Once upon a time, long before the rise of the modern nation, a language named Tamil wandered about in a world inhabited by divinities and extraordinary beings. This was an enchanted world of miraculous events and wondrous deeds, where the dead were brought back to life, and deserts transformed into fragrant groves; and where verses in Tamil cured fevers, stopped floods, and impaled enemies. It was a world in which poets, because of their mastery of Tamil, lorded over the gods themselves, and in which celestials vied with each other to win the affections of the language. There were even those who insisted that devotees of Tamil could look forward to a life amongst the gods, while its enemies were destined to languish in hell.
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Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1998