Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/40

There was a problem when proofreading this page.

38

being slowly choked out, especially in towns, by the pressure of the drab civilization of Europe, which is robbing us of many simple joys coming down from ancient times, when the love of flowers was so strong as to lead the Tamils to adopt flowers and leaves even as the distinctive uniforms of soldiers. In the battle-fields, the soldiers of each of the three great Tamil dynasties of kings could be distinguished from each other only by the garlands they wore. Thus the Pāṇḍya soldiers were decorated with the leaves and flowers of the Vēmbu,[1] Margosa, the Śoḻa soldiers, with those of the Ātti[2] or Ār[3], Bauhinea racemosa, and the Śera soldiers, of the Panai,[4] the palmyra. The early literature, and especially the Tolkāppiyam, contains frequent references to the symbolic use of leaves and flowers, and these prove that the ancient Tamils led a happy life of constant merrymaking unoppressed by a too pessimistic view of the world and of man's destiny and that they were inspired by a love of nature superior in strength to that of other peoples, ancient or modern.

Of the five subdivisions of Puṛam, Veṭchi, the first, refers to the preliminary lifting of the enemy's cattle, and confining them in a pen in one's own country, which was the ancient method of the declaration of war. This proves that kingship, like formal war, began in the pastoral stage of life. As large herds of cattle are kept in the hilly region, Veṭchi, corresponds to Kuṛinji. Vañji corresponds to Mullai; it deals with the expedition into the enemy's country, which has necessarily to pass through the wooded country surrounding the lower river valleys, where forts were built for storing in safety the accumulated agricultural and metallic wealth.

Uḻiñai has for its subject the siege of the forts, and especially the capital, of the enemy king, situated in the heart of the Marudam region. Tumbai refers to the fierce fighting which succeeds the mastery of the fort-walls, and Vāgai, the final victory. As Agattinai has on the whole seven subdivisions, so two more have been added to Puṛattiṇai, viz., Kāñji,[5] which generally deals with the transitoriness of earthly pleasures in general and the vanity of military glory in particular, the first touch of asceticism which was destined to overwhelm Indian life from the middle of the first millenium before Christ, and Pāḍāṇ,[6] the last of the Puṛattiṇai, which contains poems praising the munificence of kings and nobles towards the poets who sought their patronage.

As it was love of display of prowess and of glory that drove the ancient Tamils to war, there is no doubt that fighting was an annual institution, undertaken in the season between the gathering of the harvest and the starting of the tillage for the next year. War was called pōr,[7] śaṇḍai,[8] śeru,[9] muraṇ,[10] tevvu,[11] and by about twenty other words.[12] This wealth of words meaning war indicates that it was a favourite amusement with the ancient Tamils, amusement because the object of ancient war, like that of wrestling, maṛpōr,[13] which was thus a variety of por, was not for satisfying the lust for bloodshed, but for proving strength and skill. The field of battle was called kaḷam,[14]

  1. வேம்பு.
  2. ஆத்தி.
  3. ஆர்.
  4. பனை.
  5. காஞ்சி.
  6. படாண்.
  7. போர்.
  8. சண்டை.
  9. செரு.
  10. முரண்.
  11. தெவ்வு.
  12. அமர், ஆர்ப்பு , இகவ், உறழ்வு, கணையம், கதனம், கலி, குரம்பு, கூட்டம், சமர், ஞாட்பு, தாக்கு, திறல், தும்மை, நிகம், நிகர்ப்பு, பண்டனம், மலைப்பு, மலைவு. நல், முயல், மொய், விதப்பு, வினை.
  13. மற்போர்.
  14. (Symbol missingTamil characters)