Though the word Tamil refers to a language, it has other meanings. It means ‘sweetness’ and ‘uprightness,’ said K. Sambandan in a discourse. There is no other language in the world that has its name a word that means sweetness

Though the word Tamil refers to a language, it has other meanings. It means ‘sweetness’ and ‘uprightness,’ said K. Sambandan in a discourse.

There is no other language in the world that has its name a word that means sweetness. No wonder Tamil was the medium for the outpourings of Azhvars, Nayanmars and others who wrote religious verses.

In Sangam literature, women are described as looking like Tamil. The import is women look beautiful. Here Tamil is used in the sense of ‘sweetness.’ Poet Bharatidasan says Tamil is like nectar, and it is as precious to him as his life itself.

We see in religious works in Tamil the sublimation of romantic love into an attachment to God. The ‘Ilakkiyam’ in Tamil are 96 in number. ‘Thoodhu,’ ‘ula,’ and ‘Pillai Tamizh’ are some kinds of ‘Ilakkiyams.’ These works mirror life. For example, ‘Tiruppalli Ezhuchi’ could have had its origin in the practice of singing to wake up kings.

‘Andadi’ means end and beginning. Ironically Karaikal Ammaiyar composed an ‘andadi’ on Lord Siva, the One who has no beginning or end.

Tolkappiyar says that the Sun, the moon and the fire will be part of verses written to worship God. The sun is Lord Siva’s right eye, the moon His left eye and fire is represented in the third eye on His forehead. Tolkappiyar also says that in whatever form we worship God, in that form will we see Him. So if we imagine God to be a child, He will manifest as a child.

As for the type of literature known as ‘Pillai Tamizh,’ the word ‘Pillai’ means a child. ‘Tamizh’ means joy. Just as children are a source of joy, so are verses written in this genre. ‘Pillai Tamizh’ captures the different stages of childhood. It is usually about a deity. Thus we have ‘Pillai Tamzih’ verses on Vinayaka, Muruga and other deities. This genre divides the period of childhood into 10 stages. The first seven stages are the same for boys and girls. The eighth, ninth and tenth are different for male and female. ‘Kaappu,’ ‘Senkeerai,’ ‘Chappaani,’ ‘Mutham’ and ‘Ambuli’ are some of the stages common to both male and female children.

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