Written by London swaminathan
Date: 8 March 2017
Time uploaded in London:- 8-35 am
Post No. 3703
Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.
Aadhi mandhi and her husband Aattan Atthi were praised in several Sangam poems composed 2000 years ago. Later Tamil epic Silappadikaram also praised them. Aadhi mandhi was the Tamil Savitri who fought against death and brought her husband alive. She was the Tamil ‘Savitri’.
She was the daughter of the most famous Cholza king Karikal Chozan. Attan Atthi was a prince from adjacent Chera Nadu, modern Kerala state in South India.
Kannaki, heroine of Tamil epic Silappadikaram six great ladies who were born before her time in her native city Kaaveri Puumpattinam (also known as Pumpuhaar). Aadhi Mandhi was one of them.
When the annual Water Festival known as ‘Aadi 18 Floods’ (Pathinettaam Perukku in in the month of Aadi) was held in the city both Aadhi and Atthi went into the river for bathing. Fresh floods in the River Kaveri washed her husband Atthi away. The whole Choza army went into action and was looking for her husband, but in vain. Aadhi decided to follow the river and ran along the banks of the river like a mad woman. At the end some fishermen who were in the river at a far off place caught him and handed over him to Aadhi. This has become a big legend and considered a miracle by the Tamils.
Famous Sangam poet Paranar who listed over 80 historical anecdotes in his verses also sang about this accident. Post Sangam poet Ilango, author of Tamil epic Silappadikaram gave more details about this incident.
“The daughter of the celebrated king Karikaala followed the floods which carried away her husband, Vanchikon (king of Kerala), calling aloud: O, my lover with hill-like shoulders! Then the sea itself came and presented her husband before her. She, the golden creeper, returned embracing him” – Vanchinamaalai, Silappadikaaram.
There are more references in Kurunthokai 31 (Poetess Aadhi Mandhi),
Akanaanuuru 45 (Poetess Velli Viithiyaar), 76 (Poet Paranar)
Tolkaappiyam Akattinai gloss by Nacchinaarkiniyar, Sutra 54
In Akam 45,
A woman is saying to her friend, “ my husband has gone and hasn’t comeback yet. Am I also going to feel sad like Aadhi Mandhi?”
A courtesan says aloud (so that the lady love of the hero hears it), “ Long ago Aaadi Mandhi lost her husband and she went on asking everyone, ‘ did you see my husband Aattan Aththi, who wears a garland, anklet, waist band, sports a beard? but she did not get an answer. She was fainting out of sadness. Like the east flowing river shattered its banks and took Aattanathi, now I am going to take that mand. What will his lady love do then?”
We come to know that the story of Aaadhimandhi and Aattanathi was popuplar among the Tamils 2000 years ago. The actual incident must have happened in the first century BCE when Karikala was ruling the Choza country ( covering Thanjavur paddy belt and the East coast). Though the earlier verses did not say anything about the miracle of sea handing over the man to his wife Aadhimanthi, post Sangam epic Silappadikaram enemrates this as one of the six miracles listed by Kannaki.
From Kurunthokai of Aaadhimandhi we come to know that she herself was a poetess. But her poem was on a love theme and nothing to do with the incident that shook Tamil Nadu.