Manimegalai

AUTHOR’S PREFACE
After writing the story of Silappadigaram, or the Killer Anklet, I thought this story will not have a good finish, unless I write the story of Manimegalai, in continuation of the earlier story for the reason Manimegalai, the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi, was compelled by her mother to renounce the worldly life in her prime youthful days. It was a trial period for this young girl to face the male dominated society and keep her modesty while sticking up to the religious compulsions she was thrown in. Finally, she comes out successful in the new chosen field of religious order. Illangovadigal, a prince turned Jain monk, wrote the story of Silappadigaram. Later, the Tamil Poet Seethalai Sathanar wrote Manimegalai in the second century A.D., when Jainism and Buddhism were spreading in the Southern parts of India. At the end of the story, the author ruled out the other religious faiths, while writing in favour of Buddhism. I started writing Manimegalai, but in between I found it difficult to trace suitable English words to some of the words used by the author in the ancient Sangam Tamil. I had to make the best use of Tamil University Website Library, Tamilvu.org, in search of appropriate English words. I found it really a challenging work to understand and interpret some of the difficult verses, while trying to write in simple English verses. I wish to make it clear here that this work is not a verbatim translation of the original work in Tamil, but it is only a bold attempt of mine to adopt the essence of the entire story in simple English poem, which field is familiar to me, as a writer, for the past 40 years. I have tried my best to bring out here all the salient points and essential features, which are found in the original story. If there are any omissions or commissions in my performance, I would humbly request the Reader to bring it to my notice for rectification, where necessary. In fact, I had to deviate at the end of the story in writing the arguments and counterarguments between the different religious leaders in the prose order. I thought this would help the Reader to understand easily the various abstract subjects dealt with in Chapters 27, 29 and 30. The Reader can find them at Annexure I to III to these Chapters given at the end of this book.

Manimekalai (Tamil மணி ேமகைை ), written by Seethalai Saathanar, is one of the masterpieces of Tamil literature and is considered as one of the five great epics of Tamil literature. Manimekalai is a sequel to Silapathikaram and tells the story of the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi.

As a continuation of Silappatikaram (Tamil சிைபபதிகாரம), this epic describes how Manimekalai, the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi, takes up social service as the primary aim of her life and how she sacrifices her entire life for the same cause. Manimekalai is set in both Tamil Nadu and in Nainatheevu, Jaffna Peninsula in modern Sri Lanka. The story runs as follows. Manimekalai is on the verge of marrying a prince, when she is abducted and taken to an island "Manipallava Theevu" by her fairy God Mother known as "Manimegala Theivam". There she comes across "Arughar" (also known as Buddha) and she acquires the enchanted "aaputhiran kai amutha surabhi" - a cornucopia bowl. She uses this bowl to feed "Kayasandigai" (first in line), a cursed Yaksha (fairy) who is suffering from "Yaanai (Elephant) - Thee (Fire)" disease - an eating disorder caused due to excessive desire to eat. After this, Manimekalai is brought back to Tamil Nadu, where she uses her bowl to feed the needy.

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