Nanmanikkatigai, also known as Nanmanikkathikai, is an ethical poetic work of didactic character which belongs to the Patinenkilkkanakku
anthology of Ethical Tamil Literature
. Patinenkilkkanakku (Pathinenkilkanakku) is a compilation of 18 poetic works in Tamil which were composed in the period after the Sangam age, between 100 CE and 500 CE. Nanmanikkatigai was composed in the post-Sangam age
equivalent to between 100 CE - 500 CE. The literary work has one hundred hymns, each containing 4 lines in Venpa metre. It is composed by the revered poet Vilambi Naganaar. The poetic work of Tamil literature
is popular for its composition and its lucidity, effortless and uncomplicated readability. The literary work contains many didactic messages which were the prominent characteristics of the era.
At present, the poetic work of Nanmanikkatigai or Nanmanikkathikai is usually prescribed as text for various schools in the state of Tamil Nadu
in India. The poems of Nanmanikkatigai are is outstanding in the application of similes that assist to edify the moral codes with the use of simple instances from every day life.
Composition of Nanmanikkatigai
This post Sangam work is one of the 18 minor literary works in Tamil
which are comprised in the Patinenkilkkanakku collection. Nanmanikkatigai consists of one hundred and six quatrains and the first two quatrains are mainly incantation verses. The venpa in its deviation forms comprises as the metre of the Tamil poetic work. But the initial poem and two other poems (the 30th verse and the 61st verse) contain five lines in each of them, instead of the conventional four lines. The initial two poems in Nanmanikkatigai extol and eulogise Lord Vishnu and thus scholars and experts consider it as a Vaishnavaite literary work.
The different verses and poems which constitute the Tamil literary anthology of Nanmanikkatigai each comprises of four different themes and ideas that represent the over all concept of the poetic work. The title of Nanmanikkatigai (Nanmanikkathikai) portrays this fact of varying themes and ideas as the work contains several narrations which compares the four different ideas to four valuable and well chosen gems that adorn each of the verses and poem in the famous work of Tamil literature. Certain lines from the verses included in the Tamil literary work of Kuruntokai, one of the works of Ettuttokai
- the Eight Anthologies, has been utilised in the verses of Nanmanikkatigai.
One of the poems in the ethical poetic work narrates about four different groups of people who are unable to sleep properly at night due to various reasons. These people are mentioned in the poem as a lovelorn person, a miser who fears about losing his money, a person who craves for money and a thief.