|Most of us know that quite a number of Tamil movie lyrics are
just of ephemeral value. A small percentage however lives in the
minds forever for sentimental reasons. Some exceptional ones do
appreciate in value with time.
One such song appeared in one of
MGR�s hit movies Chakravarthy Thirumagal, 45 years ago. It was
composed by poet Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram (1930-1959), who
thrilled the Tamil fans like a comet, before meeting an untimely
death at the tender age of 29 years. In this particular song, the
Pattukottai poet illustrated the goliardic tradition among the Tamil
poets by composing the song as a �question and answer duel� between
two goliards. Kalaivanar N.S.Krishnan and Sirkazhi Govindarajan
rendered this song with exceptional gusto. In the movie, Sirkazhi
offers his voice to the character played by MGR, while Krishnan
plays the role of MGR�s competitor.
Let me reminisce this particular song in original, and I provide
English translations at appropriate locations. The initial
statements are self introductions of the two who pit their wits.
While the first one pompously recites his �glories and successes�
and issues the challenge to respond to his questions in �one word
answers� (orezhuthu pathil), the second one promptly introduce
himself with repartee.
Sangathu pulavar palar thanga thoda por pathakkam
Vangathu ponnaadai parisallithaar � enakk
Kingkillai eedenachch cholli kalithaar � intha
Singathukku munne oodi pangappaddavar aneham
Seereduththu paadi vaare nere � atharkum
Orezhuthu pathil solli paaren.
[Many poets of Sangam have presented me golden ear studs, medals and
Bengal shawl; and had praised me as an incomparable talent. Many
have lost their wits in front of this lion, and if you dare, can you
give one word answers to my questions?]
Yaanaiyai pidithu oru paanaikul adaithu
Aathirap padupavar polallava � umathu
Arampak kavi solluthe pulavaa � veeddu
Pooonai kuddi kaaddilodi puliyai piddithu thinna
Purappadda kathai polallava � thar
Pukazhiyodu paadukiraye pulava!
[Your intro verse sounds similar to those who believe that they can
capture an elephant and push it into a pot; your boasting is akin to
the story of the house kitten which ran into the forest to maul a
Then the verbal duel between the two goliards begins. The first
question and answer is a play on the word �thaanam� (gift). While
one asks what is the best gift one can possess, the other one
responds by retorting that nithaanam (diligence) is the best of all
Poothaanam kannithaanam sornathaanam annathaanam
Kothaanam undu parpala thaanangal � itharku
Melaana thaanam irunthaal solungal.
[There is virtue in gifting land, virgin, gold, food and cow. Can
you tell me �what is the best endowment above all these gifts�?]
Eththanai thaanam thanthaalum entha lokam pugazhnthaalum
Thaanathil chiranthathu nithaanam thaan;
Nithaanathai izhanthavarku eenam thaan.
[Whatever one may donate as gifts and whatever the world may
applaud, nothing can equal the gift of diligence; those who lose
diligence receive only ridicule.]
Kovilai kaddi vaippathu ethanaale?
[Why have temples been built?]
Chirpa velaikku perumai undu athanaale
[To appreciate the talent of sculpting.]
Anna saththiram irupathu ethanaale?
[Why there are soup-kitchens?]
Pala thinnai thoongi pasankal iruppathaale
[Because there are many idling fellows.]
Parathesiyath thirivathu ethanaale?
[Why does one wander without a home?]
Avan pathhu veedu chorru rusi kandathaale
[Because he relishes the taste of rice in tens of houses]
Karrirul soozhuvathu evvidathile?
[Where does complete darkness fall?]
Karru arivillatha moodar nenjakathile
[In the minds of learned fools.]
Puhaiyum neruppillamal erivathethu?
[What can burn without smoke and fire?]
Pasithu vaadum makkal vayiru athu.
[The stomach of the hungry peasants]
Ulagathile payankaramaana aayutham ethu?
[What is the most dangerous weapon in the world?]
Nilai keddu pona nayavanjakanin naaku thaan athu.
[The tongue of the traitor who had lost his balance.]
Many words and phrases of this beautiful song are so pregnant with
appropriate thoughts for the Eelam Tamils now. For example, look at
what the poet described as, �Veeddu poonaikuddi kaaddilodi puliyai
pidithhu thinnap purappadda kathai polallava�. Isn�t it similar to
the silly sentiments raised in some quarters, clamoring for a change
in leadership among the Eelam Tamils? Can any house kitten run into
a forest and devour a tiger? It is just a fantasy, as the poet aptly
The Paddukottai poet also makes a distinction between the two types
of fools; one, the learned fool (karru arivillatha moodar) and the
other, illiterate fool (karrarivu illatha moodar). In the answer to
the question, �Where does complete darkness fall?�, the poet points
out to the �mind of the learned fool�. He emphasizes that even
educated persons can behave like fools and their minds are full of
gloom and doom.
The poet also asks the question, �What is the most dangerous weapon
in the world?�. Instead of replying �sword or gun or atom bomb�, the
poet answers the question with wit and says �the tongue of the
traitor who has lost his balance� [Nilai keddu pona nayavanjakanin
naaku thaan athu]. Did Paddukottai Kalyanasundaram have a
premonition about the fools whose tongues are now given for hire,
after losing their �original objectives�?