Written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1140; Dated 30th June 2014.
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Silappadikaram (also written as Cilappadikaram) is one of the five Tamil epics. Silappadikaram and Manimekalai are called Twin Epics. These two epucs are based on purely Tamil stories. But those who read them in full will find out the culture is same as in the Northern parts of India. Silappadikaram is a Tamil encyclopaedia covering all subjects including music, dance, history, art, architecture and culture. This is the most popular epic. There are several stories concerning Brahmins including a Panchatantra story:The Brahmin and the Mongoose’ and the Golden Hand Pandya and Keeranthai.
Here is one of the Brahmin stories from the most famous Tamil epic:–
Source: Katturai Katai, Silappadikaram
Parasara was a Brahmin who lived in Pumpukar of Choza territory. He heard about the valour and philanthropy of the Cera King and decided to see him. He passed through jungles and several cities and reached Malaya hills. He was a great scholar well versed in Vedas and defeated scholars of different sects on his way. He got lot of gifts and returning home with the gifts. He reached a place called Tankal (identified with Tirutankal near Sivakasi). He took rest under a Bodhi tree with his water bowl, staff and white umbrella (only Brahmins who did great Yagas and kings are allowed to take white umbrellas in ancient India).
Some Brahmin children with coral lips, black tufts, curly hair and some with lisping mouths were playing there. Parasara called them and challenged them to recite Vedas after him. He promised them to give some valuable jewels. At once a boy called Alamarselvan (One who is under the banyan tree =
Dakshinamurthy), son of famous Brahmin Vartika of the town, recited the Vedas with perfect pronunciation and intonation. He was a little boy still retaining the fragrance of his mother’s milk. Parasara was wonderstruck with his knowledge and gave him a big present.
Some jealous people told the royal servants that the Brahmin got a treasure trove which naturally should go to the king. The royal servants threw him into prison without any proper enquiry. His wife Kartika became furious at the injustice. She wept and threw herself to the ground rolling and fulminating. Seeing this goddess Durga refused to open her door for the regular Pujas (daily offerings). The Pandya King was wondering whether there was any injustice done to anyone in his territory. Then the king was informed by some messengers of the injustice done to Vartikan.
The king then begged to the Brahmin to forgive him. As a compensation for the false imprisonment, the king gave him the Tankal and Vayalur villages with all the paddy fields as a gift. Then the goddess who rode the stag (Durga’s Vahana is Stag) opened her temple doors. The big noise that was produced when the goddess opened the doors, was heard throughout the broad streets of mountain like mansions of that ancient city, says the author of the epic Ilango Adikal.
At that time, the triumphant king issued the following proclamation by beating a drum placed upon the back of an elephant which was sent though out the city, “Release all prisoners from the prison. Remit all those taxes from those who owe them. Let all who find unclaimed things and discover treasure trove enjoy them.”
“Listen how even such a king committed this act of injustice. There was a prediction that, in the month of Adi, on the Tithi of Ashtami, in the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha), on a Friday, with Kartikai and Barani in the ascendant, a great fire would envelop renowned Madurai to the ruin of its king”, says Ilango Adikal.
(Part of Madurai was burnt down by the heroine Kannaki. Goddess of the city Madurapati narrated the above story, according to Ilango Adikal.)