Kaalamega Pulavar is known for his great poetic knowledge. We already seen a bit about him in the Power of Aram, where he appears to be notorious for singing Arams against persons. But actually he is revered as a great poet of all times. His original name was Varadhan and he was serving the Vishnu temples and was a Vaishnavite. He had fallen in love with a lady called Mohana, a Dancer among the group of dancers called Deva Daasis, who was a Shaivite. In those days, there was a strong opposition between the Shaivite and Vaishnavite followers. Initially Mohana fell in love with Varadhan but her Shaivite friends started insulting her for having relationship with a Vaishnavite whom the Shaivites hate. So Mohana avoided Varadhan for this reason and this made Varadhan to become a Shaivite and he became one. Later one day, Varadhan was waiting in a temple mandapam for Mohana to return. At that time, Goddess Parvathi, took the form of a young girl in order to bless a disciple who prayed rigorously. She appeared before that disciple and asked him to open his mouth so that she can spit the divine mixture of betel leaves etc called Thamboolam. The disciple did not realise that the young girl was Goddess Parvati incarnate and shooed her away for disturbing his prayer. Goddess Parvathi thought that the disciple’s mind is not mature yet to attain the knowledge he wishes. So she went back and on the way she saw Varadhan sleeping in the temple. She went near him and asked to open his mouth. Varadhan just getting out of his sleep opened his mouth without any question and the Goddess spit the Divine mixture, indicating Her grace for him. From then on, Varadhan got the ability to sing songs in a twinkle of an eye and later on became a poet who would shower poems as the heavy clouds would shower rain and hence the name Kaalamegam.

Kaalmegam’s use of pun in his songs is so remarkable and so seamlessly merged with the real meaning in the songs, earning him the name “Silaydai Pulavar” (see Interesting use of Pun in Tamil Literature). But he is much more famous for another form of songs, that is using only the letters in the sequence of alphabets. For eg, some of his songs would use the letters in the Ka sequence only (Ka, Kaa, Ki, Kee and so on). This is the most difficult of all songs that to my knowledge he is the only one who has sung such songs. Now lets get into his songs. The following song uses only the letters in the Ka sequence

“KaakaiKaa KaaKoogai Koogaikkaa KaaKaakkai

Koakkukkoo Kaakkaikku KokkuKokka Kaikaikkuk

Kaakaikkuk KaiKaikkuKaa Kaa

A very tough song to understand, lets rephrase the song as follows

“Kaakaiku Aagaa Koogai Koogaikku Aagaa Kaakkai
Koakku Koo Kaakkaiku Kokku Okka Kaikaiku Kaakkaiku
Kaikku Aiykku Aaga Kaa”

Still tough ain’t it. Well lets see the meaning of the song. It means in the night the crow’s enemy is the owl that can see in the night, whereas the crow cannot. In the day, the crow is the enemy for the owl as the crow can see in daylight whereas the owl is nocturnal. However the owl is more stronger than the crow. Likewise the king who wishes to protect his country from enemies by waiting like the stork that waits patiently to make its meal before making an attack, will sometimes be defenceless the owl though he is more powerful than the enemies are.

Kaakai – Crow
Aagaa – Will not go together, disagreement, enemity, inability to do,
Koogai – Owl

Ko – King, Cow, God. In this context, King
Koo – Land, Territory, Country
Kaakkai – The act of protecting (Kaaval)

Kokku – Stork
Okka – Resembling in action or appearance

Kaikkai – Opposing the enemies

Kai – Talent, Hand
Aiy – King

Kaa – Protecting

Very great usage of the language and the eloquence exhibited is really marvellous. This is not all to Kaalamegam’s credit. The next song, that uses the ‘Tha’ sequence, goes like this

“Thathithaa Thoodhi ThaaThoodhi Thaththudhi

Thuthi Thudhaithi Thudhaidha Thaadhoothi

Thithitha Thithitha Thaadhedhu Thithitha

Theththaadho Thithitha Thodhu!

The song is sung as a question to the bee. The meaning of which is as follows, You go jumping from flower to flower tasting the nectar from the flower. When jumping from a flower to a flower, you squeeze the flowers oozing the nectar out of them and then drinking that nectar. You have drunk nectar from various flowers. Which of those flowers had a nectar that tasted sweet? Tell me those flowers that had the nectar that tasted sweet.

Lets rephrase the song to have a better understanding

Thathi Thaadhu Oodhi Thaadhu Oodhi, Thaththudhi
Thuthi Thudhaithi Thudhaidha Thaadhu Oodhi

Thithitha Thithitha Thaadhu Yedhu Thithithadhu
Yeth Thaadho Thithithadhu Odhu!

Thathi – Jump, Hop
Thaadhu – Nectar from flowers

Oodhi – blowing, drinking. In this context, drinking

Thaththudhi – form of root word Thathudhal, meaning hopping

Thuthi – Drink, Eat
Thudhaithi – Crushing, Forcing together

Thudhaidha – Pouring of liquid when squeezed, esp oozing of nectar from flowers
Thithitha – Sweet Taste
Yedhu – which

Odhu – tell, utter, chant

The above song really elevates Kaalamegam as one the greatest poets in the history of Tamil Literature. And being gifted with such a prowess is really marvellous. And composing poems with an indepth using a single letter sequence, is really a great feat to be admired. The next song of Kaalamega is left as an exercise for the reader. Just kidding, will post the meaning of this song in the next post.

“ThaadheeThoo ThoTheedhu Thaththaithoo Thodhaadhu
ThaadheeThoo Thothitha Thoodhadhae Thaadhotha
Thuthithath Thaadhae Thudhithuthae ThothTheedhu
Thithitha Thothith Thithi”

More to come, until then…