Kambar (Tamil: கம்பர்) was a Tamil poet. Kambar is popularly known for authoring Ramavatharam, (popularly known as Kambaramayanam), the Tamil version of Ramayana, or the Story of Rama, one of the oldest epics in human history inspired by the Sanskrit epic.
The original version was written by Sage Valmiki. This epic of 24,000 verses tells of a Raghuvamsa prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, a mighty emperor. In Hindu mythology Rama is considered to be the Seventh incarnation of God Vishnu, one of the Hindu holy trinity (Brahma and Shiva completing the trinity).
Kamban flourished in the 12th Century in Therazhundur, a village in the culturally rich Thanjavur District in the modern state of Tamil Nadu in South India. Kamban was a great scholar of India's two ancient and rich languages, Sanskrit and Tamil. Mahavidwan R. Raghava Iyengar in a scholarly biography,Kavicakravarty Kamban writes in detail about this 12th century poet.
The Ramavataram or Kamba Ramayanam of Kamban is an epic of over 10,000 verses, of 4-lines each. Kamba Ramayana is not a translation of the Sanskrit epic by Valmiki, but an original retelling of the story of the God Rama. The poetic work is well known for its similes. It is therefore so great that one is amazed by the imagination created.
Legend has it that the entire episode was written in one night by Lord Ganesha. Ganesha is said to have written the poems that Kambar dictated to him during the night, as Kambar procrastinated the work till the day before the deadline set by the King. There is a saying that Kamban veetu kattu thariyum kavi paadum, loosely meaning Even Kamban's loom can pen a poem.
Kambar has also written literary works like Er Ezhupathu (seventy songs on the greatness of agriculture) and the Mangala Vazhthu (praising the greatness and benovalence of the Kongu Vellala Gounder who were his patrons, Sadayappa Vallal also belonging to the community).