Kambar (Kamban in casual address) (Tamil: கம்பர்) (c. 1180, Tiruvaluntur, Tanjore district, India – 1250) was a medieval Tamil poet and the author of the Ramavataram, popularly known as Kambaramayanam, the Tamil version of Ramayana.
The original version of Ramayana was written by Valmiki. It is an epic of 24,000 verses which depicts the journey of Rama, a prince of Ayodhya who belonged to Raghuvamsa (Solar dynasty). In Hinduism, Rama is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, one of the Trimurti (the Hindu holy trinity which includes Brahma and Shiva).
The Ramavataram or Kamba Ramayanam of Kamban is an epic of about 11,000 stanzas, as opposed to Valmiki's 24000 couplets. The Rama-avataram or Rama-kathai as it was originally called was accepted into the holy precincts in the presence of Vaishnava Acharya Nathamuni.
Kamba Ramayana is not a verbal translation of the Sanskrit epic by Valmiki, but a retelling of the story of Lord Rama.
Legend has it that the entire episode was written in one night by Lord Ganesh. 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 also a legend that Ottakuthar—an eminent Tamil poet and a contemporary of Kambar—also composed Ramayanam. Tradition has it that Ottakoothar was ahead of Kambar as the former had already finished five cantos, but when the king asked for an update, Kambar—a master of words—lied that he was already working on the Setu Bandhalam, upon which Ottakoothar feeling dejected threw away all his work. Feeling guilty, Kambar recovered the last two chapters of Ottakoothar's composition and added into his own.