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Sangam literature
Eighteen Greater Texts
Eight Anthologies
Ten Idylls
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Tamil history from Sangam literatureAncient Tamil music
Eighteen Lesser Texts
Iṉṉā NāṟpatuIṉiyavai Nāṟpatu
Kār NāṟpatuKaḷavaḻi Nāṟpatu
Aintiṇai AimpatuTiṉaimoḻi Aimpatu
Aintinai EḻupatuTiṉaimalai Nūṟṟu Aimpatu
ĀcārakkōvaiPaḻamoḻi Nāṉūṟu

The Paripāṭal (Tamilபரிபாடல், meaning the paripatal-metre anthology) is a classical Tamil poetic work and traditionally the fifth of the Eight Anthologies (Ettuthokai) in the Sangam literature.[1] It is an "akam genre", odd and hybrid collection which expresses love in the form of religious devotion (Bhakti) to gods and goddesses of Hinduism, according to Kamil Zvelebil, a Tamil literature and history scholar.[1][2] This is the only anthology in the Eight Anthologies collection that is predominantly religious, though the other seven anthologies do contain occasional mentions and allusions to Hindu gods, goddesses and legends, along with invocatory poem to Shiva.[3][4]

The Tamil tradition believes that the Paripāṭal anthology originally contained 70 poems, of which 24 have survived in full and few others have survived in fragments into the modern era as evidenced by the quotes in the Tolkappiyam and the Purattirattu. Of the 24 full poems that have survived, 7 are dedicated to Tirumal (Krishna, Vishnu), eight to Murugan, and nine to river goddess Vaikai.[1][5] The nine river-related poems mention bathing festivals (Magh Mela),[1][6] as well as water sports, offerings of prayers at the river banks, playful lover's quarrel where the wife accuses her husband of bathing with his mistress.[7]

The compilation is attributed to 13 poets, and each poem has a notable colophon. In these colophons, in addition to the poet's name is included the music and tune (melodic mode, raga) for the poem, as well as the composer of that music.[1] The Paripatal poems are longer than the poems in other major Sangam anthologies. The typical poems have 60 lines, and the longest surviving poem has 140 lines. Like the Kalittokai anthology, this collection also includes dialogue-based poems.[8] Beyond the 24 surviving poems, from the fragmentary records about the other 46 original poems, 1 additional poem was to Tirumal, 23 more to Murugan, 1 to Durga, 17 more to Vaikai and 4 to Maturai. The Tirumal devotional poems are too similar to those found in ancient Sanskrit texts, and likely a strong evidence of pan-India interaction.[9]

The Paripatal manuscripts suggest that it was not purely an abstract literary work, rather a guide for devotional songs to be sung. The poems also mention temples and shrines, thereby suggesting that the Tamil people had already built temples for Vishnu, Murugan and other deities in the Sangam era.[10] The Paripatal anthology is likely a late Sangam literature, states Zvelebil, separated from the earliest Sangam work by at least three centuries. This is evidenced by the linguistic and grammatical innovations, many more loan words from Sanskrit, and its mention of mural paintings in temples and other cultural innovations.[10] Takanobu Takahashi concurs that this is a late Sangam work, and adds that the poems were likely composed over several generations over 100–150 years (3rd-century CE).[11] A.K. Ramanujan suggests this Sangam anthology may be from about the 6th-century.[2] The poems allude to many pan-Indian legends, such as the samudra manthan (churning of cosmic ocean), Vishnu devotee Prahlada's struggle, Shiva and Murugan legends. The Paripatal collection may be the early buds of transitional poems that flowered into the Bhakti movement poetry.[10][12][13]

According to V. N. Muthukumar and Elizabeth Rani Segran, the Vishnu devotional poems in the Paripatal are some of "earliest and finest representations of devotional genre", while the poems dedicated to Vaikai (Vaiyai) river are "unbriddled celebration of sensuality and love".[8] The first Tamil edition of Paripatal from palm-leaf manuscripts discovered in 19th-century was published by U.V. Swaminatha Aiyar in 1918.[14] A French translation was published in 1968 by François Gros.[15] English translations of the collection has been published by Seshadri, Hikosaka et al in 1996,[16] as well as partly by Muthukumar and Segram in 2012.[17]


To திருமால் (Vishnu):

தீயினுள் தெறல் நீ;
பூவினுள் நாற்றம் நீ;
கல்லினுள் மணியும் நீ;
சொல்லினுள் வாய்மை நீ;
அறத்தினுள் அன்பு நீ;
மறத்தினுள் மைந்து நீ;
வேதத்து மறை நீ;
பூதத்து முதலும் நீ;
வெஞ் சுடர் ஒளியும் நீ;
திங்களுள் அளியும் நீ;
அனைத்தும் நீ;
அனைத்தின் உட்பொருளும் நீ;

In fire, you are the heat,
in blossons, the fragrance;
among the stones, you are the diamond,
in speech, truth;
among virtues, you are love,
in valour-strength;
in the Veda, you are the secret,
among elements, the primordial;
in the burning sun, the light,
in moonshine, its sweetness;
you are all,
and you are the substance and meaning of all.

Paripadal, iii: 63-68—F Gros, K Zvelebil[18]

To Murugan:

We pray you not for wealth,
not for gold, not for pleasure;
But for your grace, for love, for virtue,
these three,
O god with the rich garland of katampu flowers
with rolling clusters!

– Pari. v.: 78–81[18]

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b c d e Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 123–124.
  2. Jump up to:a b A.K. Ramanujan (2005). Hymns for the Drowning. Penguin Books. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-0-14-400010-4.
  3. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 31–33, 47, 53, 55, 57, 60, 87, 99, 123–124.
  4. ^ V.N. Muthukumar; Elizabeth Rani Segran (2012). The River Speaks: The Vaiyai Poems from the Paripatal. Penguin Books. pp. 1–17. ISBN 978-81-8475-694-4.
  5. ^ A. K. Ramanujan; Vinay Dharwadker; Stuart H. Blackburn (2004). The collected essays of A.K. Ramanujan. Oxford University Press. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-19-566896-4., Quote: "seventy poems dedicated to gods Tirumal (Visnu), Cevvel (Murukan) and the goddess, the river Vaiyai (presently known as Vaikai)."
  6. ^ The festive bathing month is called Tai per the Tamil calendar (= Magh in northern Hindu calendar, January/February), particularly at the end of month Markali, and the poem also alludes to rebirths and merits in previous lives; Pari. 11:88–92V.N. Muthukumar; Elizabeth Rani Segran (2012). The River Speaks: The Vaiyai Poems from the Paripatal. Penguin Books. pp. 103–105 with notes on "Lines 184–91". ISBN 978-81-8475-694-4.
  7. ^ V.N. Muthukumar; Elizabeth Rani Segran (2012). The River Speaks: The Vaiyai Poems from the Paripatal. Penguin Books. pp. 3–11. ISBN 978-81-8475-694-4.
  8. Jump up to:a b V.N. Muthukumar; Elizabeth Rani Segran (2012). The River Speaks: The Vaiyai Poems from the Paripatal. Penguin Books. pp. 1–7. ISBN 978-81-8475-694-4.
  9. ^ Kamil Zvelebil (1974). Tamil Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-3-447-01582-0.
  10. Jump up to:a b c Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 124–125.
  11. ^ Takanobu Takahashi 1995, pp. 17–19.
  12. ^ Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2000). The Embodiment of Bhakti. Oxford University Press. pp. 52–55. ISBN 978-0-19-535190-3.
  13. ^ David N. Lorenzen (2004). Religious Movements in South Asia, 600-1800. Oxford University Press. pp. 48–49, 67–70. ISBN 978-0-19-566448-5.
  14. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, p. 124.
  15. ^ François Gros (1968). Le Paripatal. Institut Francais D'Indologie. ISBN 978-8-18996-8359.
  16. ^ Shu Hikosaka; K.G. Seshadri; John Samuel (1996). P. Thiagarajan and K. G. Seshadri (ed.). Paripāṭal. Institute of Asian Studies.
  17. ^ V.N. Muthukumar; Elizabeth Rani Segran (2012). The River Speaks: The Vaiyai Poems from the Paripatal. Penguin Books. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-81-8475-694-4.
  18. Jump up to:a b Kamil Zvelebil (1974). Tamil Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 49. ISBN 978-3-447-01582-0.

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