PADHITRU-P-PATHU — Moolamum Aaraaichi Puthuraiyum: K.A. Gunasekaran; International Institute of Tamil Studies, II Main Road, CIT Campus, Chennai-600113. Rs. 170.

In the group of eight anthologies (Ettu-th-thogai) that form part of the Sangam literature, Aganaanooru and Padhitru-p-pathu differ from the rest in their form and content, and are rather difficult to understand.

Padhitru-p-pathu was first published in 1904 by the famous scholar-editor, U.Ve. Saminatha Iyer. Later, in 1949, Avvai Duraisami Pillai edited and published it with his elaborate commentary. The second half of the 20th century saw the publication of many editions of the work.

As the title itself indicates, Padhitru-p-pathu is a collection of 10 sets, each with 10 stanzas. Of the 10 sets, the first and the last are not available. Composed by different poets, every set of 10 speaks of a particular Chera king.

As it happens, this is the only literary source available for information on the Chera kings and the people and society of Chera Naadu (Chera kingdom).

Gunasekaran, a Tamil scholar who has specialised in drama and theatre, looks at the work from a new angle. Based on the hypothesis that each poem is related to or speaks of an ‘event’, he proceeds to examine the time, place, and background of that event. He deserves to be complimented on his refreshingly different approach to an ancient work.

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