Suganya Anandakichenin


One of the most popular and influential Purāṇas, even in the 20th c. is the Bhāgavatapurāṇa (BhP). Although it was presumably composed in the Tamil land (or at least in South India), possibly under the influence of the Āḻvār poetry (Hardy 1983) around the 9th-10th centuries, a fully-fledged Tamil version of the Purāṇa was relatively slow in coming. And yet, when it did come in the 16th c., it was not once but twice, within the same century, namely Cevvai Cūṭuvār’s Pākavatapurāṇam (CCBh) and Nellinakar Aruḷāḷa Tācar’s Purāṇapākavatam (ATBh).

A few questions rise at this point: why did it take so long for someone to render the BhP into Tamil? Why did two poets undertake the task at around the same time? Who were they? Were they aware of each other’s works? How close are their works to the Sanskrit Bhāgavatapurāṇa (BhP)? Do they even claim to closely follow the Sanskrit work? Why are these two Purāṇas relatively unknown nowadays, and not part of mainstream Tamil literature? I will seek to address these questions in this note. For that purpose, I shall give some details on these two works, and then examine select passages from these two Bhāgavatas to see whether they are more like vernacular retellings of the BhP or rather fully-fledged works with an identity of their own.