The Portrait of the King in the Purananuru

புறநானூறு தீட்டும் அரசனின் ஓவியம்

Keywords: Sangam Literature, Criticism, Purananuru, Kingdom, Candror, George Hart, Vadakkiruttal, tutelary tree, Cilappatikaram


There is no disputing the fact that the Purananuru firmly places the king or the chieftain as the central and dominant figure of the classical age. Almost every poem is a paean to his nobility, bravery or generosity. Whether it is fighting a battle or rewarding an indigent poet or defending his capital from an aggressor, the king occupies the centre stage. The rise and fall of his state is in direct proportion to his own rise and fall thereby binding his fortunes with the wellbeing of the society he rules. He is expected to be righteous and just not only for his own sake but for the sake of the kingdom. There is so much riding on the king that a false step will not only ruin him personally but also plunge the whole nation into chaos. It is this synonymy between the king and the state that the Purananuru captures and constructs and by doing so, it constructs the whole of the society and its power structure.

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