Friendship – Koperunchōlan and Pisirānthaiyār

கோப்பெருஞ் சோழன்   பிசிராந்தையார் நட்பு,  Koperuncholan and Pisirānthaiyār – ©  All Rights Reserved

The poet Pisiranthaiyar (Ānthaiyar from a village called Pisir, near Madurai) lived in the times of kings Pandiyan Arivudai Nampi and Koperumcholan who was also known by the name Killi.  He was a great friend of his benefactor, Chola country’s  king Koperumcholan.  They had a friendship with an emotional attachment.  When the king decided to die by the vadakkiruthal method (ancient method of sitting facing the north and starving to death), he wanted to see Pisiranthaiyār.  Even though the poet was in a faraway Pandiyan country, and they did not see each other, the king knew that his friend would come at the right time.  He left a space for him.  The wise men who were with him, were sceptical and said that Pisiranthaiyar would not come.  “He’ll come”, said the king emphatically.   There were other poets who were also sitting facing north and ready to die, along with the king.  Pisiranthaiyar came.  However, the king had died.  The saddened poet witnessed the memorial stone set up for him, sat facing north and died.  Pisiranthaiyar in Purananuru 67 and 212 reveals his love for Koperumcholan.  Even though he belonged to the Pandiya kingdom, he says his king is the Chola king Koperumcholan.

Tamil scholar Ralston Marr writes in his book, ‘The Eight Anthologies’ that Koperumcholan probably became an ascetic toward the end, before his death.  He cites Puranānūru 214 to support this theory.  Avvai Duraiswamy writes in his Purananuru commentary that the troubles his sons caused him made him renounce everything and seek death , and Purananuru 213 reveals this.

There are no references to King Koperumcholan in any of the other anthologies.  Pisirantiayar wrote two poems in other anthologies, in addition to the ones in  Purananuru.  They are  Akananuru 305 and Natrinai 91.   We can see the love the poet has for his benefactor in Purananuru 67.

There is also the beautiful story of poet Pothiyar who came to die with Koperumcholan.  The king refused him a space and asked him to come after the poet’s wife had delivered their baby.  Pothiyar went away sadly since he was unable to join his friend in death.  He did come back after his child was born.  Koperumcholan had already died.  Pothiyar found his place near his beloved king’s memorial stone.

Puranānūru – 67, 212, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218,


To see the translations and word by word meanings for these poems, please go to or














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