இன்னதாம் என்னல் ஆமோ உலகியல்

Faithful readers of this blog, have been made painfully aware, of my bull-headed obsessions about believability in art. I enjoy only the totally convincingly 'real' or something spectacularly fable-like, struggle violently with most things in between.

Who is to say, this is how things roll in 'reality'?

After meeting Sita, Hanuman ravages through the Asokavanam, hoping his actions will take him to Ravana. Waves of warriors and chieftains are sent to fight him and they meet their gory ends in his hand.

Ravanan's son Akkakumaran then arrives at the scene and sees the monkey. He laughs derisively at the possibility that a monkey could have killed the warriors

வன் தொழில் அரக்கன் நோக்கி, வாள் எயிறு இலங்க நக்கான்;
'கொன்றது இக் குரங்கு போலாம், அரக்கர்தம் குழாத்தை!' என்றான்
The Rakshasa - the one of brutal methods- laughed mockingly showing his sword like teeth;
'it seems it was this monkey that killed the army of rakshasa warriors (as if such a thing were believable)

To his charioteer replies:

அன்னதாம் நகு சொல் கேட்ட சாரதி, 'ஐய! கேண்மோ!
இன்னதாம் என்னல் ஆமோ உலகியல்? இகழல் அம்மா;
மன்னனோடு எதிர்ந்த வாலி குரங்கு என்றால், மற்றும் உண்டோ ?
சொன்னது துணிவில் கொண்டு சேறி' என்று, உணரச் சொன்னான்

His charioteer who heard those mocking words said: "Lord, listen
Who can say how the world works? Speak not derisively
Vali - who fought (and beat) our King (Ravana) was a monkey. Is there anything more to say?
Do bear that in mind as you bravely enter this battle

So I guess wise charioteers predate the Mahabharatha.
The uncomfortable fact - that Vali had once wrestled Ravana into submission - being reminisced at an inopportune moment, may just simply mean 'underestimate not'.

But the expression: 'இன்னதாம் என்னல் ஆமோ உலகியல்?' is captivating in its succinctness . To translate word for word, it would be: w can say of the ways of the world that 'this is how it is'

It is not just uncertainty or randomness or the elusiveness to anticipation. It is all this and more. It is not even about the future - after all he is referring to a past that has failed to instruct the present. It seems to be about human inability to grasp even his own small bubble. It seems to be about : it is not for man to understand. He is most welcome to try. But surely he is not afforded the luxury of wholesome understanding before he can act.


  1. I am being introduced to a lot of Kambar through your blog. Must say you are making me interested to explore more of Kamba Ramayanam. Thanks for that. And one thing I am able to observe (correct me if I am wrong) from your posts is that Kambar delivers these phrases of depth to be looked into between the lines without any bombast. Avar appidiye sollittu poidaraar just like that.

  2. One more scene wherein Kamban just brings the drama in front of your eyes!! And yes, that particular line is just not 'translatable'. Believe me, I tried now :)

    Keep up such posts. It will give you a chance to read Kamban and to us lazy fellows as well :)

  3. //Avar appidiye sollittu poidaraar just like that. //
    Exactly. If he was feeling profound, then a character he was writing at the times, gets lucky :-) That's how I see it.

    In Bala Kandam he talks about how the women are playing with crystal balls. The balls themselves have no color and take the color of the hands that hold it. So invokes the comparison of the prostitutes, who have no character of their own but

    Strikes one as totally bizarre and unnecessary at that juncture but beauteous nevertheless. The line he mentions is

    மெய் வரும் போகம் ஒக்க உண்டு விலையும் கொள்ளும்

    'She shares the joy of union and then also gets paid for it'

    What a succinct, and very odd POV to express contempt for them? It is not the trading of flesh for money that makes them contemptible. It is the fact that they are paid 'twice'. Now this is the kind of thing that helps take this out of context and extrapolate - I like to invoke it wrt to the general high moral ground that women like to take on these issues!

    And he throws it away at a totally unexpected juncture :-)

    //And yes, that particular line is just not 'translatable'.//
    Yeah exactly :-)

  4. Heard this in a pattimandram a lot of years back. Somehow stuck inside me. Don't remember who spoke this but then, he was talking about an uvamai Kamban uses to describe Seethai. A duck sees her walk and kills itself seeing her நடை. நடை is not just the beauty of walk but நடத்தை. A word sums up Seeta's physical and inner beauty. Kamba, you are a gethu man.

  5. Beautiful post! Discovering the beauty of Kamban directly from your posts :) But if I may suggest something, could you resume your podcasts? Tamil is more beautiful when heard rather than read, and it helps me learn to pronounce some words too :)

  6. Thanks Vijay, I guess I'll do when I gather a bunch of poems to talk about. Nowadays, I read one, and feel like just elaborating on it, so I write.


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