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Topics in Sangam literature
Sangam literature
Akattiyam Tholkāppiyam
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 Tiṉaimalai Nūṟṟu Aimpatu
Tirukkuṛaḷ Tirikaṭukam
Ācārakkōvai Paḻamoḻi Nāṉūṟu
Ciṟupañcamūlam Mutumoḻikkānci
Elāti Kainnilai

Poruṇarāṟṟuppaṭai (Tamil: பொருநராற்றுப்படை, lit. "guide for war bards") is an ancient Tamil poem and the second lay of the Pattuppattu anthology in the Sangam literature.[1] It contains 248 lines, mostly in the akaval meter.[2] It is one of five arruppatai genre poems, possibly the oldest one, aimed as a guide to other bards seeking a patron for their art. Set in the early Chola kingdom, it was composed by Mutattamakkanniyar sometime around 180–190 CE, states Kamil Zvelebil – a Tamil literature scholar.[3][4]

The Porunararruppatai poem, also called Porunarattrupadai,[5] is set in the context of a meeting of the poet with a "war bard" (porunar) and his wife, wherein the poet guides his hosts on how to go about meeting the Chola king, the background information about the king and his kingdom.[3]

The poem is notable for its two strings of similes.[6] In the first string, the poet compares each part of the lute to different parts of the female body.[3] For example, the surface of the lute is described as "fair belly of the pregnant woman" and the overall appearance of the musical instrument is described as "bedecked bride".[3][6] In the second string of similes, a danseuse body is compared to images of nature. The poet compares, for example, her small feet to "tongue of a panting hound", her mound-of-venus to "seat of bees", her navel to "water ripple", her earlobes to "well-shaped loops of scissors".[3][6] The poem also includes hyperbolic and humorous statements.[7][8]

The poem is a source of historical information about the ancient Chola kingdom and king Karikala.[3] It describes the River Kaveri along with the towns settled along its banks.[2] The poem dedicates many lines each to four regions of the Chola kingdom, along with flora, fauna and different fruits.[9] The Porunararruppatai is another source of the ancient Tamil culture, lifestyle, and people. For example, it mentions the town of Cholanadu and states that the inhabitants there eat meat and drink liquor, states Zvelebil.[2] According to Chelliah, this poem suggests that the 2nd-century Tamil society ate meat, and the shift to vegetarian lifestyle happened in later centuries.[10] The god of war Murugan, a goddess possibly Kali Kankalan, along with the ceremonial ancestral offering of red rice to crows (shraddha) are mentioned in the poem. A few lines of Porunarattrupadai allude to the rebirth and karma (ool) theories, suggestive of Brahmanical ideas.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 29, 56.
  2. ^ a b c Kamil Zvelebil 1973, p. 56.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kamil Zvelebil 1974, p. 23.
  4. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, p. 42 Chart 4.
  5. ^ JV Chelliah 1946, p. 55.
  6. ^ a b c JV Chelliah 1946, pp. 58–59.
  7. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1974, pp. 23–24.
  8. ^ JV Chelliah 1946, p. 59.
  9. ^ JV Chelliah 1946, pp. 55–57, 73–75.
  10. ^ a b JV Chelliah 1946, pp. 55–57.


  • JV Chelliah (1946). Pattupattu - Ten Tamil Idylls (Tamil Verses with Englilsh Translation). Tamil University (1985 print).
  • Edward Jewitt Robinson (2001). Tamil Wisdom: Traditions Concerning Hindu Sages and Selections from Their Writings. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.
  • Mudaliyar, Singaravelu A., Apithana Cintamani, An encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, (1931) - Reprinted by Asian Educational Services, New Delhi (1983)
  • Pillai, M. S. Purnalingam (1994). Tamil Literature. Asian Educational Services. p. 115. ISBN 81-206-0955-7.
  • Ray, Himanshu Prabha (2003). The archaeology of seafaring in ancient South Asia. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. ISBN 9780521011099.
  • Selby, Martha Ann (2011) Tamil Love Poetry: The Five Hundred Short Poems of the Aiṅkuṟunūṟu, an Early Third-Century Anthology. Columbia University Press, ISBN 9780231150651
  • Takanobu Takahashi (1995). Tamil Love Poetry and Poetics. BRILL Academic. ISBN 90-04-10042-3.
  • Kamil Zvelebil (1973). The Smile of Murugan: On Tamil Literature of South India. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-03591-5.
  • Kamil Zvelebil (1974). Tamil Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-01582-0.
  • Zvelebil, Kamil (1992). Companion studies to the history of Tamil literature. BRILL. p. 73. ISBN 90-04-09365-6.