-Dr. Hepsy Rose Mary. A

Leelathilakam, Malayala Bhasha viyakaranam  and Kerala paniniyam are notable Grammatical works of Malayalam Language.  Among these Keralapaniniyam is practiced well from the school to College in the State of Kerala.  In his introduction, A.R. Rajarajavarma mentions that Kerala Paniniyam mostly follows the Grammatical work of Paniniyam in Sanskrit.   Veerachoziyam a grammatical book in Tamil written after a thousand years of Tholkappiyam.  It is one of the notable works in the history of Tamil Grammar. This book was written for the Tamil Scholars to learn Sanskrit Grammar.  This study deals with the comparative study of samasam in Veerachozhiyam and Keralapaniniyam.

Definition of Samasam

Samasam is equalize as Tokai in Tamil Grammatical works.  Tolkappiyam does not describe the definition of compound words in his work.   But the term ‘tokai’ is chosen by him to denote compound. Keralapaniniyam and veerachozhiyam have references for this Grammatical category.  Tokai is combination of two or more words are joining together and absence of affixes in combined words- These concepts prevails in the Tamil Grammatical tradition.

Tolkappiyam says in his work ‘Ella thokayum oru soll nadaya’  tol.sol 420,’ vettumai thokaye vettumai yiyala’  and ‘vinayin thokaye kaalathiyalum’ .  From these sutras it’s clear that tolkappiyar’s idea on tokai or compound words is the combination of words.

Veerachozhiyam explains samasam as “Namangalin porutham porul narthokai’ that is a single word contains two or more words reveal one and the same meaning. When explains samasa the author of Kerala Panini depicts as ‘vibakthik kuri kudathe, pathayogam samasam’ ( k.P.181).   It means that compounds as the joining of words without the case marker.  It can be understood from this sutra samasa is the combination of nouns devoid of case markers.  So, it is the common opinion on samasam of all authors.

Classification of Samasa

Tolkappiyar divides the compound, in the Tamil language into six kinds.  They are ‘Vetumaithokai (the declension compound) ‘uvamaithokai’ (the compound of comparison, Vinaithokai (the verb compound), panpputhokai ‘(the qualitative compound) ‘ummaithokai’ (the conjunctival or conjunctional Compound) and ‘ anmozhithokai ( the metonymical compound).

Veerachozhiyam illustrates as follows,

Tarpurudan palanel kanmathaarayam thangkiya seer
Narthuvikuthokai  naavaar thuvanthuvam nalla theyvac
Sorpayan mantharkalal avviyapavam ethennuthonmai
Karpakamappakarnthaat thokai aarum kanankuzaye’              (v.c 45)

That is,

  1. Tharpuruda samasam –           declension compound
  2. Palanel samasam ( bahuviri)    – metonymical compound (bahuvrihi is called anmozithokai in Tamil.  P. Meenakshi Sundaram explains the meaning of bahuvirihi, he says that bahu means ‘Much’ virihi means rice; both together denote ‘a person with much rice. Viracoliyam adopt this meaning and named bahuvirihi samasa as palanel samasa.)
  3. Kanmataaraya samaasa –            qualitative compound (the first word is a qualitative or attributive word)
  4. Dvigu samaasam –             ennodupunartha enthokai (dvigu samasa are those compounds which may be called numerical compound where there is a number word and also a noun.  Pirayoka vivekam explains this in Tamil as ennotu porul punarnta entokai.)
  5. Dvandva samaasam –           conjunctional Compound (dvandva samasa is a compound of two or more words in coordinate construction but where the conjuctive particles um / and is absent. It is called ummaithokai in Tamil)
  6. Avviyabva samaasam –     conjunctional Compound (avyayibhava samasa is a compound where a noun is either preceded or followed by indeclinable particle. Pirayoka vivekam explains that in Tamil as follows Munnum pinnum moliyatuttu varum itaicol tokai)

The verb compound and the compound of comparison are not seen in Sanskrit language.  The avyabava samasa is absent in Tamil language.  The Tamil grammarians include avyabava samasa into conjunctional Compound and tuviku samasa into qualitative compound.   Subramaniya Deetshidar the author of prayoigaviveka opined that   the compound of comparison has been included in qualitative compound.

The table follows clearly shows the samasa in Tolkappiyam, veerachozhiyam, and Keralapaniniyam.

Sl. No  






1. vettumaithokai Tarpurudan Tarpurudan
2. Anmozithokai Palanel/ bahuvirhi bahuvirhi
3 ummaiththokai Tuvanthuvan Tuvanthuvan
4 panputhokai Kanmathaarayam
5 uvamaththokai Thuviku
6 vinaithokai avviyabavam

The significance of meaning in samasa

Tolkappiyam explains that the above six kinds of compounds significance of meaning lies in four different was as follows.

  1. Meaning lies on the prior words
  2. Meaning lies on the later words
  3. Meaning lies on the Prior words and later words
  4. Meaning lies outside the compound word

Viracoliyam does not have its own opinion on this.  But it follows the system above mentioned by Tolkappiyam.

In Malayalam Keralapaniniyam follows only three types, taking the importance of component parts into consideration.  They are,

  1. Tatpurusan – importance given for the later words

Eg: talavedana- tala _ vedana

  1. Bahuvirhi – importance given for word standing outside the compounded words.

Eg. Tamarakkannan

  1. Dvantavan – some importance given to all words

Eg. Achanammamar

Meaning lies on the prior words are not explains by Keralapaniniyam.

Structure of samasa

The Structure of Samasa are not mentioned in Tolkappiyam and Veerachozhiyam. But it is described by the commemntators. The author of Kerala Paninayam describes it in detail. He denotes the structure with the words in samasam. This reveals the peculiar ability of author of Kerala Paniniam

  1. With Infinitive Verb+Verb –            Rekshichu Kolka
  2. Noun + Verb                      –           Nila Nilkuka
  3. Adjectival Participle +Noun –            Pettamma
  4. Noun – Adjectival Participle + Noun Thenolum Vani
  5. Noun+Noun                        –           Porkudam , Ramanattam
  6. Adjective + Noun –           Vensamaram, Sembaruthi
  7. Tatpirusa samasa – declensional Compound

When a compound word is devoid of the case marker  and the elaborated word meaning is hidden,  it is called vettumai  thokai.  When the case marker can be seen clearly in a compound and when it is hidden also will expressed the same meaning if the meaning differs in two cases does not mean as a compound word.

As discussed vettumai thokai is the combined form of a word which has the hidden case markers inside, the meaning of the line combined word form must be equal to that of the unhidden case markers.

Structure of tatpurusa samasa

The Commentators Described that the structure of Vettumai Thokai is Noun + Noun. But in veerachozhiyam and Kerala Paniniyam, the difference in the above said structure can be seen.

Eg. Nilamkadanthaan (nilathai kadanthaan)  non + verb

Classification of tatpurusa

Tolkappiyam does not classified declension compound into further categories.  But it is clear from his examples that declension compound has six categories.  Viracoliyam classifies tatpurusa samasa into eight different kinds as follows,

‘eluvai muthalodu vettumaiyOdum ezum thadaiyil
Vazhuvatha nanjodum ettaam tarpurudan    –            v.c 46

The author of viracoliyam and its commentators does not use any Sanskrit technical terminology for the classifications of its tatpurusa samasa. (declensional compound.) But Kerala paniniyam uses all kinds of Sanskrit terminology.

The table follows clearly the the classification of tatpurusa  samasa in veerachozhiyam and Keralapaniniyam are arranged side by side along with examples.

Sl. No  Viracoliyam Keralapaniniyam
1  Eluvia vettumai tatpurusan

Eg. Markalitinkal

1.     Nirdesika – fedam avuka

2.     Karrmadharayan- Eg. Konna thennku-


2 Irandam vettumai  tatpurusa

Eg: kutitanki, malaitanki

Pratigraahiha –  Eg. Paakku vetti
3 Muntam vettumai tatpurusa

Eg. Taai naalvar

Samyojika – Eg. panthokkum
4 Nankam vettumai tatpusa

Eg. Malzaikudai

Uddesika- Eg. homapura
5 aintam vettumai tatpusa



Prajojika – Eg. Mangakari
6 Aaraam  vettumai tatpusa

Eg: kottan mahan


Sambandika – Eg.marappodi
7 Elam  vettumai tatpusa



Adarika- Eg. toolvala
8 Nannju  tatpurusa

Eg. atharma

 Ninnu – Nadu ninngi
9 Kurichu – aanappranthu

The eighth variety of tatpurusa is called nannju tatpurusa.  As started in Viracoliyam ( 46) it occurs only in Sanskrit where a negative particle na occurs as a before the consonant and as an before vowels

Eg. Na+ asvam-       = an + asvam – anasva- one which is other than the horse.

Na+ darma – = a + darma – adarma

In Veerachozhiyam and Kerala Paninaim Instead of the structure Noun + Noun; Noun + Verb is also seen.

Eg. Malai thaangki, naadu ningi

Bahuvirihi samasa Metonymical

Acording to Tolkappiyar  anmzhithokai or the metonymical compound is formed of the qualitative, conjunctival r declension  compound.  The member of the anmolitokai may stand to each other to any of the three relations viz qualifier non relation, conjunctive relation or case relation.

Eg. Vellaithai vanthal – qualifier noun

Takaranazal pusinaal – takaramum nazalum enaitha santhu – conjuctive

Pottodi  vanthal – case relation

Heralapanniiniyam says that ‘A visesana is compounded with visesya to show the among ‘one whohas is a bahiviri samasa. Eg: naan muhan

Types of bahuvirihi samasa

Keralapaniniyam following Sanskrit grammatical  works  and divides bahuvrihi samasa  into three divisions.

  1. Upamagarbha: That with a middle word indicating sameness is upamaafarbham

Eg.      Kaanjaneermizhi – a lady whose eye is like a lotus.

Here the word denoting similarity is mentioned.

  1. Upamaluptham – where the word showing similarity.

Eg. Matimuhi  –  one whose face is like a moon

  1. Upamanaluptham – That in which the modifier ( upamanam) is lost is

Eg. Pedakanni – a lady whose eyes are like those of  a deer.

The above said three division comes under tholkappiyars ummaithogai the author of keeralapaniniyam describes these with the Sanskrit terminologies.

Veerachozhiyam states the kind of bahuvirihi samasa as follows,

Irumozhi panmozhi pinmozhi ennodirumozhi enn
Maruvum vithiyaarilakkana mattai sahamunmozhi
Paravun thikantharalathodai ennap palanel toka
Viriyumorezavai vettu mozhipporl melliyale. Vc 40

Anmozhithogai is known as palanelhogai by puthamithiranar perunthevanar, the commentator of virachozhiyam  called this as bahuvirr samasa.   Viracozhiyam divides bahuvirihi samasa in seven kinds.

  1. Irumolithokai: Compound with two words.

Eg. Kaluthadai – one who wears a cloth around his neck.

  1. Panmozithokai: a compound having more than two words.

Eg.  Mayiladuthurai- a place name

  1. Pinmozhi entokai: A compound where the second word is a number.

Eg. Inna narpathu, purananuuru

  1. Irumozhi entokai: both the words denote a number.

Eg. Aintaru

  1. Vithiyariklakkanatokai: This does not occur except in Sanskrit.

Eg. Desadesi: when a fight spreads from country to country it is called desadesi

Dandadandi- when a fight starts with striking with clubs it is called dandadandi.

  1. Cakamunmolithokai: saneethi were saha become

Sa + neethi (nithiyodu kuudi varupavan)

  1. Tikantharalat tokai

Direction in between two directions given by the two members of a compound.

Eg. Tenkilakku, thenmerukku.

The table follows clearly shows the classification of bahuvirihia  samasa in veerachozhiyam and Keralapaniniyam are arranged side by side along with examples.

Sl. No Veeracholiyum                                              Kerala paniniyam
1 Irumozhithogai upamakapam
2 Panmozhithokai upamalupatham


3 Pinmozhi entokai upamanalupatham
4 Irumozhienthokai


5 Vithiyariklakkanatoka
6 Cakamunmolithokai
7 Tikantharalat tokai

 Dvandva samasam

Dvandva samasa is  ummaithokai in Tamil.  Ummaittokai or the conjunctival compound is that in which two nouns many nouns, nouns of measurement, nouns denoting countable objects, nouns of weights or numerals are combined together.  It is evident from tolkappiyam that only the conjenctival compounds may be formed of more than two words. Eg. Kapila paranar, puliverkondai.  Keralapaniniyam says that, words of equal importance are combined omitting the coplative conjunction.

Classification of duvandva samasa

Tholkappiyar divides it into six types ummaithokai in tamil.  They are,

  1. Irupeyar ummai thogai
  2. Palpeyar ummai thogai
  3. Alavupeyar umai thogai
  4. Enniyar peyar ummai thogai
  5. Nirai peyar ummai thogai
  6. Enpeyar ummai thogai

Veeracholiyam describes it based on tholkappiyam.

Ex: Irupeyar ummai thogai –Payaru thovarai

Palpeyar ummai thogai – sulabumikae thippu

Alavupeyar umai thogai – thooni pathoku

Enniyar peyar ummai thogai -muppathumoovar

Nirai peyar ummai thogai – kolanjakal

Enpeyar ummai thogai- pathinmotu,aayinathu

In Sanskrit, it is known as danduva samasam and it is of two kinds

1.itharethara dvanva

2.samakaram dvandva

Itharetharthokai –   It is the dvandva which ends in the human plural.  The examples for two words are kapila paranar, cera cola pandiyar is the examples for more than two words.

Ex: kapilaparanar


Samakaraha dvandva —  samahara dvandva is in Tamil  iray vanta akkirinai ummaittokai. The dvandva which acts as neuter singular.  This may consist of two or more words.

Eg. Aram poruk, uvappathinanku

Kerala panniniyam describes this as word of equal importance are combined omitting the compilative conjunction. The dvandva compounds of numerals show the meaning.

            Ex:  accanammamar, Ancharu, Pathu pathinanchi, kaikalu


When we compare Veeracholiyam and Keralapaniniyam generally we found these two grammars follow paniniyam.  Keralapaniniyam not talk about the avyabhava samasam and duvihusamasam.  Even though Veeracholiyam and Keralapaniniyam follows Sanskrit moduels. Among these Keralapaniniyam has given more importance to Malayalam Samasa in many ways.


  • Eluthachan .K. N The History of the Grammatical Theories in Malayalam, DLA, Trivandrum.
  • T. V(Editor) Veerachozhiyam, Nachiyar Publication, Trichy, 2005.
  • M, Treatment of Morphology in Tolkappiyam , DLA, Trivandrum, 1973.
  • Meenakshi Sundaram. T.P – Foreign Models in Tamil Grammar – D.L.A, 1974.
  • C. J- KeralaPaaniniyam, ISDL, Trivandrum
  • Subramania Thedshithar – Prayokavivekam, Madras the S.I.S.S.W Publishing society, Tirunelveli ltd, 1973.


The writer is an Assistant Professor
Department of Tamil, University of Kerala


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