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Manipravalam – Simple Introduction

Manipravalam is a literary style that emerged from the blending of Malayalam and Sanskrit languages, known for its fusion of Malayalam and Sanskrit words into a single composition. The term "Manipravalam" itself reflects this fusion, with "mani" representing Malayalam and "pravala" representing Sanskrit. This unique style of composition arose out of a desire to integrate Sanskrit, which was gaining popularity among scholars, with the native languages of Tamil and Malayalam.

Traditionally attributed to the poet Tolan in the court of King Kulashekhara around the 9th century CE, Manipravalam gained further structure and rules through works like Lilatilaka, a grammar of Malayalam, which systematized the style around the mid-15th century CE.

In Manipravalam literature, both Malayalam and Sanskrit words that were already in common usage were seamlessly woven together. This style gave rise to two distinct categories of compositions: sandesha and champu.

Sandesha works, exemplified by compositions like Unnanilosandesha from around 1315 CE, typically focus on conveying a message or narrative. Champu works, on the other hand, combine poetry in Sanskrit meters with prose in the style of Malayalam and Tamil. Notable examples of champu compositions include the Ramayana Champu and the Bharatacampu.

Overall, Manipravalam literature stands as a testament to the cultural and linguistic exchange between Sanskrit and Dravidian languages in South India, showcasing a harmonious coexistence and synthesis of two distinct linguistic traditions.