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KAMBA RAMAYANAM— A STUDY

WITH TRANSLATIONS IN VERSE

OR POETIC PROSE

OF

OVER FOUR THOUSAND OF THE ORIGINAL POEMS

By

V. V. S. AIYAR

WITH A FOREWORD

BY

Hon'ble Sri K. SANTANAM,

MINISTER OF STATE, TRANSPORT & RAILWAYS, INDIA

A DELHI TAMIL SANGAM PUBLICATION

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KAMBA RAMAYANAM-A STUDY

By V. V. S. Aiyar

Other Works

English

THE TIBUKKURAL Complete Translation

(Out of print)

A HISTORY OF INDIA

(Unpublished)

Tamil

MANGAYARKARASIYIN KATHAL—Short Stories

LIFE OF CHANDRA GUPTA MOURYA LIFE OF BOOKER WASHINGTON NAPOLEON

(A book on Military Strategy Confiscated by the late

British Government in India)

THAN-NAMBIKKAI

Translation of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-reliance.

2nd Edition by Sarvodaya Pirasuralayam, Virapandi, Tiruppur (1950).

GURU GOVIND SINGHA Biographical sketch.

2nd Edition (1950) by Navayuga Pirasuralayam, Karaikudi.

KURUNTOGAI

Translation in English verse of the anclept Tamil Classic.

(Unpublished Manuscript lost in 1942 disturbances.)

Published in 1950

First Edition

Rsjtf (Postage Re 1 extra)

In India <& Ceylon.

$0.50 or sh 24 (Postage inclusive)

All Rights

Abroad

Reserved by

the

Publishers

PUBLISHED AT MADRAS BY

THE DELHI TAMIL SANGAM,

M. C. 1/3038, PARLIAMENT STREET, NEW DELHI.

PRINTED AT THE JUPITER PRESS LTD., 16. SEM8UDOSS STREET, MADRAS**!

PUBLISHERS' NOTE

There is a Tamil proverb in which one mendicant asks

another, " Say brother, are you a mendicant by ancestry or are you a mendicant by famine ? " We are publishing this book due to a famine of publishers of whom there are too many more worthy than us to publish it. If the

gods had been kind, this work would probably have been

published a quarter of a century ago by reputed English

publishers under the sponsorship of the great Irish poet,

George Russell, more widely known as ' A.E.'

We had intended to tell in this note the story of how we

came to do this work, and of the many difficulties and

obstacles we had to surmount, chief among which is our

colossal ignorance of the job and of everything else besides.

But we are now so nearly bursting with pride in the

successful achievement of our labours that, if we let ourselves go, the four-hundred odd pages of this book will

not be sufficient for the epic of our travails.

So we content ourselves with expressing our deep sense

of gratitude to all those who have helped us spontaneously

and ungrudgingly in publishing this book. They are so

many, and however small or big their help has been, the

love behind the aid of each of them yields place to none else. We mention by name only a few.

To Aiyar's son, Dr. V. V. S. Krishnamurthy who honoured

us with his faith and entrusted the manuscripts to us and

stood by us with every possible help, we cannot find

adequate words to express our gratitude.

We

are

indebted to the

Editors of the Dinamani,

the Dinamani Kadir, the Hindu, the Indian Express. the Hindustan Times, the Atma Jyoti of Ceylon and other

publications for the publicity they so generously gave to

our projected publication. We thank them most sincerely

for this invaluable help. We owe the success of our effort

to the tireless band of friends and associations in Delhi and

viii

publishers' note

other places who took upon themselves the onerous task

of canvassing subscribers. We can never cease to be grateful to them. We should next thank all our subscribers who so trustingly paid the price several months in advance

and made it possible to publish this book. We thank them

for their faith in us.

We take great pleasure

in being

able

to print

a

Foreword from Hon'ble Sri K. Santanam, Minister of State.

Transport and Railways, India.

He is a close friend of

Aiyar and his family and he has followed with keen interest

the progress of the publication of this book. We sincerely thank him for taking the trouble to write this Foreword in the midst of his pressing duties.

We are indebted to the Director of the HIND, an excellent quarterly published in France and devoted purely

to the culture and literature of Bharata Kanda, for per- mission to quote certain extracts from an article by

Monsieur S. KICHENASSAMY

(Sakti sei)

on

Le

Ramayana de Kamban, in the second issue of the first

volume (1949). The HIND is published from 41, Rue de

la Bienfaisance, Paris 8e, price 1,000 francs a year250 francs per issue. We take this occasion to tender our

thanks also to the few authors and publishers from whose

works we have taken small extracts to adorn our foot-notes.

Being very brief extracts we have not sought specific

permission, which omission, we sincerely hope, these

of

large-hearted friends will overlook in the

cause

knowledge. Suitable acknowledgements have been made

at the proper places.

We have, throughout the book, linked the translations

in English verse with the original poems and have given

references to Book, Canto, and stanza. These references

follow the edition of the Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil

(with elaborate commentaries) in seven volumes by Sri V. M. Gopalakrishnamachariar of 17, T.P. Koil Street,

to the

Kandams or Books, the small Roman figures to the Padalams

Triplicane, Madras.

The Roman figures refer

or Cantos,

and

the Arabic numbers

to

the

stanzas.

publishers' note

ix

Quotations by Aiyar from the Valmiki Ramayana have been printed in italics. Except in one or two places, Aiyar

has taken these quotations from Griffith.

The foot-notes, except in the case of reference numbers

to the original poems in Kamba Ramayanam are by the

author in nearly all cases. We have, however, felt called

upon to add a few.

As these are, in intention and form,

completely in accord with Aiyar's plan, who, if he had lived

to publish this work, would have added these notes, we have

not distinguished them by any special sign. There are none by us, we hasten to assure the readers, which expresses any

opinion or criticism. Ours are innocuous ones like meaning

of a phrase or word, chiefly for the benefit of the foreign

reader. In a few cases, however, where the notes should

be so marked on account of their import, we have shown

the letter ' P ' within brackets.

Aiyar had intended to crown his

work with the

character-study of Sita and had fittingly reserved it to the

last. Cruel fate, however, stretched its talons and tragically snatched him away from this world before he could sing

Sita's virtues. Though very reluctant to make any additions

to Aiyar's work, we felt a certain infelicity in letting

the work appear without Sita and hence a character-sketch

has been added to this book. It is written by a member of

the Delhi Tamil Sangam.

Prof. A. Srinivasa Raghavan who had very kindly agreed

to write this chapter, and, in fact, to edit the rest of the

book as well, has been prevented from doing so by pressure

of work, want of leisure and ill health.

We know how

much our subscribers will be disappointed. We tender our sincere regrets to them.

It has been our endeavourwe had almost said, an

obsession with usto make this work free of that common

eye-sore of publications in this countrythe list of Errata.

Still, some errors have escaped our vigilant eyes ; we offer no excuses but beg to be forgiven. We absolve our printers

from all responsibility for any of these.

X

publishers' note

Though the book itself is a testimony to the excellent

work of our printers, The Jupiter Press Ltd., of Madras, it

cannot speak of two of their outstanding claims on our gratitude. Their prompt execution of the work at every

stage and their close co-operation only has made it possible

to bring out this book so quickly.

As whatever we

may say will appear a hyperbolewe feel so enthusiastic about this trait of our printerswe pass on to their next

virtuethe almost unique excellence of their proofs, first

or second. Sometimes, we had uncharitably wished that

they were not so perfect, as such perfection made our guilt in making later corrections stand forth very glaringly.

We acknowledge with pleasure and gratitude the

invaluable help of the small band of friends who typed the manuscripts, sometimes again and again, ungrudgingly, and

of those who checked them and the press proofs so carefully.

Any excellence in the get-up of this work is due to their x -'*%

tireless help.

The cover design is by Sri R. Mahadevan who has adopted

the Sangam as the special beneficiary of his selfless service.

We cannot refrain from mentioning with gratitude Mr. S. Ramaswamy who has looked after our work at

Madras. Without him, we do not know into what snares

and pitfalls we would have fallen.

Our acknowledgements to those to whom we are indebted

in the Introductory Essay on Tamil and the chapter on Sita

are made in the respective chapters.

We thank God who has deigned to use us as His instrument for this service to Kamban and Tamil, and we

tender this work with humility at His lotus feet as our

humble offering.

30th June, 1950.

THE DELHI TAMIL SANGAM.

 

CONTENTS

 

.

.

. .

,

 

Page

KAPPU

.

.

xiv

Foreword by Hon'ble Sri K. SANTANAM

.

 

xv

Tamil The Language and Its Literature (A Brief Survey)

 

.

xvii

Kamban A Short

Note

.

.

.

.

.

lxv

V. V. S. AiyarA Biographical Sketch

.

lxvi

Gandhiji on Aiyar

 

lxxii

.

.

.

.

Kamba RamayanamA Study

.

.

.

Chapter

I

Introductory Remarks

.

.

.

1

II

The Story of the Ramayana

.

5

III

In Medias Res

.

.

.

.

.

26

IV

The Architectonics of the Ramayana

 

34

V The Supernatural Element in the

 
 

Ramayana

 

.

.

.

.

.

40

VI

Rama

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

46

VII

Lakshmana

 

.

.

.

.

.

71

VIII IndrajitHis Exploits and Death .

101

IX

VlBHISHANA AND KUMBHAKARNA

.

.

125

X

The Episode of Hiranyakashipu

 

.

152

XI

Vali and Sugriva

.

.

.

.

.

169

XII

Hanuman

.

.

.

.

.

195

XIII Ravana

 

231

XTV Bharata

279

 

Sita (Contributed by a member of the

Delhi Tamil Sangam)

 

.

,

,

311

xii

CONTENTS

Page

Appendices I Garuda's Flight

345

II

Valmiki's Vali

347

Index

375

Index to Sita

379

Errata

.

380

Plates :

V. V. S. Aiyar

Fac-simile of a page from Aiyar's

Manuscripts

facing page lxvi

lxxi

THE DELHI TAMIL SANGAM

(Founded—January 1946)

Founder-President

Sri S. Subramanyam.

Founder-Secretary

Sri A. V. Kuppuswamy.

The Sangam was begun in a small room in a local boarding

house in January 1946 with less than a dozen members.

It was fostered with great care by the selfless work of the

Founder-President and the first Secretary of the Sangam and it

was chiefly due to them that the Sangam occupies its present

position of the cultural centre of the Tamilar in Delhi.

The Sangam is housed in a building kindly provided by the

Chief Commissioner of Delhi to whom the Sangam is ever grateful.

The objects of the Sangam are :

To provide a venue for the Tamilar to enjoy the cultural

benefits of the Tamil Literature in its three fieldsPoetry

and Prose, Music, and Drama, and to enable them to establish

cultural contacts with the people of the local province.

The Sangam fosters the following activities in furtherance

of its objects :

(a) Conducting of Study Classes in Tamil literature.

(b) Arranging lectures by eminent scholars on Tamil and

cognate subjects.

(c) Weekly Summer talks by members of the Sangam.

(d) Celebration of the two important Tamil festivalsThe

Pongal and the Tamil New Yearand of Days of the

Great Savants of Tamil.

(c) The publication of a manuscript Tamil Magazine for the self-expression of the members.

(/) Maintaining an excellent library of Tamil literature.

(0) Conducting a class in Hindi for the members.

(h) Maintaining a Free Reading Room (in memory of the orator and patriot S. Satyamurthi) for the Public of

Delhi and providing same with English, Hindi and Tamil

Newspapers and Periodicals.

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FOREWORD

This profound study of Kamba Ramayanam seeks to

present to the world the greatness of the immortal epic of

Hindu Culture as portrayed by the greatest of Tamil poets.

It is no exaggeration to say that Valmiki's Ramayana almost superseded the Vedas and the Smritis as the fountain source

of Hindu religion and morals. It was inevitable that it

should become the ambition of the poetic geniuses who

arose from time to time in the various parts of India to seek to render the Ramayana into their own languages. Of these attempts, the Ramayana of Kamban in Tamil and that of Tulsidas in Hindi (Brij Bhasha) stand foremost.

They are often considered superior to the original by their

enthusiastic admirers. I do not subscribe to this view.

Taken as a whole, I think Valmiki's Ramayana is incom-

parable in its simplicity, dignity and power to move the

mind.

It is nevertheless true that for sheer beauty of

language

and

delicate

portrayal of character

and

emotion, Kamban ordinarily equals and often excels

Valmiki. The author, V. V. S. Aiyar, who undertook this

difficult task of presenting the study in English of Kamba

Ramayanam was a remarkable personality. Perhaps, the

simplest way to assess him is to say that he stood in the field of politics and erudition in the same relation to

Lokamanya Tilak as Subramanya Bharati stood to Rabin-

dranath Tagore in the field of poetry. With the dawn of

the Gandhian era, V. V. S. Aiyar had changed over from

his older ideas of violent revolution to those of non-violent

satyagraha. Unfortunately he died before he could play an effective part in the new struggle for national liberation.

Aiyar's love of the Tamil language and his eagerness to

enrich it and interpret it to the non-Tamil world were

XVI

FOREWORD

second only to his passion for Indian independence. He

died before his fame could be securely established. The

Delhi Tamil Sangam has done a great service to all lovers

of literature by undertaking the publication of this study.

It is to be hoped that their attempt will be crowned with

success and the volume will have the popularity it deserves.

3*E5W }

K.SANTANAM.

TAMIL

A Brief Survey of the Language and its Literature.

(Compiled by a Member of the Delhi Tamil Sangam.)

Introductory.

This book, KAMBA RAMAYANAM—A STUDY, was written

by V. V. S. Aiyar with the avowed object of introducing this great literary treasurethe Epic of the Ramayana by Kambanto those who do not know the Tamil language. This fruit of Tamil Poesy is only one among the varied fruits and flowers in the Garden of

Tamil. We feel, therefore, that we should take the reader with

us into this ancient and flourishing garden for a strollhowever

brief it may beso that he may have an idea of the realm from

which this particular fruit came.

It is impossible to do any reasonable measure of justice to

this vast subject of Tamil and its Literature in this short essay.

We can but make brief mention of many important matters which

would leave an impression of dogmatic assertions in the absence

of the volume of evidence behind

however, have served our purpose if it did but give the readers

a glimpse of the antiquity and greatness of the Tamilar, their

language and its literature, and their place in the culture of this

Bharata Khandacalled India, and the world. For a detailed

study, we would refer the readers to the various books on the

subject some of which have been mentioned in the Bibliography

at the end of this survey.

ii. The TamilarTheir Origin.

A language is but the medium of expression of a people. It

is the people who shape the language and give it the impress of

their own character and life. Who are the Tamilar ? Or, broadly speaking, who are the Dravidiansby which name the various peoples in the south are designated ?

The origin of the Dravidians cannot be studied or settled

without the help of geological, anthropological, ethnological and

them.

This essay would,

Pre-historic

philological evidences.

On the evidence

of very

close affinities

betwten the plants and animals in Africa and

India at a very remote period, Mr. R. D. Oldhame

concludes 1 that there was once a continuous stretch of dry land

Tamilar.

*

l Manual of the Geology of India.

Xviii

t A M f L

connecting South Africa and India. This large continent of former times which extended from the Sunda Islands along the southern

coast of Asia to the east coast of Africa, Selata has called Lemuria.

" Peninsular India or Deccan ", says Sir T. W. Holderness, * " is

geologically distinct from the Indo-Gangetic

Himalayas.

plain

It

is

the remains

of

a

former continent

of

the

which

stretched continuously to Africa in the space now occupied by the

Indian Ocean.

In the Deccan, we are in the first days of the

world. We see land substantially as it existed before the begin-

nings of life. When the world was still in the making and before

the elevation of, the Himalayas, the space now occupied by the plain was a sea.", ,

Without going to the extent, as some savants of research do,

of claiming Lemuria or Deccan, its remnant, to be the probable

cradle of the human race, we may assume that it was the cradle of the Dravidians. It was however the cradle only, not the birth-

place.

Acute difference of opinion, however, exists among scholars

in regard to the early origin and history of the Dravidians. Some

Original Home

of the Tamilar.

very learned men

are

of opinion

that

the

Dravidians were invaders and that they came

J

through the north-western route leading to the

plains of Hindustan, and later migrated to the south. In proof

of this theory, they point to the existence of a Dravidian tribe in

Baluchistan speaking the Brahui language which is closely allied to Tamil. On the other hand, equally learned scholars maintain

that the Brahuis were the remnants of an overflow of Dravidians

from India to Baluchistan 2 . Although the invasion through the

historic period have been into India, yet the fact remains that

India was not connected with the mainland of Asia during the

pre-historic times and that the Peninsular India during even remoter periods was connected with Africa on the west and the

Malayan Archipelago on the east.

Ethnological evidences seem to point to the Iberian or Mediterranean Race as the ancestors of the Dravidians, who, it is suggested, migrated along the sea-coast and across the sea to the

i Peoples and Problems of India.

2 In a small work of this kind, it will be misleading to make any

reference to the recent excavations in Mohenjadaro by Dr. Wheeler, and

the train of hypotheses and counter-hypotheses which the finds have set

in motion. The ultimate conclusions will throw valuable light on the civilization of the Tamilar. The excavations are not yet completed and

await to be started again.

,

.

.

,,

*HE LANGUAGE ANb LITERATURE

X13t

Southern Peninsula. Readers are referred to the excellent treatise by A. C. Hodden on The Races of Men and their Distribution for

the reasons underlying this theory.

These are the people whose language in the south was Tamil

from which were born later, Telugu, Malayalam, Canarese, Tulu

and Oran (Oriya).

iii. The TamilarTheir Country.

While the extent of the land and its location where these people lived in pre-historic times may be a matter of conjecture,

we are on surer ground regarding the boundaries

Tamil-Nad in

f

the

abode

of Tamilar Tamil-akamin

historic times. " The extent of this Tamil-akam

was not however always the same. Tolkappiyar, the great Tamil grammarian, probably of the fourth century B.C.,

Ilango-adigal, the royal ascetic and reputed author of Silap-

padikaram, and Sikandiyar, a pupil of Agastyar and the author of a treatise on music, have made references in their works to the boundaries of the Tamil country, from which we can infer that

the Tamil-akam extended east and west from sea to sea and north to south from the Tirupati Hills to Cape Comorin, and to have

also included the modern States of Travancore and Cochin and the

Madras district of Malabar. This land was divided into three principal kingdoms. They

were the Pandya, Cola, and Cera Kingdoms. Their boundaries

Times! 6*1

The Three

varied widely at different times.

We deduce

their extent from certain poems of Auvvai's

time. She is said to have been a contemporary

of Kamban.

The extent of the Pandya Kingdom is defined thus in a poem

ascribed to Auvvai :

" South of the river Vellar 1 , Comorin on the south, the

sea sought by the gulf on the east, and open plain 2 on the

west comprising fifty-six Kavathams. 3 "

The Cola Kingdom, according to Puhalendhi, a later day poet, is described in this wise.

1 "The Vellar passes through (what was) the State of Pudukottah

and falls into the sea, south of Point Calemere. 2 " Peruveli the open plain or Peruvali probably refers to the Achan

Koil Ghat leading to Travancore."—M. S. P. Pillal.

3 Kavatham& distance of about ten miles.

*

\

Xk

TAMIL

" The sea to the east, the overflowing Vellar to the south. Kottaikarai to the west, and Elam to the north covering

twenty-four Kavathams."

[Kottaikarai was the boundary of the three kingdoms. The Cola

Kings were great warriors and extended their country to Venkata or the hot hill and to the Pennar river.]

It was in extent just a half of the Pandya Kingdom.

The Cera kingdom's boundaries too have been sung by Auvvai

who says :

" The northernmost point is Palni, right to the east is

Shencottah

(Tenkasi is another reading),

to the west is

Calicut, the sea-shore on the southextending over eighty

Kavathams."

[Chencode is taken by some to refer to Tiruchencode in the Salem

District.!

In point of extent it was as much as the other two put

together.

of these three

Kingdoms ' were the Fish for the Pandyas, the Tiger for the Colas,

and the Bow for the Ceras. All the three were unswerving patrons of Tamil Literature and its poets. These were the lands and these the Kings whose peoples'

ancient heritage is Tamil, a language as ancient as and coeval with, if not older than, any ancient language alive or dead in the world

The emblems on the flags of the Kings

iv. The TamilarTheir Language and Its Origin.

Tamil is the name of the language spoken by the peoples of

The word ends with the

consonant

language and would therefore denote an indi-

the lands we have specified above.

Tamil

Its meaning;.

&

-

.

yr,

.

.

which is unique to the Tamil

.,

,

This letter, in its

,,.

,

genous origin to the word.

consonant form fe has been assigned a pronunciation of Zh when

transliterated in other languages, and Zha when it becomes a

vowel-consonant. Much wordy warfare has raged round the

question of the origin of the name of the language, whether it is

indigenous or one given by foreigners. More phonological pedantry

i Their emblems adorn the seal