The Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT), established in Chennai, has mapped out various plans including preparation of definitive editions of forty-one Classical Tamil texts and translation of these works into English and other major European languages as well as into major Indian languages and writing of a historical grammar of Tamil. Language being the autobiography of a people, our objective is to preserve and safeguard the invaluable treasure of the literary compositions in our language. If only we could delve into our past and recover the riches and wealth of the mighty treasure trove of Classical Tamil poetry, we will be amply rewarded by its lofty poetry, the poetry that strengthens and purifies the holiness of heart's affection and enlarges our imagination. Apart from these, reading the ancient Tamil texts such as Tolkäppiyam, Ettuttokai, Pattuppattu, Tirukkural etc. provides a foundation for scholarship for the present and in this sense they do provide enlightened education.
It is heartening to write this foreword to the series of publications brought out by CICT, which I am sure, will do full justice to the masterpieces in Tamil without compromising on the quality of production. The Cankam corpus being a repository of our glorious culture, it behoves our present and future generations to study them and to convey their message and the vision of life embodied in them to the public at large. Let me, therefore, commend the series to the enlightened beings the world over.
Purananuru is an anthology of 400 puram poems composed by 156 poets. It has proved to be an excellent source of the social history of the Tamils, as its poems describe the life led by the people of the time and of the heroic deeds of the three kings, the numerous minor ones, the chieftains and the philanthropists of the Tamil land. Besides an old Commentary on the first 266 poems, we have the scholarly notes of Caminätaiyar on all the pieces. and a detailed poem by poem interpretation by Avvail. Turaicāmippillai. Another great merit of the anthology is that from its poems of varied lengths, several succeeding generations of poets got numerous literary forms, themes, motifs, similes, metaphors, images and symbols, some of which later spread to other Indian languages.
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