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2222 Tue 09 May 2017 LESSON
Tipitaka-Therigatha-Subha: The Goldsmith’s Daughter
Transcript of Selections from Therigatha and Manimekhalai
Selections from Therigatha and Manimekhalai
The desecration of Buddhist temples in South India
in 01) Classical English,92) Classical Tamil- செம்மொழி தமிழ்,
PTS: Thig 339-367
Subha: The Goldsmith’s Daughter
translated from the Pali by
“I was a child, with clean clothes,
when I first heard the Dhamma.
And within me, heedful,
was a break-through to the truth.
Then I arrived
at an enormous dissatisfaction
with all sensuality.
Seeing the danger
I longed only
Leaving my circle of relatives,
prosperous villages & fields,
delightful, enticing possessions,
I went forth,
abandoning not-insignificant wealth.
Having gone out through conviction
in the well-taught true Dhamma,
it wouldn’t be proper for me —
aspiring to nothingness —
having cast off gold & silver
to take them back.
Gold & silver
don’t buy Awakening,
don’t buy peace.
This (gold) isn’t proper for monks.
This isn’t noble wealth.
delusion, bondage to dust,
suspicion, many troubles.
There’s no lasting stability here.
It’s to this extent that many, many men
— heedless, their hearts defiled —
opposing one another, create
conflicts, murder, bondage,
calamity, loss, grief, & lamentation.
Many misfortunes are seen
for those head-over-heels in sensuality.
So, my relatives:
Why do you, like enemies,
try to bind me to sensuality?
You know I’ve gone forth,
seeing the danger in sensuality.
Gold coin & bullion
can’t put an end to fermentations.
Sensuality is an enemy,
hostile, arrows & bonds.
So, my relatives:
Why do you, like enemies,
try to bind me to sensuality?
You know I’ve gone forth
with shaven head, wrapped in a patchwork cloak.
Leftover alms-scraps, gleanings,
a robe made from cast-off cloth:
That’s what’s proper for me —
the requisites of one with no home.
The great seers have rejected sensuality,
both human & divine.
Released are they, in the place of security.
Arrived are they, in unshakeable ease.
So may I not come into union
with sensuality, in which no shelter is found.
It’s an enemy, a murderer
— sensuality —
painful, like a mass of flame.
an obstacle, fearful, threatened,
full of thorns,
a great cause of delusion.
a frightening attack,
like a snake’s head
in which fools delight —
Because many people in the world
are stuck in the mud of sensuality,
they don’t realize the end of birth & death.
Many people follow the path
to bad destinations
because of sensuality,
bringing disease on themselves.
Thus sensuality creates enemies.
It burns, is defiled.
It’s the bait of the world,
constraining, the bondage of death,
maddening, deceptive, agitating the mind.
It’s a net cast by Mara
for the defilement of living beings:
with endless drawbacks, much pain,
giving little enjoyment, creating conflict,
drying up the good side (of the mind).
I, having caused much trouble like this
because of sensuality,
will not return to it,
as I always delight in Unbinding.
Doing battle with sensuality
in hopes of the cool state,
I will stay heedful, finding delight
in the ending of fetters.
I follow the path —
griefless, stainless, secure —
over which great seers
See this Subha, the goldsmith’s daughter,
standing firm in the Dhamma,
entering the imperturbable state,
doing jhana at the foot of a tree.
This is the eighth day of her going forth
confident, beautiful through the true Dhamma.
Trained by Uppalavanna,
she’s a three-knowledge woman
who’s left death behind;
freed from slavery, debtless,
a nun with developed faculties,
set loose from all ties,
her task done,
Sakka, lord of beings,
with his community of devas,
approaching her through supranormal power,
pays homage to her:
Subha the goldsmith’s daughter.
Notes: See MN 106. She has achieved restraint over her sense faculties, or that she has fully developed the faculties of conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment. See. SN 48.10 and AN 4.37.
Topics in Tamil literature
The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature
Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi Valayapathi
Tevaram Divya Prabandha
Sangam Sangam landscape
Tamil history from Sangam literature Ancient Tamil music
Manimekalai (Tamil: மணிமேகலை),by the poet Chithalai Chathanar, is one of The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature according to later Tamil literary tradition.Manimekalai is a poem in 30 cantos. Its story is a sequel to another of the Five Great Epics, Silappatikaram, and tells the story of the conversion from Jainism to Buddhism of the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi.
1 The Author and period of composition
2 The Epic
2.2 Notable characters
2.3 Disappearance of Kāveripattinam or Puhar
3 Buddhist School Affiliation
4 Survival of Text
6 Publishing in modern times
7 Criticism and Comparison
8 See also
The Author and period of composition
Was composed in the 6th century CE. According to Hikosaka (1989), Manimekalai was written between A.D. 890 and 950, an inference based on linguistic assessment.
The aim of the author, Cīttalai Cāttanār was to compare Buddhism favourably with the other prevailing religions in South India in order to propagate Buddhism. While exposing the weaknesses of the other contemporary Indian religions, he praises the Buddha’s Teaching, the Dhamma, as the most perfect religion.
As a continuation of Silappatikaram (Tamil: சிலப்பதிகாரம்), this epic describes how Manimekalai, the beautiful daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi, follower of local deities later included in Hinduism, converts to Buddhism. According to the poem, Maṇimekalai studies the six systems of philosophy of Hinduism and other prevalent religions of the time and compares them to the teachings of the Buddha. She is most impressed with Buddhism which treats everyone equal with loving kindness and fraternity. Later, upon hearing doctrinal expositions from the Buddhist teacher Bhikkhu Aravaṇa Aḍigal, she becomes a dedicated Bhikkuni or Buddhist nun. Manimekhalai fully practices the Buddha’s teachings and attains the highest stage of Buddhist spiritual knowledge or attainment, i.e. she became an arhant. The Manimekhalai poem thus is an example of female spiritual empowerment within a culture wherein otherwise there were few options for women. Pandit Iyothee Thass (1845-1914) revealed more about Manimekalai as “Arachchelvi” (Female Arhant) and documented original poems written by Seeththalai Saththanar, which are not available in the Menimekalai edited by U.V. Swaminatha Iyer who allegedly left out some of the original poems.
The epic gives much information on the history of Tamil Nadu, Buddhism and its place during that period, contemporary arts and culture, and the customs of the times. The exposition of the Buddhist doctrine in the poem deals elegantly with the Four Noble Truths (ārya-satyāni), Dependent Origination (pratītyasamutpāda), mind (citta) and Buddhist practices like virtue (Śīla) and non-violence (ahimsa).
The poem is set in both the harbour town of Kāveripattinam, the modern town of Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu, and in Nainatheevu of NākaNadu, a small sandy island of the Jaffna Peninsula in modern Sri Lanka. The story runs as follows: The dancer-courtesan Manimekalai is pursued by the amorous Cholan prince Udyakumāran, but rather wants to dedicate herself to a religious celibate life. The sea goddess Manimegala Theivam or Maṇimekhalai Devī puts her to sleep and takes to the island Maṇipallavam (Nainatheevu). After waking up and wandering about the island Maṇimekalai comes across the Dhamma-seat, the seat on which Buddha had taught and appeased two warring Naga princes, and placed there by the God Indra. Those who worship it miraculously know their previous life. Manimekalai automatically worships it and recollects what had happened in her previous life. She then meets the guardian goddess of the Dhamma seat, Deeva-Teelakai (Dvīpa Tilakā) who explains her the significance of the Dhamma seat and lets her acquire the magic never-failing begging bowl (cornucopia) called Amṛta Surabhi (”cow of abundance”), which will always provide food to alleviate hunger. The goddess also predicts that Bhikkhu Aravaṇa Aḍigal in her native town will teach her more. Manimekalai then used the mantra which the sea goddess had given her and returns to Kāveripattinam, where she meets the Bhikkhu Aravaṇa Aḍigal, who expounds her the Buddha’s Teaching and advices her about the nature of life. She then becomes a Buddhist nun or Bhikkhuni and practices to rid herself from the bondage of birth and death and attain Nibbana.
Manimekalai - The daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi, who was born with bravery and virtues.
Udhayakumaran - The Chola King, who was mad in love with Manimekalai. He was a foolish king, who wanted things done only in the way he wanted them to be. He also had a thug life
Sudhamadhi - Manimekalai’s most faithful and trustworthy friend.
Manimekala - The sea goddess who protects the heroine.
Deeva Teelakai - Guardian Goddess of the Dhamma seat. She was born in the town of Puhar and got married to a merchant. Her husband once travels to trade. Even after so many days he didn’t return. Feared and worried that her husband might have died she tries to give away her life. (Not by suicide but by doing “sathiya paritchai” i.e. praying God to take away her life due to the death of her husband) Suddenly she hears a voice from the sky which says that her husband is alive and he will come back. But Deeva Teelakai expresses her disinterest in a family life and her interest in spirituality. She then gets the Amirta Surabhi and was also guided by the voice to travel to the Dhamma seat and protect it until she meets her destiny.
Disappearance of Kāveripattinam or Puhar
The poem relates that the town Kāveripattinam or Puhār was swallowed up by the sea (i.e. destroyed by a tsunami or flood) due to the Cholan King not holding the annual Indra festival and thereby causing the wrath of the sea goddess Manimekalai. This account is supported by archeological finds of submerged ruins off the coast of modern Poompuhar. Ancient ruins of a 4th-5th century Buddhist monastery, a Buddha statue, and a Buddhapada (footprint of the Buddha) were also found in another section of the ancient city, now at Pallavanesvaram. The town of Kāveripattinam is believed to have disappeared in between the 3rd and the 6th century CE.
Buddhist School Affiliation
The work contains no direct references to Mahayana as propagated by Nagarjuna, etc., and appears to be a work of an early Buddhist, Sravakayana school such as the Sthavira or Sautrantika school. According to Aiyangar, the emphasis on “the path of the Pitakas of the Great One” (i.e. Tipitaka) and the exposition of Dependent Origination, etc., in Chapter 30, could suggest that it is work of the Sautrantika school. A.K. Warder instead suggests that the poem may be affiliated with Theravada school.
In the conclusion of the poem, Aravaṇa Aḍigal encourages full liberation from the three roots of evil—greed, hatred (rāga, dosa, moha). The final sentence of the poem states that Maṇimekhalai strove to rid herself of the bondage of birth. This emphasis on liberation from the defilements (kilesa), ending the cycle of birth, old age and death (samsara), and becoming an arahant, also suggests that the author of the poem was affiliated to an early Sravakayana Buddhist school.Aiyangar (p. 80) suggests that the Buddhist logic as expounded by Aravaṇa Aḍigal in Chapter 29 of the Maṇimekhalai antedates the logic of Dignāga and his school.
Survival of Text
The Manimekhalai is the only extant Tamil Buddhist literary work of what once was an extensive literature. The reason for its survival is probably its status as the sequel to the Silapathikaram or Sīlappadhikāram. Tamil Nadu produced many Buddhist teachers who made valuable contributions to Tamil, Pali literature. Reference to their works is found in Tamil literature and other historical records. Lost Tamil Buddhist works are the poem Kuṇḍalakesī by Nāgaguttanār, the grammar Vīrasoliyam, the Abhidhamma work Siddhāntattokai, the panegyric Tiruppadigam, and the biography Bimbisāra Kadai.
The first translation of Manimekalai by R. B. K. Aiyangar, was published in Maṇimekhalai in its Historical Setting. Extracts of this were republished in Hisselle Dhammaratana’s Buddhism in South India. A more recent translation of the poem was done by Alain Daniélou with the collaboration of T.V. Gopala Iyer. There is also a Japanese translation by Shuzo Matsunaga, published in 1991.
Publishing in modern times
A palm leaf manuscript with ancient Tamil text
U. V. Swaminatha Iyer (1855-1942 CE) resurrected the first three epics of Tamil literature from appalling neglect and wanton destruction of centuries. He reprinted these literature present in the palm leaf form to paper books. Ramaswami Mudaliar, a Tamil scholar first gave him the palm leaves of Civaka Cintamani to study. Being the first time, Swaminatha Iyer had to face lot of difficulties in terms of interpreting, finding the missing leaves, textual errors and unfamiliar terms. He set for tiring journeys to remote villages in search of the missing manuscripts. After years of toil, he published Civaka Cintamani in book form in 1887 CE followed by Silapadikaram in 1892 CE and Manimekalai in 1898 CE. Along with the text, he added lot of commentary and explanatory notes of terms, textual variations and approaches explaining the context.
Criticism and Comparison
To some critics, Manimekalai is more interesting than Silappadikaram. The story of Manimekalai with all its superficial elements seems to be of lesser interest to the author himself whose aim was pointed toward spreading Buddhism. In the former, ethics and religious doctrine are central, while in the latter poetry and storyline dominate. Manimekalai also preaching the ideals of Buddhism as it downplays human interests in favor of supernatural features. The narration in akaval meter moves on in Manimekalai without the relief of any lyric, which are the main features of Silappadikaram. Manimekalai in puritan terms is not an epic poem, but a grave disquisition on philosophy. There are effusions in the form of a song or a dance, which style may not go well with western audience as they are assessed to be inspired on the spur of the moment. According to Calcutta review, the three epics on the whole have no plot and no characterization for an epic genre. The plot of Civaka Cintamani is monotonous and deficient in variety in strength and character and does not stand the quality of an epic.
Transcript of Selections from Therigatha and Manimekhalai
Selections from Therigatha and Manimekhalai
She was found at the base of a mango tree (amba). She grew up to be very beautiful and graceful. Many princes desired to marry her, so she was made a state courtesan to avoid any disputes. Later in life she got the opportunity to serve the Buddha food; she decided to follow the Buddhist path and leave her position as courtesan.
Poem about impermanence
Contrast of past beauty (using similes) to her current old age.
“Fragrant as casket of perfumes, as full of sweet blossoms the hair of me. All with the waste of the years now rank as the odour of hare’s fur. Such and not otherwise runneth the rune, the word of the Soothsayer. (253)”
attained nirvana after saying these verses; became an arahant
Rumors are going around that Madhavi won’t be participating in dances at the festival for Indra
her friend Vasantamala goes to talk to her about it
Madhavi embodied the ideals of a perfect courtesan: she had mastered the arts of dance, music, and sex, and also studied other skills
she talks about how her lover died, and she could not mourn him as a his wife did, since she was not an “honest woman”.
she came to Aravana Adigal in her sorrow, and he advocated to her the Buddhist way so she could have a way to escape from suffering (through the 4 truths and 5 rules of conduct)
she wants this to be her and her daughter’s way of life
doesn’t want Manimekhalai to be involved with the worldly charms of the courtesan life
Manimekhalai’s grandmother comes to know that she is surviving by the Temple of Heaven by begging and living as a Buddhist nun.
She goes to the prince, who was impressed by Manimekhalai’s beauty, and tells him to go and bring Manimekhalai back to the court and the family of the courtesans.
He goes and speaks to her (against custom) and asks why she is living that life.
She replies (she feels obliged to reply since he was her husband in a past life) that the human body is full of anguish and suffering, and she chose to renounce that kind of life (and worldly pleasures) and help others instead.
she goes into the temple and changes her appearance so the prince is left looking for her.
She was a goldsmith’s daughter, and she was very beautiful. She was named Subha because she was thought of as ‘lucky’. She was introduced to Buddhism when a sage came to her town and spoke about the spiritual path.
Verses spoken after she reaches nirvana
about how worldly desires are bad and she chose to forsake them for the happiness she finds in the Buddhist path
As a goldsmith’s daughter, she was surrounded by gold and ornaments but she chose to leave them for the Way
reached nirvana on the eight day of learning to be a nun
Sumedha was the daughter of a king. She would go to hear the teachings of Buddhism as a child. When her parents chose to give her away to a prince, she decided she wanted to follow the path of Buddhism (’My duty lies not in the life of the house’). She cuts off her hair and leaves the house.
These versus are spoken after she becomes an arahant.
She describes her story
The man she was supposed to marry tries to entice her with the promise of a wealthy lifestyle, with jewels and riches, but she is relentless.
Also talks about how material wealth and desires are impermanent, and she has no need for that kind of life
“Like the poised heads of snakes prepared to dart. Like blazing torches…” Reference to snakes and fire in comparison to the instability of desire
The goddess Manimekhala comes to Manimekhalai and advises her to go to the Temple of Heaven to protect her from the desires of the prince
Story: plot of land with wall around it, dedicated to the dead. Each corner was a gateway and pointed to the four cardinal directions. Has places to bury, cremate, or just leave the dead. There seems to be a special place for women who died to rejoin their husbands in death. The area is very creepy, with sounds and sights related to death (skulls, vultures, prayers, cries of kin). This is why it’s called the City of the Dead.
Shankalan accidentally entered the walls and a sorceress stole his soul. His mother Gotami asked the goddess of the city to give him his soul back. She said she couldn’t do it. She called upon the gods that reign the heavens, who also said they couldn’t do it. Gotami accepted her and her son’s fate. A temple was created next to the walls, called the Temple of Heaven.
Manimekhala took sleeping Manimekhalai to another island.
Important things that stood out
Manimekhalai: the ideal woman (courtesan vs. wife)
Chapters 2 and 18 - the ideal courtesan
master of different arts and skills (dance, music, sex)
dances publicly, aims to arouse passion, gets money until the man can has nothing more to give
“attract men with their charms and bind them with their arts” pg. 74
Chitrapati says they “play an essential part in a properly organized society.”
a courtesan deviating from her duty is scandalous (when Madhavi’s friend is talking to her and Chitrapati talking about courtesan life)
Chapters 2, 6 and 18 - the ideal wife
a devoted wife suffers when her husband dies (the wife of Madhavi’s lover)
they throw themselves in the funeral pyre of their husbands (the City of the Dead has a special place for these devoted women)
noble women from proud families have their chastity strictly guarded throughout their life; a husband is a wife’s god (Chitrapati talking to the prince)
It seems like it is no woman’s duty to devote herself to an ascetic life (Ambapali was a courtesan, Subha was the daughter of a goldsmith, Sumedha the daughter of a king)
Questions and Answers
What is the recurring theme?
The heroine deviates from her role in society to follow Buddhism, and forgo material/worldly pleasures (courtesan life, wealth and jewels)
What is normal to society and how does the text deviate from that?
Women have strict ideals (like those of the courtesan and the women of noble families). The texts depict women who chose to live their own (ascetic) lives even when society looked down upon them and did not approve of their actions.
It is interesting how Buddhism was respected, but not women devoting themselves to the Way.
Also interesting how the courtesans were a considered a disgrace to their society for choosing a spiritual life.
How is the heroine represented?
She is represented as strong and independent. All four of them had a strong desire to forsake worldly pleasure for their greater good. They end up choosing that path regardless of what people around them think.
What did you think?
Did anything stand out to you?
Manimekhalai by Merchant-Prince
Therigata composed by Buddhist nuns
Ambapali: pragalbha (mature in the art of love)
Manimekhalai, Subha, Sumedha: Mugdha
Ambapali (and Madhavi) could be proshitapathikas, because they felt loss for their lovers. None of the others would really fit into the naikas.
The desecration of Buddhist temples in South India
In Kumbakaonam Nageswaran thirumanjana veedhi, there was a buddha statue called bagavarishi. The Nigandu says that Buddha was called by the name Vinayaka. In later periods many Buddha temples were converted as Vinayaka temples.
The Chinese traveller who visited Kancheepuram in 640 AD, has recorded that Kanchi was having hundred Buddha temples and thousand monks.
According to Ananatha nayinar (1932 ), in Kanchi Kacheeswar temple Buddha images were found in the foundation base of the gopuram. The lake on the west of the temple was called as Buththeri and the street as Buththeriththeru. But when I visited that temple those stones could not be identified. I could see Buddha images only in the pillars.
I visited Pallavapuram near Kanchi on 15.7.1946. Nearby in Kinikiluppai, a Buddha statue was found on the banks of a lake in the same village, I could find the base of the Buddha statue very near the Vinayaka temple. There was also a standing stone with Dharma Chakra. They had constructed Vinayaka temple by demolishing Buddha temple.
Mylai Seeni Venkatasamy has collected many more information in his book describing evidence of the existence of Buddha temples and the conversion of those temples into Jain or Hindu temples.
………..Originally Kamatchi amman temple was a Buddhist temple.There were many Buddha images in this temple. One of the images of Buddha, a 6 feet standing statue is now in the Chennai Museum. The statues of Buddha found in the temple tank could not be found now. Once I myself saw some other stone statues of Buddha in good condition in this temple. Later I found the same images broken into pieces.. Now I could not trace the same………
……….Manimehalai, Sambapathi, Tharadevi were the deivams worshipped by Buddhists in Tamil Nadu. Later these goddess were taken over by Hindus and renamed as Kali, Pidari and Throubathai. Researches say that the Annapoorani amman in Kamatchi Amman temple is actually Manimehalai, who attained Veeduperu at Kancheepuram and the Kamatchi Amman temple is actually Tharadeviamman temple belonging to Buddhists.
Selections from Therigatha and Manimekhalai
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RSS has always had an upper caste leadership and bias. In its existence of almost one century, it never had one ST or SC or OBC as its chief (Mirror image of CPI-Marxists). The only time it had a non-Brahmin chief was when Rajendra Singh (Raju Bhaiya) became its chief. And Rajendra Singh was a Dwija (Rajput).
Until recently, when the politically inspired project of SC/ST co-option began, RSS was consistently critical of Ambedkar. On February 6, 1950, just a few days after the Constitution was promulgated, RSS mouthpiece Organiser carried an article by Justice Sankar Subba Aiyar, titled ‘Manu Rules our Hearts’. Aiyar was explicit: ‘Even though Dr Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu have ended it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even at present day effected by the principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmriti.’
Anyone even remotely familiar with Manusmriti knows with what contempt it treats Sudras, SC/STs and women.
WhatsApp DOWN – Messaging Service NOT WORKING For Millions Of Users
May 6, 2017
WhatsApp DOWN – Messaging Service NOT WORKING For Millions Of UsersUnquestionably the popular instant messaging application WhatsApp is one of the best services for users to exchange messages worldwide. But, recently WhatsApp goes down and social media erupts as millions of users left ‘in turmoil’.
WhatsApp DOWN – Messaging Service NOT WORKING For Millions Of Users
WhatsApp is unquestionably one of the best services for users to exchange messages. According to company data, there are more than 1 billion active users monthly, more than 42 billion messages are sent each day and more than 1.6 billion photos shared (also per day).
If your Whatsapp has stopped working, find out that the fault is not on your side. The problem is worldwide and is affecting millions of users.
This Wednesday the Whatsapp messaging service started to have some flaws, getting even offline for millions of users. According to our tests, the service is not accessible via 3G/4G or Wi-Fi. We also tested the mobile version and the Web version as well without success.
The information that exists is that this failure is not affecting all users. The Down Detector site, which aggregates user complaints about services, reveals that at present there are some areas of the globe that are more affected than others.
According to reports, users are “in shock” because this is one of the main tools for exchanging messages. So far there is still no official information on what will happen to this service.
So, what do you think about this outage? Simply share your views and thoughts in the comment section below.
Source by techviral…
92) Classical Tamil
92) செம்மொழி தமிழ்
பி.டி.எஸ்: தோக் 339-367
சுபா: தி கோல்ட்ஸ்மித் மகள்
பலி மூலம் மொழிபெயர்க்கப்பட்டது
“நான் ஒரு குழந்தை, சுத்தமான உடைகள்,
நான் முதலில் தர்மம் கேட்ட போது.
சத்தியத்திற்கு ஒரு இடைவெளி இருந்தது.
பிறகு நான் வந்தேன்
நான் மட்டுமே ஏங்கினேன்
உறவினர்கள் என் வட்டத்தை விட்டு,
வளமான கிராமங்கள் & துறைகள்,
மகிழ்ச்சிகரமான, கவர்ச்சியூட்டும் உடைமைகள்,
அற்பமான செல்வத்தை கைவிடுவதில்லை.
தண்டனை மூலம் வெளியே சென்றார்
நன்கு கற்றுக் கொண்ட உண்மை அறையில்,
அது எனக்கு சரியானதாக இருக்காது -
ஒன்றும் செய்ய விரும்பாத -
தங்கத்தையும் வெள்ளியையும் துறந்தார்கள்
அவற்றை மீண்டும் எடுக்க
தங்கம் & வெள்ளி
விழிப்புணர்வு வாங்க வேண்டாம்,
இந்த (தங்கம்) துறவிகள் சரியானது அல்ல.
இது உன்னத செல்வமாக இல்லை.
மாயை, தூசிக்கு அடிமை,
சந்தேகம், பல பிரச்சனைகள்.
இங்கே நிலையான நிலைத்தன்மை இல்லை.
இந்த அளவிற்கு இது பல, பல ஆண்கள்
- அவர்களுடைய இதயங்களைத் தீட்டுப்படுத்தாமல் -
ஒருவரையொருவர் எதிர்த்து நிற்கிறார்கள்
மோதல்கள், கொலை, அடிமைத்தனம்,
பேரழிவு, இழப்பு, துக்கம், மற்றும் புலம்பல்.
பல துரதிருஷ்டங்கள் காணப்படுகின்றன
உணர்ச்சிவசப்பட்டு அந்த தலை குனிந்து நின்று கொண்டிருந்தார்.
எனவே, என் உறவினர்கள்:
ஏன், எதிரிகள் போல்,
சிற்றின்பத்திற்கு என்னை பிணைக்க முயற்சி செய்கிறீர்களா?
உணர்ச்சியைக் கண்டால் ஆபத்து.
தங்க நாணயம் & பொன்
நொதிகளுக்கு முற்றுப்புள்ளி வைக்க முடியாது.
உணர்திறன் ஒரு எதிரி,
விரோதம், அம்புகள் & பத்திரங்கள்.
எனவே, என் உறவினர்கள்:
ஏன், எதிரிகள் போல்,
சிற்றின்பத்திற்கு என்னை பிணைக்க முயற்சி செய்கிறீர்களா?
நான் போய்விட்டேன் என்று உனக்குத் தெரியும்
பளபளப்பான தலையில், ஒரு துணியால் உடுத்தியிருக்கும் மேலோட்டத்துடன்.
நறுமணத் தைலத்தினால் செய்யப்பட்ட ஒரு வஸ்திரம்.
அது எனக்கு சரியானது -
இல்லையென்றே ஒரு கோரிக்கை.
மனித மற்றும் தெய்வீக இருவரும்.
பாதுகாப்புப் பத்திரத்தில் அவர்கள் வெளியிடப்படுகிறார்கள்.
அவர்கள் வந்து சேரவில்லை.
எனவே நான் தொழிற்சங்கத்திற்கு வரக்கூடாது
எந்தவொரு புகலிடமும் இல்லை.
இது ஒரு எதிரி, ஒரு கொலைகாரன்
- உணர்ச்சித்தனம் -
வலியைப் போல், வலி நிறைந்ததாக இருக்கிறது.
ஒரு தடையாக, பயம், அச்சுறுத்தல்,
மாயைக்கு ஒரு பெரிய காரணம்.
ஒரு பயமுறுத்தும் தாக்குதல்,
பாம்பின் தலையைப் போல
இதில் முட்டாள்கள் மகிழ்ச்சி -
ஏனெனில் உலகில் பலர்
செறிவு மண் சிக்கி,
பிறப்பு மற்றும் மரணத்தின் முடிவை அவர்கள் உணரவில்லை.
பல மக்கள் பாதை பின்பற்ற
தங்களைத் தாங்களே கொண்டு வருகின்றனர்.
இவ்வாறு உணர்ச்சிகள் எதிரிகளை உருவாக்குகின்றன.
அது எரிகிறது, தீட்டுள்ளது.
இது உலகின் தூண்டுதலாகும்,
கட்டுப்படுத்தி, மரண அடிமை,
சோகம், ஏமாற்றும் மனப்பான்மை.
இது மாராவின் நிகர நடிகர்
முடிவில்லா குறைபாடுகள், மிகவும் வலி,
சகிப்புத்தன்மை, மோதலை உருவாக்குதல்,
நல்ல பக்கத்தை (மனதில்) உலர்த்தும்.
நான், இது போன்ற மிகவும் சிரமங்களை ஏற்படுத்தியுள்ளது
அதை திரும்ப மாட்டேன்,
நான் எப்பொழுதும் மகிழ்ச்சியடைகிறேன்.
குளிர் மாநில நம்பிக்கை,
நான் கவனமாக இருக்கிறேன், மகிழ்ச்சியைக் கண்டேன்
நான் பாதை பின்பற்ற -
எட்டு மடங்கு, நேராக,
துக்கமில்லாத, துருப்பிடிக்காத, பாதுகாப்பான -
எந்த பெரிய காட்சிகளைக் காட்டிலும்
இந்த சுபா, கோல்ஸ்மித்தின் மகள்,
அபாயகரமான மாநிலத்திற்குள் நுழைந்து,
ஒரு மரத்தின் அடிவாரத்தில் ஜானாவைச் செய்வது.
அவள் புறப்படுவதற்கு எட்டாம் நாள்
உண்மையான பக்தி மூலம் அழகான, நம்பிக்கை.
உபபாலவனால் பயிற்சி பெற்ற,
அவள் ஒரு மூன்று அறிவார்ந்த பெண்
யார் பின்னால் இறந்தனர்;
அடிமைத்தனம், கடன் இல்லாமல்,
வளர்ந்த ஆசிரியர்களுடன் ஒரு கன்னியாஸ்திரியாக,
அனைத்து உறவுகளிலிருந்தும் தளர்வான,
அவரது பணி முடிந்தது,
தேவதாஸ் அவரது சமூகத்துடன்,
அவளுக்கு மரியாதை செலுத்துகிறது:
சுபா கோல்ஸ்மித்தின் மகள்.
குறிப்புகள்: MN 106 ஐப் பார்க்கவும். அவளுடைய திறனைப் பொறுத்தவரை அவள் தன்னையே கட்டுப்படுத்தியிருக்கிறாள், அல்லது அவர் முழுமையாக நம்பிக்கை, நிலைத்தன்மை, நெறிகள், செறிவு மற்றும் பகுத்துணர்வு ஆகியவற்றின் வளர்ச்சியை முழுமையாக வளர்த்திருக்கிறாள். பார்க்கவும். SN 48.10 மற்றும் AN 4.37.
தமிழ் இலக்கியத்தில் தலைப்புகள்
மணிமேகலை (தமிழ்: மணிமேகலை), கவிஞர் சித்தலை சாத்தானால், தமிழ் இலக்கிய பாரம்பரியத்தின் படி, ஐந்து இலக்கியப் பண்பாடுகளில் ஒன்றாகும். மாமியேகாலை 30 கத்தோலிக்க கவிதைகள். அதன் கதையானது, ஐந்து கிரேட் எபிசிகளான சில்லாபிகாரம் என்பவரின் தொடர்ச்சியாகும். இது ஜைனலிசம் கொலாசன் மற்றும் மாதவியின் மகளின் புத்தமதத்திற்கு மாற்றமளிக்கும் கதையை சொல்கிறது.
1 எழுத்தாளர் மற்றும் காலம்
2.2 குறிப்பிடத்தக்க எழுத்துக்கள்
2.3 காவேரிப்பட்டினம் அல்லது புஹார் காணாமல் போனது
3 பெளத்த பள்ளி சேர்க்கை
உரை 4 சர்வைவல்
6 நவீன காலத்தில் பப்ளிஷிங்
விமர்சனம் மற்றும் ஒப்பீடு
8 மேலும் காண்க
எழுத்தின் எழுத்தாளர் மற்றும் காலம்
கி.மு. 6 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டில் இயற்றப்பட்டது. ஹிக்கோசகா (1989) படி, மணிமேகலை ஏ.டி. 890 மற்றும் 950 க்கு இடையில் எழுதப்பட்டது, மொழியியல் மதிப்பீட்டை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்ட ஒரு அனுமானம்.
பௌத்த மதத்தை பரப்புவதற்காக தென் இந்தியாவில் உள்ள மற்ற நிலப்பகுதிகளோடு பௌத்தத்தை பௌத்தத்தை ஒப்பிடுவதே எழுத்தாளரின் குறிக்கோள் சித்தாலாய் சாத்தானார். மற்ற சமகால இந்திய மதங்களின் பலவீனங்களை அம்பலப்படுத்துகையில், அவர் புத்தரின் போதனை, தர்மத்தை, மிகவும் பரிபூரண மதமாக புகழ்ந்துள்ளார்.
சிலப்பதிகாரத்தின் தொடர்ச்சியாக (தமிழ்: சிலப்பதிகாரம்), இந்த காவியமானது எப்படி விவரிக்கப்படுகிறது என்பதை கொமெய்ன் மற்றும் மாதவியின் அழகான மகளான மணிமேகலை, பின்னர் உள்ளூர் தெய்வங்களின் பின்பற்றுபவர் பின்னர் இந்து மதத்தில் சேர்க்கப்பட்டார், புத்தமதத்திற்கு மாற்றினார். இந்த கவிதையின் படி, மாயம்கேமலை இந்து சமயத்தின் தத்துவத்தின் ஆறு முறைகளையும், பிற சமயங்களின் மற்ற மதங்களையும் படித்து அவற்றை புத்தரின் போதனைகளை ஒப்பிடுகிறார். எல்லோரும் அன்புள்ள தயவும், சகோதரத்துவமும் கொண்ட அனைவருடனும் பரிபூரணமாகக் கருதப்படும் புத்தமதத்தோடு அவள் மிகுந்த மகிழ்ச்சியடைந்தாள். பின்னர், பௌத்த ஆசிரியர் பிக்ஹு அர்வனா அஜிகல் என்ற கோட்பாட்டின் கோட்பாட்டின் போது, அவர் அர்ப்பணிக்கப்பட்ட பாகிக்கி அல்லது பௌத்த நர்னாக மாறினார். புத்தமதத்தின் போதனைகளை முழுமையாகக் கடைப்பிடித்த மனிமேகலை புத்தமத ஆன்மீக அறிவு அல்லது அடைவு மிக உயர்ந்த கட்டத்தை அடைகிறது, அதாவது, அவர் ஒரு அருமையானவராக ஆனார். மனிமேகலையின் கவிதையானது, ஒரு கலாச்சாரத்தில் பெண் ஆவிக்குரிய ஆற்றலுக்கான எடுத்துக்காட்டு ஆகும். பண்டிட் ஐயோடி தாஸ் (1845-1914) மானேமகலை பற்றி “அராச்செல்வி” (பெண் ஆஹந்த்) என்று மேலும் வெளிப்படுத்தினார். சீத்தாலே சத்தனர் எழுதிய அசல் கவிதைகளை ஆவணப்படுத்தினார், அவை யு.வி. சுவாமிநாத ஐயர் சில உண்மையான கவிதைகளை விட்டு வெளியேறினார்.
அந்த காலகட்டத்தில், தற்காலத்திய கலை மற்றும் பண்பாடு மற்றும் முறைகளின் பழக்கவழக்கங்கள் ஆகியவற்றின் போது தமிழ், புத்தமதம் மற்றும் அதன் வரலாற்றின் வரலாற்றில் இந்த காவியமானது மிகவும் தகவலை அளிக்கிறது. புத்தகத்தில் உள்ள புத்த கோட்பாட்டின் வெளிப்பாடானது, நான்கு நோபல் உண்மைகளை (அரிய-சய்யாணி), நம்பகமான பிறப்பிடம் (ப்ரதிதிசமுத்துப்பாடா), மனதில் (சித்த) மற்றும் பௌத்த நடைமுறை (நல்ல) மற்றும் அஹிம்சை (அஹிம்ஸா) போன்ற பௌத்த நடைமுறைகளுடன் நேர்த்தியாகச் சித்தரிக்கிறது.
தமிழ் நாட்டில் பூம்புகார் நவீன நகரமான கவேரிப்பட்டினம் மற்றும் நவீன ஸ்ரீலங்காவில் யாழ்ப்பாண தீபகற்பத்தின் சிறிய மணல் தீவு நாங்காதேவின் நயன்தேவ் ஆகிய இரண்டு இடங்களிலும் இந்த கவிதை அமைந்துள்ளது. இந்தக் கதை பின்வருமாறு இயங்குகிறது: நடனக் கலைஞரான மணிமேகலை அசோகர் சோழன் இளவரசன் உதயகுமாரனால் தொடர்கிறது, ஆனால் தன்னை ஒரு மதப்பிரிவு வாழ்க்கைக்கு அர்ப்பணிக்க விரும்புகிறார். கடல் தெய்வமான மணிமேகலா தெய்வம் அல்லது மாயேமலை தேவி அவளை தூக்கிக் கொண்டு தீவை மாயிலப்பல்லம் (நைனாதி) என அழைத்து செல்கிறார். தீவைப் பற்றி எழுந்து அலைந்துகொண்டிருக்கும்போதே மான்மிகலாய் தமன் சம்மேளனத்தில், புத்தர் இரண்டு போரிடும் நாக இளவரசர்களுக்கு போதித்தார், அங்கு அமர்ந்து, இந்திரன் கடவுளால் அங்கு அமர்ந்து கொண்டார். அதை வணங்குபவர்கள் அதிசயமாய் தங்கள் முந்தைய வாழ்க்கை தெரியும். மணிமேகலை தானாகவே அதை வணங்கிக்கொண்டு தனது முந்தைய வாழ்க்கையில் என்ன நடந்தது என்பதை நினைவூட்டுகிறது. தாமமா ஆசியின் முக்கியத்துவத்தை விளக்கும் தேமா-டீலக்காய் (தவி திலகா) தர்மத்தின் தெய்வத்தின் பாதுகாவலனின் தெய்வத்தை அவள் சந்திக்கிறாள், அத்துடன் மந்திரம் அன்றாமலிருக்கும் பிச்சைக் கிண்ணம் (கன்னைனோசோபியா) அமுர்த்த சுராபி (”பசுமை நிறைந்த” ), இது எப்பொழுதும் பசியைத் தணிக்க உணவு அளிக்கிறது. தன் சொந்த ஊரில் பிக்ஹு அரவான் ஆகிஜல் அவளை மேலும் கற்பிப்பார் என்று தேவியும் கணித்துள்ளார். மணிமேகாலை பின்னர் மந்திரங்களைப் பயன்படுத்தி கடல் தெய்வம் கொடுத்தார், கவேரிபட்டிணத்திற்குத் திரும்பினார், அங்கு அவர் பிக்ஹு அரவான் அஜிகல் சந்திக்கிறார், அவர் புத்தரின் போதனைகளை விளக்கிக் கூறுகிறார் மற்றும் வாழ்க்கைத் தன்மை பற்றி அவளுக்கு அறிவுரை கூறுகிறார். பின்னர் அவர் ஒரு பௌத்த நன்னன் அல்லது பைக்ஹுனி மற்றும் பிறப்பு மற்றும் இறப்பின் அடிமைத்தனத்திலிருந்து தன்னை விடுவித்து, நிபனாவை அடைவதற்கு பழக்கமளிக்கிறார்.
மணிமேகலை - கோவலன் மற்றும் மாதவியின் மகள், அவர் துணிச்சலுடன், நல்லொழுக்கத்துடன் பிறந்தார்.
உதயகுமாரன் - சோழ மன்னர், மணமகலாயுடன் காதல் கொண்டிருந்தார். அவர் முட்டாள் அரசராக இருந்தார், அவர் விரும்பிய விதத்தில் மட்டுமே செய்ய முடிந்தது. அவர் ஒரு கும்பல் வாழ்க்கை இருந்தது
சுதாமடி - மணிமேகலை மிகவும் நம்பகமான மற்றும் நம்பகமான நண்பர்.
மணிமேகாலா - கதாநாயகியை பாதுகாக்கும் கடல் தெய்வம்.
தேவா தேலாக்காய் - தர்மசாலாவின் கார்டியன் தெய்வம். அவள் புஹார் நகரத்தில் பிறந்தாள், ஒரு வியாபாரிக்கு திருமணம் ஆனார். அவரது கணவர் வர்த்தகம் செய்வதற்கு ஒருமுறை பயணம் செய்கிறார். பல நாட்களுக்கு பிறகு கூட அவர் திரும்பி வரவில்லை. அவரது கணவர் இறந்துவிட்டார் என்று பயந்தேன் மற்றும் கவலை அவள் வாழ்க்கையை விட்டு கொடுக்க முயற்சி. (தற்கொலை மூலம் ஆனால் “சத்திய பரிட்சை” செய்வதன் மூலம், தன் கணவரின் மரணத்தின் காரணமாக தனது உயிரை எடுத்துக் கொள்ளும்படி கடவுளை வேண்டிக்கொள்கிறாள்) திடீரென்று அவள் கணவன் உயிருடன் இருக்கிறாள் என்று சொல்கிற வானத்திலிருந்து ஒரு குரல் கேட்கிறது, அவன் திரும்பி வருவான். ஆனால் டீவா டீலாக்காய் ஒரு குடும்ப வாழ்வில் அவமதிப்பு மற்றும் ஆன்மீக விஷயங்களில் அவர் ஆர்வத்தை வெளிப்படுத்துகிறார். அவர் அமிர்த சரபியைப் பெறுகிறார். மேலும் அவர் அறையில் தங்குவதற்கு குரல் மூலம் வழிநடத்துகிறார், மேலும் அவள் விதியை சந்திக்கிற வரை அதைப் பாதுகாக்கிறார்.
காவேரிப்பட்டினம் அல்லது புஹர் காணாமல் போனது
சோழ மன்னர் வருடாந்திர இந்திரா பண்டிகை இல்லாததால், கவேரிப்பட்டினம் அல்லது புஹர் நகரம் (அதாவது சுனாமி அல்லது வெள்ளத்தால் அழிக்கப்பட்டது) நகரத்தை விழுங்கி விட்டது என்றும் இதனால் கடல் தேவதை மணமகலையின் கோபத்தை ஏற்படுத்துவதாகவும் இந்த கவிதை சொல்கிறது. நவீன பூம்புகார் கடற்கரையிலிருந்து நீரில் மூழ்கியிருக்கும் இடிபாடுகளின் தொல்பொருள் கண்டுபிடிப்புகளால் இந்த கணக்கு ஆதரிக்கப்படுகிறது. 4 ஆம், 5 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டு பௌத்த மடாலயம், புத்தர் சிலை, மற்றும் ஒரு புத்தபெட்டா (புத்தரின் அடி) ஆகியவற்றின் பழமையான இடிபாடுகள் பல்லவனேஸ்வரத்தில் இப்போது பண்டைய நகரத்தின் இன்னொரு பிரிவில் காணப்படுகின்றன. கவேரிப்பட்டினம் நகரம் கி.மு. மூன்றாம் மற்றும் 6 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டுகளில் காணாமல் போனதாக நம்பப்படுகிறது.
பெளத்த பள்ளி சேர்க்கை
நாகர்ஜுனாவின் பிரச்சாரத்தில் மஹாயானாவைப் பற்றிய நேரடி குறிப்பு எதுவும் இல்லை. ஆரம்பகால பௌத்த, சரவணாயா பள்ளி, ஸ்டாவிரா அல்லது சுடரங்கிகா பள்ளி போன்ற வேலைகளில் தோன்றுகிறது. ஐயங்கார் கூற்றுப்படி, “பெரியவரின் பீடகைகளின் பாதை” (அதாவது டிபிகாக்கா) மற்றும் பாடம் 30 இல் உள்ள நம்பகமான பிறப்பிடம் போன்றவற்றின் முக்கியத்துவம் ஆகியவற்றின் முக்கியத்துவம், அது சுவாரான்கி பாடசாலையின் வேலை என்று பரிந்துரைக்கலாம். ஏ.கே. வார்னர் பதிலாக கவிதை Theravada பள்ளி இணைக்கப்பட வேண்டும் என்று கூறுகிறது.
கவிதை முடிவில், அரவாணா அஜிகல் மூன்று விரல்களிலிருந்து, பேராசிரியர் (ராகா, டோசா, மோஹா) மூன்று வேட்களில் இருந்து முழு விடுதலைக்கு ஊக்கமளிக்கிறார். கவிதைகளின் இறுதி வாக்கியம், மன்மோகேலாய் பிறந்த அடிமைத்தனத்திலிருந்து தன்னை விடுவிக்க போராடினார். பிறப்பு, வயோதிகம் மற்றும் இறப்பு (சம்சரா) சுழற்சியை முடித்து, ஒரு அரராந்தியாக மாறுவதன் மூலம், கலகலப்பிலிருந்தும் (கிலீசா) இருந்து விடுபடுவதற்கும் இந்த முக்கியத்துவம் வலியுறுத்துகிறது, இந்த கவிதை எழுத்தாளர் ஆரம்பகால சரவணன் பெளத்த பாடசாலையுடன் இணைந்தார் என்று கூறுகிறார். .80) அன்வஞா அஜிகல் அத்தியாயம் 29 ல் மகாமண்டபத்தில் உள்ள பௌத்த தர்க்கம் டிக்னாகா மற்றும் அவரது பள்ளியின் தர்க்கத்தை முன்வைக்கிறது என்று கூறுகிறது.
ஒரு பெரிய பிரசுரமாக இருந்த ஒரே ஒரு பௌத்த இலக்கிய வேலை மட்டுமே மணிமேகலை. அதன் உயிர்வாழ்வதற்கான காரணம் ஒருவேளை சில்லாபிகாரம் அல்லது சில்லாபிகாரம் என்பதன் தொடர்ச்சியாக அதன் நிலைப்பாடு. தமிழ், பாலி இலக்கியங்களில் மதிப்புமிக்க பங்களிப்பு செய்த பல பௌத்த ஆசிரியர்களை தமிழ்நாடு உருவாக்கியது. தமிழ் இலக்கியத்திலும் மற்ற வரலாற்றுப்பதிவுகளிலும் அவர்களின் படைப்புகள் பற்றிய குறிப்பு காணப்படுகிறது. நாககட்டுனார், இலக்கண விராஸ்யியம், அபிதிமா வேலை சித்தன்டத்தொகை, பனிக்கிரி திருப்பாடுகம் மற்றும் வாழ்க்கை வரலாறு பிம்பிசாத் கடாய் ஆகியோரால் எழுதப்பட்டது.
ஆர்.எம்.கே.ஐயங்கார் எழுதிய மணிமேகலையின் முதல் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு அதன் வரலாற்று அமைப்பில் மன்மையகேலில் வெளியிடப்பட்டது. தென்னிந்தியாவிலுள்ள ஹிஸெல்ல தர்மமாதான பௌத்தத்தில் இந்த நூல் மறுபடியும் வெளியிடப்பட்டது. கவிதையின் ஒரு மிக சமீபத்திய மொழிபெயர்ப்பு T.V. கோபாலா அய்யரின் ஒத்துழைப்புடன் அலன் டானியேலோவால் செய்யப்பட்டது. 1991 ல் வெளியிடப்பட்ட ஷுஜோ மாட்சுனாக்கால் ஜப்பானிய மொழிபெயர்ப்பு உள்ளது.
நவீன காலத்தில் வெளியிடப்படுகிறது
பண்டைய தமிழ் உரையுடன் பனை இலை கையெழுத்து
யு.எஸ். சுவாமிநாத ஐயர் (1855-1942) தமிழ் இலக்கியத்தின் முதல் மூன்று புனைகதைகளை பல நூற்றாண்டுகளாக புண்படுத்தாத மற்றும் புறக்கணிப்பு அழிவிலிருந்து உயிர்த்தெழுப்பினார். இந்த இலக்கியத்தை பனை இலை வடிவத்தில் காகித புத்தகங்களுக்கு மறுபதிப்பு செய்தார். ராமசுவாமி முதலியார், தமிழ் அறிஞர் முதலில் அவரை சிவாக்கா சிந்தமணியின் பனை இலைகளைக் கற்றுக் கொடுத்தார். முதல் முறையாக இருப்பது, சுவாமிநாத ஐயர், புரிந்துகொள்ளும் விதமாக, காணாமல் போன இலைகள், உரை பிழைகள் மற்றும் அறிமுகமில்லாத சொற்கள் ஆகியவற்றைக் கண்டறிவதில் சிக்கல்களை எதிர்கொள்ள வேண்டியிருந்தது. காணாமல் போன கையெழுத்துப் பிரதிகள் தேடுவதற்காக தொலைதூர கிராமங்களுக்கு அவர் பயணம் செய்தார். பல ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பிறகு, அவர் சிவாக்கா சிந்தமணி புத்தகத்தை 1887 ஆம் ஆண்டில் வெளியிட்டார், பின்னர் 1892 ஆம் ஆண்டில் சில்லாபிகாரம் மற்றும் 1898 ஆம் ஆண்டில் மணிமேகலை ஆகியோர் எழுதினர். உரை சேர்த்து, அவர் கருத்துக்கள், உரை வேறுபாடுகள் மற்றும் சூழலில் விளக்கி அணுகுமுறைகள் நிறைய கருத்துக்கள் மற்றும் விளக்க குறிப்புகள் சேர்க்க.
விமர்சனம் மற்றும் ஒப்பீடு
சில விமர்சகர்களுக்கு, சிமபத்கிராமத்தைவிட மேனம்கலை மிகவும் சுவாரஸ்யமானது. புத்தமதத்தை பரப்புவதை நோக்கி சுட்டிக்காட்டியவர், அதன் மேலோட்டமான கூறுகளை கொண்ட மேனீம்கல்லின் கதை ஆசிரியருக்குக் குறைவாகவே ஆர்வமாக இருக்கிறது. முந்தைய காலத்தில், நெறிமுறைகள் மற்றும் மத கோட்பாடுகள் மையமாக இருக்கின்றன, அதே நேரத்தில் பிந்தைய கவிதைகள் மற்றும் கதைகள் ஆதிக்கம் செலுத்துகின்றன. மணிமேகலை மேலும் கொள்கைகளை பிரசங்கித்து வருகிறது
திரிகாடா மற்றும் மணிமேகலை தேர்வுகளிலிருந்து எழுத்துக்கள்
திரிகாடா மற்றும் மணிமேகலை தேர்வு
ஒரு மாமர மரம் (அம்பு) அடிவயிற்றில் காணப்பட்டார். அவள் மிகவும் அழகாகவும் அழகாகவும் வளர்ந்தாள். பல இளவரசர்கள் அவளை திருமணம் செய்துகொள்ள விரும்பினர், எனவே எந்த விவாதங்களையும் தவிர்க்க அவள் ஒரு மாநில வக்கீல் ஆனார். பின்னர் வாழ்க்கையில் அவர் புத்தர் உணவு சேவை செய்ய வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்தது; அவர் பெளத்த பாதையைப் பின்பற்றுவதோடு, வர்ணனாக தனது நிலைப்பாட்டை முடிவெடுத்தார்.
அவரது தற்போதைய வயதுக்கு முந்தைய அழகு (சிமிலிஸைப் பயன்படுத்தி) மாறுபடும்.
“நறுமணமுள்ள பூக்கள் நிறைந்த பூக்கள் நிறைந்த பசும் புதர் செடிகளின் பூக்களில் நிறைந்திருந்தன.எல்லா வருஷங்களின் கழிவுகள் அனைத்தையும் இப்போது துணியால் உரசும் துர்நாற்றம் வீசுகிறது, அத்தகையது சோதனையின் சொற்பொழிவு அல்ல. (253) “
இந்த வசனங்களைப் பேசிய பிறகு நிர்வாணத்தை அடைந்தார்; ஒரு அரரான் ஆனார்
இத்ரா பண்டிகையில் நடனம் ஆடையில் மாதவி கலந்து கொள்ள மாட்டார் என்று வதந்திகள் பரவி வருகின்றன
அவளுடைய நண்பர் வனசமலாலா அதைப் பற்றி அவரிடம் பேசுவார்
மாத்வி ஒரு சரியான வக்கீலின் இலட்சியங்களைக் கொண்டிருந்தார்: அவர் நடனம், இசை மற்றும் பாலியல் கலைகளை மேற்கொண்டார், மேலும் பிற திறன்களைப் படித்தார்
அவள் காதலி எப்படி இறந்துவிட்டாள் என்பதைப் பற்றி அவள் பேசுகிறாள், அவள் ஒரு மனைவியாக அவரை துக்கப்படுத்தவில்லை, ஏனென்றால் அவள் “நேர்மையான பெண்” இல்லை.
அவளது வருத்தத்தில் அரவண அடிகலிடம் வந்தார். அவர் பௌத்த வழிமுறைக்கு வாதிட்டார், அதனால் அவளுக்கு துன்பத்திலிருந்து தப்பிக்க வழி கிடைத்தது (4 உண்மைகளும் 5 நடத்தை விதிகள் மூலம்)
அவள் இதுவும் அவளுடைய மகளின் வாழ்க்கை முறையையும் விரும்புகிறாள்
மனிமேகாலை வணங்குவதற்கான உலகின் அதிசயங்களோடு தொடர்பு கொள்ள விரும்பவில்லை
மனிமேகலையின் பாட்டியிடம் அவர் பௌத்த ஆலயத்தில் வாழ்கிறார் என்றும் ஒரு பௌத்த நர்னாக வாழ்ந்து வருகிறார் என்றும் தெரிந்துகொள்கிறார்.
மானேமகேலை அழகுபடுத்திய இளவரசனைப் பார்த்து, மானேமோகைக்கு நீதிமன்றத்திலிருந்தும், மரியாதைக்குரிய குடும்பத்தினரையும் அழைத்து வரும்படி சொல்கிறார்.
அவர் சென்று அவளிடம் பேசுகிறார் (வழக்கத்திற்கு மாறானவர்) அவள் ஏன் உயிரோடு இருக்கிறாள் என்று கேட்கிறார்.
அவர் பதில் கூறுகிறார் (அவர் கடந்த கால வாழ்க்கையில் தனது கணவர் என்பதால் பதில் சொல்ல கடமைப்பட்டிருப்பார்) மனித உடல் வேதனை மற்றும் துன்பம் முழு என்று, அவர் அந்த வகையான வாழ்க்கை (மற்றும் உலக இன்பம்) மறுத்து மற்றும் அதற்கு பதிலாக மற்றவர்களுக்கு உதவும் தேர்வு.
அவள் கோவிலுக்குள் சென்று தன் தோற்றத்தை மாற்றிக் கொண்டாள்.
அவள் ஒரு கோல்டன் ஸ்மித்தின் மகள், அவள் மிகவும் அழகாக இருந்தாள். அவள் ‘அதிர்ஷ்டம்’ என்று நினைத்ததால் சுபா என்ற பெயரைப் பெற்றார். ஒரு முனிவர் தனது ஊருக்கு வந்தபோது ஆன்மீக பாதையைப் பற்றிப் பேசினார்.
அவர் நிர்வாணத்தை அடைந்த பிறகு பேசுகிறார்
உலகின் ஆசைகள் கெட்டவை என்பதைப் பற்றியும் பௌத்த பாதையில் அவர் அடைந்த மகிழ்ச்சிக்காக அவர்களை ஒதுக்கித் தள்ளுவதையும் தேர்ந்தெடுத்தார்
ஒரு தங்கத் தோழனின் மகள், தங்கம் மற்றும் ஆபரணங்களால் சூழப்பட்டாள், ஆனால் அவள் அவர்களை வழிநடத்துவதற்குத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்தாள்
ஒரு கன்னியாஸ்திரியாக கற்றல் எட்டு நாளில் நிர்வாணத்தை அடைந்தது
சுமேதா ஒரு ராஜாவின் மகள். பௌத்த மத போதனைகளை ஒரு குழந்தை என்று அவள் கேட்கப் போகிறாள். ஒரு இளவரசனுக்கு அவளை விட்டு செல்லும்படி பெற்றோர்கள் தீர்மானித்தபோது, பௌத்த மதத்தின் வழியை பின்பற்ற விரும்புவதாக அவர் முடிவு செய்தார். (’எனது கடமை வீட்டின் வாழ்வில் இல்லை’). அவள் முடி வெட்டிக்கொண்டு வீட்டை விட்டு வெளியேறினாள்.
அவர் ஒரு அரான்ட் ஆன பிறகு இந்த விவாதங்கள் பேசப்படுகின்றன.
அவள் கதையை விவரிக்கிறார்
அவள் திருமணம் செய்து கொள்ள வேண்டும் என்று நினைத்தேன், பணக்கார வாழ்க்கை வாழ்நாளின் வாக்குறுதியுடன், நகைகளையும், செல்வத்தையும் கொண்ட அவள், ஆனால் அவள் இடைவிடாமல் இருக்கிறாள்.
பொருள் செல்வங்களும் ஆசைகளும் எவ்வளவு அபரிமிதமாக இருக்கின்றன என்பதையும், அந்த வகையான வாழ்க்கைக்கு எந்த அவசியமும் இல்லை
“ஆட்டுக்குட்டிகளால் உண்டான பாம்புகளின் தலைகளைப் போலவும், எரிகிற அக்கினிப்போலவும் …” ஆணின் உறுதியற்ற நிலையில் பாம்புகள்
மனிமேகாலாவின் தெய்வம் மணிமேகலைக்கு வந்து, இளவரசனின் ஆசையிலிருந்து அவளை காப்பாற்றுவதற்காக பரலோக ஆலயத்திற்கு செல்லும்படி அறிவுறுத்துகிறார்
கதை: அதை சுற்றி சுவர் நிலத்தை சதி, இறந்த அர்ப்பணிக்கப்பட்ட. ஒவ்வொரு மூலையையும் ஒரு நுழைவாயில் மற்றும் நான்கு கார்டினல் திசைகளில் சுட்டிக்காட்டியது. புதைத்து வைக்கவும், தகனம் செய்யவும், இறந்தவர்களை விட்டுச்செல்லவும் இடங்களில் உள்ளது. இறந்தவர்களிடம் புருஷர்கள் மீண்டும் இணைவதற்கு இறந்த பெண்களுக்கு ஒரு சிறப்பு இடம் இருக்கிறது. இந்த இடம் மிகவும் பழமை வாய்ந்தது, சத்தம் மற்றும் காட்சிகள் (மண்டை ஓடு, கழுகுகள், பிரார்த்தனைகள், உறவினர்களின் அழுகை) ஆகியவற்றுடன். இது ஏன் டெட் நகரம் என்று அழைக்கப்படுகிறது.
சங்காலான தற்செயலாக சுவர்களில் நுழைந்தார், சூனியக்காரர் தனது ஆன்மாவைத் திருடினார். அவரது தாயார் கோட்டமி நகரின் தெய்வத்தை அவரிடம் கேட்டார். அவர் அதை செய்ய முடியாது என்றார். அவர் வானங்களை ஆளப்போகிற தெய்வங்களை அழைத்தார், அவர்கள் அதைச் செய்ய முடியாது என்று சொன்னார்கள். கோட்டமி அவளையும் அவளுடைய மகனின் விதிகளையும் ஒப்புக்கொண்டார். சுவர்க்கத்தின் அருகில் ஒரு கோவில் அமைக்கப்பட்டிருந்தது, இது ஹெவன் கோயில் என்று அழைக்கப்பட்டது.
மணிமேகாலா மற்றொரு தீவுக்கு மணமகலாய் தூங்கினாள்.
வெளியே நின்ற முக்கியமான விஷயங்கள்
மணிமேகலை: சிறந்த பெண் (வணக்கம், மனைவி)
அத்தியாயங்கள் 2 மற்றும் 18 - சிறந்த வணக்கம்
பல்வேறு கலை மற்றும் திறன்களின் மாஸ்டர் (நடனம், இசை, செக்ஸ்)
பகிரங்கமாக நடனம், ஆர்வத்தைத் தூண்டுவதை நோக்கமாகக் கொண்டது, மனிதன் கொடுக்க முடியாத அளவுக்கு பணம் சம்பாதிப்பது வரை பணம் சம்பாதிக்கிறார்
“மனிதர்களை கவர்ச்சியுடன் ஈர்த்ததுடன் அவற்றை அவர்களது கலைகளுடன் பிணைக்கும்” பக். 74
தென்னிந்தியாவிலுள்ள புத்த கோவில்களின் தீர்த்தம்
கும்பகோணம் நாகேஸ்வரன் திருமுருகன் வீதி, ஒரு பதா சிலை என்று பேகவரிஷி இருந்தது. புத்தர் விநாயகர் என்ற பெயரால் அழைக்கப்படுகிறார் என்று நிஜண்டு கூறுகிறார். பிற்பகுதியில் பல புத்த கோயில்கள் விநாயகர் கோவில்களாக மாற்றப்பட்டன.
640 கி.மு. காஞ்சீபுரத்தை பார்வையிட்ட சீன பயணிகள், காஞ்சி புத்தர் கோவில்களையும் ஆயிரம் துறவிகளையும் கொண்டிருப்பதாக பதிவு செய்துள்ளது.
அனனாத நாயனார் (1932) படி காஞ்சி கேசேஸ்வரர் ஆலயத்தில் புத்தர் சிலை கோபுரத்தின் அடித்தளத்தில் காணப்பட்டது. இந்த கோயிலின் மேற்கில் பட்ஹீத்ரி மற்றும் தெரு என அழைக்கப்படுகிறது. ஆனால் நான் அந்த ஆலயத்திற்கு வந்தபோது அந்தக் கற்கள் அடையாளம் காணப்படவில்லை. தூண்களில் மட்டும் புத்தர் படங்களை நான் பார்க்க முடிந்தது.
காஞ்சி அருகே பல்லவபுரம் சென்றேன். அதே கிராமத்தில் ஒரு ஏரியின் கரையில் ஒரு புத்தர் சிலை காணப்பட்டது. கன்னிகுலப்புவில் உள்ள விநாயகர் கோயிலுக்கு அருகே புத்தர் சிலை அமைத்திருக்கிறேன். தர்மா சக்ராவுடன் நின்று கொண்டிருக்கும் ஒரு கல்லும் இருந்தது. அவர்கள் புத்தர் கோவில் இடித்துத் தள்ளி விநாயகர் கோவில் கட்டினார்கள்.
புத்தர் கோயில்களின் இருப்பு மற்றும் ஜெயின் அல்லது இந்து கோயில்களுக்கு மாற்றாக இந்த கோயில்களை மாற்றுவதற்கான சான்றுகளை விவரிக்கும் அவரது புத்தகத்தில் மயிலா சீனி வெங்கடாசாமி மேலும் பல தகவல்களை சேகரித்துள்ளார்.
Monday, April 6, 2015
History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 3
South Indian Bhikkhunī Manimekalai Travels to Java
Article author: Āyyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī
Introduction to this segment: Tathālokā Bhikkhunī and Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī
Image 1: Manimekalai distributing food to the needy
with her magic bowl. In contemporary South Indian
paintings, of which there are many as she continues
to be a legendary folk hero, she is almost always
depicted more in appearance like a modern Hindu
sannyāsinī than a Buddhist monastic.
This third post in our “History of Women in Buddhism” series records the dramatic and inspiring life story of a Buddhist woman saint, Manimekalai, second century South India’s Buddhist Mother Theresa. It examines marks of the status and the mobility of ancient South and Southeast Asian Buddhist women monastics, their environmental and social justice ethics, their rights of self-determination, relationship with politics, and how Buddhism was proactively compared with regards gender issues and women’s rights to other faiths, doctrines and religions of the period.
This post especially coincides with the Sri Lankan Buddhist observance of Bak Poya on the full moon of April, the commemorative date of the Buddha’s visit to the Isle of Manipallavam aka Nagadipa, which figures so prominently in the life story of Manimekalai.
Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” it is part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia. [Also: read the worthy historical places to visit and about the ancient terminology]
Part 3: South Indian Bhikkhuṇī Manimekalai Travels to Java
The venerable Manimekalai’s life story was recorded and popularized between the second and third centuries CE. From it, we recognize not only the international freedom of mobility of the early south Indian and island nations’ Buddhist bhikkhunīs (Skt: bhikṣuṇīs), but also the esteem which the greats among them held as leading monastic teachers, realized practitioners and saints.
As with the life stories of many saints, her story contains abundant moral-bearing miracles. In the course of her adventures, during which she too received divine assistance from the Sea Goddess in escaping the ongoing pursuit of the amorous prince, she found herself deserted on the sands of the Island of Manipallavam nearby its then famous Shrine of the Buddha’s Seat.
There she is said to have been guided by a deity to find a very special alms-bowl, the Amudhasurabhi, with a blessing upon it that it could share food out in alms to an infinite number of people.
She used this boon to request that he transform the prison into a public almsgiving hall, emphasizing the dharma of rehabilitation through giving support rather than giving punishment. In this hall she shared food daily with all the needy of every kind, while also teaching the Dharma there.
Later, when hearing of a drought-caused famine in Java (called Chava, Chavaka or Savaka-nadu in Tamil) she travelled there to the capital of Nagapuram, where she taught the king Punyarāja, son of Bhūmicandra, both of whom she had past karmic affinities with. (The bowl that she had inherited had once, in the new king’s just-previous past life, belonged to Punyarāja).
By that time, Manimekalai’s fame had spread so far and wide that when they first met, the king’s minister recognized her immediately. Having heard about her in his travels abroad, he introduced her saying:
“There is none equal to this maiden in all of Jambudvipa. She [is] a nun of great piety and virtue that ha[s] come from Kāveripattanam, and possess[es] marvelous and miraculous powers.”
Manimekalai’s teachings to Punyarāja on Java were on the social justice forms of benevolence and loving-kindness to all, focused on providing for the material well-being of all his people. In these lines, she defines virtue (அறம் or sīla), as the human trait by which food, clothing and shelter are made available to all:
அறமெனப் படுவது யாதெனக்கேட்பின்
மறவாது இதுகேள் மன்னுயிர்க்கு எல்லாம்
உண்டியும் உடையும் உறையளும் அல்லது
“If one should ask what is the supreme form of charity, bear this carefully in mind that it is the maintenance of all living creatures with food and clothing and places to live in safety.”
She also taught fundamental Dharma teachings of insight into the impermanence and transitoriness of all material and emotional phenomena, the suffering of attaching to what is impermanent, and the non-self nature of all conditioned things. Due to her developed abilities and realizations, she was able to clearly see and know the truths of karma and rebirth, and many of her realizations, strong decisions and actions, and teachings that appear in her epic biography are centered on these truths.
In her epic, she travels as a saint to the aforementioned Java, the island of Manipallavam off the coast of Sri Lanka, as well as traveling in her homeland of India. Numerous inscriptions from the second century BCE mention local bhikkhunīs along Indian trade routes and near active seaports with Indonesian connections. This, combined with the lack of a ban on sea voyages for Buddhist monastics (as compared to Jains), strongly suggests the travel and spread of both the male and female Buddhist monastic Sangha along both sea and land routes.
In fact, the Buddhist shrine Manimekalai visited in northern Sri Lanka, is very close to the Jaffna port of Dambakola, traditionally held to be the arrival point of the famed Sanghamitta Theri to Sri Lanka from India.
There was much Buddhist monastic travel and interchange recorded between these countries: India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China. It is known that both the Indian and Sri Lankan bhikkhunīs were internationally active and mobile and undertook sea voyages for Dharmadhuta missionary Sangha activities, as these bhikkhunīs undertook two voyages to China for the sake of the dual ordination of Chinese bhikkhuṇīs, which was well recorded, and has been widely published in recent years. Sinhalese bhikkhunīs are also recorded as having traveled to both India and Tibet, and one queen turned bhikkhunī from Kalinga (whether Kalinga in Indonesia or Kalinga in India has not been verified) is recorded as having been ordained in Sri Lanka.
When Manimekalai returned from her Dhamma missionary and foreign aid work to her Indian homeland, in disguise as a male ascetic, she studied and became a master of the various non-Buddhist popular religious and spiritual teachings, philosophies and practices of her time, much as the Buddha himself did before his great awakening.
Reflecting upon these teachings in light of the unique and salient points of the Buddha’s teaching, she finally attaining the ultimate transmission from her family preceptor and master teacher Aravaṇa Aḍigal. A point is made here that the gendered dogmas and practices of other non-Buddhist religious traditions required her to adopt the male form in order to have full access to their teachings and practices — but not so for Buddhism — a main promotional point for early Buddhism as it was popularized in this South Indian classic from the early centuries CE.
All posts in the “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series:
Part 1: Introduction Twelve Javanese Sites Worthy of Interest: Monuments & Sites Related to Women in Buddhism & Bhikkhunīs
Part 2: Indonesian Bhikkhunīs & Women Ascetics: A Historical Introduction & Survey of Terminology
Part 3: South Indian Bhikkhunī Manimekalai Travels to Java
Part 4: International Buddhist Networking, Bhikkhunīs and Women’s Leadership in the 5th-7th Century Indonesian South Seas
Part 5: The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave
Part 6: Bhrikutī & the Appearance of New Non-Bhikkhunī Forms of Women’s Asceticism in Buddhism
Part 7: Ardhanāriśvārī Ken Dedes & Gender in Ancient Indian Buddhism
Part 8: Gāyatrī Rājapatni: Queen, Bhikkhunī & the Prajñāpāramitā
Part 9: Tomé Pires Witness & the Beguines, change comes to the roles of women in religion in Indonesia
Part 10: Shedding Light on the Bhikkhunīs & the Great Founding Women of Borobudur (Sakyadhita Conference Presentation)
Image credits for Part 3:
Image 1: courtesy of Eluthu.com: http://eluthu.com/images/poemimages/f15/vzeln_158581.jpg.
Image 2: courtesy of Astralint.com: http://www.astralint.com/images/bookimage/9788189233372.jpg
Image 3: courtesy of Wikipedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manimekalai#/media/File:Tamil_palm_leaf3%7E300_AD.jpg
Image 4: courtesy of http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-novPpiJQw3w/U0jaOm0E70I/AAAAAAAAIJs/JY5sALxDNJE/s1600/scan0005.jpg
Image 5: courtesy of: http://viyaasan.blogspot.com/2013/09/blog-post_715.html.
Image 6: courtesy of the Sri Lankan Columbo Page: http://www.colombopage.com/archive_11/Jan18_1295294319CH.php
Image 7: courtesy of Chennai 365: http://chennai365.com/tamil/Events/Amudhasurabhi/.
Image 8: courtesy of: http://nayinai.com/sites/default/files/Mekalai-1.jpg.
Image 9: courtesy of: Chaminda Weerathunga
Image 10: courtesy of: Chaminda Weerathunga
Image 11: courtesy of the Visit Jaffna blogspot: http://visit-jaffna.blogspot.com/2011/12/top-10-places-to-visit-in-jaffna.html.
Image 12: courtesy of: http://viyaasan.blogspot.com/2013/09/blog-post_715.html.
Image 13: courtesy of Wikipedia Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilango_Adigal#/media/File:Puhar-ILango.jpg.
Endnotes to Part 3:
 See Manimekhalai: the Dancer with the Magic Bowl by Merchant Prince Shattan (Chāttanār) 1989.
 See http://skn.ac.th/skl/project/chanok92/ki26.htm.
 Hisele Dhammaratana 2008 (online edition, 3. Bhikkhuni Manimekalai)
 In contemporary South Indian images, Manimekalai is almost always portrayed in orange robe, with high stacked hair and jewelry like a contemporary Indian sannyasini. See: http://dosa365.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/24/manimekalai/.
 On Manimekalai and the association between the lands of Java, Chava, Chavaka and Savaka-nadu see Chattergee 1933 (p 27), Nandakumar 1987 (p 7) and Kanakasabhai 1904 (p 11)
 Viswanatha 2009 (p 177). Viswanatha’s translation reads: “There is none equal to this maiden in all of Jambudvipa. She was a nun of great piety and virtue that had come from Kāveripattanam, and possessed marvelous and miraculous powers.”
 Rao 2007 (p 138)
 As translated by Dr. C.R. Krishnamurti in his “Tamizh Literature Through the Ages (தமிழ் இலக்கியம் - தொன்று தொட்டு இன்று வரை),” in 4. The Era of the Thamizh Epics - காப்பிய காலம், on the web: http://tamilnation.co/literature/krishnamurti/04epic.htm (accessed on 4 April 2015).
 This lesson of warning about human moral or immoral behavior having observable effects on nature, that is on the earth’s climate and weather, may have been a matter of belief or nonbelief in Manimekalai’s time, but seems easy to see and understand now, in our modern times.
 Rao 2007 (p 140)
Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhuṇī (sans diacritics Ayya Tathaaloka)
“To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life’s good comes not from others’ gift, nor ill
Man’s pains and pains’ relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !.”
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C
TAMIL LANGUAGE & LITERATURE
Manimekalai of Cittalaic Cattanar
மணிமேகலை - சீத்தலைச்சாத்தனார்
“The Manimekhalai, one of the masterpieces of Tamil literature, gives us in the form of didactic novel full of freshness and poetry, a delightful insight into the ways of life, the pleasures, beliefs and philosophical concepts of a refined civilisation… In its clear accounts of the philosophical concepts of the time, the Manimekhalai presents the various currents of pre Aryan thought…. which gradually influenced the Vedic Aryan world… The society in which the action of the Manimekhalai takes has little to do with the Aryanised civilisation of the north which we know from Sanskrit texts…” Alan Danielou (translator) - Manimekhalai (The Dancer With the Magic Bowl)
One of the finest jewels of Tamil poetry”, the epic poem Manimekalai by Poet Sathanar, 2nd century A.D., is unique for the deep spirituality and mysticism it unfolds against the historical and geographical background of South India and of adjacent Jaffna.
The death of her father, Kovalan, under tragic circumstances, weighs upon the mind of young Manimekala and she resolves on a life of renunciation. At every turn she is obstructed. Running through her life story are a set of counteracting forces — on the one hand is her passion to enter holy orders of a Buddhist bhikkuni and on the other, the infatuation of Udaya Kumaran, the Chola prince, to win her favours.
The first scene is laid in the garden of the capital city, Puhar, with Manimekala and her companion, Sutamati, gathering flowers. With all the daring of his princely rank, Udaya Kumaran gives vent to his deep love. Faced by a situation from which there is no escape, spiritual aid comes to her in the person of the Goddess Manimekalai, her guardian deity. The Goddess charms her to sleep, and while in a state of trance, spirits her away to the Island of Manipallavam,1 down South. Leaving her there, the Goddess gets back to Puhar, the Chola capital. Appearing before Prince Udaya Ku maran, she tells him of the unrighteousness of his conduct, unbecoming of a prince. The Goddess now appears to Sutamati in a dream and tells her of her flight to the Island of Manipallavam with Manimekala, and how the Goddess has set her on the road to spirituality.
Bewildered at her loneliness in strange surroundings Manimekala roams about the place until she comes upon the site hallowed by the visit of the Buddha. This was the site where according to legends, the Buddha landed and settled a growing strife between two warring Naga. Princes for a gem-set throne left to them by an ancestress. The episode of the Buddha’s visit to the Island of Nagadipa, where he preached a sermon of reconciliation between the two Naga princes, is sung in Buddhist legends of Ceylon, chronicled in Sinhalese Mahavamsa. Circumambulating the holy seat, and prostrating herself before it, memories of her past life miraculously dawns on her.
One of her righteous deeds in her past life, is here recounted. Lakshmi, as she was in her previous birth, comes upon a Buddhist Charana by name Sadhu Sakkaram flying across the air. As he landed, Lakshmi and her husband, Rahula, prostrated before the sage, and Lakshmi offered the sage food. The merit that she thus acquired gained for her the reward of acquiring nirvana, in her next birth, destined to live the life of a Bhikkuni. Rahula, her husband, was reborn as Prince Udaya Kumara. This accounts for his amorous advances to her.
To release her from this attachment and to help her to fulfil the Karma, was the mission of Goddess Manimekalai who spirited her away to the Island of Manipallavam. In her past birth she was one of the three daughters of King Ravivarman and his Queen Amudapati, of Yasodharanagari. The other two daughters were Tarai and Virai, married to King Durjaya. On a certain day returning from a visit to the hills by the side of the Ganges, the royal party came upon Aravana Adigal, the great Buddhist saint.
The latter persuaded the king and his daughters, to worship the footprints of the Buddha in Padapankaja Malai of the Giridharakuta hills. The story of the footprints finds mention in these words : ” The Buddha stood on the top of the hill and taught his Dharma to all living beings, and as he preached in love, his footprints became imprinted on the hill, which thus got the name Padapankaja Malai (the Hill of the Lotus feet).” The king and his queens were advised to go and worship the sacred footprints. As a result of the merit thus acquired, the two daughters Virai and Tarai, were reborn as Sutamati and Madhavi.
To resume our story. Initiated in Buddha Dharma, the goddess prevails on Manimekala to complete her spiritual education by learning the teachings of other religious persuasions. Towards this end, she instructs her in a mantra the chanting of which would enable her to fly through the air, disguised as a hermit. With these pronouncements, the goddess again leaves her.
Walking about the place, Manimekala meets the goddess Tivatilaki who recounts her own experiences. ” On the high peak of Samanta Kuta, in the adjoining Island of Ratnadipa, there are the footprints of the Buddha. After offering worship to the footprints, I came to this Island long ago. Since then, I have remained here keeping guard over this seat under the orders of Indra. My name is Tiva-tilaki, the Light of the Island. Those who follow the Dharma of the Buddha strictly and offering worship to this Buddha seat will gain knowledge of their previous birth.”
” In front of this seat there is a little pond full of cool water overgrown with lotuses. From that pond will appear a never failing alms bowl, by name Amrita Surabhi (Endless Nectar). The bowl once belonged to Aputra and appears every year on the full moon day in the month of Rishabha, in the fourteenth asterism, the day on which the Buddha himself was born. That day and hour are near. That bowl will presently come into your hand. Food put into it by a pure one will be inexhaustible. You will learn all about it from Aravana Adigal, who lives in your own city.”
Circumambulating the pond, the bowl emerges from the water and reaches her hands. Delighted at this, Manimekala chants praises of the Buddha. The last line of the chant alludes to the Buddha’s services to the Nagas : ” Hail holy feet of Him who rid the Nagas of their woes.”
How the bowl found its way to Nagadipa is another story 2 Manimekala now flies back to Kaveripattinam. Meeting her mother and Sutamati, she recounts her experiences. All three go to the Sage Aravana Adigal. The sage narrates to her the story of the miraculous bowl. As the story ends, Manimekala dons the robes of a Bhikkuni and with the begging bowl in her hand, makes her way through the streets of the city.
The news reaches Prince Udaya Kumaran of Manimekala’s presence in her own Madurai and her attentions to the poor and forlorn. The prince goes to find her. Seeing her as a Bhikkuni, he asks her why she has taken to this austere life. She makes appropriate reply. Unable to resist the prince’s advances, she disguises herself as Kayasandigai, so as to escape his attentions. Meanwhile, Kanjanan, the husband of the real Kayasandigai, mistakes Manimekala in her disguise, as his wife. Manimekala does not respond to Kanjanan’s words. This infuriates Kanjanan, who suspects Udaya Kumaran to be his wife’s lover, and kills him.
Manimekala now continues in her wanderings and finally reaches Conjeeveram. Here she waits upon Aravana Adigal, who instructs her in Buddha Dharma. Manimekala from now settles herself to the dedicated life of a Buddhist Bhikkuni.
1 Of the character and functions of this Goddess, Paranavitana enlightens us : ” This Goddess appears in a number of Sinhalese and Pali works. Her chief job appears to be the guardianship of the sea.” Quoting Rajavaliya’ we are told, ” Viharamahadevi, the mother of Duttugemunu, who was offered by her father as a sacrifice to the sea Goddess, was brought ashore by this very Goddess at Magama in Ruhuna where she found her future husband.” (Paranavitana : Ceylon Literary Register, 1931).
That Manipallavam is an Island, is obvious from the reference in the Manimekalai to ” the sea girt land of Manipallavam,” the Island where ” stood the seat of the Buddha ” — the seat for which ” there appeared in contest two Naga kings from the Southern Regions each claiming the seat for himself.” This specific allusion to the gem-set seat and the Buddha appearing and making peace between the warring princes, make it abundantly clear that the Island meant is Nagadipa, or the Jaffna Peninsula itself, for at this time the name seems to have been extended to refer to the whole Peninsula as the Mahavamsa has it. Another pointer is the name Pallavam, Tamil for the sprout of a tree, the projecting top of the Peninsula thrusting itself into the sea, having all the look of the sprout of a tree. There is also the view that this idea may be at the back of the names of the later Pallavas bearing the suffix “ankura” meaning in Sanskrit, a sprout, in their surnames. (Rasanayagam, C.: Ancient Jaffna, p. 81).
2 Salli, the faithless wife of a Brahmin Appachikan, deserted her husband. She gave birth to a child whom she left by the wayside. Attracted by the cries of the child, it was looked after by a cow. In time, the child was adopted by a kind Brahmin. The child thus got the name Auputhiran — the cow’s son. The boy, as he grew up, denounced animal sacrifices. Matters came to a head one night when he rescued a cow consecrated for sacrifice the next morning. He was discarded by his adopted parents. Auputhiran fled to Madurai and took refuge in a pilgrims’ rest home. Touched by his charitable disposition to feed the poor, Saraswati bestowed on him the miraculous rice bowl, with which he fed man and beast. In time, Indra moved by his charities, appeared before Auputhiran and volunteered to grant him whatever boon he desired. ” What greater boon can you give me than the pleasure of feeding the hungry ” he replied. This curt reply displeased Indra. The land soon grew so fertile with seasonal rains, that the people had no more need for Auputhiran’s rice bowl. Seeing his mission in this land at an end, he decided to leave the country and took ship.
The ship weighed anchor at the uninhabited island of Manipallavam and sailed away without him. Thus stranded on the island, Auputhiran starved himself to death. Before he died, he deposited the bowl in a pond nearby with the prayer that it should appear once a year and come into the hands of the virtuous. His prayer was fulfilled in time on a particular Vesak day when Manimekala got possession of it.
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Manimekalai of Cittalaic Cattanar at Project Madurai - tscii - pdf - unicode
“The publication of the twin epics, SilappathikAram and MaNimEkalai marked the commencement of the epic era in Thamizh literature…. Manimekalai the other half of the twin epics represents the continuation of the sad saga of MAdhavi and her daughter, MaNimEkalai. Following the traumatic death of KOvalan and KaNNaki, MAdhavi withdrew herself from her artistic career and public life. KaNNaki’s chastity and fidelity had a very powerful impact on her moral outlook of life and its meaning. Her adoration of KaNNaki was so high that she always introduced MaNimEkalai as KaNNaki’s daughter. She repented the type of life she led upto that time and wanted to erase the memories of her unchaste family traditions from MaNi mEkalai’s mind. Her disenchantment towards life, in general, increased to such an extent that she joined the Buddhist monastry. She brought up MaNimEkalai in an environment free of transient worldly pleasures.
The prince fell in love with MaNimEkalai who was unable to reciprocate his love because of her mother’s influence. Ultimately MaNimEkalai went to the island of MaNipallavam, got ordained as a Buddhist monk and received the gift of a mystic box capable of an eternal supply of food. Her ambition in life turned out to be the alleviation of the hunger of the poor and the needy. Her ascetic life and service to humanity elevated her to the status of an idol so that people worshipped her as MaNimEkalai, the God , after her death. In the following lines she defined virtue as the human trait by which food, clothing and shelter are made available to all:
அறமெனப் படுவது யாதெனக்கேட்பின்
மறவாது இதுகேள் மன்னுயிர்க்கு எல்லாம்
உண்டியும் உடையும் உறையளும் அல்லது
The author of MaNimEkalai (4835 lines), SAtthanAr finds the story much to his own liking and religious views. Unlike iLangO atikaL who remained unbiased in his narration of the life of KOvalan and KaNNaki, SAtthanAr did not hesitate to use MaNimEkalai’s story of renunciation to propagate Buddhist philosophy.” Professor C.R. Krishnamurti on Manimekalai in Thamizh Literature Through the Ages
Manimekalai - Dancer with Magic Bowl - Narrative in Tamil Epic (Second Century AD) - Arputhrani Sengupta (Associate Professor, Dept. of History of Art, National Museum Institute, New Delhi, India) “..When Manimekalai took decisions on her life, cognition and positive force set her on the path of knowledge. Born to be a courtesan, her decision to take the vow of chastity and charity is a daring innovation, which utilized creative power in the service of spiritual and social goals. By writing the epic Merchant Prince Shattan reproduced the narrative in a form that could be retained and retrieved. The Tamil epic Manimekalai has endured for nearly two millennia because of the innovation of Brahmi script derived from Aramaic, which enabled the reproduction of knowledge through writing for the benefit of society. The written reproduction provides the possibility of a broader reception and, more importantly, also of history, society and religion, and the opportunity for critical observation, since only a fixed text makes any kind of criticism possible…”
*Alan Danielou (translator) - Manimekhalai (The Dancer With the Magic Bowl) July 1989 - “The Manimekhalai, one of the masterpieces of Tamil literature, gives us in the form of didactic novel full of freshness and poetry, a delightful insight into the ways of life, the pleasures, beliefs and philosophical concepts of a refined civilisation… Tamil is the main pre-Aryan language still surviving today…. The Manimekhalai calls into question many of our received ideas concerning ancient India as well as our interpretation of the sources of its present day religion and philosophy. In its clear accounts of the philosophical concepts of the time, the Manimekhalai presents the various currents of pre Aryan thought…. which gradually influenced the Vedic Aryan world… The society in which the action of the Manimekhalai takes has little to do with the Aryanised civilisation of the north which we know from Sanskrit texts…The Greek geographer, Ptolemy in the second century mentions the main ports of southern India and, in particular, Kaaveris Emporium, the Kaveripum-pattinam (or Puhar) of the Manimekhalai ..”
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Dancer with Magic Bowl
Narrative in Tamil Epic (Second Century AD)
Arputhrani Sengupta (Associate Professor, Dept. of History of Art, National Museum Institute, New Delhi, India)
The question for us today is, how we can produce reproductions of knowledge that will guarantee optimal knowledge and, as a corollary, what do we consider optimal knowledge in contemporary processes. The narrative in the Tamil epic Manimekalai was chosen for the Conference for its striking qualities of innovation and reproduction. When Manimekalai took decisions on her life, cognition and positive force set her on the path of knowledge. Born to be a courtesan, her decision to take the vow of chastity and charity is a daring innovation, which utilized creative power in the service of spiritual and social goals. By writing the epic Merchant Prince Shattan reproduced the narrative in a form that could be retained and retrieved. The Tamil epic Manimekalai has endured for nearly two millennia because of the innovation of Brahmi script derived from Aramaic, which enabled the reproduction of knowledge through writing for the benefit of society. The written reproduction provides the possibility of a broader reception and, more importantly, also of history, society and religion, and the opportunity for critical observation, since only a fixed text makes any kind of criticism possible.
(fig. 1) Inscription in Brahmi on a pillar fragment with octagonal shaft, which identifies the donor as the perfumer Hamgha and his family, Amaravati Stupa, Early 2 nd century AD
The literate period in South Asia dawned with the innovation of Brahmi script during the early Christian era. (fig. 1) Derived from Aramaic, Brahmi revolutionized communication in South Asia and introduced literature of a high caliber simultaneous in Tamil and Pali Sanskrit. To be human is to have language, but literature in Tamil and Sanskrit is singular in that literature in both languages appears suddenly for the first time.(1) The early texts, like the unprecedented visual arts of the time, are considered Buddhist but they present anthropologists and art historian with formidable problems of interpretation. Literature in particular is part of superstructure of a culture and when one starts suddenly from a clean slate, with no history or evolutionary process to refer to, contextual reading throws up questions more keenly about society, gender and race. Part of the interpretive struggle is to re-introduce history into cultural studies. In the new historicism, the narrative in the Tamil epic Manimekalai begins with the premise that art is not secured to a stable background and context is open to interpretation. Detailing, and the aesthetic engagement of feeling that arise from the narrative, are obviously from an encounter that is existential in experience. The possible date of Manimekalai is the 2 nd century AD and one of the questions is naturally, how does this work seem so contemporaneous to the Roman civilization? Yet, we are dealing here with analogies and synonyms, or as Lévi-Strauss would say, that ‘similar’ does not mean ‘the same’. The epic addresses relationship between literature and philosophy, art production and social production and the present narrative figures out, where the centers of interest might be.
The merchant Prince Shattan wrote the epic Manimekalai (The Girdle) in 30 long poems, which he presented to the Chera Prince Ilango Adigal, the author of the Tamil epic Shilapdikaram (The Anklet) of which this narrative is a sequel. The original manuscripts in Tamil were written on palm leaf in Brahmi.(2) The date of Manimekalai is close to 171 AD the date proposed by Ramachandra Dikshitar for Shilapadikaram. Svaminatharya culled Manimekalai from about a dozen manuscripts only in 1898 and a recent translation by Alain Danielou is the source for the analysis of the narrative.(3)
Imagination and language are part of the apparatus but a special set of circumstances and a unique blend of qualities were needed to bring Manimekalai into existence. The seemingly archaic tale of Manimekalai is a ‘Romance’, and we are dealing with the end-results of a long process of selection and ordering of what were in the first place oral narratives, artfully combined with life experience. The narrative contains a variety of other meanings, perhaps equally or more important, due to its obvious reference to Buddhist culture of the Kushana period synchronous with the Roman Empire.(4) The reference to Buddhist culture brings into sharp focus ambiguities afloat in the narrative: Tamil Nadu in the South curiously lacks a Buddhist material culture while the narrative in Tamil relates it vividly to art and architecture in the North and Northwest of India. First it implies that the Tamils of the Dravidian race once occupied the northern regions, rich in Buddhist art, bearing Brahmi inscriptions, and much later migrated to South India, which at the time of the Buddhist period might have been shunned generally as the “nether region”. Secondly, the writer seems to have set down the story for another group of people and to suit a new audience, with obvious variations and allusions to a culture alien to the southern peninsula, which he describes so minutely. However, no matter how distant or foreign the culture from which it emanates, myth and folktale, when combined with history, lends itself to the making of legends.(5)
Legend of Manimekalai
Manimekalai is a figure from the past reinvented, given a personality, mythologized and placed in a story that is supposed to elicit awe and reverence. Manimekalai, the ‘Dancer with the Magic Bowl’, is a legend that has elements of ‘myth’ that shade into ‘folktale’ in complicated ways. The poet Shattan asserts his ego centrifugally so that the world that surrounded him has been absorbed into the riveting story of Manimekalai, the beautiful daughter of courtesan Madhavi who took a vow of chastity and amid untold tribulations gained knowledge and power through the intervention of the goddess Manimekala and other divinities. She also received the gift of a magic bowl that produced perennial quantities of food to feed the destitute. Besides salvation to mankind, Manimekalai was destined to bring retribution for her parents Madhavi and Kovalan, whose love and betrayal with tragic consequences is dealt by Ilango Adigal in the epic Shilapdikaram.(6) Manimekalai too had her share of grief. In a previous life Manimekalai was Lakshmi, wife of Rahul, now Prince Udayakumara who was infatuated with her. Despite coming under the shadow of bondage brought by knowledge, Manimekalai could neither reciprocate Udayakumara’s love nor save his life due to a fate controlled by her past deeds.(7) Instead Manimekalai chose to serve humanity as a Buddhist nun and practiced severe self-denial to escape the chain of rebirth and thus reach the sublime state of selflessness. The story with the central motif of chastity and charity is interwoven with supernatural events, oracles and astral travel.
Oppositions and Contradictions
The ‘questions’ posed by Manimekalai are taken up from Shilapadikaram: betrayal and retribution connected to karma or past deeds as opposed to human nature; heroic sacrifice and chastity in an unending process that ceaselessly crosses and re-crosses geographical and tribal boundaries. According to Lévi-Strauss mythmakers seek to resolve all manner of contradictions or try to relate, one aspect of life to its opposite in a chain of ‘binary oppositions’- for example, youth and age, human and animal, culture and nature, life and death. These may be immediate and sensory, such as the Magic Bowl, central to the conflict between life and death, hunger and satiation, or extremely abstract, such as philosophical speculations. Ultimately Manimekalai overcomes the contradictions inherent in her corporeal self and reaches the void or sunya, the ‘absolute nothingness’.(8)
Sequence of Episode
The question of the narrative structure, the way in which episodes are put together to make a ‘story’ is a matter of importance for understanding the meaning of the narrative. The Russian folklorist Vladimir Propp identified a total of thirty-one episodes or ‘functions’ constituting the basic building-blocks of all Russian folktales that holds true in other cultures as well: these include Interdiction, Violation of Interdiction,(9) Villainy, Departure from Home on Quest, Dialogue with Magical Helpers,(10) Appearance of Villain, Flight, Pursuit, and Deliverance from Pursuit. Moreover, although few of the one hundred traditional stories analyzed by Popp contain all thirty-one of these ‘functions’, these episodes that appear in any particular tale always do so in the same order. The narrative in Manimekalai suggests that here too, although colored by the supernatural and digressions on religious discourse, the list of basic episodes is structured in a well-defined sequence.
When perused by Prince Udayakumara Manimekhalai enclosed herself in the crystal pavilion in Upavanam, ‘the garden’.(11) At first the Prince thought that Manimekalai was one among a number of portrait statues in the pavilion, but when he perceived her through the transparent walls, ‘Eros, a crocodile on his pennon, let fly his five flower darts, filling him with irresistible desire’. Goddess Manimekala, endowed with immense wisdom and knowledge of all things past and future, freed Manimekalai from imminent danger and conveyed Manimekalai by air to the isle of Manipallavam guarded by Tivatilakai.(12) In another instance, as Manimeklai slept behind the tall gate of the Champapati Sanctuary to the east of the Pillar Statue, she heard as in a dream the oracular statue reveal the tragic demise of Prince Udayakumara under the sword of Kayashandikai’s husband, a furious Vidhyadhra who was endowed with power to travel by air at will.(13)
The Magic Cup
Manimekalai is one of the earliest literary masterpieces replete with mythical motifs interwoven with folktale, which at the same time seeks to explain the meaning of life, with vivid descriptions of human society and culture.(14) On her flight from home, Manimekalai was separated from her faithful companion Sutamati, who was from Bengal. On the island of Manipallavam the goddess Manimekhala taught Manimekhalai a magic formula, while Tivatilakai, the divine protector of the land presented Manimekhalai with a bowl, a marvelous vessel of perennial life. Manimekhalai later heard from Aravana Adigal how Aputra first received the divine bowl, known as ‘Cow of Abundance’ from the hands of Chinta, the goddess of knowledge.(15) In the hands of Manimekhalai life pours from the inexhaustible cup, to alleviate hunger in all directions. That is the wisdom for which Manimekalai meditated in great austerity and realized that - beside desire and fear, the supreme sacrifice is life; that loss of life is actually to gain life eternal. Central to sacrifice is the cup of life, a symbol of faith and immortality. Buddhist art actually depicts couples and individuals holding this cup of life. The recurrent theme is one of drinking from the magic cup, and a great level of unity is found in this type. The common themes fit together better if they are taken as variant elements in a similar category in the Golden Age of Buddhism during the Kushana period, which itself is just one structural feature of a larger design, which Worthen calls the ‘Myth of Replacement’.(16) In the grand structural scheme of the early Buddhist art, the motif of the magic vessel, like the cornucopia in the hands of the goddess in Gandhara, is the consecrated vessel, the joyous ‘begging bowl’ that transforms itself into a wish-fulfilling vessel in the hands of Manimekalai. The groups of recurrent ‘bundles’ of ideas constitute the complete paradigm of symbols and substitutes. These groups include the etymological importance of words significant to eternity and immortality, and the proper names of mythological characters, a feature from which all comparative mythology takes its departure in order to explain better the complexities of human destiny.(17)
Dream and Reality
Veneration of footprints was a symbol of apotheosis and certain sites such as Padma-pankaja-malai also known as Gridhra-kuta or Vulture Peak was a place of pilgrimage. Aravana Adigal is reported to have worshipped footprints of the Buddha in Rajghat (Varanasi or Benaras). In the epic, dream revelations and predictions, oracles and miraculous signs are part of everyday life. When Manimekalai came upon the ‘miraculous footprints of the wonder working Buddha’ on the lotus pedestal within a pavilion made of crystal panels in the Upavanam, she walked round the pedestal, keeping it on her right then prostrated as a mark of reverence. Then she suddenly remembered her past life as Lakshmi.(18) (fig.3)
Manimekalai also learnt from Aravana Adigal why she was named after Manimekala, goddess of the Ocean with powerful waves.(19) (fig 6) The narrative is a folktale in which the story is put together from mythic elements with the dual purpose of entertaining and pointing out some moral value: Manimekalai’s ancestor, a namesake of her grandfather and her father Kovalan, was shipwrecked in a shark-infested Ocean. He struggled for seven days in the waves of the bottomless sea and was lost like a ‘needle in a woolen rug’.(20) However, he had unfailingly practiced the five virtues and recognized the four truths, so when the moment approached for him to lose his life, a shudder ran through the carpet that bears Indra’s throne: Indra at once summoned goddess Manimekala and said ‘This Kovalan struggling in the sea for seven days has the same virtues as the Bodhisattva, the master of us all who, in the shade of the papal, practiced ascetic life. He must be delivered from danger, so that the ten rule of conduct (paramita) is observed in the world and the wheel of dharma goes on turning smoothly’.(21) Immediately goddess Manimekala guided him to the shore and saved Kovalan from certain death.
The Charanas or the sages who travel through the air, recounted this tale to his descendent Kovalan. Kovalan in gratitude wished his daughter to bear the name of the goddess, and the goddess on the night of her birth revealed to Madhavi that Manimekalai would lead a life of renunciation. Further, Manimekalai learnt from Aravana Adigal that when, by the will of the goddess and the curse of Indra, the city of Puhar was devoured by the sea, Kovalan and Madhavi fled to Kanchi for the love of Manimekalai.(22) The reason why the sea goddess devoured Puhar forms a narrative within narrative: Pilivalai, daughter of the Naga (of the serpent race), who on pilgrimage to the isle of Manuipallavam, entrusted her infant son by the Chola king Neduvel Killi, to Kamabala Chetty, a merchant in woolen blankets, whose vessel was the only one en-route to India to stop at the isle. Taking the child Chetty sailed for his homeland, but in the darkness of the night was shipwrecked near the shore. The king was distraught by the loss of his son and neglected the annual festival of Indra. Indra ordered Manimekala, the sea goddess to swallow up Puhar as it was predicted. [see note 14]
Skills of Courtesan
Manimekalai or ‘The Dancer with the Magic Bowl’ was destined by birth for art and pleasure and lived in a street where women of pleasure resided in a house of several floors with gilded balconies. She was accomplished like her mother Madhavi, who knew both kinds of dance, dances suitable for the royal palace and those for the common public, poems set to music, the art of dramatic posture (tukku) to empahsise the rhythm of the poetic meter, the various musical rhythms (tala), and how to play the harp (yal) tuned according to the various moods.(23) She knew by heart the poems chanted during the dances and had mastered the language of gesture (mudra), by which love (akam), virtue and glory (puram) are expressed.(24) She knew how to play the great drum and how to adjust the tightness of its skin to regulate the sound. She knew how to play the melodious flute, as also the art of playing ball, of preparing dishes according to recipes of the best cuisine as well as the preparation of scented powders of diverse colors, the manner of bathing in various seasons, the body’s sixty four positions in making love, the art of anticipating men’s desires, of speaking charmingly, of writing elegantly with the cut reed, of arranging magnificent bouquets of flowers according to their form and color, the choice of dress and jewels according to circumstances and the art of fashioning necklaces of precious pearls or precious stones. She had also studied astrology and the art of measuring time, and other similar sciences, the art of drawing and painting all of which, according to the books forms part of the métier of an accomplished courtesan.(25) Although accomplished in the arts and endowed with great beauty Manimekalai, to the amazement and distress of her mother and companions, left home to dedicate her life to charity and to attain the ‘bright light of knowledge’.(26) [see note 9]
In the astrological religion the transmigration of souls is connected to karma, according to acquired merits and demerits, which to a large extent is controlled by the manner in which the soul descends at the time of birth through the various spheres or planets disposed in space. The ascent of the soul is likewise influenced by the music of the spheres that is controlled by the acquired merits and demerits. The soul ascends through a series of celestial spheres to reach the paradise of bliss or ‘world of light’ known as Dutita /Tushita loka. In Tushita loka perfect souls become deified immortals or reincarnate according to their acquired merit.Thus, incapable of attaining truth without the aid of that which is material, the soul will be guided by the ‘true’, though merely perceptible ‘lights’ (lumina vera) of the resplendent soul to the man made image, which reveals the ‘True Light’ (verum lumen) that is Buddha prior to Christ; and it will thus be raised, or rather ‘resurrected’ (surgi, resurgit), from terrestrial bondage even as Christ like Buddha is seen rising with flaming shoulders and a halo in ‘resurrectio vel Ascensio’ on a Gandhara sculpture.(27) The luminous Buddha with flaming shoulders ascending in radiant clouds depicted on the stele is a visual demonstration of the nature of the immortal in Samkhya Cosmology. (fig 5)
Yet this splendid but subtle piece of poetry is nothing as compared to the orgy of Neo-Platonic light metaphysics to which Buddhist theology abandons itself during the Kushana period (AD 1 st - 3 rd Century), when India was a confederation of states ruled by Scythic-Greeks. It is particularly evidenced in Buddhist art and literature where the whole material universe becomes ‘light’ composed of countless small ones as of so many suns so that man-made pillar, (throne) or natural (tree), including man dissolve in light, and become a symbol of that which is not physically perceptible. As a stepping ladder on the ascent to Heaven; the human mind, abandons itself to the radiance indicated by the spiraling discs of the planets or the sun disc that glows as a halo, long before it is adopted as Christian iconography.
Neo Platonic Doctrine
Both the celestial lights in the heavens and those that are produced by human artifice on earth are ‘images of the intelligible lights, and above all of True Light Itself’.(28) The epic speaks of the Bodhi Tree radiant with jewels, which is the symbol of knowledge attained by innumerable Buddhas, the ‘enlightened beings’. ‘Within the crystal pavilion, the miraculous footprints of the wonder-working Buddha on a lotus shaped pedestal shining with bright rubies’ are in reality verses that amount to a condensed statement of the whole theory of ‘anagogical’ illumination: On the sacred pedestal the jeweled footprints of the ‘wonder-working Buddha’ indicate that the physical ‘brightness’ of the work of art will ‘brighten’ the minds of the beholders by a spiritual illumination.(29) The divine pedestal in the crystal pavilion is identified as the work of Maya, the heavenly carpenter, ‘to remind men that only those actions accomplished for love’s sake with severe self-denial will succeed’. Maya is also the maker of the oracular ‘Pillar Statue’ in the Upavanam the garden, where ‘by the will of the Buddha, the Merciful and the Compassionate, …who dedicated his life to the protection of all living beings, the trees are always aglow in bloom’.(30)
Epicureanism and Stoicism
When Manimekalai embarks upon the study of religious dogmas with teachers of various sects, the recurring engagement with philosophy and religion is meant to clarify, inform and educate. The purpose of dissecting diverse creeds in detail is to finally proclaim the validity of Buddhist dogma.(31) The digressions on philosophy and religion make the epic a specialized tool of communication that tries to cut through the syncretism in religion and the eclecticism in the philosophy characteristic of this period. An interlude in Canto 27 is recognizably Hellenistic, a system with ethics supported by physics and epistemology. The treatment is a curious replay of the famous encounter between Epicureanism and Stoicism, translated as the persuasive argument of a drunkard with a naked Jain ascetic familiar in Syrian accounts. Although the kernel of wisdom is intact much has been understandably transformed in translation: An emaciated Jain monk, with a vessel of water hung from a loop of cord and ceaselessly waving a flywhisk to avoid hurting an insect walked naked. A drunkard hailed him, ‘Holy man! Come here so that I may bow before your lotus-like feet! Good monk, hear my words! Your life dwells in your body, which is but filth, but you do not suffer like those who live encased in hot clothes, which make them sweat. Come and share this sweet wine, there are no tiny beasts in the liquor secreted by the palm tree. My guru taught me that only those who get drunk on wine know ecstasy in this world, happiness in their next life, and eternal beatitude. You will see that drunkenness clears your mind. But if you find it more to your liking to fast rather than drink an honest cup of wine, then go your way!’(32)
In order to propound the Jain doctrine of Nirgrantha Manimekalai asks questions about Jainism. The answers given by a naked ascetic is a complex discourse that begs comparison with the Pythagorean theories and belief system.(33) Regarding religious belief, the Pillar Statue’s conversation with Manmekalai is of interest: “There are some who affirm that creator of all forms of life is a personal God who reigns over the world. Others think that the supreme being, himself without form, created all forms, Yet others affirm that only through the practice of self-denial and mortification, inflicting cruel suffering on our body, can we free ourselves of our bonds, and tread he path that leads to a world of everlasting delight. There are also others who say that the world is merely the result of the questionable celebrations of the practitioners of these various creeds. You will also hear the statement of those who affirm with authority that there are no gods, that the dead are not reborn, and that it is doubtful our virtuous deeds can acquire us merit. With your experience of transmigration and of retribution of our sins, you can tell them the story of your own life…”(34) Such speculations are well-known in Greek literature. The advent of Alexander marked the beginning of a new internationalism that paved the road to the Roman Empire. By uniting the Greek Mediterranean with Egypt and Syria,(35) the accomplished Hellenistic tradition was transformed by alien skills and ideas that eventually produced a logically restructured art and literature in the Indian sub-continent. To understand Roman art and culture within and beyond the borders of the empire, the essential aspects of Hellenic tradition, the Hellenistic mutation and the Hellenistic-Egyptian and Syrian tradition have to be separately viewed.(36)
Landscape withGardens of Delight
The narrative fixes the geography, while the landscape of the sacred domain bristles with extraordinary events. The river Kaveri rises from a sacred spring in Karnataka State that swells into a mighty river. The river maiden Kaveri flowed into the lap of the protective goddess Champu and her consort Champapati or Puhar, which was a famous city known popularly as Kaveripumpatinam.(37) According to mythology the Chola king Kantan (Skanda) entreated the sage Agastya for perennial water, upon which the sage overturned his pitcher from which River Kaveri flowed towards the sea in the east, close to where goddess Champu stood. The Goddess Champu abides in the shade of a thousand branched rose-apple tree and is conceived as divine protector of the ‘rose-apple’ continent called Navalan Tevu.(38) The epic describes cities surrounded by many gardens, one of which is called Lavanika-vanam, the Garden of Delights. It is reserved for the amusement of those belonging to the royal family and their companions. Within, there is a small lake, which can be filled and empties by machinery. The guards arrest trespassers.(39) Another pleasure garden, known as Oyyana-vanam, is set apart during the festival of Indra for celestial visitors, who alone have the right to enter. In the heavenly enclosure dwells Sampati, the noble vulture that lost its wings when it flew up to the sun. None of these gardens were accessible to the general population. However, the monasteries in Kanchi, surrounded by gardens were the permanent residences of monks who preached the holy doctrine of the Buddha. The ascetics who travel through the air sometimes stop there for a few moments of agreeable repose. (40)
Qualities Admired in the External World
The Tamil literature of the Sangam or Academy of the early Christian era may be divided broadly into Akam, or that which pertains to emotions connected to human experience, and Puram or that which involves courage and action. Manimekalai is Sangam literature that deals with skill both with Akam and Puram. We glean from the epic that a man’s ankle bracelet was a sign of noble deeds and that the king honored successful merchants with insignia of a golden flower and bestowed the title ‘Etthy’ as a mark of respect.(41) Prince Udayakumara, surrounded by his guard and chariots, rode majestically along the main avenue wearing a garland of tamarisk flowers, holding the reins of his splendid chariot gathered into his fist in the form of a flower bud. He had just managed to master the menacing elephant Kalavega with admirable courage. Without a trace of fear he had jumped onto his charger as fleet as air and reached the place where the maddened elephant rushed blindly through the city, heavy as a mountain, sowing panic in the streets of the bazaar and on the royal road blocked with wagons, drummers, beggars, and banners. The supervisor of the elephants did not know what to do. Like a ship in distress, the royal elephant had ejected his mahout in madness, his trunk rubbing the wound left by the goad to control him.
The simile of a ship gives a rare insight to the dangers of navigation so real that one can taste the spray of salt water as the sailor battles to regain control. The storm-tossed ship is presented in a way that is enduringly experiential and clearly the emotional response generated by the author gives the epic its cognitive value: ‘When a ship finds itself caught in a storm, its helmsman, perched on the raised bridge in the poop, trembles with fear lest the main mast fixed at the vessel’s center break off at the base, tearing away the ropes holding the sail, which, breaking loose and losing its tightness, begins to lash about with a furious flapping, finally tearing itself to shreds, so that the ship breaks adrift without any means of control, on an Ocean whose waves splash and drive in all directions.’(42)
Arts and Crafts
Reflected in the story of Manimekalai or the ‘Dancer with the Magic Bowl’ is the idea that literature is part of the superstructure and economics its base. The epic is rich and complex, dense and bursting with life, intellectual and cultural energy. A variety of crafts people practice their craft in their respective locality. The street of weavers made cloth so fine that it is difficult to distinguish the cross threads and dyed it in bright colors. The street of jewelers made mother-of-pearl bracelets; the street of those who made necklaces of precious stones, the street of the controllers who checked the gold content on the touchstone and owned houses of many floors. There are varied details of religious and everyday life, the arts and customs. In the ancient city of Puhar the visitors admired the stucco sculptures made by skilled craftsmen, representing all living beings, as well as the immaculate statues of the gods, similar to those that adorn the walls of the many storied buildings.(43) On the streets transvestites with pretty little upraised breasts, a slim figure and protuberant sex performed the Pedi dance. Brightly colored designs decorated their shoulders and breasts. They wore mother-of-pearl earrings and their short-skirt might be a girdled chiton of Greco-Roman derivation. Their mouth was painted bright coral red and they showed their beautiful white teeth. Their large shining eyes were slightly underlined and their black eyebrows were arched like the crescent moon in their curved brows. Their hands with red-dyed palms were like water lilies of Malabar.(44)
Narrative as a Network of Signs
The poet has interpreted the historical reality of his time so well that the epic is striking in its visual equivalent in the contemporary art of Gandhara, which is comparable only to Rome in its style, realism and innovative spatial organization and pictorial techniques. The visual force of street scenes, the interior of courtesans’ quarters, palatial architecture, the complex drama, funeral practices, costumes, manners and customs are integrated to create a fusion of realism and immediacy as was done on the Imperial Columns of Rome.
Canto 28 is a topographical painting in words that give a panoramic view of the city. However, the material culture, which is archaeologically untenable in the Indian subcontinent, is inexplicably Roman in its attributes.(45) The landscape and suburbs spreading outside the walls protecting many princely dwellings provide the backdrop as Manimekalai progressed on her way to the great city of Kanchi on her quest to seek Aravana Adigals to learn Buddhist dharma.(46) If we treat the narrative as a network of signs, some significant cultural markers clamor for close scrutiny: Groups of soldiers with their officers kept watch over the inner city, which was surrounded by a moat. (fig.6)
Into the moat flowed, by means of underground pipes, the scented waste waters used to wash the tresses, or impregnated with perfumed oils that dissolve when bathing in luxurious dwellings, in which the baths mechanically filled and emptied as desired. Into the moat also flowed the perfumed waters used to spray the crowd during celebrations for the king’s birthday; the waters discharged when the basins of the public fountains were cleansed, impregnated with smoke from aloe wood and other aromatic woods used in rites; and the waters mixed with various perfumes, sprinkled for freshness on the floors of rich dwellings, the water used by heads of family who practice five virtues, to wash the sublime feet of ascetics.(47) Only water spreading a delightful fragrance flowed into the moat, so that the crocodiles and fish that disported there lost the usual nauseating smell. On the surface of the water floated large lotus, white water lilies and blue iris, turning the moat into the likeness of the multicolored bow of Indra.(48)
At the center of the fortification was a high gate surrounded by a tower of several floors, on which many flags were flying. Painted white and covered with frescoes, from afar it looked like a mountain of marble. It was through this high gate that Manimekalai entered Kanchi. The street of painters and musicians (panda), experts in vocal music and playing various instruments, who know the major and minor modes, as well as elocution and poetic meters and people who sound the conch, whose spiral winds to the right.(49) The street of dancers, expert in the two kind of dances, classical dance for the palace and dancing suitable for the public at large, that of experts who calculate time and announce it every natika (24 minutes). Further on was the street of the panegyrists, who composed eulogies of the king, which they declaimed standing or seated. There was also a quarter where the elephant drivers lived, who tamed recently captured animals and trained them with skill, and also a quarter for horsemen who teach the golden-collared horses to amble.(50) Manimekalai admired the artificial hills from which cascades fell by mechanical means; the parks whose trees laden with flowers inspired all with an overwhelming desire to go and relax there. There were pools with limpid water, hospices to welcome travelers, and monasteries for ascetics as well as vast palaces with golden domes, which in their splendor rivaled the seven temples built by Indra at Puhar.
The preparations for the festival of Indra provide a rare glimpse of royal protocol. In the presence of the kings of all the neighboring countries, the state officials were summoned to the palace for the proclamation of the opening of the festival of the thousand-eyed Indra. Around the sovereign stood, as was the custom, the five groups of high dignitaries who formed the royal council: the high priest, the captains of the army, the spies, and the ambassadors, followed according to rank, by the eight corps of officials, the tax collectors, the provincial governors, the treasury accountants, the palace servants, the representatives of the people and the officers of the various regiments. It was asserted that if the festival of Indra were not celebrated, the enraged Tyche would molest all the inhabitants.(51) The account has parallels in the political and structural organization as well as the concept of cities protected by Tyche familiar in Asia under Rome. (fig.7)
This comparison is possible because of a coincidence of meaning derived from an approximate understanding of the other. It is in this sense that a mutual recognition is possible through cognition.
Transmission of Myth
One of the common traits in the mythic narrative is a philosophic or moral purpose. The narrative of Manimekalai preaches moral values of right conduct, self-sacrifice and salvation through self-realization. Allegoric interpretation, which began with Plato or certainly with the Neo-Platonists, insists that ‘myth is a didactic parable that adumbrates current metaphysical or moral concepts and that its personae are symbols of natural phenomena or moral categories’.(52) On another level of interpretation, the myth is invested with human motives, and its movements are diachronic. Hence, Manimekalai is an elaboration of history and the Buddha in its central focus is the apotheosis of idealized human beings. Just as myth may reinforce history, history may conversely become the raw material of the mythic imagination. If the historical time, unity of purpose and background are important, then fantasy and creative invention add to the narrative force of Manimekalai, which can be compared to the legendary stories found worldwide in cultures with ancient literary traditions, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome. Often probability is stretched to fabulous limits as when goddess Manimekhala, the goddess of Ocean, transports Manimekkhalai to safety by air. Myths of glorification have commonly been used in similar ways, in a variety of cultures, to assert a sense of communal prestige. One famous example of deliberately fabricated historical myth is the Roman poet Virgil’s epic elaboration in the Aeneas, in which Venus shares her identity with goddess Manimekala. This must be viewed against the fact that there is no record of either literature or comparable arts in India prior to the Christian era. At the dawn of a new era the sub-continent was apparently a pristine paradise perched at the very end of the then known world. Innovations in Tamil and Sanskrit literature datable to the early Christian era are thus probably unsurpassed in history. They contain a landscape constructed by received knowledge, of travelers’ tale and of ‘family resemblance’, which serve to locate zones of identity and zones of discrepancy. Description of a crystal or glass pavilion, murals in stucco, wall painting and life-like sculpture in Manimekalai are proof of Mediterranean influence in India. This is confirmed by literary allusion to numerous Greeks in India identified as Yavana from Yavanapura or Alexandria. The Greek connection apparently included Pompeii, where an ivory statuette in early Buddhist style was recovered from a merchant’s house on the “via dell’ Abbondanza”. (fig.8)
Pompeii was buried under the ashes of Versuvious in 79 AD that set off tidal waves cutting off escape route. The Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2 nd century AD mentions key ports, including Kaveri Emporium, the Kaveripumpattinam or Puhar, identified by Tamil texts as port city of South India. However, to identify Puhar as Pompeii might be far fetched except for their common fate and tantalizingly similar material culture.
Often myths and legends are connected to the idea that one can claim to own the land and human beings who lived therein through superiority of race, language and the performance of certain words. Native pride enacted through speeches, declarations and announcements are compelling. For instance, when the city Puhar was built, a vast plot of land was set apart for the dead. Four posterns at cardinal points gave access to it, the entrance with bright colored standard was reserved for the heavenly beings that draw nigh in their flying chariots, suspended in the air, immobile as a painting.(53) The walls of the next gate are decorated with frescoes, the work of skilled artists, representing rice paddies, sugarcane plantations, lakes and groves. Another entrance, with an upper floor appears naked and empty except for the spotless wash of white lime. In front of the fourth entrance stands a great statue of stucco and clay, representing the guardian of the cemetery with red lips and furious stare, holding a pointed spear and a long rope. If the subjectmatter is presented in ways that are of enduring cognitive and social interest, the historical time and background are as important as the fantasy and creative invention, which add to the narrative force.(54)
New History and Literary Narrative
The representational and expressive content of the epic are of enduring cognitive, moral, historical, and social interest. In the final analysis the critical role of story telling in New Historicism ought to move towards trust in mobility, not only in travel narratives but in the idea that culture itself is always moving from one place to another. And it is that extraordinary mobility of which India is a sublime example, which holds challenges in the years ahead in the reading of the narrative.(55) It is impossible to discover the place of origin of a widely distributed mythical motif. Mythical narratives, like folk stories, generally travel easily from one group of people to another. Of course, the myths may change in the process, and even within the same group changes may occur as myths are told and retold. There is certainty where zones of identity from literate tradition and the zones of discrepancies, which suggest incorporation of oral or a local body of myth. This happened for example in India, where cultural configuration of the Buddhist period displayed pronounced elements from Roman Asia.
The Transcultura International Institute, a group promoting strategies for acquiring mutual knowledge, met recently in Pondicherry.(56) The Institute’s key concern is to analyze the encounter between European and non-European cultures. Moussa Sow, from the Institut des Sciences Humaines, (Mali), who was one of the earliest members of the Transcultura team, speaking at Jawaharlal University, New Delhi, said that there had been interest in Mali and Senegal in Dravidian languages, particularly Tamil, and Tamil scholars went to these countries, and in exchange Africans came to India, probably without suspecting Senegal and Mali might be the bridge to a lost links with Carthage and Alexandria. Just as we have translations in the linguistic sense, we have translations in the cultural sense. The desire to interpret is a desire to explain meanings anew, which serve to locate the zones of identity and the zones of discrepancies. It is this zone of identity and discrepancy that makes cultural studies so exciting. Umberto Eco, a member of the Transcultura, argues that that all colonization results in guilt, and anthropology is the symbol of that guilt.(57) The investigation of this narrative is an attempt to propitiate this guilt, the unstated yearning for a previously known topography that urges us to search for the shadow of memory in the landscape of myth, symbols, dream, perception and cognition, experience, facts and fantasy, being and becoming, the natural vision of the Northern Lights, the hidden order of the ideal and maps in the seas of changes and shifting dunes of context. As Susan Visvanathan rightly observed, semioticians work with any index. (fig. 9)
(fig. 9) Swags supported by putty in the manner of Rome, Gandhara, 1 st or 2 nd century AD)
The narrative in the Tamil epic Manimekalai was chosen for the Conference for its striking qualities of innovation and reproduction. When Manimekalai took decisions on her life, cognition and positive force set her on the path of knowledge. Born to be a courtesan, her decision to take the vow of chastity and charity is a daring innovation, which utilized creative power in the service of spiritual and social goals. By writing the epic Merchant Prince Shattan reproduced the narrative in a form that could be retained and retrieved. The Tamil epic Manimekalai has endured for nearly two millennia because of the innovation of Brahmi script derived from Aramaic, which enabled reproduction of knowledge through writing for the benefit of society. The written reproduction provides the possibility of a broader reception and, more importantly, also of history, society and religion, and the opportunity for critical observation, since only a fixed text makes any kind of criticism possible.
The heterogeneous nature of style and content of the Buddhist epic Manimekalai and the Buddhist art of India, datable between 1 st to the end of 2 nd century AD, is frankly a puzzle. Under what circumstances were so many choice and variegated narratives produced for the first time in the subcontinent? The answer will take us to the very foundation of India, where magnificent obsessions of human beings deposited wisdom and skills received from ancient civilizations. The transcultural path leading to these conclusions is embedded in the rich narratives of Buddhist art and literature of the new age that miraculously dawned simultaneously in the east and the west.
© Arputhrani Sengupta (Associate Professor, Dept. of History of Art, National Museum Institute, New Delhi, India)
(1) Etymologically Brahmi claims its origin from Maha Brahma, the supreme godhead. Unlike the Tamil of the Dravidian race, Sanskrit is a member of the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages which fits the designation Ramance, deriving from the Latin phrase romanica loqui, ‘to speak in Roman fashion,’ which attests to the popular, rather than literary, origins of the language. Exemplifying the Pax Romana, Sanskrit known as the ‘language of the gods’, is a synthesis of Aramaic, Greek and Latin that echoes the Vedic revelation: Vasudhaiva kutumbakam - ‘the entire world is your family’. Sanskrit is a unique phenomenon of the ‘Day of the Pentacost’ (The Acts 2, 1-12) and belies its mythical antiquity in the remote past.
(2) Scientifically, Brahmi script cannot originate in two periods in time, as it is currently attributed first to “hang ‘Emperor Ashoka’ on the peg of Alexander the Great” in the 3 rd century BC, and the Kushana Brahmi of the 1 st century AD when the script actually evolved, with more than two centuries of literary wasteland in between. Brahmi left a legacy of an inscribed code of conduct on stone that always identified the inscriber, as ‘He who loves the name of God, the beloved of God’. The invocative formula points more firmly to the racial origins of the edicts, but Ashoka, believed to be the Emperor’s name is open to speculations. The word Ashoka has single occurrence in the edict and means ‘remover of sorrow’. The edict inscribed in Brahmi, like Buddhist art, is conspicuously absent in Tamil Nadu.
(3)Manimekkhalai. Merchant Prince Shattan, Tr. Alain Danielou, with collaboration of T. V. Gopala Iyer, Penguin Books India, 1989, 1993.
(4) Kushana are a Scythian tribe that formed an alliance with the Parthians in Persia, creating a buffer zone against the Romans in the northwestern region of the sub-continent by the middle of the first century B.C. The Kushana empire at its height stretched from the Ganges to the Oxus and in its western frontier flourished a distinct cultural tradition, that of Gandhra, now Pakistan. The Kushana kingdom was a confederation of states, where significant sculptural traditions evolved in Gandhara and Mathura. While the Gandhara sculpture in Greco-Roman style is anecdotal and portrays realistic observations of contemporary life, the Mathura school has the scale, style and symbolic mode of communication characteristic of the millennia old tradition of Egyptian art. However, it is in the material culture of Gandhara, that it is possible to see with clarity a synthesis of religious and artistic traditions.
(5) The author of Manimekalai is curiously in league with Apuleius who was born in Madauros (c.125 AD) in Carthage, a major port for trade that remained an intellectual capital, as large as Alexandria. Apuleius, after schooling in Madauros went to Athens to learn Greek and then on to Rome to study Latin. He was inducted into the mysteries of goddess Isis, which play a significant role in his writings. For the rest of his days in Cathage he was a teacher and public orator involved in the interpretation of Platonic philosophy.
(6)Shilapadikaram is also published by the Penguin.
(7) Transmigration of soul is connected to the concept of karma, and happens according to acquired merits and demerits.
(8) During the Indo-Greek period, the syncretism in religion and eclecticism in philosophy added much to the welter of deities (the deities have not acquired the identity of the Hindu pantheon as yet), which is a contribution of Neo-Platonism, Stoicism and other schools of thought including the Pythagorean Sect. The spiritual belief system, in both Buddhist and Jain, with reference to a hierarchy of being, emphasize the One, the Good at the summit, while on the other extreme we arrive at matter, the point at which being vanishes into nothingness.
(9) Danielou, p. 5. Interdict or authoritative prohibition is a sentence debarring a person or place from ecclesiastical functions and privileges. For instance, when a courtesan abandons her profession of dancer and prostitute, the entire city’s indignation is a cause for concern. Manimekalai was a courtesan by birth and Vasanatmala in the group was convinced that for a girl destined by birth for art and pleasure to become an ascetic and mortify herself was an impious act. However, Manimekalai acted in defiance of the laws of the city, her mother and her companions and studied religious dogmas with teachers of the various sects and later received the Buddhist dogma from Aravana Adigal in Kanchi, today a temple in city in Tamil Nadu.
(10) Danielou, p. 96. Prince Udayakumara, although spurned by Manimekalai pursued her relentlessly. The chase in dangerous terrain, which ultimately costs him his life, makes him the villain of the moment. Villainy in a sub-plot depicts how Vishakai, ‘of shining brow, pale as a drawing that has not yet been colored’, distraught by rumors of romance with her cousin Dharmadatta, left her house and went to the pilgrims’ hospice to ask the statue of the genie sculpted on the pillar what he could do to free her of the calumny caused by such rash gossip.
(11) Danielou, p.14, Prince Udayakumara was the son of a Chola king whose ‘white parasol was as bright as a moon’: a metaphoric allusion to justice and truth that prevailed in his kingdom.
(12) Tivatilakai (dvipa-tilaka) means ‘adornment of the island’, name of the Tyche or yakshi (protective female spirit) of the island Manipallavam. According to Stoicism the world is a living intelligent Being. Equally, air and fire are the media that activate matter, hence ‘artistic fire’ or ‘intelligent pneuma (wind)’ are important vehicles. The pneuma that permeates the whole cosmos gives inorganic structures their cohesion. When it occurs in other ratios, physics or the power of growth in plants and the soul in animals seem to have extended to aerial flight as an infinite continuum of matter set in an infinite void. ‘Physical’ or metaphysical doctrines had their effect on Stoic logic, a subject including grammar as well as various linguistic studies.
(13) Canto 21, Danielou, p.87. Manimekalai had transformed herself as Kayshandikai to escape from Prince Udayakumara, who continued to follow her, thus meeting his tragic end. Vidhyadhara is a spirit of the air that belongs to a cohort of heavenly beings similar to angels. In Kalingabodhi Jataka astral travel depended upon the ‘investiture of the body in the garment of contemplation’ (jhana vethanene). Even inanimate objects invested with spiritual force can take aerial flight. A famous account in Buddhist literature describes how a Buddha image took ‘flight through the air’ from India to Khotan to become the prototype for other images in Central Asia.
(14) The reason why the sea swallowed Pumpuhar (Puhar), a famous city mentioned in other early Tamil literature, is as follows: Pilivalai, daughter of the Naga of the Serpent Race, on pilgrimage to the isle of Manipallavam, entrusted her infant son by the Chola King Neduvel Killi, to Kambala Chetty, a merchant in woolen blankets, whose vessel was the only one en route to India to stop at the isle. Taking the child Chetty set sail for his homeland, but in the darkness of the night was shipwrecked near the shore. The king was distraught by the loss of his son and in his sorrow neglected the annual festival of Indra, which provoked the god’s fury. Indra ordered Manimekala, the sea goddess to swallow Puhar, as had been predicted.
(15) Canto 12-4. Chinta means imagination. The Egyptian cow goddess Isis-Hathor was known as the ‘Great Flood’; the sky goddess is also ‘The Cow of Abundance’, since she nourishes souls to all eternity.
(16) The mythic motif of the ‘begging bowl’ is incorporated in a Buddhist narrative: On the seventh week of meditation under Rajayatana tree, two merchants named Tapussa and Bhalikka came with their caravan from Ukkala country. Persuaded by a deity who was a relative, the merchants came forward to give Madhupindika (ball of honey) to the Buddha. The Lokapalas or the four regents of the earth came forward with four bowls of precious stones, which the Buddha refused. Finally he accepted four alms bowls of stone and then fused them into one. The two merchants vowed to be ‘Devacika Upasaka’, or loyalists of Buddha and Dharma.
(17) Etymologically Manimekala is girdle made of beads (mani-bead, mekala-girdle). The name personifies the sea goddess that girdles the whole universe. Besides mekala the co-existing goddess in the Buddhist pantheon identifies herself with other emblematic devices such as beaded necklace and a distinctive earring. Cultural similarities abound. The Egyptian Menat, or beaded necklace is emblematic of Isis-Hathor. In several depictions in Buddhist art the goddess is nude except for the girdle. Another name of great import is Amitabha Buddha. Etymologically, Amitabha means ‘of infinite radiance’ and ‘eternal life’. The appellation ‘Buddha’ denotes radiant or ‘enlightened’ being, illuminated with the immense light of the sun.
(18) Danielou, p.36-39, Canto 9.
(19) Manimekala, ‘the goddess of Ocean, solitary and distant, descended from heaven like a ray of light’. Her attributes are that of Stella Maris identified with Isis-Aphrodite, whose cult was spread widely by sailors during the Roman period.
(20) Carpet is culturally untenable in Tamil Nadu, and since the climate is hot, there is no requirement for woolen material. Reference to woolen carpets and merchants dealing in woolen blankets are intriguing.
(21) Danielou, p.151. The perfections (paramita) are generally considered as ten, sometimes reduced to eight or even six. These ten rules are: dana (charity), shila (purity of conduct), kshanti (patience), virya (courage), dhyana (meditation), prajna (intelligence), upaya (utilization of the proper means), pranadhana (dedication), bala (energy), jnana (knowledge).
(22) Events in the epics Shilapadikaram and Manimekalai took place in the three southern kingdoms, whose dynasties fade into prehistory. In the west, the kingdom of Chera (Kerala); to the east Chola or Cholamandala (Coramandel in the Madras region); and in the south, Pandya, whose capital was Madura. Pallavas of Parthian origin conquered South India via Maratha country and subdued Chera, Chola and Pandya and ruled their kingdom from Kanchi.
(23) The curved harp (yal) depicted in early Buddhist art is West Asian in origin. The 17 stringed makara yal had mythical crocodile head as terminal. The celestial musicians in Buddhist art are known as kinnora (male) and kinnori (female). The word is derived from kinnor (Aramaic), a type of harp on wooden frame. King David’s harp could have been either a kinnor or a nebel (‘skin bottle’) made of animal skin over a round sound box.
(24) The Tamil Sangam (Academy) literature of the early Christian era was categorized as akam (pertaining to love or emotion) and puram (pertaining to valor and action) and underwent rigorous quality control.
(25) Danielou, p. 2. A similar list is given in a commentary on the Kama Sutra, which needs to be compared with ancient Greek literature on the subject.
(26) The word Buddha also denotes ‘bright light of knowledge’,
(27) The Apocrypha record that St.Thomas converted Gondophares, the Kushana king of Taxila in about 42 AD to Christianity. The remarkable Christ-like Buddha image in Greco-Roman style datable to AD 1 st or 2 nd Century is in Musée Guimet, Paris. The Neo-Platonic concept of light is developed from Panofsky’s corresponding engagement in ‘Abbot Suger of St. Denis’, pp. 108-145.
(28) Panofsky, p.131 A metrical condensation of John the Scot’s lines, from which the lines ‘…ut eant per lumina vera/Ad verum lumen…’ are derived. Inscribed ‘BODDO’ in Greek, the iconography of the Buddha in the Kushana gold coin shows a standing figure inscribed within a double nimbus, identifying him with the invincible solar deity. If one should seek a prototype, Buddha, as Universal Monarch, has his right hand raised in a gesture of Adlocutio, a familiar posture of Roman emperors while addressing gatherings.
(29) Danielou, pp.9, 36-39. Illumination or enlightenment, which is developed step by step through symbols is known as the Upward-Leading Method.
(30) Danielou, p.33 There is no archaeological evidence of a pavilion made of crystal panels except the Buddhist stupa that have yielded crystal reliquaries that are globules of light.
(31) The earliest iconography of the Buddha in a Kushana gold coin (AD 1 st century) shows a standing figure inscribed within a double nimbus, identified as ‘BODDO’ in Greek. See note 28 aove.
(32) Danielou, p.10. In conclusion it is observed that the Jain monk may not be swayed from abstinence but there are many who let themselves be convinced by the word of the drunkard.
(33) Danielou, p.136. The Jain doctrine is Nirgrantha and the texts deal with ten main subjects: dharmastikaya (evolution), adharmastikaya (immutability), akaya/ akasha (space), kala (time), paramanu (the atom), karma (action and bonds created by good or evil deeds), and nirvana (release). The Jain worship Arhat Parameshti, the supreme prophet, before whom the ten sovereign gods, the Indras, bow. There are 42 Bhuvana-Indras, Regents of the Heavenly Worlds; 32 Viyantara Indras, Regents of the Spheres; 22 Kalpa-Indras, Regents of the Cosmic Cycles; the Spirirts of the Sun, the Moon etc.; Nara-Indra, the Regent of Men, Mrigendra, the Regent of Animals.
(34) Danielou, p.90
(35) Zeno (c.300 BC), the founder of Stoicism, though he worked in Athens, was of Phoenecian descent.
(36) Beardley, p. 71. Strabo, the Roman geographer was a Stoic (Geography I, i, 10; I, ii, 3). Stoics, like the poet Shattan of Manimekalai, approved the use of poems for moral teaching in school, conceiving poetry as a kind of allegorized philosophy and a vehicle superior to prose to conduct philosophic discourse of the highest truths.
(37) Patinam in Tamil denotes a city. The city of Kaveripumpatinam or Puhar is personified as Champapati, the consort of Goddess Champu, the Tyche of Kaveripumpatinam. According to literary sources the sea engulfed Kaveripumpatinam.
(38) Tevu is an island and Navalan Tevu suggests that the island had a considerable number of gifted orators or poets (Navalan - ‘gift of tongue’).
(39) Danielou, p.8
(40) Act 8:26-40. In the contemporary world we encounter astral travel when Philip, one of the apostles of Christ was taken by the Spirit from Jerusalem to the desert of Gaza, where he joined an Ethiopian in his chariot to explain the words of God. Once his task was done Philip was once again taken by the Spirit to Azotus, from where he traveled to Caesarea to continue teaching.
(41) Danielou, p. 97
(42) Danielou, p.14. In early Buddhist art the elephant is actually conceived as a huge vessel to transport the faithful to the shores beyond.
(43) Stucco is native to Egypt and a number of stucco reliefs of Alexandrian manufacture, contemporaneous to the Roman Empire, were found in Begram, Afghanistan. However, Debevoise attributes the origin of this stuccowork to the Nabataeans who as skilled caravan leaders were instrumental in the transmission of the Aramaic script widely. “Origin of Decorative Stucco”, American Journal of Archaeology. Vol XIV.1941. p.60.
(44) The Romans named Muziris and Nelcynda in Malabar, now Kerala on the southwest of the peninsula. Muziris had a temple dedicated to Augustus Caesar in the first century AD. The harbors in Malabar and Tamil Nadu functioned as a gateway to the lucrative commerce with Rome. The Periplus of the Eryhraean Sea (circa A.D.60) is a Greek text by an un-named merchant living in Egypt, which provides a detailed account of the trade across the Indian Ocean. Egypt was a key player in the trade with the Mediterranean world, and the Ethiopians settled in Barigaza (Bharuch or Broach on the Narmada River in Gujarat) and gained importance as intermediaries, like the Syrians, in the trade with Rome.
(45) However, a close encounter with Rome is confirmed by finds of Roman coins, Arretine ware and Greco-Roman jewelry as well as place names in Tamil Nadu: Madras - Sopatina / Masulipatam, Pondichery - Poduka, Karaikal - Camara and Cannanore - Naura.
(46) In canto 29, upon reaching the monastery in Kanchi Manimekalai found her mother Madhavai, her companions and Kovalan’s father, who after the death of his only son had renounced the world. It is speculated that Aravana Adigal is Nagarjuna, ‘Light of the Serpent’, a famous logician and teacher of Mahayana doctrine, who received the original teachings of the Buddha preserved by the king of the Nagas. Naga indicates a race that worshipped serpents and believed in transmigration so that a human or divine being could transform into a snake, as it is evidenced in Egyptian culture.
(47) Danielou, p. 141-142
(48) Pollitt, pp. 33-41. The originally austere Romans imported such luxury from Egypt, described by Pliny (N. H. XXXIV, 34) and others, such as Athenaeus (194A, 197C, V, 204E). It was conquered Asia which first sent luxury to Italy (Pliny, N.H. XXXIII, 148-50)
(49) p. 34
(50) Skilled performance by equestrians indicates a cultural configuration and a cultural diffusion that was assimilated even in the Buddhist art of India. In the Roman Empire it was a special honor to be raised to the status of the equestrian order. Upward mobility is indicated by members of the equestrian families in Carthage (‘Divine muse of Africa’) who sought to make careers for themselves in the Imperial administration or as officers in the army.
(51) Indra is identified as an Indo-Aryan deity and, although she figures prominently in literary allusions and art of the early historic period, Indra practically has no relevance to the practice of Hindu religion.
(52) Worthen, p.1
(53) Danielou, pp. 24-26. The imagery of a chariot suspended in the air has the pictorial virtuosity of a Roman cameo cut in Alexandria. Vivid descriptions of necropolis and funerary practices, although of great interest, are excluded here except to observe that Chakravala or the Circular Enclosure is the sphere where the gods live. In Tamil Nadu it approximates burial sites enclosed by circles of stone. Architecturally Chakravala is royal reliquary mound called Stupa, very similar to the funerary monument of Augustus Caesar in Rome, which proliferated in the subcontinent. S hudukattu-kottam or the city of the dead was a fearful place, where shaft burial peculiar to Egypt is also described as ‘narrow tombs sunk underground, whose doors are then walled up’. In Tamil the tomb is known as kal-arai or stone chamber.
(54) The explanation given, why Puhar was devoured by the Sea, is a masterful invention. by Pilivalai, daughter of the Naga race.
(55) The Bible, Luke XV, 11-12. The account of the ‘Prodigal Son’ in the Buddhist scripture Lotus Sutra (c.AD 50. Original in the collection of The British Museum Library), written on birch bark in cursive Aramaic script known as Kharosthi (written from right to left) of the Gandhara region (now part of Pakistan) offers fertile ground for transcultural studies. The ‘Prodigal Son’, a parable of Christ, is exclusive to the Gospel of Luke, which was written in Alexandria. St. Luke might have been bilingual, like Christ, who spoke in Aramaic his native tongue. The advent of Alexander marks the beginning of a new internationalism that paved the road for the Roman empire. By uniting the Greek Mediterranean with Egypt and Syria, the accomplished Hellenistic tradition was transformed by alien skills and ideas that eventually produced a logically restructured art and literature in the Indian sub-continent. To understand Roman art and culture within and beyond the borders of the empire, the essential aspects of Hellenic tradition, the Hellenistic mutation and the Hellenistic-Egyptian and Syrian tradition have to be viewed separately.
(56) This international team is the brainchild of Alain le Pichon who is at the University of Paris.
(57) Susan Visvanathan, ‘Strategies for acquiring mutual knowledge’, The Hindu, Tuesday, November 8, 2005, p.11 The report is on Eco’s position, as the chairperson of the Delhi proceedings, at the Alliance Française and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Visvanathan is a novelist and teaches sociology at JNU.
Manimekkhalai. Merchant Prince Shattan , Tr. Alain Danielou, with collaboration of T. V. Gopala Iyer (Penguin Books India, 1989, 1993)
Beardsley, Manroe C. Aesthetics: From Classical Greece to the Present. A Short History (The Macmillian Company, New York, 1966)
Eco, Umberto, Symbol in Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language (Bloomington, Indiana, U.P., 1984)
Knox, Robert, Amaravati: Buddhist Sculpture from the Great Stupa (The British Museum, London, 1992)
Panofsky, Erwin, Meaning in the Visual Arts, Doubleday Anchor Books (New York, 1955)
Pollitt, J. J. The Art of Rome: c.753 BC-337 AD (Sources & Documents in the History of Art Series, Edited by H. W. Janson, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1966)
Worthen, Thomas D., The Myth of Replacement: Stars, Gods, and Order in the Universe (The University of Arizona Press, Tucon, 1991)
Ed. Sarayu Doshi, India and Greece: Connections and Parallels, Marg Publications, Bombay, 1985
5.1. Innovation and Reproduction in Literature. The Narrative
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Arputhrani Sengupta (New Delhi, India): Manimekalai. Dancer with Magic Bowl. Narrative in Tamil Epic (Second Century AD). In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW: http://www.inst.at/trans/16Nr/05_1/sengupta16.htm
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Directed by V. S. Raghavan
Produced by V. S. Narayanan
Written by Epic
Starring T. R. Mahalingam
Music by G. Ramanathan
Edited by V. S. Rajan
Distributed by Sekhar Art Film Enterprises
9 April 1959
Manimekalai is a Tamil film starring T. R. Mahalingam and P. Bhanumathi. The film was released in the year 1959.
The film is based on the epic Manimekalai from one of The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature. It narrates the moving chronicle of chastity, charity and compassion that marked the life of Manimekalai, the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi. Written around the 2nd century A.D. and set against a Buddhist backdrop, the story is an enlightening mirror of the society and culture of the time in Southern India and Sri Lanka. The story is set in both the harbour town of Kaveripoompattinam, the modern town of Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu and in Manipallavam the mordern day Nainatheevu of Nāga Nadu, a small sandy island of the Jaffna Peninsula in modern Sri Lanka.
Manimekalai (P. Bhanumathi) is the daughter of Madhavi (Sandhya) and Kovalan, grows up to a beautiful woman. Since, her grandmother Chitrapathi (T. V. Kumudhini) and mother Madhavi being renowned courtesans, Manimekalai too learns from them and is accomplished in music and dance. While Madhavi is deeply disturbed by Kovalan’s cruel death and glowing reports of Kannagi’s chastity bring about changes in her moral outlook, withdrawing from the life of a courtesan, she brings up her daughter in an atmosphere of renunciation and spirituality.
Prince Udhaya Kumaran (T. R. Mahalingam) is smitten by Manimekalai’s bewitching beauty and professes his love for her. However, destiny had other plans for Manimekalai. The sea Goddess Manimekalai, carries her away from Kaveripoompattinam to the southern island of Manipallavam in Naga Nadu. Manimekalai wakes up from her trance and is mystified at the alien surroundings. While wandering about the island Maṇimekalai comes across the Dharma-seat, the seat on which Buddha had taught and appeased two warring Naga princes, and placed there by the God Indra. Those who worship it miraculously know their previous life. Manimekalai automatically worshiped it and recollects what has happened in her previous life. She comes to a place sanctified by Buddha, and in flash, revelations of her earlier birth dawn on her. She learns that Udaya Kumaran was her husband in her previous birth. Goddess Manimekalai teaches her the art of astral travel and the secret of metamorphosing herself into another being.
Goddess Tivatilakai (Deeva-Teelakai or Dvīpa Tilakā) appears now before Manimekalai and inculcates in her the doctrines of Buddhism. Following the instructions of the Goddess, Manimekalai goes around a pond from the middle of which a bowl emerges and places itself on Manaimekalai’s outstretched hands. This is the Amudhasurabhi (cow of abundance), the cornucopia that would never deplete which will always provide food to alleviate hunger. The goddess Tivatilakai also predicts that Bhikshu Aravaṇa Aḍigal in her native town will teach her more. Manimekalai then used the mantra which the sea goddess had given her and flies back to Kaveripoompattinam, Manimekalai reunites with Madhavi and narrates to her all that had transpired.
They meet Sage Aravana Adigal (Serukalathur Sama) who informs them the history of the mystic Amudhasurabhi and expounds her the Buddha’s Teaching and advices her about the nature of life. Manimekalai now takes to feeding the poor and needy with her magic bowl. The king who had earlier viewed her with suspicion now perceives her innate divinity and agrees to her proposal to turn the prison to a hall of charity where Buddhist monks could meditate and establish a hospice for the poor.
Prince Udhaya Kumaran continues to pursue Manimekalai, despite her avowed spiritual inclinations to dedicate herself to a religious celibate life. In an effort to ward of his unwelcome advances, Manimekalai takes up the form of Kayachandika, an accursed Yaksha. Kayachanika’s husband Kanjanan believes that Manimekalai is his wife who has been cured of her illness, and when he finds Udhaya Kumaran stalking her, kills him in fury.
Surmounting several hurdles that come in her way, Manimekalai learns the sacred tenets of various religions and finally takes up the sacred orders of Buddhist nun or Bhikshuni, spending the rest of her life in Kanchipuram and practices to rid herself from the bondage of birth and death and attain Nirvana.
T. R. Mahalingam Prince Udhaya Kumaran
P. Bhanumathi Manimekalai
N. S. Krishnan
T. A. Madhuram
Serukalathur Sama Aravana Adigal
O. A. K. Thevar
C. S. Pandiyan
T. V. Kumudhini Chitrapathi
Producer: V. S. Narayanan
Production Company: Sekhar Art Film Enterprises
Director: V. S. Raghavan
Music: G. Ramanathan
Lyrics: Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass, A. Maruthakasi, Kambadasan & Kannadasan
Art Direction: K. P. Sangkaran Kutty
Editing: V. S. Rajan
Dance: Bangalore T. C. Sundaramoorthy (Folk dances), Padma & Nirmala
The music was composed by G. Ramanathan. Lyrics were by Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass, A. Maruthakasi, Kambadasan & Kannadasan. Singers are T. R. Mahalingam & P. Bhanumathi . Playback singers Seerkazhi Govindarajan, Thiruchi Loganathan, V. T. Rajagopalan, M. L. Vasanthakumari, P. Leela, Radha Jayalakshmi, N. L. Ganasaraswathi, T. V. Rathinam, A. P. Komala & K. Abhayam.
The song Kanngalin Vennilave by starring T. R. Mahalingam and P. Bhanumathi is the only duet song by the duo still very popular.
No. Song Singers Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 Kanngalin Vennilave T. R. Mahalingam & P. Bhanumathi Kambadasan 03:04
2 Pazahangkaala Thamizharin Vaazhkai Nilai M. L. Vasanthakumari & N. L. Ganasaraswathi
3 Unnai Kaana Enggum T. R. Mahalingam A. Maruthakasi 03:59
4 Avaniyil Pudhu Araneriye Thiruchi Loganathan & N. L. Ganasaraswathi A. Maruthakasi 03:26
5 Inbam Inbam Inbam Indha Ulaginile P. Bhanumathi A. Maruthakasi 03:43
6 Inge Vaa Sorgam Paar P. Leela & K. Abhayam Kambadasan 04:07
7 Aandavan Thamizhanada T. R. Mahalingam Kannadasan 02:28
8 Raajaa Nee Thoongalaamaa T. V. Rathinam Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass 02:20
9 Varuga Varuga Sugumaaraa P. Leela, Radha Jayalakshmi & A. P. Komala A. Maruthakasi 03:05
10 Unda Naali Uduttha Naanku Mulam Seerkazhi Govindarajan Kambadasan 02:54
11 Ulagame Oru Sirachchaalai P. Bhanumathi Kambadasan 02:48
12 Adikkudhu Adikkudhu Unnai Kannda V. T. Rajagopalan & T. V. Rathinam Thanjai N. Ramaiah Dass 03:09
13 Aanndavan Padaippinile Naan Kannda T. R. Mahalingam A. Maruthakasi 03:01
14 Manadhai Kavarndha Mangai Varuvaalo Seerkazhi Govindarajan & Radha Jayalakshmi A. Maruthakasi 04:06
15 Vandhaayaa Magale Vandhaayaa G. Ramanathan N. S. Chidambaram 04:16
16 Aadhaaram Unnai Allaaal P. Bhanumathi Kambadasan 04:31
17 Thillana Music P. Bhanumathi
Buddhism in SriLanka
Life of Buddha
Pilgrimage to Sri Pada in Siam
Ten days with the Buddha
Five contemplations for everyone
Andhra Pradesh displays vestiges of Buddhist culture
A Pilgrimage to Myanmar
Nepal’s Buddhists urge Government to hold talks at
When Buddhism was a bridge between Lanka and Tamil Nadu
Kingdom in the clouds preserves Buddhism
Ancient Buddhist links between
Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka
Plans afoot for international university at Nalanda
Gandhara artist’s lasting contribution to Greco
Buddhism’s global appeal
Gandhara Week in Pakistan
The Buddhist Centre brings new life to
Ancient Buddhist links between
Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka
Lakshman JAYAWARDANE in Chennai
THE Palk Strait which lies between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan land masses, is seen as a divider, separating two different distinct ethnicities, religions, cultures and political entities. But there was a phase in history, between the early years of the Christian era and the 14th century, when Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka enjoyed very close ties, thanks to a shared interest in Buddhism.
At that time, the Palk Strait was not seen as a divider. Then Buddhism was a bridge between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. The land of the Tamils has been called Tamilakum, which means a land where the language Tamil is spoken.
Tamilakum was a region which had the north-east Ventcata hill or the Tiruppati hill, the southern part of the modern Andhra Pradesh, as its northern border, Kanniya Kumari or Cape Comerin as the southern border, the bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea as its eastern and western borders respectively.
The ancient Tamilakum encompassed modern Kerala too. Tamilakum was actually located in the southern part of the Indian peninsula. Present Tamil Nadu State is much smaller than the Tamilakum.
Now Tamil Nadu is the only land where the language Tamil is spoken. At present Tamil country is famous as Tamil Nadu. According to Historians, Buddhism began to make an impact on Tamil Nadu only in the 4th century AD.
Buddhism flourished in Tamil Nadu in Two phases. (1) The early years of Pullava rule (400-650 AD) (2) The Chola period (mid 9th to early 14th century AD). Buddhism had then enjoyed a very remarkable popularity in the Tamil soil.
Although Buddhism has almost extinct from Tamil Nadu, it has contributed a great deal to the enrichment of Tamil culture and has exerted a significant influence, both directly and indirectly, on the Tamil religious and spiritual consciousness, present as well as past.
It has expressed itself in exquisite artistic forms and given an enduring colour and richness to Tamil culture as a whole. It has exerted a profound influence on the existing religious and social institutions, language and literature as well as on art and architecture.
The fascinating story of the historical links - Golden threads between Buddhism in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka was narrated by Dr. Shu Hikosake Director Professor of Buddhism, Institute of Asian Studies in Madras in his book “Buddhism in Tamil Nadu a new Perspective.”
Dr. Hikosaka’s study is based on his doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of Madras. In the conclusion he explains: “Thus Buddhism remained orphaned in all spheres without proper patronage and encouragement.
The Buddhist monks looked for greener pastures in the neighbouring countries. They found propitious soil in Ceylon and South East Asian countries. A comparative study of the development of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring countries clearly shows the fact that when Buddhism was in decline in Tamil Nadu, it witnessed tremendous growth in the neighbouring countries.
The monks of Tamil Nadu, who had left from their native land, have contributed a great deal for the growth of Buddhism abroad. In this sense we may say that the Tamil Buddhist genius was not destroyed but sublimated in another direction where it has grown with fresh vigour and vivacity.”
The earliest inscriptions in Tamil Nadu belong to the third century BC. They are written in Brahmi character of the time, on the walls of the natural caves in the Tamil districts of Madura, Ramnad and Tirnnelveli. They are of considerable interest to students of South Indian Buddhism.
It is learnt from these Brahmi inscriptions which palaeographically belong to 3rd century BC that Buddhism had come into Tamil Nadu even then. It was to Asoka and his son Mahinda that the introduction of Buddhism into Tamil Nadu may be attributed.
Epigraphical evidence seems to confirm this statement. In his Rock-Edict No. 3, Asoka says that his Dharma Vijaya prevailed in the border kingdoms of the Colas, Pandyans and at Tambapanni. But it was his son Mahinda who was responsible for the introduction of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu.
In this task, he was helped by Maha Aritta, a nephew of the Sri Lankan king Devanampiyatissa. Mahinda is said to have erected seven viharas at Kaveripattinum while he was on his way to Sri Lanka.
Some Indian scholars are of the opinion that Aritta or Maha-Aritta might have lived in the caves of the village of Arittapatti in Madura, which is in Tamil Nadu. According to Dr. Hikosaka Buddhism might have gone to Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu, contrary to the general impression.
“Taking all evidence into account, we may fairly conclude that Mahendra and the Buddhist missionaries who went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) could have embarked for the island from the East coast of the Tamil country. So, it is quite probable that the Tamil country received Buddhism directly through missionaries of Asoka.
Buddhism might have gone to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from Tamil Nadu by sea-route, a route by which one can reach Ceylon (Sri Lanka) easily. Since there existed close cultural affinities between Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and the Tamil country from time immemorial, the Buddhist activities in India could have easily influenced in some way or other the Buddhism of Ceylon (Sri Lanka)” says Dr. Hikosaka.
It is interesting and appropriate to investigate the interactions of Buddhist monastic centres between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. The remains of a Buddhist monastery excavated at Kaveripattinum which could be assigned to the fourth century, are believed to be the earliest archaeological relics of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu.
During the Pallava period, Tamil Nadu boasted of “outstanding Buddhist monks who had made remarkable contributions to Buddhism thought and learning. A Buddhist writer Buddhadatta or Thera Buddhaatta as he is called lived during the time of Accyutarikkanta, Kalabra ruler of the Cola-nadu.
Under the patronage of this ruler, Buddhadatta wrote many books. In his book Vinayaviniccaya, he says that due to the patronage of this king he was able to compose this work.
In the Abhidhammaratara he gives a glowing account at Kaveripattinum, Uragapuram, Bhutamangalam and Kanchipuram and the Mahavihara at Ceylon (Sri Lanka). While he was at Sri Lanka, he composed many Buddhist works such as Uttara-viniccaya Ruparupa Vibhaga Jinalankara etc. Buddhaghosha, contemporary of Buddhadatta composed many Buddhist commentaries.
Buddhaghosha is a Tamil monk, who made a remarkable contribution to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He stayed and studied Buddhist precepts at Mahavihara in Anuradhapura. The Visuddhimagga was the first work of Buddhaghosha which was written while he was in Ceylon.
According to Mahavamsa, it is a summary of the three Pitakas together with the commentary. When Buddhaghosha had been staying at Granthakara Pirivena at Anuradhapura, he completed his task of rendering Sinhalese commentaries of Tripitakas into Pali.
After a considerable period of religious service in Sri Lanka, he returned to Tamil Nadu. After Buddhaghosha, the important Theravada monk from the Tamil country was Dhammapala. Dhammapala lived in the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura.
He composed paramathadipani which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s work on Khuddaka Nikaya and Paramathamanjusa, which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s Visuddhimagga. A close study of the three Buddhist monks viz Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosha and Dhammapala shows that Tamil Buddhists were closely associated with the Sri Lankan Buddhists around the 5th century AD.
The interaction between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan monks finds mention in “Manimekalai”. The 6th century Tamil Buddhist work Manimekali by Sattanar, is perhaps the most famous of the work done in Tamil Nadu. It is a work expounding the doctrines and propagating the values of Buddhism.
The interaction between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan monks finds mention in “Manimekalai” which is set in the Tamil towns of Kaveipumpattinam Kanchi and Vanchi.
There is mention about the presence of wondering monks of Sri Lanka in Vanchi, which was the capital of the Chera Kings of Tamil Nadu. The Chinese traveller, Tsuan Tsang, wrote that there were around 300 Sri Lankan monks in the monastery at the Southern sector of Kanchipuram.
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Manimekalai: The ancient Buddhist Tamil epic, its relevance to psychiatry
Ottilingam Somasundaram, AG Tejus Murthy
Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Click here for correspondence address and email
Date of Web Publication 10-Jun-2016
This article refers to materials of psychiatric interest found in the Manimekalai written by the 2nd Century CE Buddhist poet Sathanar. From the early description of a wandering psychotic in the streets of Pukar, the ancient maritime capital of the Cholas it is opined that this description fits that of present-day schizophrenia. A drunkard making fun of a Jain monk and a cross-dressed individual are also found in the same streets. Manimekalai’s request to the Chola king to convert the prison to a place of piety with Buddhist monks is mentioned. Lord Buddha’s teachings on the compassionate way of life are presented.
Keywords: Buddhism, history, psychiatry, schizophrenia
How to cite this article:
Somasundaram O, Tejus Murthy A G. Manimekalai: The ancient Buddhist Tamil epic, its relevance to psychiatry. Indian J Psychiatry 2016;58:229-32
How to cite this URL:
Somasundaram O, Tejus Murthy A G. Manimekalai: The ancient Buddhist Tamil epic, its relevance to psychiatry. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2016 [cited 2017 May 8];58:229-32. Available from: http://www.indianjpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2016/58/2/229/183788
There are numerous notions relating to mental illness and mental health in Manimekalai, the Tamil Buddhist epic of the post-Sangam era of Tamil literature. This period is renowned for the publication of the eight anthologies and 10 lyrics and also the 18 didactical works including Thirukkural. All these works are totally secular with few references to the pre-Aryan Gods of Lord Shiva, Murugan, and Kortravai. The Buddhist poet Sathanar’s epic Manimekalai in the late 2nd century C.E. or the early third century broke new grounds by describing the teachings of Lord Buddha for the 1st time in Tamil. It is remarkable that he gathered this information in Pali language, the language in which Lord Buddha himself preached to the common people in their mother tongue. He has described the prevailing five religions in Tamil land along with the logic and the practice of the Buddha’s faith in the various cantons of the poem; a few centuries before the Chinese travelers Fa Hien and Huang Tsang. In spite of his realistic allusions to the Vedic religion, Sathanar disapproves the caste system and rituals like cow sacrifice. This could be found in the personage of Aaputhiran.
A very apt description of a schizophrenia subject is to be found when Manimekalai goes to the Uvavanam (Flower garden) along with her companion Sudhamathi to collect flowers for stringing a garland. This incident occurs in one of the streets of the Chola capital city of Pukar. This maritime capital was an important center where many Vihars were founded by Mahendhir, Emperor Ashoka’s close relative. In this Uvavanam, Lord Buddha’s sacred feet (peedigai) were worshiped in a crystal palace.
Manimekalai meets a drunkard who makes the following jibe at a Jain monk:
“Welcome saint. I prostrate before thy flowery feet!
Oh! Our savior hear my appeals!
Your life entering your dirty body,
Will grieve like those shut up in unventilated dungeon!
Our leader has shown this that gives by itself
Bliss during this birth! And deliverance in the coming birth!
The sweet toddy matured in the palm of lush green branches!!
Is there killing in this? Oh! Saint of true austerity!
Consume it and get convinced!
Manimekalai encounters a mad man on her way to the flower garden:
Shoulders adorned with garland of pink “alari,”
Neck adorned with a garland of bad odoured “erukkam” flower,
Twigs of the mighty tree has he gathered to hold together
Tatters on his person, his entire body is smeared with white paste of ash
Talks he with others in a senseless blabber,
He cries, he falls, he blurts, he shouts,
He worships, he bellows, he gets up. He twists, he circles,
He turns, he moves to a corner and lies down, he shouts,
And picks up quarrel with his shadow,
And verily behind the mad young man, who is hapless and functionless,
The people stand around and gape at his tragedy.
Then, a hermaphrodite’s dance (paedi koothu) is watched by other interested spectators:
The dancer had a curly beard and dark hair!
Coral red mouth and pearl-white teeth!
Bright wide eyes with red lines!
And wearing garland made of white conch shell,
Dark low eye brows and crescent moon forehead
Fair hand like kantal and upright tender breasts!
Wide alkul and fair lean hip!
Wearing a skirt! Drawings on his shoulders
He was enacting a kuttu
Performed by Kaman son of him who measured the earth,
In the street of Conakar of Vanan-Asura king.
We will pay special attention to the description of the vagrant lunatic. Could this description be considered compatible with that of a subject with schizophrenia? The answer is a difficult one, with no clear consensus among psychiatrists.
I would argue that the description fits with that given in the DSM V for schizophrenia:
Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
Negative symptoms (i.e., diminished emotional expression or avolition).
No. (3) is definitely present and probably nos. (1) and (2) also.
Dr. Femi Oyebode, Professor of Psychiatry and Consultant Psychiatrist at the National Centre for Mental Health at Birmingham, UK – an authority on literature and psychiatry, in a personal communication was kind enough to give his views on this:
“I think we must assume that this a description of psychosis
There is no straightforward description of mood or affect although some commentators might argue that “twisting,” “circling,” “turning,” and “crying” are examples of joyous and/or sad behavior. My own view is that the actual words in Tamil may help to determine whether these are simply unusual behaviors with a motor component and that “crying” is merely a term for shouting out
The rest of the description in my view is characteristic of vagrant psychotics as can still be seen in Africa and I am sure in parts of Asia too. In contemporary terminology, I think untreated hebephrenic schizophrenia is the most appropriate diagnosis.”
Professor Emeritus N.N. Wig of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Chandigarh, India, had this to say:
“In the current diagnostic systems, it will probably be considered a psychotic illness. In my view, it may not be very proper to try to give a more precise contemporary label with the available information.”
Professor Sarada Menon of the Madras Medical College said in her opinion: “The subject i.e. the madman in Manimekalai could be diagnosed as a chronic untreated psychotic with comorbid illness.”
From the information provided, it could be assumed that this description of schizophrenia as conceived today is one of the earliest if not the earliest in the history of world psychiatry.
It is very difficult to assume whether schizophrenia, as it is conceived today as a mental illness, existed in various ancient cultures. We are not quite sure whether the disorder existed in the past. Historians are divided on the subject. They feel that the disorder is of recent origin, but Lewis affirms that the disorder is an ancient one. According to Freedman, Kaplan, and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry (1976) “as early as 1400 B.C., a Hindu fragment from the Ayurveda, a condition is brought on by devils in which the afflicted is gluttonous, filthy, walks about naked, has lost his memory, and moves about in an uneasy manner.” Youseff and Youseff allude to the existence of schizophrenia in the medieval Islamic culture that dates back to the 6th–7th century A.D. The masterly descriptions of Tom O’ Bedlam by Shakespeare in 16th century refer to many of the homeless schizophrenia patients belonging to the Bedlam period of 13th century Britain. Most of their appearance, behavior, and thinking have been depicted in his “King Lear” as Tom O’ Bedlam.
I heard myself proclaimed
And by the happy hallow of a tree
Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place
That guard and most unusual vigilance
Does not attend my making. While I may’ scape
Act 2, Scene 3, Lines 1–12
Hearing imaginary voices is another hallmark of serious mental illness, well known to the laity:
EDGAR: The foul fiend haunts poor Tom in the voice of a nightingale
Hopdance cries in Tom’s belly for two white herring
Croak not black angel; I have no food for thee
Act 3, Scene 6, Lines 32–35
The descriptions of the behavior and appearance of the drunkard, the madman, and the hermaphrodite appeal to the psychiatrists of today; and the scenarios are not very different from that of the mentally ill in the metropolitan cities of today.
Prison Reform by Manimekalai
The situations prevailing in the prisons of the Chola days have not escaped the scrutiny of the compassionate youthful Buddhist protagonist. Another remarkable achievement by Manimekalai is the conversion of the prison at Pukar to a place of piety. She makes a request in this regard to the Chola King Mavan Killi:
Asked the King
“How shall we then help thee in this regard?”
The tender girl replied
“Demolish the jail and erect there instead
A house of charity. Long live thou!”
The king released the prisoners and there, as Manimekalai desired, to enable them of great penance for higher achievements, he built an enclave for charities with the royal levy.
The Way of Life
Buddhism is more of an ethical system enjoining practical rules of morality than a system of religion. The Buddha did not profess to expound the relation of God to man nor did he discuss questions concerning the nature of God or soul. He wanted his disciples to aim at purity in thought, word, and deed. He laid special stress on the virtues of truthfulness, reverence, and respect for animal life.,
Sathanar, through the mouth of Aravana Adigal, espouses the esoteric logic in Canto 29 and ethics of life in Canto 30 when he initiates Manimekalai in the ways of Buddhism, and she starts ascetic life.
Mathew Arnold is rather narrow when he talks of “the light of Asia”; it should have been “the light of the World.”
It is exactly 60 years since Professor MV Govindaswamy and Professor SK Ramachandra Rao of the National Institute of Mental Health, Bangalore, India, innovatively introduced the study of Indian philosophy including Buddhism to the postgraduate curriculum of psychiatry in India. It is only proper that we should remember their services to the Indian psychiatry in particular and World psychiatry at large.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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Ramasubramian V. T. (2010). Manimekalai (in Tamil). Poompuhar Publications, Broadway, Chennai-1.
Paramasivandam A. M. (1974). Sathanar (in Tamil). Annamalai University, Annamalainagar, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu.
Sreenivenkatasamy, M. (1940). Buddhism and Tamil (in Tamil). Shanbaga Publications, Pondy Bazaar, Madras.
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