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An introduction on vintage Lankan Thamil poets

T. Kanagaratnam belongs to a tradition of earlier Thamil scholarship and has done a fine job in making even contemporary readers understand and appreciation of verses if not poems

One of the Colombo residing Thamil scholars T. Kanagaratnam's - latest book is 'Eela Naatu Pulavarhalin Kavi Thiramum Thani Paaadalakalum' (The Poetic Versatility of Lankan Poets and Solo Songs). He is a London BA graduate and a many-tongue poet (Panmoli Pulavar). Among the languages he knows are Thamil, Sanskrit, Sinhala and English. He is knowledgeable in Saiva Siddhantham and Buddhism.

He has written 20 books in Thamil so far. They include Jataka Stories, Scouting children's books, rural labour methods, Translation of Sinhla Stories, Translation of Thamil stories into Sinhala (?), and on Easy Thamil in Inhale. He had worked for 18 years in the Educational Publications Department. He has won several prizes for his works.

In the book under review he has introduced 27 early Lankan Thamil poets.

Those introduced are:

Somasundara Pulavar (1878-1953), Pulavarmani A Periyathambi (1889-1978), Aasukavi Pulavarmani Kalladi Vealan (1860-1944), Muththukumarra Kavirasa Sekarar (1780-1851), Sivasambu Pulavar (1852-1910), Murugesa Pandithar (1830-1900),Vidthuva Siromani Kanesa Iyer(1878-1958), C. Y. Thamoatharampillai (1832-1901), Kavignar Mahalinga Sivam (1891-1941), Muthuthamil Pulavar M. Nallathamby (13.9.1896-8.5.1951), Yaalpaanan V Sivakolunthu, K Mylvagana Pulavar (1875-1918), Paavalar Thuraiappapillai (20.10.1872-24.6.1929), Nadduva Suppianaar (19th century), Muhandiram Sathasiva Iyer (1882-1950), Arulvaakki Abdul Kaathiru Pulavar (1866-1918), Pulavar Sivankarunaalaya Paandiyanaar (1872-1903), Ilamuruganaar, Santhakavi S Sinniahanaar (2.3.1895-28.5.1971), Anthakhapulavar Seigu Alavuddin(1890-1938), K. Sitabesan (1887-1959), Vidyaratnam S. Nadarasan (10.7.1910-28.6.1988), Veanthanaar (5.11.1918-18.9.1966), Vipulananda Adigal (1896-1947), Chunnai Kumaraswami Ulavar (1854-1922), Pulavarmani Alhaj A M Shrifuddin (4.05.1909- 2001), and Kavignar Neelavanan (31.6.1931-12.1.1978)

The book is dedicated to the author's Guru, the late S.Kanesa Iyer who was a scholar particularly in Tholkaapiyam. The book is published by Manimekalai Prasuram in Chennai.

The publisher says that the list of Lankan poets begins with Arasakesari. These poets contributed to the Thamil language and Hindu religion. Quoting an article in Uthayathaarakai by Kalathoor Vedagiri Mudaliyar, the publisher says that only people from Yaalpaanam speak pure Thamil. (This is not totally correct from the reviewer's point of view)

A valuable note from the publisher is that he gives a list of books that give the history of some of the poets who had contributed to the language and religion. The books are:

Paavalar Charithra Deepam by Sathasivampillai, Thamil Pulavar Charithram by Kumarasami Pulavar, Maddakkalappu Pulavar by Poopalapilai, Eeela Naattu Thamil Pulavar Charithram by Kanesa Iyer and History of Lankan Thamil Poets that Lived in the 20th Century by Pandit Apputhurai.

What the writer T. Kanagaratnam has done in this book is his own literary appreciation and commentary on some of the poems by the poets listed. The writer belongs to a tradition of earlier Thamil scholarship and he has done a fine job in making even contemporary readers understand and appreciation of verses if not poems.

The cover displays photographs of some of the earlier Lankan Thamil poets.

I benefited reading this book as I really did not know much about our earlier poets.

This book should be found in the libraries of the universities, schools and public libraries.



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