Reflections Of Hindu Mythology In Tamil Folktales

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Gabriella Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi
Mythology is one of the most popular subjects of study in several branches of the humanities. Convinced that it can give information on a people's culture and way of thinking, Prof. Parpola has thoroughly perused Hindu mythology in order to find clues for the decipherment of the Indus script, as well as for the understanding of iconographic details on seals and other items unearthed. Of course, not only scholars but also ordinary persons continue to be fascinated by the myths of their culture, as can be seen in modem Tamil metaphors and similes (Eichinger FenoLuzzi 1995:- 109-132), as well as in written literature and orally transmitted folktales. Although all the instances given below come from Tamil culture, they undoubtedly have parallels in other paÍs of India. In the following, I shall divide this
selection of tales on mythic themes into three groups:
l. motifs known from well-known myths put into different narrative contexts;
2. folktales about well-known deities different from their classical myths; 3. folktales clearly inspired by well-known myths but expressing the themes in
modem guise and introducing other changes characteristic of their genre.
Orally transmitted tales do not remain stable in retelling, as has been experimentally demonstrated by Bartlen decades ago (Bartlett 1967: 126; Eichinger Feno-Luzzi 1987: xxiii). Contrary to proponents of the Wondersage, modem students of myths and folktales have begun to realize this fact. However, certain motifs and even clusters of motifs somehow captivate people's minds, so that they remain surprisingly stable. The ones which remain stable cannot normally be predicted but only found outpost hoc. The situation recalls etymology. Although nothing remains absolutely stable in the history of a language, some words change little for thousands



of years. Even in its Tamilized form the term vãrttai of Sanskrit origin, for instance, can be recognized as the English word and the German l'llorl thus pointing to a
genetic relationship between Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages.
The disastrous effect of Siva's third eye has similar persistence. Since supernumerary organs are universal folklore motifs, one cannot say that they belong by right to one particular tale. However, if such a cross-cultural motif has become part of a tale popular in a given region, its salience increases. If then the motif appears in other narrative contexts of the same region, the popular tale may be considered its source. Siva's third fiery eye has repeatedly inspired modem writers to create .similes (e.g. Putumaippittan 1962:52) and whole stories (e.g. Ramamirtham 1964)
while always keeping in mind its divine owner. A folk narrator (Murukanandam l99lc: 100-l0l) chooses to disregard not only its Saiva context but even its fieriness and supemumeracy, concentrating only on its dangerous quality' It is not,
however,thedangerouseffectof the glance, as in evil eye beliefs, which he has in mind, but clearly Siva's fiery eye, since it is the light coming from a demon's eye that causes disaster. Through this light the demon in pig guise transforms seven brothers, who chased him away from their rice grains, into stone statues. Although a cross-cultural motif, in Indian lore the transformation into stone recalls Ahalyã's fate in the Ramaya4a upon being cursed by her cuckolded husband Gautama. The fact that the episode is an echo of the Ahalyã story is confirmed by the sequence of
the tale. The eighth brother leams through a trick that his siblings can be revived if
the pig's blood falls on the statues. This detail recalls Gautama, who, relenting his curse, promised that Ahalyã would come to life again when the dust from Rãma's
feet would fall on her statue. In the sthalapurarya of Mlnãksi temple, Madurai (Panchanatham Pillai 1970:
99-100), it was predicted that Princess Minãk¡iyamman's third breast would disappear on her marriage to Siva, which it did. The motif of a supemumerary organ disappearing on marriage has inspired another folk nanator to create a tale about three sisters endowed with one, two and three eyes respectively. The moment a
prince expressed his desire to marry the three-eyed one her extra eye disappeared
(Rajanarayanan & Selvaraj 1993: 162). Siva's third eye in the middle of his forehead (Ta. nerrikkar!, and that of the
long unfortunate three-eyed girl in the folktale, had negative connotations. The red dot in the middle of a woman's forehead, though it may remind one of Siva's third
eye through its place and colour, is a wholly positive omament adding to her beauty
and denoting her auspicious non-widowed status (either unmarried or married with
a living husband). Stressing its auspiciousness, a Tamil blessing for a manied woman is 'may you live long wearing flowers and the red dot' Qtuvum pottumaka), i.e. not become a drab-looking widow. A Tamil folktale makes the red dot (po¡¡u) on the forehead more than auspicious. It is wom by a cruel but devout demon who

Reflections of Hindu Mythology in Tamil Folkrales


sacrifices all first-boms to the goddess Kãli. A courageous designated victim,
however,leams from his family deity that, if he erases the po!!u, the demon's size will shrink. With him thus reduced to helplessness, the youth can kill him, saving himself and other victims. (Rajanarayanan & Selvaraj 1993: 130-132.)
A deity desiring the sacrifice of first bom children is a cross-cultural motif. In
the tndian context it has, for instance, a parallel in King Hariícandra's vow to sacrifice his first-born son to the god Varula in order to obtain the boon of sons. The son to be sacrificed at the age of sixteen - a favourite Indian number apparently
already in the Indus Civilization - was called Rohita ('red'). Rohita was associated
with both the rising red sun and the Vedic war-god Rudra whose name may have also originally meant 'red' (Parpola 1992: 229). Of course, unlike the youth in the folktale, Rohita could not kill the god who desired his blood, so he bought a human
substitute victim.
I cannot think of a classical myth about the red dot. However, its pan-Indian use and great cultural importance (in the Tamil language tilokam, the Tamilized Sanskrit word forpcr¡¡¿r, refers to a person of excellence) makes it likely that it has
been applied to the forehead for a very long time. Prof. Parpola persuasively argues
that the Indus fish sign with a dot inside should be read as pollu nín, the Tamil name for the red rohita fish and the red moming star RohinI (Aldebaran). The further association of the dotted fish sign with a warJike goddess such as Durgã
(Parpola 1992: 231-233) does not seem far-fetched.
One of the best-known events in K¡p4a's boisterous youth is his stealing of the gopis' clothes while they were bathing in the Yamunã river. Modern Hindus have repeatedly placed this motif in both humorous and non-humorous contexts. Some decades ago during a drought a cartoon published in the Tamil magazine Kalfti (No. 8.6, p. 62) showed Krçr.ra with a long face sitting on the branch of a tree
overhanging a dry river bed. Asked by the gopis why he was sad, he replied that if
the river had not gone dry they would have bathed and he could have stolen their
clothes. A Tamil folktale also speaks of clothes stolen during a drought but without any humorous intent. During a severe drought all tanks dried up except one on which people relied for their daily needs. The king leamt that water remained in this particular tank because a heavenly maiden used to come to bathe in it. (This motif recalls the legend of the Vaisqrava saint Tirumankai Ã[var, in which the heavenly
maiden, his future wife, bathed in an earthly tank (Vaidyanathan 1987: I l5)). - The
king not only secretly watched the maiden but also stole her clothes. The moment she noticed the theft, however, she disappeared and so did the water in the tank.
Only after severe austerities did the king obtain her forgiveness and induce her to
make the water retum for the benefit of his people. (Rajanarayanan 1992a:95-100.)
Even though anklets used to be wom also by male warriors, their primary association is with woman, perhaps because the 5th-century epic (Zvelebil 1973:



175) 'The lay of the anklet' (Cilappatikaram) has rendered them an emblematic female omament in the minds of the Tamils. In a touching folktale, a girl separated by her parents from the cross-cousin whom she hoped to marry gave one of her
anklets to an old man and go-between. The old man handed the anklet to the youth whom the girl loved and also told him where she now lived. He went there and
asked for her hand in maniage, but was driven away by her upstart parents. Undetened he walked around her house at night making her anklet tinkle. Recognizing its sound, she came out and eloped with him. (Rajanarayanan &
Bharata Devi 1995: 137-142.)
Given the likely importance of astronomy in the Indus Valley Civilization, Prof. Parpola has frequently relied on astral myths for his decipherments. Among the
most widely accepted readings of the Indus script are the fish sign with a circumflex or roof as mai min'black star', the ancient Tamil name for Sani or Satum (Parpola
1990: 280) and the fish sign accompanied by six strokes as a/a mln'six stars', the
Tamil name of the Pleiades. There can also be hardly any doubt that six women in a row represent the Pleiades conceived as the K$tikã mothers (Parpola 1992: 228), who, according to a pan-Indian myth, nursed Siva's second son, the six-headed god Murukalr or Kãrttikéyag.
Numerous folktales speak of deities sometimes incidentally, sometimes making
them the centre of plots. For the purpose of this study I shall limit myself to a
selection of tales on astral deities belonging to the Nine Planets (navagraha), which
are believed to be a native Indian (Parpola 1989: 6) - hence likely Dravidian -
grouping, as well as to some other Aryan and Dravidian gods. Two aetiological tales speak of the sun and the moon in a wedding context.
The sun and the moon are brothers who attended a wedding. However, only the moon thought of taking some of the delicacies of the wedding meal home to his mother. She ate them "cooling" her mind, i.e. with pleasure (Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi 1983:208-209). Then, seeing that the sun had brought her nothing, she cursed him henceforth to bum like her [still] hungry stomach (a buming stomach is a metaphor for both hunger and anger). The moon she, conversely, blessed to be always cool. (Murukanandam 199 la: 70.)
Another folktale explains the phases of the moon as the consequence of a
curse. Siva told the moon, who used to be full the whole month, to shine at a celestial ceremony, but, since the moon had already promised to brighten a king's wedding taking place the same night, he dared to ask Siva to put off his ceremony. Angry at this act of insubordination, Siva cursed the moon hencefo¡th to wax and wane. (Rajanarayanan 1992a: 122-124.)

Reflections of Hindu Mythology in Tamil Folktales


In a further astral folktale, Siva, rather than cursing, admiüed having made an error. A princess gave birth to a basketful ofeggs. The king ordered the eggs to be crushed on a washerman's stone in a river, but two eggs escaped and developed into a red and a black snake. When the princess wanted to take a bath in the river, the two snakes prevented her from doing so in punishment for having had their siblings killed. Seeing her despair, Siva intervened and explained to the snakes that she was not to blame. It was his enor to have her made give birth to snake's eggs. In compensation for the trouble he had given them, the snakes asked Siva for the boon that they may periodically hide the sun and the moon. Their request having been granted, the snakes are now known as Rãhu and Ketu, the ascending and de-
scending nodes of the moon, two of the Nine Planets, (Murukanandam l99la: 106-107.) The association of these astral deities with Siva is not accidental in the
folktale, since the navagraha statues are found only in Saiva temples'
A mental tendency makes us see dimness and slowness as negative qualities. Probably for this reason, the dim and slowly moving god Sani is considered dangerous. Despite the hierarchical superiority of the sun-god, who occupies the
centre of the navagrahas arranged in a square, Sani seems to be worshipped most,
not only in regular pujas bú also by individual devotees for apotropaic purposes. One of his favourite offerings is black sesame grains in accordance with his black image (Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi 1977:550-551). In folktales, when Sani possesses a
person he is in serious trouble. Even magic arts become temporarily useless. A prince had leamt all types of magic arts like riding a white flying horse and
opening a locked temple door with his song - an episode reminiscent of one of the
feats performed by the Saiva saint Nãvukkaracar (Pulavar Arasu 1979: 158-160). Since the king had promised to give his daughter to the person who would be able to open the door that had so far resisted all other suitors' attempts, he was allowed to marry the princess. After the wedding, the princess took off her jewels to bathe in a tank. At that moment two stone statues of swans adoming the steps of the tank came to life and swallowed the jewels without her noticing it. The prince, who had accidentally watched the scene, told her what had happened. She did not believe him
but accused him, who had come as an unknown stranger, of being the thief. The king condemned him to the forced labour of pulling an oil press. After seven and a
half years, the period an astrologer had foretold that Sani would possess the prince, the two swans spat out the jewels in front of the princess. She begged his forgiveness, had him released and then flew off with him on a white horse to his native
country. (Murukanandam I 99 lc: 83-85.) It is generally agreed that Indra and Varuna are Aryan deities. Prof. Parpola
believes that Varuna might have been the god of the Dãsas, an earlier wave of
Aryans. He has proposed that


G ¡nat eu¿ Ercn mc øn F ERRa - Luiz.t

in order to secure the loyalty of their newly won Dãsa subjects, early Aryan kings made a compromise and adopted the cult of Varu4a, the principal god of their former
enemies (Parpola 1993: 53).
This compromise would imply a period of competition between the two deities. A Tamil folktale presents such a competition in an indirect way. Indra had told farmers not to sow because there would be no rain that year. One farmer, however, did sow after having worshipped a frog. Through its croaking the frog attracted Varuqa, who made it rain, thus belying Indra and giving the clever farmer a bumper crop. (Murukanandam l99lb: 64-65.)
In myths all over the world irnportant gods are almost never bom in the natural
way. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that in both myths and folktales supematural events mark the birrh of Pãrvatî's two children, Gaqeia (Pillaiyãr in Tamil) and Murukar_r. The events in folktales, however, differ widely from those
described in classical myths. Although beheading is non exceptional in folktales we shall see one instance below - a folk narrator explaining Ganeia's birth
dispenses with beheading and reheading. Since Parvatl expressed delight at the picture ofan elephant in her heavenly Kailãsa palace, Siva granted her an elephantheaded child that jumped out of a picture holding on to the end of her saree (Valam t992:38-39).
A folk version of Murukalr's birth mixes elements from two well-known
classical myths. During a dancing contest between Siva and KãlI, in which the goddess was defeated, six sparks from Siva's anklets fell into a pond and developed into six children. Moved by their cries, the Kãrttikai mothers embraced them, thus joining them into one child with six heads and twelve arms. They took care, however, to declare that the boy was livaran's and i6vari's child. (Rajanarayanan & Selvaraj 1993:94.)
This folk version does without the sexual motif of the classical myth of Murukar_r's birth and even indirectly denies it. In the classical myth of the dancing contest, in fact, Kãlî was defeated because she could not lift her leg as high as her consort Siva for decency's sake. The folktale is also interesting because it brings in anklets. Wom by Siva, they cause the birth of Murukan. Basing himself on the rebus principle, Prof. Parpola has proposed to read two intersecting circles as Tamil muruku meaning'ring','young man' and the Tamil god, with cognates in other South and Central Dravidian languages. He has therefore suggested that these intersecting circles may be one of Murukan's names in the Indus inscriptions (Parpola 1990: 270). Since both men and women used to wear anklets and ear-rings, the inter-
secting rings may refer to either.
In the dancing contest KãlI was defeated, but on her own she is a fearful goddess, who may still be propitiated with animal sacrifice and demanded human sacrifice at least until the first part of the 20th century. In a folktale reflecting

Reflections of Hindu Mythology in Tamil Folktales


modem reformed Hinduism a king announced that he who would make a human sacrifice would obtain half of the coins found in seven pots in a Kãli temple. A poor beggar and his wife, unable to feed their seven children, decided to sacrifice their five-year-old girl Gãyatri. Before being sacrificed the child asked the goddess:
"If the pa.rents hate their child, the king must protect it. If he does not do so, the deity, who loves all living beings alike, must help, but if that deity desires its
sacrifice, to whom should one complain?" Hearing the wise child's words, Kãl¡'s heaf of stone melted and she became a motherly woman. She no longer dem¿rnded the child's blood but compensated it richly. The king also changed his heart and henceforth ruled with generosity and compassion. (Murukanandam l99ld: 39-40.)
The wise child who teaches adults is a cross-cultural motif (Eichinger FenoLuzzi 1983:85-88) known, for instance, from the Bible where Jesus taught the Pharisees. In the Tamil context, however, it echoes the myth of the child Murukan teaching his father Siva the meaning of Om while sitting on his lap.
In the preceding section I cited folktales about Hindu deities with or without echoes of classical myths. The folk narrator, however, may also create tales that are clearly versions of classical myths, even though they do not mention divine names and bring the events closer to his listeners' everyday life.
Undoubtedly, Ilanko Atikal did not invent the whole plot of his epic Cilappatikãram, but he imbued pre-existing tales with great tradition values. Even after he thus codified the epic, however, oral versions have continued to flourish. One such version entitled Chandra'sVengeance,repofed by Parthasarathy (1993: 321-326),
makes numerous changes in accordance with motifs cornmon in South Indian
folklore. Firstly, the triangle of husband, wife and lover is foreshadowed by three child-
less women: a banker's wife, a queen and a nautchgirl each give birth to a child after having eaten different parts of a magic mango. The events are set in a more recent period than the classical epics, when taking dancing girls as concubines was no longer an accepted practice. Therefore, the husband, here called Koila, was forced to marry the nautchgirl's daughter Moulee because the garland she threw fell on his neck. Koila was already married to Chandra, the queen's daughter. As a child Chandra had been put inside a golden casket floating down a river because a Brahmin had foretold that she would bum and destroy the country. The casket was retrieved by the banker, who raised the girl together with his own son ¿urd married the two in childhood. In order to forget his wife, Koila was given a powerful drink.
When Moulee's mother wanted him to pay for his upkeep - devadasî.s' mothers are usually presented as money-grabbing hags - he asked for one of Chandra's anklets.



As in the classical epic, the jeweller accused Koila of theft, but not because he stole the anklet. It had, instead, been canied away by an eagle to revenge itself on the jeweller for having destroyed its nest and killed its young. The queen recognized the anklet as that of her daughter, locked it up and pleaded for the case to be examined, but the king refused to do so. Koila avoided shameful execution by letting himself
fall on his sword, thus cutting his body in two. When Chandra accused the king of murder, the locked-up anklet came rolling to the queen's feet. Fire rose from Chandra's hair, and bumt the city. In buming Madurai she did not spare Brahmins and cows, as in the epic, but the outcaste colony. She did not tear off her breast but
tore out the jeweller's heart and offered it to the eagle. She then magically sewed her husband's body together and asked Siva to restore his life, which he did.
The detail of Chandra's fury sparing only the outcaste colony suggests a fairly
recent origin of this folk version. It was, in fact, told at the beginning of the l9th
century, as Parthasarathy reports.
Another folktale that recalls a well-known episode of the Mahabharata is se| in vaguely medieval times when kings still ruled the country. While bathing, a renowned teacher, who counted princes and ministers' sons among his pupils, was carried away by a flood. A cowherd, who had long wanted to study but could not afford it, offered to save the teacher if he promised to become his guru. Hearing this request from a boy in whose family nobody had studied, the teacher prefened to be canied away by the river. Rajanarayanan and Selvaraj (1993: 252-253), who had the tale gathered, note that this story recalls the Karqa-Paraóurãma episode in the Mahabhãrata. In this episode, the low-ranking pupil was punished for having leamt what society had forbidden him to know. On finding out that his pupil Kar4a had lied to him when presenting himself as a Brahmin, Paraiurãma cursed him not
to remember the life-saving mantra in the fated moment (Rajagopalachari 1968: 48).
Somewhat mitigating the events of this tale, the folk narrator does not punish the willing student but makes the teacher sacrifice himself for an ideal difficult to understand in modem times. He does not make the cowherd simply a marginalized lowcaste man but a morally reprehensible person devoid of elementary human kindness, whom the teacher might have thought unworthy of becoming his pupil for this
reason too.
In the Karna-Paraiurãma episode of the Mahabhãrata, modem Hindus would consider Para6ur¿tma the villain. In another of his myths, however, he shows the positive trait of filial obedience, though again exceeding its acceptable limits accor-
ding to modern sensibility. In a folktale patently inspired by this Para6urãma myth but doing without narnes, the father asks his eldest son to behead his mother, whom he suspects of having betrayed him, since she has lost her power of carrying water
in a pot of unbaked clay. The eldest son refuses, recalling the Tamil saying "There is no greater temple than a mother". The younger son agrees to do so on condition

Refleuions of Hindu Mythology inTamil Folktales


that his father grants him two boons. Just as in the classical myth, the first boon he requests is to revive his mother. As his second boon, however, he desires that
henceforth his father, mother and the whole family should live in harmony
(Murukanandam 199 ld: 107-108). One of the most famous side-stories in the Ramãya4a is that of Ahalyã. It
must have disturbed Kampap so deeply that he changed Vãlmlki's words in accordance with the Tamil value of a wife's absolute faithfulness to her husband. Unlike Vãlmîki's Ahalyã, Kampan's heroine is duped by Indra and thus does not
consciously commit adultery. Modem Tamil literary versions follow Kampan's lead (Putumaippittan 1977:183-199; Akilan 1974:90-104) and so does a folktale. Even though it again mentions no narnes, it undoubtedly presents an elaborate version of Kampa!'s Ahalyã story. Dispensing with supematural characters and transfolma¡ions, it expresses the villagers' worldview.
Two brothers resemble each other as if they were twins. The younger, still
unmarried brother, and the elder married man live in the same house. When heavy rain prevents the latter from retuming home from the fields, his brother takes advantage of the occasion and embraces his sister-in-law who, half asleep, does ¡rot recognize him. On her husband's retum she discovers that she has been duped, cries bitterly and thinks of suicide. Then, however, she decides not to tell her husbancl. When her brother-in-law attempts again to seduce her, she beats him away with a broom. She also prays to Mzuiyamman that he should remain without off-
spring - a typical curse in both real life (Ramamirtham 1984: 2415) and fiction
(Ramamirtham 1965: 130). Her curse comes true: after seven years of maniage he is still without offspring. In despair he takes the vow of thrusting a spear into his side, but she tells him that he will do so in vain because of her curse. Several more years pass before he finally becomes wise. Prostrating himself at her feet he asks forgiveness for his youthful prank. She now feels pity for him. Taking part in a fire-walking ceremony, she succeeds in retracting her curse, after which the desired
son is bom to her repentant brother-in-law. (Rajanarayanan 1992b: 89-92.)
There is continuous cross-fertilization between written and oral traditions. A leamed pandit's idea contained in a written text may filter down to the popular level and be reformulated or an illiterate villager's idea may be elaborated by the leamed and, in this new vest, retum to the popular level to be again reformulated. Thus there cannot
be any clear-cut distinction between written and oral, leamed and folk literatures, but some motifs in folktales reflecting Hindu mythology are nevertheless more typical of folk narrative than of classical myths. Such folk motifs may be crosscultural, uniquely Indian or cross-cultural with ¿ur Indi¿ur culture-specific twist.



Riding a flying horse and drinking a magic potion that obliterates memory are folk-
lore motifs of the world. Being abandoned in a basket floating in water we also know, for instance, from the myths of Moses as well as Romulus and Remus, but in Tamil folktales, including the oral version of the Cilappatikaram, the container
tends to be a miraculously floating golden casket. While in the realJife svayamvara
custom, the princess put a gadand around the preferred suitor's neck, in Tamil folktales the garland is thrown and usually does not fall where it should. A bird
revenging itself on the one who destroyed its nest is typical of Tamil folktales, as is the motif of a bird stealing jewels. The eating of a fruit causing pregnancy is again a cross-cultural folklore motif. The Virgin Mary, called Marjatta in the Kalevala, for instance, bec¿une pregnant by eating a berry (Sivalingam 1994: 364). However, the division of a fruit, usually a mango, causing the birth of different offspring seems to be a uniquely Indian motif appearing in several Tamil folktales. In this way the folk nanator joins the three protagonists of the Cilappatikãram not though their karma, a religious-philosophical idea belonging to "great tradition" Hinduism, but through a magical act. While Kõvalan in the epic was executed, his folk alter ego, Koila, asks permission to commit suicide in order to avoid shameful execution, which is reminiscent of the hero's sense of honour in Tamil folk ballads (Filipsky 1998: 128-129; Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi 1998: 205-206).
While Hindu mythology has, in most cases, a cosmic or at least general human dimension, folktales reflecting it are placed in a local setting. For instance, possession by the inauspicious planetary deity Sani causes his victim to pull an oil-press, normally bullocks' work, and a pig eats villagers' grain. The fact that the pig is a demon shows the narrator's negative attitude to the animal in accordance with high caste standards, but this detail nevertheless suggests the atmosphere of an outcaste
colony. The folk version of the Ahalyã myth brings in village rites, such as the
gruesome vow of thrusting a spear into one's side and fire-walking. The most typical characteristic of folktales on mythic themes is a toning down
ordomesticationof events, The folk Ahalyã is not duped by Indra, who magically takes on her husband's form, but by the perfectly natural resemblance between brothers. She is shocked but then sensibly decides to refrain from committing suicide. She does not tell her husband in order not to ruin her conjugal happiness. She then manages to defend herself with her broom, a typical female weapon in real life and folk nanative.
Weddings, such as the glorious celebration of Siva and Pãrvatí's wedding in their Himalayan palace, are described also in classical Hindu myths, but the stress on the wedding meal in the aetiological folktale about the sun and the moon has a more down-to-earth flavour. References to lovingly given pleasant food as "cooling the stomach", while anger and hunger make it "bum", seem to be inspired by Tamil idioms and therefore can probably be conceived only in Dravidian India. So does

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Reflections Of Hindu Mythology In Tamil Folktales