The Purananuru and the Tamil Concept of Valour

Nazir Ali

Associate Professor of English, Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for PG Studies, Govt. of Puducherry. Email:

  Volume 1, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v1n3.s204


This research article analyses the Tamil concept of valour as portrayed in the great master text of the Purananuru. It takes for its analysis nine of the eleven major tinais (situations) and nine turais (themes) to impart variety and comprehensiveness to the understanding of this very important aspect of Tamil puram life. If love between man and woman in all its complexity is central to akam poetry, valour in and off the battle is vital to puram poetry. The Purananuru follows tinai and turai divisions of its own, quite similar to as well as markedly different from the genres enumerated in the great founding text, the Tolkappiam. It also attempts to understand the rationale behind the extraordinary valorisation of this concept using some of the hypotheses advanced by George Hart in his ground-breaking translation of the Purananuru. While concurring that the frequent and internecine wars in ancient Tamilakam might have given indispensability to this concept, it tries to find parallels between the Tamil concept of maram and the Greek notions of arête. It detects the presence of war in almost every one of the poems, including the genre of kaikkilai or one-sided love.

 Keywords: Purananuru, Ettutokai, George Hart, arête, aporia, tinai, turai, Tolkappiam

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