Decoding the Battlelust: A Note on the Provocations to War in the Purananuru

Keywords: Sangam Literature, Purananuru, War, Kapilar, Paranar, Avvaiyar, Talayalankanam, Karikal Valavan, Makan Maruttal, Kudavayir Kottam


Unfettered by the tinais and turais by which the Purananuru is organized, this paper looks at the issues and subjectivities of the ancient Tamil society which determined its attitudes towards war. It includes in its narration not just the members of the royalty alone but every other stakeholder whose life was altered by war: the mother, the wife and the man himself. What the paper hopes to present is, by eschewing a theoretical framework, a world closer to the realities embodied and embedded in the poems of the Purananuru. Besides mapping the discourse of the society concerning war and heroism, it analyses the causes which frequently produced wars keeping the society in a state of perpetual volatility. Interestingly, it finds the glamorised world of the warrior co-existing with the gritty and often gruesome realities of the battlefield, with all its blood and gore.

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