THE DANGEROUS SONG
Hero worship is an individualistic trait among the Tamils. It has been there for many centuries already.
Two thousand years ago, there were temples called 'paLLi padai' and marker stones dedicated to heroes called 'veerakkal' or 'hero stones'.
VEERAKKAL HERO STONE OF A WARRIOR HERO
There are many dead heroes who have been deified and worshipped as deities like Madurai Veeran.
In later times, there were ballads which were dedicated to dead heroes. These became a particular genre of literature. Kummi and Ammanai pirabanthams have been used for this purpose. Sivagangai Seemai Kummi and Ammanai relate the war waged by the Marudhu Servais of Sivagangai against the British.
There were many such ballads extolling the heroes of yore.
But now they have become scarce.
It took the British, the better part of 50 years subdue the Tamils during the 18th century. There were times when the British were almost defeated.
But the Tamils were finally defeated.
Several factors had contributed to this ignominous defeat.
But the main factor was the betrayal by the Drohi Tamils.
A small country like the Sethu Naadu of the Sethupathis could defeat the big armies of the Mysoreans and the armies and navies of the Dutch and the Portuguese during the late part of the 17th century.
If not for the Drohi Tamils, the alliance of the freedom fighters would have won and driven out the British in 1801.
That initial defeat of the British would have off-set the grand plan of the British and altered the history of India.
But during the wars and after the defeat of the Tamils, a large number of ballads were composed by lay poets. These ballads dealt with the heroes and heroic deeds and the
matyrdom of the heroes.
Always the Arcot Nawab and the British were the villains. From Raja Tej Singh and the Arcot Nawab Anwaruddin Khan to the Kummandhaan Khan Saheb and Colonel Heron to KattaBomman and Major Bannerman to Umai Durai/Periya Marudhu/Chinna Marudhu Servais and Colonel Agnew, the
pattern is similar.
The people came to look at the British as universal villains.
During the early years of the 19th century, the British really cracked down on the Tamils very harshly.
Their freedom of speech and thought was gone.
They were exlied as convicts to far away islands.
They were made to forget their greatness.
They were made to fear and become under-dogs.
Fear and subdued humbleness became the inherent natures of the Tamils.
They lost their self esteem.
And they were sent to far away islands as indentured labourers.
Thus they bacame an cooley labourer class.
And they were conditioned to beleive that they were adimai underclass.
Many communities were branded as criminal communities and were made to report at local police stations or outposts and to sleep there. Even to sleep with their wives, they had to get the permission of the police or the thaanaak kaarar.
At that time, these ballads were giving solace to the people.
But the British cracked down and destroyed almost all the songs and put an embargo on such literature.
Anyone singing such songs were punished.
Why did this come about?
There is a place called SeevalapEri in the Pandya country.
The market of SeevalapEri is very famous.
One day an Englishman went to buy goats in the sandhai or market.
But all the goat-sellers refused to sell goats to the White Man.
One of the goat-herders was a boy. And he sang a song. The Englishman who lnew Tamil well, copied the song and took it back with him. He translated the song and sent it to the district collector. The song was discussed at the level of the high commitee of the East India Company.
It was then decided that such songs and literature should be destroyed and the singing of such songs should be banned. Because such songs were threats to the governance of the British.
Hence all the suvadis were collected and destroyed. Those who sang or kept such songs were severely punished.
That particular song which was the cause of all this trouble is this -
vaaraaNdaa vaaraaNdaa veLLaikkaaran
varattum murattu thoppikkaaran
thoppikkaaran kuNdu sellaadhu - avan
thuppukketta guNam pollaadhu - ini
veLLaikkaaran padai vellaadhu - naam
edhuththu verattinaa nillaadhu
He comes, he comes - the White Man
Let the barbaric hat-wearer come
The bullets(and cannon balls) of the Hat-wearer will not go!
His fickle-minded nature is very dangerous
Hereafter the army of the White Man will not win.
If we repulse it and chase it, it wont stand(before us)
This song must have been in some ammanai or kummi.
But whatever book it was, that book of verses is lost. It had been destroyed.
This song alone remains.
The book of verses in which this song that caused this type of literature to be destroyed, was itself destroyed. But the song is still there, standing in immortality.