Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

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.


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.



255/365 – Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep is an English nursery rhyme, sung to a variant of the 1761 French melody Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman. The original form of the tune is used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the “Alphabet song”.

The words have changed little in two and a half centuries. It has been suggested that the rhyme is a complaint against medieval English taxes on wool and in the twentieth century it was a subject of controversies in debates about “political correctness”. The Roud Folk Song Index, classifies this tune and its variations as number 4439.

Modern version

Recent versions tend to take the following form:

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir,

Three bags full;

One for the master,

And one for the dame,

And one for the little boy

Who lives down the lane.

Original version

This rhyme was first printed in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, the oldest surviving collection of English language nursery rhymes, published c. 1744 with the lyrics very similar to those still used today:

 Bah, Bah a black Sheep,

Have you any Wool?

Yes merry have I,

Three Bags full,

One for my master,

One for my Dame,

One for the little Boy

That lives down the lane.

In the next surviving printing, in Mother Goose’s Melody (c. 1765), the rhyme remained the same, except the last lines, which were given as, “But none for the little boy who cries in the lane”.

The Roud Folk Song Index, which catalogues folk songs and their variations by number, classifies the song as 4439 and variations have been collected across Great Britain and North America.


The rhyme is usually sung to a variant of the 1761 French melody Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman, which is also used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the “Alphabet song”.

The words and melody were first published together by A. H. Rosewig in (Illustrated National) Nursery Songs and Games, published in Philadelphia in 1879.


Categories: Book, General Knowledge

235/365 – Ettuthokai

April 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Ettuthokai – ‘The Eight Anthologies’ – Classical Tamil poetic work – form part of the Pathinenmaelkanakku anthology series of the Sangam Literature. Ettuthokai and its companion anthology Pattupattu are some of the oldest available Tamil Literature and dated to belong to between 200 BCE and 200 CE.

Contents of the Anthology

Ettutokai consist of 2,371 poems varying from small stanzas of three lines in Ainkurnuru to stanzas of forty lines in Purananuru. The following poems form the Eight Anthologies:









The following Tamil poetry by an anonymous author lists the component parts of this Anthology:

The ancient Tamil lyrical poetry compiled in The Eight Anthologies is unique and vigorous, full of vivid realism.


There are 470 poets known either by their proper names or by causal names deduced from their works. The authors are unidentified in the case of a hundred stanzas. The poets belonged to different parts of Tamil Nadu and to different professions.

Some of them were very popular like Kapilar, Nakkirar and Auvaiyar and some others are rarely remembered by their names. Yet a general harmony prevails throughout these eight anthologies.

The tone and temper of the age is reflected in all their poems with a singular likeness. They were moulded according to certain literary conventions or traditions that prevailed in the Sangam age. Yet they reveal the individual genius of the poets who sang them.

Composition Style

In those early days of Sangam Literature, the convention of the later days, that Tamil poetry should only deal with the four aspects of life, namely, virtue ( aram), material (wealth and politics) (porul), joy (love and pleasure) (inpam), and salvation (including death) (veechu), was not prevalent.

The poets sang either of subjective (Akam) or objective (Puram) matters. Akam dealt with ideal love and Puram with the rest, such as war, munificence, etc.


Categories: Book, General Knowledge

225/365 – Shangri-La

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains.

Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.

In the novel Lost Horizon, the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance.

The word also evokes the imagery of exoticism of the Orient. In the ancient Tibetan scriptures, existence of seven such places is mentioned as Nghe-Beyul Khimpalung.

Khembalung is one of several beyuls (“hidden lands” similar to Shangri-La) believed to have been created by Padmasambhava in the 8th century as idylic, sacred places of refuge for Buddhists during times of strife (Reinhard 1978).

The use of the term Shangri-La is frequently cited as a modern reference to Shambhala, a mythical kingdom in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which was sought by Eastern and Western explorers.


Categories: Book, General Knowledge

212/365 – Tale of Two Cities

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Author: Charles Dickens

Illustrator: Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz)

Cover artist: Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz)

Country:United Kingdom

Language: English

Series Weekly: 30 April 1859 – 26 November 1859

Genre: Novel, Historical, Social criticism

Publisher London: Chapman & Hall

Publication date: 1859

Media type: Print (Serial, Hardback, and Paperback)

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set inLondon and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of fictional literature.

The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period.

It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events. The most notable are Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Carton is a dissipated British barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of his unrequited love for Darnay’s wife.

The 45-chapter novel was published in 31 weekly installments in Dickens’ new literary periodical titled All the Year Round. From April 1859 to November 1859, Dickens also republished the chapters as eight monthly sections in green covers. Dickens’ previous novels had appeared only as monthly installments.

The first weekly installment of A Tale of Two Cities ran in the first issue of All the Year Round on 30 April 1859. The last ran thirty weeks later, on 26 November.


Categories: Book, General Knowledge

135/365 – Thirumanthiram

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The Tirumantiram, is a Tamil poetic work written in the 5th CE by Tirumular and is the tenth of the twelve volumes of the Tirumurai, the key texts of Tamil Saivism.

It is the first known Tamil work to use the term Shaiva Siddhanta and the earliest known exposition of the Saiva Agamas in Tamil.

It consists of over three thousand verses dealing with various aspects of spirituality, ethics and praise of the God Shiva. But it is more spiritual than religious and one can see the difference between Vedanta and Siddhanta from Tirumular’s interpretation of the Mahakaavyas.

Tirumandiram, strongly emphasizes on Love is God, (Anbey Sivam).

The Tirumantiram is divided into nine chapters (tantirams). The poems have a unique metrical structure, each line consisting of 11 or 12 syllables depending on the initial syllable.

Tirumular discusses the four steps of spiritual progress; Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Gnana, the Shaiva Siddhanta concept of Pati, Pasu and Pasa where Pati stands for Lord shiva, Pasu stands for the human kind and Pasa stands for Maya (the desire), sadhana, Vedanta, the Upanishadic Tat tvam asi and other Vedantic concepts, the transcendental reality as emptiness (Sunya) devoid of any attribute and Tantrasastra (Shakti worship), chakras, magic spells and their accessories.

The section on Yoga, called “Shiva yoga”, offers details not found in the Sanskrit text of Patanjali. The Tirumantiram describes means of attaining an immortal body (kaya siddhi), advocating a theory of preserving the body so that the soul would continue its existence (Udambai valarthen uyir valarthenae).

Tirumular as a moral philosopher teaches the ethics of non-violence (ahimsa), abstinence from slaughtering, meat and alcohol. He condemns coveting another man’s wife but declares that “love is God“, proclaims the unity of mankind and God and stresses the acquisition of knowledge.

To Read:


113/365 – En Iniya Iyanthira

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

En Iniya Enthira is a Tamil science fiction novel written by Sujatha. In the late 1980s Sujatha wrote this novel as a series in popular Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan. Following the success of En Iniya Enthira, Sujatha wrote another follow-up for this novel and named it Meendum Jeano.

Story of the En iniya Enthira revolves around a dictator who rules Indian sub continent and 3 rebels who were organising a coup against him including a girl named “Nila” and a robot dog named “Jeeno”.



The plot opens in the year 2021.India is ruled by a dictator Jeeva. In his rule, population is kept under control, old people are allowed to live only up to particular age and are killed when they cross the limit, everywhere and anywhere lies Robots, people are identified only with their social security numbers and all the details are fed and controlled by Master Computer at Capital City.

On a New Year eve, Nila, a homemaker lady is very delighted for having Government permission letter to have a boy baby from Population Control Board. She intimates the news to her husband Sibi. While Government, allots a home space of Nila’s residence for a man Ravi and his pet Jeano. Jeano is a Robotic pet which could speak.

As per government rule, home space should not be alloted for more than three people. So Nila’s husband leaves to verify about Ravi’s allotment but not returns back to home. Nila, to find him, uses his social security number but wonders to get an answer that there is no existence of such a person. She tries to find him but in vain.

What happened to Sibi? What is the role of Ravi in Sibi’s disappearance? How Nila finds her husband and a shocking truth about Jeeva and his dictatorship with the help of Jeano?

The rest of story moves with the answers to these questions.


Categories: Book, General Knowledge