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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(“On Ancient Poetry”), an ancient Tamil treatise on grammar and poetics. Its earliest versions date from the first century B.C., and its final version, from the fourth and fifth centuries A.D.

The Tolkappiyam is the earliest extant Tamil treatise. It contains 1,276 sutras (precepts) and consists of three parts: the “Book on Letters, ” the “Book on Words, ” and the “Book on [Poetic] Content.” The Tolkappiyam borrowed extensively from Sanskrit sources, but it also contained original ideas. The third book drew on the Tamil system of poetic canons. This system was based on a five-way classification of poetic themes and on the division of poetry into akam (“the inner”), that is, love poetry, and puram (“the outer”), that is, poetry about all other subjects, but mainly war.


Subrahmanya, Sastri. Tolkappiyam Collatikaram, With English Commentary. Annamalainagar, 1945.
Varadaraja, Iyer. Tolkappiyam Poruladikaram, vol. 1, part 2. Annamalainagar, 1948.
Somasundaram Pillai, J. M. History of Tamil Literature. Annamalai nagar, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Peraciriyar's concerns with "correct" practice were deeply rooted in the "gold standard" of cankam poetry, and the Tolkappiyam, Tamil's oldest extant grammar and treatise on poetic convention and usage, delimited and defined "his practical field of operation" (p.
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For the reader of ancient Tamil texts, they may represent "Korravai", the name (or epithet) given to a goddess described in the Tamil epics, the Manimekakii and the Silappatikaram (5th-7th centuries) as well as named in the Tolkappiyam. Korravai's riding of the deer as well as her liking for blood and beheading give grounds for such an identification.
The Tolkappiyam, a book of grammar and rhetoric, was compiled along with eight anthologies (Ettuttokai) of secular poetry: Kuruntokai, Narrinai, Akananuru, Ainkurunuru, Kalittakai, Purananuru, Patirruppattu, and Paripatal.
Eva Wilden's illuminating study of a select array of technical terms presented in the Tolkappiyam Porulatikaram is a model instance of rigorous philology opening up broad cultural concerns.
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Venkatesan also points out that P.eriyavaccun Pi]lai's reliance on the Sanskrit Ramayalja to explicate the verse, "rather than more suitable" Tamil texts such as the Tolkappiyam or the Cilappatikaram, has more to do with his "theological project" than with anything else; a choice driven, in other words, by sectarian affiliation.
92), and, in passing, works out text chronologies via the tantrayukti lists in the Tolkappiyam and other later grammars and manuals on poetics.
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Detailed comparisons between the phonological and grammatical features of the inscriptions and those of Tamil literature, especially the prescriptions provided in the Tolkappiyam (pp.