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[agathiyar] cursing someone with a Tamil verse

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  • Dr. K. Kalyanasundaram
    Dear friends: I received the following querry from one Vasan of Oxford, UK. I do not know the answer. But I am sure that some of the knowledgeable Tamil
    Message 1 of 5 , May 26 11:36 PM
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      Dear friends:
      I received the following querry from one Vasan of Oxford, UK. I do not know
      the answer. But I am sure that some of the knowledgeable Tamil Scholars in
      this
      forum "agathiyar" can provide answers. So I am posting his querry here.
      Please post your answers to this list with a copy to Mr. Vasan Seshadri at the email
      address given below.

      anbudan,
      Kalyan
      --
      Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 00:25:54 +0100 (BST)
      From: Vasan Seshadri <vasan.seshadri@...>
      To: kalyan@...

      Dear Dr. Kalyanasundaram:
      vanakkam. I am from Tanjore, currently in Oxford.
      I thought you may be able to kindly help me out with this query:
      "A certain type of Tamil verse exists which is a form of cursing someone.
      There was a curious king during the Sangam period who wanted to
      experiment with it, albeit he was warned that it would lead to his death.
      He was curious, and ordered a poet to compose a verse of that type (curse)
      and did die in the end because of it!"

      I can't remember the name of the poet/king/verse - if you know please
      do let me know. It is not "vasai" - it something else that escapes me.

      Yours sincerely,
      Vasan

      PS: your homepage is simply superb! attagaasam!
      _______________________________________________________________________________
      Vasan S. Seshadri
      Trinity College
      Oxford, OX1 3BH (UK)
      Phone +44 +1865 - 2 - 79949
      Vasan.Seshadri@...

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    • Mani M. Manivannan
      Dear Vasan, I hope you can read Tamil in TSCII encoding. It is not a curse verse. You probably mean aram vaiththu paatuthal . It is not a cankam era King;
      Message 2 of 5 , May 27 12:40 AM
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        Dear Vasan,

        I hope you can read Tamil in TSCII encoding.

        It is not a "curse" verse. You probably mean "aram vaiththu paatuthal".
        It is not a cankam era King; it is the Pallava Nanthivarman the third.

        According to the legend, Nanthivarman overheard one verse of a
        collection of verses called "Nanthi kalampakam." It is believed to
        be one of the oldest kalampakam if not the very first. Kalampakam
        is a type of "cirrilakkiaym" that consists of several different types
        of ceyyuLs with different meters, different content etc., not unlike
        the "kathampam" that Tamil women love to wear.

        There are rules for this type of composition (such as the kalampakam
        sung in praise of a king has only 90 verses, Nanthi Kalampkam has
        144 verses) . We don't know the identity of the author though according
        to the legend it was composed by one "Kadavan", a rival to the Pallava
        throne and a half-brother of Nanthivarman. (Kadavan is a common title
        for Pallava royalty and Pallva nobility).

        According to the legend, the verses were composed with "aram" that
        can harm the subject, in this case the king himself. Either the king
        didn't believe in the power of the aram or he loved Tamil so much that
        he was willing to take the chance, the Nanthikalampakam was sung
        in his court. The author's conditions were that as he sings each of the
        verse, the king should gradually assume the role of a dead person,
        wear clothes appropriate for a body to be cremated, and conduct other
        ceremonies appropriate for a cremation, etc., and for the last verse
        he should be on a funeral pyre. Naturally the King's ministers
        opposed it. But he went on with the ceremony nevertheless. And,
        the funeral pyre caught fire as the last verse was being sung (either
        magically or through treachery) and the king perished but Tamil
        got Nanthikalampakam.

        It is a great story. And Somesar muthumozhi veNpa and thoNtai
        maNtala cathaka paTal confirm this legend. Here comes the Tamil
        text (please get the TSCII fonts from http://www.tamil.net/tscii/tools.html)




        ¿ó¾¢ì, ¸ÄõÀ¸ò¾¡ø Á¡ñ¼ ¸¨¾ ¿¡¼È¢Ôõ
        - §º¡§Áº÷ ÓЦÁ¡Æ¢ ¦ÅñÀ¡

        ¸ûÇ¡Õõ ¦ºï¦º¡ø ¸ÄõÀ¸§Á ¦¸¡ñÎ
        ¸¡Äõ Ţ𼠦¾ûÇ¡¨È ¿ó¾¢

        - ¦¾¡ñ¨¼ Áñ¼Äî º¾¸ô À¡¼ø

        The last verse was sung with the "kai aRu nilai" mood
        that is sung as an elegy to the "dead" king nanthivarman.
        It goes thus:

        "Å¡ÛÚ Á¾¢¨Â «¨¼ó¾Ðý žÉõ
        ÁÈ¢¸¼ø ÒÌó¾Ðý ¸£÷ò¾¢
        ¸¡ÛÚ ÒÄ¢¨Â «¨¼ó¾Ðý Å£Ãõ
        ¸üÀ¸õ «¨¼ó¾Ðý ¸Ãí¸û
        §¾ÛÚ ÁÄáû «Ã¢Â¢¼õ ÒÌó¾¡û
        ¦ºó¾Æø «¨¼ó¾Ðý §¾¸õ
        ¿¡Ûõ ±ý ¸Ä¢Ôõ ±ùÅ¢¼õ Ò̧šõ
        ¿ó¾¢§Â ¿ó¾Â¡ ÀçÉ!"

        The idea that words have magical power is common to
        a lot of cultures. That is why even today Tamil elders
        will be very careful with their words. One will not utter
        incorrect words even accidentally for fear of harming
        others. And when such words are uttered by the learned
        they assume deadly attributes. In agathiyar and other
        fora, Dr. Jayabarathi has repeatedly alluded to this power
        of "aram".

        Now that I have given you the basic introduction to this
        concept, let us sit back and wait for Dr. JB to explain the
        background for such beliefs and legends.

        Regards,

        Mani M. Manivannan
        Fremont, CA, USA.


        >Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 00:25:54 +0100 (BST)
        >From: Vasan Seshadri <vasan.seshadri@...>
        >To: kalyan@...
        >
        >Dear Dr. Kalyanasundaram:
        >vanakkam. I am from Tanjore, currently in Oxford.
        >I thought you may be able to kindly help me out with this query:
        >"A certain type of Tamil verse exists which is a form of cursing someone.
        >There was a curious king during the Sangam period who wanted to
        >experiment with it, albeit he was warned that it would lead to his death.
        >He was curious, and ordered a poet to compose a verse of that type (curse)
        >and did die in the end because of it!"
        >
        >I can't remember the name of the poet/king/verse - if you know please
        >do let me know. It is not "vasai" - it something else that escapes me.
        >
        >Yours sincerely,
        >Vasan



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      • Ramanathan Shankar
        Dear Mr.manivannan, I was introduced to this forum by Dr.Jaybee. I do receive all ur mails but i m not able to read any of them thanx to the absence of TSCII
        Message 3 of 5 , May 27 1:38 AM
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          Dear Mr.manivannan,

          I was introduced to this forum by Dr.Jaybee. I do receive all ur mails but i'm
          not able to read any of them thanx to the absence of TSCII font in my m/c. I
          tried installing it from some site Dr.jaybee mentioned but it turned out to be a
          futile attempt.

          Please let me know where I cud get the font from and enjoy those wonderful
          postings of the members of this forum.

          thanks & regds,
          shankar

          "Mani M. Manivannan" wrote:

          > Dear Vasan,
          >
          > I hope you can read Tamil in TSCII encoding.
          >
          > It is not a "curse" verse. You probably mean "aram vaiththu paatuthal".
          > It is not a cankam era King; it is the Pallava Nanthivarman the third.
          >
          > According to the legend, Nanthivarman overheard one verse of a
          > collection of verses called "Nanthi kalampakam." It is believed to
          > be one of the oldest kalampakam if not the very first. Kalampakam
          > is a type of "cirrilakkiaym" that consists of several different types
          > of ceyyuLs with different meters, different content etc., not unlike
          > the "kathampam" that Tamil women love to wear.
          >
          > There are rules for this type of composition (such as the kalampakam
          > sung in praise of a king has only 90 verses, Nanthi Kalampkam has
          > 144 verses) . We don't know the identity of the author though according
          > to the legend it was composed by one "Kadavan", a rival to the Pallava
          > throne and a half-brother of Nanthivarman. (Kadavan is a common title
          > for Pallava royalty and Pallva nobility).
          >
          > According to the legend, the verses were composed with "aram" that
          > can harm the subject, in this case the king himself. Either the king
          > didn't believe in the power of the aram or he loved Tamil so much that
          > he was willing to take the chance, the Nanthikalampakam was sung
          > in his court. The author's conditions were that as he sings each of the
          > verse, the king should gradually assume the role of a dead person,
          > wear clothes appropriate for a body to be cremated, and conduct other
          > ceremonies appropriate for a cremation, etc., and for the last verse
          > he should be on a funeral pyre. Naturally the King's ministers
          > opposed it. But he went on with the ceremony nevertheless. And,
          > the funeral pyre caught fire as the last verse was being sung (either
          > magically or through treachery) and the king perished but Tamil
          > got Nanthikalampakam.
          >
          > It is a great story. And Somesar muthumozhi veNpa and thoNtai
          > maNtala cathaka paTal confirm this legend. Here comes the Tamil
          > text (please get the TSCII fonts from http://www.tamil.net/tscii/tools.html)
          >
          > ¿ó¾¢ì, ¸ÄõÀ¸ò¾¡ø Á¡ñ¼ ¸¨¾ ¿¡¼È¢Ôõ
          > - §º¡§Áº÷ ÓЦÁ¡Æ¢ ¦ÅñÀ¡
          >
          > ¸ûÇ¡Õõ ¦ºï¦º¡ø ¸ÄõÀ¸§Á ¦¸¡ñÎ
          > ¸¡Äõ Ţ𼠦¾ûÇ¡¨È ¿ó¾¢
          >
          > - ¦¾¡ñ¨¼ Áñ¼Äî º¾¸ô À¡¼ø
          >
          > The last verse was sung with the "kai aRu nilai" mood
          > that is sung as an elegy to the "dead" king nanthivarman.
          > It goes thus:
          >
          > "Å¡ÛÚ Á¾¢¨Â «¨¼ó¾Ðý žÉõ
          > ÁÈ¢¸¼ø ÒÌó¾Ðý ¸£÷ò¾¢
          > ¸¡ÛÚ ÒÄ¢¨Â «¨¼ó¾Ðý Å£Ãõ
          > ¸üÀ¸õ «¨¼ó¾Ðý ¸Ãí¸û
          > §¾ÛÚ ÁÄáû «Ã¢Â¢¼õ ÒÌó¾¡û
          > ¦ºó¾Æø «¨¼ó¾Ðý §¾¸õ
          > ¿¡Ûõ ±ý ¸Ä¢Ôõ ±ùÅ¢¼õ Ò̧šõ
          > ¿ó¾¢§Â ¿ó¾Â¡ ÀçÉ!"
          >
          > The idea that words have magical power is common to
          > a lot of cultures. That is why even today Tamil elders
          > will be very careful with their words. One will not utter
          > incorrect words even accidentally for fear of harming
          > others. And when such words are uttered by the learned
          > they assume deadly attributes. In agathiyar and other
          > fora, Dr. Jayabarathi has repeatedly alluded to this power
          > of "aram".
          >
          > Now that I have given you the basic introduction to this
          > concept, let us sit back and wait for Dr. JB to explain the
          > background for such beliefs and legends.
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Mani M. Manivannan
          > Fremont, CA, USA.
          >
          > >Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 00:25:54 +0100 (BST)
          > >From: Vasan Seshadri <vasan.seshadri@...>
          > >To: kalyan@...
          > >
          > >Dear Dr. Kalyanasundaram:
          > >vanakkam. I am from Tanjore, currently in Oxford.
          > >I thought you may be able to kindly help me out with this query:
          > >"A certain type of Tamil verse exists which is a form of cursing someone.
          > >There was a curious king during the Sangam period who wanted to
          > >experiment with it, albeit he was warned that it would lead to his death.
          > >He was curious, and ordered a poet to compose a verse of that type (curse)
          > >and did die in the end because of it!"
          > >
          > >I can't remember the name of the poet/king/verse - if you know please
          > >do let me know. It is not "vasai" - it something else that escapes me.
          > >
          > >Yours sincerely,
          > >Vasan
          >
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        • Vasan Seshadri
          Dear Mani Yes-it is aram vaiththu pAduthal that I was looking for. I remember a small intro about it in school textbooks, but only giving the view of a
          Message 4 of 5 , May 27 2:08 AM
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            Dear Mani

            Yes-it is "aram vaiththu pAduthal" that I was looking for. I remember a
            small intro about it in school textbooks, but only giving the view of a
            linguaphilic Tamil monarch willing to sacrifice himself for his language.
            I am hearing the half-brother, treachery point of view for the first time.
            Very interesting legend which ever way we look at it. Mikka nandri, Vasan.

            On Thu, 27 May 1999, Mani M. Manivannan wrote:

            > Dear Vasan,
            >
            > I hope you can read Tamil in TSCII encoding.
            >
            > It is not a "curse" verse. You probably mean "aram vaiththu paatuthal".
            > It is not a cankam era King; it is the Pallava Nanthivarman the third.
            >
            > According to the legend, Nanthivarman overheard one verse of a
            > collection of verses called "Nanthi kalampakam." It is believed to
            > be one of the oldest kalampakam if not the very first. Kalampakam
            > is a type of "cirrilakkiaym" that consists of several different types
            > of ceyyuLs with different meters, different content etc., not unlike
            > the "kathampam" that Tamil women love to wear.
            >
            > There are rules for this type of composition (such as the kalampakam
            > sung in praise of a king has only 90 verses, Nanthi Kalampkam has
            > 144 verses) . We don't know the identity of the author though according
            > to the legend it was composed by one "Kadavan", a rival to the Pallava
            > throne and a half-brother of Nanthivarman. (Kadavan is a common title
            > for Pallava royalty and Pallva nobility).
            >
            > According to the legend, the verses were composed with "aram" that
            > can harm the subject, in this case the king himself. Either the king
            > didn't believe in the power of the aram or he loved Tamil so much that
            > he was willing to take the chance, the Nanthikalampakam was sung
            > in his court. The author's conditions were that as he sings each of the
            > verse, the king should gradually assume the role of a dead person,
            > wear clothes appropriate for a body to be cremated, and conduct other
            > ceremonies appropriate for a cremation, etc., and for the last verse
            > he should be on a funeral pyre. Naturally the King's ministers
            > opposed it. But he went on with the ceremony nevertheless. And,
            > the funeral pyre caught fire as the last verse was being sung (either
            > magically or through treachery) and the king perished but Tamil
            > got Nanthikalampakam.
            >
            > It is a great story. And Somesar muthumozhi veNpa and thoNtai
            > maNtala cathaka paTal confirm this legend. Here comes the Tamil
            > text (please get the TSCII fonts from http://www.tamil.net/tscii/tools.html)
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > �����, ��������� ���� ��� �������
            > - ������� ������� �����
            >
            > ������ ������� ������� �����
            > ���� ���� ������� ����
            >
            > - ������ ����� ���� ����
            >
            > The last verse was sung with the "kai aRu nilai" mood
            > that is sung as an elegy to the "dead" king nanthivarman.
            > It goes thus:
            >
            > "���� ����� ������� ����
            > ������ ������ ������
            > ���� ����� ������� ����
            > ����� ������� �����
            > ���� ����� ������� ������
            > ������ ������� ����
            > ���� �� ����� ������ ������
            > ������ ����� ����!"
            >
            > The idea that words have magical power is common to
            > a lot of cultures. That is why even today Tamil elders
            > will be very careful with their words. One will not utter
            > incorrect words even accidentally for fear of harming
            > others. And when such words are uttered by the learned
            > they assume deadly attributes. In agathiyar and other
            > fora, Dr. Jayabarathi has repeatedly alluded to this power
            > of "aram".
            >
            > Now that I have given you the basic introduction to this
            > concept, let us sit back and wait for Dr. JB to explain the
            > background for such beliefs and legends.
            >
            > Regards,
            >
            > Mani M. Manivannan
            > Fremont, CA, USA.
            >
            >
            > >Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 00:25:54 +0100 (BST)
            > >From: Vasan Seshadri <vasan.seshadri@...>
            > >To: kalyan@...
            > >
            > >Dear Dr. Kalyanasundaram:
            > >vanakkam. I am from Tanjore, currently in Oxford.
            > >I thought you may be able to kindly help me out with this query:
            > >"A certain type of Tamil verse exists which is a form of cursing someone.
            > >There was a curious king during the Sangam period who wanted to
            > >experiment with it, albeit he was warned that it would lead to his death.
            > >He was curious, and ordered a poet to compose a verse of that type (curse)
            > >and did die in the end because of it!"
            > >
            > >I can't remember the name of the poet/king/verse - if you know please
            > >do let me know.. It is not "vasai" - it something else that escapes me.
            > >
            > >Yours sincerely,
            > >Vasan
            >
            >
            >


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          • jay bee
            Dear Vasan and Manivannan, ... Manivannan is correct. A curse verse is known as vasaikkavi . There are several fine examples about vasaikkavi. I will recount
            Message 5 of 5 , May 27 3:28 AM
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              Dear Vasan and Manivannan,

              --- "Mani M. Manivannan" <manim@...> wrote:
              > Dear Vasan,
              >
              > It is not a "curse" verse.

              Manivannan is correct. A curse verse is known as "vasaikkavi". There
              are several fine examples about
              vasaikkavi. I will recount about them in a later mail.
              KaaLamEgam and "Vasaikkavai" Aandaan Kaviraayar were well-known cases.
              A curse proper is known as saabam.A saabam need not be a poem. Its all
              in the flow of breath which is known as "charavOttam" and the personal
              yogic and siddhic powers of the individual.
              'ARam" is a particular effect or affliction which gets
              built into a verse intentionally or unintententionally.
              There are small grammetical works which deal with
              such things. A very important manual was the "Indhira
              KaaLiyam". It gives ninty odd rules of creating verses
              with benign effects or those which can act as curses.
              In the case of Nandhi Kalambakam, scholars like the late Kaa.
              Subramaniya Pillai have identitified several places in Nandhi
              Kalambakam which contain "aRam".
              For example, the Vinaayagar Vanakkam is at the beginning of the book.

              ������ �����
              ������ �����
              ���� �������
              ����� ������!

              Kariyin mugavanai
              ariyin maruganai
              urugi ninaibavar
              perumai peRuvarE!

              It is noted that the very first word of the Vinaayagar Vanakkam at the
              very beginning of the verse starts with
              "���", "kari" - a word which is known as "amangalach chol" -
              inauspicious word.
              The next verse is "puRanilai vaalzhththu" or kaappu
              which asks Siva to protect Nandhivarman.
              According to Tholkaappiyam, a puRanilai vaalzhththu should not be a
              vanjippaa or kalippaa.
              But the vaalzhththuppaa in this book is tharavuk
              kochchagak kalippaa.
              There are other acses of aRam interspersed throughout the book.
              And as Manivannan has pointed out, the last verse is what is known as a
              sarama kavi. It is sung after the death of a person. Examples are the
              poems dedicated to Siidhakkaadhi Maraikkaayar, Adigaimaan Nedumaan
              Anji, and VEL Paari. It should not be sung when a person is alive, by a
              poet who posseses what is known as Saaraswathyam "��������" - i.e.
              Saraswathi dwells in the person's speech. It kills!
              You probably have heard about the sarama kavi sung by
              KaaLidaasa to Bhoja?

              As to the back-ground of the legends....well I would'nt say that they
              are legends.
              You develope the siddhic powers, learn and follow the prescribed rules
              carefully and...
              Bingo..you can sing the aRam yourself.

              Regards

              Jayabarathi
              (P.S.My confidence by itself should betray something,
              should'nt it?):-)

              You probably mean "aram
              > vaiththu paatuthal".
              > It is not a cankam era King; it is the Pallava
              > Nanthivarman the third.

              > �����, ��������� ���� ��� �������
              > - ������� ������� �����
              >
              > ������ ������� ������� �����
              > ���� ���� ������� ����
              >
              > - ������ ����� ���� ����
              >
              > The last verse was sung with the "kai aRu nilai"
              > mood
              > that is sung as an elegy to the "dead" king
              > nanthivarman.
              > It goes thus:
              >
              > "���� ����� ������� ����
              > ������ ������ ������
              > ���� ����� ������� ����
              > ����� ������� �����
              > ���� ����� ������� ������
              > ������ ������� ����
              > ���� �� ����� ������ ������
              > ������ ����� ����!"
              >
              > The idea that words have magical power is common to
              > a lot of cultures. That is why even today Tamil
              > elders
              > will be very careful with their words. One will not
              > utter
              > incorrect words even accidentally for fear of
              > harming
              > others. And when such words are uttered by the
              > learned
              > they assume deadly attributes. In agathiyar and
              > other
              > fora, Dr. Jayabarathi has repeatedly alluded to this
              > power
              > of "aram".
              >
              > Now that I have given you the basic introduction to
              > this
              > concept, let us sit back and wait for Dr. JB to
              > explain the
              > background for such beliefs and legends.
              >
              > Regards,
              >
              > Mani M. Manivannan
              > Fremont, CA, USA.

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