Kambaramayanam
Overview
 
Ramavataram popularly referred to as Kamba Ramayanam (கம்ப இராமாயணம்), is a Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 epic
Tamil mythology
Tamil mythology means the stories and sacred narratives belonging to the Tamil people. This body of mythology is a mix of elements from the Southern Hindu peoples and Indus Valley cultures with Vedic and orthodox Hindu aspects of the Sanskritic tradition....

 that was written by Kamban
Kambar
Kambar was a medieval Tamil poet and the author of the Tamil Ramayanam known as Kambaramayanam, the Tamil version of Ramayana. Kambar also authored other literary works in Tamil such as Erezhupathu,Silaiezhupathu, Kangai Puranam and Sarasvati Anthati.-Life:Kambar belonged to the Ochchan or Occhan...

 during the 12th century. Based on Valmiki
Valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e...

's Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, the story describes the life of King Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 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.
Encyclopedia
Ramavataram popularly referred to as Kamba Ramayanam (கம்ப இராமாயணம்), is a Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 epic
Tamil mythology
Tamil mythology means the stories and sacred narratives belonging to the Tamil people. This body of mythology is a mix of elements from the Southern Hindu peoples and Indus Valley cultures with Vedic and orthodox Hindu aspects of the Sanskritic tradition....

 that was written by Kamban
Kambar
Kambar was a medieval Tamil poet and the author of the Tamil Ramayanam known as Kambaramayanam, the Tamil version of Ramayana. Kambar also authored other literary works in Tamil such as Erezhupathu,Silaiezhupathu, Kangai Puranam and Sarasvati Anthati.-Life:Kambar belonged to the Ochchan or Occhan...

 during the 12th century. Based on Valmiki
Valmiki
Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e...

's Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, the story describes the life of King Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 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
Vallal Sadaiyappar
Vallal Sadaiyappa Mudaliar was a rich 12th century Vellala chief who had his residence at both Puduvai and Thiruvenainallur. He was known for his philanthropic activities...

, 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
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 literary world and in the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 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
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

.
  • 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
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

 of the epic.

Compilation

As with many historic compilations, it was very difficult to discard the interpolations and addendum which have been added over a period of time to the original. This task was taken up a committee of scholars headed by T P Meenakshi Sundaram called the Kamban Kazhagam (Kamban Academy). The compilation published by this committee in 1976 is what is used as the standard today.

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
Tamil calendar
The Tamil calendar is a solar and sidereal Hindu calendar used in Tamil Nadu. It is also used in Pondicherry , and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. It is also used by Telugu speaking people in Tamil Nadu...

 of Aadi. It is also read in Hindu Temple
Hindu temple
A Mandir, Devalayam, Devasthanam, or a Hindu temple is a place of worship for followers of Hinduism...

s 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
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

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.
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