Topic started by rjay on Wed Feb 16 15:46:23 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.
Thamizh Culture - A Humorous look (Part 6)
In a traditional pattimandram, a non-trivial and thought-provoking
topic is taken as the subject for discussion and scholars divide into
two opposing groups. For example, a thought-provoking question like,
'Which is most powerful factor for success - education, wealth or
courage?', is taken and groups of scholars take opposite
sides (of a triangle, in this case).
Each is then given an airtime of say 5 minutes at a time
and argues for one factor. The way it is organized, this arguing is
done in a cyclic or round-robin fashion, so that everyone gets
equal time and arguments are interspersed one against
another- thought for thought (also (not popularly) known as
And there is a naduvar at center (actually naduvar means center)
who is supposed to moderate the discussion. There is also a
time-keeper whose duty is to ring the bell once every 5 minutes
and sometimes pull exhuberent guys back to their chairs.
In the beginning, the listener is clueless. He is just a passive
listener. So, when the first speaker puts forth his views, he
'Yeah, Yeah, you are right',
he thinks to each and every point made by the speaker. But then
the second speaker comes on stage. He may begin with a pre-prepared
(I have heard such a word being used) speech,
but then takes each point put forth so convincingly by speaker1 and
one by one, he tears them apart, using experiential examples, literary
references and so on. Our listener is dumbstruck. What he was holding
to, as clear strong ideas, are all being shown as opinions and
fancies of speaker1.
He thinks, my God, speaker 1 was a hoax after all. But-for-Speaker 2,
I would have been misled. From that moment, he starts staring hatefully
at the direction of speaker 1, and cheering with hand-paining applause
to whatever punch S2 is delivering.
But soon, the bell rings, and S2 sits down. Speaker 3 gets up and
He then does something unbelievable! He convincingly proves that arguments
and ideas of S1 and
S2 are hopeless. Even though he uses gentle terms towards them, such as,
'enadarumai nanbar --- avargal' (my dearest friend, Mr.-----), his intent
is clear and is simply malice.
Now the loyalty of our novice lies
with Speaker 3. And when a person from Group 1 stands again, he doesn't
even pay attention. But wait, what is this? Speaker 1 gets a chance
again and with such convincing argument answers each and every question
posed to S2 and S3 and their gangs and again proves education is the most
While all this is happening the naduvar does a good job of summarizing
what each speaker told, without adding his own personal opinions.
His skills are amazing, he is able to quickly identify what the
important ideas are, and which were detailed illustrations, which
were pass-by remarks and so on. So he somehow collects the gyst
and essence so effortlessly. He correlates ideas to what was told by
other speakers before, without adding his own new ideas!
And at the end of the
rounds when he judges the merits and demerits of the arguments and
declares who won. It is like a game of mental foot-ball with
naduvar as just an umpire.
How Pattimandram helps build connections in the brain
The listener for the first time of his life, sees how shaky ideas and
opinions are in his own mind, even though they seem so strong and
supported by words from literature, words from great men and even perceptions
from own life. He learns to remember ideas coherently and
collate arguments from different parts of the discussion.
He learns how to see the same idea from three opposing
angles and judge its relative value. From being a moron,
whose opinion is the opinion of the last speaker, he gradually becomes
a mature thinker. He imbibes the balancing
judgement ability of the naduvar and learns to appreciate the
fact that his mind must be able to debate inside on a given topic
and arrive at workable ideas. And should be open to opposing
point of views, willing to learn from them but be mature enough
to do the judging act, which is exhausting but truly
When he now listens to a speaker, inside or outside
Pattimandrams, he does not listen passively
as if Speaker 1 was saying right things. Groups of neurons from his mind
present to him alternate viewpoints and arguments at once
and he begins to see through arguments even before
other viewpoints are being presented.
This is called as critical thinking
and also as 'clarity through doubt'
and was valued as a great skill by Ancient Thamizhs, Malayalees,
Greeks, Romans and Country men, and forms the basis of
scientific thinking. Socrates made so much money, OK, fame if
not money, by cashing on this original Thamizh idea.
Dangerous effects of Pattimandram
Well, this is definitely dangerous to building a coherent
homogenous society. When people go to pattimandrams,
they observe that thought is a practically possible phenomenon
and a viable tool for getting, evaluating and choosing ideas. And
they start thinking sooner or later. And when they think, they question.
And when they question, we politicians, religious leaders,
parents, teachers and all associations like us with some
dogma to spread are all gone-case!
Also, if people get attracted to pattimandrams,
will they ever get back to sweet soft stuff like, 'paadava un paadalai'
or plain facts like 'koondal karuppu - aha, kungumam sivappu - oho'?
In other words, when a guy
starts reading the Great Hub postings (you know which ones
I am referring to), do you think he will have time for
reading any bashing-threads which, like a multi-branched
maangaa tree, need constant attention and cumulative audience to
sustain and in return give us endless hours of
meditation, relaxation and hyperlink-clicking?
(mouse-kku vaayirundhal azhum)
But to give the devil its due, bashing is the second
most popular activity on the TFM-DF pages. (First being,
all kinds of listmaking).
What better way to relax and enjoy than to watch
two DF-ers bashing each other so vehemently and even
eloquently? (Dont believe when someone says that
like WWF, these bashings are acts staged by Forum leaders)
And what better way to get rid of excess energy than to
start or sustain a bashing thread? Or, what better way
to learn skills like converting any
thread under the sun into a bashing thread?
Most importantly, what better way does any one have
to get freedom away from this square-shaped office worklife?
We have unnecessarily digressed. We were talking about the increasing
popularity of Pattimandrams. Even though kids would initially drop in
at the pattimandram auditorium
attracted by film songs played in loud loudspeakers, then the
loud speakers(human beings) took over. And when they got into mind-boggling
discussions, our kids forgot it is time for oru-padappadalgal.
Poor Ceylon radio had no direct power over these and could not
stop them. Radio only transmits sound waves. Remote control
technology had not yet been incented and perfected.
Given these handicapping limitations of technology,
Ceylon radio pioneers tried their best.
They increased the number of song programmes,
increased song-density, (number of songs per programme)
and made sure to included newer and newer songs
as soon as they were released. Inspite of that, the
evil pattimandrams were gaining popularity in Thamizh Naadu.
But God doesn't give up (at least, not that easily). Help came in another way.