TAMILS FOLLOWED VEDIC AND KALIDASA’S IMAGERY (Post No.10,931)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No. 10,931

Date uploaded in London – –    3 MAY   2022         

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Sangam Tamil poets composed about 2500 poems two thousand years ago. At least ten percent of the poems used Kalidasa’s imagery. It confirmed that Kalidasa lived and worked in the court of greatest Hindu emperor Vikramaditya before Sangam period. Several kings from Kashmir to Kanyakumari had borrowed his name Vikrama or Aditya and prefixed or suffixed to their names. Since Kalidasa lived before Sangam age, his ideas were borrowed by the Tamil poets. But Kalidasa also had his predecessors like Vyasa, Valmiki and Vedic Poets. Best of the commentators on Kalidasa was Mallinatha; he said that Kalidasa followed Valmiki in several things.

Let us look at one famous imagery which is found only in Hindu literature.

For Hindus

Tree is Man and Creeper or Climber is Woman

Moon is Man and Stars are Women

Sea is Man and Rivers are Women

This has been followed from Vedic days until today. Several feature film songs in Hindi and Tamil use this imagery.

These similes illustrate that slender and beautiful  things are women and strong and large are men. Women always run after men who are heroes in real life or film life. Heroines are in umpteen numbers but heroes are not that many; they survive longer in film industry.

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Rig Veda and Atharva Veda portray men as trees and women as creepers. Later Mahabharata, Kalidasa , Asvagosha and Sangam Tamil poets used this imagery. Until today we see it in film lyrics.

Here is what the Rig Vedic poet say in the famous Yama- Yami dialogue poem in the Rig Veda (10-10)

10-10-13

Alas ! you are indeed a weak man Yama. You have neither a heart nor any spirit.

As round the tree the creeper clings, another woman will cling about you and it is like a girdle of the horse”.

In the next mantra Yama also says the same to his twin sister Yami. He refused to accept her incestuous proposal.

In the Atharva Veda, we read in 6-8-1

“Like as the creeper throws , her arms on every side around the tree

So you hold me in your embrace and you may be in love with me , my darling, never to depart.”

Xxx

We see in in the Vanaparva of Mahabharata 3-12-12

‘The forest terrified by the demon Kirmira, ‘the long grown creepers embraced the trees with arms od red blossoms’.

Bu Kalidasa is the best in using this imagery all through his works. Just to quote one or two places, I go to his most famous play Sakuntalam.

Anasuya and Priyamvada, two of Sakuntala’s friends tease her when she was looking at the creeper around the tree They commented that she is expecting someone will be there for her to cling  like the creeper . We see such imagery in Malavikagnimitra and Vikrama Urvasiya dramas too. In  Vikramorvaseeya , Urvasi herself becomes a creeper. Asvaghosa, a poor Buddhist longing for Buddhist propaganda via Sanskrit, imitated Kalidasa. He or Buddha never figured in Sangam Tamil literature. Not even other Sanskrit commentators bothered about Asvaghosa’s works.

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Tamil Poets Remarks

In 2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature we see this Tree/Creeper and Man/Woman comparison in at east three poems in Akananuru and Ainkurunuru.

Patali tree and Athiral climber/creeper are used by the poets Othal Anthaiyar and Palai Padiya Perumkadungo.

In the Vedic days, the poets used the word ‘Libuja’ and later ‘Latha’ for creeper. Pushpalatha, Hemalatha, Srilattha , Swarnalatha, Premalatha and umpteen Lathas are used as girls’names throughout India even today.

In Ainkurunuru verse 400 it is clearly said that woman is a creeper and man s a tree. In other verses Akananuru 99, 237, 261 the Pathiri tree and its climber Athiral are used in the context of Lover and his beloved.

Modern Tamil film songs continue this tradition and the lyrics always project ladylove as a creeper.

We can say that this tradition has been there from the Vedic days from Himalayas to Kanyakumari.

For Tamil lovers , here are the passages; in later literature we see crystal clear imagey.

 (அகம் 99)     அதிரல் பரந்த அம் தண் பாதிரி

xxx

புன்காற் பாதிரி அரி நிறத் திரள்வீ

நுண் கொடி அதிரலொடு  நுணங்கு அறல் வரிப்ப

-அகநானூறு 237

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கானப் பாதிரிக் கருந்தக்கட்டு ஒள்வீ

வேனில் அதிரலொடு விரைஇ

—அகநானூறு 261

xxx

மள்ளர் அனன மரவம்  தழீஇ

மகளிர் அன்ன ஆடுகொடி நுடங்கும்

–ஐங்குறுநூறு 400

–subham—

 Tree, Man, Climber, Creeper, Woman, Kalidasa, Tamil, Sanskrit, Literature

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