(Last Updated on : 30-01-2013)
In Tamil literature
, the Nikantukals provide various meanings and synonyms for a word under different sub-titles such as trees and plants, animals and birds and even human beings. During the medieval era, other that major literary works, several works on Nikantukals and grammar were composed and created for providing aid to the study of Tamil literature. The Nikantukals proved to be very useful for different scholars until the late 19th century. The Tamil
Nikantukals lost their importance and usefulness with the advent of scholars and dictionaries from Europe. Some of the most prominent ancient Nikantukals were Tivakaram, Cutamani, Kayataram and Pinkalantai. Further more, some of the Tamil grammatical works are still in use, such as Yapparunkalam, Nannul, Viracoliyam, Tantiyalankaram, Yapparunkalakkarikai, Vaccanantimalai, Nampiyakapporul and Neminatam.
The Tamil grammatical work of Viracoliyam was composed after the Tolkappiyam
and other Sanskrit
works to construct the rules and guidelines of grammar in the Tamil language
. The author of Viracoliyam avoided some of the rules mentioned in the grammatical work of Tolkappiyam and pointed out the root and the suffix in all verbs. It also states that the suffix would depict the person, gender, number and time in any verb. The Tamil work of Nannul is another popular work that followed the Tamil tradition and the Tolkappiyam to form the rules for words and letters in Tamil language. The classification is provided in a lucid and a simple manner. As the work of Nannul gained popularity, Viracoliyam lost its significance.
Other works like Purapporul Venpa Malai provides description about generosity, heroism and other facets of the external life of a man. The Nampiyakapporul speaks about love, human emotions and other aspects of the inner life of a man. Moreover, the works of Yapparunkalakkarikai and Yapparunkalam demonstrate poetics and prosody. Neminatam provides the grammar for words and letters. The work of Venpappattiyal or Vaccanantimalai narrates the appropriateness of the first syllable in a work, including the format of different types of works. The Pattiyal states that the central character's caste and birth star should be considered while forming the first syllable. It also specifies that the amount of poems in the collection should correspond to the four-fold caste system. The length of the work should be determined by the caste of the hero.
Such types of grammatical rules create obstruction in the natural growth of literature and are unsuitable. The Pattiyal form of literary works like the Pannirupattiyal and others were a novel genre in Tamil literature. But such types of works were completely rejected by the scholars.