Poems from a South Indian Devotional Genre
Publication Year: 1997
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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Illustrations and Tables
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This book sets out the distinctive features of the pillaittamil: a genre of Tamil devotional poetry to an extraordinary deity or person, addressed in the form of a child. The book provides resources to transform the reader into a person equipped to savor well-crafted pillaittamil poetry from several religious...
Part One: How To Read A Pillaittamil
Chapter One Extraordinary Child
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The South Indian devotional poetry called the pillaittamil is a genre built of multiples: multiple verses, multiple sections, multiple poems, and multiple religious affiliations. This genre always contains a particular sequence of poetry found....
Chapter Two Asking for the Moon, Taming the Tiger
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The moon (ampuli) paruvam provides an excellent example of the aesthetic of virtuosity that plays a large role in pillaittamil composition. In this paruvam the poet must address his poetry directly to the moon, using various forms of cajolery or intimidation to convince the moon to act as playmate for...
Part Two: Pillaittamils for Reading
Chapter Three The Florescence
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The pillaittamil genre began to flourish with the composition of Pakalikkûttar’s Tiruccentûr Pillaittamil (henceforth TCPT). While several extant earlier texts contain some or almost all of the features characteristic of the pillaittamil...
Chapter Four A Temple and a Pillaittamil
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In the seventeenth century Kumarakuruparar composed Maturai Mînâπciyammai PiΠΠaittamil (henceforth MMPT) and presented it to Tirumalai Nâyakkar, ruler and patron responsible for a major set of renovations on the...
Chapter Five The Hindu Monastic Milieu
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No single English term or phrase can adequately describe the role that T. C. Mînâπcicuntaram PiΠΠai (henceforth Pillai) played in nineteenth-century Tamil literary culture. He began as a child prodigy gifted at composing verse, matured into...
Chapter Six A Pillaittamil to Muhammad
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By choosing to write in the pillaittamil genre, Tamil poets within the Muslim tradition located themselves in relation to the Islamic culture of southeastern India, while simultaneously broadening the scope of the pillaittamil tradition....
Chapter Seven One Poet's Baby Jesus
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For centuries the image of Baby Jesus has played a crucial role in Christian tradition. Veneration of the infant Jesus began in the early Middle Ages and received a major boost in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries from the Cistercians...
Chapter Eight Poetry of Cultural Nationalism
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The vast majority of pillaittamils are religious texts composed by authors affiliated with established religious communities.1 In the first quarter of this century, however, some poets wrote pillaittamils not to express institutionalized religious...
Part Three: Reflections on Pillaittamils
Chapter Nine The Fruits of Reading Pillaittamils
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Over the centuries the pillaittamil genre has attracted many writers and literary connoisseurs. When I asked practicing pillaittamil poets why they found the genre compelling, they recounted the pleasures of composing poems...
Appendix: Descriptions of Pillaittamils in Texts about Poetics
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Publication Year: 1997