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256/365 – Ramavatharam

avataram (இராமாவதாரம்), popularly referred to as Kamba Ramayanam (கம்ப இராமாயணம்), is a Tamil epic that was written by Kamban during the 12th century.

Based on Valmiki’s Ramayana in Sanskrit, the story describes the life of King Rama of Ayodhya. However, Ramavatharam is different from the Sanksrit original in many aspects – both in spiritual concepts and in the specifics of the story line.

This historic work is considered by Tamil scholars as well as the general public as one of the greatest literary works in Tamil literature.

Kamban wrote this epic with the patronage of Thiruvennai Nallur Sadayappa Vallal, a Pannai kula chieftain (திருவெண்ணை நல்லூர் சடயப்ப வள்ளல்). In gratitude to his patron, Kamban references his name once in every 1000 verses.

The epic is quite well known, both in the Tamil literary world and in the Hindu spiritual world, for the colorfulness of its poetry and for its religious value.

Structure

The book is divided into six chapters, called Kandam(காண்டம்) in Tamil.

 Bala Kandam (Chapter: Childhood; பால காண்டம்)

Ayodhya Kandam (Chapter: Ayodhya; அயோத்யா காண்டம்)

Aranya Kandam (Chapter: Forest; ஆரண்ய காண்டம்)

Kishkinta Kandam (Chapter: Kishkintha; கிஷ்கிந்த காண்டம்)

Sundara Kandam (Chapter: Beautiful; சுந்தர காண்டம் )

Yutha Kandam (Chapter: War; யுத்த காண்டம்)

The Kandams are further divided into 123 sections called Padalam (படலம்) in Tamil. These 123 sections contains approximately 12,000 verses of the epic.

Literary significance

Kamban’s use of Virutham (விருத்தம்; Tempo) and Santham (சந்தம்; Tune) in various verses is effective in bringing out the emotion and mood for storytelling. He achieves the Virutham and Santham by effective choice of words.

Religious significance  

This epic is read by many Hindus during prayers. In some households the entire epic is read once during the Tamil Month of Aadi. It is also read in Hindu Temples and other religious associations.

This epic is evidence that worship of Rama started in Tamil Nadu. On many occasions, Kambar talks about surrendering to Rama, who is a manifestation of Vishnu himself.

The chapter Sundara Kandam is considered quite auspicious and is the most popular. The chapter talks about the hardships faced by the main characters in the epic, their practice of restraint, and their hopes for a better tomorrow.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramavataram

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