Red Earth and Pouring Rain – Kurunthokai 40


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This is one of my old Blogs. I have added new video clipping. Thanks to Mr.Vijayakumar for letting me know about the song.

I have posted video compilation of 5 Tamil songs(Thanks to readers) which have some similarities in the lyrics, please have a look

The first songs is ‘Narumugaye’ from Iruvar.
The second song is ‘ Sollai Povil’ from Vellai Roja
Third song is  ‘Pattam poochi’ from Chittiram Pesuthadi.
Fourth song is ‘Munbe Vaa’ from Sillunu oru Kadal.
Fifth song is ‘Oru Thanga rathathil’ from Dharma Yudham.

Now the latest version which was huge hit in 2019

All the sixsong clearly have same thought process of some rainwater mixing with red soil. Where is this inspiration from ? Answer to this question leads us to one of the most loved poems of Tamil Literature.

This poem is from Sangam anthology Kurunthokai.I have posted two translations here. The first translation is very poetic(A.K.Ramanujan), where as Hart’s translation tries to provide the poetic structure employed by the original poet.

40. குறிஞ்சி

யாயும் ஞாயும் யார் ஆகியரோ?

எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம் முறைக் கேளிர்?

யானும் நீயும் எவ் வழி அறிதும்?

செம் புலப் பெயல் நீர் போல

அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாம் கலந்தனவே.

– செம்புலப்பெயனீரார்


Kurunthokai 40 – What He said

What could be my mother be

to yours?what kin is my father

to yours anyway?And how

did you and I meet ever?

But in love our hearts are as red

earth and pouring rain:


beyond parting.

Translated by A.K.Ramanujan


My mother and yours,

what were they to each other?

My father and yours ,

how were they kin?

I and you ,

how do we know each other?

and yet

like water that has rained on red fields,

our hearts in their love

have mixed together.

Translated by Gorge L. Hart

Poet:Sembula Peyaneerar

(The poet name means “he of water that has rained on red fields.”)

This poem and its english translation are popular around the world and are displayed in the London Tube.

The London Tube, as the underground metro train service is known, was started in 1863 and now covers 408 km. It is the lifeline of the city. When the transport authorities began paying attention to the interior of the coaches, they instituted prizes for the best advertisement posters. In 1986, encouraged by the Poetry Society, short poems of five or six lines were displayed in a special show. It proved so popular that poetry display has since become a permanent feature in the trains. (Source:HINDU article)

This poem is one of the most loved Tamil poems.And it also has a very important information few so called Tamil society protectors should take a note of.

This poem beautifully describes love as feeling which comes out naturally. One of the most important feature of this poem is that this poem stands in as typical example for ‘Iyarkai Punarchi’ poems. What does Iyarkai Punarchi mean? Iyarkai punarchi when translated to English would give you a meaning Natural Copulation.

Iyarkai Punarchi has been explained by different school of thoughts. One being a very conservative school of thought. Many Scholars like U.V.Swaminathan Iyer describe Iyarkai Punarchi has natural love making process but add an element of super natural to it by saying because they were lovers in previous birth. This school of thought accepts there is pre martial sex in this life but that because of the love the couple had as husband and wife in previous birth.

The other school of thought simply accepts Iyarkai Punarchi as Pre Martial sex when two lovers fall in love.

In this poem we clearly see two strangers who don’t know any thing about each other’s family falling in love. This shows clearly that 2000 years ago there were enough love marriages. Two strangers irrespective of their community status could fall in love and get married.  Often we also see parents opposing these marriages and the lovers elope to get married and live the life of their own. More often than not we see the family gets reunited after the couple have a baby.

We see a beautiful simile of Red earth and rain. The rain which has no relation with red soil , falls from the sky and slowly but steadily mingles with the red soil and becomes a part of it. The rain makes the dry sand into a fertile land suitable for cultivation. This is probably the greatest example in nature to explain mingling of two completely different substance to become more productive and useful product. The poet employs this simile to say that the Thalaivan was a complete stranger in the life of the Thalaivi. Yet he suddenly appeared one day and their heart mingled slowly steadily to become one soul. This process of love reaches its climax with the love making or punarchi, hence making the thalaivi fertile.


If you wondered why I have posted two translations , here is the poetic structure of original Tamil poem, it starts with ‘My’ and ‘yours’ and progresses to ‘I and you’ and ends with ‘Together’. This aspect is brilliantly brought out by George L.Hart.

என் தாய் உன் தாயை எவ்வாறு அறிவாள்?
என் தந்தைக்கும் உன் தந்தைக்கும் என்ன உறவோ ?
நானும் நீயும் ஒருவரை ஒருவர் எவ்வாறு அறிந்துகொண்டோம் ?
இருந்தும் மழை நீர் செம்மையான நிலத்துடன் கலப்பது போல
கலந்து விட்டன அன்பு கொண்ட நம் நெஞ்சங்கள்

இந்த பாடலின் சிறப்பு , என் உன் என்று தொடங்கி , நான் நீ என்று பயணித்து , நாம் என்று முடிகின்றது .


யாயும் ஞாயும் யார் ஆகியரோ?

My mother -your mother – who – became (how do they know)

எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம் முறைக் கேளிர்?

My father – your father – which – way – related

யானும் நீயும் எவ் வழி அறிதும்?

me – you – which – way – know each other

செம் புலப் பெயல் நீர் போல

Red – earth/soil – pouring- water (rain) – alike

அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாம் கலந்தனவே.

affection love having – heart – on their own – mingled/mixed



  1. “நீரும் செம்புலச் சேரும் கலந்தது போலே கலந்தவரா..”

    படம்: சில்லுனு ஒரு காதல்
    இசை: ஏ.ஆர்.ரஹ்மான்
    எழுதியவர்: வாலி
    பாடியவர்கள்: நரேஷ் ஐயர் & ஷ்ரேயா கோஷல்

  2. இந்த பாடலின் சிறப்பு , என் உன் என்று தொடங்கி , நான் நீ என்று பயணித்து , நாம் என்று முடிகின்றது .

    ம். மிக மிக அருமை மை டியர் வைரம்.


  3. Hello friend, It is me again on “sembula peyal Neer Pola” It is not indicating the fertility, but the union of heart, mutual understanding, mixing of heart that cannot be separble. If rains on a stone stone will not absorb the water. If it rains on a clay land then also water and clay will not mix well. But on a red earth, if rains, the water will be so colourful. The water takes the colour of the red soil and soil too mixes in water. Hence the real meaning is not about the fetility of the couple. Their affection is expressed in this poem. Thanking you.

  4. srinih

    I came across this blog of yours just now, a little more than one year after you have written it! I venture pass on my comments nevertheless, hoping it will attract your attention as well as that of others.
    “Sempulap peyal neer” has always been rendered as ‘rain water (peyal neer) that has fallen on red eartth (sempulam). I have a suggestion. ‘Sem pulam’ may be interpreted as ‘semmaip paduththap patta pulam’, pulam here meaning field as in agricultural field. just as “senthamizh” meaning “semmaip paduththap patta thamizh”. The adjective “sem” when applied to the field will indicate that the field is ‘well prepared by ploughing’. The two hearts that have merged were well prepared for such merger by love (anbudai nenjam)
    செம்புலப் பெயல் நீர் என்ற தொடருக்கு எல்லோரும் ‘செம்மண் பூமியில் விழுந்த மழை நீர்’ என்றே பொருள் கூறி வந்திருக்கின்றனர். செம்மைப் படுத்தப்பட்ட நிலத்தில் விழுந்த மழை நீர் போல என்று வேறு விதமாகவும் பொருள் கொள்ளலாமே, செந்தமிழ் என்பது செம்மைபடுத்தப்பட்ட தமிழ் என்று ஆவது போல. செம்மைப் படுத்தப்பட்ட நிலம் என்பதால் நிலம் உழுது பண்படுத்தப் பட்டது என்று ஆகும். அப்படிப்பட்ட நிலத்தில் மழை நீர் வீழின் மண்ணும் நீரும் வெவ்வேறு தன்மைத்தாயினும் இரண்டறக் கலந்துவிடும். அது போலவே நம் இருவர் நெஞ்சங்களும் வெவ்வேறு திறத்தவை ஆயினும் அன்பால் பண்படுத்தப்பட்டதனாலே அவை நன்கு கலந்துவிட்டன. இவ்வாறு கொண்டால் வெறும் “சிவப்பு மண்ணில் பெய்த மழை நீர் போல” என்பதை விடச் சிறப்பாக இருக்கிறது என்று எனக்குப் படுகிறது.

  5. Dear Vairam,
    While you are trying to call attention to the “so called Tamil society protectors “, it has to be kept in mind that the premarital sex (about which see further below) was not free sex in the sense that the heroine was with கற்பு, meaning that this hero was the first ever and last ever man in her mind and would lay down her life to avert association with any other man (which is the point of the குறிஞ்சித்துறை அறத்தொடு நிற்றல் where அறம் = கற்பு: see Kapilar’s குறிஞ்சிப்பாட்டு). Also Tolkappiyam when defining the heroine’s essential qualities in its third book called பொருளதிகாரம் devoted to the content-matter discipline to be followed in Tamil language says:
    உயிரினும் சிறந்தன்று நாணே; நாணினும்
    செயிர்தீர் காட்சிக் கற்புச் சிறந்தன்று”

    So கற்பு was two levels above her life with நாணம் forming the first level above life.

    This is completely missed by many who try to study Sangam poems or try to cite premarital sex in it for a free sex society like some actress tried to a few years ago. Coming to the word “marital”, there was no marriage in the sense of a marriage ceremony which was called கரணம் (a Sanskrit word meaning deed or ritual) and distinguished from மணம் which was the union of the man and woman and in which sense that word occurs frequently in Sangam poems (நற்றோள் மணந்த ஞான்றை).

    அரிசிரீநிவாசன் “செந்தமிழ் என்பது செம்மைபடுத்தப்பட்ட தமிழ் என்று ஆவது போல” என்று சொல்கிறார்; செம்மைபடுத்தப்பட்ட என்று அங்கே பொருளில்லை. செம்மையுடைய தமிழ் என்றுதான் பொருள். எனவே செயற்கையாகச் செப்பனிட்டது என்று தேவையின்றி மிகையான கருத்தை வளர்ப்பதைத் தவிர்க்கலாம்.

  6. One important clarification to my comment:
    When I said, “there was no marriage in the sense of a marriage ceremony ” I meant not at the time of the Sangam poems but was referring to Tolkappiam’s statement that the marriage ceremony was created by great people after lying and breaking of promises arose.
    “பொய்யும் வழுவும் தோன்றிய பின்னர்
    ஐயர் யாத்தனர் கரணம் என்ப”

    வழு = swerving from promise

  7. Jeyamohan in Sangachithirangal says that செம் புலப் பெயல் நீர் போல refers to the first monsoon rain on dried land . Much like the terrain of Saathoor .

  8. Mr. Vairam, “Muga puthakathil” mukam theriya oru anbar thangalin enna ottangalin thokuppai patri arinthen. Indha kurunthokai paadalai naan en thirumanathin nalangu velaiyil 24 aandukatku munnar padinen.. Apozuthu en manaivikku tamil avvalavaaka theriyaa nilai. engal thirumanam petror vazhi nathnthathu.

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