During the times of the Nayak rule, Tamil literature was cast into darkness. The country was parcelled out among war lords and military leaders and feudal chieftains. They did not have much interest in literary pursuits. Only once in a while, we come across patrons who would sponsor some poet.
Poets were generally poor and had now other means apart from composing poems to make a living. And those who were rich did not have any taste for poetry.
And most of them had Telugu or Kannada as their mother tongues.
This was the time that a great many literary pieces from ancient times were lost.
Very few new great masterpieces took shape.
Poets had to pander to the taste of the war lords and feudal chieftains. They were more tasteful towards pornographic writings and self-aggrandizements. Small pieces which involved intricate word jugglery were the order of the day. The other field that was in vogue, was the Sthala PuraNas - puranic works which
were dedicated to certain towns and temples.
The times of Tirumalai Nayakkar were not exceptional. Although a great work called ThiruviLaiyaadal puraaNam was composed with Miinatchiyamman PiLLai Thamilz and such like, it should be noted that they were divinely inspired and were composed by poets who were sagelike in outlook.
They were more exceptions than rule.
One of the poor poets was one named Surpadeepa Kaviraayar.
There 96 types of poetic compositions in Tamil. They are known as 'prabhandha's. Of these, there is one class called 'thuudhu'. This would mean a mission, embassy, sending a message. The love-lorn damsel sends a message about her plight to her lover. She has to choose a suitable messenger. According to the grammer governing the composition of a 'thuudhu', certain objects and persons are specified.
A maid, cloud, a dancer, a bard, a kuil, nd a few others. Even the language Thamilz has been made the subject of thuudhu called 'Thamilz vidu thuudhu'. Even money and tobacco have been subjected to this.
Another class of prabhandham is the 'kaadhal'. This class deals with all aspects of love and its preludes and follow-ups.
Supradeepa composed two pieces - a kaadhal and a thuudhu.
He made Tirumalai Nayakkar as the hero of the 'kaadhal'. Hence he named it, 'Thirumalai Naayakkan Kaadhal'.
One day, he sought audience with Tirumalai Nayakkar early in the morning.
At that time, Tirumalai was brushing his teeth and washing his mouth and gargling.
When Supradeepa told him that he had composed a prabhandham, Tirumalai asked him what language it was in.
Supradeepa answered 'Tamil'.
Tirumalai retorted contemptously,
"Telugu tenugu; kannaram kasthuuri; aravam adhvaanam".
'The language Telugu is like honey; Kannada is like kasturi; Tamil is forsaken, discarded language'.
Supradeepa got very much taken aback and upset.
But who could argue with a most autocratic militaristic sexist despot?
Certainly not a half-starved hand-to-mouth poet like Supradeepa.
So he left the presence of Tirumalai.
After sometime he went to another minor ruler called KuuLappa Naayakkar. With his consent, he made him the hero of the kaadhal and named it 'KuuLappa Naayakkan Kaadhal'.
He wanted to wreak vengence of Tirumalai.
He created a scene where two prostitutes quarrel in public.
During the quarrel, one prostitute derides another, pointing out her very low professional qualities, tastes, and standards.
She compares herself to the other and says, "Would I ever let a
pot-bellied vadugan who was born because of a very publicly displayed
intercourse session of a maami, to screw me?"
The thondhi vadugan was Tirumalai. 'Vadugan' is a derogatory term for a Nayakkar. Vadugan literary means a 'Northerner' - the Andras who lived to the north of Tamilnaadu.
Tirumalai was pot-bellied. This can be seen clearly in many of his statues, especially the one at ThirupparanggunRam.
Tirumalai got wind of this and had Suprdeepa caught. In those days, there were many types of punishments. One was imprisonment inside a small cage. Sometimes this is shaped like a human figure with limbs. The victim was placed inside and the cage was locked. It was then hung. The victim could not move his
limbs and starved to death. Another type was a simple cage where the victim is placed and locked. This is known as the 'kiLi-kuudu' or 'kiLi-kuuNdu' - the parrot-cage.
Supradeepa was placed inside a parrot-cage and suspended.
He was there for three days and finally sang a poem depicting himself as a caged and starved parrot and apolologised to Tirumalai.
Tirumalai at last let him out.
Later on, Supradeepa became the Tamil tutor to Father Beschi alias Veera Maa Munivar - the Man who made changes to and standardised the Tamil script.
And the twin kaapiyams of KuuLappa Naayakkan Kaadhal and ViRali vidu Thuudhu remained popular until about fifty years ago.