THAMIZH ILAKKIYA VARALAARU: Sirpi Balasubramaniam, C. Sethupathi; Kavitha Publications, Post Box No. 6123, 8 Masilamani Street, Pondi Bazaar, T.Nagar, Chennai- 600017. Rs.200.

PKR

This an introduction to Tamil literature written with brevity and clarity. It consists of 29 chapters and 20 appendices. In the prologue, it speaks about the origin and richness of Tamil. The three academies of Tamil, Agaththiyam , the ancient grammatical work, Tholkappiyam , the glorious grammar, and the Sangam works come in for a detailed discussion, backed by necessary data.

The collection of early literary works known as Padhinenkeezhkanakku (the ‘eighteen minor works'), and the famous epic poems, Silappathikaram and Manimekalai (together known as Irattai-k-kaappiangal or twin epics) get their rightful place in the volume both in terms of space and academic treatment. Literary works of different genre — epics, dictionaries, religious and so on — belonging to the post-Sangam and pre-modern era take away as many as 10 chapters.

Going beyond the purely literary domain, the book outlines the literary activities, even if briefly, of socio-political movements such as the ones associated with Gandhiji, Periyar and the Communists. The forums run by Tamil lovers and the journals/special publications devoted to the cause of Tamil also find a mention. The appendices are a mine of information about Tamil language and literature. In sum, it is a valuable addition to Tamilology.

KANNADA

A Cultural study

V. Gopalakrishna

MAHAVEERABHADRA (Part I): M.G. Nagaraj, Prasaranga Shreemad Veerashaiva Sadbodhana Samsthe, Sri Jagadguru Rambhapuri Veerasimhasana Maha Samsthana Peetha, Balehonnuru – 577112, Chickmagalur District. Rs.300.

Veerabhadra is a deity around whom a whole of lot of traditions, rites, rituals, customs, and religious practices have developed across south India. In fact, a religious cult has evolved in Karnataka and Veerabhadra is worshipped as the family deity by the Veerasaiva community. Innumerable are the temples/shrines dedicated to Veerabhadra, a name that occurs commonly in the State, whether it is the names of places or humans.

Legend has it that Lord Siva, angered by the humiliation meted out to Sati at the yajna performed by Daksha and her subsequent self-annihilation, created Veerabhadra to disrupt the yajna and do away with Daksha, a mission he accomplished.

Thereupon, Veerabhadra attained Siva's celestial abode and became the chief aide of the Lord.

This well-researched work provides a wealth of information on Veerabhadra-centred folk literature, performing arts, and worship.

A major part of the book is devoted to temples — their genesis, historical importance, folk beliefs, iconic details, and cultural significance of the place. A word index would have enhanced its usefulness.

MALAYALAM

A novel of promise

B.R.P. Bhaskar

AGRAYANAM: by Rajan Panoor; DC Books, Kottayam 686001. Price: Rs.150.

From Takazhi Sivasankara Pillai and Vaikom Muhammad Basheer to O.V. Vijayan and Kakkanadan, who passed away recently, a number of novelists enriched Malayalam literature with works that faithfully reflected Kerala's changing social scene.

While they were still around, the State witnessed even more revolutionary changes than what they had recorded.

However, barring a few exceptions like Narayan, who has provided a refreshing account of Adivasi life, the new crop of novelists cannot be said to have done justice to the new realities. Rajan Panoor's debut novel Agrayanam sets him apart from that crop by filling the breach to a considerable extent.

How tourism transforms a remote village situated near a river and at the foot of a hill forms the crux of the novel. Through a multitude of characters, the author depicts the changes so absorbingly that the reader is made to feel as if he were an eye-witness to the whole process of the old giving place to the new. Slices of raw life are strewn all over the story, which is set against the idyllic beauty of the land.

The novel proclaims the arrival of a writer of promise. He crafts a narrative style that suits his purpose and boldly strikes out a new path.

The presence of Nature is so overwhelming that it can also qualify to be an educational piece on environment protection. While projecting the fast-changing scene, Panoor keeps egging the reader on to ponder over what is happening all around him.