Monday, April 16, 2012

Silappadhikaram - I


Silappadhikaram
(Literary Appreciation)

1
Preface


World classical languages are nine. 
Of these, two are Indian languages, Sanskrit and Tamil. 
Knowing Tamil, a world classical language, makes me glad. 
I wonder why English has not deserved the status. 
I am not very proficient in Tamil. 
I just tried to make literary appreciation of one of the epics, 
Silappadhikaram.

Tamil is a South Indian Dravidian language widely spoken in 
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhrapradesh in India 
and outside in Malayasia, Singapore and Srilanka where 
Tamil is spoken and an Official Language also. 
Sanskrit is also an old Vedic Language – very less used 
for the purpose of communication presently.

The five Great epics in Tamil are Silapadhikaram, 
Manimekhalai, Sivakasinthamani, Valayapthi and Kundalakesi. 
These titles depict various ornaments worn by 
classical Tamilian lady on feet, hip, neck, hands and ears– 
silambu, mekhala, mani, valay, kundalam, respectively. 
May be the authors created these epics and 
dedicated to Tamil language as ornaments.

Silapadhikaram is written by the Prince - Poet Ilango Adigal, 
a Jain monk from Chera kings dynasty. 
Manimekhalai is written by Koola vaanigan Seethalai Sathanar. 
These two Great epics have ground and characters in common. 
The story-line of Manimekhalai follws Silapadhikaram. 
These two are contemporary epics by different authors, 
that is why Ilango Adigal calls it Silappadhikaram, 
Chapter of Anklet. May be both together planned to pen 
a single ethic in two books/volumes or chapters.

Silapadhikaram is related to 
three Tamil kingdoms - Chera, Chola and Pandiya, 
three kings - Cheran Senguttuvan, Cholan Karikalan and 
Pandian Nedunchezhiyan
three cities - Poompuhar, Madurai and Vanchi 
and three main characters - Kovalan, Kannagi and Madhavi. 
The lead role is portrayed by Kannagi. 
The epic was created by second century and is based on 
an anklet, Silambu.
Silapadhikaram= Silambu+ Adhikaram.
Adhikaram means chapter. 
So, Silapadhikaram means Chapter based on Anklet. 


With that in view, it goes to conclude that Silappadhikaram 
along with Manimekhalai goes to complete the entire 
story / theme or the book. 
These two may be volumes of the same book 
by different authors contemporary to each other.

The main three aims or objectives of Silappadhikaram 
are to highlight-

1. Arasiyal pizhaithorku aram kootru avathum         
For those who commit injustice in ruling/politics, 
the justice itself will turn as demon of death.

2. uraisaal pathini uyarnthor yetralum,
Noble people adore chaste woman

3. uzhvinai uruthtu vantuttum enbathum
The fate plays its hard role in ones life.

Justice in ruling a country, chastity of women in family, 
fate in ones life are the three factors that they form 
main theme of the story of Silapadhikaram. 
How these objectives are portrayed in the episodes 
of the story, we may see.

In a nutshell the story of Silapadhikaram goes like this-

Kovalan is the son of a wealthy grain merchant 
from Poompuhar in chola kingdom. 
He married to a chaste woman Kannagi but falls in love with 
a Court dancer, Madhavi and loses all his wealth. 
Penniless he returns back to Kannagi. 
For livelihood and for doing some business they proceed to Madurai,
in Pandiya Kingdom 
For the finance, while trying to sell the anklet of Kannagi, 
Kovalan was charged with stealing of the anklet of the queen 
and beheaded by the order of Pandiya king. 


Kannagi goes to the court of the king, argues 
and proves the innocence of her husband and in 
the fire of her anger and chastity;
 she burns Madurai by toring and throwing one of left breast. 
Due to the guilty conscious for the injustice done to Kovalan, 
killing him on false charges without proper investigation, 
the Pandiya king Nedunchezhyan and his queen die spontaneously. 
Kannagi then goes to Chera kingdom. She ascends the hill top. 
Her resurrected husband Kovalan comes in a phuspak viman 
and takes her to heaven and thus attaining her Divinity.

While Kannagi had no child, Manimekhalai is 
the daughter of Madhavi.
*
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