Example of Kamban’s greatness


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Hanuman returns back from his search of Sita.  Lets assume there is a dialogue between Hanuman and Rama

Rama: Hanuman any news about Sita?

Hanuman: Yes, I saw her?

Rama: Where?

Hanuman: across the see in Lanka!

Rama: is she fine?

Hanuman: She is safe no problem.

Rama: is she…….(Rama would want to know if Ravana has caused any dishonor to Sita- but would be embarrassed to ask such question to Hanuman)

Rama surely needs to know if Hanuman has seen Sita, where Sita was and is also concerned about her honor and safety.

In Ramayana of Valmiki – Hanuman is proactive and before Rama asks he says ‘I saw Sita’ (‘Drishta Sita’). But you should read Kamban’s verses to understand his greatness,

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‘கண்டனென், கற்பினுக்கு அணியை, கண்களால்,

I saw, (0f) chastity- jewel,with (my) eyes

தெண் திரை அலைகடல் இலங்கைத் தென் நகர்;

clear-twirling-wavy-sea-lanka-south-city

அண்டர் நாயக !இனி, துறத்தி, ஐயமும்

celestial god – hero (0f)! from now-relinquish, uncertainity

பண்டு உள துயரும்’என்று, அனுமன் பன்னுவான்;

many-with you- sufferings- told-hanuman-will talk (elaborately)..

‘I saw ,

the jewel of chastity,

with my own eyes

in the southern city

of Lanka

on the clear twirling wavy ocean,

lord of gods

from now on

relinquish doubts and

all your sufferings.’

said Hanuman

and continued with his details.

Translated by Palaniappan Vairam


This one of the greatest verses to show Kamban’s intelligence .

The situation is Rama is very anxious and impatient to hear news about Sita. Hanuman assessing the situation utters first word as கண்டனென் ‘I saw’ , clarifying he saw Sita

Without letting any discomfort set in Rama, Hanuman utters கற்பினுக்கு அணியை ‘the jewel of chastity’ , now he clears doubts Rama has about Sita’s Chastity i.e whether she is safe , unharmed and faithful.

Finally he says கண்களால் ‘with (my) eyes’ to clarify any remaining doubt in Rama’s mind.

He then goes on give the geographical location – south city in Lanka across the sea, indicating that they had to cross the sea and go south to reach the place where Sita was.

Finally he saw you dont need to worry about anything meaning Sita would be safe till we go to Lanka and get her back.

He gives this very very concise answer to Rama to clear all his doubts and goes on to explain everything in detail.

This shows the Psychological depth with which Kamban has analysed the situation and has given a beautiful verse for the situation.

If you ever wondered why Kamba Ramayanam(Ramavatharam) is considered a better work than the original, you should have got an answer by now.

Other post on Kamba Ramayanam

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Reference: The Smile of Murugan: The Tamil Literature of South India by Kamil Zvelebil
Please leave your comments.

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10 thoughts on “Example of Kamban’s greatness

  1. Kamban is great. but dont u think that this verse shows the real character of Rama as a person who doesnt believe in his wife for a damn and on the contrary he is being praised. what an irony ?

  2. Here Rama as such doesnt have any questions. Its Hanuman who assumes the priority of news and tells it to Rama and there is also other possiblity since Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the fear of whether his wife being sexually harrased by her kidnapper.It is natural for any person to have that fear when a girl is kidnapped.

  3. No , Rama is a great person if he has understood that if sita is still alive , she is still pure and chaste. He must have known that if sita was made a victim, she would have died on the spot.

    Rama should not have got a doubt in the first place when he heard that sita is alive.

  4. Rama goes through a great deal of mental agony during the period. Some of the verses of Kamban almost tends Rama going through severe depression. Anything he sees then reminds him of his love. He is jealous seeing animals roaming in pair or courting.
    On Sita, would she have died on spot if she was forced by Ravana – NO. “Entha Ellai Neetha Ulagam Yaavaiyum en Oru sollinal suduven” – she would have just destroyed Lanka or even the world.

  5. Sirs,
    The Tamil lovers of today, all around the world might have
    vaguely heard about ‘Kamba Ramayanam’ but we wonder whether it
    has been taken to them for knowing the splendors of Kamban’s poem
    which may have also contributed for giving classical status to
    Tamil language,Kamban’s Kosala is one of the books published in
    English language which would help all English reading people
    to get into the insight of Kamban’s imagination of a real welfare
    state as described in that book published in the year 1929 in chennai.
    Sri.T.N seshachalam the author of that book was himself a renowned
    tamil scholar recognised by the greats of thta time.We would like
    the readers to know about the greatness of Kamban in the words of
    T.N.S.(quote)” The Ramayana which he composed has not surpassed by
    anything in the epic literature of the Tamil land.The Magnificient
    classicsof the earlier academicians were all his heritage,and his
    imagination and native genius wereconsiderably assisted by his
    scholarship.The hoary literature and philosophy of India alone
    would have cradled such a genius,a genius highly poetical,pre-
    eminently moral,transcendental by the inspired revelations of the
    seer’s ecstasy and besrformed to clarify the elemental Truths of
    life here and hereafter.Kamban’s debt to Valmiki is akin to
    Shakespeare’s indebtedness to Boccacio or Plutarch……The
    eternal story of Rama runs in crystal stream of forty two thousand
    three hundredand forty eight lines of sublime grandeur glorifying
    the creator and reflecting his creation…….With Kural and Gita,
    The Ramayanam is the most ennobling bookthat has ever been written.
    Like many other good things,however,it is not generally understood
    and made sufficient part of one’s being.The realisation of the
    conception of Life,individual and social,that gathers and takes
    shape in one’s mind as this wonderful epic is read and re-read
    ought the destiny of Mankind.(unquote) ref ( Preface )in the book
    “Kamban’s Kosala’ written by T.N.Seshachalam
    seshachalam gopalakrishnan
    chennai
    6 th june
    tele 28343619
    e mail tsgopala@yahoo.com

  6. Mama Ramayanayana
    ( My story of Ramayana- A three year saga. )
    A humble request to my friends , fans and admirers.

    I would like to jot a few lines regarding me and the story of Rama. It was from my father that I learnt the Ekasloki Ramayana

    Aadho Rama thapo vananu gamanam, Hathwa mrugam kanchanam,
    Vaidehi haranam, jatayu maranam, Sugreeva sambhashanam,
    Bali nigrahanam, samudhra tharanam, Lanka pureem dahanam,
    Paschad Ravana Kumbha karna madanam, Ethat ithi Ramayanam

    Once Rama went to forest,
    He chased the deer,
    Sitha was kidnapped,
    Jatayu was killed,
    There were talks with Sugreeva,
    Bali was killed,
    The sea was crossed,
    Lanka was burnt,
    And later Ravana and Kumbha karna,
    Were also killed.
    This in short is the story of Ramayanam.

    It was again from him as a baby that I heard the story of Ramayana .It was possibly in the fifth standard that I learnt the Sri Ramodantham , the story of Ramayana which strangely started from the birth of Ravana to Visravas and from then on I have been reading several Ramayana books in several versions. I found that the greatness of Rama as a human being attracted me a lot . In 2000 when I started translating stotra rathnas , I stumbled on several stotras(prayers) based on this great story . Some of them are:-

    1.Samkshepa Ramayana – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra1.htm
    2,Ragothamashtakam – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra2.htm
    3.Nama Ramayanam – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra4.htm
    4.Rama Narayana Sthuthi (Malayalam ) – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra19.htm
    5.Sri Rama Keerthanam – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra26.htm
    6.Pasurappadi Ramayanam (Tamil)- http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/pm5.htm
    7.Gayatri Ramayanam – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/pm32.htm
    8.Sri Ramodantham – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/pm3.htm
    9.Saptha rishi Ramayanam – http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2012/04/saptha-rishi-ramayanam.html
    10.SAmkshepa Sundara Kandam – http://stotrarathna.blogspot.in/2009/07/samkshepa-sundara-kandam_20.html
    11.Raghu Veera Gadhyam- http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra31.htm
    12,Sri Rama Mangalasasanam – http://stotraratna.sathyasaibababrotherhood.org/ra14.htm

    I had also earlier translated an Upanishad called Rama Rahsya Upanishad (http://www.celextel.org/upanishads/atharva_veda/ramarahasya.html ) which is the part of the Vedas and which extols the greatness of Rama , indicating that the holy name “Rama” was much ancient than Ramayana itself. Recently God Rama wanted me to translate three versions of Ramayana. They were:-

    1.Translation of Adhyathma Ramayana from Malayalam.
    It was in April 2012 that one of my friends requested me to translate Adhyathma Ramayana of Thunjathu Ezhuthachan from Malayalam , which was itself a translation from Sanskrit, so that it can be read during the Karkidaga Masa.It had 6 Kandams , 119 chapters and 4200 verses. I took it up for translation and completed it in 4 months. http://rajathathas.blogspot.in/. Later I found that I was the only who has translated this great book in to English and put in the web .My search also indicates that though there is an English book translating Adhyathma Ramayanam from Sanskrit to English, there was no translation of this extremely popular Malayalam book.This Ramayana is a transcreation of Valimiki Ramayana supposed to be authored by the great Veda Vyasa. Rama by that time was considered as full Avathara of Vishnu and there are more than ten prayers addressed to Rama by various characters of Rama including Kousalya, Khara, Khabanda, Sabari and so on . And the first great Malayalam poet translated in to Malayalam poem , as if it was related by a parrot .Even today a copy of this book is preserved like a treasure by every Hindu Malayali in his home . It is read every year with great reverence in the Karkidaga montha fondly called by Malayalis as the “Ramayana month”.

    2.Translation of Valmiki Ramayanam from Sanskrit.
    It was in the month of April 2013 that my friend Sri Lakshmanan of Celextel who requested me to take up the translation of Valmiki Ramayanam in to English . I was reluctant . I told him that I may not live to see its completion but I started translating it and completed it by August 2014. This great book had 24000 verses in six Kandas with 534 chapters , the great epic already there were 6-7 translations available in the web. Here are a few of them:-
    https://archive.org/details/The.Ramayana.of.Valmiki.by.Hari.Prasad.Shastri
    THree volumes
    http://www.valmikiramayan.net/
    Translation verse by verse
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rama/
    Translation by Ralph T.H.Griffith
    http://hinduebooks.blogspot.in/2010/05/valmiki-ramayana-english-prose.html
    Another great translation
    http://holybooks.lichtenbergpress.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Ramayana.pdf?369cde
    Another great translation
    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24869
    Another translation in English verse
    http://englishvalmikiramayanam.blogspot.in/

    It is very important to note That sage Valmiki was a contemporary of Rama ,In fact Rama met him while going to Dandakaranya. When he was searching for a suitable hero for writing an epic , sage Narada suggested Rama as the suitable hero. The meter of what he wrote was based on the wailing of a female Krouncha bird when its mate was killed by a hunter .There is not a single instance of prayer addressed to Rama in the entire book .People do respect him but they do not pray him. The only prayer in that book is Adithya Hrudayam addressed to the Sun God . No temples are indicated any where .There is a mention of Sandhya Vandana being performed by Sita . When Rama wants to do obsequies to his late father , he offers fruits and meat available in the forest as the sacrificial offering . A pooja of housewarming was conducted by killing a deer .I am telling all these things to indicate that Rama was considered as a human being and the worship in temples had not become popular at that time .This book also has a very detailed description of the geography of India and very detailed listing of its flora.
    My translation can be found in
    http://englishvalmikiramayanam.blogspot.in/
    http://www.celextel.org/epics_and_puranas/

    3.Translation of Kamba Ramayana from Tamil
    Kamban considered as the emperor among poets in Tamil is supposed to have lived in 8th centaury AD. He was essentially a poet rather than a story teller. His trancreation of Valmiki Ramayana , which he preferred to call it as Ramavatharam (The incarnation of Rama) was perhaps the first epic that was translated in to Tamil. It has 10368 verses in 95 chapters of six Kandas.Though he acknowledges the source of the story to Valmiki , he had almost rewritten the story. As a Tamil poet , he followed the great traditions of Tamil Grammar in writing an epic. A great philanthropist called THiruvennai Nallur Chadayappa Vallal financed his venture .The grateful Kamba mentions about him in various places in the epic.In fact he is picturized as the one who handed over the crown to sage Vasishta during carnation of Rama .The great poet could never leave out any chance for pretty long descriptions in various places .He mentions that Kausalya went to the temple of Ranganatha (the family deity of Dasaratha) as soon as she heard about Coronation of Rama . He made various changes in the story of Valmiki . People believe that there were various protests when he wanted to dedicate it Lord Ranganatha of Sri Rangam temple . There is a belief that he was compelled to get certificates from various learned people for doing that , There is also a story that the king did not want Kamban to use words which people do not commonly use. Kamban changed the names of all the characters of Ramayana to suit the limited alphabetical list in Tamil as well as to suit the Tamil Grammar. Ofcourse he had borrowed certain meters of poem writing from Sanskrit in certain places . My translation of Kamban’s great epic was started in the month of January 2014 and had been completed on !5th January 2015 and this can be found in
    http://englishkambaramayanam.blogspot.in/
    There are no on line references of English translation of Kamba Ramayanam available in the web and though many people have started doing it. Most of the prose translation available are abridged versions of the original . I found a reference saying that so far only the first 4000 verses have been translated in to English.
    This journey of mine in the great ocean of Ramayana spanning for three long years had almost changed my personality. Due to age whenever , I did not feel confidant , I used to ask my friends in the face book and in google plus to pray for me .Not only they did but wrote to me encouraging me .My grateful thanks to all of them.
    I do not guarantee total freedom from mistakes in these translations because I did all alone and I again was the only one who proof read it . I request that my future generation of youngsters to whom I wrote this , read it , correct it and further improve it .Here is the greatest wealth of India which I am passing to you all with the hope and request that you would preserve and improve the treasure further and pass it on to your next generation. I would like to thank God Rama and his great devotee Hanuman for choosing an ordinary person like me to do this job.May God bless you all .

  7. Great discussion. Does anyone know Kamban’s poem he wrote after he was asked to leave the King’s Palace?

    Mannavanum Niyo Malaivalamum ninnatho…

    ………Undo kurungetrukolla koppu?

    George

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