We have seen morals being depicted in various ways, that are being passed from our ancestors since time immemorial. Morals are depicted as pictures, drawings and even in religious stories. In fact even in our schools, there was a subject called Moral Science (Ozhukka Kalvi) that taught about virtuous behaviour etc. In many of its forms, the morals being presented, the expression through fables is the most fascinating and interesting and still loved by many. The way the fables are expressed arouses the interests of many. At times, there is even a subtle humour involved in it, so that it is remembered for a long time. Even Tamil literature has these fascinations represented umpteen songs. Lets see some of the songs that have a subtle humour in them.

The first song goes like this




“Kari Oruthingal Aaru Kaanavan Moondru Naalum
Irithalai Putril Naagam Indru Unum Irai Eethendru
Virithalai Vedan Kayil Vilkudhai Narambai Kavvi
Nariyanaar Patta Paadu Naalaiyae Paduvar Maadho”

meaning, a greedy fox that planned on eating the dead elephant, the dead hunter and the dead snake all by itself, bit the string of the bow and died.

Kari – Elephant
Oru – One
Thingal – Month, Moon, Monday
Aaru – Six
Kaanavan – Person living in the forest, Hunter
Irithalai – Run quickly
Putru – Snake mound
Naagam – Snake, Cobra
Indru – Today
Unum – Eating
Irai – Food
Eedhu – Referring to the subject
Virithalai – The head with hairs untied
Vedan – Hunter
Kayil – Hand
Vil – Bow
Narambu – String in the bow
Kavvi – Grab by mouth
Nariyanaar – Fox
Patta Paadu – Troubles faced
Naalaiyae – Tomorrow
Paduvar – Feel, experience
Maadho – An interjection

The story behind the song is as follows. Once a hunter went to a forest to hunt an elephant, he found an elephant and threw a spear at it killing the elephant. While throwing the spear, a snake bit the hunter and he fell dead. The hunter fell on the snake while falling dead and killed the snake too. A fox that came by, saw these three dead and being a treasure trove of food. It went greedy and thought of having all the food by itself. So it started planning, it thought that it will eat the elephant for six months, the hunter for three days and the snake as today’s meal. So it wanted to pull out the snake that was underneath the hunter. But mistakenly, it bit the string of the bow that the hunter was carrying. The string was cut and the bow stretched rapidly killing the fox. The greedy fox died in an instant. The moral is that greediness puts people in trouble and at times even puts an end to them. The humour part is the fox biting the string of the bow instead of the snake. If we imagine the sequence of events happening in our mind we can feel the humour and the moral inculcated in this song.

The next one is similar to an one old saying that is

“Dhushtanai Kandaal Dhoora Vilagu”

meaning, get away from a bad guy, because he will bring trouble to us unnecessarily. The following song illustrates such concept and if we correlate the this saying with the song, we can see the subtle humour involved



“Vaanaram Mazhaithanil Nanaiya Thookkanam
Thaanoru Nerisolla Thaandi Pithidum
Gnanamum Kalviyum Navindra Noolkalum
Eenarukku Uraiththidil Edar Adhu Aagumae”

The song illustrates, a monkey drenched in rain, destroying the nest of the weaver bird when the bird advised the monkey.

Vaanaram – Monkey
Mazhai – Rain
Nanaiya – Drenched, become wet
Thookkanam – Weaver bird
Thaan – a reflexive pronoun
Oru – One
Neri – Moral,
Solla – Telling
Pithidum – Break or destroy something
Gnanam – Knowledge
Kalvi – Education
Navindra – Learnt, studied
Nool – Texts
Eenar – mean people
Uraithal – Telling, teaching
Edar Adhu Aagumae – will result in trouble

The story behind this song goes like this. Once a monkey drenched in the rain was walking in the forest. A weaver bird saw the monkey drenched, and advised the monkey that if it had built a home like the nest it had, the monkey would not have been drenched in the rain. On hearing this, the monkey destroyed the weaver bird’s nest. Likewise, giving advice about knowledge and education to mean people results in trouble.

If we correlate the above saying and the events in the songs, along with bringing a visual image of the event, the subtle humour could be understood along with the moral. Had the weaver bird kept its mouth shut, it would have saved its nest. So the moral is before giving advice, understand the character of the person getting the advice. If the person happens to be mean, the advice will result in trouble.

Though people at times don’t to hear morals just because it is boring and irritating , but these fables mingled seamlessly with a moral is interesting always.

More to come, until then…