Fire in Tamil, as well as in many South Asian cultures, do not
remain a metaphor for passion as we normally see in Western literature,
but remains a form of worship. An inquiry into the function of'fire'
within the Tamil cultural context will help us approach the uniqueness
of Tamil culture. In addition, this may also open up the possibilities of
reading the religious and cultural history of India from an alternative
perspective informed by the history of hindu imperialism and its
onslaught on Buddhist India. This may also suggest the need to expand
the dalit critique beyond the confines of studying dalit literature and
politics with a view to rewriting the cultural history of Tamils as well
as of India.
Scholarly approaches to fire worship always faced the problem
of engaging with two different, yet mutually illuminating, great and
little traditions in Tamil culture. While the so-called'great' tradition is
located within the domain of Hinduism, shaped by the
written/unwritten laws o