeting (129)
and of the day-meeting (130). The reason why TP
prescribes the meeting-places in this particular order
may be that the night-meeting occurs within a radius
i.e. within or near the heroine's house (TP129), while
the meeting during the daytime occurs in various
places, and hence the best way for TP to define the
indefinable place of the day-meeting may have been to
prescribe the definable place first and then refer to

the indefinable' place of the day-meeting as outside

that [limited] space.
[[Concerning the order of TP 128 and 129. E. 5.
Varadaraja Iyer mentions., "As night time is eminently
fitted for such clandestine love unions,. Iravukkuri was
placed first" (TPVI, p. 203). However his reasoning is
far-fetched and unsubstantiated, since many poems
describe the day-meeting as we will see later. We
frequently came &croas such opinions as have been
formed without consulting the actual poems.]]
Nakkirar tells us that one day the lovers enjoy their
day-meeting in the hollow of a venkai tree, and
another clay in the hollow of a konkam tree, in the
mountainous region (kurinci), and that they meet in a
grove of punnai trees, etc. in the seashore region
Concerning the roles of the maid under the situation in
question, TP 117-9 implies the probability of the
meeting without the intermediation of the maid, while
Nakkirar, Nampi and the colophon writers maintain
that meeting always takes place with the aid of the
As for the tinai pertinent to pakarkuri, none of the
grammars mentions it as they do the other themes. TP
16 refers to the essential theme appropriate to each of
five tinais as union and related aspects but does not
mention what the related aspects are. Hence, it
remains uncertain to which tinai each specific
aspect/theme such as pakarkuri belongs.
Nevertheless, most modern scholars hold that
pakarkuri is pertinent to kurinci, since they believe that
pakarkuri deals with the union, which is the uripporul


of kurinci. However, as the uripporul of kurinci tinai not

Missing 122, 123

Near the town there is a pond.

And not far from the pond is a small forest river.
Except for a little white heron searching for prey
nothing comes near the grove there.
We will go that place
taking clay for our hair,
and she also will come,
the innocent girl.
(tr. G. hart, PAT, p. 219.)
Judging from these poems describing the place of the
daytime meeting, we can understand why TP had to
prescribe it as outside the site of the heroine's house,
in other words, anywhere except in her house.
In several poems treating pakarkuri (Kur. 25, 54, 299,
Nar 102, Ak 302) it is unclear whether the maid plays
the role of intermediary, but in many other poems, she
is indeed described as intermediary. There is no poem,
in contrast, which explicitly refers to the meeting
without the aid of maid. This may be one reason why
later works such as IAC and AV formulated pakarkuri as
an aspect of pankiyir.
The later grammars represent a few sub-phases of pkk
such as 'the maid telling the hero of the meeting-place'


and the maid taking the heroine to the meeting place

and leaving her there.
Kur 114 gives the appropriate time for pkk, that is
between the [early] afternoon and sun set; this is also
referred to in other poems where this maid mentions to
the hero when the meeting is over, that evening is
approaching, saying, Do stay with us during the night
also (Nat. 215; Ak. 120, 300, 350). It should be noted
that these are all neytal poems.
Thus it is evident that the tinai appropriate to the
theme of is not only kurinci but also neytal. It also
appears that the prescription in the grammars
concerning the appropriate time for kurinci and neytal
is incorrect as far as pakarktiri is concerned; grammars
allot midnight to kurinci and 'sun-set' to neytal, but the
daytime should have been included in the cirlupolutu
of both tinais.


Obstacles to the Day-tryst

In AV, this theme consists of 3 sub-situations (AV 155)
and. of 7 sub-themes (AV 156). The 7 sub-themes are:
(I) the maid telling the hero not to come to the
meeting-place, (2) the maid telling the heroine not to
get to the meeting-place, (3) the heroine bemoaning
having seen the place [where she played with the
hero]. (4) the maid taking the heroine back from the
meeting-place to her village, (5) the hero lamenting on
visiting the meeting-place the following day, (6) the
hero suffering to see the [millet] field without the
heroine, and (7) the hero weeping on seeing the
heroine's village.
We do not know wherefrom Nampi derived these seven
items as obstacles to the day-tryst. Some themes,
which are generally known as the obstacles to the
lovers' meeting, such as gossip (alar), the
confinement of the heroine in her house. and 'the overprotection of the heroine' are treated under the
situation the maid wanting the hero to marry the
heroine and urging him to do so. Hence it is probable
that Nampi collected some minor situation which were
not yet known as obstacles and formulated them as
the obstacles to pkk. We may draw attention to the
similarity between sub-themes (3), (5), (6) and (7) in
AV and the description in TP 105. wherein the failure of
two kinds of meeting (i.e. the meeting during the day
and at night) and their respective sub-phases are
6.11.2.. The situation of the obstacle to the lovers
meeting' enriches the love poetry. However, it is
unclear wheather the situation was originally a solitary
episode (for example, to make emotions of the lovers
more conspicuous), or whether it was the sub-phase of

a situation, mentioned by the savants. Here taking the

theme concerning 'the millet harvest, which is
regarded by Nampi as an obstacle of pukarkuri
(subtheme (6) above), as a sample of our
investigation, we shall examine how the theme is
treated either in the earliest poets or by savants.
Missing 126 - 127

TP 128, 129, IA 19
As in the case of day-tryst, night-tryst is described in
many poems. but it never detailed by the erudite
scholiasts. Hence there are only a few points to he
argued here. We have already discussed the meaning
of the night-tryst in 6.10.1, so we shall now investigate
the place of the meeting at night, the role of the maid
during this particular situation, and the tinai pertinent
to it.
6.12.1 The place of the meeting at night is prescribed
in TP 129, which is usually interpreted as night-tryst
should be at such distance within the premises that the
talk of the inmates will be audible. However, this
interpretation fails to take account of the latter part of
TP 129 which runs, when [the hero] does not enter the
house ... Ilam also elucidates the sutra while
disregarding the same part, .?.Nacc. pays attention to
it and explains the sutra as "the hero does not enter
are [heroine's house in the beginning but after a few
meetings, the lovers become fearless and meet even
in the interior of the house' (TPN131, comm.).
However, as far as the original text is concerned the
proper translation of the sutra may be, if, at night, it is
not possible for the lovers to meet within the house of
lady, the place of their meeting is in a place which is so

close to her house as to be at hearing distance. This

means that Tol regarded the place of the night-meeting
primarily as inside of the heroine's house, and,
eventually, as a place outside but near her house. In IA
19. the meeting-place is defined as it is not beyond
the limit of the house".
Neither TP nor IA refer to the role of the maid in the
night-tryst. According to Nakkirar, the maid speaks on
various occasions during the night-meeting. Nampi
discusses such events as the maid fixing the place and
the sign of the meeting and the maid taking the
heroine to the meeting-place and leaving her alone; it
appears that he considers that the maid fulfils almost
the sane role in the night-meeting as she does during
the day-meeting.
According to Nakkirar, the meeting at night takes place
only after a series of day-meetings (IAC 18).
Grammars, other than TAP and IA, suggest that the
day-meeting precedes the night-meeting by placing
the day-meeting before the night-meeting in their
formulations. TP and IA make no reference whatsoever
to the sequence between these two meetings.
6.12.2. According to the colophons, more than a
hundred poems describe the meeting at night or its
related phases. In fact only a few poems among the
hundred depict the night-meeting (Kur. 268, 312; Ak.
22, 162): the majority deal with the themes related to
it. There are several related themes to be found, such
as 'the dangers along the way by which the hero
comes to meet the heroine at night' (Kur. 88., 141,
268; Nar. 192, 255, 336; Ak. 298; Ain. 282; and others),
'the maid telling the hero not to come via the
dangerous paths (Ak. 318), `the heart of the heroine
having gone out to receive the hero on the dangerous

way' (Kur. 153, Nar 98, Ak. 128), `the hero having
come via such a path and remaining outside the
heroine's house' (Nur, 161), but also the mother sitting
up' (Kur. 353), the girls remaining awake to await the
hero who comes via such a narrow path' (Kur. 138, Nar.
83), the difficulty in the hero's access to the heroine's
strictly watched house' (Nar, 98, Ak, 298), 'the maid
telling the hero to come during the day instead of at
night' (Nar. 151, Ak. 308), 'the maid stopping the hero
from coming at night and urging him to marry the
heroine' (Ak. 12), 'the heroine's distress when the hero
does not visit her at night' (Kur 185), and others.
Thus, there are ample examples which portray the
various sub-situations related to night-tryst but only a
few which describe the actual meeting itself. One
notices that, in contrast with the day-tryst situation,
the great majority of the poems dealing with the
daytime meeting simply portray the meeting and only
a very small number treat. its sub-phases.
As for the place of the meeting at night, many poems
support the prescription of the grammars. In Ak. 162:116, the meeting near the heroine's house is well
At midnight when skies were pouring down without
spreading swift drops, as thunder roared cruelly,
and lightning, like banners of fire, flashed,
splitting the sky like the thick black ocean,
its measureless depths filled with conchs
that never diminish no matter how many are taken,


Missing 130-131

always acts as the heroine's best friend; when., for

example, she worries about what is the matter with the
heroine, sympathizes with her, arid encourages her,
This is well described in Ak 298 (Il 14-23):
That is how my lover came,
but it was even sweeter for me to see
how willing my friend was to comfort me:
I was in the large guarded house of my father,
whose chariot is swift, whose drink is like the rain.
Mother was watching me,
and I was afraid she would know.
So in the middle of the night,
restraining my feeling,
I did not speak of my desire
but talked of your cruelty.
My friend knew my real feelings and she said,
Don't be sad.
He who left you will come;
he will not delay,
and through the whole sleepless night.
she stayed with me
(tr. G. Hart, PTA. pp. 127-8)


Obstacles to the Night-tryst

AV enumerates seven kinds of obstacles to the nighttryst. In addition to 'failing in the meeting at night by
missing the sign they are,
(1) the mother staying up (e.g. Kur. 297, Ak, 240),
(2) the dog sitting up (e.g. Ak. 122),
(3) the village being up (e.g. Nar. 36),
(4) the village being strictly guarded (e.g. Ak 102),
(5) the moon shining brightly (e.g. Kur. 47),
(6) the owl hooting (e.g. Kur. 153, for its rendering, set
p, 4; Nar, 83), and
(7) the hen cackling (AV 159-162).
Some obstacles to the meeting at night are beautifully
described. in Ak. 122 (IL 1-18):
The village of the heroine never goes to sleep
even when there is no festival;
even if the noisy village goes to sleep, the severetongued
mother who utters harsh words for ever, never
goes to sleep,
even if the guardian mother goes to sleep, the village
watchmen keep roaming;
even if the watchmen go to sleep, the
stray dogs keep harking;


even if the dogs were to be silent, the bright

converts the night into day,
even if the moon disappears, the ominous owl keeps
hooting throughout the midnight, when spirits are
even if the owl were to be calm, the cricket chirps.
But, alas! during a day, when there is none of these
the hero though has an unfailing heart, fails to come.
(tr. Rm. Periakaruppan. TTCP. pp. 134-5)
However, among obstacles only failing. by missing
the sign is established as a theme, so we shall focus
our argument on it.
6.13.1. allakuri a pre-arranged sign to be given by the
hero, but caused casually by something else:
0} To be misled at night by cccurrence of signs
happening casually (TP 131, IA 17)
1) Lit. 'to be not so-and-so -- sign

Missing 134-135

with soft breast, and long hair.? Here the motif is

the same as the one mentioned Ain. 298, but the
colophon says, the hero rejecting the friend's

admonition. In Kur.. 29, the hero in an agony of love

says to his heart: O ,y heart. you want what is hardest
to get. If there were someone to hear your sorrow, it
would be nice but the colophon says that these are
the words of the hero when his request for a nocturnal
meeting was refused. Hence there may be another
interpretation of Ain. 298; in fact, its colophon states,
what he says after hearing that the heroine feels quite
shy [to meet again] through the aid of the maid who
accepted his request to arrange for a meeting with
Thus, there is no text which explicitly explains whether
the prearranged sign occurred casually or whether it
was given by something, such as the birds, much less
that the heroine was misled when she mistook
something else for the hero's sign.


The heroine and the Maid Talking to Each

Other, Desiring Marriage
Missing 137-138
.. The rare occurrence of the theme in the poems
expounded by the colophon of Nar 14, which runs, the
heroine expatiating the good qualities of the hero when
the maid depreciates the hero.
6.14 b. `the heroine expatiating on the herds good
qualities when the maid belittles him:
IAC 25
There are two main points regarding this theme; they
are, (1) the maid having depreciated the hero to
console tile heroine in her distress and (2) the heroine
defending the hero against the maids underestimation
of him.
The text illustrating it should refer to the two points
mentioned above. In Kur. 36. the heroine refers to the
unfailing oath taken by the hero:
That day when my man
From the hilly land
where a manai vine clings
to an elephant that sleeps
by a bolder,
embraced my shoulders and spoke
an undying oath,
saying, "You are in my heart,
and without you, I am not"

was it painful to you,

my friend?
(tr. MS Pillai and D. E. Ludden.K.T. p. 141)
Here, the nature of the maid's complaint about the
hero is suggested by the heroine's words, Friend., is it
painful to you that the man took an oath? Kur. 48
(cited in 6.14a.2) and Kur 36 are rare examples of the
two respectively, which are related to the varaitai
vetkai, but anyhow there are texts to be found among
the earliest corpus of poems, treating these situations.
The existence of poems illustrative of the themes,
however, does not prove that the themes themselves
were established in the earliest days. In the colophons,
both terms, iyar palittai and iyarpota molital, occur
about ten times each. This means that these terms had
been already well established in the akam conventions
at the time when the colophons were written. If
themes, designated by the colophons as iyar palatal
and iyarpata molital, were in existence in the days of
TP, it is odd that Tol. makes no mention of them at all.
Hence it is very probable that, when the main corpus
of TP was composed, i.e. in the early classical age, the
themes were not regarded as specific themes by the
poets and erudite scholiasts. The poems portray
various types of conversation between the girls; the
major type is the heroine expressing her grief in love to
the maid, or the maid consoling/encouraging the
heroine, but there are other, minor types of
conversation, such as the heroine getting angry with
the maid when she appears to be unsympathetic (e.g.
Kur. 28), or the maid expatiating on the hero when the
heroine talks of his cruelty (see Ak. 298 cited in
6.12.2). The type of conversation later termed iyar
palatal or iyarpata molit al may originally have been

involving the patterns of conversation between the

Later, however, the conversation became an
independent episode occurring between the heroine
and the maid, most probably after the analogy of the
themes termed kalarutal (the friend admonishing the
hero), and kolarrzi-atiratarai (the hero rejecting the
friend's admonition), which had already been
established as mentioned in TP (see 6.7). We may
guess at the influence of the theme of the puram
genre, extrolling the high qualities of the king' ( TP 87,
Purapporulverveirtlialai 9:7), on these akam themes
(iyar palatal and iyarpqa molital); but we may anyhow
safely say that the themes are of late origin.
6.14c. alar gossip'
TP 113, 137, 160-2, 221; IA 22
6.14c.1. Two terms alar and ampal, are current
representing gossip, They are juxtaposed in TP137,
221, and IA 22, which implies that there may have
been a semantic difference between them. Nakkirar
expounds the difference in several waysl. ampal is like
a flower-bud about to blossom and afar is like a fullblown flower; in the ampal stage people do not talk
openly about the relationship between a man and a
woman, but in the afar stage they state plainly that the
relation is such and; such ampal is a rumour shared by
a relatively small number of people, whereas alar is a
rumour known to large number of people (IAC 22).
NakkIrar's annotation is refined by Ilam.. who says that
alar is talk between people and ampal is the wordless
communication among them." (TP 137 comm.). In AV,
however, only alar is referred to.


'Gossip' is one of the causes because of which 'the

clandestine affair of the lovers is made known to the
public. (TP 221, cf. IA 22-3). The heroine and the maid,
fearing gossip, 'want the hero to marry the heroine
and the maid urges the hero to marry the heroine'.
According to TP 136, it is the hero who is chiefly
responsible for their relationship becoming known to
others through public talk.
TP 160 says that the theme gossip relates not only to
the pre- marital stage but also to the post-marital one,
whereas the later grammars. IA and AV (which may
have followed IA) only refer to it a pre-marital theme.
In the colophons, two themes pertaining to gossip are
mentioned; one is the girls fearing public talk and the
other is the maid urging the hero to marry the heroine
[fearing the talk about them]. This signifies that the
themes treating gossip are connected exclusively to
the pre-marital situation by the colophon writers.
6.14c.2. We shall investigate the following three points
in the poems: (1) whether or not the semantic
difference between alar and ampal mentioned by the
commentator is indeed found, (2) whether alar and
ampal are common to kalavu and karpu (3) what the
thematic connection is between gossip and other
(1) Gossip is one of the favourite themes in the love
poetry and is treated in about 150 poems, wherein
other terms are also used. The following chart shows
the number of occurrences of each term in the

Missing 142-143


In conclusion we may say that the erudite scholiasts,

including the colophon writers, are not as enthusiastic
about analyzing the theme of gossip as the poets are
about composing poems on that theme.


The Maid Urging the Hero to Marry the


Missing 145 - 150

Ak. 240 (neytal poem) depicts the domestic scene

which prevent a meeting by chance, though its
colophon does not refer to the term kappu'. Therein
the maid tells the hero not to come at night but to
come in the daytime, informing him that her father and
brothers catch fish which flock around the lamp on a
small boat on the dark sea, and her mother and friends
of her mother pray to God on the shore. In this
connection, the watchmen referred to in Ak. 162 cited
in 6.12.2 (see translation) are evidently those who
guard the house not the heroine (see also Kur. 276).
It is still not clear what TP and IA meant by the term
kappu, but, considering that Nakkirar and two
colophons use the term in the sense of the 'accidental
watch'. it seems probable that even in TP and IA the
term also meant "accidental watch'. Anyhow, in
medieval times, one meaning of kappu that is,
accidental watch was first termed obstacles by
Nampi, and only the other meaning, the intentional
watch', has survived for the term kappu. Hence kappu
is regarded by modern scholars as a word synonymous
for ircerippu.
Although, in the poems, the situation kappu (accidental
watch) provides an effective setting in which the love
passion is conspicuously represented, it does not
function as the sub-phase of varnivu katatal. The


question arises why the erudite scholiasts have related

kappu to varaivu katatal.
Roughly speaking, a major portion of the classical love
poems represents the sorrow, distress, helplessness of
love (not its happy or joyful aspects); about two thirds
of them are composed in the form of speech by the
heroine or the maid. Hence, we may say that most of
the akam poems treat the distress in love on the part
of women. In this connection, the authors of the
colophons term the heroine's grief in love, inability to
bear, to sorrow, to grow thin, and to change; there
are more than three hundred poems whose colophons
refer to these terms.
Next, 'pure' akam poetry does not deal with either onesided love or tragic love, so it is unsurprising that the
erudite scholiasts, who hold the opinion that akam
poems consist exclusively of the sequential events of
love, consider that all the poems treating pre-marital
love result in a happy ending. i.e. marriage. The
savants maintain that each poem has a 'result' so that
if the heroine or the maid refers to the heroines
distress in love and does not mention the expected
result such as the hero's visit in the daytime instead of
the visit at night, it is natural for them to regard
varavu katatal as the most probable result. In fact,
most poems, which are said by the colophons to deal
with varavu katatal actually wake no reference to it but
refer only to the heroines grief in love.
We have already mentioned in 16.4.2 that the savants
have interpreted a group of poems which only the
hero's joy or helplessness in love is mentioned in
various ways and without any reference to the specific
situation, we may say that the scholiasts generally
come into their own when the poetical situation is

unclear. Such being the case, they have regarded the

situation, varattirl ketatirit, as the most suitable result'
of obstacles or watch by the mother though the
actual texts only mention that the girls are in distress
because there are so many obstacles to the meeting or
they are watched closely by the mother.
6.15.3. Tol. refers to the theme of the maid urging the
hero to marry the heroine, in the situation when there
is a delay in the marriage even after the heroine's
relatives have given their consent, under the term
varrairti katritni, but there is no poem which illustrates
it. There are some poems dealing with the consent for
marriage by the heroine's relatives such as Aitn. 300:
The chieftain or the great mountain,
where the peacock spreads its lovely tail
to resemble the hair of a mountain lassie,
has arrived and our kinsfolk have accepted the offer!
O lady, of sweet and pleasing words,
may your happiness increase more and more!
However, it is very difficult to infer from these poems
that the delay in marriage will occur.
One reason why IAC and the later grammars apply the
term varaivu katatal to a different situation than that
referred to in TP and IA, may be that there is no
example to be found in the poems. However, the most
probable reason he ascribed to the triteness of the
idea of wishing marriage. A mentioned before, it is
quite natural for the scholiasts to consider that, as Rm
Periakaruppan states. All the kalavu songs point to or
aim at ultimate married life ( TTCP, p. 12), since the
akam poetry does not treat of tragic love and since all

the love events become increasingly interlinked with

one another as

Missing 153


The Heros Temporary Absence from the


Missing 154

iyuppirivti "'separation by a short distance." ( TL) in TP

109:6. Though it is sometimes confused with or ta, the
sutra (TP 109) makes it obvious that ittup is different
from or ta because itt is referred to in the sutra as one
of the love events occurring, in the earliest stage of the
pre-marital love, in which, as mentioned in
about 30 love events are arranged in their time
6.16.2. In Ain 214, the maid says, the man from the
land .. goes [back] to his good and prosperous
country, which will result in the shedding of tears from
the large, attractive and cool eyes [of the heroine].
The same scene is described in Ain. 221 as:
Look here, dear! The lover says.
I will go his mountainous country.
That will result in the loss
of my exquisite loveliness like that of an image
and in my complexion, like that or a good mango
turning wallow.

In Ain. 233, the maid tells the hero not to go back to

his country.

You will not be coming

and the north wind is very severe.
So you had better go back.
to your mountainous country
where the waterfalls roll down with a roar
scraping precious stones from the slopes
of the impassable hills.
The hero has frequently come to meet the heroine,
both by day and by night, sometimes along the
dangerous mountain route and sometimes along the
coastal pith. After the meeting, he has left the heroine
to return to his own village.
However, if one did not know about the situation or ta,
these poems would mention that the hero goes back to
his place as if he had been staying with the heroine for
long time. If, on the other hand, one is aware of it, it
easy to understand that the phrase. 'the hero going
back to his village' means 'the hero not visiting the
heroine for the time being. Hence this means that it
was necessary for the receivers (audience?) to have a
good knowledge of orturaht tariottal in order to
appreciate these poems.
It may be noted that only the three poems (Ain. 214,
221, 233) deal with the theme 'the hero going back'
using the same expression, natt-tal, and they are all
included in Ain. Each of them is a constituent of Chap.
22 (The decad in which each stanza ends with annay),
Chap. 23 (The decad [in which each stanza begins
with] amma vali, and Chap. 24 ( 'The decad [in which
each stanza ends with) teyyo) respectively. The
constitution of each of these chapters suggests that

the ten poems in each chapter were not first composed

as solitary stanzas and later formed into the chapter,
but that they were originally composed as ten linked
poems to form the chapter. Another characteristic
common to these chapters is that almost all poems in
them exhibit a similar motif (e.g. see Ain. 214).
Here, though each poem does not clearly mention
what the hero's absence/presence signifies, the poems
as a group or the linked ones tell us what takes place:
the hero visiting the heroine frequently and embracing
her (Ain, 220, 221), the hero's marriage proposal being
turned down by the relatives (Ain. 228), the hero
having gone away for days and returning (Ain. 229),
the maid consoling the heroine by saying that the
heroine's relatives will marry her only to the hero (Ain.
230), etc.; hence, the link may prove that the
'absence/presence' is relevant to oruvalit tanattal. It
can also be established that in the poems, the
'absence' occurs due to preparations for marriage as
mentioned in IA and the colophons, but not due to
Thus, the theme or ta is not found in the oldest
grammar TP, but occurs in IA, which was composed at
a somewhat later date. In the actual texts, the theme
is depicted only in Ain. Therefore, the arguments
regarding onsvalit tturlattal, mentioned above, help us
to reconfirm our hypothesis that Ain. belongs to a later
age than the other anthologies.


The Hero Separating from the Heroine in

Pursuit of Wealth for Marriage
TP 110; IA 25, 32
6.17.1. Tol. does not refer to the situation the
separation for wealth before marriage clearly, but he
alludes to it obliquely saying that among separations,
the separations on account of the following three
causesstudy, war and embassy ( TP 26)--do not occur
before marriage ( TP 139), which means that the
separation for wealth may take place before marriage.
In IA, this situation is referred to as "the hero leaving
the heroine for a far place in pursuit of wealth even
after their relation is known to the public" (IA 25).
However, in IA, the separation does not necessarily
happen before marriage, since it is an alternative to
the hero's temporary absence, as mentioned in the
previous section. In AV, this is classified into 9 subsituations, consisting of 21 sub-themes ( AV169-170),
to which we will refer in 6.32.
In IA 25, varaivitai in the phrase means in the middle
between the clandestine love being known to public
and marriage (varaitlu) . According to Nakkirar, the
secret love is known by revelation. Porul is usually
regarded as 'wealth for marriage' (warm pore
Muttuuiriyam 852) or 'wealth necessary for marriage'.
6.17.2. The illustrative text of the situation would
describe that the separation for wealth takes place
before marriage or that the wealth is the means to
prepare for marriage. No poem seems to refer
explicitly to either of them, but there are some poems
alluding to them. However, in order to investigate
these poems, it is better to take texts dealing with
separation for wealth after marriage into consideration,
and hence we will detail them in 6.32.




1 Background of the First Meeting: Some maidens go to a field where millet is ripening to scare
away birds. A young man who has been hunting in the wood comes to the field. He is attracted by
one of the maidens, they exchange glances and fall in love with each other.

2The girl had to reach puberty (12 years old) to be entrusted with the watching of a millet field.
The age of puberty was considered the point of time at which the sacred force ananku was mature.
The presence of its bearers in the field was clearly intended to ensure the timely ripening of the

3 The "clandestine love" reflects the archaic idea common to tribal societies: that of the dangerous
power inherent in the bride and bridegroom and, also, of a sexual intercourse that causes the girl's
defloration. Due to its dangerous character, the act of defloration had to be performed outside
community, that is, firstly, it had to be carried out prior to the newly-weds' introduction into the
system of social relations and, secondly, it had to be performed beyond the village's boundaries, in
secret surroundings. It is this custom that seems to constitute the core of the heroes' behaviour as
represented in the kurinici theme, which is remarkably well expressed in a poem by Paranar when
he speaks of the --"love union (punarcci) with the dark-haired one
whose moist eyes resemble dark-petalled flowers,
in the secret place so hidden
that not even pey-demonesses know of it" (AN 62, 5-6).

4 However, it is her bodily beauty that is placed in the focus of the poet's attention, as it
represents her essence and her "value characteristic." To view a female character as an object
perceived by senses was typical of the poetry.

5 Touching a woman's body should be interpreted as symbolic and, perhaps, as the ritual initiation
of the hero to the goodness provided by the heroine, that is to the sacred female energy.

6 Behind the exterior layer of emotions there is always lurking the all too powerful notion of
ananku manifest as the female energy which pervades the kurifici poetry's artistic canon: its
subject matter and its imagery.

7 Around the 6th Cent. AD, according to K. V. Zvelebil, the conception of kalavu pre-marital love'
was not only not honored but also slighted. The venpa quoted as Preamble of 'One hundred and
fifty stanzas on the garlands of settings', suggests the reason why these restatements of the
ancient akam genre were composed: obviously, the interest in the old literary conventions and
themes was vanishing and there were people who even hated and attacked the conception of
kalavu, hence it became necessary to re-emphasize the ancient message of love.

8 2 The Sanskrit words and expressions borrowed are generally found more frequently in the later
texts. In the case of kama (kamam in Tamil), however, it occurs more often in the earlier texts; on
the other hand, inpam or inpu, a Tamil equivalent of kama, is used more often in the later texts.As
for the connotations of these words, kamam denotes love in a broader sense in the earlier texts
than in the later texts. (in Kur 32, for example, the lovelorn hero says). In the case of inpam, it
signifies pleasure even in the earlier texts, as in kur 120 in which the hero says.. Regarding the
subtle differences between these words, TP 89 provides us with an interesting example.
TP 89
Aran, porul and inpam are Tamil equivalents of dharma, artha and kama respectively, and hence
the best translation of inpam is pleasure [of love]. Anpu in second line means love, attachment,
friendship. Thus, it means, kama-kuttam which is within the range of aintinai connected with
anpu and which is associated with inpam, wealth, and dharma; in other words
union/relationship based on kamam is also based on both sexual pleasure (inpam) and mental
attachment (anpu). Therefore the word kamam in TP and the earlier potery should not be taken in
a narrow and limited sense.

9 The origin of the behavioural pattern as it is structured in the kurnici theme can be
traced back to the ancient Dravidian lore with its concept of the female force, the
ambiguous power inherent in woman, which makes her a source for either good or evil.
This force had to be kept within limits, under strict control, especially during the woman's
menstrual period, pregnancy or widowhood [Hart 1975: 93-119] or, equally important,
during states of emotional excitement and love passion. This explains the ritual
behavioural pattern of the heroes and of the dramatis personae related to them.

10 According to the existing custom, the lovers were to conceal their feelings and could reveal
them, during the first stage of love, only to the hero's close friend and to the heroine's friend, her
confidante, whose role in the dynamics of the love story is crucial as it is she who "guides" the
lovers, arranges their trysts and sees that everything goes according to custom. She "steers" the
love affair towards official recognition, that is, toward marriage, although the heroes have long
been husband and wife de facto.None has been here only my secret friend,
If he leaves me now, what shall I do?
Only a heron with green legs resembling millet stalks was here,
Looking for fish in the running water,
On the day when we were joined in love. (KT 25)

11 Earlier Ananku
Rigid time limit of Kurinci theme
In view of a direct link between anariku and fertility it would be interesting to note that the kurifici
theme has rigid time limits.
The landscape against which the action of the theme takes place is the kurifici region (mountains
overgrown with forests) during the cold season (katir kalam), from October till December, or
during the "season of early dews" (munpani kalam) lasting from December till February. Scenes of
the preceding rainy season (kar kalam) can also be included (Nar. 53, 71; 154). The background is
therefore the cool and moist, "dark," part of the year associated with the ideas of goodness and

fertility: forests, green with new vegetation, fragrant blossoms, lakes and streams full of water.
Close link between poetry theme and natural surroundings
There are other details in the poetry conveying the idea of close links between the poetry theme
and its natural surroundings. Certain signs acquire importance in the dynamics of the poetry
Thus the heroes' clandestine love coincides with the season of millet ripening, while the
heroine's confinement in the house of her parents occurs immediately before harvesting:
What shall we do, o friend? Since our meetings with the Hillman
Whose breast is smooth with the paste of sandalwood growing in the hills,
Whose smell draws bees,
When with him, who lives in the mountains, where
Vefikai trees with green flowers rise along the slopes,
I met in the field where we chased away red-beaked parrots
From the crops
And bathed in the streams that are running down steep high slopes, these meetings,
So I can see, will become rare and not easy...
The spikes of millet, with long hair
Are rippling, like the sea...
(Nar. 259)
The blossoming of fragrant flowers in mango and venkai trees also indicates the auspicious time
for wedding (the Tamil word manam, characteristically, means either: "aroma" or "wedding
ceremony"). The phase of the moon is no less important in amorous experiences. When the
heroine's confidante decides the time is ripe to hint that the hero should marry the heroine she
can convey the idea making good use of the language of signs and symbols: "venkai has opened
its shining flowers, and the full moon has grown a halo" (AN 2, 16-17).
Girl in the millet field
Bathing and fertility
The young girls' bathing in the running water of the rain or mountain streams was a widespread
practice to evoke fertility, as water was associated with male semen; in a symbolic way it was
supposed to cool off the female force and thus to ensure each girl an auspicious marriage, progeny
and, through these, general prosperity to their kin. Thus the friend of the heroine invites her: "Let
us go and enjoy bathing in the new bubbling waters" (Nar. 68, 5).
Bathing together
As can be perceived from the verse quoted above (Nar. 259), young girls occasionally bathed with
young men which, no doubt, had the meaning of a fertility (rain-making) rite:
When she was bathing with us
In a beautiful swift running stream,
Dipping into the water, with closed lotus-like eyes, trembling,
Garlands of cool punnai blossoms on her breasts,
Moving with the waters,
He came to embrace her, mercifully,
Her breasts were pressed to his strong and broad chest,
This is what they say, and therefore
When we are expecting a gift of precious rain,
She shall give it to us, the one who possesses grandeur. (Kal. 39, 1-5)
Finally, it can be safely ascertained that the young couple's sexual contact is also ritually charged.
At any rate, the calendar pattern of their amorous meetings is obvious (Cf. the line in AN 118, 12:
"The ripening spikes which, for many days, had been sending signs for love-making," punar kuri
ceyta pular kural) suggestive of fertility rites which included sexual intercourse on a field to
stimulate in a magical way the growth and the ripening of crops.
Fertility idea
The examples provided are sufficient to give insight into the enormous significance of the idea of
fertility for the ancient Tamil love canon. As it stands, the first stage of the heroes' intimate
relationship (prior to the ripening of crops and to the heroine's confinement in the house of her
parents) is set against the background of rites which serve to represent the idea of fertility. Hence
the atmosphere of eroticism, with abundant "sacralized" erotic symbols in the kurifici theme. No

less importantly, the artistic conventions by which the main characters are structured are directly
determined by the fertility idea. Before we analyse the details of the love canon I should note that
it is not linked with a certain situation or with a certain tinai theme as such; it is representative of
ancient Tamil love poetry in general. The most characteristic and remarkable feature of the canon
is exceptional semantical richness of its details.

12 Clearly, the withering of female bodily beauty which, in its normal state, symbolizes fertility and
life force, will indicate a depletion of its stores or, at least, a threat to this force. At this point we
have, once again, returned to the idea of the value inherent in the woman and the necessity
to protect her as bearer of the inner force. This idea is invariably present in one way or
another in the poetry of the anthologies. Suffice it to remind the reader that during the season of
the millet ripening the heroine is confined in her parents' house where she is guarded as a source
of the sacred force which has to remain in the household. "Her mother is fond of her and never
takes her eyes off her daughter; her father will not have her touch the ground (that is, will not
allow her to leave the house). 'Where are you going, lassie?' he would ask his daughter. 'You
will hurt your feet!" Such are the words in which the heroine's close friend describes to the hero
the circumstances of his beloved (AN 12, 1-3). A watchful father is frequently mentioned in the
poems: "Her strong father, mighty like Murukan, who has set off his dogs, fierce like tigers, is in
the house" (AN 158, 15-17); or "her father is keeping watch, never taking his eyes off her, in the
spacious house, with safe bolts and watchmen who never sleep a wink" (Nar. 98, 8-9). The
heroine's mother is on guard, too, ever awake, like "a village awaiting the enemy's raid, since she
has learned about the coming of the smiling guest (that is, the hero)" (KT 292, 6-8). Her brothers
are alert as well ("the broad-shouldered mountain maiden, sister of forest huntsmen with strong
bows and long poles" [KT 335, 5-7]).Locke shrine of the goddess
The motif of the guarding of the heroine, of her seclusion, so explicitly expressed, is strongly
consonant with a remarkable and characteristic motif in the Tamil mythology, that of "the locked
shrine" of the goddess. The enclosed area: walls, doors, locks and latches are "symbols of
limitation and control... imposed on a concentration of power" and also symbols of her chastity
and virginity [Shulman 1980: 192-198]. On the motif of the locked Kali temple in its folklore
version in "The Story of the Anklet" see [Beck 1972: 26]). To receive the goddess's boon one has to
reopen the temple doors in order to get hold of her force. This can be done only under threat of
(and sometimes, at the expense of) death; in other words, by performing a blood sacrifice.
Unlocking the temple doors, reopening the door to the temple of the goddess is, no doubt, a
sexual symbol, which is also traceable in the poetry, in a number of verses describing the hero's
penetration into the heroine's locked house. For example, the heroine's friend speaks-thus:
Like those who desire a female elephant as a gift
At the entrance to our tightly locked well-guarded house
In front of its carved strong door [he stood]
In the dead of night, when only demons roam about;
When the watchmen had gone to sleep, tired, he unlocked the door and, having entered,
Lay with her; and, having said that none in the whole world equal us in beauty,
Many a time, lovingly, touched the splendid hair... (AN 311, 1-7)
Another poem describes the hero's failure to enter the house of his sweetheart:
In the dead of night, when many are asleep,
You came, mighty as an elephant, and tried the door,
Locked for the night. We heard all this, o glorious one!
Yet as soon as she sighs, like a good peacock
Who is caught in netting, his crest turned, and the feathers of his tail faded,
Her mother, devoid of virtue, will run towards her and tightly embrace her and squeeze her in a
tight embrace. (KT 244)
"The mother devoid of virtue" is not a passing epithet in the kurinci theme: it is employed to stress
a certain antagonism between the mother and the daughter in the situation of the "secret love."
The alert, wakeful mother, mother-guardian who sets obstacles to her daughter's trysts with her

lover is sometimes mentioned in the poetry in highly critical tones. For example, in KT 292 the
heroine's mother (viewed by the heroine's close friend) is likened to the cruel chieftain Nannan
who executed the maiden who had eaten, in his domains, a fruit fallen into water:
A fair-browed maiden was walking towards the pond to wash her face
And ate the fruit brought by the water. This was punished
By Nannan:
Rejecting elephants in numbers nine times nine offered to him
And the gold statue as much as a young girl in weight,
Nannan performed the maiden's execution. Like him
Let our mother go to eternal hell;
The night when the guest arrived, a smile on his face,
She rejected sleep, like a town in the face of the enemy.
Thus, to unite with his beloved is no easy matter for the hero. The difficulties that arise are many
and various, exaggerated by the fact that their rendezvous occur at night. In many poems the
hero's nocturnal journeys to his beloved are evocatively described: in the dead of night ( AN 22,
11; 72, 2; 118, 9; 126, 7; 141, 8 etc.), when rain is falling, thunder is roaring, the lightning is
flashing, serpents are creeping about in the forest, owls are hooting, a tiger is attacking an
elephant, the hero is heading towards a secret meeting with his beloved. The heroine and her
close friend are amazed at the boldness of the hero who has overcome these obstacles:
The rain is veiling everything, the sky is hidden,
Waters are flooding, even the earth cannot be seen,
The sun has set. Darkness has fallen upon the village.
At midnight, when everybody is asleep,
How did you manage to come, o dweller of high mountain tops? (KT 355, 1-5)
The heroine and her friend are frequently distressed by the trials the hero has to face on his way;
they are genuinely concerned for the hero. Thus in Nar. 83 the confidante asks the owl not to
frighten the hero during his journey to his sweetheart:
At the village gate, next to the fair bay
Living in an ancient tree where the god dwells;
With a strong crooked beak, clawed and light-eyed,
Whose hooting alarms like the herald's drum o thee, owl!
We shall bow to thee and shall bring thee some meat,
The best rice, and oil, and roast white mice,
Since we desire, passionately, that the sweetheart
Whose love never fades, should come
At the time when we are not asleep, but wander, waiting for him
Do tame thy cruel, awe-inspiring voice!
The shrewd confidante sometimes employs the mentioned obstacles as diplomatic ways to
quicken the marriage. Thus, addressing the heroine in a loud voice, so that the hero who is not far
away could hear, the friend pretends to show compassion for him; in reality she is hinting at the
inappropriateness of further clandestine meetings and, consequently, of the need to legitimize
their intimate relationship:
The forest is making dull noises, while
Darkness has spread across the sky;
It's like the darkness in the rock clefts,
While the thundering voice of the cloud never stops.
Yet in the grove and in the hills where clouds float
The hot-wrathed male tiger, gaping,
Is felling an elephant to the ground.
Don't you hear his horrible snarl?
Are you asleep, o slender girl?
To cool off the sorrowful heart, seized by gloom
Would be useless like pouring water onto the hearth.
If [the beloved] does not come today it will be a blessing!
As soon as I think of the hard journey among the hills
My vulnerable fluttering heart falls down upon the ground. (Nar. 154)

As a rule, it is the hero whose journey to his beloved is described in the poetry, yet sometimes the
heroine herself hurries to a secret meeting, as in a poem by Paranar (AN 198):
"To tell or not to tell" thus,
Thinking of my passion, helpless to conceal it
Desiring to meet him and trusting in our good word,
At midnight, under the cover of rain,
Resembling the kar in the fragrance of my hair,
Pressing to my breast the shawl made of thin threads,
Like a modest peacock under the young rain in the hills,
Adorned with cool flowers, bees buzzing, following her;
Holding beautiful bracelets that are bent like a bow,
Lest they should jangle, she came
And deep at night when the whole village was asleep, having embraced me, and is now leaving.
She is not a dark maiden, beautiful, glorious, the one who is full of virtue,
Yet in the southern land, in the good country
That belongs to [chieftain] Ay,
In the mountains where ananku dwells,
On the slopes of the dread Kaviram mountain,
Living in the stream full of delicate flowers,
Isn't she Cur's daughter? this is what my heart tells me.
This poem is a definite parallel to Sanskrit and Prakrit poems exploiting the abhisarika theme
that of a woman on her way to meeting her lover. Yet, remarkably, it inherits a purely Tamil
feature: the heroine is viewed by the hero as linked to the Cur demon, which directly points to the
element of danger inherent in a secret meeting; in other words, to the dangerous aspect of the
female sacred energy. This motif occurred implicitly earlier, in the description of obstacles on the
way of the hero to his beloved. Yet it can be presented in the poetry in a direct way, as a threat
arising from the heroine. Indeed, even in her portrait, which, on the whole, symbolizes the good
emanating from woman, now and then impressive details emerge, pointing at the danger inherent
in her. Thus mentions abound of "the rising young breasts, threatening like ananku" (AN 161, 1213); of "a gaze, threatening, like ananku" (AN 319, 6); of "moist eyes with red stripes, like arrows"
(Nar. 13, 4); or of "eyes like an elephant's tusks" (Nar. 39, 5-6). In the poem KT 272 the poet, while
emphasizing the dangerous aspect of womanly beauty, deliberately exaggerates it by a detailed
simile which contains a hint at the hostile attitude of the heroine's family to her beloved:
Shall I be able to press myself against the shoulders
Of the hill maiden with strands of sweet-smelling hair,
With bold eyes painted with kohl.
Their gaze is like a blood-smeared straight arrow
Taken out of the breast of a male deer,
The arrow sank deep into him when he was approaching a stray female deer, He had been shot,
with a shrill sound,
By the bow-men, relatives of the hill maiden,
Who throw stones, swishing, from their slings. (KT 272)
The danger inherent in woman is described in a particular vivid and peculiar manner in the poem
from PN, in the episode of proposals of marriage made by certain kings:
The moats are blocked with mud, the fortifications have become shaky,
The city walls are broken in our ancient much-suffering city,
What will become of it when it has surrendered?
With the beating of drums which are roaring like clouds
The kings whose horses are swift, approaching
Our tall gates in the morning, will stop and will not leave without a battle.
For beautiful spots have appeared on the good breasts
Of the youthful one, whose wrists are adorned with (beautiful) bracelets
And whose eyes painted with kohl are red and resemble
The sharpened spears raised by her relatives, ready to resist,
Militant and mighty. (PN 350)

It is evident that in such descriptions the female character is presented as a replica (although, in a
somewhat weakened form) of the virgin goddess: aren't her frequently mentioned sharp teeth (for
example, in KT 14, 2: vai eyiru; or, in Ain. 495, 5: mulleyiru), so to speak, vestiges of a certain
mythological character (cf. traditional iconography of Kati or Korravai)?
In the Tamil love poetry the woman is not generally portrayed as dangerous: the poets are more
interested in her benign aspect: it is the ideal cultivated in the poetry and is primarily linked with
the idea of goodness. Yet in his lyrics the ancient Tamil poet will never fail to make use of the
ambivalent nature of the female sacred force, creating a contrast between the tender undertones
which he employs to describe the heroine's image and the terrible pangs of love passion this
image evokes in her lover:
Timid like flowers, [sharp] like arrows,
[They] cause me pain that can be seen by everyone,
Of the sweet-tongued, with soft rounded shoulders,
On the dark slopes of the mountains, where cotton was planted with millet,
Who was chasing sparrows away from the field, [her] cool eyes. (KT 72)
Her soft voice is like amrta,
She, the sweet [one], is like it,
Yet if she, so sweet, brings suffering,
One cannot live flamed in passion toward her,
Therefore avoid her, o sensible ones! (KT 206)24
Though, in the sphere of passionate love the hero and the heroine appear to be on an equal
footing and are not infrequently represented as causing suffering to each other: "the breast of the
mountain dweller causes suffering (ananku)" (Nar. 17, 12); "like a small beautiful baby-snake with
lovely stripes, torturing an elephant, the young woman with shining, shoot-like teeth and
braceleted wrists tortures me" (KT 119).
As a matter of fact, the secrecy in which they have to meet is in itself a torture; no less tormenting
are the annoying patronizing attitude of the girl's parents, the obstacles on the way of the hero to
his beloved and their nocturnal meetings. Another source for the heroine's suffering is the gossip
which spreads across the village. The villagers are curious, and there is talk about the young girl's
failing health. The village women tell the heroine's mother of their suspicions:
"No matter whether she will be happy or angry
Her mother should know! this is what they think, the foul-mouthed,
Who feed on rumours; the women
Who have been coming these days, saying:
"She has changed, your daughter, she has become different..." (AN 203, 1-5)
This episode, although, seemingly, mundane, is nevertheless quite meaningful socially. Here we
have an example of a joint community effort, perhaps, a kind of game whose aim is establishing
community control over the intimate relationship, potentially dangerous for the people (unless
properly handled), to turn it into a legalized union, approved by the community (on social function
of gossip see, for example, [Paine 1967; Gluckman 1968]). Characteristically, gossip in the poetry
texts is termed alar and ampal, the words used to describe the early stage of flower blossoming;
thus once more the significance of natural symbolism is emphasized in the narration of various
stages of love and in the unraveling of the lyrical subject.
There are other steps leading to the matrimonial finale of the love story, each step serving to
reveal the mystery: the "mad" dance of the velan, Murukan's priest, the rite of "riding a palmyra
palm horse" performed by the desperate hero or the lovers' elopement. We are not going to
describe these here in detail: I dwelt on the former above, in the first chapter, while the latter will
be discussed at length below.