Two poets, two Chennai localities, two different eras

ThiruvaLLuvar is well-known not only in Thamizhnaadu but also in many literary circles across the world since his masterpiece “ThirukkuraL” has been widely translated into many languages. In Chennai, people cannot avoid knowing him if they have ever had a chance to travel by bus since his picture alongwith one of the “KuraLs” is prominently displayed above the back seat of the bus. ThiruvaLLuvar was supposed to have lived in Mylapore, one of the two most important Chennai localities (the other being Triplicane, these two having grown into major population centers owing to the settlements around their centuries old temples – KapAleeswarar and PArthasArathy).

Subramaniya BhArathi who lived in an entirely different era was inspired by ThiruvaLLuvar among others. Although BhArathi was born elsewhere and lived in a variety of places, he finally chose ThiruvallikkeNi (Triplicane) to settle down and that is where his life ended too. Chennai has thus seen two gifted poets of two different eras from two of its most important localities, whose literary works are world famous. BhArathi refers to VaLLuvar in his poem below that extols the greatness of Thamizhnaadu.

செந்தமிழ் நாடெனும் போதினிலே – இன்பத்
தேன் வந்து பாயுது காதினிலே – எங்கள்
தந்தையார் நாடென்ற பேச்சினிலே – ஒரு
சக்தி பிறக்குது மூச்சினிலே (செந்தமிழ்)

வேதம் நிறைந்த தமிழ் நாடு – உயர்
வீரம் செறிந்த தமிழ் நாடு – நல்ல
காதல் புரியும் அரம்பையர் போலிளங்
கன்னியர் சூழ்ந்த தமிழ் நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)

கல்வி சிறந்த தமிழ்நாடு – புகழ்க்
கம்பன் பிறந்த தமிழ் நாடு – நல்ல
பல்வித மாயின சாத்திரத்தின் மணம்
பாரெங்கும் வீசுந் தமிழ் நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)

வள்ளுவன் தன்னை உலகினுக்கே தந்து
வான்புகழ் கொண்ட தமிழ் நாடு – நெஞ்சை
அள்ளும் சிலப்பதி காரமென் றோர்மணி
யாரம் படைத்த தமிழ் நாடு (செந்தமிழ்)

The tradition of one poet’s புகழாரம் for another continues and this time it is a song from the Thamizh movie “Nizhal Nijamaagiradhu (1978)” in which KaNNadAsan pays tribute to the masters before him.

வள்ளுவன் இளங்கோ பாரதி என்றொறு வரிசையை நான் கண்டேன்
அந்த வரிசையில் உள்ளவர் மட்டுமல்ல அட நானும் ஏமாந்தேன்

(from the “கம்பன் ஏமாந்தான்” song in that movie).

Chennai continues to produce a variety of கவிஞர்s and we will see this tradition continue where a future poet may eulogize KaNNadAsan, Vaali and Vairamuthu in a song similar to the above.

11 Comments so far

  1. in2mind (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 2:37 am

    Nice post.

  2. Anand (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 8:54 am

    I don’t know how true this is, but yesterday someone told me that there was a period when Subramanya Barathi, Srinivasa Ramanujam, and UV Swaminatha Iyer all lived in Triplicane at the same time. Can anyone verify this?

  3. raghavan (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

    Good to see some posts on this topic however the masses in Chennai have turned the Tamil language upside down by mixing all these other languages into it. Thiruvalluvar would be diappointed with the state of Tamil language especially with the Tamils of Chennai who show such a great language no respect at all.

  4. in2mind (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 2:38 pm


    Yes! Subramanya Barathi(1882-1921), Srinivasa Ramanujam(1887-1920), and UV Swaminatha Iyer(1855-1942) all lived in triplicane. As for the ‘same time’ part ,it is very much possible as you can see from the time frame. Infact,I have read that Bharathiyar praised UV Swaminatha Iyer in his poem & that UV S befriended Bharathiyar .

    Interestingly,Mrs. Janakiammal Ramanujan, the widow of Ramanujan lived in triplicane until her death in 1994.Her adopted son W.Narayanan lives in Triplicane too.

  5. thennavan (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 4:46 am

    In2mind, thanks for both the first comment and the second one, providing information on what Anand asked. Readers like you are a class apart :-).

    Anand, good question for which In2mind came to my rescue to answer :-).

    Raghavan, please not this topic all over again :-).

  6. raghavan (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 6:07 am

    Well its the truth so why should I not talk about it? People seem to push this under the rug too much, I am sure any of these great poets would be shocked to see the state of Tamil language in Chennai if they were alive.

  7. sj (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 9:26 am

    These poets were all great but I think there won’t be any more in this era that will be produced certainly not from Chennai, perhaps somewhere else. The Tamil language is dieing a slow death anyway so how can it produce great works like the past.

  8. Chenthil (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

    Ragahavan and SJ, I have written a post in Tamil, a couple of days ago in this blog. Why don’t you come over there and we can discuss this in our own language.

  9. thennavan (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

    Chenthil, the last line in that post of yours sums up neatly what these people should be doing :-) (I think your offer may not be taken up by “both” Raghavan and SJ as they are essentially the same person coming from the same IP address ;-)).

  10. Nilu (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

    Yeah, why is it accepted that Valluvan was from Mayilai? There used to be some debate about his geography. Is that settled? Do we have conclusive evidnce?

  11. thennavan (unregistered) on October 4th, 2006 @ 12:04 am

    When I did a Google search, all sites used words like “supposed”, “believed to have lived” etc. and so it looks like we may never have solid proof of his having lived there.

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