Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kundalakesi-Tamil Epic

Tamil language is as old as Sanskrit and Tamil has a hoary past. The Epics in Tamil literature revealing the relativity of our own values. The Five Great Epics in Tamil literature which are large narrative in Tamil namely Cilappatikaram, Manimekalai, CivakaChintamani, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi. 

The 5 Great Epics, also known as Aimperumkappiyam.. The Five Great Epics were composed during the period between 1st Century CE and 10th Century CE..Out of these, only Kundalakesi and Valayapathi are in existence. Amongst the Five Great Epics, Kundalakesi and Manimekalai are Buddhist religious literary works, Valayapathi and Civaka Cintamani are Jain literary works and Cilappatikaram has a neutral religious observation. then the 'discovery' and enjoyment of Tamil literature.
Recently I read  one of the unique epic Kundalakesi. These epic provide the historical verification of cultural, social, religious and academic life of the people of that era and it points out the common folly in being attached to worldly things and how important it is to follow the path to enlightenment through a religion or by wisdom. I am glad that I could explore a small part of Tamil literature today.
The Story of Kundalakesi has inspired me a lot ever since I read .. Kundalakesi was composed before fifth century. Originally there are ninety nine verses but only nineteen verses are available. The story of these epics too, is not clear. However, from what is available, we know that epics belonging to other religions were destroyed, though they have their own literary merits.
 The poet who composed this epic was Nagakutthanaar. He was an ardent Buddhist, who is believed to have known all about his previous births. He is supposed to have lived during the 10th century A.D.   ‘Kesi’ means a lady’s plait. As her hair was curly, she was called Kundalakesi. Her name has been taken as the title of this epic..
Story Of Kundalakesi:
Kundalakesi was the leading character and was born in a merchant family in Puhar. Initially she was known as Bhadra. She lost her mother at a young age and lived a sheltered life. One day she saw a thief being paraded in the streets and falls in love with him. His name was Kaalan and he was sentenced to death. Obsessed with Kaalan, she begs her father to save him. Her father appeals to the king for the release of the thief. In order to release Kaalan he pays Kaalan's weight in gold and 81 elephants to the treasury.
 Kundalakesi and Kaalan are married. Although she loved her husband very dearly, her husband being a thief, was only attracted to her property and her jewels. One day in a light vein she refers to him as a thief. This enrages Kaalan and he decides to kill his wife. One day, he coaxed her to put on all her jewellery and led her to a mountain saying that he wanted to make some offerings to the guardian spirit of the mountain because that guardian spirit had saved his life when he was about to be killed. Kundalakesi went along with her husband, but when they reached their destination, the thief revealed that he intended to kill her and take her jewels. She is shocked to hear this and. She pleaded with him to take her jewels, but to spare her life, but it was of no avail. She then realized that if she did not get rid of her husband, there would be no way of escape for her. She felt she must be cautious and crafty. So she asks him to grant a final wish - she wishes to worship him by going round him three times said to her husband, she wanted to pay respect to him for the last time. So saying, and going round the man respectfully. He agrees and when she gets behind him, Kundalakesi pushes him, thereby killing him. 
After this, she had no desire to return home. She left all her jewellery hanging on a tree, and went on her way, without any idea where she was going. She happened to come to a place of some Paribbajikas (female wandering ascetics) and she herself became a Paribbajikas a Buddhist monk and spends the rest of her life spreading the teachings of Buddha. She carries out theological battles with Jains and Hindus, defeating them in debates. She finally attains superior liberation. In one of the versions, it is believed that she was a Jain in her initial life and she shattered conventions by becoming a nigrantha or naked monk.
The story actually amazed me! Feminism was so strong and bold those days. We preach these days about being bold women, do not know actually know if we are !
There is also a small message in this story True penance is controling your feelings. pleasure and Praise belongs to those who having Mind Purity.everything is  seemed to be predestination
A man may conquer a million men in battle, but one who conquers himself is, indeed, the greatest of conquerors.Real freedom is freedom from all forms of bondage. It can be achieved only through proper spiritual development and purification of one's own mind - purging and cleansing oneself from all taints of greed, hatred and delusion.

Links: Verses with Meaning-

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