Friday, 13 June 2014

Culture, Agriculture, Literature

Culture, agriculture and literature are closely related. Poetry, it is said, mirrors the culture of a place and the practices of the people that lived there at a particular time period.

It spoke of the practices of the people, their belief system and their growth. Tamil literature, like all others of the world, is rich and reflective of the growth patterns of the land. Ancient Tamil literature divided land into five types.

Kurunji – This word was used to describe a mountainous terrain. Towns that developed in this type of land were called ‘Kuruchi’. Places like Kaladaikuruchi, Karakuruchi are examples of settlements on mountainous terrain.

Mullai – Places in and around a forest were classified thus.

Neidhal – Seashore in particular and land around a water body is usually known by this name.

Marudham – Plains, especially of the cultivatable type is known as Marudham
Paalai – Desert and land surrounding a desert is called Paalai.
Neidhal is associated with pining, and rightly so!

In ancient Tamil literature, each of the land type is associated with a unique state of human mind. Kurunji is associate with togetherness, while Mullai is associated with waiting. Marudham is associated with quarrel and Neidhal with pining. Paalai, it is said, indicates separation.

Some of the Tamil poetry talk in depth about crop rotation and there are specific word-of-mouth poems (esp. lullaby) which offer rich information about the crops that each house hold must plant.

There are some interesting one-liners which talk about food and how they should be consumed. For example, read the following line

“Ingikku puranni nanju, Kadukkaikku agani nanju.”

When translated this means that the outer skin of ginger is poisonous, while the inner seed of the yellow myrobalan or terminalia chebula is poisonous.

Ancient literature, in short is a rich treasure trove of valuable information which is waiting to be interpreted and followed…