Culture and Festivals
The Content of Valayapathi, Ancient Tamil Epic
Posted Date: 03-Jun-2010
: 20 (
The present article deals with the source and the contents of Valayapathi, a Tamil epic written in the Sangam Age.
Valayapathi: A Sangam Age Tamil Epic
is one five classical Tamil epics that were composed in the Sangam age. The rest of the Tamil epics of the Sangam Age were Silappatikaram, Manimekalai, Kundalakesi and Civaka Cintamani. Composed by an anonymous Jain hermit approximately in the 9th century CE,
is one of the assets of the canonical Tamil literature. Unfortunately, there is no authentic manuscript of
. The famous Tamil Scholar Mr. Iyer reported to have seen the palm leaf manuscript of
in a library but it was later lost. So, we do not have the manuscript or the main text of
nowadays. Only the citations of
and references to
in other texts survive till date. It is, therefore, a tough task for the scholars to re-frame the outline of the content of
from the fragmentary text of
Valayapathi: The Sources of Valayapathi
As said earlier, Tamil scholars like Mr. Iyer and Mr. Mudalier have seen the manuscripts of
even as late as in the 19th century CE. Nevertheless, for reasons unknown, those have been lost and nowadays we do not have an authentic text of
. So we have to depend on secondary sources to know what was there in
The mentions of
are there in older texts.
has been referred to in Parimelalagar's commentary on the Tirukkural; this was a text of the 14th century. Even earlier, there is a reference to
. A 12th century note on Ottakoothar's Thakkayagaparani had also cited to
Scholars today cannot tell for sure how many verses were there in the original manuscript of
. Only 72 verses are there in the recovered fragmentary version of
. And those 72 verses are clearly not enough to reveal the
content of Valayapathi
. These fragments of
have been taken and adapted from texts like commentaries of Yapperungala Viruthi Ceyyul; as well as Ilampuranar's and Nachinarkiniyar's commentaries of Tolakappiyam. Nevertheless, there are many other minor sources from where we can get a glimpse about the
contents of Valayapathi
Valayapathi: The Contents of Valayapathi
is a fragmentary text in nature, the entire content of the original manuscript of
is still unknown. Nevertheless, even from those fragments, scholars have tried hard to reframe the
content of Valayapathi
. Nevertheless, some of the historians of Tamil Nadu opine that what was originally there as the
content of Valayapathi
, has been retold, with little editing, in the 35th chapter of Vaisyapuranam or Vanikapuranam. In fact the name of the chapter is "Vaira Vanikan
", or "
the diamond merchant". This text was written in 1855 by a pundit called Chintamani Pulavar when the original manuscripts of
were still there. So, it can be considered an epitomized version of the original
Valayapathi: The Manuscript Mystery
Kundalakesi: An Epic from Tamil Nadu
Civaka Cintamani: A Tamil Epic of the Sangam Age
Profile and Biography of Tamil Writer Sundara Ramaswamy
Manimekalai: A Sangam Age Tamil Epic
Sangam Age of Tamil Literature: the Old Tamil Literature
Agattiyam: First Tamil Grammar from the Sangam Age of Tamil Literature
Profile of Tamil famous writer Ponnambalam
Tamil Language endangered
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