The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom
Two prominent translators present the first complete English-language edition of one of India's greatest works of classical literature: the Purananuru. This anthology of four hundred poems by more than 150 poets between the first and third centuries C.E. in old Tamil the literary language of ancient Tamilnadu was composed before Aryan influence had penetrated the south. It is thus a unique testament to pre-Aryan India.
Beyond its importance for understanding the development of South Asia's history, culture, religion, and linguistics, the Purananuru is a great work of literature, reflecting accurately and profoundly the life of southern India 2,000 years ago. One of the few works of classical India that confronts life without the insulation of a philosophical facade and that makes no basic assumptions about karma and the afterlife, the Purananuru has universal appeal. It faces the world as a great and unsolved mystery, delving into living and dying, despair, love, poverty, and the changing nature of existence.
To this hidden gem of world literature George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz add a helpful appendix, an annotated bibliography, and an excellent introduction describing the work and placing it in its social and historical context.