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Book Three of the THIRUK-KURAL on Un-Authorised (concealed) and Authorised (religion-ordained) LOVE: Cantos 109 THAGAIANANGKURAITHTHAL to 133
(Note: Love between mainly the wedded pair from the standpoint of the fair liana-like “lady” of the pliant bamboo-shoulders, light of tread, fresh as the lotus-shoot of a light-green hue, bedecked in jewels, matched by pearls for teeth, her breath a gentle breeze of jasmine,
her doe arched-eyes shooting darts through demure glances – happens to be a kyrielle of complaints – feigned or genuinely felt – in the Romantic vein of the pain of “unrequited love”.
There is much – even far too much – of the harping of the wife’s adoration of her lover-husband whose absence, even minimal, is experienced as a cataclysmic disaster, much as the “damsel in distress” in dire throes.
No where the inadequacy of the male is in evidence: he is the paragon of virility to be adored whole-heartedly for his looks, even if his fidelity is thrown into doubt.
The poet doesn’t – given the puritanical nature of his society’s moeurs – shy away from hinting directly at the joyous fulfilment of the sexual act or union through the repetitious use of the word “embrace” (muyakkam/muyangku).
The damsel or fair lady freely pines away when her Lord and Master distances himself from her doting presence – even in his thoughts – and she’s up to all sorts of “tricks” to enhance the renewal of ecstatic “embraces”. She pouts, her sorrow becoming the talk of the town. Likewise the hero also affixes his disappointment by riding the “madal” (meaning a “horse” made of palmyra leaf-stems on which the forsaken male lover mounts to proclaim his grief).
From time to time, the couplets are specifically addressed to a companion in order to unburden herself of her unbearable longing for the lover, much in the fashion of the Cangam Age (2nd to the 5th C.E.) aham (inner as opposed to external life) poetic conventions where the personae of the poems speak to companions or friends, and the reader merely overhears the expressions of joy or suffering in their conversations. One would do well to remember that these AHAM-PURAM conventions were a highly complex system of codification
of symbols relating to the fauna and flora confined to regions in five landscapes, such as, mountains, forests, plains, deserts and coastal beaches, with a whole range of feelings and sentiments associated with each “object” found in a seasonal moment of time as well.
These couplets do not reveal any picture of the family or communal life, apart from the fact that she is still slave in her total attachment to her husband-lover. Now and then, she has recourse to ruses and wiles to ensnare the “disinterested” husband, only to enhance the “heat” of the re-union, though. Yet, the resulting picture does not elevate her out of the miasma of servitude to her lover-husband. She appears content in her role, though.
One gets the feeling that this third section of the Kural could not have been composed by our poet of high vision, methodically dissecting and analysing larger chunks of life in true philosophic fashion. In it therefore lies further proof of his genius.
Let us pause and examine the first couplet of Bk 3 to note, once again, how Thiru-Valluvar goes about constructing his maxims from a linguistic point of view.) T. Wignesan
CANTO 109, K1081: anangkukol aaymayil kollO kanangkulai
maatharkol maalumen nenchu
Goddess? or peafowl rare? She whose ears rich jewels wear,
Is she a maid of human kind? All wildered is my mind! (Trans. G.. Pope)
Is this jewelled female a celestial, a choice peahen, or a human being? My mind is perplexed. (Transl. Drew & Lazarus)
Canto title: thagaianangkuraiththal
thagai = beauty, excellence, appropriate quality;
anangku = (see here below);
uraiththal = (from "urai' = to speak out/declare) declarations.
anangku = goddess/fascination;
aaymayil = exquisite peahen (aay = exquisite);
kanangkulai = woman wearing heavy ear-rings;
maathar = a woman;
maalum = be bewildered;
en = my;
nenché/nenchu = mind, heart, conscience;
kol…kollO…kol = in an ennumeration of items, these phrasial post-particles mean: whether….or….;
Whether a goddess or an exquisite peahen or a woman wearing heavy-studded ear rings, my mind distracted is plunged in confusion. (Transl. T. Wignesan)
© T. Wignesan – Paris, 2017
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