WRITTEN by London Swaminathan



Date: 12 September 2018


Time uploaded in London – 19-16 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5423

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The are many unsung heroes among Indian poets and one of them was Murugadasa Swamigal of Tamil Nadu. He composed about 100,000 poems. Among them is a remarkable work called ‘Pulavar Purana’ meaning a Purana of Poets. He composed 2828 stanzas on 72 Hindu Poets of Tamil Nadu. He was born in Tirunelveli in 1838 and lived for 60 years. His family gave all the manuscripts to Tamil Pundit of Madras (Chennai) who published all his poems on 72 Tamil poets starting from the legendary Vedic seer Agastya.


Krishnmachari in his first part published in 1901, introduced Murugadasa swamikal with two interesting anecdotes :-

“ Though trustworthy information respecting the gifted poet is wanting, yet the date of his birth in Tirunelveli about 1838 harmonises with what is known of his career and death in the Tamil Vilambi year (1898). The young poet seems to have been a popular favourite and a leader of sports where he resided, but study and writing of poetry were nevertheless more attractive to him than play. He is a remarkable instance of intellectual precocity for he always carried with him his iron pen or stylus and palm leaf ready for use. It is said that he composed, at intervals of play at marbles, before he was ten years old, a short poem ‘Pannirumaalai’ in praise of the 12 powerful arms of the war god Subrahmanya.


When Murugadasa was old enough to leavehome,he visited all famous shrines in India and Sri Lanka and met many religious leaders in  monasteries.


Krishnamachari adds,

“ He was cultured and thoughtful and his delicate tact, piety and prudence well fitted him for the task of a biogrpaher. He covered imporatant Saivite and Vaishnavite poets andshowed no hositility towards any sect.He gave the history of Hindu poets leaving out Buddhist and Jain Tamil scholars.


He is known to have visited Madras before he was twenty years old and to have astonished a earned audience in Kandaswami Temple by his elquent exposition and ready powers of versification.


He is said to have composed no less than a lakh of verses consisting mainly of hymns and sacred legends of gods. I have given the list of Tamil Books in my Tamil version of this article). His greatest and most original work is ‘Pulavar Puranam’ (Legend of the Poets). It may be placed as a monumental work by itself, charming in all freshness and vivecity.


In short Murugadsa seems to have offended none and instructed many till his demise in sixtieth year in his clay built cloister in a little village of Tiruvamaattur in South Arcot.

Metrical Biographies of Tamil Poets

V Krishnamachariar published all the 2828 veses in three volumes from 1901 to 1906. Here is the list of all the 72 poets covered in his work:-







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