Most of the people who have read Kambaramayana or have heard the story of Ramayana in Tamil tend to believe that Ravana was a true Dravidan King. That being the case after Dravidian movement many people felt, Ravana was wronged and killed by Rama an Aryan King. So how true is the Aryan- Dravidian conflict in Ramayana ? Why did Kamban introduce such conflict of cultures in his work? This essay is intended to probe through the two questions and try to present the answer.
To analyze this subject we should understand some important events in history of Tamil Nadu. The essay would first discuss the moral and ethical rules of indigenous traditions of Tamil Nadu and of the northern Brahmanical religion. Then the essay would focus on the conflict of interest between the two orders(indigenous and northern traditions) and formation of new order which has prevailed till this day. Then the essay would analyze how Kamban has used history of Tamil Nadu in his work and what modifications he has made to the Sanskrit Ramayana.
Maram and Aram :
I would like to quote a very important poem from Purananuru.
362. உடம்பொடுஞ் சென்மார்!
திணை: பொதுவியல் துறை: பெருங்காஞ்சி
ஞாயிற்றுஅன்ன ஆய்மணி மிடைந்த
மதியுறழ் ஆரம் மார்பில் புரளப்,
பலிபெறு முரசம் பாசறைச் சிலைப்பப்,
பொழிலகம் பரந்த பெருஞ்செய் ஆடவர்
செருப்புகன்று எடுக்கும் விசய வெண்கொடி
அணங்குஉருத் தன்ன கணங்கொள் தானை,
கூற்றத் தன்ன மாற்றரு முன்பன்,
ஆக்குரல் காண்பின் அந்த ணாளர்
நான்மறை குறித்தன்று அருளாகா மையின்
அறம்குறித் தன்று; பொருளா குதலின்
மருள் தீர்ந்து, மயக்கு ஒரீஇக்,
கைபெய்த நீர் கடற் பரப்ப,
ஆம் இருந்த அடை நல்கிச்,
சோறு கொடுத்து, மிகப் பெரிதும்
வீறுசான் நன்கலம் வீசி நன்றும்,
சிறுவெள் என்பின் நெடுவெண் களரின்,
வாய்வன் காக்கை கூகையடு கூடிப்
பகலும் கூவும் அகலுள் ஆங்கண்,
காடுகண் மறைத்த கல்லென் சுற்றமொடு
இல்என்று இல்வயின் பெயர ; மெல்ல
இடஞ்சிறிது ஒதுங்கல் அஞ்சி,
உடம்பொடும் சென்மார், உயர்ந்தோர் நாட்டே,
Across their chest the necklaces are swaying as if they were
Half moons inlaid with the choice gems which resemble suns!
The royal drum to which sacrifices are offered resounds
Within the camp and throughout the army on that multitudes that looks
as if Anangu has been provoked – the white flags of victory raised up
high in lust for war, the warriors whose feet are monumental
spreading across the earth ! Brahmins listen to the uproar
produced by the assault, its force as hard to withstand as death himself!
This has nothing to do with four Vedas ! this not the matter
for Arul(mercy). It has nothing to with Aram(righteousness) but rather Porul(acquisition)!
Abandoning bewilderment, throwing delusion aside,
giving away lovely towns surrounded by paddy fields,
so that the ritual water flows down like the ocean
from their hands, giving away heaps of cooked rice,
giving away finely fashioned ornaments because they feel sure
that they should not stay at home where the chatter
of their relations obscures the existence of burning ground-
that broad place where on the wan ,salty earth stretching out and covered
with tiny white bones, the strong voice crow and owl shriek
even in the broad day light – they slip away to escape from home,
fearful of being confined to this
small world,so that they may reach heaven with their very bodies!
Translated by George L Hart
Here the poet addresses to a group of Brahmins. Brahmins were the representative of new order (Aram- Dharma). He describes that the soldiers of the king were ferocious in battle and would seek death in battle so that they can attain the paradise after their death rather than live in this world. The most important lines of the poem are ‘Brahmins listen to the uproar produced by the assault, its force as hard to withstand as death himself!This has nothing to do with four Vedas ! this not the matter for Arul(mercy). It has nothing to with Aram(righteousness) but rather Porul(acquisition)!’. These lines show that the people of Tamil Nadu had indigenous moral and ethical codes which were different from Brahmanical Dharma.
The Tamilians followed the code of Maram . Maram is often translated as ‘Martial Courage’. The aim of every man was to die in the war. If a person died in war it was believed to be a good death and it was believed he would reach the Paradise after his death. To die in a bed was considered as bad death. So if any King died in bed, people would cut the dead body into pieces with swords, as they believed only if a person died by sword, they would reach the paradise. This practice was performed even on dead children and new borns. To the Tamil people, war and agriculture was nearly the same. Agriculture was practice or art of cultivating food which to feed man to live. War was sport /art which helped to feed man to attaining the higher objective of reaching the paradise. War was a duty, for every king /soldier/man wanted to die in a battle. No solider worries that he has killed a person in battle for he has helped the dead solider do his duty and also helped him reach the paradise.
On the other hand Aram is often translated as righteousness. It means ‘order of the world’. Aram – Dharma is connected with Brahmins and upper class land non militant landholders who believed in four Vedas.
Link to Part 2
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