Book Reviews

Bharathidasan University, Thiruchirapalli, 1999.

Review by Dr. V. I. Subramoniam

Review by Dr. V. I. Subramoniam

Dr. K. Chellappan,
Former Professor and Head of the Department of English,
Bharathidasan University,
Comparatist, Translator and Critic

“Sangam poems are rooted in a rich culture, and they embody the insights of a civilization which flourished atleast 2000 years ago. Sangam poems fall under two categories namely Akam and Puram. The former are more complex than the latter because, they deal with subtle and profound psychological states.

Though there have been already some good translations of some of the Sangam poems, mostly by foreigners, I am very happy that Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy who has spent more than three decades in learning and teaching of Sangam poems and participated in the milieu and culture of Tamilnadu, has ventured for the first time to translate into English all the four hundred verses of Akananuru.

The translation is very close to the original poems and the spirit of the Sangam age has been caught. The simplicity of the translations bring them very close to the original. The translation is also true to the genuis of the target language English. The rhythm is also close to the original. There are useful explanatory notes throughout. I wish to congratulate my erudite friend, Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy for this timely gift to the Tamils. I do hope that the English speaking world will receive this precious work with great apprecitation and gratitude which is richly deserves.”

Prof. P. Jagadeesan,
Bharathidasan Univerity,Tiruchirapalli.

“The translator Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy, has a good command over both the Tamil and English languages. He has been teaching Tamil literatures for more than 33 years. He has been the Principal of Senthamizh Kalloori at Madurai. He has transferred all his experiences in translations into this commendable work.
Translation is a tough job; tougher than creation. It is even tougher to translate a work, more than 2000 years old. The translator has to work within the limits. Otherwise, he will not be true to the original. He has to follow the original like the shadow following the object.
The translator, Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy, has succeeded in expounding the uniqueness of ancient Tamil culture and civilization through this translation. He has tendered the ambrosia from the Tamilian urn to the non-Tamil readers.”

Vetrichelvi Publishers, Thanjavur, 2007.

Sekkizhar Adipodi Dr. T. N. Ramachandran, D. Litt
Translator of Bharathy and Saiva literature.
Director, International Institute of Saiva Siddhanthic Research,
Dharmapuram Mutt.
Founder, Saint Sekkizhar School of Saiva Siddhanta, Thanjavur.
Excerpt from foreword:
Professor Dakshinamurthy is a Tamil teacher, who is continuously working in this field since 1987. He had already translated the Akananuru and the Natrinai and these were published by renowned institutions. The present work is his third complete translation of an ancient Tamil anthology. It is to be noted that he is the only scholar who has translated in entirety three anthologies. He has translated the Kuruntokai after having carefully gone through all its extant translations. So, his translation is fairly free from errors present in many earlier works.

Professor Dakshinamurthy has cultivated Sankam literature in depth. He is also an excellent grammarian. He is well acquainted with the nerve centers of the Sankam literature. This blessing stands him in good stead. He has carefully eschewed the errors met with in the works of the earlier translations. This calls for well-merited accolade. I can say with aplomb that his translation is at once readable and dependable. I heartily commend this translation for the cultivation of discerning readers.

Dr. Nazir Ali, Transfire Journal
Kuruntokai: An Anthology of Classical Tamil Poetry. Trans. Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy. Thanjavur: Vetrichelvi Publishers, 2007. Pp.422. Rs. 250/-

The Sangam Classics composed more than two millennia ago are the earliest available texts of Tamil literature. They consist of Ettuthokai (Eight Anthologies), Pathupattu (Ten Long Poems) and also Tolkappiyam, the earliest extant text on phonetics, grammar and poetics. Among the Eight Anthologies, Dr. U. V. Swaminatha Aiyar considers Kuruntokai to be the oldest. Though quite a number of translators have brought out selections from this classic, only one complete translation is available so far. Dr. A.D. Dakshinamurthy has attempted to fill this gap by bringing out a full-length translation of Kuruntokai, which consists of 402 verses written by more than 200 poets. Let me give a cross section of poems from the five tinais not only to persuade the reader to carry out a comprehensive reading but to demonstrate the skill that Dr. A. D. Dakshinamurthy has brought to this translation.

The monsoon is the season appointed by the lover for his return who has gone on a lengthy journey to make money or on war business. Hearing the tinkling of the bells worn around the necks of the cattle, the friend urges the heroine to see if the hero is returning:

Come on, let us get to the boulder
Crept over by jasmine vines
And make sure and return! (275. Okkur Macatti)

In answer to the question of the companion whether the heroine can withstand the pangs of separation till her marriage, the heroine gives a reply which is a sample of feminine diplomacy: “During midnight when a black-legged Anril bird / Of first pregnancy calls out, unable to endure pain,” she hears it because she is wide awake thinking of the day she will be married. (375. Kunriyan)

The hero comes looking for the heroine when there is a huge deluge of rain which erases the difference between the sky and landscape. Impressed by the ardour of the hero which propels him to the heroine, the companion asks:

How did you locate our hamlet,
Fragrant with vengai flowers?
How at all you managed to go over here? (355. Kapilar)

In a language that is simple and urgent, the translator captures the astonishment felt by the companion.

Separated from her lover, the ladylove draws consolation from the sight of his distant mountains “Where heavy rains pour in the hill-slopes / Causing the black-faced monkey shiver with its cub.” At the same time she is concerned about her appearance in the likely event her lover returns. So she asks her companion, “Tell me if my forehead has regained its former beauty.” (249. Kapilar)

In a poem that has justly become famous for the comparison of the lover’s heart with a snoring elephant, the lover says:

My heart is still with my beloved
Despite my separation from her.
It heaves deep sighs, even
Like an elephant in sleep at midnight. (142. Kapilar)

The companion of the heroine tries to convince her of the hero’s love by using a novel method. She points out the love between a tusker and its cow and indirectly conveys that in a landscape of this kind, the lover cannot be without love for his beloved.

Here a huge-trunked tusker
Pulls down the soft branches
Of a ya tree to appease
The hunger of its loving mate. (37. Palai Patiya Perunkkatunko)

The concubine finds fault with the hero for doing all the biddings of his wife by giving a memorable image: the image of a man which does exactly what the man standing before the mirror does:

He is merely a mirror image
Which lifts its hand and leg
When a man lifts his limbs standing before it.
He acts out every command of his son’s mother! (8. Alankukdi Vankanar)

“Matal erutal” or riding a palmyra horse is the ultimate weapon of the rejected lover who expresses his frustration and disappointment by riding a palmyra frond and he becomes an object of pity and shame. By doing so, he tries to move his ladylove’s heart into loving him: “I have resolved to ride on the prideful horse / Wrought of the palmyra stalk.” He admits “My love for your friend has deprived me of my sense of shame.”At the end of the ride, he proclaims, “This plight of mine / Is the work of my beloved.” The society which placed a lot of premium on love between man and woman also provides the rejected male an instrument of redemption. (173. Maturai Kanci Pulavan)

Conveying the longing and disappointment over the prolonged absence of the hero, the heroine says

On the lovely and leafless konku trees,
Breast-like first blooms have appeared
To be buzzed by a swarm of bees. (254. Parakappan)

The implied message is that the season of flowers has come but the lover has not kept his word. This echoes the same kind of feeling experienced by the heroine in the decad titled “The Spring” (Ilavenil pathu) in Ainkurunuru.

The poem that A.K. Ramanujan found scrawled on an American subway train has been ably rendered by Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy.

Who are your mother and my mother to each other?
In what way are your father and my father related?
How came we to know each other?
Yet our loving hearts are ineluctably united
Even like the pouring rain
On the red soil! (40. Cempulappeyal Nirar)

No other verse conveys the immensity of the heroine’s love for her lover than this one:

Vaster than the earth, loftier than the heavens
And deeper than the ocean is my kinship
With the chief of a hilly domain
Where the bees store abundant honey,
Having buzzed the dark-stalked kurinci flowers! (3. Tevakulattar)

Chiding the lover for leaving her alone in an evening “When the bats with lovely and strong wings float” She conveys the pathos by comparing her heart to “an ironsmith’s bellows.” which is “Installed in place/To serve the needs of seven villages!” (172. Kaccippettu Nannakaiyar)

Comparing herself to “An immobile cripple” who licks his palm looking at the honeycomb on top of a hill, the unrequited ladylove says she is happy just at the sight of her lover

Though he loves me not
And gives me not himself to me! (60. Paranar)

The hero who prolongs the agony of the beloved by extending the illicit courtship comes in for criticism by the heroine who had only a heron as witness during their rendezvous.

None else was there but the thievish one
When he first embraced me.
Should he prove a cheat
What can I do at all? (25. Kapilar)

In a simple and transparent language, Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy has brought back to life sentiments expressed twenty centuries before. These verses of great antiquity do not sound antiquated thanks to the proficiency and understanding that the translator has brought to his job. He can rest assured that he has not laboured in vain.

Dr. V. I. Subramoniam,
Director, International School of Dravidian Linguistics,
Former Vice-Chancellor, Dravidian University, Kuppam


International Institute of Tamil Studies, Chennai, 2000.

Dr. V. I. Subramoniam,
Director, International School of Dravidian Linguistics,
Former Vice-Chancellor, Dravidian University, Kuppam
Former Vice-Chancellor, Tamil University, Thanjavur

Review by Dr. V. I. Subramoniam

Review by Dr. V. I. Subramoniam

Ancient Tamil Classic



Bharathidasan University, Thiruchirapalli, 2010.

Patinen1 patinen2


The Editor
“Dinamani” daily

Article on Professor A. Dakshinamurthy and his contributions to Tamil through translation of Tamil literature. Tamizhmani, Dinamani, 21st  of December 2008.

“முனைவர் தஷிணாமூர்த்தியின் ‘குறுந்தொகை’ ஆங்கில மொழிபெயர்ப்பைப் பார்த்தபோது அளவிலா உவகை ஏற்பட்டது. பாரதி விரும்பியதுபோல தேமதுரத்தமிழோசை உலகமெலாம் பரவும்வகை செய்யும் இத்தகைய படைப்புகள் பல வெளி வர வேண்டும் என்பதுதான் நம் அனைவரின் அவா. அத்தனை நூலகங்களிலும் அந்தப் புத்தகங்களை வாங்கியே தீர வேண்டும் என்ற நிலை ஏற்பட்டால்தான் இதுபோன்ற முயற்சிகளில் ஈடுபடுபவர்களுக்கு ஊக்கம் அளிப்பதாக இருக்கும்.

முனைவர் தஷிணாமூர்த்தி ஆற்றி வரும் தமிழ்ப்பணி கொஞ்சம் நஞ்சமல்ல ஏற்கெனவே இவரால் ஆங்கிலத்தில் மொழிபெயர்க்கப்பட்ட அகநானூறு முழுமைக்குமான முதல் ஆங்கில மொழிபெயர்ப்பை பாரதிதாசன் பல்கலைக்கழகம் மூன்று தொகுதிகளாக வெளியிட்டிருக்கிறது.

பாரதிதாசன் படைப்புகள், குலசேகர ஆழ்வாரின் ‘பெருமாள் திருமொழி’, ‘அபிராமி அந்தாதி’, ‘நீதிவெண்பா’ ஆகியவையும் இவரால் மொழிபெயர்க்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.

இதுபோல இன்றும் பலர் நல்ல தமிழ் இலக்கியங்களை, நவீன இலக்கியங்கள் உள்பட ஆங்கிலத்தில் மொழிபெயர்க்கும் முயற்சியில் ஈடுபட்டிருக்கிறார்கள். அவர்களை உற்சாகப்படுத்த ஏதாவது விருது, உதவித்தொகை, குறைந்தப் பட்சம் நூலகங்களுக்குப் பிரதிகளை வாங்குவது என்று செய்தால், தமிழ் கடல் கடந்து படிக்கப்படும். மதுரை செந்தமிழ் கல்லூரியின் முன்னால் முதல்வர் முனைவர் தஷிணாமூர்த்தியை யார் பாராட்டுகிறார்களோ இல்லையோ, வாசகர்களின் சார்பில் நாம் பாராட்டுகிறோம்.— கலாரசிகன் (கே. வைத்தியநாதன்)”

தமிழர் நாகரிகமும் பண்பாடும்(THAMIZHAR NAGARIKAMUM PANPADUM)
First edition :Vetrichelvi Publishers, Thanjavur, 1973. Reprinted several times by Ainthinai Pathipagam, Chennai.

Kumudam Arasu Bathilgal

A review of “Thamizhar Nagarikamum Panpaadum” which appeared in the Kumudam magazine under the section, “Arasu Bathilgal” on 4th of October 2006.
குமுதம் அரசு பதில்கள், 2006.


உணவு யுத்தம் #37 – எஸ். ராமகிருஷ்ணன்
ஜூனியர் விகடன், 24. 9. 2014

S.Ramakrishnan_Tamizhar n

KAMBAN – A NEW PERSPECTIVE (கம்பன் – புதிய பார்வை by A. S. Gnanasampanthan)

Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2013.

Review of Professor A. Dakshinamurthy’s, ‘KAMBAN – A NEW PERSPECTIVE’, a translation of the Tamil book, “கம்பன் – புதிய பார்வை” by A. S. Gnanasampandham published by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. It was featured in the new arrivals section of Dinamalar Daily in its Sunday issue (28/7/2013).

The contents of the review in English:

Dr. Dakshinamurthy who is a good scholar in Tamil and English has translated the Tamil original “Kamban – Pudhiya paarvai” by Professor. A. S. Gnanasambandhan in simple English. Starting with the question of which work is the original source to Kamban, the translator efficiently describes the contribution of devotional literature, the country and king as seen by Kamban, incarnation of God as man and the characters of Vali, Sukrivan and Hanuman of Kishkintha. Finally, the values described in Kambaramayanam and the estimation as treated in the epic are perfectly translated by the author.

Those who read this book directly without studying the original will not feel this book as a translation as it has been so well rendered in a free-flowing style in English. In short this is a trasnlation work written in a simple English language which will help the non-Tamil readers recognize the greatness of the Tamil language and the poet Kamban.

Review in Dinamalar Daily

Review in Dinamalar Daily

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