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Topics in Sangam literature
Sangam literature
Agattiyam Tolkāppiyam
Eighteen Greater Texts
Eight Anthologies
Aiṅkurunūṟu Akanāṉūṟu
Puṟanāṉūṟu Kalittokai
Kuṟuntokai Natṟiṇai
Paripāṭal Patiṟṟuppattu
Ten Idylls
Tirumurukāṟṟuppaṭai Kuṟiñcippāṭṭu
Malaipaṭukaṭām Maturaikkāñci
Mullaippāṭṭu Neṭunalvāṭai
Paṭṭiṉappālai Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai
Poruṇarāṟṟuppaṭai Ciṟupāṇāṟṟuppaṭai
Related topics
Sangam Sangam landscape
Tamil history from Sangam literature Ancient Tamil music
Eighteen Lesser Texts
Nālaṭiyār Nāṉmaṇikkaṭikai
Iṉṉā Nāṟpatu Iṉiyavai Nāṟpatu
Kār Nāṟpatu Kaḷavaḻi Nāṟpatu
Aintiṇai Aimpatu Tiṉaimoḻi Aimpatu
Aintinai Eḻupatu Tiṇaimālai Nūṟṟaimpatu
Tirukkuṟaḷ Tirikaṭukam
Ācārakkōvai Paḻamoḻi Nāṉūṟu
Ciṟupañcamūlam Mutumoḻikkānci
Elāti Kainnilai
Bhakti Literature
Naalayira Divya Prabandham Ramavataram
Tevaram Tirumuṟai

Kuṟuntokai (Tamil: குறுந்தொகை, meaning the short-collection[1]) is a classical Tamil poetic work and traditionally the second of the Eight Anthologies (Ettuthokai) in the Sangam literature.[2] The collection belongs to the akam (love) category, and each poem consists of 4 to 8 lines each (except poem 307 and 391 which have 9 lines). The Sangam literature structure suggests that the original compilation had 400 poems, but the surviving Kuruntokai manuscripts have 402 poems.[2][3] According to Takanobu Takahashi – a Tamil literature scholar, these poems were likely composed between 100 CE and 300 CE based on the linguistics, style and dating of the authors.[4] Kamil Zvelebil, a Tamil literature and history scholar, states that the majority of the poems in the Kuruntokai were likely composed between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE.[5] The Kuruntokai manuscript colophon states that it was compiled by Purikko (உரை), however nothing is known about this compiler or the patron.[3]

The Kuruntokai poems are credited to 205 ancient poets.[3] Of these, according to Kamil Zvelebil, about 30 poets names are of North Indian roots (Indo-Aryan) and rest are of Dravidian roots.[2] The poems include Sanskrit loan words, contain 27 allusions to historical events and there are 10 borrowings from this work into the two famed post-Sangam Tamil works: Tirukkural and Silappatikaram.[2]



மெல்ல மெல்ல நம் காதல் மாரி பெய்யலீல் நீர் உவமையிடவதி்ல் என் தந்தை மற்றும் உங்கள் தந்தை, எப்படி அவர்கள் தொடர்புள்ளனர் என்றும் நானும் நீயும் எப்படி ஒருவருக்கொருவர் அறிந்திருக்கிறோம் என்றும் புரிய செய்தது.[further explanation needed]

A beautiful poem from Kuruntokai is the famous Red earth and pouring rain by the Sangam age poet Sembula Peyaneerar.

This poem is the verse 40 in the Kuruntokai anthology. The image of "red earth and pouring rain" evokes pictures of the first monsoon rains falling on the red-earthed hills typical of the Tamil lands to mingle with the dry, parched soil forming a cool, damp clay, and of the flowers blooming in the rain. The mood created is that of lovers, clandestinely meeting in the hills, their hearts waking suddenly, unexpectedly, to each other.[citation needed]

A second level of meaning is created by the imagery of progression. The poem opens with the possible bonds of friendship, and then kinship, between the parents. Then, it moves to bonds formed by two people learning and getting to know each other. From these abstractions, it comes to concreteness with the picture of red earth in the rain, drawing a parallel with the lover's journey from aloneness to union.[citation needed]

Finally, there is the image of the kurinji flower itself. Though never mentioned in the poem, it is nonetheless present as a fundamental part of a landscape of hills. A kurinji flower only blooms once in twelve years,[9] the period associated in Tamil tradition with the coming of a girl to sexual maturity. Unspoken, but present, in the poem through the image of the flower is a sense of a woman awakening to herself and to union.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

The influence of Kuruntokai can be seen in contemporary Tamil movies. The 40th poem has been used in the song Narumagaye in Iruvar and in the song Yaayum in Sagaa which was itself a remake of the song Yaayum from the Singapore Tamil drama Kshatriyan. The very first poem of Kuruntokai was vigorously referred to in the composing of song Senthoora in Bogan.

In Kochadaiyaan (2014), the song Idhyam contains several reference from 18th and 38th poem of Kuruntokai.[10]

Recent usage is the song Nallai Allai in Katru Veliyidai (2017) film directed by Maniratnam which was inspired by the 47th poem authored by Neduvennilavinār.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Mariaselvam (1988). The Song of Songs and Ancient Tamil Love Poems: Poetry and Symbolism.
  2. ^ a b c d Zvelebil 1973, p. 51.
  3. ^ a b c Takahashi, Takanobu (1995). Tamil Love Poetry and Poetics. BRILL Academic. pp. 2, 47–48. ISBN 90-04-10042-3.
  4. ^ Takahashi, Takanobu (1995). Tamil Love Poetry and Poetics. BRILL Academic. pp. 47–52. ISBN 90-04-10042-3.
  5. ^ Zvelebil, Kamil (1973). The Smile of Murugan: On Tamil Literature of South India. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-03591-1.
  6. ^ "Kuruntokai". 27 July 2017.
  7. ^ [dspace.pondiuni.edu.in/jspui/bitstream/pdy/353/1/T%202593.pdf English renderings of Kuruntokai - Problems in Translation]
  8. ^ Assamese poet first to find Estonian audience
  9. ^ The latest flowering was during 2006.
  10. ^ "தீண்டாய் மெய் தீண்டாய் : உயிரேந்தும் கற்றாளை". Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Sangam poems in contemporary songs". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 30 July 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mudaliyar, Singaravelu A., Apithana Cintamani, An encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, (1931) - Reprinted by Asian Educational Services, New Delhi (1983)

External links[edit]